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.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with children at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1991. Photo: Thubten Yeshe (TY).
5. The Good Heart
Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth

Before the talk, I would like to mention one thing, and maybe some people can do that, if possible. When His Holiness came to Pomaia the last time to give the Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment, Lama Atisha’s teaching, I gave an initiation, but I have forgotten which one. [Student: Gyalwa Gyatso.] I thought it was Gyalwa Gyatso, but I was not sure.

I was returning back to the United States on the airplane, when the thought came naturally to start an organization called Loving Kindness, Peace for Youth, or Loving Kindness, Peace for the World. The project is focused on youth, Loving Kindness, Peace for Youth. It came naturally to me on the airplane on the way to United States, to have very large gatherings from time to time in different parts of the world, in different countries, and to invite His Holiness or other Nobel Peace prize winners. And also, to have meetings about peace and how to be the best human beings. Also the very young teenagers, those who are very good-hearted, who have very good qualities and who can be a very inspiring example for the young ones, can also give talks. Not only old people can give talks to the young people, but also the young people, those who are very good examples, teenagers who are very good examples, can also give talks to other young people and inspire them. So that thought came.

I asked His Holiness when we invited him to the Land of Medicine Buddha. We invited His Holiness to give a commentary on the Heart Sutra in Santa Fe, and during that time, I did request His Holiness. That time His Holiness was joking, “Oh, you are competing with me,” something like that, he made a joke. Then His Holiness said to have a big gathering first, then if people want it, do [more.] Maybe otherwise they might think it’s political. After some time, I explained to His Holiness again that I didn’t have one single motivation of political thought, in the sense of using the organization for one’s own benefit. So I mentioned that I didn’t have the slightest thought of that.

Among the other things, I explained this again and His Holiness said, “I think you can do this; your organization can do this,” or something like that. His Holiness said to go ahead, so His Holiness permitted it. First, I wanted to get permission from His Holiness and if His Holiness said not to do it, then to not do it.

Anyway, I thought [it’s beneficial] if there’s an organization like this for the young people, to help the young people, the teenagers or young people. For an example, I thought that once the person is in this organization, or carrying the label Loving Kindness Peace for Youth or something like that title, anyway, for example, while you are walking on the road and somebody teases you or something; first, of course, there’s no mindfulness, then the irritation will come, it will irritate your mind, but sooner or later you remember, “Oh, I am under this organization, Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth.” You remember your title, you remember your label, so then suddenly you remember your responsibility, that you can’t harm others. What you are supposed to do is only bring peace to others, to practice loving kindness toward others; you can’t harm others. You remember this suddenly and then you stop giving harm to others, you don’t retaliate. There’s this benefit—you suddenly remember that you are under this title and then that helps you immediately stop retaliating and you only give peace to the other person.

That is an example, but like that, the person under this title can give peace to the world. Peace to one person, two people, three people, four people or five people, like that. You can give peace to your family and peace to your neighbor, to the area, the country and the world. I was thinking there’s a great benefit in that, but it’s mainly to concentrate on helping young people.

Now the method for helping young people is Universal Education. That comes as a means to educate them. We have already been working on this for quite some time. Of course it took a long time—it took many, many eons; so many eons it took—even though the idea was very strong and it was started during Lama’s time. I think, along with Connie, she was very interested in this; she was very interested in teaching young children and things like that, but somebody said it came from Lama. Jacie Keeley recently mentioned how it came about and she said the very first idea came from Lama, that’s what she said.

Anyway, during Lama’s time there was one meeting in Italy, along with Connie, and maybe a few hundred people came, right? Do you know? You don’t know. [Rinpoche laughs] Anyway, I think there was one meeting for Universal Education at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, inviting other important people, but I don’t know what the result was. I didn’t hear the particulars, or I didn’t get to ask.

Anyway, I did ask one new student who was a member of the Hong Kong center. When she was studying at the university she hadn’t met Dharma, but she had already organized something for young people. She hadn’t met Dharma, so she didn’t have much idea of how to help. They just gathered and discussed their problems, that’s all she did. But I guess it didn’t get continued. When I mentioned it to her, she explained that she already did that when she was studying at university, and she was very keen to again start the organization to help the young people.

An Outline of Universal Education

Since I mentioned the name, Universal Education, maybe I will just go over the outlines in case somebody hasn’t heard about it; what we have been planning to do, to accomplish.

The first thing is a good heart. As the time went on, as Lama’s time started, that was during Lama’s time, I think there wasn’t enough time to [write a book], so there were no guidelines or books, that wasn’t done at that time. As the time went on—it took a long time—there was so much interest generated in many different parts of the country but nothing much happened because there weren’t any books or guidelines, so nothing happened to really establish it firmly or how to go about it. There was a lot of interest in many parts of the country, but anyway, it took a long time. Then as time went on, I thought there was more urgency for Universal Education, more need in the world. As time went on, I felt there was a greater and greater need.

