THE BASIC PHILOSOPHY OF BUDDHISM
If there are some pujas or something you have to read many times, like many hundreds or thousands of times, you can read them fast. But, of course, even as a puja, if you can think of the meaning as you are reading, then it’s more effective.
Here, it’s good to read slowly because it is for meditation, to have opportunity to meditate on it, to read one word, then have a space, then read one word, then a little space. Because the subject is very profound, very profound; it is a very powerful antidote to the delusions that our mind has been habituated to or accustomed to, not only from birth but from beginningless rebirths. Our mind has been so unbelievably habituated with that from beginningless rebirths. That’s why even if we know the teaching intellectually very well, it doesn’t mean we are able to practice all the time. It doesn’t mean we are able to practice the antidote, able to use that all the time, it doesn’t mean that. When the delusion arises, it is even difficult to remember the teachings, the meditation techniques, the medicine for the mind, the teachings of Buddha, especially the lam-rim teachings. It is even difficult to be able to remember them in daily life, but when it’s for practice... [Rinpoche laughs]
Our mind is so habituated, it’s almost like we don’t exist without the delusions, kind of like that. We don’t exist without the delusions, almost like our mind doesn’t exist without the delusions. We are unbelievably habituated; our life has been lived under the control of the delusions from beginningless rebirths. [Rinpoche laughs] We have been a disciple of delusion, we have been a disciple. Delusion is the guru and we have been a disciple of delusion from beginningless rebirths. From beginningless rebirths we have been a student of delusion, a very obedient student of delusion, a very, very obedient student of delusion. [Rinpoche laughs] A very obedient student of the guru delusion. So, that’s why it’s not easy.
It needs training, it needs training. It needs continual training. For example, as soldiers have more training, more watching, more remembrance, more awareness, in using weapons, they are much more prepared when the actual enemy comes. They are much more prepared to fight, to know exactly how to fight—all the different techniques and how the enemy functions, how they fight. And then they can fight back exactly according to that, whether it’s in the sky, under the water, on the ground, all the many different ways. They know exactly how to overcome the enemy.
It’s similar here. The more we listen to the teachings, the more we meditate, the more we apply the techniques, the more chance we have of overcoming the enemy delusion. At the beginning we will miss out many times, even if we know the meditation techniques well intellectually. We will miss out many times, our mind will be overtaken by delusion, controlled by delusion. As time goes by, if we always try, every day try, we’ll be able to overcome once, twice, and then more and more.
It’s like the story of Kadampa Geshe Ben Gungyal I mentioned, beginning only with black stones, and then later more and more white stones, and less and less black ones. As he continued each day there was more and more virtue and less nonvirtues, and then, after some time, there was only virtue and no nonvirtue. But this definitely needs a lot of effort; it’s a long-term training.
Our mind has been habituated, under the control of delusion from beginningless rebirths. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that? We are trying to overcome something that we have been habituated from beginningless rebirths. Now here, we are trying to overcome that, can you imagine? Of course it’s not easy, so it takes time.
Therefore, what I was saying—going back—it’s good, rather than reading fast, especially the one as I explained the other day, looking at the nature of causative phenomena, but particularly related to our life, our body and mind, material possessions, the surrounding people, friend, enemy, strangers, all the things—particularly related to this, these objects of delusion, the strong objects of delusion, attachment and anger and so forth.
So, say one word, then have a little space, say one word, and a little space. It gives time for everybody to meditate. Then, the prayer becomes so meaningful, like an atomic bomb, like an atomic bomb dropped on the delusions, on the self-cherishing thought, on ignorance, on attachment, on anger. This is what we need to pacify them. From there, we achieve the cessation of the suffering and the cause, karma and delusion. This is what we achieve, what we get by doing this meditation. It’s amazing; it’s unimaginable.
Then, with the realization of impermanence and renunciation, then the wisdom realizing emptiness, with bodhicitta, we complete the Mahayana path and cease the subtle defilements and achieve full enlightenment. Then we are able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them in full enlightenment, by ourselves, this one person. This is the benefit we’re able to offer all sentient beings. It’s limitless, unimaginable, like the limitless sky, unimaginable. Even for one sentient being, the benefit we can offer one sentient being, up to enlightenment—first liberation from samsara, then enlightenment. This is what we can offer one sentient being, gradually revealing the different levels to them, the methods to bring them from happiness to happiness, then to the cessation of the suffering, and then even to the great liberation, enlightenment, the non-abiding sorrowless state.
So, it’s really amazing, it’s unimaginable how we can benefit others with this mind, which has all the potential. Especially having this precious human body, where whatever wish the mind has, we can actualize it. Having this precious human body gives us the unbelievable opportunity to realize whatever the mind wishes. It has all the potential, and then we are able to actualize it, and then on top of that, to attain highest enlightenment.
So, if we can make this habituation to meditate, each time we are planting positive imprints to have realizations of the path and to achieve liberation, enlightenment, each time that. If you meditate, if you meditate in this particular subject, in the prayers if you meditate, because it’s much more powerful, even just by hearing the prayer, of course you have that.
As far as the Buddha’s teachings, we have this special benefit. The first thing is, by listening, even if we don’t understand it at all, not even one word, but the special benefit is that our negative karma gets purified and we get a higher rebirth in the next life. Even if we don’t understand the meaning, even if we don’t understand the teaching, just hearing it purifies our negative karma and we get a higher rebirth.
Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings to five hundred swans that were in a field. In the next life, those five hundred swans all become human beings and they all become the Sangha. I don’t know if anybody became a nun but anyway they all not only became human beings in the next life, they all become Sangha. [Rinpoche laughs] They all became Sangha and not only became just Sangha, they actualized the five paths in the next life: the path of merit, the preparatory path, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning. They actualized the exalted path, right-seeing path, the path of meditation, in the next life. They not only became Sangha, living in the very high number of vows, so many, 253, so many number of vows, every second they collected inconceivable, inconceivable, inconceivable merits, creating good karma, the basic cause of liberation. When that was done with bodhicitta, for enlightenment, on that basis they actualized the path, these five paths to liberation: the path of merit, the preparatory path, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning. So, in the next life they achieved the arya path, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation, where they attained the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, which can directly cease the delusions.
This was what happened in their next life. They were swans, birds, animals but just by hearing the words from Buddha, in the next life it made an unbelievable difference. What happened in the next life is just unimaginable, the benefits, the achievement from just hearing the Buddhadharma, it’s just incredible.
I think maybe I mentioned, there were three monks in Tibet—I’m not sure where—and also a dog. There was a dog with them. They were reciting many prayers which the dog heard and when the dog died, the dog consciousness transferred and was born in the higher deva realm, the Realm of the Thirty-three. It didn’t understand the words the monks were reciting, but just by hearing them its mind was purified and it got a higher rebirth in the next life, a total change from the lower realms. It’s amazing!
We just analyze. The discoveries made by scientific knowledge are greatly needed, of course, but they are the discovery of the external factors, how they function, what they are, but I think, as long as we don’t understand the mind, I don’t think you can understand really external phenomena, because they all came from mind, they all came from mind. Therefore, I don’t think we can understand the object, what is perceived by the mind, completely without understanding the mind. I don’t think we can understand all the details completely. We can understand them partially, but only to a certain limit, I don’t think completely, without understanding the mind.
Yes, scientific knowledge is a great need but I think if we just analyze, with all that knowledge Western scientists have, is there something that purifies the mind? Is there something that purifies the mind, the defilements, negative karma? Is there something that purifies the mind, the cause of the problems, wrong concepts, the defilements, the obscurations? Is there something that can purify that? Is there something that allows us to get to a higher rebirth after we die? Is there something there that can do that?
It’s interesting to check like that. Even though the scientific knowledge is needed, especially also studying Dharma, analyzing Dharma, because we get a deeper understanding there about the mind, the more we understand the mind, the better we understand the external phenomena. I think so. It’s best just to analyze whether there is anything that can purify the mind there in Western science, anything that can cause higher rebirth after death, that brings happiness to our life and to the life after this. That’s good to check. [Rinpoche laughs]
I say the same thing, just compare all the scientific knowledge and OM MANI PADME HUM. I’m not talking about actualizing the extensive meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM, that which is the entire Dharma, I’m not talking about that, but just being able to know and chant it, the benefit it has, the unbelievable, unbelievable purification it does, the skies of merit we collect, what it does. What it does to your mind, to our mental continuum, is just unimaginable, unimaginable. It is so easy to recite, especially for Tibetans who are here. Even children, after they’re born, after some time they’re able to chant OM MANI PADME HUM. It’s unbelievable.
I’m just comparing it this way, without talking about understanding the whole meaning, the extensive meaning, which is the whole entire Buddhadharma. The Buddha explained the 84,000 teachings, and OM MANI PADME HUM is all that. All three levels, the Lesser Vehicle teachings, the Great Vehicle Sutra teachings and the Great Vehicle Tantra teachings are all contained in, all condensed into OM MANI PADME HUM. Here, I’m just talking about being able to recite OM MANI PADME HUM, and its benefits, and comparing that with the benefits to the mind that comes from all the Western scientific knowledge. The difference is like an atom and the Earth. Even though it is useful to have some knowledge but compared to OM MANI PADME HUM, even OM AH HUM there is no comparison.
