Sep 24, 2015

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Lesson 2: The Bitter Taste of the Drug (Toa thuốc đắng)

Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner”

Lesson 2: The Bitter Taste of the Drug

From Lesson 1, we’ve already known “14 grievous failures” that clarify which is right view, right mindfulness, right action, right livelihood, right speech and right thought. It could be said these failures are an important compass with detailed instruction map that keeps the boat of Noble Eightfold Path of the Practitioner from being out of track.

The master has used a rhetorical mode by “listing” the mistakes in numerical order and then “continuously repeating” the phrase:” And this is a grievous failure”. These help the reader be conscious of assertive consequences of those failures. Such kind of expression can be found in texts, writings and poems scripted by Indian and Tibetan masters, of whom the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmashambhava, is especially respected as an initiator of the style.

It is amazing that such soulless numerical order have not affected the velvety and understandability of imaginable comparisons like “a moth plunges into the flame of a lamp”, “to wash a sheepskin coat in plain water”, “to die of thirst on the shore of a lake”, “to lean an axe against a tree trunk”, or “a blind man leads the blind”, etc. The way Gampopa has meaningfully illustrated his assertion makes him a master of linguistics, despite the fact that he was a physician.

These “Fourteen grievous failures” should be seen as profound teachings and advices from the heart of an enlightened master who had a firm grasp of what would happen on the liberation path towards those who waste their time chasing after secular pursuits. Typically are failures numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.

 

Gampopa

Gampopa (1079 – 1153)

Also, these are definitely a strict warning over practitioners going astray from the orbit of Dharma, which may lead to the outcome of zero, as pointed out in the failure numbered 7 and 8.

The “14 grievous failures” are like a lion’s roar in the forest of ignorance, preconception, and prejudice cultivated by the heterodox, or even by practitioners who fail to catch up with the quintessence of Dharma. Here with a sharp pen and weighty arguments, Gampopa had touched the “deadly point” of fake Buddhist devotees (who do not conduct themselves in line with the Buddha’s teachings), unmasking their deceitful mind and push them into the dazzling light of truth, as pointed out in the failure numbered 9 and 10.

For those who have serious attitude toward practice but are lack of right thought of liberation, he had compassionately drawn up a path leading them to enlightenment, as pointed out in failure numbered 13 and 14.

Every single word of Gampopa’s teachings have been overflown with great compassion and tolerance, proving to be appropriate with those who are seeking for the path of liberation which remains smothered by ignorance as the consequence of lacking right view and right thought. We can find out the similarity between Gampopa’s advices and the teaching of the Buddha in The Sutra in Forty Two Sections as saying: “Never trust your own thinking as long as you achieve full awakening”

These “14 grievous failures” shall be a mirror to us, as the Buddhist practitioner, to review and fix our mistakes. Shouldn’t we listen to Thogme Zangpo as he says:“ If we don’t have self awareness, mindfulness, we won’t evaluate our own shortcomings and probably do something contrary to the Dharma in the guise of a Dharma practitioner. Therefore, we should constantly evaluate, judge our own faults, and discard them– this is the practice of the Bodhisattva”.

Just like an acute patient being despair of not finding out the source of the disease, “14 grievous failures” is a great cure by a brilliant doctor. We are willing to take his medication in spite of its extreme bitterness towards our taste which has already been familiar with the false sweetness of Eight Worldly Winds or Vicissitudes of life (Atthalokadhamma).
With special tribute to the compassionate Master of Tibet’s Buddhism, Gampopa, for his invaluable teachings and guidance to us.

April 22, 2014
Phuoc Thanh Village

THINLEY-NGUYEN THANH

Translated by Mat Hue Phap


Original Vietnamese Post: Bài 2: Đôi điều cảm nghĩ về “14 thất bại trầm trọng”: TOA THUỐC ĐẮNG

Related posts: 

Lesson 1: PREFACE 

Lesson 2: The Bitter Taste of the Drug

Lesson 3: TO RETURN EMPTY-HANDED FROM A LAND RICH IN PRECIOUS GEMS – AND THIS IS A GRIEVOUS FAILURE 

Lesson 4: DO NOT RETURN TO THE LIFE OF A HOUSEHOLDER 

Lesson 5: To Die of Thirst on the Shore of a Lake

Lesson 6: LEANING A SHARP AXE AGAINST A TREE TRUNK

Lesson 7: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – LITTLE BOM AND THE HYPOCRITE

Lesson 8: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – A PARROT SAYING A PRAYER 

Lesson 9: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – TO WASH A SHEEPSKIN COAT IN PLAIN WATER

More about Lesson 9: THINKING ABOUT ALMSGIVING, CHARITY AND OFFERINGS TO TRIRATNA (VÀI CẢM NIỆM VỀ BỐ THÍ, TỪ THIỆN CHO THA NHÂN, CÚNG DƯỜNG TAM BẢO)

Lesson 10: TO OFFER A MOTHER THE FLESH OF HER OWN CHILD (CHO NGƯỜI MẸ THỊT CỦA CHÍNH ĐỨA CON BÀ)

Lesson 11: A CAT LYING IN WAIT FOR A MOUSE (Mèo giết chuột)

Lesson 12: THINK ABOUT THE TEACHING OF MASTER GAMPOPA FROM THE SCANDAL OF BO DE (BODHI) PAGODA (Từ sự kiện chùa Bồ Đề suy ngẫm lại lời dạy của tôn giả Gampopa)

