Chapter V

Guarding Alertness


1 Those who wish to guard their practice Should very attentively guard their minds For those who do not guard their minds Will be unable to guard their practice. 2 In this world subdued and crazed elephants Are incapable of causing such harms As the miseries of the deepest hell Which can be caused by the unleashed elephant of my mind. 3 But if the elephant of my mind is firmly bound On all sides by the rope of mindfulness, All fears will cease to exist And all virtues will come into my hand. 4 Tigers, liions, elephants, bears, Snakes and all forms of enemies, The guardians of the hell worlds, Evil spiritis and cannibals, 5 Will all be bound By binding my mind alone, And all will be subdued By subduing my mind alone. 6 The Perfect Teacher himself has shown That in this way all fears As well as all boundless miseries Originate from the mind. 7 Who intentionally created All the weapons for those in hell? Who created the burning iron ground? From where did all the women in hell ensue? 8 The Mighty One has said that all such things Are the workings of an evil mind, Hence within the three world spheres There is nothing to fear other than my mind. 9 If the perfection of generosity Were the alleviation of the world's poverty, Then since beings are still starving now In what manner did the previous Buddhas perfect it? 10 The perfection of generosity is said to be The thought to give all beings everything, Together with the fruit of such a thought Hence it is simply a state of mind. 11 Nowhere has the killing Of fish and other creatures been eradicated; For the attainment of merely the thought to forsake such things Is explained as the perfection of moral discipline. 12 Unruly beings are as unlimited as space; They cannot possibly all be overcome, But if I overcome thoughts of anger alone This will be equivalent to vanquishing all foes. 13 Where would I possibly find enough leather With which to cover the surface of the earth? But wearing leather just on the soles of my shoes Is equivalent to covering the earth with it. 14 Likewise it is not possible for me To restrain the external course of things; But should I restrain this mind of mine What would be the need to restrain all else? 15 Although the development of merely a clear state of concentration Can result in taking rebirth in Brahma's realm, Physical and vocal actions cannot so result When accompanied by weak mental conduct. 16 The knower of reality has said That even if recitation and physical hardships Are practiced for long periods of time, They will be meaningless if the mind is distracted elsewhere. 17 Even those who wish to find happiness and overcome misery Will wander with no aim nor meaning If they do not comprehend the secret of the mind - The paramount significance of Dharma. 18 This being so, I shall hold and guard my mind well. Without the discipline of guarding the mind, What use are many other disciplines? 19 Just as I would be attentive and careful of a wound When amidst a bustling uncontrolled crowd, So I should always guard the wound of my mind When dwelling among harmful people. 20 And if I am careful of a wound Through fear of it being slightly hurt, Then why do I not guard the wound of my mind Through fear of being crushed by the mountains of hell? 21 Should I behave in such a way as this, Then whether among harmful people Or even in the midst of women, The steady effort to control myself will not decline. 22 It is better to be without wealth, Honor, body and livelihood; And it is better to let other virtues deteriorate, Rather than ever to let the virtues of the mind decline. 23 O you who wish to guard your minds, I beseech you with folded hands; Always exert yourself to guard Mindfulness and alertness! 24 People who are disturbed by sickness Have no strength to do anything useful, Likewise those whose minds are disturbed by confusion Have no strength to do anything wholesome. 25 Whatever has been learnt, contemplated and meditated upon By those whose minds lack altertness, Just like water in a leaking vase, Will not be retained in their memory. 26 Even those who have much learning, Faith and willing perseverence Will become defiled by a moral fall Due to the mistake of lacking alertness. 27 The thieves of unalertness, In following upon the decline of mindfulness, Will steal even the merits I have firmly gathered So that I shall then proceed to lower realms. 28 The host of thieves who are my own disturbing conceptions Will search for a good opportunity, Having found it they will steal my virtue And destroy the attainment of life in a happy realm. 29 Therefore I shall never let mindfulness depart From the doorway of my mind. If it goes, I should recall the misery of the lower realms And firmly re-establish it there. 30 Through staying in the company of spiritual masters, Through the instructions of abbots and through fear, Mindfulness will easily be generated In fortunate people who practice with respect. 31 "I am ever dwelling in the presence Of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Who are always endowed With unobstructed vision." 32 By thinking in this way I shall mindfully develop a sense of shame, respect and fear. Also through doing this, Recollection of the Buddha will repeatedly occur. 33 When mindfulness is set with the purpose Of guarding the doorway of the mind, Then alertness will come about And even that which has gone will return. 34 When, just as I am about to act, I see that my mind is tainted with defilement, At such a time I should remain Unmoveable, like a piece of wood. 35 Never should I look around Distractedly for no purpose: With a resolute mind I should always keep my eyes cast downwards. 36 But in order to relax the gaze For a short while I sould look around, And if someone appears in my field of vision I should look at him and say, "Welcome." 37 To check if there is any danger on the path I should look again and again in the four directions. To rest, I should turn my head around And then look behind me. 38 Having examined both ahead and behind I should proceed to either come or go. Being aware of the necessity for such mindful alertness I should behave like this in all situations. 