AH in Sanskrit means negative. In the Heart Sutra it says, “no nose, no tongue,” what else? “No eye, no tongue, no nose, no body, no mind, no ice cream, no chocolate.” [Rinpoche laughs] The AH negates all the false views, all the hallucinations, of the true existence, projected from the mind, from ignorance, by leaving the negative imprint on the mind and projecting.
Like, for example, when we make a movie, with a camera we record images of mountains and people, sad, happy, virtue, nonvirtue, enjoying, so many things. By taking imprint or recording the images on the negative roll and, the whole story’s there. Then, by putting the film in a projector, with electricity, it can be projected onto a wall or a screen. It’s exactly the same as the way we project true existence onto objects.
This has two meanings. So far I didn’t get to speak about this. It has two meanings. One is in our daily life: how what we do with our speech, with our mind, with our body, our actions, always leaves an imprint. The object of the six senses and the action—what we do with the body, speech and mind—always plants a seed, leaves imprint on the mind, on the mental continuum, constantly.
The wrong concept, delusion, the superstitious mind, delusion, wrong concept—this means what we believe is not true. Attachment is a superstitious mind—we have to understand that. Anger is a superstitious mind. Ignorance is a superstitious mind, the king of the superstitious minds, the king of delusions, the root of samsara. Ignorance is the concept of true existence, the concept of holding objects as truly existent.
What the I, the self, is, is what is merely imputed by the mind. How the I exists is that way, in mere name, merely imputed by the mind, and the same with the aggregates.
As I mentioned before that, there is an I that exists, and that is the I that exists in mere name, merely imputed by mind. But then, ignorance, by leaving a negative imprint on the mind… my mind has become messy. Before mentioning that part, I’ll mention this.
Whatever action we do with the body, speech and mind, seeing forms, hearing sounds, smelling smells and so forth, all this to do with senses, it leaves an imprint on the mind, on the mental continuum, like taking a picture leaves an image on the negative roll. When the cause and conditions come together, that is something like putting the film in the projector and turning on the electricity and putting up the screen in order for the images to be projected there. Similarly, causes and conditions are needed for what is imprinted on the mental continuum. When they all come together, what is imprinted there by your karma, all that [sounds like horns or something in the background] including that. [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs] That’s also what comes from our mind, from the imprint, even that noise. Otherwise, there is no reason to hear that—even that sound—there is no reason to hear if it didn’t come from our mind, if it didn’t come from the imprint left on the mind.
When the causes and conditions come together, out of so many imprints left on the mental continuum, one manifests. So there’s the base, and then our mind labels it, imputes the name. The label exists, from the negative actions of body, speech and mind, whatever, by leaving imprint on the mind, then by making all the causes and conditions together, it manifests. There is the base, and then our mind makes up the negative label, bad, so then it comes into existence that way, and we encounter the problems.
From positive actions, good karma, virtuous actions, Dharma, positive imprints are left on the mind, then today, when causes and conditions come together, positive experiences manifest, like suddenly seeing beautiful flowers that we enjoy. They contact the senses and we enjoy them. We are hungry, looking for food, and we suddenly find a very good restaurant, with food we want to eat. This result, happiness, pleasure, ripened at this time from the positive imprint, the imprint left by positive actions, by virtue in the past, in this life or a past life, maybe from many billion, zillion eons, numberless eons ago. Today, those causes and condition have becomes ready, and they allow the imprint to be experienced, and we are able to enjoy the delicious food or to find a kind person, a good person, who gives us money. We’re traveling or we need money for food or whatever, and then we meet somebody who helps us by giving us money. Or we get sick and we find a doctor who exactly knows our sicknesses and can give us the right medicine, and not only the right medicine but it can cure our sicknesses.
A doctor might know our sicknesses and give us the right medicine, but even though it’s the right medicine, many times there’s an obstacle to benefit us because there are spirits— this is not known yet in Western education—there are spirits that interfere, that don’t allow the medicine to be effective.
That’s why it is our common experience, if it’s the correct medicine but it is not benefiting, and the sickness continues or increases, by knowing what kind of spirits are harming us and so forth we can recite mantras that can help. The Buddha gave various mantras and various practices we can do. By counting on that, we do the prayers and recite those mantras to the different deities, to protect sentient beings from those different beings’ harm, then after that the medicine works. It’s the correct medicine, but it doesn’t necessarily always benefit. That’s quite common. But then we do some two or three minutes’ puja, those that the Buddha explained, communicating, contacting those beings who are interfering and making them happy. Then they release the patient and the medicine works. That’s quite common. Then we are able to find the right doctor who gives right medicine and is able to cure our sicknesses.
Similarly, if we are doing business and we have success, getting what you want, or more than we want, or less, that pleasure comes from the mind, that success, how much money we are able to make, it comes from the mind, from the imprints left on the mind by past positive karma. Because it’s pleasure, it has to come from good karma, that action which has left an imprint, planted a seed, on the mind in the past.
So, it’s very, very important, very important, extremely important, in our daily life to live our life with this awareness. This is the basic Buddhist philosophy, that everything comes from our mind, from karma, from our intention.
Karma is not body, it’s mind. Of body and mind, it’s the mind.
There are six principal consciousnesses and sixty-five mental factors.7a There are the five always-present mental factors [Tib: kon-dro ba’i sem-yong]. They are: feeling, contact, intention, cognition, attention, sem-pa, attention. Do you remember the last one? Apprehension, comprehension, maybe apprehension? Does anybody remember? Any holy beings remember? Id-le che-pa? What English word? Mental attention. [Rinpoche laughs]
Intention makes the principal consciousness focus on the object, to pay attention. Id-le che-pa is the same, but there is something extra. Che-pa is that which makes the mind contact the object. The example used is a magnet, how a magnet makes contact with iron. That’s an example used for intention. Id-le che-pa causes the principal consciousness to pay attention to the object, but not only that, not only contact, not only to focus on the object, but there is a little bit extra function, huh? [Student discussion] I was talking about Id-le che-pa, you said what?
Mental attention, attention, what about the sems-pa? So I forgot, there’s a little extra function. I’ll let you know next year. [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs] Maybe after you’ve achieved enlightenment.
So anyway, sems-pa is intention, the motivation before you act. Sems-pa, while we are doing the action, the motivation, the thought of the act, while the action is happening.
Karma is from the always-present mental factors, the kon-dro ba’i sem-yong, the five that are always accompanying the principal consciousness: feeling, cognition, contact, attention and intention. These five mental factors work on the same object with the principal consciousness in five similarities.
So, what is karma? From body and mind, karma is mind, and from the six principal consciousnesses and the fifty-one mental factors, it is a mental factor. Which mental factor? From the five always-present mental factors, kon-dro ba’i sem-yong, always accompanying the principal consciousness, from that, it is the intention. What is karma? Karma is intention.
So, everything comes from your mind, from our mind, okay? It comes from the karma, from the intention.
This is very basic Buddhist philosophy. The other one is reality. If you don’t say the word philosophy—Buddhist philosophy is the actual reality, how things work, how things are created by mind.
Pleasure and suffering, forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, everything, our world, all comes from our mind. Our world comes from our mind. So, the less negative karma produced brings the result of less suffering. The more positive karma produced brings the result of more happiness. Then, after some time, no more negative karma; we don’t create it when our mind is advanced. Then, the mind always lives always in virtue, so there is no negative karma.
As I mentioned the other day, when we become an arya being, like those bodhisattva arya beings, we cannot receive any harm because there is no negative, impure mind that causes us to receive harm, it’s not there. We don’t need to talk about a buddha, even for a sentient being bodhisattva, an arya bodhisattva, this is true.
Receiving harm or not depends on our mind. If we have an impure mind, it happens; if we don’t have an impure mind, it doesn’t happen.
This is the basic Buddhist philosophy. It doesn’t accept an external being created our life, our suffering, our happiness, that somebody else created everything. Everything comes from our mind.
That means we have total freedom in our hands. Happiness or suffering, what we want, whatever we want to experience—liberation, enlightenment, suffering in the lower realms or higher rebirth—whatever we want, it’s in our hands. We have the choice, we have freedom to choose what happens after this life, whether we have a higher rebirth or suffering as a hell being, a hungry ghost or an animal.
If we don’t want to be born in the lower realms and experience those sufferings, we need to purify the cause. We don’t create the cause of the lower realms, we purify the cause, and then we get a higher rebirth. If we want a higher rebirth, as a deva or a human rebirth, we create the cause of that, and then we achieve it. That’s in our hands. Whatever we want, suffering or happiness, samsara or liberation, it is in our hands. It depends on what we do with our mind, how we use our mind. Whether we use our mind for samsara, whether we use our mind to achieve liberation, it depends on that, on learning the path, on actualizing the path. There is no question about that.
It’s the same. Whether we want to be born in hell or whether we want to achieve enlightenment, it’s in our hands. It depends on what we do with our mind. If we don’t want to be reborn in the hell realm, we purify the cause that we have created in the past that makes us reincarnate in the hell realm. Then we learn and practice the path to enlightenment, we develop that. When we wish enlightenment, we transform the mind into that.
