Wheel of Sharp Weapons | Dharmarakṣita

Wheel of Sharp Weapons
by Dharmarakṣita
c. 9th century

Introduction

The name of this work is:

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons
Effectively Striking the Heart of the Foe
.

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons Effectively Striking the Heart of the Foe was composed by the great Yogi Dharmarakṣita in his retreat in the jungle where many fierce animals prey.

What this great yogi, the possessor of vast scriptural knowledge, the full powers of logic and deep profound insight has written here is the essence of the teachings of all his holy gurus:

He always practiced in accordance with this essence in his fearsome jungle retreat during the degenerate age in which he lived.

From among his many disciples, Dharmarakṣita transmitted these teachings to Atiśa; and Atiśa practiced them wherever he travelled in order to tame those who were most wild.

When Atiśa developed true insight into the 2 Bodhichittas through these teachings, he composed the following:

I went through much hardship abandoning royalty,
but, by collecting much virtuous merit,
I met my true guru, Dharmarakṣita.

By showing me these supreme nectar-like teachings,
he has granted me sovereignty over my mind;
so that now I have attained all the forceful opponents,
having memorized fully these words he has taught.

Although I don’t favour a partisan viewpoint:
whenever I study the various teachings
 I always make efforts to broaden my wisdom
to see boundless wonders in every tradition;
yet I have to admit that these teachings especially
have been of great help in this age of decay.

From among his many unimaginably great disciples in both India and Tibet, Atiśa transmitted these teachings to Upāsaka Dromtönpa, who had been prophesied to be his most fitting disciple by many of Atiśa’s meditational deities such as Tārā.

Atiśa transmitted these teachings to Dromtönpa in order to pacify the minds of the disciples of remote Tibet who were difficult to tame.

This work has been translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan by the fatherly Atiśa himself and his spiritual son Dromtönpa.


Wheel of Sharp Weapons
by Dharmarakṣita
part I

I pay heartfelt homage to you, Yamāntaka; your wrath is opposed to the Great Lord of Death.

(1)

In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
though medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks don’t find gardens pleasant,
but thrive on the essence of poisonous plants.

(2)

In similar fashion, the brave Bodhisattvas
remain in the jungle of worldly concern.
No matter how joyful this world’s pleasure gardens,
these brave ones are never attracted to pleasures,
but thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain.

(3)

We spend our whole lives in the search for enjoyment,
yet tremble with fear at the mere thought of pain;
thus since we are cowards, we are miserable still.
But the brave Bodhisattvas accept suffering gladly
and gain from their courage a true lasting joy.

(4)

Now, desire is the jungle of poisonous plants here.
Only brave ones, like peacocks, can thrive on such fare.
If cowardly beings, like crows, were to try it,
because they are greedy, they might lose their lives.

(5)

How can someone who cherishes self more than others
take lust and such dangerous poisons for food?
If he tried like a crow to use other delusions,
he would probably forfeit his chance for release.

(6)

And thus Bodhisattvas are likened to peacocks:
they live on delusions – those poisonous plants.
Transforming them into the essence of practice,
they thrive in the jungle of everyday life.
Whatever is presented, they always accept,
while destroying the poison of clinging desire.

(7)

Uncontrollable wandering through rounds of existence
is caused by our grasping at egos as real.
This ignorant attitude heralds the demon
of selfish concern for our welfare alone:
we seek some security for our own egos;
we want only pleasure and shun any pain.
But now, we must banish all selfish compulsion
and gladly take hardship for all others’ sake.

(8)

All of our sufferings derive from our habits
of selfish delusions we heed and act out.
As all of us share in this tragic misfortune,
which stems from our narrow and self-centred ways,
we must take all our sufferings and the miseries of others
and smother our wishes of selfish concern.

(9)

Should the impulse arise now to seek our own pleasure,
we must turn it aside to please others instead;
for even if loved ones should rise up against us,
we must blame our self-interest and feel it’s our due.

(10)

When our bodies are aching and racked with great torment
of dreadful diseases we cannot endure,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have injured the bodies of others;
hereafter let’s take on what sickness is theirs.

(11)

Depressed and forlorn, when we feel mental anguish,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have deeply disturbed minds of others;
hereafter let’s take on this suffering ourselves.

(12)

When hunger or violent thirst overwhelms us,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have kept what we had without sharing;
we have plundered and stolen and lured people on.
hereafter let’s take from them hunger and thirst.

(13)

When we lack any freedom, but must obey others,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have looked down on those who were lowly
and used them as servants for our own selfish needs;
hereafter let’s offer our service to others
with humble devotion of body and life.

(14)

When we hear only language that is foul and abusive,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have said many things without thinking;
we have slandered and caused many friendships to end.
hereafter let’s censure all thoughtless remarks.

(15)

When we are born in oppressive and wretched conditions,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have always had negative outlooks;
we have criticized others, seeing only their flaws.
hereafter let’s cultivate positive feelings
and view our surroundings as stainless and pure.

(16)

When we are parted from friends and from those who can help us,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have taken the friends and good servants of others away,
wanting them for ourselves;
hereafter let’s never cause close friends to part.

