Kopan Course No. 33 (2000) (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1257)

The following are excerpts of the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 33rd Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000. Included is an oral transmission of the Heart Sutra and an oral transmission of portions of the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

The first five days of lectures are below; the remainder of the lectures can be found here. You can also read the entire lightly-edited transcript here.

Day 3: The Kindness of the Enemy, Rinpoche's Early Life

In Tibet one teacher has two disciples. The two disciples went very far to their homes, very far. And they came back to the monastery. The teacher gave cold tea. So one disciple thought the teacher is so kind. We came very far, so tired. And he kept the tea, purposely, cold. And so kind he thought. The other disciple thought, how terrible the teacher is because we came so far, so tired, and he didn’t give us even warm tea. You understand?

So, you see it’s one tea – cold tea, but one disciple so happy getting the cold yea. One disciple so upset getting cold tea. Again, here, same because the other disciple he put positive label on that situation. He put positive label so it’s good, so good. He thought so good. So he enjoyed it. He put positive label ‘it’s so good’, so he enjoyed, so happy. The other person put negative label, ‘this is bad’ to get the warm tea, so bad. Because he put negative label, ‘this is bad’, so unhappy, or angry. Now you understand. The point here, what upsets, what makes you happy is, also, by your label. What upsets you is all by your own label. And what makes you happy is, also, by your own label. Label ‘good’ or labelled ‘bad’.

So the other person’s happiness, by receiving cold tea, came from his own mind. The other person so upset, angry, having received cold tea. It’s come from his own mind. You can see now other person’s happiness to do, that is production of his mind – that which looks at the situation positive, good. And other person’s problem came from his own mind, which labelled as ‘bad’. So both came from the mind. So, in our daily life, what brings our life down is by our mind putting negative label. What brings up, ups and downs in our daily life, what brings up: when our mind put label, positive, good, then it lift up, which makes oneself happy. The other one, by putting negative label, it brings you down. It makes you unhappy, depressed, all that.

In our daily life, your life situation, whatever is happening – appearing good, came from one’s own mind putting positive label, ‘good’. And, appearing bad, seeing problem in your life, that is one’s own mind putting negative label to that situation. Until our mind made up the label, until our mind impute: ‘bad’, until our mind impute problem, until that, you don’t see problem. Until your mind labelled problem - before your mind labelled ‘problem’ to the situation in your life, you don’t see problem. After your mind imputed ‘problem’ to the situation of your life, then you see problem. Until your mind didn’t label ‘problem’ you don’t see problem. After that, you see problem in your life. Generally, it’s like that in our life. The problem that you see came from your mind. By putting the label that is a problem. That’s one way.

How the problem is coming from your – your problem is coming from your own mind. That’s one way. This moment, today, this hour, problem is coming from your today, this hour, this moment mind; this moment concept. What kind of concept you have in this moment. This moment problem is production of, creation, of this moment’s concept is way of thinking. You see problem in the life by thinking negative way. By thinking in a positive way you don’t see problem in your life. Depending on which way you think, like a channel – this way another channel, that way another channel. Which way you turn – what is called this one?

[student]

Huh?

[student]

Knob, yeah, like knob. So this way, by turning, another channel, this way turning another channel. So whether you see problem in the life or not depends on which way you think. It’s totally up to which way you think.

If the label ‘cancer’ is not imputed, cancer doesn’t exist. If the label ‘AIDS’ is not imputed, AIDS doesn’t exist, as well as all of the problems.

One time at Dharamsala, one monastery teacher – there’s a monastery called ‘Dialectics School’, so the main teacher. One time I was coming down to the palace. So the teacher, as you said, ‘the nose up’, looking down.

No, what I did was this, that’s right. I think I bowed down or something like that. Then the teacher he did like this. This one. Because I didn’t apply meditation immediately, didn’t practice mindfulness, so it upset. So when I went up Tushita Retreat Centre, my room, I sat down. I went up and I sat down and then I thought of the teacher. As I sat down on my bed in my room, the thought came, as soon as I sat down I was thinking very strong of him. The thought came in my mind that I’m only become friend of my ego, only developing my ego. But this person is helping me to destroy my ego. He’s helping me to destroy my ego. He’s helping me, together, to destroy my ego. Myself alone, always I become friend of ego; only what I do is develop, make bigger my ego. So, here, he’s helping me to destroy my ego. So how kind he is. How kind. So precious because, if you don’t have ego, makes you bodhicitta.

