30 Words of Advice | Longchenpa

30 Words of Advice from the Heart
Longchen Rabjampa
(1308-1363)

A short and instructive poem - Thirty Words of Advice from the Heart by Longchen Rabjampa (Longchenpa) (1308-1363) – the famous teacher in Tibetan Buddhism in tradition of Nyingma and Dzogchen – the Great Perfection.

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I bow at the feet of my Guru,
the protector, the supreme of the Triple Gem,
Who from the great clouds of aspirations,
the wisdom encompassing the space expanse of reality,
Makes the stream of nectar of warm rays of compassion fall
Ripening the buds of the 3 Enlightened dimensions among students.

By the power of my aspirations I was able
to become a disciple in the supreme lineage of accomplishment;
Yet I have spent my time uselessly; avoiding effort,
and now this life is coming to its twilight.
My intention was to behave like an ascetic,
but now I am a distressed man and, seeing others like me,
I have spoken these 30 words of advice
to exhort my mind in the spirit of renunciation.

1.

Alas! Having gathered, by various means,
a large circle of people around yourself,
You may possess a prosperous monastic estate;
Yet, this is only the cause of quarrels and attachment for one's mind.

Live in solitude! This is my advice from the heart.

2.

You may display to the crowd expertise in village rites
In preventing children's deaths and subduing evil spirits;
Yet, because of craving for food and wealth,
your mind is carried off by demons.

Subdue your mind! This is my advice from the heart.

3.

Having collected large tributes from poor people
You may build big shrines, make donations, and so forth;
Yet, this only causes you
to accumulate evil deeds on virtuous grounds.

Make your mind virtuous! This is my advice from the heart.

4.

You may teach the Dharma to others out of desire for greatness,
And with gross deceitful ways, surround yourself
with a circle of important and humble people;
Yet a mind that grasps things as real is a cause of pride.

Have only short term plans! This is my advice from the heart.

5.

Commerce, loaning with interest, cheating, and so forth,
are wrong means of securing one's livelihood.
You can make large donations with the wealth amassed in these ways;
Yet merits resting on the desire for fame
are the source of the 8 worldly concerns.

Be averse to such activities! This is my advice from the heart.

6.

Acting as a peacemaker, witness, or involving yourself in lawsuits,
you may settle others' disputes,
And think that you are working for the benefit of beings;
Yet doing such things is a cause for ambition to arise.

Be free from hope and fear! This is my advice from the heart.

7.

You may have subjects, wealth, retinue, merits
and your fame may fill the entire world;
Yet at the time of death these things
will be of no benefit whatsoever.

Be diligent in spiritual practice! This is my advice from the heart.

8.

Stewards, close friends, principals, and cooks
Are indeed the pillar of life of the monastic community;
Yet commitment to these roles is a cause for worry.

Diminish busy involvements! This is my advice from the heart.

9.

Carrying religious images, statues, offerings,
scriptures, a stove and all your requirements,
you may go to a mountain hermitage; 
Yet the paraphernalia meant to satisfy immediate needs
are the source of quarrels and problems.

Have no needs! This is my advice from the heart.

10.

In these times of degeneration, you may scold
The unruly people around you, thinking it will benefit them;
Yet, doing this causes negative emotions.

Speak calmly! This is my advice from the heart.

11.

Without any selfish motive, you may tell people you love,
With the intention of helping them, their mistakes;
Yet although what you say is true,
(your words) are like a tumour in their heart.

Speak gently! This is my advice from the heart.

12.

With the thought of preserving the purity of the Teaching
You may engage in discussions,
defending your opinion and refuting that of others;
Yet in this way you create disturbing thoughts.

Remain silent! This is my advice from the heart.

13.

You may honour in a sectarian way
Your master, your lineage of teaching and your philosophical school;
Yet to praise oneself and despise others
is a cause for attachment and anger.

Give this (attitude) up! This is my advice from the heart.

14.

Having heard and analysed different kinds of Teachings,
You may think that comprehending the faults of others is wisdom;
Yet this is (precisely) the cause for accumulating evil deeds for yourself!

Maintain pure vision! This is my advice from the heart.

15.

