Wheel of Sharp Weapons, part 1

Over the past few months I have been studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ by Dharmaraksita. This is part 1 in a series about the text.

I have gained four main benefits from studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’:
(a) In verses #8-#48 the text repeatedly points to the immediate cause of our problems, the karmic storehouse that we built-up over many lifetimes. This reminded me to look at the positive and negative events as they occurred in day-to-day situations and to view them as the results of my past actions presenting themselves now.

I was in conversation with a friend and they were telling me about somebody that did something negative to them (their “enemy”). My first thought was to think that I couldn’t perform an action anything like the “enemy” had performed. I sometimes put myself in other people’s shoes to consider what I would do in their situation. This usually turns into a judgment of their action, thinking “how could they have done such a thing”? The judgement does not consider their karma or the mental afflictions that they are responding to. My second thought was that I can only be responsible for my own karma as that will form my own future happiness and suffering. In this way I can only choose how I will respond in the situations that I find myself in. I need to consider my actions more carefully, making real-life changes to bring benefit to myself and others. This is the only way for a happy future rebirth and towards enlightenment.

(b) In summary of the first half of the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ text, verse #49 urges us to know the cause of our negative karma, this is our self-cherishing.

Since that’s the way it is, I seize the enemy! I seize the thief who
ambushed and deceived me, the hypocrite who deceived me
disguised as myself. Aha! It is ego-clinging, without a doubt.

This repeated message turned my attention to my self-cherishing, the big ego, the “me first”, “self-centred” attitude. This self-cherishing has been behind the negative actions that have kept my karmic storehouse stocked described in section (a) above. It is this self-cherishing attitude that has held me back from making the improvements and real-life changes to bring benefit to myself and to others.

From studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ it has encouraged me to reflect on the improvements and real-life changes that I am willing to perform. These acts are sometimes performed despite the protests of my self-cherishing attitude. For example, the self-cherishing attitude would rather that I did not practice generosity but spent it on something nice for myself. These acts did include generosity, kindness, and performing more activities with the altruistic, bodhicitta motivation.

(c) From studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ it has encouraged me to reflect on the view of self-grasping which causes the self-cherishing attitude to run amok. The view of self-grasping is discussed further in answers #5.

(d) From studying the ‘Wheel of Sharp Weapons’ it has encouraged me to reflect on the cause and effect relationship that results in my suffering and the cycle of existence. Suffering and difficulties of samsara arise due to the negative karma in our karmic storehouse. The negative karma is a product of negative actions that I have performed in the past. I perform those negative actions based upon negative emotions or mental afflictions such as attachment, anger, or jealousy. Those negative emotions are a product of my self-cherishing, the big ego, the “me first”, “self-centred” attitude. This self-cherishing mind arises due to the view of self-grasping.

Understanding this sequence, I can work with antidotes at any point in the sequence before I perform a negative action and perpetuate the cycle of existence. But to stop the cycle of existence at the root requires a direct realisation of emptiness that arises from the union of calm abiding and special insight.

– Self-grasping
— Self-cherishing
— Negative emotions / mental afflictions
—- Negative actions
—– Negative karma
—— Suffering of cyclic existence

[1] ‘Peacock In The Poison Grove’ by Geshe Lhundrub Sopa; Wisdom Publications, 2001.
[2] ‘The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’ by Lama Tsongkapa; Snow Lion Publications, 2001.