Why is there a greater need? Because everybody doesn’t have the karma to hear or to learn about Buddhism, to hear or to come to the teachings. Everybody doesn’t have the karma to become Christian, to learn about Christianity or to practice it; or to learn about the Muslim religion and practice that; so there’s a need for another method in the world to bring peace. That was the idea, something universal that everybody can learn and practice. So that’s how it came about, the importance of it. You can’t expect everybody to have your religion. Everybody doesn’t have that karma. Even though there are many good things in that religion, there’s a need for something else that everybody can learn and practice, to bring peace. To bring peace to the individual person, oneself, and to the world.

The first thing is the good heart. There are a few books on the good heart, loving kindness, compassion, universal responsibility, those things, and tolerance and forgiveness, and how to generate and develop those good values of the human mind. I think there’s one book recently from FPMT International Office, copied from the Jataka Tales, one small book, the first book, talking about the stories of animals but with advice for life.

Inspiring Life Stories for Young People

Then the next one is inspiring life stories. That is for the teenagers, for the young people, so the inspiring stories can become the model of their life, the example for their life. To learn the life stories of those people whose nature is great compassion and who have brought so much peace to this world, and to do this through acting, through theater, through performance.

There are people like Gandhi-ji and Mother Theresa, and the other one is St. Francis of Assisi. Even though he chanted the name of God, externally, of course, he was totally different from other priests and he had totally renounced this life, the same as the Buddhist practitioners, the renounced beings. He was exactly like a Kadampa geshe; he was a Kadampa geshe in the West, in Italy, especially in Italy. He was a Kadampa geshe in Italy. He was totally renounced, wearing very ragged clothes, with patches, things like that.

I saw his dress, I think, at a place close to Lama Tzong Khapa Institute. What’s it called? What’s the name of the place where his holy body was, and his student, the nun, who had three hundred disciple nuns, her body was there. What’s the name of that place? [Student: Assisi.] Assisi. Her body was there, but the St. Francis, his body….

[Rinpoche sneezes] I don’t think this is SARS. [Laughter] I’m joking! I’m joking, anyway! No, I’m saying I don’t think this is SARS, the famous sickness that is happening, that recently started.

So his holy body was covered by rocks. When I went there with Lama, Lama sat down and did meditation for fifteen minutes or something, in front of St. Francis’s holy body, where the tomb with the holy body is. Lama sat down for I think maybe ten or fifteen minutes and did meditation.

Anyway, St. Francis is exactly like the Kadampa geshes, who like to be criticized by others and don’t like to be praised by others. That’s their particular thing. He especially asked his disciples one day to criticize him, asking them to say to him, “You’re going to go to hell. You did this, you did that.” [Group laughs] But the disciples could not find any mistakes in him to criticize. They could not find anything except good things. Anyway, that’s the mentality or the attitude exactly like the Kadampa geshes.

There are many stories of the bodhisattvas, like Drime Kunden and many others, who, like Je Monlam Pälwa, had realization of bodhicitta. As you saw in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand [p. 650], I think, at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet, when there was a huge water flood coming toward the monastery, he wrote on a piece of stone, “If it is true that I have bodhicitta, then may the flood water turn back.” He wrote this on a piece of stone then he turned toward the flood water, which then went back. It was coming toward the monastery, but it went back. So like that.

There are so many of those bodhisattvas like Drime Kunden. Due to his bodhicitta realizations, when he had to cross a big river, it immediately parted. He was able to cross over the sand and then the river joined again. This is a sign which shows the power of bodhicitta.

When the meditators in that place complained that they could not meditate because of the noise of the water coming down, he went to the water’s edge and called, “Sister, stop because my disciples can’t meditate.” The water has stopped since that time. There’s a place you can see where the water used to come. It is said that if the water did come, that means it’s very inauspicious for the country, something like that.

So those, and I think there are a few others, maybe, saints in Christianity, who have good stories. So those, and the Buddha’s past life stories of when he was a bodhisattva. Some of those bodhisattvas sacrificed their life to other sentient beings for many eons. This can be from different traditions, not only Buddhist, so [young people can] learn their life stories through performance of theater. In this way they can learn the stories, also they have entertainment and they learn through acting, through performance. Other people, outside people, can also learn, they can also get an education by watching it.

For the young people, by knowing these stories, then the hope is that it will become the moral for their life, so that each child can become like these examples of great compassion, the originators of peace in this world who benefit so many millions of people. Like that, so each one can become like this.

Next is the philosophy, the third one is philosophy. Before, for a long time I thought to choose the clearest philosophies, what the Buddha explained, the clearest ones, so I thought to choose from those, from different parts of the philosophy. To choose subjects that can be useful and if possible to present them in a more suitable way. Like that, to make a few books on philosophy.

Recently, I checked with His Holiness at Bodhgaya, at the Maitreya Project, because His Holiness very kindly accepted to stay there during the Kalachakra time. Of course, His Holiness expressed that it was actually extremely quiet, very quiet down there, and it seems he enjoyed it very much. He made comments and sent a letter from his Dharamsala office, saying how it was very good, very peaceful and things like that, and thanking everyone for all the special arrangements that were done, all the things for His Holiness’s stay.