If you don’t have self-cherishing thought then you have bodhicitta – bodhicitta with which you can become enlightened. You can achieve. That also makes possible because so much merit you collect so you can realise emptiness and you can cease the gross and subtle defilements and achieve full enlightenment able to liberate numberless other sentient beings. Those who are obscured and suffering and you’re able to bring them to full enlightenment. So this person is making possible to happen that to you.

So this I’m just explaining. What I thought that time is this. Myself is like that, but this person is helping me to destroy my ego. My enemy: ego, my real, the enemy, who’s abiding in my heart - to destroy. So this person is unbelievably precious, so kind. That kindness, not just somebody give you few hundred dollars or something, give food, kind or mother’s kindness, parent’s kindness. That kind of kindness is something very deep: somebody who helps you to destroy your ego, obstacle to achieve enlightenment - the main obstacle to achieve enlightenment. So it’s unbelievable kindness, so precious. The kindness is something very deep; kindness that you feel from bottom of your heart.

So, here, now you see that person unbelievable kindness, so precious in your life. You see that person so precious in your life; for you – so precious who do that.

Before, when I was in front of him, that negative, I put negative label - because I put negative label that upset me. After I came in the room, sat down, think this way, realised looking what he did is benefiting me – what he did to me is benefiting me, is kindness. Not harming me, benefiting me, to destroy the ego. Which means, that person helps me to achieve enlightenment. So, here, you put positive label what the person did so, not only you stop upsetness, you feel appreciation, kindness of that person. So even thought comes to repay kindness, to tell him thanks. Even thought comes to give him present to thank. I thought a present to thank him but unfortunately the present didn’t happen. Thought to give present to that person but unfortunately, physically, didn’t get done to actually give, offer.

I have about twenty-seven Gurus from whom I received different initiations, different teachings since from the childhood time including my uncle who taught me Tibetan alphabet. When you learn Tibetan alphabet the main aim is to practise Dharma. That was aim not just kind of job or school. The purpose of learning alphabet, I guess if it’s in school maybe different attitude but, normally, when you go to monastery to somebody to learn alphabet it means you’re going to practice Dharma. It’s totally different. To live the life in that way and for that purpose to learn the alphabet, normally, attitude is that. So then the person who teach you alphabet is regarded as Guru, spiritual master. So I have two uncles who taught me Tibetan alphabet.

Why I had two teachers, because I was very naughty. I was very naughty. Always running away from monastery to my home, my family place, my mother’s house. Maybe it takes, I’m not sure, half hour or twenty-five minutes from the monastery. It’s on the side of the mountain. Then you go on the hill, then go down in the village. I was very little so when I escaped from the monastery, non-stop I should run down to the village. There’s caves, side of the road there’s [unclear] cave’s dark. You get scared so just running down non-stop. So, anyway, did few times like that. Then my mother, then somebody carry me on somebody’s shoulder, put back monastery. I stayed few days then when my teacher went inside room to cook lunch – we have three meals, four meals, something like that. When our teacher went inside room I just … outside there’s courtyard surrounded by piles of firewood. There’s a door. When our teacher went inside then I just took the opportunity to run down.

So because of that… there is another Solo Khumbu area called Lotsawa(?) Ling, one much more primitive place, much more hidden place, more primitive. But all those areas regarded as holy place, Padmasambhava, great yogi, Padmasambhava, the one who purified the land of Tibet. When they built the first monastery in Tibet, Samye, that time people built, night time spirits they tear down. So many problems happened. So the King invited from India Padmasambhava the great yogi, who hooked those spirits by arising into the wrathful deity, Buddha in the form of a wrathful deity, then hooked those spirits, subdued them, tamed them, gave them order to become Protector rather than harming. To become Dharma Protector and subdue around the Himalayan snow mountains, the border to Tibet.

So these places are regarded as great yogi Padmasambhava’s holy places. There are many caves of this great yogi Padmasambhava. Left footprint or handprint – many things to do with Padmasambhava: holy water, long-life water, long-life nectar water, long-life vase. There are many things to see. There are many, many – so many caves. In the past there happen many yogis who achieved very high realisations. There are many caves on those mountains. Many...

