Now for the three
instructions on accordance of the vows.
First, in going for Refuge to the Buddha, let your mind be in accord with the Dharma. If we claim to go for Refuge to the Buddha but our mind is completely in opposition to the Dharma it is not right. Let your mind be infused with the Dharma, and generate peace and humility in your mind.
Second, in going for Refuge to the Dharma, we should let our speech be in accord with the Dharma. If we claim to be taking Refuge in the Dharma but let our speech be totally contrary to the Dharma this is very wrong. Therefore we try to give up telling deceitful lies, slandering others, and speaking hurtful words; we try to infuse our speech with the Dharma in our daily life.
Third, in going for refuge to the Sangha we should let our body be in accord with the Dharma. We should try to live our life in accord with the Dharma and give up negative actions of the body, such as sexual misconduct and so on.
What are the benefits of observing the Refuge precepts? By going for Refuge we begin to practice the Buddha's Dharma, this generates numerous benefits. We create a favorable basis for all precepts and levels of ordination. Also, we are protected from the harm of negative humans and non-human beings; all obstacles and harmful influences are pacified. We will not be separated from the blessings of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in all our lives to come. The effects of negative karma will be reduced. There are so many benefits that it is difficult to count them all.
we'll talk about Bodhicitta. All of the paths of a Bodhisattva must be completed
within the context of Bodhicitta. First try to think of all those beings experiencing
great suffering whom you have seen, like those people who are disabled or sick,
and then think of all the other beings who are undergoing immeasurable sufferings.
You think of this again and again until you feel real and great compassion for
them. You feel as if one will personally dispel all their sufferings; I will do
it even if I must do it alone.
When this kind of aspiration and courage arises in you, it is the beginning of becoming a Bodhisattva. Developing this kind of compassion and courage constitute the preparation and training of a Bodhisattva.
There are three kinds of aspiration for a Bodhisattva.
First is the king-like aspiration. A king has power and can give orders to help and benefit his subjects. This means one aspires to become enlightened, in order to be able to help all other sentient beings attain enlightenment.
Second is the captain-like aspiration, which means you want to become enlightened alongside all other sentient beings. A boatman loads his boat with passengers and goes with them across the river.
Third is the shepherd-like aspiration, which is when one aspires, "May all beings become enlightened because of my positive deeds. I will become enlightened only after every one of them has attained enlightenment." A shepherd will take care of the sheep first, and only then will he go home. This is the most supreme type of courage and compassion.
Of these three, the most noble is the third. But you can choose whichever is more suitable for you; there is no difference. There are three precepts of the Bodhicitta vow: abstaining from negative actions, accumulating positive actions, and working for the benefit of others. Abstaining from negative actions can be elaborated into the eighteen root precepts, but the essence of all of them can be condensed into not abandoning sentient beings. To give up on any sentient being is worse than any other negative deed, therefore one must place emphasis on this.
The Refuge vow and Bodhicitta are not just preliminary practices, or something to be done in the beginning and then be left behind. We recite verses on Refuge and Bodhicitta at the beginning of our practices, but they are not only for the beginning. These two should always accompany you throughout the path. One should maintain compassion, not give up on any sentient being, and should keep a strong commitment to the Refuge vow. This is the most important basis for the Buddhist path and one should always think that "I will personally bring all sentient beings to Enlightenment."
One should try to generate a genuine aspiration of this kind and work on it as one would dig for gold. This means one should be genuine, and not false or hypocritical. For example if you are not drunk but act like a drunk to impress others, you are not being genuine. When someone is digging for gold, he or she is not thinking of anything else but that gold. Likewise, one should focus one's mind solely on the generation of Bodhicitta and not do it for fame.
If you do not place emphasis on Refuge you cannot even practice the Hinayana, let alone the Mahayana. If you do not have an inclination towards Bodhicitta you cannot practice Mahayana, let alone Vajrayana.
It is very important to understand this basic principle. If genuine Bodhicitta is established in your mind, you will enter the path of the Bodhisattvas and you will always meet genuine spiritual friends in your lives to come. One will receive the nectar of the Dharma teachings, and will actualize Enlightenment, the perfect Buddhahood, without much delay. Perfect here means the complete abandonment of all that is to be abandoned and the full accomplishment of all that is to be accomplished.
Buddha is translated into Tibetan as Sangye. 'Sang' means awaken: you awaken from all the afflictions. 'Gye' means blossom: the wisdom opens like the petals of a blossoming flower.
Now that we have laid the foundation for the ocean of Bodhisattva activities, we should say prayers such as the Zangpa Chopa Monlam, the prayers composed by Nagarjuna, etc. al. We should say them not just once or twice but every day, and as constantly as possible throughout our lives for the benefit of others.
The reason why I talk about Refuge is that we should not waste this life of ours which is endowed with the eight freedoms and ten opportunities. Of course there are many who are more learned than I am, but I have tried to say a few words on this. A fool like me doesn't know much, but if you keep it these words in mind I think there will be some benefits.
Teaching given at Tsurphu Monastery in 1998, translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
Redistributed by the Tsurphu Foundation