Golden Light Sutra in Barcelona (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Barcelona Spain, 2005 (Archive #1520)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Barcelona, Spain, September 2-4 2005. Hosted by the FPMT's Centro Nagarjuna. Rinpoche explains the benefits of the Golden Light Sutra and gives a partial oral transmission of the sutra, commencing in Chapter Three. Rinpoche also teaches extensively on emptiness and a range of other topics including how to achieve happiness, why we need compassion and karma.

See also FPMT's webpage dedicated to the Sutra of Golden Light, where you will find a complete oral transmission as well as links for downloading the text in various languages, advice on the benefits and a page for reporting your recitations.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Italy. Photo: Piero Siriani.
Day Two Part One : The Merely Labeled "I"

So going to recite the meditation prayer, the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma, the Perfection of Wisdom, the Gone-Beyond Wisdom, and the very heart of that, the Heart of Wisdom. The heart, the very heart of all the teachings of the Buddha, the Perfection of Wisdom, the very heart of that is the Heart of the Wisdom. So even you don’t, even you do not know the prayer by heart, but the very essence is meditation on emptiness. Looking at the I, what it is in reality, what it is, what is the I, what is the aggregates, what is mind? So you analyze, you analyze what it is.

The way to meditate is that, whether we recite billions of words, billions of words on the Perfection of Wisdom, billions of words or a few words on the emptiness, however, the very essence is to differentiate your false view and truth, the daily life, view that we have which nothing new, which nothing new from begin-, not only from birth, not only from this morning, not only from this life birth, from beginningless rebirth, the view that we have, including the self, how you see the self, how does the I appear to you. How does this I, the self, that we talk about twenty-four hours, like chanting mantra, I, I, I, day and night, all the time we talk about the I, all the time, like chanting mantra twenty-four hours we think constantly I, I, I, I this, I’m happy, now I’m happy or now I’m unhappy, today I’m unhappy , Oh, today I got up this morning unhappy. I got up this morning, my mind, I was unhappy or my friend doesn’t love me, I’m unhappy or you see, my friend loves me, I’m happy, twenty-four hours we talk about the I. Twenty-four hours we talk about the I.

So what’s really that, or what is really that I is? So this is a meditation on that.

To really know what is the I, or what is the very nature of the I, the ultimate nature of the I, to know that, first you have to know, you have to recognize, in order to recognize the truth, you have to recognize the false, the false view that we have, regards I, there’s a false I and there’s, there’s I, there’s a false I which doesn’t exist, but appears every day, but appears all the time, every second and we believe that’s true, without any doubt, without any question, one hundred percent it’s true. So every second, from beginningless rebirth, it has been like that. It’s a hallucination, false I hallucination, projected by your own mind. Not projected by God or by somebody, from somebody, no. It’s one’s own mind; one’s own mind, the hallucinated mind. Mind, the hallucinated mind which carries the negative imprint left on the mental continuum, which carries negative imprint left by the past ignorance, unknowing mind.

While the I is empty of existing from its own side, while the I is empty of the real I, what we, what we believe, what we say, what us common people, everyday life, the word we use “real I,” which is explanation of the philosophical term that I, inherently existent I or the I existing by its nature, existing from its own side, all those, according to the Pras-, the four philosophers of the Buddhist school, the fourth one Madhyamaka school, the second one, the Prasangika school. So all those different descriptions of the false I, inherently, the truly existent I, or I existing from its own side or existing by its nature, not merely labeled by the mind, so all those are same.

Perhaps those who are not familiar those terms, maybe it doesn’t become natural, who are not familiar, cannot recognize, cannot identify with your view, with your daily life view, your view of the self, self and the phenomena, your view of the self. Those who are not familiar then cannot identify. The way the I appears to you now, the way you believe now is that. If put into words, those, truly existent I, I existing from its own side, existing by nature, all that, not merely labeled by mind, so all that.

But however, we, but however, we do talk about object to be refuted, gag-cha.  We don’t recognize we’re talking about it but we do talk about it twenty-four hours, real I. People we talk about that I, real I, I’m really happy today or I’m really unhappy today or that when somebody calls your name, Oh, is he calling me? Real me, calling me, the real me, the real I. Or when somebody accuses you, somebody, in a meeting  or in the public or somebody accuses you, accuse, somebody talking bad about you, so then, bad about you, some mistakes, whether you have done or not, but anyway, then, oh, “You are telling me, you are telling me this,” say, “Are you telling me, to me,  that I did this?” So however, it’s an expression of, when you are talking, however, the real I, that’s the, you are expressing what in the philosophical teaching talks about object to be refuted, gag-cha. So you don’t recognize, we don’t recognize we are talking gag-cha but we are talking, but this is what we are talking. We are not talking about the I which exists, that which is merely imputed by mind, we are not talking about that. We are completely, one hundred percent completely focused on the I which, the false, I mean, I, the real I not merely labeled by I, truly existent, existing from its own side, existing by nature, according to Western psychology terms, emotional I and ordinary people’s language, real I. So when people talk, common people talk about real I, they’re talking about the gag-cha, object to be refuted, false I, false I.

