Dharmarakshita’s “The Wheel of Sharp Weapons”

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When my mind becomes unclear and my heart unhappy,
It is the weapon of destructive karma turning upon me
For making others accumulate negative karma;
From now on I will shun enabling others’ destructive actions.
            –Verse 19

When attachment and anger erupt no matter what I do,
It is the weapon of destructive karma turning on me
For allowing my untamed mind to become rigid;
From now on I will root out you, the “I”.
            –Verse 38

Access here various commentaries on Dharmarakshita’s Wheel of Sharp Weapons, a famous Tibetan Buddhist poem of the lojong or ‘thought training’ genre.

About the author

Little is known about Dharmarakshita, a late tenth century Indian master. We do know he was the teacher of Atisha, who developed the lamrim or “graduated stages of the path” genre of Tibetan religious writings. Texts note that Dharmarakshita was renowned for his compassion, although he was not explicitly a Mahayana teacher.

About the text

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons belongs to the lojong or thought-training teachings. Lojong texts have the same objective as lamrim or “graduated stages of the path” texts: to train one’s mind to develop conventional bodhicitta—the wish to attain awakening for the benefit of sentient beings—and ultimate bodhicitta—the wisdom realizing the ultimate nature of reality. Lojong texts, however, are notable for their particularly powerful techniques to overcome the self-centered mind that blocks our progress along the path.

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons consists of 117 verses, covering such topics as:

  • The Buddhist world view
  • How to understand and transform difficulties
  • How to overcome spiritual obstacles
  • Identifying ignorance and self-centeredness as our real enemies
  • Identifying reliable sources of refuge
  • Enacting compassion and understanding emptiness

Most centrally, this text provides practical techniques to identify, understand and combat the afflictions. By utilizing these techniques every day, we can develop great emotional maturity and mental balance and thus be of great benefit to all beings.

Who it’s for

This powerful text is for those interested in understanding the ins and outs of karma, how to create the causes for happiness, and who wish to transform their minds from a state of self-concern to one more concerned about others.

Resources

Audio recordings from Venerable THutben Chodron’s in-depth commentary to the text, given in 2004:

Audios from a shorter 12-part commentary by Venerable Chodron, given in 2004:

Audio and video recordings from short retreats on the text:

Venerable Chodron recently published a commentary to The Wheel of Sharp Weapons as Good Karma: How to Create the Causes of Happiness and Avoid the Causes of Suffering. Access information about this book, and various teachings Venerable Chodron has given from it here:

Though I want immediate results, my efforts to achieve them are feeble.
Though I pursue many tasks, I never complete a single one.
Dance and trample on the head of this betrayer, false conception!
Mortally strike at the heart of this butcher and enemy, the self!
            –Verse 56

I dislike advice and am always difficult to be with.
I am easily offended, and my grudges are always strong.
Dance and trample on the head of this betrayer, false conception!
Mortally strike at the heart of this butcher and enemy, the self!
            –Verse 79