‘NEVER TAKING AN ORDINARY BREATH’: ASPIRING BODHICITTA AND EXCHANGING SELF WITH OTHERS. The unbearable compassion of the boy 8th Karmapa who slept with a calf and the extraordinary life of Kadampa mind-training master, Geshe Langri Thangpa.

“Benefiting others depends at root on giving away
Your happiness to others and taking their pains upon yourself” —from 8th Karmapa’s ‘Good Deeds’ (Verse Ten)

“If you cannot even get your mind around people (including those you do not like) having good fortune in this lifetime, but at the same time think ‘oh I will give them the greater happiness of complete enlightenment’ that is a joke. If we are unhappy when those we dislike have a little bit of pleasure or fortune, and yet think ‘I will give them a superior happiness than that’, it is just totally ridiculous.”

“In the Kadampa tradition, they say that if you could take the place of one sentient being, even if it meant experiencing the suffering of hell, not just for one or two days, but until samsara is empty and have that kind of natural feeling coming up within, then at that point you finally have developed authentic aspirational bodhicitta.” — 17th Karmapa

On the second day of the annual Spring teachings (video here), HH the 17th Karmapa focused on the practice of developing relative bodhicitta and the practice of Exchanging Oneself for Others (bdag gzhan brje ba).

The first part of the teaching was dedicated to Verse Ten of the 8th Karmapa’s text, Good Deeds describing the path of the greater individual and practicing the two types of bodhicitta: relative and ultimate.

The second half of the teachings was dedicated to the practice of exchanging self and others, as exemplified by Geshe Langri Thangpa (glang ri thang pa) (1054–1123)) who composed the famous Eight Verses of Training the Mind.

Here is a summary of the topics the Karmapa covered with some extensive transcribed quotes.

Music? Unbearable compassion and love for beings with Into My Arms  by Nick Cave.

Compiled and transcribed by Adele Tomlin, March 24th 2022.

FIRST HALF

Structure and outline of 8th Karmapa’s text- meditating on the two types of bodhicitta

The Karmapa began by outlining where he had reached in the text: the practice of the Greater Individual meditating on relative bodhicitta, among the two types of bodhicitta:

 

Verse Ten of the ‘Good Deeds’– Giving Away One’s Happiness to Others  and the Practice of Exchanging Self with Others

First, the 17th Karmapa explained how people might think they are exchanging themselves for others but it is a pseudo-practice, mixed with hopes for profit and a good reputation:

“People need to have a strong feeling that they should use all their time, resources, wealth etc. to benefit others. In the Hinayana vehicle, people have fewer methods to benefit beings and also less wisdom.  However, in the Mahayana, for the Bodhisattva, they do not see it as difficult at all, or full of suffering, as others might think. Instead they willingly and joyfully undergo suffering and hardships for others. By doing so they are able to do practical actions that really benefit beings.

So the meaning of:

Benefiting others depends at root on giving away
Your happiness to others and taking their pains upon yourself

There are not many who really understand this main point, some might think if you are a little generous that is exchanging oneself for others. Taking interest in others people’s suffering and doing something to relieve others suffering, they think they are doing something. Some people also might think it means that they are going to go through hardships and work hard and then in the latter parts of their lives, people will say ‘Oh what a great Dharma practitioner, teacher or person they were’.  So they do these hardships to have a good reputation, and giving the victory to others and so on. But  they are hoping in the latter part of their lives that they get some greater reputation or profit from the losses and defeats they suffered before.

If we look at this way of acting, it seems they are giving profit and victory to others, however if you think about they have not really done that as they have not really given up on this life. They hope to get karmic credit from what they did in this life or the next lifetime and that is why they are making that effort.  So they are doing the practice for the sake of getting happiness and pleasure in this life and for getting the pleasures of higher realms in the next life.

