July 26 Shantideva Discussion Questions


1. What is the “textbook” definition of negative emotions?

2. What’s the difference between an ordinary being’s experience of negative emotions and a bodhisattva’s experience?

3. Briefly, what are the antidotes to attachment, anger, ignorance?

4. Assuming we’re not modern day Milarepas, what are some of the physical hardships that you are prepared to endure on the path to Liberation? At what point do these hardships no longer feel like hardships but instead are transformed into joy?

Please respond by August 30.

Meditations — please do these on your own, a written response is not expected.

1.) Mindfulness Journal — at random intervals during the day, stop for a moment and write down the following about what’s going on in your mind: are you thinking about

Subject: self or others
Time frame: an incident in the past / present / future
Predominant emotion that you are experiencing: attachment / aversion / etc.
Motivation: what’s the underlying motivation for whatever action you are performing? (e.g., you’re at work, is your motivation to make $$ for yourself?)

2.) Pick one of the Eight Worldly Concerns and reflect on how your preoccupation with the concern has affected your relationships. Narrow this down to a specific incident. How can your understanding of Buddhism change this?

— Posted by Dina Li

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One thought on “July 26 Shantideva Discussion Questions

  1. 1. What is the “textbook” definition of negative emotions?

    Lisa’s $.02: On page 187 of his “Transcript of the Oral Commentary to Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds”, Geshe Chonyi defines negative emotions as those which harm us by their very nature because it is their nature to disturb the mental peace of our minds.

    2. What’s the difference between an ordinary being’s experience of negative emotions and a bodhisattva’s experience?

    Lisa’s $.02: Geshe Chonyi discusses this on pages 190 through 191. Ordinary beings will put up with great hardships to conquer their enemies and wear the battle scars acquired from this activity with great pride. Bodhisattvas have the patience and determination to bear great hardships in order to purify their negative karma and overcome all of their remaining obscurations for the sake of all. They are going after the real enemy: the negative emotions. This corresponds to Chapter 4, verse 39 of the Bodhicharyavatara:

    “If even scars inflicted by meaningless enemies,
    Are worn upon the body like ornaments,
    Then why is suffering a cause of harm to me
    Who impeccably strives to fulfill the great purpose?”

    3. Briefly, what are the antidotes to attachment, anger, ignorance?

    Lisa’s $.02: On page 185, Geshe Chonyi states that “the only antidote that enables us to completely uproot and destroy all of the negative emotions is the wisdom that realizes selflessness.”

    4. Assuming we’re not modern day Milarepas, what are some of the physical hardships that you are prepared to endure on the path to Liberation? At what point do these hardships no longer feel like hardships but instead are transformed into joy?

    Lisa’s $.02: Well, I would say that the hardships that I’m enduring so far tend to be emotional and psychological, and are based on stepping beyond my self-cherishing comfort zone to engage in actions that I intellectually know are the right thing to do, but don’t yet have a great deal of enthusiasm for. The development of bodhicitta has to start somewhere, and before we’ve developed true aspirational bodhicitta, we have to first attempt artificial or contrived bodhicitta. I was watching a couple of Ven. Robina Courtin’s teachings on DVD and she called this “faking it until you make it”. I like that way of thinking about it. As I continually attempt this, I do find a sense of satisfaction in accomplishing the altruistic action, which does get stronger and more coherent over time. I also find that whatever self-cherishing obstacles that are standing in the way of the action are diminished.

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