Dharma Notes

Definition of the Week

Definition of the Week (40) – The Dharma Jewel

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan:
☞ The definition of the Buddha Jewel is:
A purified truth possessing any of the eight qualities of being beyond thought and so forth, in the continuum of a superior.

Definition Key

  1. Being beyond the though of non-buddhist logicians.
  2. Being free from Karma and afflictions to some degree.
  3. Being from the misleading distorted conception.
  4. Pure because the path does not mix with obscurations.
  5. Clearly realizing the world of suchness and multiplicity.
  6. Having the quality of being an antidote.
  7. Having the quality of the truth of cessation of being free from attachment.
  8. Having the quality of the truth of the path to free from attachment.

Nominal divisions:

  1. Conventional Dharma Jewel: E.g., The twelve categories of the Buddhas teachings or the Lam Rim teachings.
  2. Ultimate Dharma Jewel: The truths of cessation and the path.

Definition of the Week (39) – Refuge (b)

☞ Gyaltsab Je:
Going for refuge to the other two Rare and Sublime Ones come naturally due to clear faith in the dharmakaya of the Buddha.

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan:
☞ The definition of the Buddha Jewel is:
An ultimate refuge possessing the eight qualities of non-compoundedness and so forth.

☞ Definition Key

  1. Non-compoundedness – It is free in the beginning of inherent generation, in the middle of inherent abiding and in the end of inherent cessation. This is the natural purify of the svabhavakaya.
  2. Spontaneous beneficial actions – Having pacified even the subtle effort of uncontaminated motivational action, through the abandonment of the most subtle obscurations to knowledge. Because spontaneous enlightened action for others arises from the purity that is the abandonment of the obscurations to knowledge, this point refers to the adventitious purity of the svabhavakaya.
  3. Not being understandable through others – It cannot be realized by thought or conveyed with words the way it is realized directly. (It cannot be realized through the condition of others, but only by one’s own efforts.) (The wisdom truth body understands the truth that is the svabhavakaya, by itself, and not through the condition of words or conceptual input of others.)
  4. Knowledge – Understanding both the world of suchness and the world of multiplicity. Understanding emptiness non-dually, and simultaneously comprehending the complete world of conventional multiplicity.
  5. Love – Showing sentient beings, who do not understand suchness and the world of multiplicity, the pure and unmistaken path leading to the irreversible state of omniscience.
  6. Ability – Being able to cut with the sword of knowledge and love the sprout of suffering that is the dependent link of name and form. Being able to destroy with the vajra of knowledge and love the wall of views protecting afflicted doubt.
  7. Purpose of self.
  8. Purpose of others.

The first three qualities are contained in the purpose of self, and the second three qualities are contained in the purpose for others.

Geshe Doga:
When reciting the word Buddha we meditate that in addition to Shakyamuni Buddha it includes one’s teachers, the deities, the eight Medicine Buddhas, the Thirty-five Buddhas and so forth. That is something to contemplate without fail when going for refuge.

Definition of the Week (38) – Refuge (a)

According to Lama Tsong Khapa, irreversible complete refuge in the Buddha Jewel, Dharma Jewel and Sangha Jewel is the basis for generating the path.

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen:
The nature or way of refuge: In dependence on these two cause for refuge, the mind being transformed into complete trust, from the depth of the mind, that the Three Jewels will rescue one from all sufferings, and accepting this with a commitment.

The two causes for refuge:

  1. Being afraid of all sufferings.
  2. Knowing that the Three Rare and Sublime Ones have the ability to rescue one.
    These two are the perfect causes for refuge, because in dependence on them the mind of refuge will definitely be generated.

The are called the “Precious Rare and Sublime Ones” for six reasons:

  1. They are seldom present in the worlds.
  2. They are stainless.
  3. The possess the powers of clairvoyances and so forth.
  4. They are the sublime of all virtuous ornaments.
  5. They are the sublime of all qualities.
  6. They are not under the control of attachment or anger.

