Kopan Course No. 28 (1995) (Audio and Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal 1995 (Archive #1019)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Twenty-Eighth Kopan Meditation Course in November 1995. Included are oral transmissions of the Heart Sutra, the Thirty-five Buddhas Confession Prayer, and Pabongka Rinpoche's Heart-Spoon.

Download or listen online to the audio recordings of Lectures 1-3 and 6-9, and read along with the transcript. You may also download the entire transcript in a pdf file.

Lecture Eight: Oral Transmission

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… so many eons accumulating merit of method, then for one second reflecting on the profound meaning of reality, emptiness. This one collects much greater merit, much greater luck or much greater fortune, much greater merit.

Also, it is mentioned in one sutra teaching “the great thousand of three thousand universes.” There’s a way of counting this. This is the label but there’s a way of counting that makes it “great thousand of three thousand,” (Rinpoche laughs) but unfortunately, I do not remember now. Anyway, that many universes filled with stupas made of seven types of precious jewels the size of Mount Meru; the same size as that. Then all the great thousand of three thousand universes all filled with these stupas. (Building one stupa has merit beyond our concept, immeasurable.)

That much merit accumulated, and then for the duration of a finger-snap, having the patience to meditate on emptiness. How much merit you gain is much greater than all the merit that is accumulated by building that many universes filled with so many stupas of jewels and huge like Mount Meru. So there’s a great difference between these two types of merit.

And also, in the sutra teaching, “Meeting Father and Son” [Tibetan --------] it is said that listening to teachings on emptiness collects far greater merit than for ten thousand eons practicing the five paramitas, for ten thousand eons practicing the paramitas of charity, morality, patience, perseverance and concentration. Revealing the teachings on emptiness to one sentient being one accumulates far greater merit. Then, meditating one second on emptiness accumulates far greater merit than revealing the teachings on emptiness to other sentient beings.

The first one is listening, the second is revealing and the last one is meditating even for one second on emptiness.

By knowing what samsara is—knowing the three types of suffering: suffering of pain, suffering of changes, which are temporary samsaric pleasures, and the third one, pervasive compounding suffering; the sufferings of each individual realm, the particular and general samsaric sufferings; then the evolution of suffering, which is shown through the twelve dependent related links, the evolution of how one wanders or circles in samsara, shown through the teaching of the twelve dependent related links—the more one understands.

One listens, reflects and meditates on how samsara is in the nature of suffering, and the cause of samsara, then we understand how it is so important, so essential to realize emptiness, how it’s so important to study emptiness every day, to take the opportunity to meditate on emptiness even for one minute, even for a few seconds to meditate, to try to meditate on emptiness. Then, especially by knowing all the incredible, vast, immeasurable merit one accumulates by writing the teachings on emptiness, writing texts, writing, reading and make offering to the Prajnaparamita text and listening, teaching and meditating.

In this way, you realize you are so fortunate, “I am so fortunate.” It makes you realize how this human rebirth is so precious: “I have found here this precious human rebirth, this is so precious,” like that. It makes you rejoice. This happiness is a positive happiness, worthwhile happiness. It’s not hallucinated happiness.

So back to the oral transmission, after all that, the oral transmission of the Heart of Wisdom.

Before that to mention, (Rinpoche laughs) in regards direct teachings from Buddha on the wisdom, there is a set of twelve volumes called yoom, then there are four volumes that are called nyitri. Then there are eighty stanzas, which is the shorter one. Then, there is shorter than that, the condensed sutra.

Now, this Heart of Wisdom is the shortest one, the essence of them all. So you can understand why it is called Heart of Wisdom. It is the essence of the whole entire rest of the teachings on emptiness.

Without the heart, you see we talk about the physical heart, no matter how perfect are the organs of the body, the limbs and so forth, without the heart then the rest become like radish, the vegetable, (laughter) (Rinpoche laughs) or papaya. Anyway, joking.

There are all those other senses, other consciousnesses, also other mental factors. The main one is the consciousness of the mind. So now, the Heart of Wisdom, the heart, is particularly relating to the nature of the mind, wisdom realizing the nature of your mind. As far as one is deluded or ignorant, ignorant in seeing the nature of the mind, then you are always stuck in the samsara and in suffering. So, it becomes essential to realize the Heart of Wisdom, the heart, the nature of the mind. I was using the physical heart as an example because that is the main, the most important part of the body.

Just concentrate on the sound.

(Rinpoche recites the Heart Sutra in Tibetan.)

Now I will do the oral transmission of the Thirty-five Buddhas prayer, this confession of downfalls, confessing downfalls, the oral transmission of this practice.

