Teacher Training Class 1 Transcript – ACI Foundation Course 1: The Principal Teachings of Buddhism (2019, Arizona)
So we have two goals in the evening classes. (1) is to teach the ACI courses again. There are 36 courses, 33 if you don’t count the review courses. We’re hoping to do three courses a year. I haven’t taught them in many years. I started them 27 years ago and recorded them with my dog barking in the house. This is one reason to do it over again.
There are probably things in the early recordings that you should listen to when you have time, because I was in the middle of the Geshe course at that point. I think this time through will be more of of a friendly presentation of someone who’s been teaching for 40 years and talking to people who who want to be teachers, and I think I may mix in a lot of advices on how to teach and new ideas I’ve had about the courses since I first wrote them, but I would say reading them over recently to prepare for this course they’re good stuff, and they stand.
I have never, to my memory, had a substantial correction for the courses. They are good translations—they are the real thing. None of it is my writing, 100% of the courses, except for one page, which is secret. So, I think it’s 6,000 pages of translation and it’s all straight translation, none of it’s by me. It’s all the great classics of ancient times and I think it was the first time, and I think Jeff will appreciate it, that we were able to put in the original language with the translation. So, in the six thousand pages, every paragraph has the original sutras and scriptures. So if anyone thinks something is wrong, or mistaken, or if [someone thinks] Geshela put a lot of his own ideas in it, you can actually check the Tibetan or the Sanskrit and you can see where every single word came from. So, I think in that sense the courses are amazing.
What we’ll be doing in the evening is going through the course material for each class. There are 10 classes in Course 1, and I’ll go through the material for each class. You will do the normal homework for the ACI courses. Even if you’ve done them before, I don’t care. There was a punishment in the monastery for young monks who snuck off across the corn fields. It’s about a two hour walk to the local town to see movies, and If you get caught you have to hold an Indian movie poster up in the assembly for two hours. You can’t put it down or you get “massaged”, and then you have to do prostrations. You have to do like a thousand prostrations to all the monks, and there was a big argument in the monastery that this was not a punishment. This was an honor.
Doing the homework again is an honor, and it will increase your understanding. So, I don’t care if you’ve done them before, you’re going to do them again. Please turn your homework in on time. Which leads me to another thing. I’m 27 years older than I was before, and I’m too old to deal with bad behavior and people who don’t turn in their assignments. I’m not a babysitter anymore. When I first did the courses I was a babysitter, and I lost a lot of hair by doing the babysitting. I’m assuming you are all mature, stable people and I want you to behave well while you’re here and I expect you to. Frankly, I’m too old to put up with any misbehavior. It’s usually three people who take half the staff’s time and we’re not going to do it. If you don’t want to do your homework on time, or you can’t get here on time, or you have some other personal problems, then go solve them and come back to the next one. I’m just going to be a tough guy, yeah right.
You have two [sets of] homeworks which you’re going be doing, one is the ACI Course homework and then secondly, you’ll be doing a separate homework for the teacher training which will include tips about how to teach, and the purpose of the Asian Classics Institute. For example, how did we come up with it, what’s the structure, things like that. So, you’ll have two homeworks to do each day, and we left you a block of time, unlike the SCIM classes which you have to do at midnight. We gave you two hours in the afternoon to do your homework, so there’s no excuse. I wrote it in 20 minutes, so you can do it in two hours.
I’m going to go straight through the homework because I have a bad habit of forgetting to go through the homework, and just talking about stories. So, I’m going to make sure I go through the two homeworks with you. Okay? Let’s do the teacher training stuff first, and then I’ll do the coursework. So here we go …
What is the mission of The Asian classics Institute? What is ACI meant to do? What are we supposed to be doing? Why are you becoming a teacher, and what’s the purpose of ACI as an organization.
First of all, ACI’s mission is, we call it accurate, relevant, and accessible. Those are three words I expect on your homework.
We want to bring the ancient wisdom of Buddhism, 25 centuries—two-and-a-half thousand years—to the modern world in a way which is accurate, relevant, and accessible. What do I mean by these three things? Accurate means the stuff is good stuff. It’s the real Buddhism. It’s all the ancient texts and sutras, and it’s really really translated correctly and it’s all there—the original is in the document. There’s even people who have spent part of their lives hypertexting—connecting the English to the Tibetan—just to make dictionaries. There’s been teams for the last 20 years just connecting the words, and they’ve confirmed that all the words are there.
So, it’s accurate. When you pass it on, you’re going to do it accurately! You’re going to pass it down correctly. The stuff is there, it’s like a recipe for a cake. it’s a really tasty cake. Jasso gave me his Guadalajara enchilada brown sauce recipe. What are those chilies called? Poblano. Yeah, I use Anaheim’s you use poblano. But he has a recipe for a Mexican dish. It’s his mom’s or something like that. It was very kind of him to give it to me. It’s highly secret and I made them for Veronica and she loves them. You don’t mess with the recipe. The recipe has worked for 25 centuries. it has worked for the world for 25 centuries, so don’t mess with it. We believe that the person who started this tradition was omniscient. Omniscient is not like your mom who doesn’t know exactly where you were keeping stuff in your room, although she knew you very well. Omniscient means, they can see everything about you—about your life. They can read your mind. They know every detail of your life. The person who wrote the original materials is watching this class right now—25 centuries ago. So don’t think you’re going to improve on what they did. Don’t think they left something out, or they didn’t know that bubblegum was going to be popular. They know everything. So, trust it. Don’t mess with it. That’s my first thing.
It was an incredible amount of work to translate 6,000 pages. Don’t mess it up! If you want to teach psychic healing or something, do it on your own time. Okay? Don’t do it in an ACI class. You’re free as an ACI teacher. We don’t require that you follow Buddhism. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to teach ACI. There are many people around the world who are not Buddhist who come to ACI, and especially DCI courses. I don’t care what you are. 99% of the people in the world follow what their parents did, and that’s fine, I had a guy in Ireland, you guys know him, Kevin Thornton from Galway. He said, “Geshela I like this stuff, you know, but my daughter is getting married, and is it okay that she gets married in the Galway Cathedral and not in our basement with the 12-armed Avalokiteshvara?” “Is this okay?” “Because it’s more comfortable for everyone.”
So yes, whatever your parents did. Whatever church, synagogue, mosque, you went to as a kid—make your parents happy, make your family comfortable. Do the holidays. I don’t do Hanukkah, I do Christmas. I still like Christmas. These are cultural things, whatever you did—spring festival, I don’t know—as a kid with your parents, keep peace in your family. We’re not trying to make you a fanatic. We’re trying to spread information that can help everybody in the world, and it does not have to be connected to a religion. If you choose to be a Buddhist, or you want to become a nun like some wonderful people here, that’s fine. Become a nun, teach ACI, that’s fine. But you don’t have to, it’s up to you. Do whatever is legal in your country, that’s fine.
You don’t have to look like a guru, or a Lama, or a priest. We are not making gurus, we are not making Lamas. We are not making priests, we’re just offering information to people which will help them with their lives, and in ACI with their future lives, and all their lives to come. It will not just help people who attend a business seminar—it will help the entire universe, and there’s a time in your practice, in your meditations, when you will meet the universe and every being in the universe. If you play your cards right, they say in English—if you study well, and you keep to the program, and you do your meditations and your practices, you can personally meet every living being in this universe and get to know them and love them,. The human mind has this capacity, due to emptiness.
So, think big! The purpose of ACI is to help the whole world. It’s not a Buddhist sect,, or a small Buddhist thing. It’s a way of acting, thinking, and practicing that can help anyone. We’re not forcing people to follow a certain religion or something like that. It doesn’t matter, whatever your parents had on your altar at home, do that! That’s fine. Have a crucifix, I have one and that’s fine, and I feel happy with it. Keep the holidays of your own culture—your own country. Add to the spice of life this delicious ice cream called ACI, and make your life more beautiful and whole.
We’re not here to convince people or make them join something. There’s no leader. There’s a bald guy in the desert teaching you a little bit. Later, it’ll be somebody else. It’ll be you guys. You’ll be bald too I’m telling you, and that’s how you know when you’re wise.
I think one of the most important things I’d say about the ACI courses is have fun, and don’t be a fanatic. Don’t be a fundamentalist. Have fun! Life is incredibly short. Yesterday I was 25, I swear to God I was 25 yesterday, and then boop and I’m 66. I’m like, “whoa what happened?”
Don’t get too serious about your life. Don’t be grumpy. Life goes like that! You might as well have fun. ACI should be fun. I don’t want like people being … what do you call it? “You have to do it this way, or you’re a bad person.” Come on! We’re all going to die. We’re in a boat that’s sinking in the middle of the Pacific, let’s play some music and eat a lot before it goes down.