So if you are meditating, while you are having conversation, while you are, while somebody’s arguing you or provoking you, provoking you, especially in the meeting, in public, anyway, not private. Anyway, same, private or public. Anyway, if you are meditating, at the same time you’re watching, you’re practicing mindfulness, you’re watching your mind, you’re watching your I, your self, continuously. Then you notice, then you notice while you are talking, “I didn’t do this,” trying to prove to the person, “I’m okay, I’m perfect,” “I’m perfect, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Or even you did wrong but trying to tell perfect. Anyway, even you did some mistakes but still you try to say perfect, anyway, pure, anyway, as much as you can, anyway, as much as you can, one can, prove to the other person.

Anyway, so the lamas, the lineage lamas of lam-rim, steps of the path to enlightenment, they explained that the way of introducing the false I, that which is called gag-cha, object to be refuted, so when you are falling down, or when you are about to fall down from cliffs, suddenly, suddenly it becomes, say, I would, perhaps maybe can be said, it can become very gross that time, the object to be refuted, the false I, the way it appeared and that one believe, one’s own ignorance believe, this is always there. But times, in the situations, when it’s about to fall, just danger to fall down, about to fall down, so suddenly there is very strong I this, what Western psychology, the term they use, emotional I. Suddenly, it was there but for those who are not familiar, it becomes unnoticeable but in those situations becomes visible, suddenly becomes very visible, very, I guess, maybe gross, somehow. That or just about, so anyway, suddenly this I, something truly existing from its own side, truly existing, the real I, in the sense, real I, a real I in the sense appearing from its own side that, not particular body or mind, any of the aggregates, not particular either on the body or on the mind, nothing like that. On the general aggregates there is, not clear ?on this and that, on this then, real I in the sense, truly existing, truly existent one, that which one’s own ignorance, the unknowing mind, hallucinated mind, hold on to it, it’s true, one hundred percent true, like that. Something very strong, a real I, like that.

Basically, because the aggregates of the body, in danger to fall down, it’s falling down, so I, because of the existence of the base, these aggregates, that which is in danger to fall down or falling down, then the mind merely imputed I and merely imputed the action, falling down, mind, because of that, mind just made up the label “I” and made up the label “falling down,” merely imputed the action, falling down. So just that’s it. There’s nothing more than that exist. There’s no other I, there’s no, there’s no, not the slightest, there’s no slightest I, than what is merely imputed by mind, there’s no slightest additional than that, it exist. There’s no I at all something additional, extra, additional than what is merely imputed by the mind. Slightest more than that, appear or believe, that the I exist slightest more than what is merely imputed by the mind, all false I, object to be refuted, all that. Anyway, starting from that, just a little extra, a little beyond, extra, than what is merely imputed by mind, all that is false. Hallucination.

So thinking, thinking that, how it’s possible that the I, even though the reality the way the I exists, what is I? The way it exists, what is merely imputed by the mind, that’s all, relating, or because, because there is the valid base, the aggregates.

So times we are in the formless realm, like that, when there’s only consciousness, so only that aggregates. Other times there’s association of body and mind, aggregates, association of body and mind. So however, there is the valid base which can receive the name “I,” labelled “I,” which can receive the label “I.” As long as there’s the base, as long as there’s the valid base, either it’s only consciousness like formless realm, only consciousness or there’s association of body and mind. However, there’s always, there is always continuity of the aggregates exist, whether association of body and mind or just only the mind. But there is always continuity of the aggregates.

Of course, the Vaibhashika School or che tra mra wa, or the, believe there’s a cessation of continuity of the aggregates. But however, even the different schools, Buddhist schools of the, different Buddhist schools, such as Vaibhashika school have that kind of philosophy, but however, in reality, there’s, so I’m saying that there is this, such this philosophy, believe like that, however, in reality there is continuity of consciousness, even the continuity of the body is not there but continuity of the consciousness, these aggregates, aggregates, the mind, the continuity is always there. Always there, even you become enlightened, even you become fully enlightened, achieve great liberation, non-abiding sorrowless state, there is continuity of consciousness, the mind. So the base is always there, the base never stops, the continuity of consciousness never stops.

