May 7-11, 2011

The Seven Points of Mind Training

Geshe Lhakdor

The seven points of mind training consists of fifty-nine slogans. These slogas are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits that cause suffering. They contain both methods to expand one's viewpoint towards absolute bodhicitta, such as "Find the consciousness you had before you were born." and "Treat everything you perceive as a dream.", and methods for relating to the world in a more constructive way with relative bodhicitta, such as "Be grateful to everyone." and "When everything goes wrong, treat disaster as a way to wake up."

The mind training practice was developed over a 300-year period between 900 and 1200 CE, as part of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism. Atiśa (982–1054 CE), a Bengali meditation master, is generally regarded as the originator of the practice. It is described in his book Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment (Bodhipathapradīpaṃ). The practice is based upon his studies with the Sumatran teacher, Dharmarakṣita, author of a text called the Wheel of Sharp Weapons. Both these texts are well known in Tibetan translation.
Atiśa journeyed to Sumatra and studied with Dharmarakṣita for twelve years. He then returned to teach in India, but at an advanced age accepted an invitation to teach in Tibet, where he stayed for the rest of his life.

A story is told that Atiśa heard that the inhabitants of Tibet were very pleasant and easy to get along with. Instead of being delighted, he was concerned that he would not have enough negative emotion to work with in his mind training practice. So he brought along his ill-tempered Bengali servant-boy, who would criticize him incessantly and was challenging to spend time with. Tibetan teachers then like to joke that when Atiśa arrived in Tibet, he realized there was no need after all.

The aphorisms on mind training in their present form were composed by Geshe Chekhawa (1101–1175 CE). According to one account, Chekhawa saw a text on his cell-mate's bed, open to the phrase: "Gain and victory to others, loss and defeat to oneself". The phrase struck him and he sought out the author Langri Tangpa (1054–1123). Finding that Langri Tangpa had died, he studied instead with one of Langri Tangpa's students, Sharawa, for twelve years.

Geshe Chekhawa is claimed to have cured leprosy with mind training. In one account, he went to live with a colony of lepers and did the practice with them. Over time many of them were healed, more lepers came, and eventually people without leprosy also took an interest in the practice. Another popular story about Geshe Chekhawa and mind training concerns his brother and how it transformed him into a much kinder person.
(These explanation is quoted from

Geshe Lhakdor, director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, served as H.H. the Dalai Lama's English translator for 16 years. With his profound knowledge of both traditional Buddhist philosophy and modern culture and science, Geshe Lhakdor is a popular teacher and is frequently invited to teach around the world.