Nye ka dön chhei ten zang khe nyen kyi dug dam ga
Ma nor nying po len dö sam kyin la ma drän no7b
Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, the great Tibetan enlightened being, the author of Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, mentions the “three great meanings” in the prayer he composed called Calling the Guru From Afar. It is a very effective teaching, containing both sutra and tantra.
Nye ka dön chhei ten zang. Nye ka is this human body, which is extremely difficult to find again, because it is not easy to create the cause. Living in morality is the main cause, and then practicing charity, and making prayers, dedicating the merits to achieve this perfect human body which is qualified with eighteen precious qualities.
THE THREE GREAT MEANINGS: HAPPINESS IN FUTURE LIVES
This perfect human rebirth, which is extremely difficult to find again, if it’s found, it has great meaning, dön chhei ten zang, therefore the human rebirth is good. With it we can achieve the three great meanings. “Which has great meaning” means with this body we can achieve the three great meanings: we can achieve the happiness of future lives, we can achieve complete liberation from all suffering and we can achieve great liberation, enlightenment.
The first great meaning is that we can achieve any happiness of future lives, such as being born in a pure land. If we wish to achieve a human body which has the seven qualities that allows us to practice Dharma, we can achieve that.
We can achieve a higher caste. Not all the countries have a caste system but like India and Nepal. In this world, certain countries have a culture of castes, lower castes, higher castes, all that, but that is according to that culture, according to the country.
If you are higher caste then people respect you and you can benefit many people. People listen to you, and you can benefit many people by helping to spread the Dharma and then they create cause of happiness, virtue. This way, they can achieve happiness in future lives, liberation from samsara and enlightenment.
THE EIGHT RIPENING ASPECTS OF A PRECIOUS HUMAN BODY
With a good rebirth, a good human body, there are seven benefits that make easy to practice Dharma —I don’t remember the whole thing—but it’s things like a long life, no sicknesses, wealth and so forth. There’s about seven.
A higher rebirth also has the eight ripening aspects. Lama Tsongkhapa emphasized how they are so important to have quick development, to actualize the path to enlightenment. We can have quick realizations on the path to enlightenment if we achieve this human body which has these eight qualities, so he then explained how to create the cause of each one: long life, a perfect body, a higher caste, wealth, power, having powerful words and so forth. Wonderful words comes from abstaining from gossiping or negative actions of the speech, so our speech is so powerful, it has so much power. Abstaining from those, our speech has so much power. Then, when we explain the Dharma to other sentient beings or when we advise them to refrain from any negative karma they are doing and what positive actions to do, they will listen to us.
The next is having a man’s body, not in every case, but it’s general. Even today, if we look at the leaders of the world, there are more men and less women, so men still have more influence. Even if we think in a worldly way it’s like that, but now it’s becoming more female.
However, in this context, generally there are less obstacles for men, less danger for men. This is generally speaking, I’m not talking everybody. Men have more opportunity to practice Dharma. But, of course, there are many women who can it, who can attain the path, who can achieve enlightenment. There are many holy beings, there are many holy women. But this is related to the world situation. It doesn’t mean forever and it’s not in every universe. It’s related to this world, to this world’s people.
Next is having a powerful body and mind, a powerful body and mind like Milarepa, a body that can bear so much hardship to constantly practice Dharma, no matter what difficulties arise.
HAVING A POWERFUL BODY AND MIND: THE STORY OF MILAREPA
Milarepa followed his mother’s advice and performed black magic on his relations because they had given his mother a hard time, with torture and things. Milarepa’s mother advised him to learn black magic, which he did from a lama, and then he did retreat on the mountain for seven days, by digging a hole in the ground. After that he used the black magic on the whole family, making his auntie and uncle’s house completely collapse, killing the people and all the animals. I think this was while they were having a wedding, so there were many horses under the house when it collapsed and they were all killed. Thirty or sixty people were killed. So many people were upstairs dancing or having wedding party when it collapsed.
I think, after that, Milarepa was unhappy, so the lama who taught him black magic told him that if he wanted to practice Dharma he should go to see Marpa to guide him.
When Milarepa went to see Marpa, he had nothing to offer him so he offered his body, speech and mind to his guru. As he had no offerings, he offered his body, speech and mind to his guru. Then also he asked for food and Dharma and a place to stay. [Rinpoche laughs]
So Marpa asked Milarepa to build the three nine-story towers by himself. He was not allowed to get anybody to help him. Milarepa built a nine-storied tower by himself, alone. After he completed it Marpa asked him to tear it down and then take the stones back to where he had collected them. When he had done that, Marpa asked him to rebuild the tower again, and so again he rebuilt it and again Marpa asked him to tear it down, so again he tore it down and replaced the stones. Then, again, for the third time, Marpa asked him to build a tower.
It still might be existing in Tibet, the tor-kha. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t been to that place, but maybe it’s somewhere where there are many caves of the Kadampa geshes. I’m not sure. Maybe that nine-storied tower still exists somewhere in Tibet. When the uprising happened in Tibet and mainland China took over Tibet, when monks and lay people escaped, I think at that time that tower still existed.
There are two great lamas, Serkyong Dorje Chang and Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche, “Tsenshab” is not the actual guru of His Holiness the Dalai Lama but kind of a substitute guru, sort of like helping him to learn extensive philosophy. This is what the title “Tsenshab” means. When they escaped from Ganden Monastery in Lhasa, they passed the nine-storied tower. They were surrounded by the Chinese army and had nowhere else to go, so they climbed up the tower built by Milarepa.
There were statues of Marpa, Milarepa’s guru, and Marpa’s wisdom mother, his wife. Marpa was not a monk, he was in the aspect of a lay person but he was an enlightened being. So, the two great lamas went there.
Then, His Holiness Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche offered a damaru to the Marpa and said, “Father”—he called Marpa father—and offered a crystal mala to the wisdom mother—that’s what I heard—and said, “Mother, please help us find a way to get out.”
This Serkyong Dorje Chang is the incarnation of Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche’s father, the other lama’s father. The father was a monk who studied in Ganden Monastery, became expert and then, after that, went to an isolated place to do retreat, to actualize the path for many years. Then, because he achieved very high level of tantric path, he was allowed by His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama to have a wisdom mother to complete the tantric path.
So, His Holiness Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche, this great lama, was the son of the Serkyong Dorje Chang’s past life and in this life he became the teacher of the incarnation of his father. Actually he’s an enlightened being.
Why he called Marpa “father” and the wisdom mother “mother” was, I think, His Holiness Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche, he’s the son of Milarepa’s guru, Marpa, called Darma Dodé. That’s why he called Marpa’s statue “father” and the wisdom mother’s statue, “mother.” Serkyong Dorje Chang, the embodiment, the incarnation of, Marpa, came to live in Nepal but he passed away. Now a reincarnation exists. The incarnation of Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche also passed away, and there’s a reincarnation.
This is quite an elaborate story.
There is also an incarnate lama who’s incarnation of Milarepa, Tse Chog Ling.
So, anyway, Marpa asked Milarepa to build the tower on his own three times. Through carrying so many stones, Milarepa’s the skin on back became like thick and kind of blue or black.
Marpa never gave Milarepa teachings or initiations, nothing, only demanding hard work, and only scolding him, beating him. He didn’t receive teachings for a long time. One day he went with Marpa’s other disciples for teachings, but when Marpa saw Milarepa, he immediately scolded him and told to leave immediately. For years and years, it went on like that. Then, after some time, Marpa’s wisdom mother insisted that Marpa give Milarepa teachings and initiations, so then he did.
Then, of course, Marpa was an enlightened being, so he manifested in the mandala and the deity. For Milarepa, so many defilements and negative karmas were purified by building the tower three times by himself alone and through all the beatings and scoldings for years, unbelievable defilements and negative karmas were purified because of that. Marpa could see this, so then he gave initiations and all the teachings, and instructed Milarepa which mountain holy place to go to do retreat. So, Milarepa was sent away to the mountain to do retreat.
Following teaching given by Marpa, in those isolated places Milarepa actualized, completed, the whole path to enlightenment, including the whole tantric path. He just lived on nettles as the only food, without sugar, chili, pepper, nothing—he just cooked nettles in the water. That’s how he lived. He lived in retreat for years and years like that; he bore so many hardships in order to practice Dharma and complete the path to enlightenment. For the benefit of sentient beings, he bore so much hardship.
One day a thief came to Milarepa’s cave to steal something and Milarepa offered him some food. When he saw the cooked nettles, he asked, “Where’s the chili? Where’s the salt?” So, Milarepa added a nettle to the container and said, “This is chili, this is pepper, this is salt.” Nettles were all he had, he didn’t have anything else.
Anyway, he completed the whole path to enlightenment in that very brief lifetime of degenerated time. Milarepa’s life is the most inspiring, the most unbelievable story. There are two sources for this. One is all the hymns he sang from his realizations, from his experiences, and the other is his life story, and the different advice he gave students.
Due to his prayers and his bodhicitta motivation he achieved full enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerated times. Not only Milarepa did this; there are many others in the various traditions, such as Gyalwa Ensapa. Even in Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition, the Gelugpa, there are many others. In the four traditions of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, there are many others who achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.
Due to correctly devoting to his virtuous friend, Milarepa never felt anger or heresy even one time, no matter how much he was scolded or beaten or how hard the work was that he was given for years and years. Because of the power of body and mind, heresy and anger towards his guru never arose. That was his unbelievable devotion.