By practicing tantra, highest tantra, which has greatest skill that to stop the gross mind. Gross mind doesn’t go to enlightenment, doesn’t go to dharmakaya. Gross mind doesn’t go to, even the gross, even the wisdom directly perceiving, even the wisdom, even the arhats, tenth bhumi bodhisattvas’ wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, the gross mind, doesn’t go to enlightenment. What goes, is the, the mind has gross, subtle, extremely subtle, only subtle one. Gross, subtle, extremely subtle, only the extremely subtle one goes to enlightenment. So even though there are these details but there is always consciousness, there’s always continuity of consciousness, even it’s not the gross one but the extremely subtle one, so you actualize, the lower tantra doesn’t have that skill to cease the gross mind and actualize extremely subtle mind but the highest tantra has. So that’s what goes to enlightenment.

So anyway, but however, there’s continuity of mind ?go, towards enlightenment. So there is continuity of the mind all the time, even after you achieve enlightenment, that totally pure mind, that fully enlightened mind, there’s always continuity of that, which is the base, say...

Of course that’s not, of course there’s the unification of the holy body and the holy mind. However, that is extremely secret point to, explanation on that. However that, so there’s always base, there’s always continuity of aggregates, base. So therefore, label “I” is, therefore, once there’s a base, the label “I” exists. Once there’s a valid base, after you become enlightened, even after you become enlightened, the label “I,” it exists while, it exists when the aggregates, the samsaric aggregates, the label “I” exists. When it’s totally purified aggregates, enlightened aggregates, totally purified aggregates, that time enlightened being or enlightened the I exists. So it receives the name, the label exists. So, because of the aggregates, the valid aggregates, so the label exists. That is the main point.

So what I was going to say, so here I would like to bring up, bring this issue. Since there is always continuity of aggregates, even sometimes just the consciousness, but there’s the aggregate, the consciousness, that never ceases, in reality, as I mentioned before. So therefore, there’s no way that the I gets stopped, the self gets stopped, become nothing, there’s no way. That’s totally useless worry. That’s totally useless worry, that I’m going to become nothing, stop, cease. Like the body ceases. Like the light, when the wax finishes, the light stops. So this I, continuity of the I stops – there’s no such thing, there’s no such thing. If the continuity of the mind ceases, then the label I which is received on that base, then will be stopped. But there is continuity of consciousness all the time, forever. Forever.

When we become enlightened, you become one with all the buddhas. Like the water, river, stream, whatever, from many different countries and goes in the ocean and become one. Whether it’s rainfall or, so….

It seems there are two ways the wise ones, there are two ways of, one says you get the same quality but you don’t become one with all the buddhas, but the same quality. That’s one way of saying. One is you become one with all the buddhas. Learned ones there’s two ways of explaining. However, I think it’s much easier, I think, I prefer or much easy to, less danger, much easy to think you become, the other idea that you become one with all the buddhas, I like that very much, that idea.  You mix with all the buddhas. When you become Yamantaka, also become, when you achieve Yamantaka you achieve Tara, you achieve all the buddhas. When you achieve one buddha, you achieve all the buddhas.

So if you don’t become one, if you not become one with all the buddhas, then I’m sure when you become enlightened you would manifest in Tara, you would be manifesting in Tara, for sure, you will be manifesting into Tara for sure, when you become enlightened. Then there will be other Taras. There will be numberless other Taras. Other beings become enlightened in Tara, so they separate consciousness. So there are numberless Tara who are against, who’s separate being.  So I think, very crowded. It will be so, because all the buddhas, because there will be numberless of Chenrezig, there will be numberless Tara, there will be numberless Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, numberless Maitreya Buddha, all that, Kalachakra deity, numberless. Because, of course, when each sentient being become buddha, you would manifest all those, because sentient beings have different character, different characteristics, different character, different karma, so you have to manifest different form of deity, different aspect of buddha. Also, numberless different ordinary form, different form, various forms of animals, various forms of ordinary human being, even substantial phenomena, like bridge. It’s often said, even the tenth bhumi bodhisattva, it is said in the Madhyamaka commentary by Lama Tsongkhapa, even before you become enlightened, they manifest as water and river and so forth. The very high yogi who achieved the path of unification, can manifest, even that one can manifest in various forms, those substantial forms, to benefit for sentient beings. So of course there’s no question left buddha manifest in all those, even substantial forms like that. So that’s no question left. 

