Why We Need A Spiritual Path (Audio and Unedited Transcript)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Tara Institute, Australia (Archive #1584)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings at Tara Institute in Australia on June 2, 2006.

Emptiness and Impermanence in Daily Life

So look at the causative phenomena like a star, that’s the meditation. So that’s a very powerful meditation.

Then, next one is look at the causative phenomena like, rab rib means the mistake in the vision, mistaken vision, the distorted vision, like seeing hair dripping in the food, but there’s no hair dripping but you have hallucination like that. So example given in the text like that, rab rib, so distorted vision. So look at the causative phenomena like that, that’s example means looking at the causative phenomena, which appear something not merely labeled by the mind, something existing from its own side, so look at them as not true, not true, like this example, distorted vision.

Then the causative phenomena nature of, that they exist depending on cause and conditions, so the gross dependent arising, which is the lower schools they believe, so the mar me, butter lamp, is made of many causes and conditions, they exist, so all the causative phenomena, one’s own life, the body and mind, all the possessions, surrounding people, so forth, form, sound, smell, taste, tangible, all these exist by depending on cause and conditions, the gross dependent arising. The gross dependent arising, maybe you can think also subtle dependent arising. So that means, that is, yeah, maybe finish this.

Then, after that, then look at the causative phenomena like illusion. It’s the same. Illusion means truly existent, phenomena appearing to us not merely labeled by mind, existing from their own side, so looking at them false, like illusion.

Then next one is look at them like a water bubble, like water dew! Water dew which is on the plant can be dropped any time. So, look at the causative phenomena like water dew, that can be stopped any time. So now here looking at them nature of impermanence.

Then, next one, then look at them like a water bubble, look at the causative phenomena like a water bubble. So again here, a water bubble can be popped any time, so these causative phenomena, all these can be ceased any time. So, nature of impermanence, meditation on impermanence. As it is nature of impermanence then meditating on that.

Then, like a dream, look at the causative phenomena like a dream. So again, all these causative phenomena which appears not merely labeled by the mind, something real existing from its own side then looking at them like a dream, so means not true. So the antidote to the ignorance.

Then, like lightning. So lightning, it’s very short time, [snaps fingers] it happens, it’s gone. So the causative phenomena in nature of impermanence, it’s always, it doesn’t exist always like this. Same thing, these flowers, doesn’t exist always like that. So they decay, they change. So, even though we think will be always like that, but they’re not like that in reality. So, all those past things, whatever, friends, people, possessions, whatever life we had in the past, from the birth whatever we had, it happened and it’s gone. So now when we die, the family, possessions, house, even this human body, you had but it’s gone [snaps fingers] now. So, like lightning, so meditate in the nature of impermanence, the causative phenomena.

So, then, next one, last one, like a cloud. The clouds, while you’re looking at clouds they’re changing, they’re constantly changing, while you’re looking at it. Then also clouds mean, next minute when you look at it, it’s not there. So the causative phenomena, look at the nature of impermanence, so they are changing, decaying, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. What is existing now, this beautiful flower or, so, what is existing now, this second, doesn’t exist in the next second. It’s stopped. By the next second it’s stopped. What is existing now in this second doesn’t exist the next second. What exists today doesn’t exist tomorrow. So, what is existing today doesn’t exist tomorrow. So what is existing in this second, causative phenomena, including this flower, whatever, doesn’t exist in the next second. So even within a second it’s changing, decaying, do not last. So that’s the subtlest impermanence.