That time, I had only one concern about the part of the philosophy, so His Holiness answered to study like university. At the university you learn Buddhist philosophy and you also learn Muslim, Hindu and other different philosophies, you just make it available. I had one question, one worry, and this was resolved. It becomes a very simple thing. From their side they just analyze, just like a scientist analyzing the different phenomena, like that. Then it doesn’t become complicated. The philosophy is to have a deeper understanding of the previous things, why we need to benefit others and all these things, to understand that with deeper reason. The other thing is, just basically, the more you have education and the more you know the various methods, then you can solve the problems of other people in many ways.

Feng Shui

If that doesn’t work, you can try another method to help solve the different problems. One method is feng shui. There are some texts on feng shui, which, of course, I think is from China. But I think there are many similar ideas in Tibetan astrology. I haven’t seen the text, but I heard there are. And there’s also a text from Lama Atisha, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Of course, it’s based on good karma. Of course, it’s based on having collected merit first. If you haven’t collected merit first, if you haven’t created the good karma first, then even if you do billions of feng shui around the house for many eons, nothing will happen. Feng shui is just an external thing and on the basis of good karma, then feng shui can help you enjoy the result. It is similar to making wealth vases—feng shui and making wealth vases are similar. Again, for wealth vases you need good karma first. Without good karma first, even if you make huge mountains of wealth vases, again nothing will happen. So, it’s like that.

As I mentioned the other day, the first thing in life, the most important thing, the first thing in the life is Dharma. As I mentioned the other day, the most important thing is Dharma, so that’s why we come here.

However, feng shui helps. It’s a way to help with long life—for the people, the family, to have a long and healthy life. [Problems arise] due to the wrong arrangement, the wrong landscaping or the wrong arrangement, the wrong setting up. It’s a dependent arising, so those external things affect us.

Those external things become dependent arising, they have an effect, on the basis of karma. If we don’t have negative karma, if our negative karma is purified or if we haven’t created the negative karma to get sick or to receive those harms or whatever, that external arrangement won’t harm us. It cannot harm us. Otherwise, it would harm the Buddha,  or those arya beings. But it won’t harm them, no matter how bad the feng shui is or how much there is. It won’t harm them because they don’t have the karma to get sick. The higher bodhisattvas and the arhats who have removed the seed of delusion, who have abandoned rebirth, old age, sickness and death, they have abandoned those sufferings of samsara, so they don’t have suffering. It doesn’t matter how much they live in bad feng shui,  because it cannot harm them.

That’s one reason, because they don’t have the karma to receive harm, to experience pain, they don’t have that karma. It’s to do with the mind; whether we receive harm or not depends on our mind. Like that, many millions of maras attacked the Buddha, but the Buddha didn’t receive any harm.

Anyway, feng shui helps for a long and healthy life, and for success, prosperity, success in business and so forth. It will also help with education for the children, so there are many ways to bring unity and harmony to the family, things like that.

The other thing is astrology, to do things at the right time, and then another one is healing. Meditation is always there. In Universal Education, of course, there will be meditation. And there is also psychology, I guess. I’m not sure of the name but I guess the new psychology—not the old psychology, but the new one—that some students have studied. Anyway, it seems that people find this beneficial, so to have that, and to have various things. Just as a bodhisattva learns many things—many different languages, many different skills—to help other sentient beings, it’s a little bit like that, learning these different things.

The Good Heart

The main thing is a good heart, a life inspired by that philosophy. John Landaw and his wife are making a book, at the moment they are doing that. Hopefully there will be more books and especially by those who have been running Universal Education for the past few years and working with children, so from their own experiences. They have actually been working with children, so from their own experiences they can say what worked, how things helped and benefited the children. That would also be a very valuable thing for the future, a book, for the people who are going to be Universal Education teachers. It would help them.

The Bodhgaya Universal Education school started three years ago, but I hadn’t actually seen the children, however, last time I was there I saw them. They did a show, a performance, and they did an extremely wonderful show, especially the part offering curd to the Buddha, that act was very beautifully done. They did some show about the Buddha’s deeds. This time I went to see the classes and to see how they were doing, and I also met the teachers and gave some talk about what’s really the direction or the aim of universal education, the motivation, the aim. Those teachers are not Buddhists who have been studying Buddhism in the past, they are not like that. But I think gradually the aims and objectives of Universal Education will become more and more clear. So things got more clear and it seems we have started going in that direction, rather than just kind of lost.

At the moment that school is mainly focused on the good heart, the spiritual part, the good heart, the main Universal Education. Even though they do have normal school programs, they haven’t focused on that, it isn’t the main thing. Therefore, I think they have to go to another school to get a degree or something like that. So two children from that school went to another school to get the degree, and when they went to another school they found out that those children are so violent and so uncontrolled. When they came back to the Maitreya Project Universal Education school , these two teenagers found so much peace at their school, even though it had just recently started, it’s very new. There seems to be a great result, there are differences in controlling the mind, I guess, the good heart. Already they have a good effect or result. So the method to help the teenagers or the young people is already there, and we’re trying to develop it more and more.