Until attaining the essence of enlightenment [2.26]
I go for refuge to the buddhas;
Likewise, I go for refuge to the dharma
And to the assembly of bodhisattvas.

Gyalstab Dharma Rinchen:
The meaning of refuge is to mentally hold the object as the basis for liberation from dangers and suffering, and to express this verbally…
Here one goes for refuge from now until the attainment of the essence of highest enlightenment… Until that time one takes refuge in the buddhas and likewise in the Mahayana Dharma Jewel and into the assembly of bodhisattvas, the superior bodhisattvas.

Definition of the Week (37) – Conscientiousness

☞ Briefly
Conscientiousness is an awareness not under the control of the afflictions while abiding in enthusiastic effort toward remaining free from afflictions.
It accomplishes virtue and protects the mind from contaminated phenomena.

☞ Elaborately
Definition: Conscientiousness is an awareness that, while abiding with enthusiasm within non-attachment, non-anger and non-ignorance, protects the meditation on virtue and the mind from contaminated phenomena.

It has the function of being the basis for perfectly accomplishing and completing all ordinary and transcendental perfections, and thus is extremely important for accomplishing the grounds and paths.

It is the opposite of recklessness, where one thinks, “It does not matter if my mind is under the control of afflictions,” which leads to all kinds of inappropriate actions.

☞ Divisions: Asanga lists five types of conscientiousness:

  1. Relating to the past – correcting one’s past actions according to the Dharma.
  2. Relating to the future – determining to also act in accordance with the Dharma in the future.
  3. Relating to the present – determining to also act in accordance with the Dharma without forgetfulness in the present.
  4. Preparatory conscientiousness – adjusting the mind thinking, “If I continue to act in this way then it is unsuitable, but if I engage in these actions then it is appropriate.”
  5. Immediately following conscientiousness – in dependence on the above abiding in virtuous actions.

Definition of the Week (36) – Pliancy

☞ Definition: Pliancy is the mere workability of body and mind that comes about through having severed the continuity of physical and mental destructive tendencies.

☞ Pliancy has the function of eliminating all obscurations.

☞ Being a consciousness that has cut off the continuity of physical and mental negative tendencies, pliancy creates the imprints for being able to place the mind on any virtuous object for as long as one wishes.

Physical and mental destructive tendencies refers to the inability to engage into physical or mental virtuous actions as one wishes. Mental and physical negative tendencies block joy in regard to abandoning the mental afflictions.

Their antidote, physical and mental pliancy, is an extreme suppleness of body and mind that is devoid of physical and mental negative tendencies and that makes it possible to easily engage into virtuous actions on a continual basis.

☞ Divisions: Pliancy is divided into two, physical and mental pliancy:

  1. Physical pliancy: Having purified physical destructive tendencies through the power of concentration, this pliancy makes the body very light. One can meditate for long periods at a time without physical discomfort.
  2. Mental pliancy: A workable consciousness that, having abandoned destructive mental tendencies through the power of concentration, can engage the mind with an internal virtuous object without obstruction.

☞ Concerning pliancy, Lama Tsong Khapa says:
The king that empowers the mind for absorption;
If placed, immovable like the power of a mountain;
If directed, engaging every virtuous focus;
Inducing great bliss of physical and mental pliancy.

☞ Regarding eliminating all obscuration as the function:
Through the force of pliancy all physical and mental destructive tendencies are purified and one will naturally stay in concentration. This greatly increases concentration and through this, in turn, the bliss of pliancy increases also. The further increase of the bliss of pliancy leads to a further proportional increase in concentration.

Definition of the Week (35) – Non-Attachment

Definition: Non-attachment is a consciousness endowed with renunciation that lacks attachment to samsara and samsaric perfections.

Its function is to act as the basis for not engaging into negative actions.

Non-attachment in the context of giving up the happiness of this life and directing one’s attention to the happiness of the next life is the motivation of the practitioner of the small scope.

