Teachings at the Kadampa Deities Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
(Archive #1413)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a retreat held at Institut Vajra Yogini, France, from 18 April to 11 May 2003. The retreat was on the four Kadampa deities, however, Rinpoche taught on a broad range of lamrim topics. Read the first five discourses, lightly edited by Sandra Smith.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
4. The Compassion Buddha

[In the first part of this discourse, Rinpoche told stories about Chenrezig, Bhikshuni Lakshmi (Gelongma Pälmo) and some of the nyung nä lineage lamas. You can read these stories in the LYWA book Abiding in the Retreat, Chapters 2, 3 and 4.]

The Compassion Buddha, Chenrezig, is the special deity for Tibet, of course, and there are all the historical stories. However, these days, Chenrezig has also become a special deity for Western people, who have a very close connection nowadays. There are many tens of thousands of people in various Western countries [with a connection], so it has become very common.

Also the Buddha predicted that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be Chenrezig in the future, in the Snow Land, Tibet. One day the Buddha sent five-colored beams from the center of his two eyebrows and turned to the northern side and then smiled. He turned his face toward that [side] and smiled. The bodhisattva Dipa Nangsel asked why this happened, then the Buddha predicted that, “When my teaching of Buddhadharma in India stops or degenerates, then in the Snow Land, Tibet, the Buddhadharma will be spread, Chenrezig will descend and there will be Dharma like the sun shining. The Buddhadharma will be spread like the sun shining in Tibet and everybody will have devotion to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.” There were four or five things predicted like this.

So all the Dharma kings in Tibet who preserved Dharma, who spread Dharma and took responsibility for that, are incarnations of Chenrezig. This includes His Holiness, so the present one, up to now, without going into all the involved stories, however, the present one, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, so like that.

Rinpoche’s Pilgrimage to the Potala

Last time I went to Tibet, to the Potala, I was making pilgrimage to the Potala, and there are five or six shrine rooms, which they normally don’t allow people to see. They are locked, but this time they allowed us in because the monks there knew us. One monk was Geshe Sopa Rinpoche’s disciple and there were also a few other monks. We met when I went there ten years ago, so they remembered that. Anyway, they showed us about five or six rooms which are secret and are not shown to the people. These are the rooms where His Holiness received teachings from His Holiness Ling Rinpoche or did retreat or different things, where His Holiness did different activities. There was also one main room where His Holiness would meet the officials and things like that on special occasions.

There was one very good monk, a senior Namgyal monk there, and he recited His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long-life prayer. Usually I think there’s danger to say it; you can’t even have photos of His Holiness. But he led the prayer and also the prayer for the independence of Tibet, he chanted that. Then there was a camera, like the supermarkets in the West where there is a camera in the shops to see whether people are stealing or not. There was a camera in that room, but I’m sure the monks knew there was a camera there. Anyway, he did all these prayers.

People are not allowed to have photos of His Holiness, but there was a throne. His Holiness’s throne was there and on it was the dagam, His Holiness’s coat. The monk had put this on the throne because he couldn’t have His Holiness’s photo. I don’t know how he got our Maitreya Buddha picture, the dream to build the 500-foot Maitreya Buddha statue in India; I don’t know how he got that picture, but instead of putting His Holiness’s photo there on the throne, he had put the picture of the Maitreya Buddha statue, our Maitreya Buddha picture, there in the coat. I was surprised to see it there in the Potala, in that secret room.

Anyway, after that he told us some stories about His Holiness. He told us about the day when Keutsang Rinpoche, who checked the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama on the Palden Lhamo lake, [Lhamo La-Tso Lake, Tibet]. I think he spent maybe seven days at the lake checking about His Holiness’s incarnation, the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. He checked there in the Palden Lhamo lake for many days.

And then after that he saw everything in that lake—the house, which place, everything, the parents and the child—then, disguised as a beggar, he went to Amdo to the family’s place. So he told us this story. How the child, who is the present Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, how that child immediately recognized the lama, Keutsang Rinpoche, even though he was disguised as a beggar. The child  recognized the malas and put them on his head, and recognized the walking sticks and everything.

So the monk told those stories, then at the end he told us that this little child, His Holiness’s incarnation, said, “I’m the one who does work for all the sentient beings.” The Namgyal monk told us this child said, “I’m the one who does work for all the sentient beings.” I don’t remember seeing that in a book, anyway, the last thing the monk told us was that. When I heard that, I broke [into tears.] I couldn’t bear it and it made me cry so much after hearing that. The old monk tried to clean my nose and my eyes, that old monk tried to help clean the tears. [Rinpoche laughs]

Anyway, the story that he told us exactly fitted, because that’s what His Holiness does all the time. That’s what he is, what he does, all the time.