The idea is this, to gather together three times a month or something like that, to gather, and then there’s also education, the talks about the good heart and these things. The other thing is that there is also discussion and meditation. Also one part is that the young people go to help, they give voluntary help, they like to help where there are old people who need help. They take care of the house or clean the house, or give voluntary help in hospital, or wherever there’s a need for help in the city or in the town, where people need help. So they’re doing practice serving others. The groups go to different places where help is needed, cleaning or whatever it is. So like that, it becomes a very inspiring practice.

Also having some activities like that, such as meditation, learning different things, and discussion, helping their emotional minds when they have difficulties, so things also like that.

In the different countries, if it’s possible, if somebody has inspiration and thinks it’s a good idea, we can start with our friends, and then their friends, and then their friends, and their friends. We can start like that. Even to start with, even if it’s small, gradually it can become bigger and it can reach more and more young people. And also it can help. It would also include the good heart and compassion and wisdom. Universal Education involves compassion and wisdom, and good conduct, good behavior, and the practice of kindness. To practice kindness toward others in everyday life, whether it’s a great or small kindness, whatever we can do toward animals, toward people, always to practice this, always to be very kind and generous.

[If children] grow up like this, it is the way that each person can definitely bring peace in the world and not only to this world. Anyway, it brings peace to all sentient beings since the person has that quality of mind, which continues in the next life and also gets developed, so it helps all the sentient beings, it brings peace to all sentient beings and also to this world. It brings peace to human beings, animals and other sentient beings, then peace to our own country, our own area, our own family, and then no question, to oneself. Then we live a very good life and we always have so much peace and happiness in our heart. We always have a happy life and a very good future like the sun shining, like the sun rising, like the sun shining, a very good future.

However, in the future, from there what we get is the ultimate happiness,  enlightenment. Then it’s very easy, because with the good heart, we don’t create obstacles. What makes us achieve enlightenment is by having a good heart. If we have compassion then there’s enlightenment; if we have no compassion, there’s no enlightenment. The stronger compassion there is for others, then that makes us achieve enlightenment quicker. If we feel strong compassion for one insect, one animal, even if it’s just one sentient being, if we feel great compassion, if we generate great compassion for that insect, for that animal, that brings us to enlightenment. The stronger the compassion is, the quicker we will achieve enlightenment, even by generating compassion for one sentient being.

[Peacock squawks loudly]

I think he’s saying to start the initiation. He says, “Don’t talk so much.” [Laughter]

Getsul Tsimbulwa and the Leper

An example of that, how generating compassion for one sentient being brings us to enlightenment, as I often mention, there is one example in the Vajrayogini teachings. There’s the story of Getsul Tsimbulwa, who was a disciple of the great yogi Nakpo Chöpawa.

This great yogi, Nakpo Chöpawa, first came to this big river where there was one woman whose body was totally filled with leprosy sickness. Her body was very, very ugly and was totally filled with leprosy sickness, with pus coming out, and she was waiting for somebody to take her to the other side of the river. So Nakpo Chöpawa, this great yogi, came to the river. He was going to a place called Odi, I think, where he was going to engage in tantric conduct, as I mentioned yesterday, just before enlightenment. So he was going to that place, Odi, I think. The woman asked him, “Please take me to the other side.” Nakpo Chöpawa didn’t bother, he went straight across the river.

Later his disciple, Getsul Tsimbulwa, came to the river. As soon as Getsul Tsimbulwa saw this woman, whose body was filled with leprosy and was so ugly, with pus coming out, he felt unbearable compassion. He was a monk, so generally he couldn’t even touch women, but he felt unbearable compassion and without feeling that he would get the disease, the leprosy sickness, from that person, without any of those superstitious thoughts, without any fear or worry, with unbearable compassion, he immediately grabbed her and took her on his back and carried her across the river.

And then, when he reached the middle of the river, she appeared as Dorje Pagmo—Vajrayogini and Dorje Pagmo are the same essence—and she took Getsul Tsimbulwa to the pure land, Dagpa Khacho. If you are able to be born in the pure land of Dorje Pagmo or Vajrayogini, Dagpa Khacho, then definitely you will become enlightened there. This is one of the pure lands where if you are born there, you definitely become enlightened in that life, in the pure realm of Heruka or Vajrayogini. So Getsul Tsimbulwa went to the pure land without needing to leave the body in the human world. With the same body he went to the pure land; he was able to go to the pure land in that life.

It was an enlightened being, Dorje Pagmo, it was a deity, an enlightened being, who didn’t have any suffering and the cause of suffering. But because Getsul Tsimbulwa’s mind was obscured before, he could not see the deity. It was a deity but from Getsul Tsimbulwa’s side he could not see the deity. He saw a suffering ordinary woman, very ugly, and filled with sicknesses and with pus coming out [of her sores.] Kind of something very awful, like that. But he gave up his life; he sacrificed his life to help her. He gave up his life, he felt unbearable compassion for her, for all her sicknesses, he sacrificed his life to help her, so he had unbearable compassion for her and he carried her across, he offered service. During those short minutes, he had strong compassion and he offered service, so it purified all those heavy negative karmas which blocked, which obscured his mind from seeing the deity. That was purified.