Milarepa’s name even became known in the West, not only the East. It is commonly known in the East but now it is also known in the West. Even though there have been many beings who achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times, somehow Milarepa has become known also in the West.
If we chant Milarepa’s mantra every day, that helps us when we die get reborn in Milarepa’s pure land, and then we’re able to see Milarepa and receive teachings from him directly.
According to Marpa, he wanted Milarepa to bear hardships even longer so that he could achieve enlightenment even earlier, but his wife, his wisdom mother pushed him so much to give initiations and teachings earlier. If Marpa had been able to complete his wish, Milarepa could have achieved enlightenment sooner than what happened.
Marpa was an enlightened being and saw what Milarepa needed to do to purify all that negative karma he had created, killing many animals and many human beings through his black magic, as well as the negative karma collected in the past lives. Marpa was an incredibly skillful master, and each time he scolded or beat Milarepa, many obstacles were purified, many lifetimes’ negative karma was purified. Building the towers purified negative karma collected from beginningless rebirths. That’s why Milarepa achieved enlightenment in that brief lifetime of degenerate times.
What I’m talking about here is what “powerful body and mind” means, using Milarepa as an example.
This fits into the subject of the first great meaning, attaining the happiness of future lives. As far as perfect human rebirth is concerned, as I mentioned before, there are seven results that allow us to practice Dharma.
And then, what Lama Tsongkhapa highly admired and emphasized was how the precious human body has eight ripening qualities that, if we have, enable us to achieve the realizations of the path to enlightenment.
Then, the human rebirth which I mentioned last night has Four Mahayana Dharma Wheels: relying upon a holy being and somebody who is a virtuous friend; being born in the right environment or to a supportive family, who do not cause obstacles to practicing Dharma, to achieving realizations, who have devotion to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and faith in reincarnation and karma; living in a place that is harmonious for the body with good water and soil, that is not harmful and becomes an obstacle to achieve realizations; then, having done prayers and collected the merits. With the Four Mahayana Dharma Wheels, again we are able to practice Dharma and achieve enlightenment.
Then, with the perfect human rebirth, which has the eighteen qualities, we can achieve all this happiness in future lives, which allows us to practice Dharma and then achieve liberation and enlightenment.
That’s the first great meaning.
THE THREE GREAT MEANINGS: ACHIEVING LIBERATION, ENLIGHTENMENT AND NEVER WASTING A SECOND OF THIS LIFE
The second great meaning is to be able to achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment, great liberation. That’s the second great meaning of life.
The third great meaning is that even each second, if we have this perfect human body, we can achieve any of those happinesses because we can create the cause. This is third great meaning of the perfect human life.
So, what Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo is saying, nye ka dön chhei ten zang. Dön chhei is “great meaning.” A human rebirth with a perfect human body, which is extremely difficult to find again. Dön chhei, which has great meaning, if it is found. Then ten zang, which is a good body.
Khe nyen kyi dug dam ga. Khe means profit, nyen is loss, kyi is the happiness and dug is the loss, say, suffering; kyi is happiness and dug is suffering. Dam ga is choice.
We have the choice of happiness and suffering in our life. Khe nyen kyi dug dam ga. What it’s saying is what I mentioned before, we have choice, not only choice, but choice today, now, whether we want happiness or we want problems, because it depends on how we think. If we think in a mistaken way, we have problems. If we think in correct way, we don’t. If we think the thought cherishing the I, if we think that way, the mistaken way, that this I is more important than others, we have problems in the life, we find problems, we have problems in our mind.
If we cherish others, that problem goes away and we have happiness, peace; we have inner peace and happiness, we have fulfillment in our life—not only satisfaction but we have fulfillment in your life. Because if we cherish others we do actions to benefit others, we do actions for others, and from that we get not only satisfaction but fulfillment. The minute when we stop attachment, the minute when we stop following desire, we have satisfaction, and not only that, even something higher, fulfillment in our life, right here and now.
If we let our mind get attached to something real, independent, existing from its own side, we look at it in a totally false way, a totally wrong way. On that basis, the mind exaggerates, seeing this as so nice, so beautiful, and then attachment arises. After we rationalize, “Oh how beautiful this is,” attachment arises, then it has its own false view on the object we get attached to.
I think mentioned yesterday, basically what it means is, it’s built on the object of ignorance, on the view of the ignorance, the object of ignorance, the view of ignorance holding things as truly existent. It’s built on that. The object of attachment is built on that, the view of the object, before the foundation, the view of the ignorance. That doesn’t exist. That object of ignorance doesn’t exist, so the object of attachment cannot exist. This is an extremely essential point.
Thinking in this way, with attachment, we have problems, we have suffering; now our mind becomes painful.
As I mentioned the other day, the nature of causative phenomena is like an illusion and so forth, the wrong view of the defective senses, like stars. If we look at that nature of impermanence then our attachment doesn’t arise, we have peace, we have inner peace, we have peace right now. We achieve satisfaction, inner peace. It’s totally in our hands. Whether we want happiness, whether we want suffering, it’s in our hands right now. It depends on how we think.
Not only that, not only the slightest suffering problem now but also the kind of future we have is in your hands, what kind of future life we want in our next life. Whether we want the lower realms or the higher realms as a deva or human—it’s completely in our hands. We have a choice, which you want to achieve.
Then it’s the same with samsara or liberation. Which one do we want to achieve? Do we want to be samsara or achieve liberation? It is in our hands, we have a choice, we have a choice. If we want to achieve liberation, then we actualize the path, renunciation, the three higher trainings, then we have freedom, whether we want to achieve lower nirvana or we want to achieve enlightenment. We have a choice.
If we practice bodhicitta, then we’re able to achieve enlightenment and we don’t have to be stuck in lower nirvana for so many eons. It’s totally in our hands. We have a choice.
Nye ka dön chhei ten zang khe nyen kyi dug dam ga
Ma nor nying po len dö sam kyin la ma drän no
Ma nor means without mistakes; mar nor nying po means wishing to take the essence of this body without mistakes. Ma nor, without mistakes, ma nor [?] by choice—with the thought of taking the essence of this body, without making mistake, by choice.
While we’re thinking this, we say, Lama drän no, “it reminds me of the guru,” because everything has to come from the guru, everything depends on the kindness of the guru, so Lama drän no, "it reminds me of the guru.”
I don’t know why I’m talking like this, I don’t know. [Group laughs]
Generate bodhicitta. “The purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I’m going to offer this nectar.” Don’t think you are offering tea, think it is nectar. Then you visualize oceans of nectar in a jeweled container, purified into emptiness, oceans of nectar, numberless, even that, numberless. Then you offer to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha or whichever deity that you are praying normally, Tara, Chenrezig, this is one, is all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, all the numberless buddhas, all the numberless Dharma, the numberless Sangha, the numberless statues, the numberless stupas, the numberless statues of the Buddha, the numberless scriptures, everything, you offer.
OM AH HUM, OM AH HUM, OM AH HUM.
La ma sang gyä… [Food offering prayer]
Then after you offer, generate infinite bliss. That’s the essence of the offering. In the holy mind, the merit field, generated infinite bliss.
The next one, generating infinite bliss within you. [Rinpoche laughs]
BECAUSE EVERYTHING COMES FROM THE MIND WE HAVE INFINITE FREEDOM
So, going back. I was talking about the very heart or the basic philosophy of Buddhism, about life, how everything in our world comes from our mind. I mentioned that already, how our world came from our mind. Everything—the forms we see, the sounds we hear, the smells we smell, the tastes we experience, any contact, the whole thing, including our concepts, the perceiver, the object—everything comes from us, comes from our mind, our thought. We have created it. That’s what I was talking about, the root of I was talking about.
The view of Buddhism is totally different to how we generally perceive things. If something was created by somebody else, somebody who has separate mind, whose mental continuum is separate from our mind, if a separate being created our life, then we don’t have freedom, we don’t have freedom. It’s all in the other being’s hands; it’s not in our hands. We don’t have freedom.
Here, Buddhism shows that we have freedom, as I mentioned before. So, there’s nothing to be depressed about, there’s no reason to feel down. Our life is full of hope because we have choice to develop. We can take courage ourselves because we can completely purify whatever mistake we have done in the past. We can purify them and accomplish anything.
I was talking about karma before. Our world comes from our mind—that is talking about karma. So you see, whatever action of body, speech and mind—perceiving form, sound, smell, taste—we have done in the past, these all leave negative imprints or positive imprints on the mindstream. Then later, we experience the result, the result of happiness or suffering, of beautiful or ugly, all that. So, the world comes from our mind; the world we are experiencing comes from your mind, whether it’s bad or good.
Therefore, if we can live our life with this understanding, when somebody suddenly criticizes us, when somebody suddenly behaves strangely—screwing their nose up at us, not looking at us, not bowing to us or whatever—there’s no problem. Living life with this Buddhist philosophy, that everything comes from our mind there are no problems at all in our mind, in our heart, no problem at all because it comes from us. It comes from our mind, from our past. If it’s something unpleasant, it comes from our past mistaken thoughts, our negative karma.
Similarly, when somebody who respects us, praises us, saying we’re a good guy, we’re a good guy, praising our good-guyness [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs] we’re aware that this praising or whatever all comes from our mind, this happiness comes from our own mind, from the positive imprints left by positive actions done in the past, that is our own karma.
