The Four Enlightened Activities

Sometimes in the dharma, it isn’t always possible to find an exact meaning of a text, such as those describing – in practical terms – the four enlightened activities of Pacifying, Enriching, Magnetising and Destroying. There are different levels of teachings, using the same words but the meaning changes in each: this will depend on the students, and the level at which the teacher is speaking. In addition, we may not be in the right place at the right time to receive such teachings (well, it seems that way!). Perhaps it is up to our own personal analysis to extract the meaning, without making it up or distorting.

The Buddha did say, “Don’t take my word for it; look for yourself.” The Buddha’s teachings are a map, but we have to make the journey for ourselves to see what it feels like in reality.

Below are three different ways of looking at these four enlightened activities; I’m sure there are more!

Here is one meaning gathered from Trungpa Rinpoche’s books –

Here it is referred to in a wrathful deity text, asking for protection. I’ll have to admit I do not understand this completely, perhaps because of historical and cultural differences:

…Pacify all illness, negative forces and obstacles;
Increase our life span, merit, glory, and riches;
Magnetise the three realms and three existences;
Preform the activity of reducing animosity and obstructing forces to dust;
Turn away all black magic and evil spells,
And make auspicious goodness manifest.”

Here is another meaning through a student’s personal analysis. Take it or leave it; we all have to come to our own conclusions that make perfect sense to us.

Enlightened activity is all about creating space (clarity).
Demonic activity is all about obscuring that space (clarity).

First we have to be clear about our own intentions: that means applying the teachings to ourselves, before dealing with others. The enlightened activities are awakened activities, so first we have to be awake, and happy.

If we are not indifferent, have no fear and no desire, are neither vacant nor preoccupied, are not asleep and not unhappy, then we are awake and happy…and ready!

The four enlightened activities are pacifying, enriching, magnetising and destroying. This is the process of dealing with ego’s manipulations. So, before we can deal with others in a beneficial way, it is we who need clarity and a selfless attitude, and that means destroying our ego’s games. Ego is knowing awareness clinging to fixated ideas, thus obscuring clarity.

Destroying our ego is only a matter of knowing awareness, dropping clinging ideas of “I” and allowing clarity (clear light) to shine. In that, the “I” is limited or destroyed for that moment. This magnetises blessings of inspiration, which enriches through understanding and wisdom, removing obstacles and bring about a sense of inner peace, thereby pacifying. Now we’re ready to engage with others. Situations are still challenging because the ego (our ego) will still try to get its foot in the door 😉

Having destroyed or limited our “I”, we are now ready to engage with others. The clarity of space is primordial purity and wisdom, free from elaborations, and allows others to express themselves; the situation is therefore a pacifying space. This welcoming space attracts or magnetises; such a space enriches as it creates no obstacles, and maybe allows a little wisdom to enter. This open, enriching space feels good. A sacred space without obstacles destroys any games of the ego because there is no reaction. We feel pacified and at peace. And, nothing actually happened – knowing awareness merely dropped everything…all attitudes. Much depends on our sensitivity and non-expectation.

Just by doing nothing, unobstructed compassionate space is just there, a sacred atmosphere…pacifying, enriching, magnetising and destroying. The result is a meeting of minds – or rather, a meeting of hearts. Quite often, after an interview with a Rinpoche, it seems that nothing was resolved…but we feel better! My guess is this explanation – nothing there to fight against 😉

If we try to manipulate, the situation becomes selfish, and a demonic battle-field ensues. That destroys everything, only to re-emerge another day. Instead of one taste, we are left with a bad taste.

The Four Enlightened Activities
– love in action.






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