Non-attachment to the whole of cyclic existence, giving up the grasping for samsaric perfections from the depth of one’s heart, is the motivation of the practitioner of medium scope.

Some thoughts regarding attachment:

Attachment is a minion of ignorance. From the Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance,

Ignorance says to wisdom:

They who belong to my retinue, [38bcd]
Which is dominated, among others, by the three poisons,
Jealousy, miserliness, pretension, dishonesty, conceit,
The sixty-two corrupt views, [39]
Pride, laziness, non-conscientiousness and others,
Such as great desire, I send them out continuously.
Just to subdue them is hard, even without severance.

I am the essential person in the continuum, [40abc]
You, wisdom, are the adventitious one.
If someone goes then it is your kind.

Ven Choden Rinpoche commenting these lines:

Also, I am not alone. I have a very numerous entourage. The different mental factors that are dominated by true-grasping and the other main ones such as attachment and anger, I send out continually.

Because I send them out, it is even difficult to just subdue a little those that are like me, i.e. which do not contradict me but agree with me: Jealousy, miserliness, pretension, dishonesty, conceit, the sixty-two appalling views, pride, laziness, non-conscientiousness, and the like. There is also great desire, where whatever possessions one has, it is never enough and where one always wants more.

It is difficult to just subdue or lessen these a little, without even talking about being free from them from the root.

Further, I am the essential person in the continuum, and you, wisdom, are the adventitious one. Hence, if someone has to go, then it is your kind.
Did not Einstein say that to repeat the same action over and over again, each time with the hope of a different result, is the definition of insanity?

While it is hard to give up samsara altogether, we should definitely be able to see that: SAMSARA IS OVERRATED.

Most of us would like to alleviate the sufferings brought on by our attachments, but if possible without giving up our attachments. We need to realize there is no middle ground. Either we cling onto the object, or we do not.

Definition of the Week (34) – Faith

Definition: Faith is a clarity, an aspiring belief and a wish with regard to qualities, mere existence and ability, respectively.

☞ There is a threefold division of faith:

  1. Clarifying faith
  2. Faith of belief
  3. Aspiring faith

1. Clarifying faith is a clear awareness that is generated through seeing the qualities of objects which actually have qualities, such as the Three Jewels.

2. Faith of belief is faith in topics taught by the Buddha, such as the law of cause and effect, dependent arising and so forth and arises through having contemplated them.

3. Aspiring faith thinks, “I definitely have to attain this,” after having contemplated, for example, the four noble truths, and having ascertained that suffering and its origin are to be abandoned and that cessation and its path are to be attained. It is generated on the basis of understanding the possibility of realization if one practices accordingly.

Function: Faith acts as the antidote against faithlessness. It is also the basis for aspiration and thus helps to overcome laziness.

Generally, faith is praised by the sages as the root of all paths and grounds, and is therefore very important.

From the Ten Dharmas:
For people without faith
White dharmas are not generated.
It is similar to a seed burned
By fire and a green sprout.

☞ Faith and Liking
Sometimes in popular thought, faith is confused with liking. But while they do not necessarily exclude each other, they are also not always the same:

  1. Liking that is not faith: Liking temporary pleasures.
  2. Faith that is not liking: Faith in cyclic existence.
  3. Faith that is also liking: A liking faith in the teacher and in the white karmic laws of cause and effect, which arise by contemplating their qualities and benefits from the depth of one’s heart.

Faith and Reason

Contrary to the western view of faith, in Buddhism faith and reason do not have to cancel each other out. Rather, while there is also in Buddhism such a thing as blind faith, the superior type of faith arises as a result of investigation and experience.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Faith based on analysis is the superior type of faith.


Definition of the Week (32) – Wisdom

Definition: Wisdom is a mental factor that thoroughly discerns the object of analysis.