So, it doesn’t bother us, it doesn’t get us angry, it doesn’t upset our mind. We don’t get angry with that person, we don’t get upset with that person. What it does do, however, what it does is make us think, “Oh, I must be careful.” It reminds us to practice Dharma. It reminds us to practice Dharma continuously, to not create negative karma, to be careful that our actions don’t become negative karma. It makes us purify past negative karma and collect virtue. It only inspires us to practice Dharma whenever we see these things happening in our life.
It only encourages us; it doesn’t discourage us. It only encourages us to develop our life to the highest, to achieve enlightenment and to liberate numberless sentient beings from suffering, to bring them to enlightenment.
That’s what I was saying, that’s one thing—how everything, our world, everything comes from our mind.
Now, the second thing I was saying before, the other explanation, how everything comes from the mind. To put it into a package by saying the world, the whole thing—enemy, friend, stranger, objects of enjoyments, of pleasure, objects of suffering, our body and mind, our senses, even the self, even our own I—everything comes from our mind. All this is a mere imputation of our mind. All this is a mere imputation of our mind. The mind decorates, and the next minute, the next second, we see this decorated thing as the real thing, we decorate this thing with inherent existence, independent of all this merely labeled existence, including our I, the self, body and mind, the aggregates, everything, which is merely imputed by our thought.
So, this inherent existence is decorated, is projected, it covers all this, like a floor carpet, like a painting covering the wall. Everything is covered by this hallucination. You understand? I already mentioned this a few days ago.
Our own I, our merely-labeled I, is covered by this hallucination, and then everything. It creates a false world, a false world, like in Nepal or Dharamsala, when you go to buy fruit, things, sometimes they have some fruit there but a mirror so there seems to be so much more. There’s the fruit and there’s the reflected fruit. It’s a little bit like that.
So, this hallucination completely covers everything, making it real. It comes from our mind, that comes from our mind, from the ignorance, that view. Because of ignorance, everything appears as real, everything—tastes, tangible objects, chili, sweet, everything—as something real, even though they are merely imputed by mind. All these “real” things come from our mind, from ignorance, by leaving an imprint on the mental continuum, then that is experienced, that projects this decoration, this hallucination.
So that’s another one, our world. There’s another one, a specific one, the greatest hallucination. I was talking about the greatest, the king of the delusions, the king of the superstitious thoughts. That’s how it started.
When we let our mind hold onto all these hallucinations as true, that they are really true. On top of the merely labeled I, this truly-existent, decorated, made-real I is placed, and then mind completely holds on to it as a hundred percent true. This is the king of the superstitions, the king of the superstitious mind, the king of the delusion.
The other one is karma, how everything comes from our karma.
This one is, this one is extremely important to learn, to discover, how it comes from our own superstitious thought, the king of the superstitious mind. All this is the view of our superstitious mind, all this is the view of the king of the superstition, ignorance. So that’s another specific example.
The antidote is looking at the opposite. Ignorance holds onto the object as true, and so the antidote is the opposite of that. For us to get liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and not only that but also to achieve enlightenment, with bodhicitta, the antidote is to look at the total opposite of this, seeing the hallucination, all this hallucination, looking at it totally the opposite. All this—ourselves, action, object—is all a hallucination. To always practice mindfulness of the hallucination. While we are going, whatever we are doing, the mind is constantly in meditation. Whatever activity we are doing—while we are cleaning, while we are sweeping or while we are making food, while we are writing, whatever—part of our mind is practicing mindfulness in the daily activities. Whatever we are doing, we think, “All this is a hallucination.” This real I, this real action, this real object, all this—we look at it as a hallucination.
Then, in our heart we get the idea, we hold the non-existence, we look at it as empty. Or, that all these are existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind, they are a dependent arising. So again, I, action, object, everything is a dependent arising. That’s the same thing, the understanding of emptiness, looking at it in two ways.
After we recognize the hallucination, the false object, we see this is the object to be refuted, and because of that it is “empty.” That’s the antidote to eliminate the root of samsara, the king of the delusion. That way we get liberated from karma and delusion, from suffering, and then we are able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsara and bring them to enlightenment.
I’ll stop there.
There will be teachings, the other place, before the Twenty-one Taras jenang, there will be teachings. We won’t just immediately do the Tara jenang; there will be teachings before that.
I got distracted from the prayers. I think I went for a walk; I got distracted.
So, here is one thing. What happens if we think or live the Buddhist philosophy in our worldly life, the benefit we get, the benefit we get is learning how we can overcome problems, just, just our mind just living this in daily life, how everything comes from the mind, we know that. All the problems that come with the selfish mind, with attachment, don’t happen, don’t arise. Everything is controlled. Living with the mind in this philosophy, which is reality, not making anything up, where we create something new, it’s not like that. This is reality, and we live in that, so none of the problems of the life happen.
[Rinpoche says the dedication in Tibetan]
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, by all sentient beings and all the buddhas, may the bodhicitta, the source of all the happiness and success, for myself and for all sentient beings… So, your bodhicitta, your good heart, is the source of all the happiness and peace, temporary and ultimate happiness, liberation and enlightenment, of all sentient beings.
May this bodhicitta be actualized within our hearts, and in the hearts of my own family members, in the hearts of everybody here and all the students, all the benefactors in the organization, and in the hearts of everybody, in the hearts of so many people in this earth, and different worlds, who offer service to the organization, and to benefit all sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha, and there are so many of those who rely upon me, whom I promised to pray for, whose names were given to me, those other people, and as well as numberless sentient beings living in this world, and numberless sentient beings who are living in numberless universes.
May the bodhicitta be generated in the hearts of everybody, myself and all these sentient beings, every single sentient being’s heart, and in whose heart bodhicitta has been generated, may it be increased.
[Rinpoche and students recite the long life prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.]
[Students chant the long life prayer for Lama Zopa Rinpoche.]
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, which exist, but which is merely labeled by mind, may the I who exists, but which is merely labeled by mind, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but which is merely labeled by mind, and lead all sentient beings, who exist, but who are merely labeled by mind, to that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but which is also merely labeled by mind, by myself alone, who also exists, but who is merely labeled by mind.
[Rinpoche recites the dedication in Tibetan.]
Okay, thank you.
[Rinpoche and students chant protector prayers.]
Blessing the offering tea.
[Rinpoche does the tea offering]
Offering torma and tea offering to them is most important to complete His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s holy wishes, for them to be actualized. The very first important thing to be completed is that. If that happens, then it benefits everybody including yourself, and all your wishes for happiness or attaining the path to enlightenment, everything happens, including all your own needs. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s holy wishes succeed, then the happiness of all sentient beings, not only for Tibetans, happens.
The next one is your own success, attaining the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, from the root of the path, guru devotion, up to enlightenment, and especially bodhicitta. From the common path, bodhicitta and then the uncommon path, the clear light, wisdom, from the highest tantras, to be able to actualize that in this very lifetime. I think that’s a most important prayer for yourself.
Why it’s the most important prayer is because if you are able to actualize it, then benefiting other sentient beings, that happens deeper and deeper, more and more extensively. The more you are able to attain the realizations of the path to enlightenment, higher and higher, the more you can benefit other sentient beings. It is like oceans, like skies, deeper and greater, you able to benefit other sentient beings. That’s why I say this is the most important prayer for yourself for attaining the path to enlightenment.
THE THREE PRINCIPAL ASPECTS OF THE PATH
We should know that, sometimes perhaps there are difficulties, so what prayers do we do for ourselves? We might wonder what the most important thing is; we might become confused, it might become a problem. If we don’t understand, it becomes a problem, it becomes unclear, then we need to know what’s the best. So in case somebody doesn’t know, I just mentioned that this is the most important prayer. As we have gone through the meditation on the kindness of the mother, the present-life mother, if we haven’t gone through the meditation, even repaying the kindness of parents, the kindness to all sentient beings, attaining the lam-rim, attaining the path to enlightenment, attaining guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, the right view, that’s the most important thing, and of course, on top of that, the two stages of tantra. This is the best way to repay the kindness of sentient beings, by our attainment, the more we attain the path.
First is renunciation, the renunciation to this life, the renunciation of future lives, of samsara. We abandon so much negative karma just by attaining that, by having realized the usefulness of the perfect human body, which is difficult to find again, and impermanence and death, the lower realm sufferings, then refuge, karma, all that, then we are able to abandon so much negative karma just from that, by understanding this, and by having realizations of this.
Then realizing how the future lives’ samsara is also in the nature of suffering, and so we are able to abandon so much negative karma, the actions which harm to others. And then, with bodhicitta, every single your movement, even if we are just breathing in and out, it benefits all sentient beings, it benefits numberless sentient beings, even just breathing in and out, besides other activities, it becomes only cause of happiness of numberless sentient beings. Even each in and out breath, without talking about the other activities of life.
It’s an unbelievable life, whatever activity we do becomes the cause of happiness for numberless sentient beings: not only the numberless hell beings and hungry ghosts, but even human beings and asuras. The amount we can benefit increases as we attain the higher path and then bodhisattva path. Then the five Mahayana paths—the path of merit, the preparatory path, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and so forth—when we start actualizing the bhumis on the right-seeing path, then our benefit to sentient beings becomes unbelievably, unbelievably greater and greater.