In particular, there are some, who think they have done the mind training (lo jong) of cherishing others more than self yet, in actuality, they are people who have helped people on their side, and in order to help such people, they completely disregard and walk all over their enemies without a thought or care about it. These people I have just described, many people might think when they see them that the way they act is like Bodhisattvas and are exchanging oneself for others, but in actuality these people have a total misunderstanding of the Bodhicitta path and method of exchanging self for others.

Forget about taking on the suffering of others as part of the path to enlightenment. They are really just doing mixed karmic actions of the desire realm with unvirtuous actions of the worldly realms. It is not even the pure virtue of the desire realm. It is mixed. These days, some might say ‘I am training in bodhicitta’ and ‘doing the profound practice of the Chod severance of maras’ and think and say they are suppressing the harmful demons in a forceful way. They say these impressive things, but it is doubtful that most of us understand or practice the essential point of how to exchange self for others.

It might seem like we are doing it but in the end, we are fooling other people but also oneself.  You might lie to start with only to fool others, but if you repeat the lie and deception over and over to yourself, you might end up fooling yourself too, right? It is pointless to fool oneself. If we are going to follow the Bodhisattva path, we must follow and rely on a spiritual friend who can teach the path and then train in the vast virtue that will bring all beings to the state of liberation and omniscience. This is the essence of this Verse here.”

The difference between noble and ordinary individuals – giving up the causes and results of cherishing oneself more than others

The 17th Karmapa then explained how the 8th Karmapa thought about beings not wanting to suffer and to be happy:

“The difference between the noble individuals and ordinary individuals is that noble individuals give up the causes of suffering but ordinary beings give up the results. Ordinary individuals do not know how to give up the causes. Noble individuals know that whatever result they desire, the most important thing to consider is the cause [of that result]. Ordinary beings are deluded by negative emotions about what causes should be abandoned, such as virtue and non-virtue. They take up the causes without even thinking about the vast suffering of the lower realms and samsara they will undergo because of it.  8th Karmapa understood this situation from the depth of his heart  and that it was the cause of continuous, all-pervasive suffering.

Normally we think if suffering happens to others, let it happen, we think if they are sick or die no problem, Makes no difference  to me. However, for ourselves and those close to us, we wish they are healthy and have long lives, or how can we be happy. If we were well known and liked and if our wishes were fulfilled and so on. We take this way of thinking as the essence of our practice and like our yidam meditation deity and make it the essence of our practice. It is the cause of our practice. Mikyo Dorje understood this.”  

“They are like children who have childish and inane thoughts who have zero understanding of the causes of suffering. The 8th Karmapa felt unbearable compassion and feeling for these beings and thought ‘if I could take their place and take on all their suffering and more from them, that would be excellent’. ‘If I could swap places with them and experience their suffering, that would be great’, he had that kind of uncontrived feeling in his heart.”

Evidence of Mikyo Dorje’s vast compassion – protecting a calf and begging they not be killed
The 8th Karmapa protected animals as a child, such as sleeping with a young calf

The 17th Karmapa then asserted that some people might raise a question about this claim of the 8th Karmapa’s great compassion:

“How can you know that Mikyo Dorje had that kind of intention and compassion? How can you know his feelings? When we look at the liberation-stories of 8th Karmapa (by himself and others) we can understand this.”

The Karmapa then related stories of when the 8th Karmapa was a child he displayed his natural and unstoppable compassion for the hardships and difficulties of beings:

“When he was young, his family had a Dzomo (female yag) that gave milk, who had a calf. The 8th Karmapa thought someone else might kill the calf. As he was so worried about that, in the daytime he always stayed with the calf and would take the calf at night in his room and sleep with it.

The family also had a female goat and his parents would make offering to their lama and they were going to offer the goat to a lama. When they were offering the goat, Mikyo Dorje was so terrified that the lama would kill the goat and because of his unbearable compassion for the goat,  he would not let them give it away and grabbed the goat’s leg and would not let go of the leg until he was totally exhausted, so the lama could not take the goat.  So Mikyo Dorje had that kind of compassion and love from a very young age, even before he was recognised as the Karmapa. The Mahayana Sutras teach that those in the family of bodhicitta naturally have signs as getting goose bumps or shedding tears when seeing other beings’ suffering, and Mikyo Dorje had that as a small child.

