September 1 Shantideva Discussion Questions


  1. What’s the difference between Carefulness (Chapter 4) and Attentiveness (Chapter 5)?  What role do they play in a Bodhisattva’s practice?
  2. Rinpoche explained that an enemy can re-group and attack again, yet the inner enemy — negative emotions — can be conquered once and for all. Explain why.
  3. Verse 3:

“But if the elephant of my mind is firmly bound
On all sides by the rope of mindfulness,
All fears will cease to exist
And all virtues will come into my hand”

Why does all suffering arise from an untamed mind? Why does mindfulness eradicate fear?

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One thought on “September 1 Shantideva Discussion Questions

  1. 1. What’s the difference between Carefulness (Chapter 4) and Attentiveness (Chapter 5)? What role do they play in a Bodhisattva’s practice?

    Lisa’s $.02: Chapters 4 and 5 in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s commentary titled “A Flash of Lightening in the Dark of Night” were very helpful in answering this question. Both carefulness and attentiveness protect our minds from distortion. I believe the distinction is that carefulness is the general effort to protect Bodhicitta and attentiveness is the specific effort to watch the mind and apply the antidotes to any negative emotions that arise.

    2. Rinpoche explained that an enemy can re-group and attack again, yet the inner enemy — negative emotions — can be conquered once and for all. Explain why.

    Lisa’s $.02: In Geshe Chonyi’s commentary titled “Transcript of the Oral Commentary to Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds” he states that:

    “Our enemies, the afflictions, have been harming us since time without beginning. They have caused us a lot of problems and harm. But if we can completely uproot the real enemies, the afflictions, they can never return. This is not so for ordinary enemies – even if we defeat them in battle, they may run away to hide somewhere and return one day to attack us again.” (pg. 197)

    He then goes on to give the reason why this is possible:

    “The root of all afflictions is basically an erroneous or mistaken mind. If we apply an antidote to this erroneous mind, then we will be able to remove all the afflictions…When the eye of wisdom forsakes the seeds of afflictions, they are dispelled from our minds. They will have nowhere to go. They will not abide anywhere and they have no ability to return and harm us again like ordinary enemies.” (pg. 198)

    3. Verse 3:

    “But if the elephant of my mind is firmly bound
    On all sides by the rope of mindfulness,
    All fears will cease to exist
    And all virtues will come into my hand”

    Why does all suffering arise from an untamed mind? Why does mindfulness eradicate fear?

    Lisa’s $.02: On page 204, Geshe Chonyi explains how the analogy of the “crazy and unsubdued” elephant is relevant in understanding the untamed mind. Most of us are familiar with the drawing distributed in many introductory meditation classes that shows an elephant moving along a path which represents the development of the nine mental states. If someone out there in the blogosphere who is reading this now is not familiar with this drawing, they can find it, along with an explanation of the nine mental states, here:

    http://www.dharmafellowship.org/library/essays/nine-stages-of-abiding.htm

    Geshe Chony states:

    “That elephant represents our minds. Notice that there is an elephant at the very beginning of developing the nine mental states and there is a person who is guiding the elephant with a rope and hook. The rope represents the mental factor of mindfulness and the hook represents the mental factor of introspection or vigilance. We subdue our minds through employing both mindfulness and vigilance.”

    “If we are able to tie the elephant with an iron chain to a very strong pillar, there is no way the elephant can harm us and we need not be afraid since we know that it can no longer hurt us. In the same way, we need to tie up our minds and keep them focused very strongly and in a very stable way on a virtuous object.”

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