[tape change]

…. yaks, for the yaks to meditate. The yaks go there and they have good time in the caves, they go to sleep.

So my mother sent up to that place. By crossing over snow mountains, we take three days – slow way, maybe, three days. Sherpas, those who go fast, maybe, two days or one day, something like that. But you have, of course, very heavy, very dangerous point. While you are walking over the snow there’s cliffs. Many stories… down there’s water, blue, on the surface covered by snow. So everybody had ropes tied – one person sinks, can pull up. So the person, the first person who guides, has the axe to guide the road.

I was carried. I didn’t have to walk. I didn’t have to walk. The person who carried me, when he falls down then, of course… I was carried on his back. He had his own luggage and then, on top of that, I was put on that and carried.

One time I was carried by my teacher – my second alphabet teacher. From that country when I came back to see my mother, like that, my second teacher carried – he was maybe seventy years old, carried. So I was sitting. He had night time to sleep blanket, all those things and food and grasses. When you sleep in the cave you put grasses – grasses to put under the shoes. Not under the shoes, inside the shoes. Shoes of animal skin then woollen things around. When you walk on snow it is very cold so you put grass, dry grass inside the shoes, keeps you warm - tight, warm. This is how the Sherpas who are crossing the snow mountain, that’s how they manage. When the old grass is wet, take it out and put new grass. Keeps very warm the feet [unclear]

So, anyway, on top of that I was sitting. After all that – food and blanket and many things, then I was put on that. I was sitting there, then teacher while he was carrying me with all the luggage then feed, give food like this while we were walking. From the house there was meat cooked. Cooked meat is passed like this. So I was eating, sitting on the back of the teacher.

Anyway, so very dangerous road - there’s snow mountain you have to cross. Down there, lake is blue, dark. When there’s avalanche – avalanche can happen any time. If avalanche happens then the person totally disappears in snow, in that minute. You don’t even know where that person is. All the snow is like that so the person completely disappears.

So, one time, small avalanche happened while we were crossing down. The person who was carrying me fell down quite a few steps. I made huge noise, screamed. Some people, their luggage went all over the snow. If they fall down very heavily then fall down in the lake – very deep lake, but before that there are some rocks. So the person’s luggage was scattered all over the snow. But this person stood up, and sang! He sang a song then he went to pick up his things after falling down. Anyway, like that.

Then one place there’s huge mountain, and the rocks fall down – small, big [Rinpoche makes sound] like that. The small ones fall down [Rinpoche makes sound] like that. There’s also water. So then you have to cross this mountain, you have to go up – come down, go up; not straight like this, go up.

So it’s very interesting that I only remember going up. Going down I don’t remember. Four times I went but all the time I was carried on the back. So what the Sherpas do, before you cross this, where there’s great danger, you may die there – everybody stop and then they drink very, very strong alcohol made from small potatoes. That’s very, very strong. They drink chang, potato alcohol, whatever they have then they generate heat. They make their hands warm. Then everybody carry their very heavy luggage for trading or to sell things. They carry huge load. Sometimes they pull the yaks on those rocks – somebody before, somebody after - pull the yaks, unbelievable hard life.

Once they start to walk until they reach up here everybody do their prayers. Whatever prayers they know. Mostly they recite Padmasambhava mantra. Some recite om mani padme hum. However whatever prayer they know. From here to here you hear the sound of the prayer; everybody reciting something, non-stop, because it’s very dangerous. So I think, that time, real serious Refuge - real serious taking Refuge to Buddha, to the deities but as soon as they arrive here, finish the danger, all the prayers stopped. The Refuge is stopped.

The surprising thing is whenever the last person completed here, then stone comes down. As soon as the last person crossed this, then the stones come down. So the noise you hear, the noise of stone falling down [Rinpoche makes noise] I thought, oh, some of them must be killed but always when the group is, after the last person’s crossed the mountain.

So very interesting because they do strong prayer, strong Refuge to Padmasambhava, to Compassion Buddha - during that time nothing happens but as soon as the people arrived that side, cross the danger, then the stones fall down. I find that interesting. That means that somebody protecting, guiding.