Proffering mindless talk on emptiness and disregarding cause and effect,
You may think that non-action is the ultimate point of the Teaching;
Yet to abandon the 2 accumulations
will destroy the good fortune of spiritual practice. 

Integrate them both! This is my advice from the heart.

16.

You may think that the path of another's body
That involves the descent of semen,
related to the meaning of the third (initiation) will enhance your practice;
Yet through this material path many excellent yogis have been deceived.

Rely on the path of liberation! This is my advice from the heart.

17.

To give initiations to unqualified people
And distribute sacred substances to the crowd
Is the cause of slander and breach of commitments!

Be serious! This is my advice from the heart.

18.

You may think that wandering naked in public
and other peculiar behaviour is the deliberate conduct (of a yogi);
Yet this is the cause for worldly people to lose faith (in the Teaching).

Be considerate! This is my advice from the heart.

19.

With the desire to be the highest one in the place where you live,
You may develop a good attitude and become very learned;
Yet this is the cause for falling from an elevated status to the lowest position.

Be neither tight nor loose! This is my advice from the heart.

20.

Wherever you stay, in a city, monastery or mountain hermitage,
Do not seek close friends,
Befriend all with neither intimacy nor hostility.

Keep your independence! This is my advice from the heart.

21.

Behaving like a hypocrite,
you may honour impressively the faithful patrons
Who provide you with sustenance;
Yet to feign in order to (please) others is to bind oneself!

Apply the conduct of experiencing all equally as one taste!
This is my advice from the heart. 

22.

The methods based on interdependence (found in) countless books
about such matters as divination, astrology, medicine
Are cause for omniscient knowledge;
Yet becoming attached to various subjects
will disrupt one's contemplation.

Reduce the subjects you study!
This is my advice from the heart.

23.

When you live in a house, leave aside furnishing the house.
In the midst of solitude you may arrange to have all comforts;
Yet, this only consumes one's life in triviality.

Put off all these activities! This is my advice from the heart.

24.

You may persevere in spiritual practice - learning and virtue
- And thus some of your qualities may become remarkable;
Yet whatever you cling to will bind your mind.

Learn how to be free and without limitations!
This is my advice from the heart.

25.

You may think that subduing those who are to be confronted,
with various (rites) of black magic and protection,
Such as causing hail and thunderbolts (to fall), is Enlightened activity;
Yet to burn the mind of another being
will cause you to be reborn in lower realms.

Keep a low profile! This is my advice from the heart.

26.

You may have collected many useful profound texts –
philosophical scriptures, spoken advice, transcribed teachings,
Yet if you do not practice, at the time of death, books don't help.

Observe your mind! This is my advice from the heart.

27.

When you practice wholeheartedly,
you may have meditative experiences,
discuss them with others,
Write commentaries, and sing songs of realization.
Although these are manifestations (of the practice),
they will (only) increase thoughts. 

Remain in the state beyond concepts!
This is my advice from the heart.

28.

When thoughts arise,
it is crucial that you look at them directly;
And when you have clearly seen mind's (nature),
it is essential to abide in it.

Although there is nothing to meditate upon,
it is important to remain in meditation.

Maintain the undistracted state!
This is my advice from the heart.

29.

Within (the knowledge of) emptiness,
act (in accordance) with the law of cause and effect,
And when you have understood (the principle of) non-action,
Keep the 3 commitments and strive
to benefit all beings with non- conceptual compassion.

Unite the 2 accumulations! This is my advice from the heart.

30.

I have followed many learned and realized masters
and received many profound instructions,
I have seen a few profound Sūtras and Tantras
and also examined them a little;
Yet whilst knowing them, I do not apply them.
Alas! I'm just deceiving myself!

For myself and those like me,
I have spoken these 30 words of advice from the heart.

Through the merit of this composition
written with the desire to attain liberation,
May all beings be liberated
from the wilderness of conditioned existence,
and be guided to the state of great bliss.

May I become a supreme son
who walks in the footsteps of the Buddhas of the 3 times,
of their heirs and of the great ascetics.

Thus impelled by a slight sense of the arising of renunciation,
I, Tsultrim Lodro, composed these Thirty Words of Advice from the Heart.