Even without crossing the river, even without reaching the other side of the river, when he reached the middle of the river, because all that heavy karma was purified by his unbearable compassion, because he gave up his life to offer service to her, because that impure karma was purified and there was only pure karma, pure mind, then he was able to see the deity. Before he was unable to see the deity; he saw an ordinary being, he had only impure view, impure mind, impure view, now he had a pure mind and this pure view of the deity.

The reason I’m saying this is that even if we generate compassion for one sentient being, that makes us achieve enlightenment and of course the stronger we generate compassion, the quicker we will achieve enlightenment. So one sentient being for whom we generate compassion helps us. That is the advantage that we get. The benefit that we get is priceless. The benefit that we achieve is enlightenment. We achieve the infinite qualities of the Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind from that sentient being, by generating compassion for that sentient being. What we get from that sentient being—the advantages, the benefits—are limitless, that’s the most precious thing.

It’s also explained in the teachings many times, in the thought transformation teachings, how that one sentient being becomes the most kind, the most precious one in our own life.

[Peacock calls out.]

I think now he got fed up. [Laughter] He tried so hard with that loud noise, so he figured out maybe I might stop if he changes his voice and makes it more sweet. I think he’s trying many ways.

Compassion for the Wicked

In  the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation [verse 4] in the Tibetan it says,

Dig dug drag pö nön thong tshe
Rin chhen ter dang thra pa zhin
Nye par kaa päi che dzin shog

So this is the meaning of that, what was mentioned before—when we see somebody, when we see a sentient being—but I left out the first part,

Rang zhin ngän päi sem chän ni

A sentient being whose mind is wicked, who has a wicked nature of mind—for example, the enemy, the person that you think, “He or she is my enemy,”—when we recite this, we must use that person as an object for us to practice this verse, this stanza.

For example, bin Laden, whose mind has a very weak nature, with self-cherishing thought, and anger, hatred, toward the United States or other countries, with the self-cherishing thought and so much hatred and such heavy negative thoughts, and a wicked nature like that. Then his actions, creating very heavy negative karma; he killed many thousands of people and not only that, people’s enjoyments and perfections were destroyed.

It harmed the whole world, all over the world, in many countries, many millions of people; it affected the economy—many hotels lost their business and many airlines had to close down. Even in the United States many airlines were affected, many airplanes had to pack up—in Arizona, even Hong Kong, everywhere. Many people worked for companies, that could not afford [to pay them] and the people had to leave; they asked the people to leave, they couldn’t afford it. Even in Hong Kong, even in those other countries far away, it had an effect and many people lost their jobs. Many families had no earnings and it was difficult for them to feed their children. Everywhere it harmed so much and there was so much negative karma, action, like that.

He will be totally overwhelmed by all these heavy negative karmas and suffering, and not only the suffering that he will experience in this life, but the result of all those heavy negative karmas will be rebirth in the hell realms where there’s the heaviest suffering. For many eons he will have to die and be reborn there, to experience all these eight hot hells, all these eight cold hells, then the six neighborhood sufferings.

It is said in one lojong text, I don’t remember the author, but there it says that if we commit one of the ten non-virtuous actions—everybody here is aware of the ten nonvirtuous actions—if we do one nonvirtuous action, then we have to experience all the eight hot hells, all the eight cold hells and the six neighborhood sufferings. If we commit one negative karma we have to suffer in all the sixteen major hells—the eight cold and eight hot major sufferings—then the six neighborhood sufferings. We have to experience all this if we commit even one of the ten nonvirtuous actions. So in this thought transformation text it is explained like this. That’s something we have to remember when we do meditation on karma. So it’s not easy.

Creating negative karma is easy, but experiencing the result is not easy at all. We create negative karma in one second, [Rinpoche snaps fingers] but to experience the result, suffering, even to think about that is very frightening, even to think about that, even to see the drawing [of the hell realms], like that. The text is one of the thought transformation teachings.

However, if you think of bin Laden here, he has to experience the results of all this negative karma, the results of all this unbelievably heavy negative karma; he has to experience the results for so many eons. His mind is wicked in nature and he is overwhelmed by heavy negative karma and  suffering. So when you see that, the verse says,

Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature
And overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering,
I shall hold such rare ones dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.

Here when we think of him, we can’t stand this situation, we can’t bear it. Compassion has to arise, our mind has no choice. Compassion has to arise for him, we have no choice, you can’t bear it. Compassion arises for him, unbearable compassion, we have no choice, we can’t stand all that.

If we generate compassion for that person, as a result we get bodhicitta. Compassion is the root, and then that is the door of the Mahayana path to enlightenment. We achieve all the realizations of the path, all the five paths, the ten bhumis, and also on the basis of bodhicitta, the tantric realizations, to achieve enlightenment quickly. We achieve all these realizations of the Mahayana path, and we achieve [the qualities of the] Buddha, we achieve enlightenment from that person. We achieve all these realizations of the Mahayana path from that person; we achieve enlightenment from him, we achieve the infinite qualities of the Buddha’s holy body, holy speech, holy mind.