Have fun teaching ACI. Nobody likes a grumpy ACI teacher, or a stressed out. I snuck in in the back and was sitting behind these two ladies, and the teacher was really nervous and drinking tea like this [shaking], and all upset, angry, and uptight. Like you got to do it like this! Then, one lady turned to the other lady and she said, “uh … What do you think?” “I don’t know what kind of meditation she’s teaching, but whatever it is I don’t want to learn it!” “Because I don’t want to be like that!” So, be happy, have fun.
The minute you become a teacher, you’re going to get extra trouble because the demons don’t like it. Trust me, starting tonight you’re going to have more trouble, more problems, more difficult people are going to show up, and just tell the demons @!#$ you! And have fun. Because what are you going do with your life? You’re going to be grumpy your whole life? You’re gonna tell people what to do? But, keep it accurate. Number one: accurate. Number two?
Relevant. Tie these courses to people’s real life, never teach a class without tying the ancient wisdom to people’s real problems, their real life. You’re not teaching some ancient books, you’re teaching people how to be happy. If you’re a success, people will be happy. I got a photo from Jeffrey Tzuoo in Taiwan yesterday, and he went to DCI 2, which is how to find your talent or your passion archer.” Ancient Chinese archery, this is in Taiwan. She wants to be an archer.and she’s blind. And he’s like, “okay, let’s do it!” “Let’s plant the seeds.” He sent me a photo yesterday, she’s in an archery competition now, and she almost hit the middle. They agreed that it was okay to put a bell in the middle of the target. So she just listens for the bell, and she shoots at the bell. So, don’t wear bells to those competitions! But it was so cool, and they have such fun. I met some of them, they came to my yoga class. Alex, from Colorado, and I taught them, and it was so much fun. We just had and we don’t have cancer, we’re still walking, we have a brain, and we can study these beautiful things. So, be a little happy.
The second rule is: relevant to people’s lives, what’s the first rule again? Accurate. Don’t mess with the recipe. It’s not going to taste the same, and it won’t work the same!
I call it fire extinguishers that don’t work! I can’t think of anything more cynical, or mean then to try to make extra money by selling a fire extinguisher that doesn’t work, and you know it doesn’t work. Don’t mess with this fire extinguisher, this fire extinguisher is called the ACI courses. The 36 courses. It works! You you get a fire, you push the button, the fire goes out. If your husband’s mean to you, or your boss is being his usual self—any problem you have, you push this ACI course fire extinguisher and it will put out the fire. And the fire called death. It puts it out. But if you mess with it, and it doesn’t work anymore, can you imagine people like, “oh my mom’s dying, what do I do?” “Oh just shoot him with ACI 6.” “Yeah, well I changed it and it doesn’t work anymore.” Understand? It’s big . important stakes.
It’s an important thing. It’s like the only recipe to treat AIDS. The only formula in the world. Don’t mess with it! You can save millions of lives, but don’t say, “oh this needs a little sugar in it.” Yeah, okay, and then it doesn’t work for the people who have AIDS.
So that’s the mission. What was the last one? Accessible. There’s a big temptation for baby teachers, and baby yoga teachers, to show off how much they know and do poses that nobody else in the room can do. Then you’re not teaching anymore, you’re just showing off. Really, you want to think about the poses that are going to help the people in the class. They don’t care if you can do some weird pose. They just want to be healthy. So, make it accessible. You can use Sanskrit words, Chinese words, Pali—you can show off sometimes. I allow it. I maybe do it sometimes, but uh it’s not the point. We want the information to be open to everybody. The ACI courses are open source—anyone can download an ACI course. They’ve been online for 19 or 20 years, and they’re free and they’re online, anyone can download them.
We lost count, after the second year, of the number of downloads. It was up to 150,000 then. Multiply that times ten or more, I don’t know. We wanted people to use it. Don’t be stingy and don’t be weird. Don’t use weird words and things that people can’t understand. Judge your audience—stay with the level of your audience. If it means you have to throw out your lesson plan for the day, do it! In two seconds. Stay with the level of your audience. Make it accessible. If the audience wants you to go deeper, like if they’re from a certain country I know, then, accessible means deeper. Go deeper. But, watch your audience, stay with your audience, and go deeper if you need. Always accessible, and interesting, and fun. If it’s boring, it’s not accessible. If it’s dry, it’s not accessible. If you’re not prepared to teach the class, it’s not accessible.
By the way, people are like dogs. The dog you hear barking on the ACI 1 recordings, whose name was Pancho Via because he was from Mexico. He was a chihuahua—and a mean chihuahua! —I started ACI with six students. They came to my kitchen and we sat around the kitchen and John Stillwell, this weird guy, said “let’s record everything,” and I’m like, “why, what’s the point?” And people would come in to go to class, and I remember this one lady who didn’t like dogs and she opened the door and stepped in, and he ran up and went ahhh chomp! Bit her leg, and oh my god! We had to go to the hospital, she was going to sue me. We’ll talk about that kind of stuff later.
The thing is, before she said anything and before she did anything, the dog could tell she didn’t like dogs. They have some ESP or something—dog clairvoyance. They can tell, and your students in ACI can tell, if you’re prepared or not. You can’t B.S., you can’t fake it. They’ll know in five minutes whether you know your stuff or not, so just cover yourself.
Know your stuff, know your material. Don’t think that students don’t know. The students know everything about you. They know your bad habits, they know you didn’t meditate yesterday, they can smell it. So the safest thing is to be a good person and don’t have any secrets. You see what I mean? Be prepared for your class. It takes preparation because this is real stuff. This is hard stuff and it takes preparation, and you will be so much happier If you make time to spend a few hours to get ready.
This is a homework question! The mission is to present this ancient wisdom openly to the world, without any need for them to join anything, or become a certain sect or something. It’s accurate, and it applies to their real life, and it’s accessible to everybody. It’s meant to be accessible. Okay? The immediate goal—gu tsok chu shi—a famous concept in Buddhism. What’s the immediate goal? It’s that they learn the material. The immediate goal for this week, is that you learn the classic by Je Tsongkapa called the Three Principal Paths. Principal Teachings of Buddhism. That’s the immediate goal. It’s called gupa. Gusok chu shi is the “immediate goal”.
The next goal is to make people’s lives happier. Life is hard, everyone has to die. We all get sick. You’re going to lose every person you ever met, and you’re going to lose everything you ever collected on the way —money, houses, and family. You’re going to lose everything. So, the short term goal is to give people some happiness. To make them happy. Another goal of ACI, and especially DCI, is to change the way the world works. Right now for example, economically and politically, the model is competition. I will sell more stuff than you. Coca-Cola fights Pepsi Cola, Kěndéjī [KFC] fights McDonald’s. Who can make the most money? A lot of this thinking comes from America, I’m sorry. If I’m faster, stronger, harder, and if I fight with the other guys I can make more money. I can get more things. ACI teaches the opposite is true, and thinking that you get more by being faster, stronger, and meaner is a very serious mistake that causes all the conflict in the world—personal conflict, company conflict, international conflict, and war—all comes from the thinking that if you fight for more you can get it.
So, ACI’s mission, the immediate mission, is to make people happier in their home life, and in their work life. The second mission is to change the model of the world. If it’s true that I will make more money by helping others to make money, if it’s true that America will have more energy supplies if they supply more oil to China, for example, if that’s true, then as an ACI teacher you can change the model that the whole world is working by, and would that be cool? That would be something cool. And my dream is that it’s anonymous. People don’t remember the name of the guy who started ACI, and they don’t even remember that it was ACI who got the new model started, maybe ACI can go away by then. It’s just the model, and when kids want something their parents teach them to give it to someone else, and that becomes the model of the whole world. So, the first goal is to make people happy and give them some comfort in this difficult life. The second goal is to change the model of the world, in a quiet way—and maybe we never get credit and that’s fine. That’s the credit.
Third goal. Don’t be a frog in a well. There’s many many worlds that you have not seen. Don’t don’t think your little world is the end of all things. I mean a woman came from Asia, China, to Diamond Mountain a couple years ago, and she went outside at night and saw the stars. She’s from Shanghai—the stars never shine in Shanghai, rarely, and she looked up, and there were millions, billions of stars! This is the best place to see stars, one of the best places in the world to see stars, we’re two hours from the nearest serious grocery store. Then she came in and said to the director, “uh …are they going to be here tomorrow?” “Are those going to be here tomorrow?”
