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Four opponent powers: Remedial action

Part of a series of Bodhisattva's Breakfast Corner talks on the Stages of the Path (or lamrim) as described in the Guru Puja text by Panchen Lama I Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen.

  • Making realistic determinations
  • Remedial actions

We’ve been talking about the four opponent powers to purify negative karma. We’ve talked about regret, restoring the relationship, making a determination not to do it again. I have one more thing to say about that one and that is if there’s something that you can’t really truthfully say you’ll never do again then, it’s better for that third branch to give yourself a time period and say “For the next two days, for the next week, I will make a very concerted effort not to do this again.” In that way you have, you’ve pledged to do something that you’re actually capable of doing. If we say “I will never idle talk again,” that would almost be a lie, wouldn’t it? We can say “In the next week I going to be extremely attentive” or “The next month I’m going to be very attentive and not do that”. Then when we accomplish that, that gives us some kind of self confidence, and then we can bite off another piece to kind of prolong it so that we can keep going.

The fourth part of the four opponent powers is to do some kind of remedial action. There are some specific ones listed in the text, such as reciting mantras or reciting the Buddha’s name, making offerings, making prostrations, the Vajrasattva practice of course, 35 Buddhas, but it also can be something like studying the Dharma or meditating in general. Meditation on emptiness is probably the best remedial action, but even meditating on bodhichitta or other things like that, very good to do, or doing volunteer work, I think out in the community, at a hospice, at a hospital, at a homeless shelter, or when we’re making offerings not only to the Buddha Dharma Sangha and our teachers, but also to the poor and needy, to the ill, to other people who can use this. Basically any kind of virtuous action and just putting our energy consciously in a positive direction is something that is very good for purification.

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.