Dag [here you say your name] zhe gyi.wa
du.tag.tu la.ma la kyab.su.chi.wo
sang.gya la kyab.su.chi.wo
cho la kyab.su.chi.wo
ge.dun la kyab.su.chi.wo

Ton pa chom.dan.da de.zhin.sheg dra.chom yang.dag.pa dzog.pa sang.gya pal.gyal.wa shakya tub.la chag.tsal.lo

de.zhin.sheg pa dor.je.nying.po.rab.tu.jom.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies ten thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa rin.chen.o.tro.la chag.tsal.lo This next one also thirty-five thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa lu.wang.gyi.gyal.po.la chag.tsal.lo Thirty one thousand eons of negative karma.

The next one purifies particular negative karmas accumulated with speech. The luwang gyalpo, not sure but that might be purifying the particular negative karma to do with the body—my notes are a little bit messed up. (Rinpoche laughs)

de.zhin.sheg pa pa.wo.de.la chag.tsal.lo

de.zhin.sheg pa pal.gye.la chag.tsal.lo This one purifies the negative karma accumulated with the mind, two thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa rin.chen.me.la chag.tsal.lo That purifies two thousand eons of negative karma, particularly negative karma of receiving sangha pollutions. People offer food and clothing, money and so forth, with devotion, with faith. Then if one doesn’t do purification, doesn’t study Dharma, doesn’t practice dharma, it doesn’t fit, one cannot digest it. If one doesn’t practice Dharma it becomes obstacle to develop the mind, polluting the mind, and creating negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa rin.chen.da o.la chag.tsal.lo Eight thousand eons of negative karma get purified, particularly negative karma of criticizing the arya beings, higher bodhisattvas, then arhats, those who have realized emptiness, even those who have realizations of the true path and true cessation of the sufferings.

de.zhin.sheg pa tong.wa.don.yo.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies one thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa rin.chen.da.wa.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies the particular negative karma, the five very heavy, uninterrupted negative karma of having killed father, mother or arhat, caused blood to flow from Buddha or caused disunity among the sangha. It purifies thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa dri.ma.me.pa.la chag.tsal.lo That purifies those heavy karma, not exactly the same as the five uninterrupted negative karma, but close to that. Like stepping over the shadow of a stupa or of the gurus and so forth, stepping over their robes, their vehicle, horse or things like that. Not actually like those five uninterrupted karma but are regarded as close to that.

However, if there’s no space and one has to go over the shadow, if there’s no other space, then it is advised you visualize that you are going under the shadow. If there’s no other place to walk you visualize you are going under the shadow and there’s a mantra to recite with that visualization. OM VAJRA DEGYA ATMA HUNG.

Same thing, if one is in places where a Dharma text is covered over. Like in Lhasa when you go to see one temple where there’s a famous Shakyamuni Buddha statue called Ramoche Jowo. The people said one of the roads, the wide road that goes to that temple, during the revolutionary time, they buried many Dharma texts, laid them on the road and covered them with dust. People in Lhasa say there are many texts under the road. So, for example, things like that or, in certain situations, where you have nowhere to walk or it is completely covered with Dharma texts, visualizing that you are going underneath helps it not to become disrespect. It doesn’t become disrespect; mentally it does not become disrespect. That helps very much to think mentally that you are going underneath, you’re respecting. It helps to not become negative karma, not become disrespect towards a holy object, and then there’s this mantra.

de.zhin.sheg pa pal.jin.la chag.tsal.lo This purifies the negative karma accumulated with anger, the particular negative karma of anger, in particular, from the five uninterrupted karma, having killed an arhat. This, tib ------- is a particular one, having killed father. Tib ------ is particularly having killed mother.

de.zhin.sheg pa tsang.pa.la chag.tsal.lo This purifies the negative karma of accumulated attachment. This also purifies the negative karma of having caused blood to Buddha.

de.zhin.sheg pa tsang.pa.jin.la chag.tsal.lo The particular negative karma it purifies is having caused disunity among the sangha. It purifies negative karma accumulated over ten thousand eons.

de.zhin.sheg pa chu.lha.la chag.tsal.lo This purifies particular negative karma of having blamed, here it says bikshuni, a female Arhat. It purifies ten thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa chu.lha’i.lha.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies the particular negative karma of having killed a bodhisattva, and five thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa pal.zang.la chag.tsal.lo This one, having killed guru, the negative karma of having killed a spiritual master with whom one has made connection, received Dharma connection. So many eons of negative karma get purified.