So, all you have to do to understand the far goal of ACI, is to go out tonight and look at the sky, if it’s … by the way it’s going to get hot now starting tomorrow. You’re going to be complaining about the heat, so enjoy the the spring—Arizona spring is one day, then it goes away. Enjoy it because you’re going to be complaining about the air conditioning tomorrow. Bring warm clothes to class if you’re from countries that don’t grow up on an air conditioning like we do. Okay? so bring … like Luca, bring a nice heavy coat, don’t get sick. Many people have gotten sick here from the air conditioner. Bring a scarf, hat, and coat. Because I keep the room cold, and you’re going to learn to keep the room cold because otherwise people fall asleep! If they’re freezing they can’t fall asleep. They get sick, but okay, that’s after you leave.
So, go out and look at the stars and that’s where we’re headed, my next planet is Sirius star system. Follow the two feet of Orion. It’s the bright blueish star off to his left foot. So, don’t think small. Just look up, don’t think this is the only world. Come on! The world’s a little bigger than that, and it’s fully the intention and goal of ACI to spread this on other planets, in other worlds. There are many worlds in this room that you can’t see. There are many kinds of beings in this room you can’t see. We’re not stopping with this world. We’re not stopping with changing the paradigm, the model of this world, because there are other worlds that are suffering also. You will see them in time. Right now you’re not so worried about it. “Oh that’s in another country, that’s in Africa, I don’t need to worry about it Geshela.” Yeah, but there’s other worlds that we have to take care of. So, the goal is not less than destroying death in all worlds. And you have the capacity to do that—each person in this room has the capacity to do that. Don’t think small. Your goal is bigger. Our goal is bigger. ACI’s goal is that, and you one day you will see it and you’ll say, “oh Geshela was right for once.”
I put a second question here, it says: what’s not the mission of ACI? I don’t know, you could say a lot of things. I don’t want to be unfriendly, I don’t want to be a cult, I don’t want to be a certain religion, I don’t want to be mean to people and say, “you’re not my religion”.” I don’t want us to be famous. So far, we’ve been really good at … you know, combined ACI-DCI is the largest Buddhist-based organization in the world, but we don’t talk about it. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. We’re not here as teachers to get people’s attention. Now, every person in this room likes people’s attention, including the one talking, but you have to deal with it, and as a teacher you have to control yourself a little bit. We’re not here to make gurus, Lamas, Imams, priests, ministers, pastors, Kung fu masters—it’s not the goal.
We’re here as servants to share what we had the good fortune to learn from our teachers, and it’s not about you or me. It’s about helping people. Alright, so that’s what we’re not. We’re not here for a personality cult, and we’re not here to make Geshe Michael king of the world, or anybody else. We’re here to help people.
I think it’s an important question to start with. Now, we have an esteemed group of professors for this course, they are very very senior. As senior as me, right JB? They are kick-ass practitioners, JB has been meditating, I don’t know, forty years, he and Connie both finished three-year retreats. Jigme has finished very long retreats. They’ve been in “the business” for a long time. They’re good at it. The teachers are very good at it, and we have a plan to develop the course with you—to collaborate with you. It’s something we stole from Stanley and Alison. Let the students design the course and I can relax and eat chile relleno more often.
Our dream is that we work with you, and we work with each other. The professors will be meeting every lunchtime, after our yoga practice, which everyone’s going to do. Someone was telling me today how much their body hurts and why they can’t do yoga, and I’m like, “duh!”
But, come and sit on the mat and do something. It’s okay, you don’t have to do everything that everybody else does. Forget everybody else, do some stretching, let the body get blood. Be healthier. After yoga we will have an hour lunch with the professors, but we want your feedback about how to make this a cool course, and how to teach it more effectively. You’re the first experiment. you’re the laboratory. We want the laboratory rats to tell us what they like, what they don’t like, and how they think we can improve the teacher training. So, we’re kind of keeping it fluid, what we realized already is that you cannot teach a teacher for a week and let them go. That would be like training a heart surgeon in a week, and giving them a razor blade and saying, “go for it!”
We kind of made a decision, which is negotiable, because you’re all helping us develop this course, we think come to three courses and then we can talk about certifying you for the first one. Got it? You don’t have to do them in order if you’re from South Africa. Welcome. There’s been an underground ACI group in South Africa for a hundred years, we finally met after, I don’t know, 20 years, but you’re welcome to help design the course,—help us design the course, and I think it’s going to take three courses to really give you enough foundation to give you a “razor blade” and to go say, “do heart operations.” They don’t have to be in order. If you’re from South Africa, come come next year and the year after. Now, the answer to the question—Geshela, try to talk about the questions—is that anyone can teach ACI. Anyone!
The courses are free online. The materials are free online. We locked them. You can’t change them. Unless you retype them or something. Anyone is welcome to teach what we call “living room courses”. Ideally, less than 15 people in a living room and you came to one class at ACI and you’re very welcome to share it with your friends. There’s no limits on the materials—you can use the materials, and you’re welcome to share with friends. I expect you to teach at least one ACI Course 1 class on the airplane on the way home to the person sitting next to you. And for that you don’t have to come to three courses to have permission to do that. Everyone in the world has permission to sit down with their friends in their living room. I know the Guadalajara skyscraper penthouse. They have this karma to have the most beautiful floor in the city. It was given to them for their classes with a swimming pool on it at the top of the building, and the bar they don’t go to. You’re welcome to sit in your living room and teach friends.
If your country does not allow religious teaching, even in a living room, you’re still welcome to take this training and we ask you to teach it outside of your country. If your country doesn’t allow these kinds of teaching in that country we require that you go to another location if you want to teach. If I find out that people, who are in a country where it’s not allowed, are endangering themselves or other people, I will remove your certification. Clear?
It’s possible, in English they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you love people enough, you will find a way to do it legally and correctly. I don’t want anyone getting in trouble. So that’s what kind of people can teach ACI? The answer is anybody —if you have a head, even without a head, if you can find a way to express yourself. “Certified” teacher has to come to the training. Certified teacher, who’s listed on the website as a certified teacher, we have to train you. You have to go through the training. How many classes do you have to come to?
How many course do you have to come to? How much can you do online? How much can you do by touching your head with another teacher? We have to decide this week. Maybe you can help us with suggestions. We have to make it possible for people to get the training from South Africa or whatever. We are working on finding ways to certify teachers with a responsible mix of online and in-person. How that’s going to happen is pretty much up to this group, especially the professors—mentors. So, to teach “officially”, groups of over 15, outside of your living room, including online, if it’s over 15 people you must be certified—and you will be on a list of certified teachers, and what courses you’re certified for. If we do it that way, it will also be online. It will be on our website.
We’ll talk more about that whole process. There’s a lot of questions you probably have, and don’t stress about it. I can’t cover everything the first night. I have to do the homework, but it’ll be a cool system. You will like it. We want you to teach—we desperately want you to teach, and you are very valuable. The people who came here to learn to be a teacher—it took me 40 years to find you, and I’m proud of each one of you for coming and I’m going to make you a good teacher. So, that’s the goal. Don’t worry about it, but I’m going make you a good teacher.
So, certified teachers—groups of 15 or more, “official” ACI teacher, you have to be certified, your name will be on a list. “What if I’ve been teaching for 20 years Geshela, and you never told me I needed this stuff?” We’ll have a special deal that we’ll work out for grandfathering the grandfathers and grandmothers. “Grandfathering”, as a verb in English, means special exception for people have been teaching for a long time already. But, we’re still going to demand that you retrain yourself in certain things. Just to make sure the quality of the teaching is good. Accurate, accessible, and? Relevant. Nice!
We have 36 Formal study courses, there are some other courses called “practice modules“—special meditations like tonglen. There’s a 50 page essay, collected from the classics. No Geshe Michael, all classics on tonglen. 50 pages I think, and that’s a separate thing. You can learn that, but the 36 main courses, are divided into 18 and 18. The name of the first 18 are on your homework—which always gets people’s attention for a while—is ACI Foundation Courses. The 18 ACI Foundation Courses. That’s half of the Formal Study Courses of ACI. I’m going to explain the structure of those 18 tonight. That’s another homework question, but so far you just have a name. 18 ACI Foundation Courses. By the way, most of you know that the last three: 16, 17, and 18 are review of the first 15.
The second 18 courses are Dimond Way Courses. The Sanskrit is Vajrayana. Traditionally, if you study the first 18 courses, and you work hard, you can become a Buddha and help all those stars we were talking about in about a billion years. Standard time period for a normal Buddha. I mean, I can’t even count the number. Call it a billion, it’s probably too small. If you study Diamond Way—properly, accurately, accessibly, and relevantly—you can shorten that time to this lifetime, to one lifetime. And that’s an incredible deal!
