A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night, The Dalai Lama

A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life

From the back cover:

Compassion is the guiding principle of the bodhisattvas, those who vow to attain enlightenment in order to liberate all sentient beings from the suffering and confusion of imperfect existence. To this end, they must renounce all self-centered goals and consider only the well-being of others. The bodhisattvas’ enemies are the ego, passion, and hatred; their weapons are generosity, patience, perseverance, and wisdom.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is considered to be a living embodiment of this spiritual ideal. His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama presents here a detailed manual of practical philosophy, based on The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara), a well-known text of Mahayana Buddhism written by Shantideva. The Dalai Lama explains and amplifies the text, alluding throughout to the experience of daily life and showing how anyone can develop bodhichitta, the wish for perfect enlightenment for the sake of others. This book will surely become a standard manual for all those who wish to make the bodhisattva ideal a living experience.

The book came from teachings that His Holiness gave for a week in France in 1991.

I found a lot in this book to admire and like…..

“…we should reflect on impermanence and the lack of reality in phenomena…”

“…the happiness we all want and the suffering we all try to avoid are produced precisely by our actions, or karma.”

“It is through training the mind that we can transform the way in which we act, speak, and think.”

“Do not rely on individuals, rely on the teachings.
“Do not rely on the words, rely on the meaning.
“Do not rely on the adapted meaning, rely on the ultimate meaning.
“Do not rely on intellectual knowledge, rely on wisdom.”

“Seeing and being aware is the nature of the mind itself.”

and I like this…..

“What I have to say has all been said before,
And I am destitute of learning and of skill with words.
I therefore have no thought that this might be of benefit to others.
I wrote it only to sustain my understanding.”

And the Buddha himself said:

“O monks, just like examining gold in order to know its quality,
You should pay my words to the test.
A wise person does not accept them merely out of respect.”

“Nothing is more important than guarding the mind. Let us constantly keep watch over the wild elephant of the mind, curbing it with mindfulness and vigilance.”

“Human life is a unique and favored opportunity and not easily gained. If we do not use it to benefit others, when will we ever get another chance?”

“As a destructive force there is nothing as strong as anger.”

 

Some notes I took:

P 1 – “…we should reflect on impermanence and the lack of reality in phenomena…”

P 3 – Karma

P 4 – Training the mind…our mistaken notion of reality.

P 6 – The 4 reliances:

  • Do not rely on individuals,rely on the teachings
  • Do not rely on the words, rely on the meanings
  • Do not rely on the adapted meanings, rely on the ultimate meanings
  • Do not rely on intellectual knowledge, rely on wisdom

P 14 – Seeing and being aware is the nature of the mind

P 16 A teaching:

  • What I have to say has all been said before,
  • And I am destitute of learning and of skill with words.
  • I therefore have no thought that this might be of benefit to others.
  • I write it only to sustain my understanding.

P 23 – Our intention should not be spoiled by the eight worldly preoccupations: gain or loss, pleasure or pain, praise or criticism and fame or infamy.

p 41 – Nothing is more important than guarding the mind.

P 52 – As a destructive force, there is nothing as strong as anger.

p 83 – Self-confidence is not to be confused with pride. Pride is thinking highly of one-self without good reason. Self-confidence is knowing that one has the ability to do something properly and being determined not to give up.

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