In this book, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains how we can practice Dharma, the true cause of happiness, twenty-four hours a day. For most of us, it is extremely important to know how to do this. Our busy lives do not allow us the luxury of many hours’ formal study and practice each day. We have to work, eat, sleep, fulfill family and societal obligations, entertain ourselves and so forth—activities that are not normally considered to be spiritual pursuits. Who has time to meditate?
However, as Rinpoche points out again and again, Dharma is not just what you do but the way that you do it. Motivation is key. It’s our mental attitude, not so much the action itself, that determines whether what we do is positive, the cause of happiness, or negative, the cause of suffering. Therefore, if we know how to use our mind properly, everything we do can become a Dharma action, good karma, meritorious, positive. In these teachings, then, Rinpoche clarifies how we should use our minds so that we can make everything we do the true cause of happiness.
But that’s not all. There are different degrees of happiness, the highest being that of enlightenment—buddhahood itself. That is what we must strive for, but not for ourselves alone. We must aim for the enlightenment of all sentient beings; we must endeavor to bring the highest degree of happiness to every single living being. To work with compassion for the enlightenment of all sentient beings is the purpose of our lives, and to direct everything we do towards this goal is how we can make our lives as meaningful as they can possibly be.
Such motivation is called bodhicitta, and in this book, Lama Zopa Rinpoche describes how we can motivate our every action with bodhicitta, the true cause of ultimate happiness for all sentient beings. To live by bodhicitta is to live a truly meaningful life. Thank you, Rinpoche, for your never-ending kindness in being a perfect example of bodhicitta in action and for constantly teaching us the importance of this. May you live long for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The first talk, “The Purpose of Life,” was given in New York City, August 1999, during a three-day series of teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The other teachings in this book form the essence of a proposed full-length book that will explain in more detail how to make our daily lives meaningful and will contain details of specific practices that Rinpoche recommends we do. These include making light offerings, liberating animals and offering water to Dzambhala and the pretas, current versions of which may be obtained from the FPMT Store.
We have not included a glossary of terms in this book as we provide one online at www.lamayeshe.com and in many of our other free books. I would like to thank Su Hung and Wendy Cook for their help with the New York talk, many other people, including Vens. Yeshe Khadro, Ailsa Cameron and Connie Miller and Linda Gatter for their help with the other material, Wendy Cook and Jennifer Barlow for their editorial suggestions and Ven. Mindrol for reviewing the manuscript and providing the latest FPMT versions of the various practices mentioned.
—Nicholas Ribush, Editor