The Buddha’s qualities are inconceivable, limitless, unimaginable. There are four things, as explained in sutra, that if we make an offering of one tiny rice grain or one small flower to the Buddha—even to a picture of the Buddha or a statue of the Buddha or a visualized Buddha, even that; offering one tiny flower or one grain of rice to the Buddha, to a picture or statue, or visualization, even that—the result that we get, the benefit that we get from that is infinite. The benefit is infinite, it’s unimaginable, limitless, unfathomable. Why? Because the Buddha, whom we make offering to, has qualities that are unimaginable, limitless, unfathomable. There are four things mentioned, four or five things, I don’t remember. So like that.

It is mentioned in the sutra, by making one tiny flower offering to the Buddha, [the benefit] is the same. Offering to the Buddha or to a statue or picture of the Buddha, the benefit is the same. One bodhisattva, Meaningful to Behold, asked the Buddha, “Now we can make offerings to Buddha, we collect merit, but what happens after the Buddha passes away? Then how can the sentient beings collect merit, because they cannot see the Buddha at that time?” Then the Buddha said, “Don’t worry, because in the future the sentient beings who are making offerings to my statue or painting collect the same amount of merit as if they actually made offerings to me.”

For this reason, we are unbelievable fortunate that we are able to have the opportunity to see these holy objects of the buddhas, to be able to accept, to be able to see these holy objects. That we are able to have these holy objects and we are able to make offerings, that we have the opportunity to make offerings, this is unbelievable. We are unbelievable lucky, fortunate.

It is said in sutra that by making one flower offering to the Buddha—to the actual Buddha or to a statue of the Buddha—the benefit [doesn’t finish.] It is said that from time without beginning, if we count all the samsaric pleasures that there are—in the desire realm, form and formless realms, starting from time without beginning, and the same back; so all the samsaric pleasures, whatever there are, starting from time without beginning—the result of this one flower offering to the Buddha, the result is that much, the result that we can experience is that much, it still does not finish. That much benefit, enjoyments or happiness, it still doesn’t finish, it still doesn’t end, until we achieve liberation. Here, until we achieve liberation, so here the great liberation is enlightenment.

Even if we achieve liberation from samsara, the benefit still doesn’t finish. The result of offering one flower or one tiny rice grain or one stick of incense, or whatever the offering is, offering that tiny flower or that one rice grain to the Buddha, the ultimate result is the great liberation, full enlightenment. But what I think is that it still doesn’t finish. Why? Because after we achieve that, then we enlighten numberless sentient beings, we liberate them from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. After we achieve enlightenment then we bring numberless sentient beings to enlightenment, we cause them all this happiness, temporary and ultimate happiness. We are still able to benefit other sentient beings as a result of this, we are still enjoying the result of this one offering.

This is due to the Buddha’s qualities, all these qualities that I mentioned. When we become Buddha we have infinite qualities of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind, that can bring unbelievable benefit to other sentient beings. The Buddha having these qualities makes it so easy for us to purify the negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths, so easy to achieve realization in our mind, and so easy to achieve enlightenment. Due to the Buddha’s compassion, power, the Buddha’s qualities, even by making offering to a picture or statue or visualization of the Buddha, it makes it so easy to achieve happiness. Therefore, when we become a buddha, it makes so easy to free the numberless sentient beings from the suffering of samsara and bring them to enlightenment. We achieve all these qualities when we become a buddha, we have all these qualities and we can benefit numberless sentient beings so easily. Even in one second, the beams that we emit from our holy body liberate an uncountable number of sentient beings from suffering; we are able to do like that.

We achieve all these infinite qualities from this one person whom we call enemy, for example, bin Laden. Now when we think about all these qualities of the Buddha, even with one beam emitted from the body we can liberate so many sentient beings from suffering in one second. So we achieve this from the person whom we call enemy, for example, bin Laden. Therefore now, this person becomes so precious, the most precious one, he becomes wish-fulfilling for us. This person becomes wish-fulfilling, for all our happiness and success, like that.

The limitless skies of diamonds and gold or wish-fulfilling jewels cannot do that; we can’t generate compassion on those things. They don’t give us the opportunity to generate compassion, bodhicitta, all these realizations, they don’t give us enlightenment. But this person whom we call enemy, or this person who is angry with us or who criticizes us, for example, bin Laden, so from this person we can achieve all these realizations, we can generate compassion, bodhicitta, all that, patience, and we can achieve all these paths and all the qualities of the Buddha. So this person is most precious. The other thing is, it’s like having found a precious treasure, so you can understand.

Now there’s one extra thing, here, for example, bin Laden, it’s very easy to develop compassion for this person. Thinking about all this wicked nature and the heavy negative karma and very heavy suffering, it makes it very easy to arise compassion, very easy to achieve the realization of bodhicitta and all the rest of the path and enlightenment, very easy. The others who do not have that much wickedness of mind, who have less negative karma, less suffering, then it’s more difficult, there’s no opportunity to do that.