But, it takes a lot of training to do the second 18 courses, and as teachers I expect you to never teach a person the second 18 courses without the first 18 courses. It’s like giving a kid a loaded gun. They will hurt themselves. I’ve tried, I said, “oh, this person is special.” “I’ll tell you what, you finish 12 courses, I’ll give you the Vajrayana.” They all failed! I think the failure rate for people who didn’t finish the first 18 courses is close to 100%, and I’m talking big failures—hurt people, messed up people’s lives, and messed up their own lives. Not cool.
Vajrayana is fast. There’s a Sanskrit word for those courses called tantra. We’re not going to use the word because it has a bad reputation in the world, even in India. The word Tantra has bad reputation in the world, because of misbehavior—bad behavior of teachers who were practicing other kinds of tantra. I was in Argentina, and I was asked to go to Uruguay and teach in Punta Del Este to a soccer team, and it was cool, and I did it and it was fun. This is the Monte Carlo of South America, right? It was on the beach and everything, but they were so cool. We worked until two o’clock at night together, and in the airport I saw a huge poster in the bookstore which said, “tantra secrets, sex, killing chickens”, and I was like, “we can’t use this word.” So, I encourage you not to use this word, especially as an ACI teacher, there’s a traditional name of the higher teachings, advanced teachings, called Vajrayana—Diamond Way, and I prefer to use it. Tim pointed out to me that there’s a Buddhist group calling themselves Diamond Way nowadays, and there’s a group calling themselves Kadampa also. That’s fine, I’m not going to avoid an important word just because someone’s using it.
Do you know what it [Vajrayana] means? It means a method to help the whole universe in your lifetime, and to be honest, you don’t want to go through the billion years anyway! It’s too much trouble. You have to die, you have to get diarrhea I don’t know how many times. Don’t do it! Just plan on doing the second 18 courses, they are called the Diamond Way Courses. Sometimes I call them “Advanced Courses”, but I thought it was too wimpy. They’re not advanced courses, they’re ultimate courses. Diamond Way Courses, AND in my opinion, which is modest because I wrote them, they are the best Vajrayana courses in history. They include every major topic of Vajrayana for the first time in one course. I was at the two Vajrayana monasteries of Tibet [In the Tsongkhapa tradition], and I was there the night they started the debate ground. I debated all the students in the Vajrayana monastery, and kicked their butt frankly. They don’t have as good of a course as we have. Okay, I don’t care, this is the best in the world. So cool. Super cool. You can do it. The 18 Vajrayana Courses, so you got the answer to the question.
It’s pretty simple, you’re not going to put “tantra” courses, and you’re not going to call them that because people will get the wrong idea. Even in India, for all Indian people it’s very uncomfortable to use the word tantra, because of people who misused it, so stick to Diamond Way. I don’t want to see “Advanced Courses” on your homework! They’re better than that!
I’m going to go straight through. I’m older than you, I have to stand up the whole time, I’m teaching three hours in the morning, but if you have a pee-pee emergency, you are very welcome to just slip out, rather than taking it a ten-minute break that turns into a half-hour break. We don’t have much time together, so if you have a … I took my old lady to the ballet this week in Phoenix. Getting her out of her nursing home, getting her into the car, getting her into her wheelchair, and we were the last people in the auditorium. They were waiting for us, and I worked hard to get her there on time, and she sat down they started to lower the lights and she said very loudly, “I need to pee!” Already all the ushers are angry at us, and I’m like, “alright”. I put her in her wheelchair and they waited for 15 minutes. A huge auditorium, they waited for her for … why did I mention that? Oh, I’m not going to take a break. It’s too slow. Okay? Two hours straight through, you okay with that? But seriously, it’s not disrespectful, it’s not wrong. It’s wrong to hurt your body in Buddhism. So, if you drank a couple sodas before the class, just go and don’t ask me, and don’t look desperate. Just go. Phil’s showing you the way.
Next topic. In the very short run, my thinking when I started the ACI courses was to share the Geshe course with modern people outside of Tibet, and I was very excited. I was finishing my Geshe degree.—I was about three or four years from from finishing, and I was so turned on by the Geshe course. It’s so amazing. It’s so so cool, by the way, dge ba bshes gnyen, Ge-she, is short for dge ba bshes gnyen. The Sanskrit is kalyana mitra, and it means spiritual friend. So, Geshe is kalyana mitra, and it’s not on your homework so don’t worry about it, but it means spiritual friend, and and that’s what I want you to be. That’s what we’re trying to make you—people’s spiritual friend. Spiritual guide. The Geshe course is amazing, and I thought because people were asking me to teach Buddhism, and I was like, “blank it, let’s do the whole Geshe course”. And they’re like, “we don’t have 25 years”, and I said, “well, do you have seven years?” So, we tried to do three courses every year for six years so they could have digestion time, which is highly desirable. I said, “okay let’s do the Geshe course,” so I built the 18 Foundation Courses on the Geshe course. The Geshe course started roughly a thousand years ago. People started getting the name Geshe about a thousand years ago, at that time those great Tsongkhapa monasteries were still 400 years out, but masters who who studied the great classics—Asian classes, and became masters of them, were already called Geshes a thousand years ago.
In the Kadampa times, there’s Kadampa Geshe Dorje Senge, we are studying his work, and Geshe Drolungpa, we are also studying his work. These are from a thousand years ago. So, Geshe started—the name, the title—started a thousand years ago. It became formalized about 600 years ago, but that course was so interesting and so cool, that I wanted to share it with modern people. I’m going to brag, which is very unusual for me, that it’s the first time women were taught the Geshe course in history—women in Tibet were not allowed to learn to read or write. The name for women in Tibetan is bume (bud-med) which means no penis, or kyemen (skye dmen) which means “lower rebirth”. These are the two words in the Tibetan language for women, and they were not allowed to study the Geshe course, and we broke this tradition and got a lot of heat for it, a lot! And a lot of criticism for it.
Recently, the people who criticized us just passed the first woman Geshe, but we did it ten years before that—twenty years! We were a little bit ahead. right? When was it? So, my dream was that modern people, and people who weren’t monks were never allowed to study the Geshe course. It’s the first time that people who were not in a monastery—who are not monks, nuns, and women—were allowed to study the Geshe course. Why? I have no idea. There’s 4,600 texts from ancient India, 2 were written by women I think, it may be 3, I don’t know. We’re breaking this tradition. It’s a bad tradition. 99% of those traditions are beautiful. That one is bad! We’re breaking it, and that was my dream.
Five great topics are covered in the Geshe course, roughly in order of higher school, because there’s four great schools and that’s your last homework question. So, five great topics, covered in four great schools of ancient India. We are not talking about what? The four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. There are four traditional schools in Tibetan Buddhism for the last thousand years, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about Buddhism for 2,500 years in ancient India, there were four great schools. On the homework question, you’re going to have to give 5 names because, oh sorry, let’s do the topics first. Five great topics. I’m not talking school, I’m talking Geshe topics. It’s a little bit different. If you really want to be cute on your homework, you can connect the 5 great topics to the 4 great schools, but I’m not even asking that.
Here’s the five great topics. By the way, I also gave you the schedule of the Geshe course in the monastery for the 25 years. How much time on this subject? How much time on this? I put it in the reading. First of the 5 great topics, not schools. First of the 5 great topics of the Geshe course is Abhidharma. The English name is Higher Knowledge—Abhi Dharma, Higher Knowledge. The first great topic of the Geshe course, not in order of how you take it, but in order of school is Abhidharma——Higher Knowledge. I didn’t ask for it on the homework, but maybe I should have. Each of the five great topics of the Geshe course has an associated classic—great book. Okay? So, I’m just going to throw those names at you. It’s not on your homework, you can get it off the manual. But, Stanley can probably tell me the first one?
Abhidharmakosha by Vasubhandhu.
Correct spelling is in the manual, you’ll see. Vasubhandhu lived 350 AD. I’m not doing dynasties: Tong Cháo, Ming Cháo, I’m going to use Western dates. I think we’re all going to be wearing Chinese collars before the end of my time, and talking in dynasties, but right now it’s Christian days. So, call it 350 AD. The dates for these guys are very very difficult. There’s no Indian history books, so forget it. I’m just giving you estimate. I didn’t have time to figure it out. I could probably do better, but okay 350 AD.
The the book is called the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge. Abhidharmakosha, okay Kosha. Full of Noors, and accountants in India are still called Kotaris. It still comes from kosha. Stanley happens to be translating until 2042. That’s our schedule, right? 46? Oh, we might have to speed up. Stanley is translating a very important commentary, but it will take 20 years to translate, and I translated one of the most important commentaries the first 12 years of my Geshe studies. I translated the whole commentary. So, that’s the first great … what’s the topic?