In the Jowo Kadampa tradition, they say that ‘if you could swap places with one sentient being, even if it meant experiencing the suffering of hell, not just for one or two days, but until samsara is empty and have that kind of natural feeling coming up within, then at that point you finally have developed the mind of authentic aspirational bodhicitta. Before then, it is difficult to say you have developed that mind. If one has that intention and are able to put that into practice with body, speech and mind, without the slightest fear of doing that with body and speech, then only then can one be said to have authentic engaged bodhicitta. Without that kind of mind, it is difficult to really put into practice engaged bodhicitta. Once one has that intention, then there is no difficulty in maintaining the vows of aspirational and engaged bodhicitta, that is what the Kadampa masters taught. “

Likewise, the way the 8th Karmapa thought was that all sentient beings have been our parents, friends, lovers and relatives and so on.   If we think about all the ways they have protected and cared for us since beginningless time, it is impossible to conceive it. They are not just one or two sentient beings, but massive numbers of sentient beings that even the Buddhas cannot calculate.  When we think about it and who has done that, who has been the most precious source of care,refuge and protection to us, who is the kindest to us? It is our mother sentient beings. This was not just empty words but something the 8th Karmapa felt from the bottom of his heart. He thought, ‘if I could take their place and experience that suffering until samsara were emptied that would be excellent’ and he had the courage and diligence of actually trying to do that. Similarly, the practice of exchanging himself for others naturally happened for him, he did not need to think too much about, and he had no difficulty doing that.

Being genuinely overjoyed at others’ good fortune and deeds and the comical pseudo Dharma practitioners who only think of their own reputation, comforts and pleasures and cannot rejoice

 “Also, when Mikyo Dorje was little, he did not have many thoughts about his own self-interest, comfort, food, warmth and so on. He was always worrying about whether others were suffering, and if things were going badly for others instead.

There were many people around him and not all of them were good, there were some bad people, some were good but probably more were bad people. These  bad people would never listen to what he said, they did various good and bad things. However, he didn’t think too much and think ‘oh he is doing horrible things’, or ‘they don’t respect me’ or ‘I am not happy about that’ and so on.  He never had such thoughts or perceptions. Instead of that, for the sake of others,  he would cast aside thoughts of his own pleasures of body, speech and mind and think ‘how I can help others?’. He was always thinking about that.  This was not only a few people, but everyone saw this with their own eyes. It was commonly known at that time.  Many people thought that ordinary people could not work as hard as he did for the benefit of others and would get exhausted and die from it.

In particular, at that time, the place was filled with pseudo, name-only Dharma practitioners who were willing to even sacrifice their own lives for name, fame and pleasures. That is how it was then and that is how it is now. At that time, for the 8th Karmapa, any sentient being, no matter who they were, whether they gained the pleasures of gods or humans, or full enlightenment, whatever they attained, he always felt great joy and delight for them. For example, nowadays, some people might win one million dollars, and they are so happy about it and might almost die of happiness, right? Similarly, when someone else does good things, or things go well for them, the 8th Karmapa was incredibly delighted  and overjoyed about it. He never had any bad feeling at all for others’ good fortune. He was never depressed, jealous or resentful of it. That is difficult, isn’t it?

