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The Eight Worldly Dharmas

In this recording from November 10, 2020, Tulku Migmar Tsering teaches on the Eight Worldly Dharmas, the jikten chö gyé. When we learn how to free ourselves from chasing after or avoiding these hopes and fears we can become authentic practitioners. Tulku-la advises us on how to skillfully avoid the trap of wasting our energy chasing after these worldly concerns.

The Eight Worldly Dharmas are:

  • hope for pleasure and fear of pain
  • hope for fame and fear of infamy
  • hope for praise and fear of blame
  • hope for gain and fear of loss

Tulku Migmar discusses how we are all steeped in worldly aims, whether they are “white,” “black,” or “subtle.” The “white” worldly dharmas are driven by self-cherishing, the “black” are driven by the fundamental three poisons (attachment, aversion, ignorance), and the subtle are driven by our attachment to phenomena. Primarily, he discusses the “white” worldly dharmas of self-cherishing, meaning being fixed on how one gains advantages (fame, wealth, and so forth) in this life. As Dharma practitioners with a precious human body, we have great good fortune, and as a result enlightenment is practically in the palm of our hand. But we need to take the opportunity now, because we cannot be sure what will happen tomorrow. What determines the success of our Dharma practice is our own mind, and the eight worldly concerns are what keep us from authentic Dharma practice. Worldliness means we seek to gain protection from what we fear and to gain happiness, so our motivation is actually hoping for some kind of profit from our practice.

Still from the Zoom Meeting.

Tulku-la points out that the real purpose of Dharma is to be an antidote to our attachment and aversion, but the eight worldly concerns can convert our practice into an increase in our afflictive emotions. So we need to beware of this and check our motivation. As Nagarjuna advised, don’t be influenced by the eight worldly concerns, which are a kind of trap for the mind. Examine yourself and what your motivations are. Is my motivation mixed up with the eight worldly concerns? There is an old Kadampa pith instruction that you only have two witnesses: your teacher and yourself. Check yourself, Tulku Migmar reminds us: is what you’re doing increasing or decreasing negative emotions? Don’t be caught in attachment and aversion. Keep impermanence and your own karma from past lives in mind. Ask: am I truly seeking liberation for the benefit of others?


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Translations (Audio)

Bahasa Indonesia


Việt Ngữ


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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.