Just after the Buddha died, some of his more advanced students, said to be arhats, there’s a debate about it, collected together collections of his topics—seven great collections of his teachings and they called that literature: Higher Knowledge. So, that was collected together by students after the Buddha and they kind of messed up some important points. Okay? But 90% of it is extremely important as a foundation of all Buddhism. OSo, Abhidharma is important, but it does not contain the highest teachings on emptiness. For 700 years after the Buddha, this is what was taught. This tradition is what reached Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma. What’s the subject matter? Just about every major idea that the Buddha taught. It’s like an encyclopedia, and you’re constantly referring back to it. For example, the Four Steps of DCI come from there, the, the Four Laws of Karma come from there, the Four Flowers come from there, the Four Steps of Confession come from there. It’s an amazing resource. It’s an encyclopedia.
Second great topic is called Vinaya—Vowed Morality. Promising, through a commitment, to keep to a moral code—an ethical code. There are 8 great divisions and you will study it during the ACI courses. Vinaya comes from a root that means “to tame a wild horse”—so that’s what we’re doing. Allison’s translating Tsongkapa’s greatest work on it, a summary. The great book here, for studying commitments, is called the Vinaya Sutra. Right after that you should say it’s not a? Sutra, okay? Sutra technically means a teaching given directly by the Buddha, but it can also mean a short book, or a short classic. Some of them are 12,000 pages, like the Yoga Sutra, 210 verses that’s all. It’s about twelve pages or something. So, the Vinaya Sutra is the book we use to study Vinaya in the monastery, but it’s not a sutra—it’s just a short book. You can call it: A Short Book on Vowed Morality. Okay? The author’s name is Guna Prabha. It’s in your manual, don’t stress about writing things.
I’m not using visuals because it’s in your manual. I don’t want you to waste your time looking at a screen. I want you to listen to and oral lineage. Guna Prabha lived about 550 AD. Pretty late. 550 AD. Okay?
Third great topic in Sanskrit is Pramana. Say Pramana. If you want to be really good, roll the N back, “pra ma nuh”. [In an Indian accent] I would like a cup of tea if you don’t mind. A lot of Sanskrit is said with a tongue [back]. Pramana means valid perception, correct perception. I have changed the name of the third topic to Clear Thinking, and I’m very happy. It took me twenty seven years, but I’m happy with it. I never did like “Buddhist perception and epistemological theory”. What it is, is clear thinking, and you have to be trained in how to think clearly, and it’s an incredibly valuable tool for all Buddhists. So, it’s called Pramana—Clear Thinking, how to think clearly. The rules for thinking clearly, and lots of information about how we perceive things.
For example, the crucial discussion of DCI level 7——chi jedrak. Quality and characteristic. Very deep. In Buddhism, this topic is called, “the key to emptiness”. It’s extremely important, it’s not some boring thing. I lost half my students when I taught ACI 13. Thirteen is a bad luck number in the West, what’s a bad luck number in China? Bā is good, right? Four [Sì]. Anyway, 13 is really bad luck in Western countries because Jesus’ 13th student helped him get killed. So, 13 is a bad number. They don’t have 13th floor in most buildings in America. Why did I say that? Oh, course 13, which was logic, I lost half my students that year.
By the way, I’m going to teach you the flow—why did I teach one course after another, and you should know that by the time we finish this week. You’re going to know the names of the 18 courses, you’re going to be able to tell me the main ideas in the 18 courses, and you’re going to tell me—which even Geshela didn’t know, why did he teach this one next. Revision, I went back and figured out a flow.
The school here, by the way, is the Sutrist School. In Sanskrit? You don’t need to know the Sanskrit. Sutrist school—followers of sutra. Why is it called the Sutrist School? Why did they choose the name Sutrist for themselves? So, the first school is called Abhidharma or Vinaya. By the way, Vinaya is just part of the Abhidarma school. Same school. Why Sutrist? Good! Yeah, they say to the Abhidharma guys, “you’re just reading stuff that was put together by the students.” “We want to read the Xīnjīng [Heart Sutra], or the Jīngāng Jīng [Diamond Cutter Sutra].” “We want to go to the sutras, we want the Buddha’s own word.”
So, the second school—you can call them Logic School, or you can call them Sutrist School, because they say, “we only want sutra, we only want what the Buddha actually said.” They ended up being very interested in how do you think clearly, because that’s a tool that every Buddhist needs. Why? The important stuff for getting out of suffering are things you cannot see with your eyes and ears. You must develop your mental capacity. You must develop your clear thinking to see things that cannot be seen by the eyes and the ears.
You must learn to develop this tool. Pramana. You must learn to develop your mind to see things that you can’t see with your eyes. Sometimes you can call it “third eye”, okay? So, the third eye is not some weird Diamond Way thing, it’s the ability to see things that cannot be seen with your eyes, like emptiness. You develop this muscle here [points to 3rd eye].
Next Geshe topic. How many Geshe topics? 5. Good. How many schools? 4, but 5 if you split then fourth school into 2, but we didn’t get there yet. Fourth major topic of the Geshe course, we’re kind of going up schools, is called the Perfection of Wisdom. Prajna Paramita. In Chinese? Bōrě bōluómì duō. Prajna. Actually Russian is the closest modern language, I’m aware of, to Sanskrit. It’s it’s very precise, close to Russian. So there, you would say znayu [знать] right? For, for “I know”. “Yeah, I know”, “ya znayu” is much closer to the Sanskrit, and in general Russian pronunciation is much closer to the Sanskrit. It’s cool.
Perfection of Wisdom has at least three major meanings that contradict each other, so you better know which Perfection of Wisdom you’re talking about. When you talk about the Geshe topic—the fourth Geshe topic, which is named Perfection of Wisdom, In Tibetan? Parchin—the short name is just “Parchin”. It’s the study of the Lower Middle Way school. Perfection of Wisdom, in the Geshe course, only means the study of the lower half of the Middle Way school—highest school. It’s only that. Why?
Because those early Middle Way works by Bhavaviveka and Asanga present every major topic of Mahayana—every major topic of the Higher Way. So, super cool. When you reach Prajna Paramita in the monastery—the fourth major topic, then you start the Greater Way, Mahayana. Don’t call it Mahayana to your students, learn to use your language: Russian, Spanish, whatever. Don’t drown your students under Sanskrit. Don’t force them to learn the same thing with an older name, you’re just putting obstacles in their way. So, Perfection of Wisdom, in the monastery course, in the Geshe course, just means: the study of the lower half of the Middle Way. Why? Vast encyclopedia of all great ideas of Mahayana, except for the perfect explanation of emptiness. So, it’s pretty cool and frankly it’s half of the Geshe course. It’s twelve years of the Geshe course. It must be important.
I forgot to give you the important book for the Pramana—clear-thinking schools. It’s by Dharmakirti, and don’t mix up your Kirtis, okay? You know I went on Wiki to see the dates for Dharmakirti that they thought, and the picture of the Lama under Dharmakirti in Wikipedia is Chandrakirti, and it says that under the picture in Tibetan, so I wrote all my friends who do that kind of stuff and I said, “can you fix it?” They stole the picture from me, which is okay. I got it in Russia, but it has the name under it and they put it under the wrong Kirti, so don’t get your Kirtis mixed up.
Dharmakirti is the great logician, and we study his book called, A Commentary on Valid Perception, or clear-thinking. In that case, what’s valid perception or clear-thinking mean? It’s the work of his teacher, Dignaga. That’s why it’s a commentary. Okay? But I’m not telling you that, just put Dharmakirti. By the way, it’s a tradition in Buddhism never to speak of your teacher—your personal Lama, with what we call their “naked name”. Jenba, ming jenba. So we’re not really supposed to say Dharmakirti, and in the ACI Courses we try to use the word Master. Chinese people have a very good custom, they always say “oh, Michael Lǎoshī, Geshe Michael Lǎoshī.” They always say Lǎoshī. I mean, if you taught them how to change a tire on a car they’ll call you Lǎoshī. It’s very polite, and it’s a tradition in Buddhism. We say Master Dharmakirti, and I prefer that you do that.
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to study ACI, and you don’t have to be a Buddhist to teach ACI, but you should be respectful of the lineage. You call him, Master Dharmakirti. Okay? Dates for Master Dharmakirti. 650 AD. Now, who wrote the big book for the fourth topic? Well, actually it was Maitreya and then his secretary got credit for it. Asanga okay? The book is by Maitreya/Asanga, you can answer it that way if you want. Asanga is the half-brother of Vasubhandhu. 350 AD. Same mother.
