Last August [1991—eds.], in a vast tent pitched in a meadow in the Valley of the Vizere in the Dordogne region of France, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expounded the dharma to an audience of five thousand. The week-long teaching took the form of a commentary on the Bodhicaryavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva), the celebrated text written by the eighth-century Indian adept, scholar, and poet Shantideva.

The work of preparing the book of His Holiness’ teachings was entrusted to the Padmakara Translation Group. The transcript was published in French by Albin Michel, under the title Comme un éclair déchire la nuit—”like a flash of lightning cutting through the night,” a reference to Shantideva’ s simile for the rarity of altruistic intentions. Recently, it was selected by one of the book clubs as “Major Book of the Month,” an exceptional event for a book with a spiritual theme. Shambhala Publications will issue an English edition next year. The following excerpts on the practice of the paramita of patience come from the third chapter.

Patience is one of the vital elements in the bodhisattva’s training. This third chapter of theBodhicaryavatara, which deals with patience, and the eighth chapter, which deals with

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City, 1991. © Lynn Davis.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City, 1991. © Lynn Davis.

meditation, together explain the key points ofbodhicitta.

  1. Good works gathered in a thousand ages,
    Such as deeds of generosity
    Or offerings to the Blissful Ones:
    A single flash of anger shatters them.
  2. No evil is there similar to hatred,
    Nor austerity to be compared with patience.
    Steep yourself, therefore, in patience
    In all ways, urgently, with zeal

As a destructive force there is nothing as strong as anger. An instant of anger can destroy all the positive action accumulated over thousands ofkalpas through generosity, making offerings to the buddhas, keeping discipline, and so on. So we can say that there is no fault as serious as anger.

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