de.zhin.sheg pa tsan.dan.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Having taken away things that were offered to the sangha. Like Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, author of Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, gave an example. Somebody wants to offer cheese, a round of cheese, or somebody wants to offer butter to the sangha. So even a small slice, telling the benefactor that is enough, they don’t need. The benefactor offered but saying that’s enough, the benefactor offered to the sangha but saying “It’s enough.” This is just giving an idea. Other people offered to the sangha, then taking away from that, you see, they offered for the sangha community, then instead of offering to the sangha, taking away from that for individual use. This purifies seven thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa zi.ji.ta.ya.la chag.tsal.lo This purifies negative karma of having destroyed holy objects, stupas and so forth, purifies seven thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa o.pal.la chag.tsal.lo This also purifies the particular negative karmas done out of anger.

de.zhin.sheg pa nya.ngan.me.pa.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Negative karma accumulated with ignorance, and also said to be attachment.

de.zhin.sheg pa se.me.kyi.bu.la chag.tsal.lo The imprints left by delusions, imprints left by negative karma. It purifies ten thousand eons of negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa me.tog.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Negative karmas accumulated with body get purified.

de.zhin.sheg pa tsang.pa.o.zer nam.par rol.pa ngon.pa kyen.pa.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies one thousand eons of negative karma committed with the speech.

de.zhin.sheg pa pa.ma.o.zer.nam.pa rol.pa ngon.par kyen.pa.la chag.tsal.lo Seven thousand eons of negative karma, in particular negative karmas to do with mind.

de.zhin.sheg pa nor.pal la chag.tsal.lo This also purifies the imprints. In some texts also, any pollution or the negative karmas received by using things offered to the sangha.

de.zhin.sheg pa dran.pai.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Having criticized others, that negative karma is purified.

de.zhin.sheg pa tsan.pal.shin.tu.yong.dag.la chag.tsal.lo It purifies negative karma of disliking Buddha descending in the world, having wrong view.

de.zhin.sheg pa wang.po.tog.gi.gyal.tsan.gyi.gyal.po.la chag.tsal.lo Karma accumulated with pride, also jealousy.

The previous one, tsan.pal.shin.tu.yong.dag.la chag.tsal.lo, which says having wrong view, disliking Buddha descending—also, it says here it purifies negative karma accumulated out of jealousy.

de.zhin.sheg pa shin.tu nam.par non.pa.pal la chag.tsal.lo The negative karma of having caused other sentient beings to accumulate negative karma, engaging others in negative karma, gets purified. Also slander, the negative karma of having slandered.

de.zhin.sheg pa yul.la.shin.tu.nam.par gyal.wa.la chag.tsal.lo This is the remedy for all the delusions, mostly negative karmas done with the motivation, done out of pride.

de.zhin.sheg pa nam.pa.non.pa.sheg.pa.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Having slandered and caused others, engaging others in negative karma.

de.zhin.sheg pa kun.na.nang.wa.ko.pa.pal.la chag.tsal.lo Having rejoiced in others’ committing negative karma gets purified.

de.zhin.sheg pa rin.chen pa.ma nam.par non.pa.pal la chag.tsal.lo It purifies the negative karma of having abandoned Dharma, disrespected Dharma texts, even a few lines of Dharma text thrown in the garbage, just like that, disrespect to holy objects, Dharma texts.

It purifies criticizing such as the lesser vehicle teachings, Hinayana teachings, Mahayana paramitayana teachings or Mahayana secret mantra, the Vajrayana teachings; while all these are Buddha’s teachings, criticizing, “This is good and that is bad.” While it is Buddha’s teaching, criticizing it as bad. Like the Theravadins criticizing Mahayana teachings or the Mahayana practitioners criticizing the Hinayana teachings; or Mahayana practitioners criticizing the secret mantra Vajrayana teachings, the Mahayana secret Vajrayana teachings. All these are avoiding Dharma, while it is Buddha’s teaching.

Something which is not Buddha’s teaching, saying some teaching “is not for me.” That does not become avoiding Dharma. While it is the Buddha’s teaching then saying “This is not for me,” and criticizing this or that, that’s avoiding holy Dharma.

<end of tape>

This is regarded as very heavy negative karma, so this name, rin.chen pa.ma nam.par non.pa.pal la chag.tsal.lo purifies avoiding Buddhadharma.

de.zhin.sheg pa dra.chom pa yang.dag.pa.dzog.pa sang.gya rin.po.che dang.pa.ma la rab.tu.zhug ri.wang.gi.gyal.po.la chag.tsal.lo This purifies negative karma of having criticized the guru and having degenerated samaya.

