Below is one of the verses from the "Eight Verses for Training the Mind" by Geshe Langri Tangpa

Whenever others, because of their jealousy, treat me badly with abuse, insult, slander, or in other unjust ways, may I accept this defeat myself and offer the victory to others.

When I read about the Bodhisattva path, I always come across teachings such as the above, which seem to espouse 'accepting defeat' as the highest virtue & a way to cultivate spiritually.

Perhaps I am missing some context, but teachings like these seem to me like they are promoting unhealthy codependent relationships with an abuser; which ultimately benefits no one. When one accepts defeat & offers victory to the abuser, doesn't this further encourage the abuser to continue his abusive tendencies, thereby worsening their own karma? It would seem to me that the compassionate thing to do would not be to 'accept defeat' but to 'stand up in instances of injustice'; not in the way of revenge or eye-for-an-eye, but in a skillful way that protects others from the abuser's actions?

'Accepting defeat' seems like a way of dismissing the situation or worse still, trying to gain power by declaring a moral victory over the abuser ("look at me, I am so kind and compassionate, I am willing to forgive you and accept defeat!"). The abuser will continue projecting his hurt on another victim & doesn't learn in the end.

2 Answers 2


It appears that this phrasing in particular is specific to Geshe Langri Tangpa. A google search yields some interesting results, but maybe you have read them.

I think that here, as is often the case, the teaching is abstracted into common terms like "defeat" and "victory" because the author considered them analogous. I believe the intended behaviour the quote in question is referring to is equanimity and not giving in to aggression. We do not consider the harmful actions of others to be good, but we do not give in to retaliation or to becoming upset over it because we can control our own behaviour.

I don't, however, think that the intended meaning is to ignore the harm but only to accept it as done. One can still, as in your example, take action to distance oneself from an abusive situation (though this can be hard at times). In practical terms one should absolutely take action to avoid further abuse if one is in an abusive situation.

Most situation one comes across where one is treated unfairly are (thankfully) less serious than an abusive relationship, and there it is easier to "turn the other cheek". Hope I got at your question somewhat.

  • 1
    Thank you @ruben2020 for fixing my links. :)
    – Juckix
    Oct 19, 2021 at 10:08

To walk on and leave (in gratitude, with appreciation and understanding! other wouldn't work), with metta [common people call such defeated, release], doesn't require any relation any more, so why worry about unhealthy relations here? It's of course unhealthy to maintain harmful relations and at least, even pleasing relations are harmful as well so the Sublime Buddha goes even a step further then the Pathfinder-sectarians with 'brutal' metta over all (as means to be able to leave, having given all), free released.

Truly, it would be, is actually, foolish to even desire (in any case, again and again harmful) relation with all thinking to be required or able to take all with him... isn't one bond, depending on relation (aside of such leading out), nourishing it, not actually a loser, defeated by craving, again and again?

As for good householders ideas on compassion and justice, good to gain the side of wisdom here.

May he be able to take this de-feat(non-feed of defilements) here and turn toward peace and secure.

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