For example, by attaining the first bhumi we are able to manifest in a hundred pure lands of a buddha, and to manifest a hundred bodies and be able to do prostrations to the buddhas in the pure land. With a hundred bodies, by manifesting, we are able to give different teachings to sentient beings. I think there is something similar to this, I don’t know exactly, for each one we do a hundred different things, maybe meditation.
Then, I think at the next level, it is maybe a thousand times. We are able to manifest a thousand bodies, and then also able to go to the pure land, there are many numbers of pure lands, also able to give many number of different teachings to sentient beings. So it’s unimaginable, so unimaginable, unimaginable. Then, eighth, ninth, tenth bhumis, I don’t remember exactly, but anyway we are able to manifest billions and zillions of different bodies, and that many different bodies can give teachings to the sentient beings, each of those bodies can do prostrations and make offerings to the buddhas, then go to a pure land. So, it’s most, most amazing, to be able to manifest in the numbers mentioned there but I don’t remember how many—uncountable numbers, billions and zillions, trillions, an unbelievable number of bodies we are able to manifest.
We are able to offer deeper and deeper extensive benefit to sentient beings by actualizing the path. Otherwise, otherwise, otherwise, if we don’t actualize the path our benefit to sentient beings is very limited, extremely limited, almost like nothing.
Even if we’re involved in doing social service or something, of course we must do it, of course it’s very important, but because our mind is not subdued, we don’t have the realizations of renunciation, bodhicitta and right view, when we’re working for others, when we’re dealing with other sentient beings, anger arises, attachment arises, jealousy arises, pride arises, all those negative minds arise. Without the stability of mind, without realizations, this is what happens. Then we encounter many problems in life, with people.
Of course, in the beginning the motivation is to benefit others, but then, because we don’t have realizations, even lam-rim ones, without thinking about tantra, even just the lam-rim ones—renunciation, bodhicitta and right view—then there’s all this garbage, there’s all this garbage. Delusions are there, the seeds of delusions are there; they have not ceased, and so then the selfish mind arises, then we encounter many problems in the work.
Sometimes, at the beginning it is good. At the beginning there is a lot of inspiration, but then after some time there are a lot of difficulties, problems, and then, after some time, the purity of the motivation kind of degenerates. Then, because we face so many hardships, so many difficulties, our mind is always occupied with the difficulties, and somehow there is not much time to think of the positive attitude, the good heart, the motivation of bodhicitta, even if we know the Dharma. When the mind is occupied by many problems, then what we see in our life is only problems.
I don’t mean this is what everybody experiences, but this is true for many people. I think I see it like that. Because we have no time or we are unable to give time to ourselves to our continuity, for our pure motivation to develop, then there are so many problems and difficulties. The problems are kind of like drowning in mud. When we’re drowning in mud it’s so difficult to come out. Similarly, we are drowning in problems, it’s like that.
Therefore, what I’m saying is, the best benefit to ourselves and other sentient beings is meditating on the lam-rim and attaining the path. It brings incredible benefit and it pacifies the delusions, not allowing them to arise. Then, we have great peace and happiness now, and also others don’t receive harm from us because our mind is living in virtue.
Even renunciation to this life, detachment from this life—even if it’s just that, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable the help it brings to others. They don’t receive harm from us. Just from that, even without talking about bodhicitta, they don’t receive harm. So many types of harm they don’t receive from us; it’s just incredible the peace they receive. Then, of course, there is no question if there is bodhicitta.
Now, we’ll do the protector prayer. The meditation is, your own guru is in the form of protectors. That’s the best way how to meditate when you recite the prayer. It’s not something separate from the guru. If so, that doesn’t have taste; it has lost the taste of the meditation or the practice. That way you can receive blessings or protection.
There’s a particular reason to manifest as a protector, to pacify obstacles. Even Tara, the Twenty-one Taras, it’s one being, it’s one being but manifesting in twenty-one aspects. One aspect is not enough. Just the green aspect is not enough, so there are twenty-one Taras, there are twenty-one different aspects. Each one has a different function, a different way to benefit sentient beings, to protect sentient beings from different sufferings, to pacify them and cause happiness and ultimately, to bring to liberation and enlightenment. That’s the ultimate. Tara manifests as the Twenty-one Taras, not just only for some mundane problems—it can be done for that, but it’s not just that—ultimately it’s to bring us sentient beings to liberation and to full enlightenment.
Then, the next one is for the success of all the projects in the organization, you can think like that. Then, for the Sangha in this organization, FPMT, to be able to complete their scriptural understanding and the realizations of the path to enlightenment in this very lifetime. Then, to receive all their needs, to live in the pure vinaya and all the protection in their lives, that’s extremely essential, very important, because the real existing Buddhadharma in the West depends on having Sangha, so that means living in vinaya and also somebody receiving perfect human rebirth, the eight freedoms to practice Dharma and eight endowments or ten richnesses: five from one’s own side, five from the other’s side.
The second one, the first is for human being, and the next one is the opportunity to practice Dharma, being born in the center of the religious country. There are two ways of thinking of that. One is a place like Bodhgaya or like some center of a holy place, the other one is defined by having the vinaya lineage, of having Sangha living in the vinaya practice: getsul, male and female, the thirty-six vows, male and female, then gelong, the “virtuous beggars,” the seekers of liberation.
In a book, I think from India or Thailand or something, somebody translated gelong as “beggar of food” because, of course, externally, that is what you see is, in the early morning, at six o’clock, when the sun rises, the monks go into the street begging for alms.
One time Lama Yeshe and I were in Australia or somewhere, when we left our hotel at six o’clock we saw the monks outside, on the street—what do you call where people walk? [Student: Footpath.] Foot path, foot path. [Rinpoche laughs] I thought you were saying football, football, anyway, footpath.
So early in the morning, but one lady was kneeling down, carrying a tray full of food as the monks passed by with their begging bowls. She was showing great respect for the Sangha, it’s like seeing the Buddha when they see a monk, it’s like you see the Buddha. From some distance they knelt down and were unbelievably respectful. That way, they created so much good karma.
It’s a very good example, very good example for the West, maybe for some Tibetans as well. Some are very respectful, because it’s all to do with the understanding of karma and how much merit you collect if you respect a powerful object who is living in the higher number of vows. You have to understand all these things, it’s benefit for yourself, you collect unbelievable merit. And then, if you disrespect then you also create very heavy negative karma, if you disrespect or the manner is disrespectful, you also create heavy negative karma because the Sangha is very powerful object, and the more powerful the higher number of vows they are living in. Therefore, it’s for your own benefit not to disrespect them. In the West many people don’t know what disrespect means, don’t have any idea how to respect them. I mean, maybe some know but some don’t.
This happens in Thailand and Sri Lanka. I haven’t been in Burma. I was in Sri Lanka for a short time to see the Buddha’s tooth. I didn’t see the Buddha’s tooth but I went there to prostrate, in Kandy. It’s very good, it’s very nice. If you are traveling, to go to those places is very good, where there are holy objects of the Buddha’s. That’s very good if you are traveling, to make your expenses worthwhile, to make it beneficial, to go to those holy places rather than famous beaches.
I don’t mean everybody. For some people there’s great benefit going to the beach. You can benefit all the animals living in the ocean. For example, even if you recite ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM, doing the Chenrezig practice, then you enter into the water. Your body is blessed, so once you get into the water, the water that touches your body all gets blessed. This has such power to purify all the creatures living in the water, from the largest like a mountain to the tiniest you can see only through a microscope. It’s unbelievable benefit, even if you’re just practicing Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha, Avalokiteshvara. It’s just amazing, just that. Then, anybody who touches the water, even other human beings playing in the water, enjoying the water, they also get purified, besides the animals.
When bodhisattvas bless the land, bless the people, it’s of unbelievable benefit wherever they are. It’s amazing.
Whether you are a bodhisattva or not, with a bodhisattva motivation, there’s a special practice you can do at the beach. You bless the water with a special mantra taught by Buddha, then the numberless hungry ghosts are able to drink the water; that becomes nectar and they are able to see the nectar. It is not just water but nectar, and they purify their negative karma to be born as the preta, and suffer unimaginable suffering, they get purified. Receiving the drink not only stops the hunger and thirst but their negative karma gets purified and they get a higher rebirth. That’s the great gift you can give them, the great gift you can give to them. They get higher rebirth, they get liberated from that suffering and they get a higher rebirth. Their negative karma gets purified.
There’s a special practice like that, you can do at the beach, which is unbelievable benefit to numberless preta beings. There are preta beings like a forest, like grass growing on the mountain, on the land; there are numberless hungry ghosts, so unbelievable; it seems like that to those who can see. Anyway, they get unbelievable benefit, unbelievable benefit. If you’re going to those places, this is how to make your life most beneficial, the best use. If you can do like that, it’s very good.
You’re going there for enjoyment, but then if you do those Dharma practices there, giving charity to the pretas, the different types of practices, they get purified and liberated, so it’s unimaginable.