On the other hand,  many of us who think we are Dharma practitioners like it when people we like have good fortune, but when our enemies or people we do not like have good times, we feel discomfort in our hearts. Actually, for those people who cannot bear it even when people have a small bit of good fortune, it is difficult to say they really have bodhicitta.  The reason is that if you cannot even get your mind around people having good fortune in this lifetime, but at the same time think ‘oh I will give them the greater happiness of complete enlightenment’ that is laughable to say that. If we are unhappy when they have a little bit of pleasure and yet think I will give them a superior happiness than that, it is just totally laughable. The 8th Karmapa’s words and heart matched and thus for sentient beings the profound method of exchanging self and others was very important. “

Never blaming others for failures and taking credit for successes and always wishing them good fortune
8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje

The Karmapa gave an example of the Great Kagyu Encampment and how 8th Karmapa reacted when plans did not go well or as planned:

“He would never put the blame on anyone else and instead would say it was him not being good enough. When things went well, he never boasted and said that was because of me, or showed off and said it went well because of others’ work. He never hid other people’s efforts and their work in the background and took credit for it and then blamed them when things went wrong.

So, Mikyo Dorje also had this practice of exchanging self and others. He  would tell his receptive students when someone had an illness of misfortune and when he took it away from them with his mind, he would say ‘I feel a bit sick or discomfort’. He did that secretly without anyone knowing, he would take people’s suffering on himself. The other person never knew that he was doing that but he was. If he told people that, it would be one of the eight worldly Dharmas and showing off one’s actions. He did the visualization of taking on others’ suffering. He also did the mind training practice and always took the lowest position and said ‘I don’t know anything’ and was very modest. He never said ‘I am the Karmapa and I am a Dharma practitioner’. He would never say that. Unless there was a reason to say that, he would not boast about his qualities to others.  He would say we are the same and that we are equals. He would always praise other lineages and masters and not only Kagyupa.

Some people thought the way he was acting was allowing people to run wild and stomp all over him, as he was always modest and always like a child and very humble. Some felt that he was really harming the Karmapa’s name and teachings, because people were not looking up to him and he was not displaying all his power and majesty. There were people who said this. Whatever people said or not, he was never swayed by it. He used all the merit gathered with his bod, speech and mind for the sake of the teachings and beings. All his receptive students were able to see that. This is what we should understand as exchanging self and others, his example and his deeds are an authentic example of that.”

SECOND HALF

Geshe Langri Thangpa – the first to give instructions on exchanging self for others in Tibet

In the second half of the teaching, the Karmapa explained that it is essential to talk about and know the liberation-story of Geshe Langri Thangpa whose actual name was Dorje Senge (rdo rje seng ge), when speaking about Exchanging Self and Others, as he was the first in Tibetan to teach the instructions on that.

 Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa (Glang-ri thang-pa), also known as Langtangpa Dorje Senge (Glang-thang-pa rDo-rje Seng-ge), was born in 1054 in the Phenpo (‘Phan-po) region of Tibet in an area called Langtang. He and Geshe Sharawa (dGe-bshes Sha-ra-ba Yon-tan grags) were known as the sun-like and moon-like disciples of Geshe Potowa (dGe-bshes Po-to-ba), one of the three main disciples – the three Kadam brothers (bKa’-gdams sku-mched-gsum) – of the great Atisha’s disciple Dromtonpa (‘Brom-ston-pa rGyal-ba’i ‘byung-gnas). Thus, he was one of the most important early teachers of the Kadam tradition. In particular, the transmission of the instructions on exchanging oneself with others were passed down to Langri Thangpa, and later in the region of Phenpo he founded the monastery, Langthang (see image). The Karmapa explained that is was originally a Kadamapa monastery that later became a Sakya monastery, and is still Sakya to this day:

 

The Karmapa explained that this statue (see image above) of Langri Thangpa was probably re-constructed after the Cultural Revolution.  The Karmapa observed that:

“The hat looks like the Gampopa hat, which was originally a Kadampa hat, so probably this is the Kadampa hat that became the model for that hat. Likewise, there was some Gelugpa and others  who wore something similar to this hat.  So there may have been some connection between them.”