Why does reciting these names have so much power, why is it incredible benefit, so much power? It is said by Lama Atisha, these thirty-five Buddhas, when they were bodhisattvas, made so much prayer, when they were following the bodhisattva deeds they made prayer, “When we become enlightened, any sentient being who keeps our names, who recites, may it purify. Anybody who recites our names, who memorizes, who recites our names, may it purify such and such negative karmas.” They made so much prayer when they were bodhisattvas, dedicated to benefit even by the name, to be able to offer extensive benefit to us sentient beings, to make life meaningful, to make our sentient beings’ lives meaningful. So this is due to that, this is due to the power of the bodhicitta dedicated to benefit for us.

Why we can definitely receive this benefit is because buddhas have ten powers. Buddhas have the quality of ten powers. From the ten powers that are the qualities of buddhas, there is a power called the power of prayers. For each Buddha, whatever prayer was made previously, the power of that prayer is completed. Because of that, then, if you recite their name you will definitely get the benefit.

Normally after having recited thirty-five Buddhas’ names, it is good to recite the seven Medicine Buddhas’ names. The same thing again here, because, during the bodhisattvas’ time, they did so much prayer, dedication to benefit, to pacify different problems, different sufferings of the life, did so much prayer, “May anybody who recites my name, recites my mantra, may this problem be pacified, may such and such problems be pacified, may this happiness, may this success, happen.” They did many prayers in the past, during their bodhisattvas’ time, generated very strong bodhicitta during bodhisattvas’ time, to benefit us sentient beings.

So, therefore, just by reciting Medicine Buddhas’ name and mantra, just by that, the disease or problems or whatever can get pacified, and Dharma practice and so forth can have quick success. The Medicine Buddha is not only for healing disease but is extremely powerful to have quick success if you pray to Medicine Buddha, recite the name and mantra.

And somebody who is in a coma, which is so difficult to recover, it lasts for years, and the expenses, many thousands of dollars to keep that person, for the person to not die, with the all these machines it costs every day thousands of dollars, in the hospital. Therefore, generally for any problems, for any success, but particularly in such as these cases, and even other diseases that have no medicine or which are difficult to cure, it is always meaningful to practice Medicine Buddha, to recite; one should do the meditation ritual on Medicine Buddha.

In the case of a coma, my suggestion is if a family member, or a person who is taking care of that person who is in a coma, is able to accept, able to understand Medicine Buddha’s meditation, or recite the mantra name, I think it is extremely worthwhile if a person does the meditation very strong, very intensively, if the person does the Medicine Buddha meditation for one month. Because the situation is very heavy, the sickness is very heavy, you need to do the practice, purification for a long time, not just one session or just a few minutes. Because the situation, the obstacle, is heavy, you need the remedy, the meditation, also to be powerful. The longer and more it is done, the more effective it is, if somebody, a family member or friend, or somebody who has an open mind can understand and accept this practice to benefit that person.

Usually you visualize Medicine Buddha on your crown, then you purify yourself but in these cases you can visualize on your own crown and can still purify that person, or visualize the seven Medicine Buddhas above the crown of the person who is in coma. Then, every day somebody should do a very intensive meditation, it doesn’t have to be done in the hospital, it can be done even from the home, from your room, you can visualize wherever the person is. If a Medicine Buddha puja or Medicine Buddha meditation practice is continued like that—of course, everything depends upon how heavy the karma is—there can be a miracle, an effect, signs of healing. This can happen.

There was one person in Taiwan, this might be a Western person, I think, one person who was in a coma, I think it was at a time when Geshe Lama Konchog was staying in Taiwan. So Geshe-la gave a Medicine Buddha photo. The friend of this person is the first student I met when I went to Taiwan; we met at the airport and talked a little bit Dharma, so that was the first student when I went to Taiwan. He is a teacher in the university, his name is George. So, I think, Geshe-la blessed this Medicine Buddha picture and there was heat. So this American student put the Medicine Buddha picture on the bed where the patient was laying down, next to the pillow. That person also did Medicine Buddha puja and was able to wake up.

It is also good to keep blessed Medicine Buddha pictures either on the body or next to the bed, to keep on the body as a protection. I think it is very good if it just stays on the body, not under the body. The main thing is that it is an object of refuge. Then if somebody does Medicine Buddha for weeks and months and if you intensively pray I think, I cannot say a hundred percent everyone can get better, but there can be miracles, signs, healing can happen, definitely can happen.

