12 Practices of an Awakened Individual

Tog-me Zong-po lived nearly 800 years ago, yet his 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva is still considered a pinnacle list of traits a person who wishes to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings has. The following 13 practices (which I’ve put into simpler terms to make them easier to understand) are what I consider the most practical and helpful out of the entire 37, and by applying them to our daily lives we can make a lasting, positive impression on the collective consciousness of humanity. Some of these are far from easy, but for those of us that want to embark on the journey to genuine awakening, these are some of the best practices to lead us there.

1.) Day and night, be fully alert and present. Listen, reflect, and do alot of meditation.

2.) Attraction to those close to you catches you in its currents. Aversion to those who hate on you burns inside. Indifference that ignores what should be done is a black hole. Take a step outside your comfort zone.

3.) Certain so-called ‘friends’ can take you further and further away from the path to awakened consciousness. These kinds of friends are often cynical, ridiculing and discourage (either in subtle or overt ways) learning, reflection, and meditation. These kinds of friends drain you of your kindness and compassion. Give them up.

4.) All suffering comes from wanting to please our own selves. Enlightened awakening arises when our thoughts and actions result in benefit to others. So, in exchange for our selfish desires and neglect of our suffering humanity, replace thoughts of self with concern for all others.

5.) If someone spreads ugly rumors about us with cruel words, and even if those words spread to others and gain wide acceptance as the truth, wish for that person to overcome their troubles and gain peace of mind. Applaud all their positive traits and treat them with kindness.

6.) If in a crowd full of people someone exposes our faults before others and points out the flaws we have, do not get angry or become defensive; just listen in silence and reflect on their words. Treat this person as a teacher.

7.) Even when you are famous, praised, and rich don’t be arrogant. Know that the magnificence of existence, as awesome as it is, ultimately has no substance. Cast out what pride you might have as a result of fame.

8.) If we are not able to take control of the anger inside of us, although we may overpower and conquer others outside, the anger will continue to come. Turn inwards and tame the wild flow of your mind-stream.

9.) Whatever appears to be truly real is simply what a mind in delusion creates. This mind of ours is also from the beginning devoid of an essence inherently real. Realize Truth is beyond the conceptions we have known and beyond the knower as well. Dispel the belief in inherent existence.

10.) Abusive words and language that we say in anger cause others alot of pain by disturbing their minds, as well as ours, causing our practice to decline. Seeing the faults that arise from harsh language, abandon abusive and hurtful language.

11.) Even if we look and appear the part on the outside, without making efforts to clearly analyze delusions we have and mistakes we’ve made, it may leave us barren as spiritual materialists. For this reason, try to examine mistakes, delusions, and faults you possess, then afterwards try to remove them completely.

12.) In everything you do, be mindful. Watch your thoughts and emotions as they play out in the present moment. By remaining vigilantly aware like this, all that you are feeling, thinking, and acting will inevitably lead to betterment of both yourselves and others.

For further reading, the book is available here.