Anyway, so this is Kandy. Many years ago I was going back to Nepal from Australia. At that time, a Western nun was helping me, Thubten Yeshe. She’s not a nun now. She had been there before so she took me. She asked me if I wanted to go and I said yes. I think it’s on the way from Australia so it doesn’t cost much. We stayed in an old British hotel, and from there the temple was quite close.
I spent a day in the temple doing prostrations, reading the Bodhicaryavatara text loudly. Every five minutes tourists came. One tourist came and then went, then another one came and went. So, I just chant loudly so that they can hear, then did full-length prostrations. Then, the Theravadin monks who were watching came down and did the full-length prostrations too. This was when all the tourists had gone, after five.
After I finished, when it was time to go, there was an Indian or Sri Lankan man watching. He called “come,” so I was wondered why he was calling me. The thought came in my mind how in India, sometimes they catch a person and hang them upside down above a fire. It is said it produces oil from the body. I heard this. So I thought maybe this is what’s going to happen. [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs] That thought came, somehow, at that time. Then I followed the Indian man, and he took me upstairs to the room of the caretaker monk, who was very happy to see me and he offered me milk or tea.
My understanding of tea was black tea mixed with milk, that’s the way it comes. That’s very common. I don’t drink black tea, not commonly; I mix it with milk, so I said, tea. I think it was so good that I said tea, I realized that after. The monks don’t drink milk in the afternoon. I don’t know if they do in the morning but in the afternoon they don’t drink milk, they don’t drink milk tea, they are very strict. So, if I had said I drink milk then I think I wouldn’t have fitted in with them because they are very strict with their vows, not drinking milk, which is not like apple juice which is transparent. After they have taken their one meal, they fast in the afternoon.
They brought black tea because I said tea. I thought it was mixed with milk, that’s what I drink, so I said tea, so they brought, for them the black tea. So anyway, it was good, it fitted in with them, with their practice, so it was good. Anyway, he was very happy to meet me and he gave me Sri Lankan tea as a present.
It was very good. There is the Buddha’s tooth inside the stupa, then there is another stupa and then another stupa. You can only see the tooth if you are member of the country or a president, somebody very high up in the country. I don’t know whether they can, but maybe they can see it.
Every morning the monks made a bath offering, offering water to the tooth. During that time there were four men downstairs, not upstairs but downstairs, there were four men dressed in white, beating a drum. The Buddha’s relics were upstairs, so they beat the drum for one hour as an offering. They do this morning and evening.
You don’t see the Buddha’s tooth but the stupa has a very strong feeling. The vibration of this, the very strong feeling the stupa has, is a sign of having the tooth inside.
I think there are maybe four teeth in the world. There is maybe one in China but I didn’t see it when I went there. I saw a long Buddha’s relic, but I didn’t see the tooth, inside a stupa like I had planned. I saw the picture, so I thought to see the tooth, but there was some very long Buddha’s relic. We didn’t see the tooth. I don’t know what happened.
I think there are maybe two in Tibet, besides the one in Sri Lanka. One is buried in the monastery of Gyalwa Ensapa, Lama Tsongkhapa’s disciple who achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times. I think there’s a tooth there. Maybe it’s Buddha Kashyapa or Shakyamuni Buddha’s tooth. I think there are four. That is buried in the mountain. When the destruction in Tibet was happening, they buried it in the mountain and then a shepherd, a person looking after animals, found it. He was carrying it on his body, then I think he was shooting animals, then one day I think the bullet come back to him and he died. Then somebody found him and found the Buddha’s tooth on his body.
I was wishing very much to get that tooth to put in the fifty-story Maitreya Buddha statue.
Then, many years ago I met a monk at Dharamsala who wanted to go to France. When he was in Lhasa, he was buried under the ground, maybe for doing some political work. He was captured with a Germany person and buried underground for some months. They liberated the German person but he was kept there for a long, and I think there was electrical torture. When he asked me to help him he asked if I wanted anything, so I mentioned I was collecting relics for the Maitreya statue. He told me his family had a Buddha’s tooth from this monastery and his brother would bring it. First, he said maybe I could get it, but later he said he would like to offer it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I don’t know what happened.
In Sri Lanka, while I was doing prayers there, many young people came, young boys and girls, to do prostrations. One girl came with a baby—it must have been her first—and put it on the ground while she kneeled down for maybe twenty-five minutes or something, Then she picked her baby up. In front of the Buddha’s stupa there were containers of rice, all lined up. I think people left them there in the morning to get blessed and then took them away at midday or something, to share with their family. Some people came and meditated. I think it’s very good, especially, to see young people come with devotion.
Anyway, I’m not going to go over the success of all the different projects, projects which already started.
So, to be most beneficial for all sentient beings, to bring the sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible, that’s the essence.
THE MEANING OF TARA
The meaning of Tara. There is the definitive meaning of Tara and the interpretive meaning of Tara, the mother of all the buddhas, mother of the Victorious Ones. “Victory” means victory over the disturbing thought obscurations and the subtle defilements, having totally ceased them, to have total victory over the four maras: the mara of the delusions, the mara of the samsaric aggregates, the mara of the lord of death and the mara of the deva’s son.
There are two types of maras: the four gross maras and the four subtle maras. I don’t remember the four subtle maras, I’ve seen the explanation in the text of the Abhisamayalamkara but I don’t remember now.
The mara of the deva’s son makes us grab onto or something, shoot the five arrows of delusion, five arrows of delusion. When we are trying to live a pure life by taking vows, the mara of the deva’s son shoots the five arrows of delusion, causing attachment to arise or something, discouraging us from taking the vows: the lay vows, the upasika vows or the nun’s or monk’s vows—the thirty-six vows renouncing the household life—or the higher vows, the 253 or 365 bhikshu and bhikshuni vows. When we wish to take those vows, to live a pure life, this mara causes delusion to arise, discouraging us.
Or, after we have taken the vow, they cause us to break the vows. Or when we are trying to practice things such as generosity, giving to others, they cause miserliness to arise, interrupting our practice of generosity. They cause to other delusions to arise—ignorance, anger, attachment, pride, jealousy, doubts, all these things—not allowing us to practice Dharma, to achieve realizations.
A buddha has totally overcome these four maras, is liberated from this, so has victory over these four maras, so, Tara, as the Mother of the Victorious Ones, means mother of the buddhas.
Tara is called “Mother,” so it’s good to understand the meaning of that. The very meaning of the Mother has nothing to do with giving birth to the children; it’s not that sort of mother. The ultimate meaning, the real meaning of Mother is the guru, that means guru. What it really is guru. The guru, who is that? What really is that? That is the dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom, voidness, which pervades all phenomena, so it’s everywhere. There’s no place where there’s no guru. In the debating subjects or when the philosophy is mentioned, it is emphasized that there’s no place where there’s no Buddha, so you can say there’s no place where there’s no guru. This wisdom, the dharmakaya, pervades all the phenomena, whether on our crown, in our hand, in our heart, everywhere, it pervades all the phenomena.
This is the primordial mind, which has no beginning and no end, no cessation, no end, no beginning and no end. When I say “primordial,” I’m going into highest, tantric explanation, when it’s labeled that; not the gross mind.
Bound with infinite compassion to us sentient beings, this manifests in any form, in pure form for the pure beings, in impure form for the impure beings who have delusion, who have impure karma. It manifests in an impure form for them.
By understanding every single sentient being’s mind directly, their level of intelligence, what karma they have, the elements, by seeing everything directly, the dharmakaya then reveals the appropriate method. Even to guide one sentient being, there are infinite, numberless methods revealed to that one sentient being, to guide him from happiness to happiness, to liberation, to the cessation of the samsaric suffering, then to bring him to full enlightenment.
Without effort, it naturally does the work for sentient beings. We can say infinite, as it covers all the phenomena. So, it benefits the numberless sentient beings, naturally, including every one of us, including every one of us. We should understand this. I’m talking about others but it includes every one of us.
I think that’s why we’re here. [Rinpoche laughs] That’s why we’re here, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, at Kopan Monastery.
DR NICK MEETS THE DHARMA
For example, in the past it happened, Lama asked Dr. Nick, an Australian doctor, to start printing Dharma books, and this is how Wisdom Publications started.
He was on the third course, after we had built the small monastery. In the fourth course, he came with his mother and his friend, who is now called Yeshe Khadro and is the director of the hospice in Queensland. I would say it is the most successful hospice. It was started a long time ago. Maybe this hospice is also supported by the government. She is the director there now.
They were both on the third course and then for the fourth course, Dr. Nick’s mother came. I think she passed away, this year or last year. [Ven. Roger: This year. (2008)] This year she passed away. She was a very good-hearted person, a very loving mother. Anyway, I’m just giving you an idea.
Dr. Nick and his girlfriend had started to go on a world tour, to see the world. They were lying down on the beach in Thailand—I don’t know which beach—when a person came along selling coconuts, so they cut open a coconut and ate it. At that moment, somebody came along and told them there was the Kopan course happening. I don’t think it was the coconut seller, but somebody else, a Western person. So they suddenly decided, while they were lying down drinking the Coca-Cola [?], they decided. [Group laughs] They decided to come to do the Kopan course. If that person hadn’t mentioned it, then maybe it would never have happened.