It discerns in detail the faults and qualities of the object and has the function of eliminating doubt: e.g., it analyses whether an action is beneficial or harmful. The objects to be investigated by wisdom are virtue, non-virtue and non-predicted phenomena.

Wisdom and Non-ignorance
Non-ignorance is a stable virtuous wisdom combined with concentration that can counteract ignorance. It is the sole antidote to ignorance.

Special Insight: A wisdom held by the bliss of pliancy derived from analyzing the object while remaining in calm abiding.

From The Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance:
The sentient beings of the three realms
And specifically one’s own very mind,

Since time beginningless and non-abiding,
From whence ignorance came into being,
Have been abiding naturally with the mind’s nature.
This is the mahamudra of the basis.

They who do not realize this, grasp at true existence
And thus wander up to now in cyclic existence.
The direct antidote to this is the wisdom
That explicitly realizes this selflessness.

Hence, that a self exists in reality
Is even more mistaken then mistaken
Therefore, from now on, at all times,

I shall abandon you, the mistaken self-grasping.
Without generating any aversion,
Go where ever you have to go to.

The wisdom realizing selflessness says to the self-grasping:
‘Hence, as all phenomena lack existence from their own side and exist only as appearances to conceptual thought, as mere imputations by name, the grasping at a real self by you, the self-grasping, is so mistaken that it is mistaken beyond mistaken. Therefore, from now on, as I have identified you as mistaken, I shall abandon you at all times. Therefore leave and go wherever you have to go to, without generating any aversion to me.”

Definition of the Week (33) – Union of Calm Abiding and Special Insight

☞ Calm Abiding:
Jetsün Chokyi Gyaltsen:
A concentration held by the bliss of pliancy, which can remain in equipoise on its object however much it likes, attained in dependence on the nine stages of mental stabilization.

It is called calm abiding because upon having calmed the movement of the mind to outer objects, it abides single-pointedly on its internal object.

☞ Special Insight:
Jetsün Chokyi Gyaltsen:
A wisdom clearly discerning its object through being held by the bliss of pliancy derived from analysis of its object while remaining in calm abiding.

☞ Union of Calm Aiding and Special Insight
The union of calm abiding and special insight is synonymous with special insight.

☞ Why Special Insight is needed:
From the Debate Between Wisdom and Ignorance:

Self-grasping says to wisdom:

Focusing on the aggregates one says ‘I’.

Make the mere non-affirming negation [149]
Of true existence of this the object of apprehension.
If then, without weakening strength, but with clear intensity,
Free from mental sinking, excitement and apprehending characteristics,

One is skillful in training in the mode of apprehending, [150]
Where, upon having focused on the aggregates,
My non-existence appears as object,
Then this is is the mode of apprehending antithetical to me.

Then one is able to evict me. [151]
☞ The Reason why Calm Abiding Needs to Precede Special Insight:
Lama Tsong Khapa:
If one has not attained calm abiding, then no matter how much analytical meditation is performed by individually discriminating wisdom, it cannot generate the joy and bliss of physical and mental pliancy in its conclusion. Once calm abiding is attained, then the analytical meditation with the individually discriminating wisdom can also generate pliancy in its conclusion, and that is why calm abiding is needed as the cause.

Definition of the Week (31) – Mental Stabilization / Concentration

Lama Tsong Khapa:

The nature of mental stabilization is a virtuous mind abiding single-pointedly on its object, without mental wandering.

They who wish to protect the trainings [1]
Protect the mind after focusing it strongly.
Without protecting this mind
It is impossible to protect the trainings.

Gyaltsab Je:
Showing in Brief the Necessity of Protecting One’s Mind
They who wish to protect the trainings of generosity and the other perfections from degeneration must strongly focus their mind on the trainings, and then protect the mind from wandering off to mistaken objects.

If one does not protect the mind from wandering off, then it becomes impossible to protect the trainings.