What’s the book called? The Jewel of Realizations. In Sanskrit? Abhisamayalankara, but you don’t need to know that. Just put Jewel of Realizations. Very very important, for example:
DE NAS SENG GE RNAM BSGYINGS PA’I, ,TING NGE ‘DZIN LA SNYOMS ZHUGS NAS, ,RTEN CING ‘BREL ‘BYUNG LUGS MTHUN DANG, ,LUGS MI MTHUN LA RTOG PAR BYED,
We have to memorize most of these books in the monastery, these five great books. That is [the quote above from Abhisamayalankara] the whole source for two things: Lion’s Dance, and thousands of books on the on the Twelve Links, is two lines of Sanskrit. It’s a hot book. Twelve years of the Geshe course.
Fifth topic? Middle Way. By the way, the other two meanings of Perfection of Wisdom, which is not what it means in the Geshe course, is the sixth perfection of a bodhisattva—the sixth activity of a bodhisattva. The sixth topic of training for all bodhisattvas is wisdom—Prajna Paramita. The other meaning of Prajna Parmamita is a huge group of sutras where the Buddha taught emptiness, sometimes through very long stories, like the 8000-Verses, or the 20,000-Verses, or the 25,000-Verses, or the 100,000-Verses. It’s a huge section in the scriptures called, Perfection of Wisdom, so don’t get confused. As a Geshe topic it means?
The Lower half of the Middle Way, which is a big deal. Not dummies. So, this fifth topic is Middle Way. Middle Way also refers to the fourth topic right? They’re the lower half of the Middle Way, so don’t forget when you’re listing Geshe topics, or you go to the monastery and they ask you, “what are you guys studying nowadays?” Don’t forget to use the right names—they are nicknames, they are misnomers. Middle Way means the study of the higher half of the Middle Way school. The big big big book, which is not the main book studied, is Nagarjuna’s Wisdom, it’s just called Wisdom. By Nagarjuna, 200 AD.
Does that date ring a bell? Yeah, it’s when Buddhism came back to what it was. After 700 years of Stanley Chen’s Abhidharma, then Nagarjuna came back and said, “hey you guys are missing emptiness, man!” “You don’t have it right!” So, His [Nagarjuna] nickname is second Buddha on this planet, second Buddha to walk on this planet. 200 AD. He wrote a book which is just called Wisdom, but sometimes it’s just called the Middle Way. Okay? So, the most famous commentary on it is called? Entering the Middle Way, meaning Nagarjuna’s book. It doesn’t mean the Middle Way as a school, and that’s by Master Chandrakirti. Around 650 AD. You guys okay? Can I just keep going?
Yeah, yeah because the nickname of the book Wisdom is Middle Way. So, Entering the Middle Way actually means, “learning to read Nagarjuna”. So, it doesn’t mean entering middle way philosophy for example, although we are. Okay, good question.
Those are the five great books—we memorize most of them in the monastery over the course of the Geshe course. I did all of the Abhisamayalankara, I did the first four chapters of the Abhidharmakosha, which was a … I almost said bitch, and I’ve done pieces of the other ones. But, you shouldn’t walk on the debate ground if you don’t have them in your head.
Now, I’m going to present them by school. Now we go to another homework question. The four schools, and it’s actually the last homework question, and I’m actually timing this class not so bad except I didn’t get to your ACI course, but that’s okay, I promised Tim I wouldn’t do this, but I’m doing it. You might have to do half the homework tonight. The four schools, the four great schools of ancient India, overlap a little bit. We’ll see.
The first great school is called Detailist, “ist” means a member of a group in English, you know, like Detailist or Buddhist for example. Anybody, okay human dictionary, anybody want to tell me why, who’s not the human dictionary? Jasso. Why are they called Detailist?
Oh, not really, I mean it’s a good guess, but there’s a book called the Detailed Explanation, which is what they follow, that’s their main Abhidharma book. Detailist means Vaibhashika, but part of the title of the book is Vaibhasha, so Detailist just means, the first school of the four great schools of India is called: people who like to read the book the Detailed Explanation. It’s one of the books of Abhidharma. Vaibhashika.. Alright. You don’t need to know the spelling, it’s in your manual. By the way, it’s so nice to see so many people with jet lag and I don’t have, because all year it’s the opposite.
Second great school. Oh by the way, Abhidharma, now Geshe topic in the four schools. What’s in the first school? Which Geshe topic? Two. Great! Abhidharma and Vinaya, are in the first school—so don’t get confused between schools and topics. I’m trying to confuse you, but show me you’re smarter than that. Five topics, four schools, they overlap. So, first topic? Higher knowledge. Second topic? Vowed Morality. Both are both part of the first school—the lowest school, by the way.
I’m going up. Vaibhashika, Vaibhashika—Detailst. Abhidharma and Vinaya. I prefer you don’t use foreign words in your class. You use them because you’re used to them. Kōng xìng. But just try to remember the first class you walked into. I remember the first class I walked into, and people were like, “well the Vaibhashika approach to the Abhidharma is not exactly what Vasubhandu would say, but it’s more on the question of alaya vijnyana …”, for them, it’s very easy. They’ve been in it for ten years, but don’t forget your students are not.
Don’t confuse them with a lot of Sanskrit. Abhidharma sounds comfortable for you because you heard it for ten years. Okay? So, don’t do that to them. Call it Higher Knowledge. First school? Detailist school. Second school? We talked about it. Sutrist. They follow the sutras. “We don’t want those huge summaries done by human beings after the Buddha died, we want the Heart Sutra, we want the Diamond Cutter, we want the real sutras—we want what he said.” Sutrist. You can call them Logic School, sometimes we call them Logic School. Now we’re going to call them? Clear Thinking School. Okay? That’s their main thing, topic number? Three. Topic number three.
With the first 2 schools, and with the first 3 topics, we have finished the branch called? The Lower Way. Now, you should know something about “Lower Way”. In Tibetan, it’s “tek men”,—”men” means lower. Women are called “kye men”. Same word:—lower being. I hope they change the language. They probably could if they really wanted to you know? That’s something the French would do. They’d have the courage to say, “let’s change this word, it’s not nice.”
So anyway, those are Lower Way. Literally, hina yana, Hinayana. “hina” means “inferior”, “lower” okay? Hinayana. Okay? Now, when you visit Sri Lanka, or you visit Thailand, you visit Burma, do NOT call it? Hinayana. You might go to jail. In their country, it’s Theravada—the True Way. So, if you want to be polite in a Buddhist group from one of those countries, don’t use the word Hinayana. It’s like “lower birth”, it’s like calling a woman a “lower birth”. It’s not polite. Okay? It’s kind of not very sweet. But, in our scriptures it’s called Lower Way. It’s the same word: “lower”. So, the first two schools are Hinayana, and how many [Geshe] topics are Hinayana? Three. Theravada if you’re sitting with people from Sri Lanka and Burma okay?
Third school? Mind-Only School. Where is it in the five Geshe topics? $50 question! I mentioned money and two people get excited, whaaat? $25 to get the question! Okay, anyway, you’re both wrong, I save my money. I mean you’re both not exactly precise. Okay, now when does a Geshe study the Mind-Only School?
Yeah, exactly! Okay? [ACI] Course number? 15. What the Buddha Really Meant. We studied it for months in a certain city in China. So, the main place in the Geshe course when you study Mind-Only is when you study a Sutra called What I Really Meant. And, as the guys in the CS Pure Gold program can tell you, Buddha taught three great periods in his life … forget the ACI course 1, I’m going to do it tomorrow.
There are three great periods of the Buddha’s teaching. First one? I call it the “list period”, he made lists. “Hey, there’s four truths, there’s twelve links, there’s an eightfold Arya path, there’s the four steps of confession, there’s the four steps of karma, there’s the four laws of karma, there’s a six …”, and everyone is like, zzz … it’s the list period of his life. The first teaching for example, he ever taught was the four truths. Okay? So, he’s just making lists, ten non-virtues, he was organizing stuff for people. Okay? And then in the middle part of his life, he got up on a mountain—vulture’s peak, and he said, “by the way, all those lists I gave you—the stuff in those lists, it doesn’t exist!” “It’s not real.” “Every list I gave you—every piece of every list, was not real.” “Haha!” It’s like a joke, you know? “Hehe, I fooled you guys for 20 years”. So, guess what happened?