I think they will be so crowded, so many different forms to guide this one sentient being, whole sky will be filled, all these numberless Chenrezig, numberless Tara, numberless, but every sentient being become enlightened then manifest all these, there wouldn’t be any space left. I mean, sorry, that’s not quite true but, space, but anyway, so you see….

Then, it’s not possible at all, all the buddhas, the numberless buddhas, take one form to guide the sentient beings, that’s not possible. Numberless enlightened beings take one form, in one form guide the sentient beings. Then that won’t be possible.

But, you see now, there is, there is Chenrezig manifestation, a person, or the ordinary female aspect, Tara, ordinary female aspect Tara or Vajrayogini, something like that, guiding, guiding that person, manifesting into that form, guiding that person, subduing that person’s, that being’s attachment, manifesting as Vajrayogini, the female deity, ?who ?are crazy with attachment, subduing that, taming that person’s mind. So Tara, manifest female aspect Tara, ordinary person, female aspect, but Tara.

So then, this is one, this Tara is guiding one, this person, this person, then there are numberless other Taras, they are not working for this person. There are numberless other Taras, because, I think, while this Tara is, while this, there’s one manifestation, ordinary form, the Tara manifestation working for this person guiding, talking on the basis of separate mind, when we become enlightened. Then there are numberless other Taras, they are not, then they are not guiding you, they are not doing anything to you. So there are numberless other buddhas, untouched to you, I mean, no connection to you. Become like that. No connection. So there will be different time,  so of course, benefit, purpose to be enlightened, to benefit for sentient beings, to bring them to enlightenment, so then those different buddhas will be guiding you, then those numberless different buddhas, the numberless separate buddhas, buddhas who are separate each other, the consciousness, then they will be guiding you maybe in the different times. While this buddha’s guiding you, the others, they wait, maybe they wait, in the waiting list, like the airport, the waiting list to guide that person. Like the seat is taken by other people, so then some other buddha, so then it’s occupied. So anyway, this is just my thoug, just to think about.

So anyway, I am not going to go, I’m not going to blah, blah, blah, ?go ?over ?there. So come back, now come back. Sorry, I got distracted.

The reason was talking,  the reason why one thing that I brought this issue was, I was emphasizing why you don’t need to worry about that the I become, that the I become nonexistent, continuity of the I cease. The reason why I brought that issue is that when you meditate on emptiness, suddenly fear rises. I’m talking in that situation. Suddenly very deep fear arises, extremely deep fear, fear from very bottom of your heart or something, very deep fear rises. Of course that happens for many people, except that person, somebody who has so much merit, ?and intelligent being. As it’s mentioned, like bodhisattvas, the lower intelligent beings when they realize emptiness, ultimate nature of the I, aggregates, so they get a lot of fear, but the highly intelligent bodhisattva, who has so much merit, when they realize emptiness, unbelievable joy and tears come from the, not tears come from the nose, tears come from the eyes . Sometimes, anyway, so tears come from eyes and then the pores from the hairs stood up, stood up or stand up. So, incredible joy.

Also I met students, I met some students, among the Sangha, who had that experience, realize emptiness and incredible joy, instead of fear. Instead of incredible fear, incredible joy. So even among the Sangha there are some, I think there are quite a number of people who had experiences, emptiness, quite a number of people, even among the lay, but doesn’t mean,  if you are unable to continue, you need a lot of merit, if you are unable to continue, then that experience, you don’t, yeah, it stops again. You have to continue. What is called ?dak tong du gom pa sol was, in Tibetan, “from the right view you seek meditation.” So you need to work on shamatha, calm abiding, the perfect meditation, free from the attachment-scattering thought and sinking thought, so you need to establish that after you have that experience realizing that the I is empty.

So it’s true that many people, I think, many, there are quite a few people had those experiences, but the difficulty is continuity to develop the wisdom, to develop. So that is kind of difficult, it’s difficult to develop, to continue the experience. Come back again to the point, then you need to do meditation sessions all the, every day session to continue, otherwise back to the same thing. Back to the same home. Back to the same thing, same hallucination. Hallucination is always there, but, I mean, holding things as true, holding things truly existent, the creating the ignorance all the time, it is there.

Of course, hallucination, appearing as truly existent, of course this, things existing from its own side, of course this is there until we become enlightened, except when we are, when we become exalted being, exalted being. When become exalted being, the arya being and in the equipoise meditation, except in that time... that one doesn’t have, when we are exalted being, directly perceiving emptiness in equipoise meditation then that wisdom seems doesn’t, it is said, does not have the hallucination, appearance of the truly existence. Otherwise, until we achieve enlightenment our mind has, even realized mind has this hallucination of truly existent appearance. But of course all these mind has this, even realized mind, bodhichitta and so forth, all those, compassionate mind, all these have this truly existent appearance but of course it’s not perverted mind, lok she, not perverted mind, wrong concept.

