Four thoughts

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Four thoughts (Tib. བློ་ལྡོག་རྣམ་བཞི, lodok nam shyi, Wyl. blo ldog rnam bzhi) — these are the four contemplations that turn the mind away from samsara, namely:

which turn the mind away from the concerns of this life;

and the reflections on

  • 3) the defects of samsara, and on
  • 4) action (karma: cause and effect),

which turn the mind away from our attitudes and conduct with respect to future lives.

Brief Version of the Four Thoughts from the Ngöndro Practice

dal jor di ni shintu nyé par ka
This free and well-favoured human form is difficult to obtain.

kye wü dön drup top par gyur wa la
Now that you have the chance to realize the full human potential,

gal té di la pen pa ma drup na
If you don’t make good use of this opportunity,

chi di yang dak jor war ga la gyur
How could you possibly expect to have such a chance again?

—from the Bodhicharyavatara.

si sum mi tak tön ké trin dang dra
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds.

dro wé kyé chi gar la ta dang tsung
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movement of a dance.

kyé wü tsé dro nam khé lok dra té
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,

ri zar bab chu shyin du nyur gyok dro
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.

—from the Lalitavistara Sutra[1]

dü kyi nyen né gyal po dro gyur na
When his time has come, even a king has to die,

long chö dza dang nyen shé je mi drang
And neither his friends nor his wealth can follow him.

kyé wu dak ni gar né gar dro yang
So for us—wherever we stay, wherever we go—

lé ni drip ma shyin du jé su drang
Karma follows us like a shadow.

—from the Rajavavadaka Sutra[2]

se si ma rik wang gi kyé wo nam
Because of craving, attachment and ignorance,

mi dang lha dang ngen song nam sum po
Men, gods, animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings

dro wa nga po dak tu mi khé khor
Foolishly go round,

per na dza khen khor lo khor wa shyin
Like the turning of a potter’s wheel.

—from the Lalitavistara Sutra[3]

Alternative Terms/Translations

  • four reminders


Oral Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Khandro Rinpoche, This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment (Shambhala Publications, 2003)

External Links