One great master that has given us such compelling instructions on Lojong which literally means “mind training” in Tibet certainly is Dharmarakshita. He was one of Atisha’s masters in the tenth century and the author of Training the Mind: The Wheel Blade of Mind Transformation.
We are told that the process of karma is like a “wheel of sharp weapons” which can be visualized as something we throw out, which then later comes back to cut us – like a boomerang. In the same way, Dharmarakshita explains, these non-virtuous causes we create through our self-interested behavior come back to ‘cut us’ in this life or in future ones. This pain and suffering return as the ripening of negative karma such actions create.
This really is the source of all our unhappiness. He thoroughly admonishes us when he explains that all of this is the result of our own selfishness. This habitual grasping and clinging to our ego and material things is the main problem getting in the way of true happiness.
In The Wheel of Sharp Weapons he explains how a Bodhisattva (spiritual hero) takes on suffering just as the peacock eats poisonous plants:
1) In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Though medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants.2) In similar fashion the brave Bodhisattvas
Remain in the jungle of worldly concern.
No matter how joyful this world’s pleasure gardens,
These Brave Ones are never attracted to pleasures,
But thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain.
Dharmarakshita also wrote The Peacock’s Neutralizing of Poisons that helps us see how our ego interferes with discovering true happiness. These few stanzas should be spread far and wide in all new Buddhist tantric texts so that we can gain a clear understanding how Buddhism differentiates from harmful worldly tantric practices.
Here are a few excerpts that hit the essential point:
Even though, like Upali, you’ve reached the perfection of industry;
And, even though, like Ashvajita, your conscientiousness is highly commendable;
If you do not lead your parents on the path to enlightenment,
This is the way of a mere shepherd for you fulfil only your liberation and wellbeing.
Even though you wear robes you do not observe the precepts,
Your perceptions remain permeated by the various tasks of attachment;
And you criticize and denigrate the noble beings.
This is deserving of being exterminated by the Dakinis.
This wonderful book by Thupten Jinpa Ph.D. had further quotes of Dharmarakshita that I have not been able to find online or anywhere else. It is called Mind Training: The Great Collection (Library of Tibetan Classics).
This quote is very important:
THE DELUDED WHO ARE CHASED BY AFFLICTIONS AND KARMA
ARE CARELESS OF THE DOCTRINE AND SENTIENT BEINGS AS A WHOLE,
YET THEY ANGRILY DRIVE ENEMIES WHO HARM THEM
TO THEIR AFTERLIFE WITH INCANTATIONS.
WHETHER LAPSED IN MORALITY OR NOT,
THEY ARE MOST INTRIGUING!
And these additional quotes are most valuable since it is so hard to differentiate an authentic teacher from the charlatan:
For sake of material gains you adopt the guise of a noble one;
Yet, like the dogs and pigs, you indulge in sexual acts [with no restraint];
Those who deceive others by professing to be practicing tantra,
Deserve to be thrown into a [burning] hearth by the realized Vajra holders.
Those harmful ‘mystics’ who possess little learning,
When they see common feats they become supremely inflated with conceit;
Such people who lead others with no guidance through the stages of the path,
They deserved to be belittled and brought to shame by the learned ones.
You can read this full text here: Progretto Free Dharma Teachings
Or you can download this same text (with added images of beautiful peacocks) as a .pdf file here: The Peacock Neutralizing of Poisons