Maybe putting it another way, friend or strangers who don’t have an angry mind or feel dislike toward us, don’t give us the opportunity to generate the good heart, and patience, particularly that. It’s more difficult to generate compassion for others, to achieve realization of bodhicitta from them. However, this person who has a heavier wicked nature of mind, heavier suffering and negative karma, makes it much easier to generate compassion, so that makes realizing bodhicitta and everything up to enlightenment much easier to achieve. That’s the second thing, it makes it very easy and very quick to achieve realization. So here in this sense, that person becomes even more precious.

Asanga and the Wounded Dog

Another example, as you know, is the story of Asanga, who did twelve years’ retreat but didn’t see Maitreya Buddha. He did retreat to achieve Maitreya Buddha, but he didn’t see him. Then one day on the road he saw a wounded dog. The lower part of the dog’s body was completely wounded and filled with worms, maggots. Asanga felt unbearable compassion and cut flesh from his leg and spread it out for the worms to eat, to live somewhere, for them to not die, to have something for them. By closing his eyes, if he went to take the worms with his fingers, he was concerned they might be crushed between his fingers, so he went to pick up the maggots with the tip of his tongue. He went to pick up the maggots with his tongue. By closing his eyes he went to pick up the worms, the maggots, with the tip of his tongue, but he could not touch them. Then he opened his eyes and he saw Maitreya Buddha. There was no wounded dog, he saw Maitreya Buddha.

Again, it’s the same story here. Before, even though he did twelve years’ retreat to achieve Maitreya Buddha and he expected to see Maitreya, he didn’t see him. It happened only after he sacrificed his life and generated unbearable compassion, when he gave up his life for this wounded dog, this one living being. What I was saying before is that if we generate compassion for one sentient being, that causes us to achieve enlightenment. That was the topic at the beginning, that was the outline. So here, Asanga felt unbearable compassion, he sacrificed his life for that one living being, that wounded dog. Because of that, he purified so much negative karma, which had blocked him from seeing Maitreya Buddha. But when that was purified he had only pure mind and pure karma; he had this pure view, to see Maitreya Buddha in the aspect of a buddha. Before he saw only ordinary form, the dog, but then he was able to see the actual aspect of a buddha.

Then as he requested, Maitreya Buddha took him to Tushita pure land in one morning, which I think is fifty years or something for human beings, I’m not sure. He gave all the five divisions of teachings there, including Abhisamayalamkara. Asanga received those teachings, then he wrote down a commentary to those five divisions of teachings, he wrote down a commentary. So now, texts such as Abhisamayalamkara and so forth, the lamrim, what Lama Atisha and Lama Tsongkhapa [taught], all this is based on those teachings.

Now, by Asanga bringing the Maitreya Buddha teachings into this world, there are numberless sentient beings who have heard these teachings, who have studied and actualized the path and achieved enlightenment. Numberless sentient beings have already achieved enlightenment by Asanga receiving the teachings from Maitreya Buddha, then revealing them in this world. Originally, all this benefit for numberless sentient beings, who achieved enlightenment and actualized the path, is from these teachings. Where the benefit came from is that Asanga generated compassion for this wounded dog. Skies of benefit received by other sentient beings came from Asanga. [The opportunity to] study and practice these teachings came from Asanga’s compassion, which was generated for the dog.

Bodhicitta Motivation

Anyway, think,

“While I have all the opportunities to practice Dharma, devoid of all the obstacles, I must make myself free from samsara at this time. Just that alone is not sufficient, I must achieve full enlightenment. I must achieve full enlightenment for the numberless sentient beings, for every single sentient being without exception. They are the most kind, precious ones in my life, from whom I have received all my past, present and future happiness, all the realizations, enlightenment, everything. This is the purpose of my life, this is the meaning of my life.

“Benefiting others and bringing the sentient beings to enlightenment is the ultimate benefit, the highest benefit that we can create. I have this full responsibility because I have all the opportunity, because I have met Dharma, I have met Buddhadharma, I have met the virtuous friend. I have that much wisdom eye to understand what is right and what is wrong; what is right to practice and what is wrong and is to be abandoned; and I have the opportunity to develop my mind on the path to enlightenment. I have all the opportunities to help, to liberate the sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. I have all the opportunities, therefore, for that reason, I’m responsible, because I have the opportunity.”

As I normally mention there is one blind person in danger of falling down a cliff, one blind person who doesn’t know, and there’s no road, so there is danger of falling down. Then there’s another person who has eyes and limbs, everything to help, who has all the opportunities to help that person. Because the other person has eyes and limbs to help the blind person, they have a responsibility to help the other person who’s blind and is in danger of falling down. Even though this blind person doesn’t ask that other person, this blind person doesn’t beg, doesn’t ask the other person who has eye, limbs, everything. The blind person doesn’t beg, but just because the other person has limbs, eyes, they have the opportunity to help that person, therefore they are responsible. Like that, we have total responsibility for all the sentient beings, to free them from all the suffering and its causes, and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, think, “I must achieve enlightenment. Therefore, I’m going to take the Kadampa four deities initiation.”