Ven Geshe Doga:
How to Meditate: A crazed elephant can be tamed with a rope, hook and pillar. It is tied to the pillar with the rope, and directed with the hook. Similarly, our crazed mind is subdued with the rope of mindfulness, the hook or introspection, and the pillar of the virtuous meditation object.

First the mind needs to be tied to the pillar of the meditation object with the rope of mindfulness, and then we use the hook of mental introspection to direct the mind back to the virtuous object if it has strayed, or adjust our focus when we find the mind has become unclear.

Through this approach, we will not experience mental wandering and distraction, and all other virtuous practices will arise naturally.

Definition of the Week (30) – Enthusiasm

Lama Tsong Khapa:

“The nature of enthusiasm: Having focussed on the object of virtue, being in the aspect of strong joy.”

Enthusiasm is joy in virtue. It is the antidote against laziness and has the function of perfectly accomplishing and completing one’s virtuous practice.

Definition: From the Compendium of Knowledge: What is enthusiasm? It is joy in regard to armor, training, confidence, not giving up and not being complacent.


  1. Armor-like enthusiasm is the enthusiasm that is generated prior to engaging into a virtuous action.
  2. Enthusiasm of training is the enthusiasm that accompanies the viruous practice.
  3. Enthusiasm of confidence is enthusiasm in one’s abilities. It lacks low self esteem and counteracts thoughts like, “How could somebody like me ever achieve this.”
  4. Irreversible enthusiasm is the enthusiasm that prevents one from being sidetracked by other virtuous activities before having completed what one originally set out to do.
  5. Enthusiasm of non-complacency is enthusiasm that protects one from being satisfied with an inferior or incomplete result.

For examples, some students are satisfied with just studying and implementing one small aspect of the path, and then think, “I have made great progress along the path.” When they then later receive teachings on the whole path to enlightenment by someone knowledgeable in all the important points of the path, then they become discouraged.

The Difference Between Enthusiasm and Effort:
Effort based on enthusiasm is joyous effort that helps to accomplish one’s aims quickly. Mere effort, on the other hand, is difficult to sustain over a long time period and is usually less effective. It is therefore important to cultivate a sense of happiness with one’s dharma practice.

Four Conducive Conditions for Enthusiasm:

  1. The power of belief: Generating aspiration for the practice of abandoning and adopting through meditating on the karmic laws of cause and effect.
  2. The power of stability: Not engaging into actions indiscriminately but first weighing up whether one can accomplish the action or not.
  3. The power of joy: Practicing joyful enthusiasm without contentment, like a child that does not want to stop playing.
  4. The power of desisting: Taking a break when body and mind have become exhausted through intense joyous effort and then immediately starting again when mental and physical strength are restored.

Short Meditation on Increasing Self-Confidence and a Positive Self-Image

Sit down comforably in an upright position.
Pick a time span such as today, last week, last year etc.
Remember consciously with a clear and relaxed mind, without judging, all the actions of body, speech and mind carried out in that period from the start up to the present moment.
Rejoice in all positve actions in general and dharma actions specifically, recalling also all their immense karmic benefits. (Most likely one finds more to recjoice in as one initially thinks).

Now focus inwards and identify your dharma qualities, such as love or compassion. (Find at least one.)
Rejoice in your qualities, ideally until the thought, “I am good,” is generated.

Repeat until the thought, “I am good,” is generated naturally.

Definition of the Week (29) – Patience

Lama Tsong Khapa:

The nature of patience is a naturally abiding mind, undisturbed by harm or suffering, and which abides on the dharma as originally aspired.

Patience as a three-fold division into:

  1. Patience unaffected by harm
  2. Patience willingly bearing suffering
  3. Patience of definitely relying on the dharma.


Unsubdued sentient beings equal space, [12]
Destroying them is impossible.
Merely destroys this mind of anger,
Equals destroying all enemies.

To cover the whole earth with leather, [13]
Where should the leather come from?
To cover one’s soles with leather
Equals covering the whole earth.