39 Once having prepared for an action with the thought, "My body will remain in such a way," Then periodically I should look to see How the body is being maintained. 40 With the utmost effort I should check To see that the crazed elephant of my mind Is not wandering off but is bound To the great pillar of thinking about Dharma. 41 Those who strive by all means for concentration Should not wander off even for a moment; By thinking, "How is my mind behaving?" - They should closely analyze their mind. 42 But if I am unable to do this When afraid or involved in celebrations, then I should relax. Likewise it has been taught that at times of giving One may be indifferent to certain aspects of moral discipline. 43 I should undertake whatever deed I have intended to do And think of doing nothing other than it. With my mind applied to that task, I should set about for the time being to accomplish it. 44 By acting in this way all will be done well. But by acting otherwise neither action will be done. Likewise there will be increase in the proximate disturbing conceptions That come from lack of alertness. 45 If I happen to be present While a senseless conversation is taking place Or if I happen to see show kind of spectacular show, I should abandon attachment towards it. 46 If for no reason I start digging the earth, Picking at the grass or drawing patterns on the ground, Then by recalling the advise of the Buddhas, I should immediately stop out of fear. 47 Whenever I have the desire To move my body or to say something, First of all I should examine my mind And then, with steadiness, act in the proper way. 48 Whenever there is attachment in my mind And whenever there is the desire to be angry, I should not do anything nor say anything, But remain like a piece of wood. 49 Whenever I have distracted thoughts, the wish to verbally belittle others, Feelings of self-importance or self-satisfaction: When I have the intention to describe the faults of others, Pretension and the thought to deceive others; 50 Whenever I am eager for praise Or have the desire to blame others; Whenever I have the wish to speak harshly and cause dispute; At all such times I should remain like a piece of wood. 51 Whenever I desire material gain, honor, fame; Whenever I seek attendants or a circle of friends, And when in my mind I wish to be served; At all these times I should remain like a piece of wood. 52 Whenever I have the wish to decrease or to stop working for others And the desire to pursue my welfare alone, If motivated by such thoughts, a wish to say something occurs, At these times I should remain like a piece of wood. 53 Whenever I have impatience, laziness, cowardice, Shamelessness or the desire to talk nonsense; If thoughts of partiality arise, At these times too I should remain like a piece of wood. 54 Having in this way examined his mind for disturbing conceptions And for thoughts that strive for meaningless things, The courageous Bodhisattva should hold his mind steady Through the application of remedial forces. 55 Being very resolute and faithful, Steady, respectful, polite, With a sense of shame, apprehensive and peaceful, I should strive to make others happy. 56 I should not be disheartened by all the whims Of the childish who are in discord with one another I should know them to arise in their minds due to disturbing conceptions And therefore be kind towards them. 57 In doing that which by nature is not unwholesome Both for the sake of myself and other sentient beings I should always hold my mind fast, Acting like an apparition, with no sense of self. 58 By thinking again and again That after a long time I have won the greatest leisure, Likewise I should hold my mind As utterly unshakeable as the king of mountains. 59 If, mind, you are not made unhappy When this body is dragged and tossed about By vultures greedy for flesh, Then why are you so concerned about it now? 60 Holding this body as "mine", Why, mind, do you guard it so? Since you and it are separate, What use can it be to you? 61 Why, confused mind, Do you not hold onto a clean, wooden form? Just what is the point of guarding This putrid, dirt-filled machine? 62 First of all, mentally separate The layers of skin from the flesh And then with the scapel of discrimination Separate the flesh from the skeletal frame; 63 And having split open even the bones Look right down into the marrow. While examining this ask yourself, "Where is its essence?" 64 If, even when searching with such effort You can apprehend no essence, Then why with such much attachment Are you still guarding this body now? 65 What use is this body to you If its dirty insides are unfit for you to eat, If its blood is not fit to drink And if its intestines are not fit to be sucked? 66 At second best it is only fit to be guarded In order to feed the vultures and jackals. Truly this body of a human being Should only be employed in the practice of virtue. 67 But should you instead guard it with attachment Then what will you be able to do When it is stolen by the unsympathetic lord of death And given to the dogs and birds? 68 If servants are not given clothing and so forth When they are unable to be employed, Then why do you exhaust yourself looking after the flesh alone When even though caring for the body, it goes elsewhere? 69 Now having paid my body its wages, I shall engage it in making my life meaningful. But if my body is of no benefit, Then I shall not give it anything. 70 I should conceive of my body as a boat, A mere support for coming and going. And in order to benefit all others Transform it into a wish-fulfilling body. 71 Now, while there is freedom to act, I should always present a smiling face And cease to frown and look angry: I should be a friend and counsel of the world. 72 I should desist from inconsiderately and noisily Moving around chairs and so forth, As well as from violently opening doors: I should always delight in humility. 73 The stork, the cat and the thief, By moving silently and carefully, Accomplish what they desire to do; A Bodhisattva too should always behave in this way. 74 With respect I should graatefully accept Unsought-after words that are of benefit And that wisely advise and admonish me. At all times I should be a pupil of everyone. 