Eight Points of Mind Training – a secret practice that became widespread in Tibet

The Karmapa then explained how originally Exchanging Self for Others had been a secret practice, it was not taught in public or spread widely among the public. But he took the visualizations of mind-training and wrote them down and made it into his main practice. He also taught about it extensively, particularly to monastics. It was only from that time on that it spread widely and became known as the eight points of mind training(Blo-sbyong tshigs brgyad-ma):

“He told his students in his instructions on Exchanging Self and Others that he had never taken an ordinary breath. That shows that he had never taken a meaningless breath and was only doing visualization of exchanging self and others. Each time he exhaled and inhaled he combined it with  meditation and was for bringing happiness to beings.

Likewise, the most important text in Tibet is the seven points of mind training Blo-sbyong don-bdun-ma) by Geshe Chekawa (dGe-bshes ‘Chad-kha-ba Ye-shes rdo-rje), said that when he first developed faith in the Kadampa, it was due to listening to these eight verses by Langri Thangpa, and that is when he developed the wish to enter those teachings.”

The Karmapa then elaborated on some scholarly debate about the text:

“When we talk about the eight verses of mind training, there is also a verse in prose. My view is that the actual eight verses are in the prose version. The Tibetan word tsig, or phrase, refers to a line of verse. The prose version is eight lines but if you count the verse version we cannot say it is eight lines.  So it seems the prose version is the main one. Although the verse version may also be by Langri Thangpa.  Also, some scholars say that if we think about the first verse, the last word is ‘lab’ which means ‘I will train’. Then someone, Sang Chenpa Dharma Sonam changed the last word to ‘may’ which is a prayer.  The original one said ‘I will train’ in it.”

‘All faults are your own, and all good qualities those of others’ – the main point of the practice

“The point of the practice is that one must be able to take the lowest position for themselves and carry the greater and lesser beings above their heads. You need to be humble and modest. You must consider them more important than yourselves. If you can do that, you will be able to practice exchanging self and others.  The other main point is that Langri Thangpa said that whatever profound texts he had read and studied, and he had studied a lot, the instructions are to think that all faults are your own and all good qualities are those of sentient beings.  So that is how it should be understood.”

Gloomy-faced Langthangpa and the mice that made him smile

“Also, another quality of Langri Thangpa was he always looked gloomy and never smiled much. One of his attendants said to him, they are not talking well about you, you should smile sometimes and not always be serious and scowling. Langthangpa apparently said, ‘if you think of the suffering in the three realms of samsara, how can you have a happy face, how can you smile?’ If we were serious about the suffering, we would feel it in the depths of our mind, in his face this feeling came out in his expression.

In his lifetime he is said to have smiled three times. What made him smile? Once, he was sitting doing a meditation practice. The Kadampas often do mandala offerings. Some people use grains, rice and some use jewels. So Langthangpa had a huge piece of turquoise that he put in the centre of the mandala. Then a mouse came and saw the turquoise and the mouse liked it and wanted to move it because it was so big. So he called his mouse friend who helped him move the turquoise away. At that time he started to laugh and smile a little bit. I do  not know the second or third times were, I cannot say that.” [1]

Practising what he preached – looking after someone else’s child for years

“The way he practiced the exchanging self and others, is something he put into practice. An illustration of this was when he was giving a Dharma talk and a woman came with a new born baby and when she arrived, she put it on his lap and said ‘this is your son’. She said ‘I cannot raise him’ and left without saying a word. So Langri Thangpa didn’t react in the slightest and took the child and found someone to give him milk and help look after him and paid her. When the child had grown up, the parents came to Langthangpa to apologise to him. They explained to him they had had many children and all their children had died. So they didn’t want this child to die and in order to protect their son, they told him ‘we gave it to you and we had no choice. So forgive us and give us our son back’. Langthangpa said ‘it’s OK, it’s your child and you can take him with you’. So even when people said bad things about him, he would never try and defend or explain it, but would take all the loss and defeat upon himself. So he actually put that into practice.”