So anyway, what I was going to say, the point is that, in the situation, in the situation, receiving blessing of the guru in your heart, due to strong devotion to the guru, by looking at it Buddha and then with that, obtaining the advice, and then doing intensive practice of purification, reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names, doing the practice, Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls, doing very strong purification, doing prostration on all those names, doing very intensive, as well as Vajrasattva, like that, so those, or doing service to the guru, obtaining the advice, whether you are far or whether you are near. With that, with that heart, with that devotional mind, which makes your practice, which makes your service become guru yoga, which is the most powerful purification, the most powerful, extensive way to collect the merit.

So anyway, with these conditions, where you do very intensive practice of purification and collecting merits, not just only mandala offering but the main thing is doing the practice, offering service to sentient beings, to the guru, however, something that pleases the guru, like that, not necessarily collecting merit is only just mandala offering, not just that. Mandala offering is just one example, one method, way to, means to collect extensive merit, but there are so many other ways you can collect extensive merit.

So anyway that, and because of, because our mind is a causative phenomena, depend on causes and conditions, therefore at the beginning one think, one think how’s it possible? At the beginning one thinks it’s not possible at all that I can see this person as Buddha, how’s it possible? You can’t figure out that, you can’t figure out that. Can’t believe in that, can’t figure out that. You think no way one can do that, that realization, the experience.

But then, however, with these conditions, collecting extensive merit and making strong, practicing these powerful methods of purifying the mind, and then when you do that then a few, then just a few words of the guru yoga prayer, meditation prayer, a few words, two or three words or one stanza of guru yoga prayer, talking about the guru, about embodiment of all the buddhas, like that, it just clicks, it just clicks. [Rinpoche snaps fingers] So with all the purification, collecting merit, all these conditions, very powerful, gathered, then a little meditation, just some words, it clicks your mind. You realize, you see totally, this teacher is this deity. Total confident, total, from deep down in your heart, no question, no doubts. When we clean our mind, when we collect extensive merit, when we clean our mind, the more we clean our mind, [snaps fingers] realization comes. The experience comes [snaps fingers], because there is all the buddha nature, there is buddha nature within our, within the sentient being’s mental continuum. So realization comes from within, like the sprout comes from the seed.

Even though in the beginning you don’t believe at all but through practice, now, now you see different world. Like that. When you do practice mind, when you practice correctly, correctly…correctly is a very important word. When you practice correctly, not just practice but practice correctly, then mind cannot stay as it is, cannot stay as that stubborn mind, that ordinary mind, that very, like the rock, like a rock, really, very stubborn, very kind of, cannot stay, or similar, same.

However, so now here, the, then when you have, so when you have that experience then the devotion’s there, , seeing that virtuous friend, who, no mistakes at all, only quality. You realize hundred percent it’s that, the deity that you practice, or this is all the buddhas. I guess those who have realizations, I think, what they discover, they see one buddha is all the gurus, one guru is all the buddhas, I think those who have realization of guru devotion, so like that. So when you have that then that’s the definition you have guru devotion realization, the root of path to enlightenment.

And similar, so what I was, it happened talking this way but what I was going to say, so similar with this situation like this, continual practice of purification, collecting merit and such a pure mind, the devotional mind, looking at it Buddha. By looking at it Buddha, seeing Buddha, that which causes to receive the blessing of the guru in one’s own heart, so these three conditions, purifying the obstacles, the defilements, negative karmas, and collecting the necessary condition, the merits, and then actual body, meditating on the path.

So now, so when all this, all these causes and conditions are there then you, then you have past imprint, have heard teachings on emptiness, you have heard teachings on emptiness in past lives or this life, at least, in the past time in this life, so the imprint. Then again, so one day, every cause and condition together, this mind cannot stay with this stubborn, bald mind or how to say, this very rigid, this very rigid, tough, rigid, the, I’ve forgotten the name, bald , bald head, no , no stubborn, stubborn head. So that, [Rinpoche knocks the microphone] sorry… I didn’t mean to beat the microphone.

Anyway, before it didn’t make any sense, so suddenly it clicks, with a few words, with two or three words of emptiness. Just one day two or three words, clicks [snaps fingers] your mind. Recognize suddenly, some verse or teachings on emptiness, or even two words expressing the gag-cha, object to be refuted. Words, the I is non-truly-existent because it is dependent arising.