75 I should say, "Well said," to all those Who speak Dharma well, And if I see someone doing good I should praise him and be well pleased. 76 I should discreetly talk about the good qualities of others And repeat those that others recount. If my own good qualities are spoken about I should just know and be aware that I have them. 77 All deeds of others are the source of a joy That would be rare even if it could be bought with money. Therefore I should be happy in finding this joy In the good things that are done by others. 78 Through doing this I shall suffer no losses in this life And in future lives shall find great happiness. But the fault of disliking their good qualities will make me unhappy and miserable And in future lives I shall find great suffering. 79 When talking I should speak from my heart and on what is relevant, Making the meaning clear and the speech pleasing. I should not speak out of desire or hatred But in gentle tones and in moderation. 80 When beholding someone with my eyes, Thinking, "I shall fully awaken Through depending upon this being." I should look at him with an open heart and love. 81 Always motivated by great aspiration Or being motivated by the remedial forces, If I work in the fields of excellence, benefit and misery Great virtues will come about. 82 Endowed with wisdom and joy I should undertake all that I do, I need not depend upon anyone else In any actions that I undertake. 83 The perfections such as generosity Are progressively more exalted But for a little morality I should not forsake a great gift. Principally I should consider what will be of the most benefit for others. 84 When this is well understood, I should always strive for the welfare of others. The Far-Seeing Merciful Ones have allowed a Bodhisattva To do some actions that for others were forbidden. 85 I should divide my food amongst those who have fallen to lower realms, Those without protection, and pratictioners. And eat merely what is sufficient for myself. Except for the three robes I may give away all. 86 This body which is being used for the sacred Dharma Should not be harmed for only slight benefit. By my behaving in this way The wishes of all beings will be quickly fulfilled. 87 Those who lack the pure intention of compassion Should not give their body away. Instead, both in this and future lives, They should give it to the cause of fulfilling the great purpose. 88 The Dharma should not be explained to those who lack respect, To those who, like sick men, wear cloth around their heads, To those holding umbrellas, sticks or weapons, To those with covered heads, 89 Nor to a woman unaccompanied by a man. The vast and profound should not be taught to lesser beings, Although I should always pay equal respect To the Dharmas of the lesser and higher beings. 90 I should not communicate the Dharma of a lesser being To one who is a vessel for the vast Dharma. I must not forsake the Bodhisattva way of life, Nor mislead others by means of sutra or mantras. 91 When I spit or throw away the stick for cleaning my teeth, I should cover it up with earth. Also it is shameful to urinate and so forth In water or on land used by others. 92 When eating I should not fill my mouth, Eat noisily or with my mouth wide open. I should not sit with my legs outstretched Nor rub my hands together. 93 I should not sit alone in vehicles, upon beds Nor in the same room with the women of others. In brief, having observed or inquired about what is proper, I should not do anything that would be disliked by the people of the world. 94 I should not give directions with one finger, But instead indicate the way Respectfully with my right arm With all my fingers fully outstretched. 95 Nor should I wildly wave my arms about But should make my point With slight gestures and a snap of fingers. - Otherwise I shall lose control. 96 Just as the Buddha lay down to pass away So should I lie in the desired direction when going to sleep, And first of all with alertness Make the firm decision to quickly rise again. 97 Although I am unable to practise all The limitless varieties of Bodhisattva conduct, I should certainly practice as much as has been mentioned here Of this conduct that trains the mind. 98 Three times by day and three times by night I should recite The Sutra of the Three Heaps; For by relying upon the Buddhas and the Awakening Mind My remaining downfalls will be purified. 99 Whatever I am doing in any situation, Whether for myself or for the benefit of others, I should strive to put into practice Whatever has been taught for that situation. 100 There is no such thing as something That is not learned by a Conqueror's Son, Thus if I am skilled in living in this way Nothing will be non-meritorious. 101 Whether directly or indirectly, I should not do anything That is not for the benefit of others. And solely for the sake of sentient beings I should dedicate everything towards Awakening. 102 Never, even at the cost of my life, Should I forsake a spiritual friend who is wise in the meaning of the great vehicle And who is a great Bodhisattva practitioner. 103 I should practice entrusting myself to my spiritual master In the manner taught in The Biography of Shrisambhava. This and other advise spoken by the Buddha I can understand through reading the sutras. 104 I should read the sutras Because it is from them that the practices appear. To begin with, I should look at The Sutra of Akashagarba. 105 In addition I should definitely read The Compendium of all Practices again and again, Because what is to constantly practised Is very well and extensively shown there. 106 Also I should sometimes look at the condensed Compendium of All Sutras. And I should make an effort to study The works by the same two titiles composed by the exalted Nagarjuna. 107 I should do whatever is not forbidden in those works, And when I see a practice there, I should impeccably put it into action In order to guard the minds of worldly people. 108 The defining characteristic of guarding alertness In brief is only this: To examine again and again The condition of my body and mind. 109 Therefore I shall put this way of life into actual practice, For what can be achieved by merely talking about it? Will a sick man be benefited Merely by reading the medical texts?