Lesson 13: A PHYSICIAN WITH CHRONIC DISEASE (BÁC SĨ GIỎI BỊ BỆNH KINH NIÊN ĐÁNH GỤC)

Lesson 14: A RICH MAN WHO HATH LOST THE KEY OF HIS TREASURY (KHI NGƯỜI GIÀU ĐÁNH MẤT CHÌA KHÓA MỞ KHO TÀNG CỦA MÌNH)

Lesson 15: A BLIND MAN LEADING THE BLIND (NGƯỜI MÙ DẪN DẮT MỘT NGƯỜI MÙ)

 

  1. Mat Dieu Hang says:
    I rejoice in your good deed relating to translating our Guru’s discourse into English.
    “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” corresponds to the bitter medicine for the ignorance of a Buddhist practitioner. The Buddhist “returns empty-handed from a land rich in precious gems’ or “Dies of thirst on the shore of a lake”, or becomes “a diseased guy carrying a bag of medicine which he never uses”, or “does not practise important sayings, quite like a parrot saying some prayers”, or becomes “A rich man who has lost the key of his inner treasury” because of his delusion.
    “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” teaches the Buddhist how to cultivate in the orbit of Dharma. Although it is the bitter taste of drug, it can be recognized as an important compass with detailed instruction in order that the Buddhist can get the sweet taste of full enlightenment.
    Thank you so much for your translation.
    May you have a happy life and make progress in the path to enlightenment.
    May our Guru and Dakini long live for the benefit of all sentient beings.
    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’ nature
    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Mật Diệu Hằng hoan hỷ với thiện hạnh chuyển tải bài giảng của Thầy sang Anh ngữ của Mật Huệ Pháp.
    14 điều thất bại trầm trọng của một người tu là một toa thuốc đắng trị căn bệnh vô minh của phật tử. Chỉ vì vô minh mà người tu mới trở về tay không khi đến xứ sở đầy ngọc báu, hoặc chết khát bên cạnh hồ nước mát, hoặc rơi vào tình trạng một người bệnh mang theo liều thuốc quý nhưng không sử dụng”, hoặc trở thành con vẹt chỉ biết đọc tụng hay là người giàu đánh mất chìa khóa mở kho tàng của mình.
    14 điều thất bại trầm trọng giúp người tu tu tập theo đúng quỹ đạo chánh pháp. Mặc dù những điều này giống như một toa thuốc đắng nhưng lại là một chiếc la bàn hướng dẫn chi tiết nhằm giúp người tu được nếm hương vị ngọt ngào của sự giác ngộ tối thượng.
    Cảm ơn Mật Huệ Pháp đã dịch bài này.
    Mật Diệu Hằng cầu chúc Mật Huệ Pháp luôn hanh thông thế sự và tiến tu trên đạo lộ giải thoát.
    Con cầu nguyện cho sự trường thọ của Thầy Cô vì sự lợi lạc của chúng sanh.
    Cầu mong tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  2. Mật Tuệ Phúc says:
    Kính bạch Thầy!
    Con đã đọc bài này ạ!
  3. sangay Dorji says:
    Thanks guru …so much ..it is what a great teaching from guru la…when I read your teaching ..I received Happy and I feel I am with guru …tq so much … keep on teaching every day and take me too to the path of Buddha’s nature With guru la
  4. Dear Mat Hue Phap,

    Thank you for your translation of the Guru’s teaching. After reading the articles I have understand the techniques Gampopa has used to ensure his teaching is clear, understandable and interesting to learn. Thank Guru for teaching us this lesson. May all the sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Om mani padme hum.

     

  5. Akshay kumar says:
    Dear Guru
    I have read this article. It is a very interesting one. Thank you so much. May we all be aware of 14 grievance failure and think before we take any action.
    May the Guru live long for the sake of all beings.
    May all beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
    • Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép được dịch comment của đạo hữu Akshay Kumar sang tiếng Việt như sau ạ:

      “Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con đã đọc bài này rồi ạ. Com cảm ơn Thầy vì bài viết rất hay. Con cầu nguyện chúng con ghi nhớ 14 điều thất bại trầm trọng và suy nghĩ kỹ trước khi tạo tác hành vi về thân, ngữ.

      Con cầu nguyện cho sự trường thọ của vị Thầy vì sự lợi lạc của chúng sanh.

      Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.

      Om Mani Padme Hum”

       

  6. Jennifer/ Tantra Amsihuta says:
    Dearest holy Guru,

    I am thankful for this article. It is showing me my errors of my ways however, I’m unsure how to deal with two particular things. One, I am addicted to cigarettes. I can’t seem to quit and I do not want to poison my body any longer. I have enough medical problems without contributing to them by smoking. Besides my body is a temple and I should treat it as such but I have trouble stopping smoking, Do you have any suggestions? Also, I am very concerned with my middle child. I do not know how to handle her in a Buddhist fashion. She is manipulative and abusive but suffers from addiction of drugs and alcohol and she is mentally ill. She has paranoid schizophrenic. Because of her paranoia I can not get her help because she believes everyone is out to get her. How should I handle her. She is very abusive and with my own mental illness it is difficult not to allow her to hurt me and damage my own mental health. I dont’ know how to help her. Please send guidance.

  7. Jennifer/ Tantra Amsihuta says:
    Also Dear Guru,

    I am doubting myself. I don’t know if it’s from my mental illness or if I’m practicing wrong. I worry so much that I’m not practicing correctly. I want to do good.

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