So finally! Finally! At last! [Laughter]

The Four Kadampa Deities

It is said by His Holiness usually, as normally explained, that the Kadampas do not practice many deities. They practice these four deities: the Buddha, as a founder of the present Buddhadharma; then Chenrezig, to develop compassion, bodhicitta, for that purpose; and Tara, for success in Dharma practice, for benefiting other sentient beings. Because Tara is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ actions, therefore it’s very easy to receive guidance, like Lama Atisha, in particular, and many others. No question, by relying on Tara, many holy beings are able to benefit so many sentient beings.

We are able to meet the teachings, the lamrim, and every day we get so much benefit from that, which is bringing us closer and closer to enlightenment every day, even by reciting a lamrim prayer, like the Foundation of All Good Qualities, which has all the essence. By reading that, it leaves a positive imprint of the whole path to enlightenment within a few minutes and brings us closer to enlightenment by going through that prayer mindfully one time. That, and then the lamrim that we teach other sentient beings, so many sentient beings get benefit from our teaching lamrim. So many other sentient beings find peace and happiness, and purify so much negative karma, and they are able to make their lives closer and closer to enlightenment. That we are able to help so many other sentient beings, all this is due to Tara.

Lama Atisha was able to benefit so many sentient beings, and he wrote the Lam Dron, Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, because Tara said to him, “Your life will be highly beneficial if you go to Tibet.” Therefore due to Tara’s guidance, these lamrim teachings happened. All this I would say, is due to Tara’s kindness. All these benefits that we receive, that we are able to offer others and that others receive, is due to Tara’s kindness.

The fourth deity is Miyowa, the Immovable Buddha, the supreme deity dispelling the interferers or interferences. The Kadampas practice Miyowa, the deity to eliminate obstacles. There was one Kadampa geshe, I don’t remember his name, who did many millions and millions of Miyowa mantras. So that’s it.

So the first one is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. I always forget, during the motivation I always forget this one; a few times I forgot. Achieving enlightenment, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, that one should be done in this life, because to put it off to do it in the next life, to achieve enlightenment in the next life is difficult to say, because it’s extremely rare to find this perfect human rebirth again in the next lives. And even this life doesn’t last long. Not only is death definite, but it can occur any day, it can occur in any day. Death can happen at any moment, therefore we must begin the practice to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings right away, without delaying even a second. At the death time, nothing helps except the holy Dharma, therefore we must practice only holy Dharma in our daily life.

The definition or the meaning of that is keeping the mind in the lamrim, so practicing lamrim, keeping the mind in the lamrim. For example, keeping the mind in guru devotion, which makes our life meaningful all day. When whatever we do is according to the guru’s advice and wishes, in service to the guru, like that, it makes our life meaningful all the time. Also abiding in renunciation, abiding in bodhicitta and right view, like that. Then whatever we do—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping or whatever, even other activities—whatever we do becomes the remedy to samsara, and it becomes the cause to achieve liberation, and not only that, also with bodhicitta, it’s the cause to achieve enlightenment.

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan]

Emptiness Meditation

… Completely nonexistent right there, from where it is appearing it is totally nonexistent right there. So that one is completely nonexistent right there.

This realization has to come, then if you feel this, if you see this, then that is meditating on the emptiness of the I, the ultimate nature of the I, totally non-objectifying, that one, non-existent, that one, not even the slightest atom exists, it is non-existent of that. So then, that hits the ego, it hits the root of samsara, ignorance.

Either meditate in that way or on the space that’s appearing to you. How does space appear to your mind? Is it merely labeled by mind or not merely labeled by mind? It appears to you as not merely labeled by mind, so that is again gag cha, the object to be refuted, that space. Of course, space is empty of substantial phenomena. Now you need to go through that, you need to go beyond that emptiness, which is [emptiness] of the substantial phenomena, which is ordinary emptiness. You need to go beyond that, then it becomes the actual emptiness, shunyata.

Space appears as not merely labeled by mind, so then you think, “This is a hallucination, this is the object to be refuted. This is a hallucination, so this one is totally nonexistent.” Try to get to that point, as much as possible. If you do that very intensive understanding of emptiness, very intensive, that which is totally non-objectifying, something that goes beyond, then that is the realization, seeing the emptiness of space, here, the emptiness of space.

During that time, while you are seeing emptiness, there is no duality—thinking this is the meditator, this is the mind, the meditator, and this one is emptiness—the subject and object, I and the object, emptiness, two, dual. There’s no such thing, no two things, dual, so it should be non-dual. There’s no such thing as I; there’s no such thing as emptiness; discriminating during that time, so it should be non-dual. And something very intensive. It’s not just simply there’s no space, but something very intensive, there’s no space at all, so an extra thing is from its own side.

Now, all phenomena are empty like that, but they are all empty because everything exists as merely labeled by mind. Everything is empty, all phenomena are empty, but they appear as inherently existent for us, until we become enlightened. Anything that appears to us appears inherently existent, except when we achieve the arya path, when we are in equipoise meditation.

Look at everything as like an illusion, like a mirage, as I explained before. You understand there’s no water, but you have the appearance of water. Here, everything appears to you as inherently existent, existing from its own side, but you have the understanding in your heart that it’s not true. There’s no such thing. So, think that.

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan]

Please repeat this. 

[Students repeat after Rinpoche in Tibetan]

[End of discourse]