My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
I was so happy when I heard that you were told I had been asking about you and that made you happy, so then that made me very happy!
We recently held the Amitabha celebration day. Many people came, also many neighbors and local people, and they all enjoyed the food. We made Tibetan food and everybody—students and non-students—all enjoyed it so much. It was a very good day and a good way to connect with Amitabha Buddha, leaving the imprint to achieve enlightenment.
Please tell me about any difficulties you have and if there is some way I can help you, please let me know. Again it was very good, you were so excellent before, memorizing the Diamond Cutter Sutra and other Dharma practices, so good. Yes, please continue to practice Dharma; it is the most important thing in your life.
The best is lam-rim, so I checked and one lam-rim text that came out very good for you to read is called the Red Lam-rim, but it is not yet translated, so meanwhile you can study Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo Rinpoche. Please study this book from beginning to end, two times through. Then whatever you don’t understand, you can mark—not in black, but with a highlighter, thinking you are offering gold to the text—or you can write it down in a notebook, and when the opportunity arises you can ask a student who has studied the lam-rim well, or ask a geshe or lama. Also you can ask me from time to time, I will try to help however I can. So that is very good way to spend your life.
Please understand this. Of course, Buddhism is like the ocean, like the Pacific Ocean, so incredibly deep and vast, but the lam-rim is the very essence. The lam-rim subjects are set up in order to subdue the mind. All the 84,000 teachings of Buddha are divided into the lesser vehicle (Hinayana) and the greater vehicle (Mahayana). Then the greater vehicle, the Mahayana, is divided into two—into sutra (Paramitayana) and tantra (Vajrayana). These are unbelievably vast and deep subjects.
In Hinayana, there are the four noble truths. By actualizing them, we can be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings—not just free one time, but free forever, so we don’t have to be reborn again and again in samsara, being under the control of the aggregates, which is what we have been from beginningless samsara. Until we actualize the four noble truths—the true path and true cessation—until then we always have to reincarnate again and again, because we are under the control of delusion and karma, so then we constantly have to suffer in samsara. It is like an elephant putting dust on its body and then going into the water, then again putting dust on its body, then again going into the water. It’s like that, without end.
By actualizing the great vehicle, the Mahayana Paramitayana, we are able to cease not only the disturbing thought obscurations but also the subtle obscurations. We are able to cease this with direct perception of emptiness and with the support of bodhicitta. Then we are able to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment.
The great vehicle, the Mahayana tantra path—the secret mantra path, Vajrayana—by practicing that with strong compassion we can achieve enlightenment. With Mahayana Paramitayana it takes three countless great eons to complete the cause of Buddha’s holy mind and Buddha’s holy body—dharmakaya and rupakaya. It takes three countless great eons to collect the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue. But by practicing tantra, the secret mantra path, we are able to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings in one brief lifetime, by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra (Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra). With the lower tantra path, first we try to achieve long life, like being able to live for many hundreds or thousands of years. We live a long life so we can achieve enlightenment; so we are able to complete the cause of dharmakaya and rupakaya—the Buddha’s holy mind and holy body—and able to complete the collection of merits of wisdom and merits of virtue.
Within tantra there are four classes Kriya (Action), Charya (Performance), Yoga and Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra. With strong compassion for sentient beings, we can’t stand any longer for sentient beings to suffer in samsara, so we have to free the sentient beings from suffering in samara as quickly as possible and bring them to the state of omniscient mind. The quickest way to do this is to practice Highest Yoga Tantra, with the greatest skill to liberate and to achieve enlightenment within one brief lifetime or some number of years. Highest Yoga Tantra is like an atomic bomb to destroy the enemy; it is the energy to actualize the clear light, the transcendental wisdom of clear light and great bliss. Highest Yoga Tantra is the method to achieve this, so that is why it becomes the quickest path to achieve enlightenment.
Buddha taught and explained all the teachings that are in the Kangyur (100 volumes) and then in the Tengyur (200 volumes) are the commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings by the great holy pandits, such as Nagarjuna and so forth, the great enlightened scholars and yogis from India.
Those who followed on by practicing the four schools of Nyingma, Kagyü, Sakya and Gelug, such as Lama Tsongkhapa and so forth, the teachings they gave show how we can achieve enlightenment, and how they practiced, which in essence is similar to how the great Indian pandits practiced and similar to what the Buddha taught. Even though in reality Buddha achieved enlightenment numberless eons ago, he showed like an act the twelve deeds, such as showing the aspect of birth in Lumbini and showing enlightenment in Bodhgaya. He showed the first turning of the Dharma wheel of teachings in Sarnath, and he showed the act of passing away in Kushinagar. That was an act for us sentient beings, showing us the path and how to achieve enlightenment. Showing us why it is so important to practice Dharma; how it is the most important thing in our life, for ourselves, for our own happiness and especially for the happiness of all sentient beings.
Please if you have some problem, physical or mental, it is very important for you to read my book Transforming Problems into Happiness. Then also, read teachings on the seven points of thought transformation; read and meditate on the teachings, and also the five powers, how all the practices integrate into one. That is teaching a way to use problems and difficulties in the path to enlightenment, to use them to achieve the highest happiness for all sentient beings.
I am sending you an explanation of how to meditate on the lam-rim and also a new practice I have put together, something essential to do every day, to start your day off. After some time, please let me know and I will explain more. Whoever meditates on the lam-rim, their suffering in samsara—in the six realms, in the lower reams—will end. It is most unbelievable, most unbelievable; by explaining we can’t understand it, we can’t grasp it, and we can’t see how important it is.
Lam-rim is the most important thing, now and in everyday life. It makes our life most meaningful, by meditating on the lam-rim and actualizing the lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment. Then even eating, walking, sitting, working our day job, even the breaks from the job, every activity is dedicated for sentient beings.
As much as you can, try to live your life for others. As much as possible live your life for others, for all the sentient beings—the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate state beings—to free them from the oceans of samsaric sufferings.
With much love and prayers...