Many excellent students  and aspiration to be re-born in the hell realms

“He also had many excellent students, Geshe Chekawa (dGe-bshes ‘Chad-kha-ba Ye-shes rdo-rje),  and the most important in the Vajrbhairava practice was Ra Lotsawa, he was also another student of Langri Dangpa.  Khyungpo Neljor (Khyung-po rNal-‘byor) was also a famous student who went to India and met a Lama Bodh Gaya and asked him to give the Bikshu vows. Lama Bodh Gaya replied, ‘we Indians cannot be your teacher’, so go back to Tibet. In Langri, there is an emanation of the Buddha Amitabha, you should ask him. So he went back to Tibet and went to Langri Tangpa who was then 40 years old, and he was the abbot for the full ordination ceremony.

There was a student who said ‘Langtangpa has great bodhicitta, but someone like me, for people who help me and who I like etc. I can sacrifice my life for them, but for those who harm me, I cannot. But for someone like Geshe Langtangpa he is able to sacrifice his life for anyone’. His loving kindness and compassion was described like that. Also, in the area around Langtangpa, it is said that no animals would harm each other. Geshe Langtangpa spent his whole life meditating on bodhicitta and loving-kindness. He made a prayer that said, ‘when I die may I be re-born in hell’. However, it probably was not fulfilled as when he was dying he told others all he could see was pure visions not impure ones,  so he would not be reborn in hell. However, he was worried about this though. Yet, most of us are worried that we will be reborn there.”

Animals started killing each other again – sign of his passing

“At the age of 70 in 1123, he passed away. The day he passed away, there was an elderly woman who had lived near Langthang monastery, who went there to do kora around the monastery. This elderly woman said ‘something is different today here because before wolves didn’t kill sheep and so on, but this morning when I was there, I saw a falcon carrying off a bird so it seems that the Lama has passed away’. She didn’t know he had passed away then. There was no TV or internet then. So it was well-known then that animals didn’t harm each other when he was alive.”

The Karmapa showed an image of the reliquary stupa of Langri Thangpa and explained:

“This is still at Langtang monastery, people say that the Gods circumambulated it all day and night and Langrithangpa had said that if a human shadow fell on a God they would have a shorter life. So they made a rule that from dawn until noon humans could circumambulate it, but after that only Gods and spirits could do so. This rule is still at the monastery. The sign above the door says that as we can see.

In the future if any of you get the opportunity to go there to Phenpo and to Langtang Monastery, and to the stupa there, it would be very beneficial for generating bodhicitta. This is why I have made a point of showing you the monastery and stupa.”

The boy who was turned into a dog by his ‘dakini witch’ mother and was saved by Langri Thangpa

The Karmapa then said he would like to tell ‘a ghost story:

“It is not unrelated. We say the Dagpo Kagyu are a mix of the Kadam and the Mahamudra. So Langri Thangpa got the lineage from Geshe Sharawa (1070–1141). If people ask who was the Geshe who passed down the Kadam lineage, we need to know this.  Geshe Chegawa (one of his students) was born in Kham, but Ra Lotsawa’s liberation story says he was born in Phenpo. The most well-known version is he was born in Kham.

In any case, his father died when he was very young. He had six elder siblings, but they had all died.  In Tibet, if many children die or the father, they think the mother is like a monster or a witch and everyone said she was a witch. Every evening, she disappeared and  no one knew where she went. The child wondered where she went and one day he pretended he was sleeping and then around midnight, two women with dark red faces came and they asked the mother to come with them. The mother then immediately sat on the wooden trunk like she was riding on a horse, then one of the women pulled her from the front and to her from behind, and they left through the walls and flew off. Then, after some time, the child fell asleep again and he woke up and his mother had returned. Then the following night, he thought my mother going like that is strange and I want to see where she is goin, so he hid himself in the trunk that she had left on. Then at the same, the women came as before and she got on the trunk. So now he was in the trunk and there was a creeking sound because he was inside the trunk, so the mother thought my horse is not going so well. Then they arrived at a charnel ground and there were many women there.

