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Ripening the minds of others

Training in the four factors: Part 1 of 2

Part of a series of teachings based on the The Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim) given at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle, Washington, from 1991-1994.

  • Forming Dharma relationships with others
  • Understanding the relationship with spiritual mentors

LR 118: Gather disciples 01 (download)

“Ripening the minds of others” is like you have a green tomato and you need to ripen it, make it red so that it’s tasty and delicious.

How do we ripen other people’s minds? Sometimes they call it “How to assemble disciples” or “How to gather disciples,” but it basically means how to ripen other people’s minds. What they are specifically referring to is forming Dharma relationships with people. We want to ripen all sentient beings’ minds, but not all our relationships come in the form of Dharma teacher and student, or even as Dharma friends. But when it says “disciples,” then it’s talking about a teacher-student relationship.

It is difficult to find an English word that fits what we are talking about. Using the words “master and disciple” don’t quite fit, because we have all sorts of weird ideas about masters and disciples. When you say “student and teacher,” that doesn’t really fit either, because it implies a similar kind of relationship that you have with your first grade teacher. But a relationship with a Dharma teacher is totally different from that with a college professor or a high school teacher. So when we say student-teacher, we don’t really get what that relationship is. In a relationship with a spiritual mentor, many buttons get pushed, because if we do have issues with authority, they will all come up. Even if we consider somebody as our spiritual friend, we’ll still have issues of authority. Issues of authority come up even with our regular old friends. Even with a cat, I have issues of authority. [laughter] They just keep coming up.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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