Note from TKB: This is a work in progress and still editing all the audio and video for 中文, русский, Español, Tiếng Việt, Deutsch, Indonesian, and Română. There’s over 240 audio and video files to edit for all 8 languages so it will certainly take some time. As I finish each class I’ll upload here and on Youtube, so please keep checking back for updates. The English is all finished and you’ll find all the English audio and video below.
Unfortunately, there was a recording problem and don’t have the HD quality video available for the first 3.5 classes and the first few minutes of Class 6. Luckily, since this was originally streamed live we do have the video to replace the missing classes and fill in all those gaps. So what you’ll find below is complete for all 18 classes.
This is such an important and beautiful teaching that I thought many of you would like to go deeper and learn more about the practice of exchanging self & others. There’s a really great ACI In-Depth Course from 2004 where Geshe Michael teaches the entire section on the practice of exchanging self and others, which is a large part of the chapter on meditation (Chapter Eight) from The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra) by Master Shantideva. The original audio was quite poor quality, so I’ve cleaned up all the old audio to make for a much better listening experience. You’ll find the link to this course below the audio playlist and a lot of information to go deeper on this practice.
The full practice of exchanging self and others acts as a catalyst, an agent of change, to accelerate the development of compassion in your heart
The deep practice of Exchanging Self and Others in Buddhism isn’t just about putting yourself into someone else’s shoes; it’s far worse and far more palpable. It first starts with understanding that every being deserves to have the same happiness as you do. (Which we may resist entirely!) And secondly, you not only put yourself into the shoes of the other person, and swap perspectives, but you also turn back towards yourself, looking back at yourself from their perspective. From that point of view, you begin evaluating and critiquing your own behavior and how it impacts the other, from their perspective. You get to feel what they feel as a result of your own actions!
So while only wearing the shoes of another may bring about some realizations, this full practice of exchanging self and others acts as a catalyst, an agent of change, to accelerate the development of compassion in your heart. You have to come to terms very quickly with the consequences of your own actions, words and thoughts. This practice teaches us very poignantly where we come up short and asks us to change really quickly. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Geshe Michael Roach will take us on a journey through this deep practice of Exchanging Self and Others. We will be learning from Pabongka Rinpoche’s “Gift of Liberation Thrust into the Palm of Your Hand” and exploring this meditation in all its detail. It is designed to quickly open your heart and help you find the edge of your limitations and break through to become a kinder, more compassionate, and also effective person in the world.
The reading material for this course consists of the 84 relevant verses of Master Shantideva’s root text, and includes both the original Sanskrit and the Tibetan translation of these verses. Following a pattern of the ACI Foundation Courses as we go deeper now with the in-depth courses, we will be taking a closer look at the original Sanskrit versions of the root texts.
Our goal will be to glean more of the original feel of the Buddhism taught in the land of its birth, India, in a language—Sanskrit—which is directly related to modern languages like English that many of use. And so we will be taking a special interest in places where checking the original Sanskrit wording gives us insights that we may miss out on if we utilize only the Tibetan translation.
For our basic English translation and interpretation of each verse, we will continue to rely heavily upon the extraordinary commentary written by Gyaltsab Je Darma Rinchen (1364-1432), the eminent disciple of Je Tsongkapa who became the first holder of his throne after the Teacher passed on. This commentary is called Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (rGyal-sras ‘jug-ngogs.
His explanation of our root text was of course written in Sanskrit; it was translated into Tibetan about a thousand years ago, and is found in the Tengyur collection of ancient commentaries to the word of Lord Buddha. It seems to have been one of the primary sources used by Gyaltsab Je for his own commentary. Because it was composed in part as a “word commentary,” in the original Sanskrit, it sheds substantial new light on the meaning of Master Shantideva’s text.