People freaked out, and people came to him—a bodhisattva named Paramarthasamudgata, and he said, “listen, you spent the whole first part of your teaching career giving us lists, and we believe them and we practice them.” “Then, we got to the second part of your teaching career, like diamond mountain or something instead of New York, and then you said, by the way, that list I gave you in New York is all BS!” “None of it exists, and, we’re confused Mr. Buddha.” “Which one was real?”
What are two famous sutras from the second period—the second turning of the wheel? Yeah, the Diamond Cutter Sutra and the Heart Sutra. Like, nothing exists, nothing’s real. So naturally, some people are going to come and say, “what the F?!” “What are you talking about?” “Everything’s not real”, and he said, “look, you didn’t get it, you know, let me explain it a different way”, and he taught three characteristics of the?
Mind-Only School. Then he taught the Mind-Only School. Which the Middle Way School understood to be Middle Way School, even in the third part of his life, and that started an argument that lasts until now. When Buddha … by the way, the third turning of the wheel is called “clarifications”, the second turning of the wheel is called “emptiness”. The first turn the wheel is called “lists”. “Turning of the wheel” means?
Teaching period but why, “turning wheel”? Why is that the symbol of Buddhism? Yeah, you pass .. I’m turning the wheel right now, and then you’re going to turn the wheel when you get certified as a DCI teacher, or you’re gonna turn the wheel on the airplane unofficially—as a living room teaching. So, the third period is very interesting because the Mind-Only guys said, “oh let’s start a school called Mind-Only”, and the Middle Way guys said, “come on he just talked about the same thing he talked about before.” Got it?
Anyway, you don’t get to study that argument until after you finish Higher Middle Way. It’s considered part of Higher Middle Way. It’s considered, in the Geshe course, part of Higher Middle Way, but as Steven pointed out correctly, it comes up very importantly in the teachings on karma, and it came up in the Abhisamayalankara, right? Very important subjects about the Mind-Only School, so you can say the Mind-Only School touches on the other schools in different places, but the main foundation of the Mind-Only School is the Middle Way School, okay? They [Mind-Only School] take off from their argument with the Middle Way School. Third school. Which topic in the monastery, in the Geshe course? Yeah, we’re gonna throw it in the Highest Middle Way, because that’s where you study drang ne [the Art of Interpretation]. We don’t have a separate course in Mind-Only in the monastery.
Fourth school? Middle Way. That Middle Way is not the same as? The middle Way which is a topic of the Geshe course. As a school, Middle Way is the 4th and highest school. As a Geshe topic, it’s the fifth topic. It’s not the same thing. Why? Yeah, as a school, Middle Way is number four and it includes two parts—and the lower part is the fourth Geshe topic, which is not called Middle Way.
Confusing? Yeah. Which is also the name of Nagarjuna’s book which started the whole problem. Okay! So, as a school, Middle Way is the fourth school and the highest. As a topic, it’s the fifth topic. As a school, it has two little schools in it—two groups. As a topic, it’s always the higher of those two groups. Got it? [Question]
Now since it’s on your homework, and we’re almost done.
The independent group. And they wrote the books for? The Geshe topic number? Four, which is not called Middle Way, which is called? Perfection of Wisdom, okay? I’m sorry, I’m just trying … if you show up in the monastery and say you’re studying Middle Way, and you talk about the Lower Middle Way, you’re in trouble! Okay? Got it?
Now, what we learned in our translation classes in Sedona, which you’re always welcome to come to, there’s a tuition fee to pay for the air conditioning and you’re always welcome to sign up. We cover the classics—we translated three thousand pages in the last two years. No one has ever done that okay? It’s an awesome course, you should … you’re welcome to come and sit in on it. You have to pay the fee, I’m sorry.
In that course, we learned a cool reason why the lower school is called “Independent”. Okay, ready? It’s cool. It’s super sexy … to me. Buddha said, “things don’t grow from themselves, things don’t grow from other things things, Things don’t grow from both, and things don’t grow from nothing.” That’s very famous. A big guy [Master Bhāvaviveka] in the lower middle way school said, “Buddha left a word out, he should have said: things don’t grow from themselves, and things don’t grow from something else—from their own side!” He should have said, “ultimately”, because normally things do grow from other things—trees grow from seeds.
So, this Lower Middle Way guy [Bhāvaviveka] said, Buddha should have said “ultimately”, they don’t go from other things—when you say “don’t grow from other things” you confuse everybody because they do grow from other things. You should just say, “they don’t go from other things … ultimately, then, everybody will understand what you’re talking about, because when you say, “things don’t go from other things”, well, what about trees?”
Okay, got it? Now, one hundred dollars. Except for Word, you get ten dollars. Why should that opinion be called “independent”? Yeah! They think the word has its own power—it’s own independent power. If someone’s going to misunderstand “doesn’t grow from something else”, they’re also going to misunderstand “ultimately”, because both words are empty—they don’t have power from their own side. The power of the word comes from you. Netflix is coming from you. That’s why they don’t make money! Just kidding.
If you think it’s going to be easier for someone if you say the word “ultimately” then you must think that word has more power than the other words, but words don’t have any power—the power in words comes from you. Got it? You’re probably the only people in the world who understand why that school is named what it is.
Now, what’s the name of the Higher Middle Way school? We’re almost done. Yes, Consequence. Prasangika. Why is it called “consequence”? So, Word comes up to me and says, “Geshela I have an idea.” I say, “what?” “All fruits are orange.” “I saw an orange, somebody had an orange, somebody had a tangerine, I got this idea—all fruits are orange.” Ready? Then I say, “oh really, look at this banana, I guess it’s orange!” So, the Highest Middle Way School is called what they’re called, “consequence”—referring to the absurd consequences of the other guy’s statements. The crazy Implications of the other party’s ideas. Got it? If you think I should have used the word “ultimate”, then I also should have said “fish”. Right? It’s effective, it has the real meaning. It always refers to things that go like this [swimming motion with hand] … right? From its own side. You could never call fishing “looking for girls,” right? Because it has its own meaning.
Got it? Okay? You’re getting the deep explanations. The Highest Middle Way school is called “consequence” or “result”, you see? Because if you believe a wrong idea about emptiness, the result is you’re going to say stupid things like, “all fruits are orange.” Okay? Got it? When we [Prasangika] fight those other people we don’t say, “look Word, all fruits are not orange, there’s other fruits.” “There’s red apples, there’s yellow bananas.” That’s not the chill system of the Highest Middle Way. The chill system of the Highest Middle Way is to hold up a banana and a stick in his face and say, “you want this orange fruit Word?” You don’t say, “I disagree.” You don’t say, “not all fruits are orange.” You don’t say, “this fruit is yellow.” You say, “oh Word, here’s another orange fruit for you.”
That’s called “ridiculous consequence of his own position.” The Highest Middle Way School is called that.
How do we divide the four ancient schools into two groups? On what basis do we say, Hinayana and Mahayana?
You can say motivation. Okay, the lower two schools are supposedly not interested in saving the universe. The three goals I out laid out for ACI right? 1. Make people happy. 2. Change the model of the world. 3. Go to Sirius, change the universe. They don’t believe in number three. They actually don’t believe in number 2 much. They just want to be happy. That’s the traditional way to explain the difference between Mahayana and Hinayana, but if you read the Abhidharmakosha, they discuss bodhisattvas, and they discuss saving the world and being enlightened.
The question says I want two answers. 1) Lower school and higher school. Lower school doesn’t have bodhisattvas—they don’t want to save the universe. Higher schools: Mind-Only and Middle Way—they want to save the universe. Sutrist and Detailist, they don’t want to save the universe. But they do and it’s in their books, duh! But that’s a traditional answer.
Now, if you want to go deeper, which as ACI teachers I’m sure, talk about it in terms of the six flavors of emptiness. The way you divide the 4 schools—the way you divide Hinayana and Mahayana, is all based on how good their emptiness explanation is.
Let’s do it. We’re going to talk about the six flavors the emptiness that are the true basis of the differences between the schools, because you have to understand the differences between schools to understand the structure of the Geshe course, which you have to understand if you’re going to understand the structure of? The ACI Foundation Courses. I’m trying to make you a real ACI teacher who understands what the hell ACI is.
You have to know the schools, and you have to know the the topics, and you have to know the six-flavors of emptiness to know why the first two schools are Lower Way, and the second two schools are Higher Way—Mahayana/Hinayana. Got it?
Someone give me the first flavor emptiness? Quick quick! We did it like ten times in your city. Yeah! By the way, every time you teach the six-flavors, the emptiness start out the sentence with the same words: things are empty of _____ , or things don’t have _____ . The fill in the blank _____ for the first flavor emptiness is—things don’t have lasting forever.
