Advice from King Trisong Detsen for Responsible People
8th Century Dharma King of Tibet and Disciple of Guru Rinpoche
The king offered this advice for living a meaningful life to his subjects. However, this advice is practical and truly timeless–we can benefit from considering each point carefully. Therefore, from time to time, we can make a special effort to review these principles.
How do we apply these in our daily life? This simple list can provide a simple guideline for reflecting on your practice and behavior. And if we hold these points as guidelines, we can be confident we are leading an ethical and meaningful life.
Phakchok Rinpoche reviewed this list in a teaching in Singapore and gave a short commentary on the king’s advice.
Guidelines for Ethical Behavior
1. Don’t forget the good qualities of the past (people, community, etc) and retain those qualities.
2. Acknowledge the good things that people do. Declare and acknowledge them verbally. Skillfully make mistakes known.
3. Your character should be heavy, or grounded, and honest. That means that you are solid and dignified. Because of that dignity, you have confidence in your own worth. You need to be straight, honest, and sincere.
4. We need rules and discipline, for example, by taking up vows. How should we observe the rules? Outwardly be strict and tight. Inwardly, however, be at ease.
5. Be respectful to those who are more advanced or senior to yourself. And importantly, never forget the kindness of the people who have been kind to you.
6. Have a good nature and be trustworthy. This means you are a good person to be around when you are with other people. Since you are open to others, you can establish good relationships. And your relationships should be long-term: they should be stable and not fluctuate.
7. Observe the rules of the ten virtues. But, we should not just avoid the 10 non-virtues, but also practice the 10 virtues.
8. Gather and accumulate wealth, but also spend it. Make offerings to the triple gems. If you do that, your efforts are meaningful.
Rinpoche also explained that, according to the king, we should practice on three levels.
On the outer level:
“Take care of those who depend on you: like your family and those who work for you. And at the same time, you should support the teachings.”
On the inner level:
“Study sutra and tantra.”
On the secret level:
“You need to sit and practice!”