FINDING GENUINE PRACTICE The Eight Verses of Training the Mind – 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

If you are interested in the teachings of my root guru, the KARMAPA, you can download the book. Below is the preface to get you going. Download link at the end of this page.

May all benefit from the dharma.

It was Jowo Atisha who brought these mind training practices from
India to Tibet. Initially, they were secret and taught to very few people.
They were regarded as a high-level practice for experienced practitioners, as not everyone was capable of practicing them. They demanded
great courage, determination, and dedication. Geshe Langri Thangpa’s
Eight Verses of Training the Mind was probably the first mind training
practice that was opened more widely to the public. The renowned
Kadampa master, Geshe Chekawa, who composed the famous SevenPoint Mind Training, first began to follow the Kadampa teachings having
heard Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses. These teachings have been preserved
in the Kagyu tradition through the work of Lord Gampopa. He studied
both the Kadampa teachings and the Mahamudra tradition and skilfully
melded them together into the Dagpo Kagyu. Mind training was an
essential part of Kagyu practices from the beginning.

Geshe Langri Thangpa is himself a great example of a genuine, mindtraining practitioner. Lojong was the main focus of his whole life; he
lived mind training every moment. Because he was always focused on
his practice, he rarely smiled, and people nicknamed him “grim-faced”
Langri Thangpa. On only one or two rare occasions, was he known to
smile. Once, there was a turquoise gemstone on the mandala plate. A little
mouse, attracted by the turquoise, scrambled over the plate and tried
to steal it. But it was too heavy, so the mouse called another mouse to
help him. Together, one mouse pulled at the stone, and the other mouse
pushed; as he watched their efforts, Langri Thangpa smiled.
His practice was so effective that those around him witnessed how even
the birds and animals at his monastery refrained from harming each
other. A story relates that after he passed away, the next day, an old lady
came to Langthang monastery. On the way, she was shocked to see an
eagle attacking a smaller bird. When she reached the monastery, she
told the monks what she had seen, and declared, “I think Langri Thangpa
must have passed away because this never used to happen.”

When we talk about lojong or “mind training,” the lo or “mind” referred
to is bodhicitta the “mind of enlightenment,” so primarily mind training
means training in bodhicitta. The Eight Verses contains all the mind training practices divided into eight stages that can be divided further into
two parts: relative truth and absolute truth. The first seven stanzas are instructions on generating relative bodhicitta, and the last stanza concerns
absolute bodhicitta. Some people recite the Eight Verses only as a prayer
or aspiration, but that was not Geshe Langri Thangpa’s intention. He
envisioned the text being used as a handbook for the practice of mind
training. In these verses, he tells us precisely what we have to do. Through
them, he teaches us how to visualize, how to prepare our mind, how to
focus, and how to analyze. They cover all the crucial points for taming
one’s mind and developing bodhicitta. They are not just something to
be understood intellectually or paid lip-service; they have to be put into

A parallel example would be training to run a marathon. If we want to
get fit, we have to follow a daily exercise program. It requires courage,
hard work, and perseverance. Mind training should be like that too. It
should be practiced assiduously on a daily basis, and we need to create
momentum by planning ahead. In the morning, when we wake up, we
should consciously set out a plan of what we will do with our mind
throughout the day. In the evening, we should reflect on our thoughts
and actions during the day that has passed and assess how successfully
we kept to our plan.
Langri Thangpa practiced what he taught. In the Eight Verses, it says,
“I will take defeat on myself, and give the victory to others.” One day,
while he was teaching the monks in his monastery, a woman arrived
with a baby. “This is your child. I can’t take care of it anymore,” she exclaimed, thrust it at him, and walked off. He calmly picked up the baby
and carried him until he found a wet nurse. He left the baby with her
and paid her to raise the child. This incident created a huge scandal and
much gossip directed against Langri Thangpa, but he said nothing.
And so the baby grew up under his protection. Years later, the woman
returned to the monastery with her family and told her story. All her
previous children had died, so when this child was born, the family had
done a mo — a divination. It said that the only way to save the baby was to
give him away to a qualified master. Now the boy had grown up, and they
were full of gratitude to Langri Thangpa.

Genuine dharma practice is not separate from life. Generally, when everything is going well, when there are no problems or difficulties, anyone
can appear to be a good dharma practitioner. However, when things go
wrong, when adversity strikes, that is the real test of our dharma practice.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has
worked on the preparation of this book for publication. I hope that it
will be of benefit.

17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

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