Your husband’s not going to be yelling at you forever, he’s got to sleep, he’s got to eat. Okay? Take refuge, which is real refuge, in the understanding that he has to change—he cannot yell all night. Most of the night? Yes. He’s got to take a break. That’s the lowest form of emptiness. Your husband, who is yelling at you … by the way, right now we’re being? Relevant to real life. Your husband can’t yell forever. Take refuge in emptiness.
First flavor of emptiness: nothing lasts forever. What’s the famous example I always give when I discuss it? Abraham Lincoln, the most compassionate president in American history, had to kill more people than any American president. Well, that’s a [debate]… but, when he had his big meeting with the generals, he said “the only good thing about this war is it won’t last forever.” Okay? So, that’s a low low low refuge. It doesn’t work too good.
I’ll put up with my husband because, “uh … he’ll go to bed sooner or later.” It’s not a very effective emptiness. It would be nice if you could just stop him from ever yelling, but if you don’t know that higher emptiness, take refuge in the lower emptiness—which is real Buddhist refuge.
“I’m going to wait, I’m not going to say anything, he can keep yelling, he’s got to take a break sooner or later.” He’s got to go to pee pee like you guys. Lowest form of emptiness. Which school? Yeah, lowest school, Detailist School.
Second kind of emptiness? Yeah! You cannot control things in this life. Forget it. There will come a day when you can’t raise your arm. Don’t tell me you can control your husband, your finances, or your country. You can’t even control your finger! In the end, in the hospital, someone will have to hand you the water. Trust me. I’ve been there so many times in this life. Someone [else] will have to. You won’t be able to. You don’t have control. You can’t control anything.
Take refuge in this lower emptiness. What do you do in the kitchen? “Ah, look, what the heck, if he’s going to yell, he’s going to yell.” “You know?” “I tried, I talked to him, I died I did everything, he’s still yelling.” “Well, I can’t control everything.” Okay, just relax. Is it a solution? No. Does it help? Yes. That’s lower school! That’s the definition of lower school! Is it a solution? No. Does it make you feel better? Yeah.
Which school is it? Yeah, you’re right. Second school mostly. You have to kind of say “mostly”.
Things are empty of being called what they’re called, because that’s what they have to be called. Things are empty of their names. How did Shakespeare say it? I’m sorry, it doesn’t really matter, you can mix three and four if you want,. Luca’s right. I’ll go your way, it’s probably my way …
We do it with our elbow, right? Mind-Only School. Here’s a seed. You yelled at your kids a week ago. A week went by, and the seed matured, then you walked into the kitchen and the seed opened into? You and your husband. One seed splits into subject and object. Don’t tell me your husband’s a bad man. You are a bad person. You created the yeller and the yellee? You created the yeller and the person getting yelled at. Don’t blame him. You created him. Who brought you in the kitchen? Who brought him in the kitchen? Why are you whining? Why are you getting angry? If you don’t like it, stop yelling at your kids.
Don’t plant the tree if you don’t like the branches. Got it? Which school? Three. Are you sure this is not a solution to the problems of the universe? Stop making bad seeds that split into husband and wife? Sounds pretty good to me. Yeah, good, okay? The Mind-Only school says, the husband side of that equation is a video playing inside of your mind. He doesn’t exist outside of your mind, so you shouldn’t get mad at him. He’s a video that you planted in your own mind. Got it? I had a profound question for $100 that someone asked me about this. Hmm? “Am I alone” is worth $25.
Yeah! When I kiss my husband am I kissing myself? It was a deep philosophical question.
It’s not a bad idea, unless you say it’s all happening inside your head which they do say—and that’s why it’s a lower emptiness. Got it?
Next one is names. A rose by any other name would smell the same. Emptiness flavor four. It doesn’t matter [the order of 3 & 4], because they’re both Mind-Only, I reserve the right to confuse them. [Emptiness flavor 4 is] it’s not true that things are called what they’re called self-existently.
Which has big implications. Politicians are always [doing this], some disaster happens and they call it a different name. They put a spin on it. “It’s so good the economy went down this month because it can go up next month more.” You can use names for anything. You can call a fish a rose, it’s okay.
Names don’t belong to what they’re used for, which also implies that you have the freedom to call the problem with the husband an opportunity for growth. It’s true and it helps, right? When your husband’s yelling at you, you can say, “gee now the economy is so much lower think how much higher we can get.” You know? “If we start talking to each other civilly, we’ve made progress from yesterday.” You can make opportunities out of problems. That’s the fourth worldview. According to some schools of ACI.
You don’t have a thing—you don’t have a laptop or a microphone—until you have an accurate perception of it. it’s not there. Everything needs 50/50. 50% there has to be a square here and some metal. 50% Geshela has to be not drunk, not crazy, and between those two things we get a laptop. Got it? 50% comes from the object, and 50% comes from the subject—which is a big difference from the lower schools that say everything comes from the object’s side. The pen comes from the object’s side 100%. [According to the lower schools]
So, this worldview number five, is a pretty big jump. You see? Half of that pen comes from me. Half of that pen’s coming from me. Half of it is coming this way [from its side]. Half of it’s coming from me. We meet in the middle. That’s reality. Got it?
lo nume la nangway wanggi shaktsam mayinpar yul ranggi tunmong mayinpay duluk su druppe tongwa
Okay? That’s the emptiness [emptiness flavor 5].
lo nume la nangway wanggi shaktsam mayinpar … not simply established with the help of an unaffected, undrunk, uncrazy state of mind. The object …
shaktsam mayinpar yul ranggi tunmong mayinpay duluk su druppe tongwa … is appearing from its own side, but not on 100% on its own power.
Lower Middle Way emptiness. Got it? Did I lose you yet? Yeah. I don’t care.
It’s all coming from that. It is empty of coming from anything else! That’s highest emptiness. It is empty of coming from anybody else except yelling at your kids. And that’s the highest viewpoint. Now, that’s the real Geshe method of dividing the four schools.
It’s not by book, it’s not by author, it’s not by historical period, and it’s not by what they think about saving the whole world or not. Okay? It’s by how sophisticated their presentation of emptiness is. That’s your last homework question.
Yeah. Lower Middle Way, Which in the Geshe topics, has what nickname? Yeah. Perfection of Wisdom. Got it? Did I confuse you guys?
[Question] Yeah. Somewhere in the history of my teaching career, no doubt I’d said, that but I’m not completely … Is is a Mind-Only? Yeah, it is. Yeah, yeah, that’s a good question. Do I have an answer for you?
Hmm, I will adjust what a Pratyeka Buddha focuses on which is dependent origination. How’s that? Okay? And a Listener would focus on the Four Truths. How’s that? Chandrakirti says the two lead to the … he bows down to the lower arthats because they are the true source of Buddhas, and he bows down to listener arhats because they have gained their realization based on the Four Truths, and he bows down to pratyeka buddha arhats because they based their realizations on the twelve links of dependent origination, that’s the main difference. I’ll adjust that, but probably it says that somewhere. The other thing, okay.
So you’re only going to get the teacher training homework and you don’t get the ACI homework for this class, and I’ll I’ll try to teach what I’m supposed to teach tomorrow.
But now, you have an appreciation of the Geshe course and of ACI. You understand ACI. What we have to do next is go through the 18 courses of the Foundation series, not the Diamond Way series, and we have to look at which school, flavor of emptiness, and Geshe topic.
Once you know all those things, you can be a real ACI teacher. You can understand the whole structure of the ACI courses. Cool?
By the way, I don’t want ACI to be a Buddhist sect of any kind, but I think the prayers are cool. Buddhist prayers are cool because it’s a prayer for the final goal of ACI. We want to take the stars.
sashi pukyi jukshing metok tram,
rirab lingshi nyinde gyenpa di,
sangye shingdu mikte ulwar gyi,
drokun namdak shingla chupar shok.
Idam guru ratna mandalakam niryatayami.
gewa diyi kyewo kun,
sunam yeshe tsok-dzok shing,
sunam yeshe lejung way,
dampa kunyi topar shok.
Cool. By Sunday you have to know those two prayers in the original pronunciation. By tomorrow, you got to be able to get your fingers like that [mandala mudra].
No, you see you forgot how hard it was the first time. Right? Okay, thank you for being here. Thank you for having the courage to take the ACI teacher training. We will make you good teachers. You stay, you finish, and you’ll be a kick-ass teacher. Okay? That’s our commitment. And and you can help more people than any other way in your life. There’s no way to help other people more than this wisdom, and that’s the greatest thing you’ve done in your life. I can tell you from 66. It’s the best thing I ever did. You too. Alright. Thank you.