Nowadays, even though Buddhism spread to the West not so long ago, we have a very close connection [ with His Holiness.] We receive the actual Compassion Buddha in human form in the West again and again, and we hear teachings so many times, as well as the Kalachakra initiation and so forth. His Holiness, the Compassion Buddha, is not only the special deity of Tibet, but also for us, for all the Western people, who receive guidance from him. So you can see the Compassion Buddha, there’s a special connection for everyone who receives guidance from His Holiness, who receives teachings, who has this great fortune. We are guided and taken care of by the Compassion Buddha.

Continuously, from Chenrezig’s side, there are all the qualities, all the skills to guide us—perfect omniscience, power, understanding, compassion, everything, all the qualities to guide us. From our side we just need to continuously put effort into following the path shown by the Compassion Buddha.

There is also a story that if we pray one time, if we make a prayer to Compassion Buddha one time, if we ask for guidance one time, then all the time in our future lives we will be guided by the Compassion Buddha. However, I’m not going to go through that story tonight.

If we request guidance; if we make a request one time, then in all our coming future lives the Compassion Buddha will definitely guide us. There is a kind of promise; it’s like a promise.

Benefits of Chenrezig Mantra

As I normally mention, if we recite the long mantra of this Eleven-face Chenrezig, NAMO RATNA TRAYAYA … even one time, it has so much power to purify even a fully ordained person who has broken all the four root vows and received all the four defeats—killing a human being, lying about having  realizations, stealing things which were not given and engaging in sexual intercourse. For a fully ordained nun or monk who has received all the four defeats, it is said that by reciting the mantra one time, all those heavy negative karmas are purified completely. Not only that, it purifies the negative karmas without break [the five immediate negativities], which result in immediately getting reborn in the hell realm, in those hot hell realms, in the next life. So these five negative karmas—killing our mother, our father or an arhat, harming a buddha, and causing disunity among the Sangha—get purified.

And if we recite this mantra seven times, it purifies one hundred lifetimes of negative karma. If we recite it twenty-one times, one thousand eons of negative karma get purified, and if we recite one mala of this mantra, 40,000 eons of negative karma get purified. And then, when death happens, on the day when we die, all the buddhas stretch out their hands and guide us to the pure land, and all our wishes get fulfilled. It is mentioned that by reciting this mantra if the person doesn’t get these benefits, these results, the Compassion Buddha made this promise, “May I not become enlightened.” However, the Compassion Buddha is already enlightened, so that means the mantras do have all this power, all this benefit.

The other thing is, if we recite ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day and do the meditation of Chenrezig, then our whole body becomes a relic, a holy relic. The whole body becomes blessed; the whole body becomes a relic, a holy object. It is said in the teachings that our children and grandchildren, our children’s children, up to seven generations, don’t get reborn in the lower realms. I think, because our body is blessed so much, it carries the blessing, so it affects the consciousness of our child, then our grandchild, up to seven generations. The continuity of the body, the generation of blood came from us, from the sperm or whatever, and because it carries a blessing it affects their consciousness, so they don’t get reborn in the lower realms.

If we do ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day, then if we swim, if we enter the ocean, a pond or river, then all the animals who are in the river or in the Pacific Ocean—there are countless animals in the water, tiny ones and big ones—so the water that touches our body becomes blessed and because of that, it purifies all those animals, insects, living in the water, including all the numberless fish and all that, so their negative karma is purified and they get a higher rebirth. Any being—even people who are swimming or riding the waves—anyone who drinks or touches the water, all their negative karma is purified. So it gives some meaning to those who are riding over the waves. By reciting ten malas a day and if we go in the Pacific Ocean, if we put our body in the Pacific Ocean, then those other people who are riding over the waves, who are touching the water or playing in the water, it gives some meaning to that, because it purifies their negative karma. So there’s incredible benefit; we can liberate so many sentient beings just by that. It makes our body so meaningful to behold, our body becomes so meaningful to behold. By going into the water, there is incredible benefit for all these sentient beings who are living in the water, or who drink or touch the water.

Then if we are doing massage, touching another sentient being’s body, it becomes meaningful, it becomes purification for other sentient beings. It purifies their negative karma and when others touch our body it becomes meaningful to them.

Nyung Nä, Abiding in the Retreat

It is said that if we do even one nyung nä, abiding in the retreat, our body is abiding in retreat, our speech is abiding in retreat and our mind is abiding in retreat. The practice is not just fasting. The fasting is the part of the body abiding in the retreat; but the body doing nyung nä is not only fasting. We are abstaining from other negative karmas, so fasting is not a correct translation, that’s only one part of the practice. Here nyung nä means the body, speech and mind abiding in the retreat.

Anyway, by having done one nyung nä well, if we are on a mountain then all the people in the village or town, around or down below, all those masses of people who are looking at us, all their negative karma gets purified. That means whenever other people see us—in the supermarket, the department store or the train station, in the street, or wherever there are a lot of people amassed—by seeing our body, it becomes meaningful to behold, it purifies their negative karma and they are saved from the lower realms, they get a higher rebirth.