There’s one man, a healer who came from China, in Taiwan. He is definitely very, very pure, you can feel how pure, completely vegetarian. According to the Chinese tradition in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, vegetarian means not only no meat but also no onions or garlic altogether and so, when the person becomes Buddhist, when the person takes refuge then meat, onion, garlic altogether are gone, altogether gone. (Rinpoche laughs) Not only meat, but even onion and garlic, altogether, when a person becomes Buddhist the whole set happens. Of course that keeps the body pure, because those are black foods and, of course, that keeps the mind clearer.

Then also those who are practicing lower tantra, Compassion Buddha, Amitabha and so forth, who are practicing kriya tantra, the lower tantra, it is their precept, it is a samaya of lower tantra to not have black food. It also helps for that.

Then, in particular, of course, if one is not a vegetarian, when you go to restaurants or eat at home, many hundreds of animals have to be killed for one person’s meal, for one person’s lunch. Many hundreds of animals have to die, they have to be killed, somebody has to kill them, have the negative karma of killing them; human beings and the animals have to suffer. For one person’s meal many sentient beings have to suffer. Especially in the places where one eats everything except the table which has four legs (Rinpoche laughs) (laughter), places where one eats everything, except the four legs, what? what? everything with legs except the table, (Rinpoche laughs) (laughter) everything with legs except the table.

One of the early times when I went to Hong Kong to teach, Mr. Mah, who is the present director of the Hong Kong center and was the main translator, told me in the boat while we were going from one island to another, “Here we eat everything with four legs except the table.” (Rinpoche laughs) (laughter). He told me in the boat as an introduction to Hong Kong (Rinpoche laughs). Mr. Mah also teaches Dharma to many Chinese and is very active there.

I think that tradition, if one can, is extremely good. After one has taken refuge to become a vegetarian at the same time and, along with that, their connotation of vegetarian is also not having black food. All these places, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, also mainland China might be the same, I think it might be derived from there.

Anyway, this healer you can see is a very pure being. There’s a very high governor who is in a coma, so he goes to heal. This healer was invited to Taiwan secretly because he is very famous; everybody knew him in mainland China because he had healed so many people who had very heavy diseases that medicine cannot cure. He goes every afternoon to see the sick person and sits there three or four hours, sending his energy to the person in the coma. He does this, not just weeks, but two or three months. After some weeks, the person was able to move more and more.

I thought at that time, normally we don’t try, we just do puja one time and finish, one or two hours puja and finish. That’s it. But if you really try, like this healer does, if you continue weeks and weeks—generally speaking, I think it doesn’t have to be many months, just, if one really does well, with very strong faith and strong, sincere prayers and dedication, with strong refuge, completely relying on Medicine Buddha. Medicine Buddha is just one example. If one continues the meditation not just the one day or one time, but if one continued, I think it doesn’t need to be many months, for many people it can definitely help. That’s what I think. But normally the problem is that we don’t put enough effort, we don’t give enough time or effort.

I don’t whether this was the same person or not, but the person who was unable to move was able to wake up. It may be the same person, I don’t remember clearly. One day this person, either a different one or the same, not sure, anyway, one person could not move, could not stand up to get medicine from the bathroom. He left his medicine in the bathroom and he had no helper in his room, could not stand, could not get up, so he had great difficulties. That person is not Buddhist, has not heard Dharma nor has refuge in the mind, not like that. There was nobody in the house and he was having a lot of difficulties.

But this same person, George, this American student, had one Medicine Buddha statue, I think it was filled up, probably by Dr. Adrian, I think it was blessed and consecrated. The sick person was his friend, so the American student, George, left the Medicine Buddha statue on the table. There’s nobody in the room and he was having much difficulty, pain or whatever. He wanted to take the medicine from the bathroom so, he said, he turned and the statue, that Medicine Buddha statue next to him had the medicine in the hand (Rinpoche laughs). So he was able to get it from just next to his bed (Rinpoche laughs).

When this person was passing away, he must have strong karma, good karma, I think he was paralyzed or something, but just before passing away, he was able to move his body, was able to turn his body and put his two hands together at the heart; then he passed away very peacefully, while his mother was there. So, he must have very strong karmic connection.

The seven Medicine Buddhas’ names.

(Rinpoche recites the Medicine Buddha names)

Maybe we have break now, then maybe not the next but the next, (Rinpoche laughs) (laughter) maybe we will do refuge and precepts. Maybe around eight o’clock


Due to these merits, which, while they are existing, are empty; may the I, while it is existing, it is empty, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which also, while it is existing is empty, and lead all sentient beings, while they are existing are empty, to that enlightenment as quick as possible, by myself alone.

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