(17)

When supreme holy gurus find us displeasing,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have turned from the gurus and teachings,
preferring the counsel of misleading friends;
hereafter let’s end our dependent relations
with those who would turn us away from the path.

(18)

When unjustly we are blamed for the misdeeds of others,
and are falsely accused of flaws that we lack,
and are always the object of verbal abuse,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve despised and belittled our gurus;
hereafter let’s never accuse others falsely,
but give them full credit for virtues they have.

(19)

When the things we require for daily consumption and use,
fall apart or are wasted or spoilt,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve been careless with others’ possessions;
hereafter let’s give them whatever they need.

(20)

When our minds are unclear and our hearts are unhappy,
we are bored doing virtue but excited by vice,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve led others to acts of non-virtue;
hereafter let’s never provide the conditions
that rouse them to follow their negative traits.

(21)

When our minds are disturbed and we feel great frustration
that things never happen the way that we wish,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have caused interfering disturbance
when others were focused on virtuous acts;
hereafter let’s stop causing such interruption.

(22)

When nothing we do ever pleases our gurus,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter with our gurus we have feigned pious manners,
but out of their presence have reverted to sin.
hereafter let’s try to be less hypocritical
and take all the teachings sincerely to heart.

(23)

When others find fault with whatever we’re doing
and people seem eager to blame only us,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve been shameless, not caring about others,
we have thought that our deeds didn’t matter at all,
hereafter let’s stop our offensive behaviour.

(24)

When our servants and friends are annoyed by our habits,
and after a while cannot stay in our homes,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve imposed our bad habits on others;
hereafter let’s change and show only kind ways.

(25)

When all who are close turn against us as enemies,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we’ve held grudges inside us with anger
with thoughts of sly methods to cause others pain;
hereafter let’s try to have less affectation,
nor pretend to be kind while we harbour base aims.

(26)

When we suffer from sickness and such interference,
especially when gout has swollen our legs,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter without shame and with no self-control
we have stolen or misused what others have given;
hereafter let’s never take anything
offered to the Three Jewels of Refuge as if it were ours.

(27)

When strokes and diseases strike without warning,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have broken our vowed words of honour;
hereafter, let’s shun such non-virtuous deeds.

(28)

When our mind becomes clouded whenever we study,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have thought that the study of Dharma
lacked prime importance and could be ignored;
hereafter let’s build up the habits of wisdom
to listen and think about what Buddha taught.

(29)

When sleep overwhelms us while practicing virtue,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have gathered the causes for obstacles
hindering our practice of virtuous acts.
(We have lacked all respect for the scriptural teachings;
we have sat on our books and left texts on the ground.
We have also looked down upon those with deep insight.)
hereafter for the sake of our practice of Dharma
let’s gladly endure all the hardships we meet.

(30)

When our mind wanders greatly and runs towards delusion,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have neglected to meditate fully
on defects pervading this transient world;
hereafter let’s work to renounce this existence
(and see the impermanent nature of things).

(31)

When all our affairs, both religious and worldly,
run into trouble and fall into ruin,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have felt cause and effect could be slighted;
hereafter let’s practice with patience and strength.

(32)

When rites we perform never seem to be fruitful,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Hereafter we have relied on the gods of this world
or on unskilful actions to bring us relief;
hereafter let’s turn in another direction
and leave our non-virtuous actions behind.

(33)

When none of the wishes we make reach fulfilment,
although we’ve made prayers to the Three Precious Gems,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have had an imperfect commitment to Buddha
whose teachings deserve complete trust;
hereafter let’s place our exclusive reliance on Buddha,
his teachings and those in his fold.

(34)

When prejudice, polio or strokes have us crippled
and external forces or harm rise against us,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have collected vast stores of non-virtue
by breaking our vows and offending protectors
in our practice from guru-devotion to tantra;
hereafter let’s banish all prejudiced views.

(35)

When we lack all control over where we must travel
and always must wander like waifs with no home,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we’ve disturbed holy gurus and others
and forced them to move from their homes or their seats;
hereafter let’s never cause others disturbance
by evicting them cruelly from where they reside.

(36)

When the crops in our fields are continually plagued
by drought, floods and hailstones, insects and frost,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have failed to honour our pledges;
hereafter let’s keep all our moral vows pure.

(37)

When we’re poor, yet are filled
with much greed and desire,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we’ve been misers, reluctant to share.
The offerings we’ve made to the Three Jewels were meagre;
hereafter let’s give with a generous heart.

(38)

When our bodies are ugly and others torment us
by mocking our flaws, never showing respect,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we’ve made images lacking in beauty,
by venting our anger, we’ve made ugly scenes;
hereafter let’s print books and make pleasing statues,
and not be short-tempered, but be of good cheer.

(39)

When attachment and anger disturb and upset us
no matter how much we may try to suppress them,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we’ve held on to the improper outlook,
stubbornly cherishing only ourselves;
hereafter let’s uproot self-interest completely.

(40)

When success in our practices always eludes us,
this is the wheel of sharp weapons
returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now, deep within, we have clung to our ego,
fully immersed in self-cherishing ways;
hereafter let’s dedicate all of the virtuous actions we do,
so that others may thrive.