So the whole point here, the whole psychology here, point is here, so all this, one is impermanence, one is this false view that we have of the phenomena, opposite to the reality. If you hold on them true then that becomes, then we never get liberated from oceans of samsaric suffering and cause, cause of samsara, delusions and karma. So we never get liberated from the ignorance. So, the way to liberate us from the oceans of samsaric suffering and cause, delusions and karma, liberate, cut the root ignorance is by meditating, even in our daily life looking at all these things false, as they are false; looking at them empty as they’re empty. Doing these meditations and practicing mindfulness, living the life with this mindfulness. So not only during the sitting meditation but even our busy life, that talking, driving, doing job. So, part of our mind, we’re doing work, talking, all this, but part of the mind practicing mindfulness, being aware how you see yourself, how you see people, how you see house, material objects, car, road, sky, tree, everything, false, as it is false, hallucination, as they’re hallucination, empty, as they’re empty. So part of your mind continuously in meditation no matter how busy you are. So that is how to practice lam-rim, heart of Buddhadharma, heart of Buddhism, 84,000 teachings, lam-rim and then heart of lam-rim, the three principles of the path to enlightenment, three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment, and then the right view, emptiness.

So this way then whatever you’re doing, eating, eating with this meditation is antidote to samsara. If you’re driving the car with this mindfulness, everything is false, everything hallucination, as it is hallucination, everything is empty as it is empty, then with this understanding, then even your driving a car become lam-rim practice, the three principal aspects of the path, one most important practice, the emptiness, and then antidote to samsara. It doesn’t become cause of samsara. It doesn’t become cause of samsara, your eating, your driving car, your shopping, with this meditation. With this meditation, shopping, going to the supermarket, department store, whatever, going for shopping with this meditation it does not become, it becomes antidote to samsara, antidote to delusion, antidote to ignorance, so it doesn’t become cause of delusion. It becomes only cause, even you are shopping with this meditation, driving car, eating food, or sweeping or cooking, studying, even dancing , anyway, so but if you do with this meditation, then all this become, integrated with the lam-rim, right view, and all this becomes cause, instead of becoming cause of samsara, it only causes to achieve liberation. So whatever activity you do, so like that, having meeting or, but if your mind is at the same time, part of mind doing meditation, so not only when you visualize deity, doing practice of tantra, become antidote to samsara, not only that, but even other, even ordinary, even the common activities with this meditation then become antidote to samsara, antidote to all the delusions, especially ignorance. So all those become means to, yourself to liberate from those, suffering and causes.

So quite a number, a few from these teachings are impermanence, so if we think, I will this position, this will last a long time, I will have them a long time and we’ll have this family for a long time, for a long time, I mean, you may not think probably, I mean, anybody cannot believe they will live forever. I mean, I don’t think anybody, unless the person is kind of not a reasonable person, I mean nobody will think, Oh, my family will live forever. So, I think here becomes very good psychology, that practicing Dharma here, remembering impermanence, how everything’s impermanent nature, then if you train your mind in this psychology, this meditation, Buddha’s teaching or reality of phenomena, if you train your mind every day, then when something happens [snaps fingers] in the family, something change happens, [snaps fingers], somebody passes away, so it’s expected. It’s not that you’re praying, May they die, but you have no choice, even you wish them to live a long time, but the nature of impermanence, [snaps fingers], change happens or change happens in the relationships, change happens, after birth there’s death, until we remove the cause of suffering, the delusions and karma, the cause of delusions, the negative imprint is removed, so have to die, reborn, if you’re born then death happens.

So anyway, so therefore, this is very good psychology, even one doesn’t think it’s a meditation but it’s a very good psychology training the mind, so when something happens in the life, change, something happens, either yourself dying or family, something happens, then already your mind is trained, so there’s nothing really that makes you so depressed and crazy, that depressed and for so many years, unhappiness, that you live with this sickness, unhappiness. Cry and then you live this suffering life for many years. So then, because then that, some, one person, another person, companion, the other person whom you depend on, then that person dies, then somehow unbelievable sad. Unbelievable sad! That looks like you lost everything in your life, like your heart is gone, you lost everything. Like your life has no meaning. Like you become like a balloon, not balloon, sorry. You become like an empty can, so kind of empty can, so life has no meaning. Then that affects the person, becoming the cause of death, the person who still survives, could live long but affects the mind and becomes sickness. Affect the body and then soon the person dies.