When we talk about dakinis in Tibet we think they are good but in India, they were women who were like witches whom people were frightened of. In Tibet, we say dakini and think they are something special. But it wasn’t always like that. If we don’t treat them well they can cause a lot of trouble with spells and so on.

So the other women were seated around his mother.  They brought the corpse of a young man, and were going to have a Ganachakra party. First they cut off the top of his head, and gave it to the mother, because she was the boss, and then she realized she had left her spoon at home, because she had left it at home and she wanted to taste the brains, so maybe it is like ice-cream. So one of them said, ‘Mum stretch out your long arms’ and while she was sitting on the throne, she stretched out her long arm which reached back to her home and she was able to bring the spoon back to her and then ate the brains with it.  

So her son could see all this through the crack in the trunk. It was about dawn and so all the women went back home and the mother also rode the trunk back home and went to sleep in bed. Then the child went to bed quietly. Then for a long time, nothing happened. One day, as it was a storey house and the mother was in the upper floor spinning the yarn, it fell down onto the lower floor where the child was, and she asked him to bring it so she can spin yarn. That time, he couldn’t stop himself from telling her ‘Mommy stretch out your long arm’ (as he had heard) and so she got very angry, ‘now he knows  my secret and he might tell people she was a dakini’ and so on. She then grabbed him and shook him and he immediately turned into a dog. His body was a dog but he was a human thinking, so he had a lot of suffering because of that. He thought it was better to kill himself than stay like that.

On the way, many people who had gathered were speaking about Langri Thangpa and how great he was, so when he heard this, he thought this Geshe sounds like he has such great compassion that maybe I should go to him to help me. So he followed some merchants who were going to Utsang and he then went to Langtang. Langri Thangpa already knew he was coming and asked his attendant to make a torma and bring it up to him. As the sun was about to set, he told him to go outside and see if anyone is coming. The attendant couldn’t see anyone but there was a dog that was coming, and it was running very fast. He told the lama there is a dog running here very fast, who said ‘OK we need to go outside’ and  put his hat on. When he got outside, at that very moment, Langri Thangpa took the torma and threw it on top of the dog who then turned into a human again. Then they boy had a lot of faith in the lama and stayed with him and served him as an attendant. The Lama gave him the bikshu vows and so on.

Langri Thangpa said to him: ‘no matter what you do always ask me first. Don’t take any decisions without asking me first.’ Then, the mother heard that her son had now changed his body back to human and so got a box and cast a spell on it. Then after she closed it, she gave it someone going there and said ‘my son is taking Dharma teachings from Geshe Thangpa, please give this to him as his support and so on’. This person gave it to him. When her son took the box, it was so heavy and he could hardly hold it. He asked Langri Thangpa what he should do with it, who then took of his Dharma robe and gave the child telling him to wear it and open the box slowly. When he opened it, there was lightning and nine big thunder claps, almost exploding like fireworks. The house was burned and some things in it, but as he was wearing the Dharma robe he was not burnt at all and molten metal stuck to the Dharma robes instead. This Dharma robe is still at Langthang monastery but it is not shown publicly. Langri Thangpa then told him ‘now you are free of obstacles and do not need to worry’ and gave him some instructions and he then became one of his main and best students, Geshe Chegawa.

This story is from the Kadampa history. There is another version of this story by Ra Lotsawa, which says that Ra Lotsawa was the one who turned the boy back from being a dog into a human. As there are more sources that accord with the Kadampa history, that is why I have explained it that way.”

ENDNOTES

[1] According to Alexander Berzin: “Another time was when he heard of a man due to be executed spending the last night of his life mending his shoes. The third time was upon seeing someone trying to pull out an enormous and heavy rock embedded deep in the earth, which turned out to be the head of a sleeping ogre.” https://studybuddhism.com/en/tibetan-buddhism/spiritual-teachers/langri-tangpa

 

 

 

 

 

 

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