Similarly, I do not oppose [14]
External phenomena.
I should reverse this mind of mine,
Where is the need to oppose others?

Gyaltsab Je:

Patience Depends on the Mind
(Meaning; Example; Relating Meaning and Example)

  • Meaning
    Patience is completed by destroying one’s anger, which equals destroying all external enemies. It is not achieved through the extinction of the objects of one’s anger. This is conclusive because unsubdued sentient beings equal space and it is impossible to destroy them all. Therefore also patience depends on the mind.
  • The Example
    Where would one find enough leather to cover the whole earth to prevent one’s feet from being harmed by thorns and other sharp objects on the ground? Covering the soles of one’s feet with leather will do the trick and prevent the feet from being harmed by thorns, sharp stones and the like. It equals covering the whole earth.
  • Relating the Meaning and the Example
    Similar to the analogy, it is impossible to oppose all harmful external phenomena. Instead one focuses one’s mind on these objects and reverses the mind from generating anger. By meditating in such a way patience is completed. To oppose the objects of anger is impossible and unnecessary.


Definition of the Week (28) – Ethics/Morality

Lama Tsong Khapa:

The nature of ethics is the intent of abandonment, mentally reversing from harming others. This is mainly from the point of view of the ethics of restraint.

Gyaltsab Je:

Morality Depends On the Mind
(Completing the Morality Gone Beyond Does Not Depend on the Absence of Sentient Beings that One Could Kill; It Is Completed by Meditating on the Mind of Abandoning)

Completing the Morality Gone Beyond Does Not Depend on the Absence of Sentient Beings that One Could Kill
Fish and so forth, where should they flee to [11ab]
So as not to be killed?

It follows that the completion of the morality gone beyond does not depend on removing all sentient beings that could possibly be killed, because it is unfeasible to move all the animals such as fish and so forth to a safe place.

It Is Completed by Meditating on the Mind of Abandoning
Through the mind of abandoning, [11cd]
Morality goes beyond, it is taught.

For this reason the morality gone beyond is achieved by completing the meditation on the mind of abandoning, such as on the mind abandoning the thoughts of killing or stealing.

From a sutra:
If the morality gone beyond is explained: It is the intent to give up harming others.

By excelling in all ten virtuous paths [2.2]
He becomes exceedingly pure,
Eternally pure, like an autumn moon,
Beautified by such peace, radiance.

The first Dalai Lama:
Question: ‘Do those ten karmic paths not also exist on the first ground?’
Answer: ‘Of course they do. But the bodhisattvas abiding on the second ground are superior in morality to the first ground because they became exceedingly pure by excelling in all ten virtuous paths.
Bodhisattvas abiding on the second ground of eternally pure morality became like an autumn moon because they are beautified by the peace arising from having restrained the doors of the sense powers, and by a the radiance of a brilliant aura.’

Definition of the Week (27) – Generosity

Lama Tsong Khapa:

The definition of generosity is the virtuous intent to give.

It is generated by developing the antidote to miserliness and generating the wish to give away our possessions.

Definition of the Week (26) – Close Placement (of Wisdom) by Mindfulness on Phenomena

The definition of close placement (of wisdom) by mindfulness on phenomena is:
An exalted knower on the path, that is contained in either mindfulness or wisdom, and which meditates by investigating the general and specific characteristics of mental factors.

In short: Wisdom, a discriminating awareness is placed by mindfulness on the virtuous and non-virtuous mental factors, to investigate and differentiate their general and specific characteristics.

Focal object: The different mental factors.

They are thus either identified as belonging to the afflicted side and as object of abandonment, or as uncontaminated and belonging to the side of implementation. Through understanding that un-contaminated phenomena are the exact opposite to the afflicted mental factors, one understand that they are their only antidote, and be motivated to generate them.

Afflicted or uncontaminated, they are negated as being the self, or as belonging to an intrinsic self. They themselves are also recognized as lacking inherent nature.