So anyway, so so much grief, unbelievable grief. That’s the nature of phenomena, that happens, I mean, death, I mean until you actualize the path, until you practice, study the complete teaching of the path to liberation, even without talking enlightenment. You study the whole teaching, like here Geshe-la has been teaching for so many years, so like that, like you have been studying, those who have been studying for many years on the path, so you study the whole path and meditate, really actualize. And then, actualize the path and then remove the seed, remove the delusions, by actualizing the right-seeing path, path of meditation, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, cease the cause of delusion, the imprint. Then making impossible to be reborn, then there’s no death. So until that time, the nature of life, after birth, you die.

So anyway, so these meditations become great psychology even you’re not thinking meditation but to train the mind so that you don’t have to suffer that incredible grief for so many years. Which doesn’t make sense. There’s no benefit for that person who died. How much grief you have it doesn’t benefit that person who died, doesn’t benefit for you, doesn’t benefit that other person. So, I thought no benefit both persons, so it’s only suffering. So even in this aspect, not thinking it’s Dharma but just, not thinking it’s Dharma practice but just ahead of time to stop, to prevent your problems.

So anyway, the concept of impermanence, I mean looking at these impermanent, causative phenomena, so it helps to, eliminates the concept of permanence by reminding the nature of the phenomena, impermanence. Then, attachment, so this becomes antidote to this attachment, desire, grasping to it. So then it brings, it makes the mind content; it brings satisfaction in the heart. By thinking their nature impermanence, it brings satisfaction, contentment, peace, in your heart. So it stops the desire that drives your life crazy. After you finish one set of problems then begin another set of problems. Then after that finish then another package of problems, so many packages of problems. So then relationships, one package of problems finish, then begin another one, then another finish then begin another one. So whole package of problems, anyway. So desire, you see, now, so therefore, whereas you can have so much peace in the life, life is for happiness not for suffering. So, whereas the life is meant to be for happiness, for peace, and to benefit, to help, to benefit others, bring happiness to others, to the world or sentient beings, to others, whoever, the family, anybody who’s around oneself every day to benefit, to bring happiness. But then without this meditation, without this psychology, without this meditation, thinking of the reality of life, then desire, there’s no antidote, there’s no medicine, there’s no mental medicine, so then there’s no meditation so then the tsunami, attachment tsunami comes , the earthquake anger comes, tsunami the attachment comes, then no time for meditation, no time for Dharma practice, no time for meditation, no time for study. So that just takes the life, so then the life becomes slave for the attachment, that becomes the life story. The life story, everything becomes slave for the attachment, for years and years.

So then suddenly one day heart attack or a car accident or something, [snaps fingers] then suddenly one day death happened, that that’s it, gone, finished. So that time even you know that now you have to die but time is finished, there’s no time to fix up, to meditate on the path. So becomes very, very sad. Very sad, because this precious human body that we have is just about once, just about this time, just once, just this time, just about this time. So the sentient beings who get reborn in the hell realm is like the number of dust of this earth. Sentient beings who get reborn into the hungry ghost is like the sand grains of the ocean. Sentient beings who get reborn in the animal is like the grass growing on the mountain, on the ground, everywhere. So that means in the intermediate state there’s so many who are just about to, karma just about to be reborn in the lower realms. So now, the sentient beings who get reborn in the deva, human realm, is only a few. So therefore, this is about just this time, so we have to, so therefore, we have, by learning Buddhadharma and especially lam-rim, then we put all the effort as much as possible to not waste and to do the best, to not waste this precious human life and to do the best, best, most beneficial for sentient beings. Best, what’s best? Most beneficial for sentient beings. So to live with guru devotion, however, so if one is, with bodhicitta, if one is, even one doesn’t have guru, with good heart, if one is practicing lam-rim, first guru devotion and then bodhicitta, these two things so essential. Even one doesn’t have a guru yet, then what’s important is the good heart, thought of benefiting other sentient beings, so to do everything, to live the life as much as possible with this thought.

So I think stop here, sorry. So just I did the shopping here and there. Went all over. So, if there’s one question, then we stop there, okay. If there’s one question or half a question.

Yeah, go on.

[Student: Rinpoche, could you define serving the guru? Explain service to the guru?]

Oh, oh.