Filed in Tibetan

Complete Abandon

The Ten Harmful Activities

Khandro Rinpoche

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What are the "ten harmful activities" that Geshe Sonam Rinchen referred to in his article "Like a Pig in . . ." in the Winter 2006 issue?

Happy Joanna Lawrence
Greenville, South Carolina

Khandro RinpocheTHERE ARE TEN actions that we must become completely aware of and completely abandon in our lives. They are divided into three unvirtuous actions of the body: killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; four unvirtutous actions of speech: lying, slander, harsh speech, and idle chatter; and three unvirtuous actions of mind: covetousness, wishing harm on others, and wrong view.

Bringing them to mind often reminds me of monastics about to take ordination. When we first hear the vows, we're so enthusiastic and confident that we will never commit any of the root downfalls. After all, none of us goes around stealing, or killing, or telling lies. But after taking the vows and observing ourselves more carefully, we find there's hardly any action that doesn't hurt someone or cause some kind of harm. Because of that awareness, we're able to train ourselves to become better.

Sometimes people get very rigid and tense trying to be good, disciplined, and ethical. Tension can also arise when we become more aware of the immense amount of destruction—seen and unseen, intentional and unintentional—that our mere physical existence causes. From a Buddhist point of view, however, this is what it means to be born in samsara, and this is why we need to attain freedom from samsara.

From This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment, © 2003 by Khandro Rinpoche. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.,

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johnmarder's picture

I' m not clear what the last paragraph is saying. If our mere physical existence causes destruction ( which clearly it does to some extent) and that causes tension ( which I suppose it also does, either in oneself and / or others) and that that is samsara ( is ' that' the destruction or the tension.?)and therefore we need to be free from Samsara, is the writer saying we need to ' not physically exist' or that we need to not got tense over the destruction we cause? Personally I would prefer the latter at this stage of my life.
It doesn't seem to be saying we should try and mimise the destruction ( and maximise creation of good) as perhaps I would have expected it to
Any advise please?

John Haspel's picture

The ten “actions” that Rinpoche mentions are directly developed through the Eightfold Path. Another factor of the Eightfold Path not mentioned is the second factor, Right Intention. Being mindful of Right Intention one naturally remains harmless and if an action inadvertently causes harm, no internal disturbance arises.

When awakening is developed within the framework that the Buddha provided, rigidness and tension fall away. The clear direction grounded in Right View, informed by Right Intention, balanced by Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood and inspired by Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation brings deep and abiding wisdom and freedom from samsara.

So many struggle to gain understanding with teachings that have completely abandoned the Buddha’s original teachings for the more “advanced” teachings of modern buddhism. The Buddha awakened to a profound understanding of Dependent Origination. From ignorance through 12 causative links, delusion and suffering arises. He presented the Four Noble Truths as a simple and direct way of understanding and abandoning confusion and suffering.

John Haspel

robertomainetti's picture

thank you very much...great reminder...i wrote them on paper to have them close and read the ten harmfull activities to be abandon in life over and over again...thank you...