Even while we are walking along the road, even our breath when we’re talking to somebody, even our breath touching somebody, it purifies their negative karma. Even the wind touching our body while we are walking on the road; by touching our body it becomes blessed and then the wind touches insects or other people and all their negative karma gets purified. Reciting the mantra and visualizing oneself as Chenrezig, I think it blesses our own body, so it becomes very meaningful [for others] to see it or touch it, like that.

When that person who recites ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM a day dies and their body is burned by fire, if the smoke that comes from that body touches someone, their negative karmas get purified, even from the smoke coming from the burning body.

In Tibet there was one very foolish person, a dumb, foolish person who knew nothing, but in his life he kept on chanting OM MANI PADME HUM with devotion. He knew nothing, he had no intellect at all, just nothing, but his whole life was spent reciting just OM MANI PADME HUM with devotion. Then when he died, beams came from his body or something, and he went to a pure land. Then OM MANI PADME HUM naturally appeared on his skull.

That happened also in Solu Khumbu. There was one very simple person in Solu Khumbu who spent his life carving OM MANI PADME HUM on the rocks. Other people sponsored him and asked him to carve OM MANI PADME HUM on the rocks and they used that to circumambulate. It was near the road; they made a road so the people could go down one way and come back another way, so it becomes circumambulation. It’s very common in Solu Khumbu and in certain places, like those Himalayan ridges.

There was one very simple person who just spent his life carving OM MANI PADME HUM on the rocks. Then one day he died and when his body was offered in the fire, the skull jumped. The skull came off, it jumped, and it had OM MANI PADME HUM on it. Then it became an object of worship in the temples. It’s quite common. Definitely at the time of death Chenrezig guides us and then we get reborn in the pure land of Chenrezig.

The nyung nä, the two-day intensive retreat, is most practical, I think, in the city or for people whose lives are extremely busy, and they don’t have time to do ten days or fifteen days, or one month retreat. Even to do ten days or fifteen days, they cannot get time. Nyung nä is basically just two days’ retreat and a short session on the third morning, so it fits very well and yet it is a very intensive practice, it purifies so many eons of negative karma. It is said that one nyung nä purifies forty thousand eons—not just forty thousand negative karmas, not just forty thousand days of negative karma, not just forty thousand years of negative karma, not just forty thousand lifetimes of negative karma, but forty thousand eons of negative karma. That’s one definition.

Of course, if it’s done with bodhicitta motivation, with all those, with strong lamrim, of course, it will be much, much more. Collecting merit will be much more and purification will be much more.

The benefits you have already heard from the stories, how powerful it is reciting mantra and doing nyung nä, especially doing nyung nä, that which has the very powerful practices, reciting OM MANI PADME HUM, then the eight Mahayana precepts, another unbelievably powerful practice, which collects so much merit. Then the other one is prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas and Chenrezig, so like that.

establishing 100 Million Mani Retreats

I’m thinking to establish recitation of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUM mantras. I’m hoping to establish that in seven different places, in order to recite OM MANI PADME HUM 100 million times every year. [I’m hoping] before I die to establish in different places the 100 million OM MANI PADME HUM.

So I’m thinking about that. At Chenrezig Institute in Australia they have been trying. We tried one time at Lawudo and then at Chenrezig Institute. I think this year is the second or third time, something like that. This year has been more successful. Basically, the Sangha there do it, basically the nuns—there are so many nuns there, Sangha,they are the main ones—then people come from outside or also they recite at home, so it’s shared like that.

Then I’m hoping that in Tibet, where there are many nunneries, the Kadampa geshes’ places and different places, for example in Pembo, I’m hoping to establish a fund for the nuns also, for some nunneries. Kadampa Geshe Potowa’s nunnery is very poor, unbelievable poor, so it would help with their living [costs.] Creating a fund helps them for their living and also they get to practice, so to share between the nunneries, to establish recitation of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUM mantras every year. Then they could invite a lama or a very good practitioner to teach them a little bit of lamrim. In this way those who do not understand will know how to practice. I sent a message recently to check whether they can do it and how much it would cost. So to gradually establish it like that, and hopefully maybe in Hong Kong. I mean, like that, doing it in different places.

I’m very happy that we started nyung nä in the FPMT. Nyung nä started from Lawudo; the tradition to do nyung nä started from Lawudo, when the cave and the ritual, the texts, belonging to the Lawudo Lama, when the son of the Lawudo Lama returned back. So the idea of doing nyung nä started there, because they did have nyung nä before in the past. Then from there, of course, it was due to Lama Yeshe’s kindness, and also due to His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche’s kindness. Rinpoche inspired the nyung nä for me and gave me the text. From there it spread in the West to the centers, and many individual students were doing nyung nä, or it was done as a group at the center. Hopefully many people, more and more hopefully, will practice nyung nä. So that’s it.

[Rinpoche begins the gegtor]

[End of Discourse]

Next Chapter:

5. The Good Heart »