Like I told you yesterday, if we hadn’t meet this first Russian lady, the first student, then all these things might not have happened: so many years of busy activity, the hundred and sixty projects, centers, mostly Dharma centers but also social service projects, spreading the Dharma in the West, which has been a land of darkness, bringing the light of Dharma. As I mentioned yesterday, that includes all these courses that have happened, starting from the very first Kopan course up to now, from the short courses to the one-month courses, none of that would have happened.
And then from here, people got benefit and students started centers in their own countries. None of those things would have happened.
There are many people with similar stories. They’re in a market or somewhere, traveling or something, then somebody comes along and talks about Kopan, gives them the message, and they decide to come. It’s very interesting. You can be in many different places, doing something very different.
In the case of Dr. Nick, he was laying down at the beach, drinking Coca-Cola. There could be very interesting other places, other people, when it begins, when you got the message, when somebody passed the message.
Of course, there’s karma. You have karma from the past, there’s karma from the past to meet the Buddhadharma. Maybe there’s also karma from past lives not only to meet the Buddhadharma but also to come to Kopan.
So, anyway, what was I saying?
THE MEANING OF TARA (CONT)
With Tara, the Mother of the Victorious Ones, gyal-yum, the Victorious Ones means all the buddhas, so she is the mother of all the buddhas. What’s the real name? That’s the guru. What is the real guru? I’ve mentioned already, so I’m not going to repeat it.
Here, Mother has incredible meaning, unimaginable. That’s the ultimate guru, by taking form and then guiding us. For example, my gurus. There’s a danger that I’m telling you that I’m a buddha, but I’m not talking like that. There’s a danger of that but I’m not talking about that.
My gurus who took this form, manifesting in this form and then guiding me, they’re the conventional gurus. The holy mind is absolute guru, that which I introduced before. This absolute guru, as I mentioned before, is primordial, pervading all the phenomena, all the existence, bound with infinite compassion.
In order to guide us sentient beings, it manifested as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhadharma in this world, and then manifested into Maitreya Buddha, Manjushri, all those great Six Ornaments, the great scholars, the highly attained beings, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Chandrakirti, Dignaga and so forth, all those holy beings in the merit field.
It also manifested as Lama Atisha and all the Kadampa geshes, then manifested in the New Kadampa tradition lamas, as Lama Tsongkhapa and all those other great masters, up to present gurus, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, all in order to guide us. Then, it manifests into all the tantric deities, the four classes of tantric deities, and it manifests into Tara.
There are four classes of tantric deities, like in Highest Yoga Tantra, Yamantaka, Heruka Chakrasambhava, Kalachakra and so forth, and it manifests in the form of Tara, the female aspect, whose particular function is to accomplish the wishes of sentient beings, seeking happiness, for them to succeed in all their activities and achieve happiness.
There are twenty-one Taras according to Phari Lotsawa, the holy being and great translator. Maybe the twenty-one Taras appeared to him. These twenty-one Taras have many arms according to Phari Lotsawa. There’s an initiation for that, which comes in the Rinjung Gyatsa.
And then there’s the twenty-one Taras according to Lama Atisha. That is the jenang—the blessing to be able to practice—I’m going to grant tonight. Here each of the twenty-one Taras has one face and two arms. But, according to Lama Atisha, there’s one very wrathful one and one slightly wrathful, not all are the same and there are different colors, depending on their function. There’s one wrathful one, with hair standing up, and then one is slightly wrathful, having wrinkles here, I think might be that. There’s one very wrathful one, definitely.
Many people think that as you have twenty-one Taras you have twenty-one identical Taras, but it’s not quite like that, according to Lama Atisha. It doesn’t mean you can’t have hundreds, billions, hundreds and billions of Taras, naturally you can, but I’m just saying according to Lama Atisha there are these twenty-one aspects.
There is another Twenty-one Taras statue I asked to be made in three sizes, one life size, then the ones I have in the room, this size, and then one small one. I think that a Tibetan lady who lives at the hotel in Darjeeling that Lama bought for the monastery, asked for one so I gave it to her.
I made the three statues to collect the merits to build the fifty-story Maitreya Buddha statue. Even though there’s no place to put it in the statue yet, because the statue is not built, but we made these Tara statues in three sizes, to collect merits for building the fifty-story Maitreya Buddha statue.
The Twenty-one Taras statues, this size, I had in the room but then Geshe Sopa Rinpoche came. He is Lama Yeshe’s teacher, as well as my teacher. When he came here to the monastery, he was very happy, so I offered the statue for his center in Deer Park, Madison. It’s there now in the new building. But this one, sponsored by Lillian Too from Malaysia, is the same size.
There’s a third Twenty-one Taras from Taiwan. I have seen cards, all the implements are in the upali flower here, and this hand is empty, so that’s one Twenty-one Tara that I don’t know, I haven’t found out the lineage.
I thought maybe there are other traditions of this Twenty-one Taras aspect, so I asked Geshe Lama Konchog, who lived here for a long time. I thought maybe he knew. He said maybe Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen’s text explains it. He was a great lama, unbelievable, unbelievable, like the sun shining in the world, like that. There is one sun, but it shines on the whole world. Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, wrote so many volumes of teachings and he has established a monastery in Kyidong, very pure, not so much focused on the extensive learning, but more focused on the the monks following the vinaya practice.
I checked in that text but I did not find about the lineage of that aspect of Twenty-one Taras, but I found an unbelievable explanation about the Sixteen Arhats. There’s a short and an extensive story about each one. It’s unbelievable. I thought to translate it into English, but I haven’t started yet. The benefit of having their statues, their pictures, is unbelievable. The Kadampa geshes say if you don’t have the Sixteen Arhats then it’s not a monastery, and Geshe Lama Konchog used to say that.
So, anyway, then I thought to start to make different size statues so that the centers can have them. It seems extremely important to have the Sixteen Arhats statues, to make offerings, to pray for success of Dharma practice. All the Kadampa geshes emphasize very much to have pictures or thangkas. Kadampa Geshe Potowa practiced and then got so much benefit from this, benefitting others and having realizations, and he advised his disciples to do the same. The Kadampa geshe practiced this way and got so much benefit, then he advised to other disciples. So Kadampa geshes emphasize this very much.
The statues haven’t happened yet, but there are small statues in the Hong Kong center. Our center there ordered it. The Sixteen Arhat statues or the Thirty-five Buddhas statues haven’t been available, but you can order them. Now they are available about this size.
So, anyway, there’s another Twenty-one Taras. I have seen it but there are four different Twenty-one Taras. I’ve seen the thangka, a very beautiful thangka. There’s another Twenty-one Taras, but I don’t know which lineage it is from. I saw a thangka of the fourth one in New Zealand and different places, but I haven’t found yet clearly which Lama’s vision or lineage.
Even with manifestations of Tara, there are many Twenty-one Taras, many different aspects, all Twenty-one Taras but different. Because there are different needs for certain sentient beings—this Twenty-one Taras suits this sentient being, that Twenty-one Taras suits that one. Even with the Compassion Buddha, there are a hundred different Compassion Buddhas, because there’s that need from sentient beings. There are different aspects for different sentient beings.
They manifest into the Buddhas of Fortunate Eon, the one thousand Buddhas, including Shakyamuni Buddha and all the previous, Buddha Kashyapa and so forth, then the future Maitreya Buddha and the rest of the Buddhas, then the Thirty-five Buddhas, the Medicine Buddhas, all these manifestations. I mentioned what the guru is, how it takes all these forms, it manifests in these ways. Then, they manifest into also bodhisattvas, the Eight Bodhisattvas, then arhats, the Sixteen Arhats and then as the guru. They manifest into dakas, dakinis, into protectors. The guru manifests into protectors. This is what you have in the Guru Puja merit field, in all the lam-rim merit fields. In the center is Lama Losang Tub Wang Dorje Chang, the originator, the root of all this, of all these many billions of buddhas—however many there are, but the very root is that guru. Then the lama, that’s the very root, originator of everything, how many numberless buddhas there are, deities, the lama. Losang means Tsongkhapa, manifesting as Tsongkhapa.
Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then Vajradhara, then there’s a HUM syllable at the heart. Tsongkhapa, at his heart, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; at his heart, Vajradhara; at his heart, HUM. So that is that guru. As I mentioned at the very beginning, it has the meaning of mother, the mother of all the buddhas.
However many there are, there are just in reality two different aspects, two different functions, to guide us sentient beings and to bring us to enlightenment. But actually it’s all one. In reality it’s just one, that guru, that guru I mentioned before.
So I just mention this and that’s it, I’m not going to go over, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah or blah, blah, blah or blee, blee, blee, or whatever.
THE BUDDHA MANIFESTS IN WHATEVER FORM IS BENEFICIAL
I thought, since I’m talking here, I thought to mention some quotations. These are very helpful, so you can write them down. They are very beneficial, very useful to help us find more faith in the Buddha by knowing more of the activities, as well as helping the guru devotion, to understand more.
This is from the sutra, Meeting the Father and Son. [Rinpoche quotes extensively in Tibetan.] , In that sutra, the Buddha explains that a buddha manifests into what the Hindus worship, Indra, Brahma, Gachen—what the Hindu religion worships—and even manifests into maras, sometimes also manifests into maras.
The manifestation doesn’t have to be all the time something radiating, beautiful. If we have a pure mind, we see the pure aspect of Buddha but that’s not the case at the moment for many of us. Anyway, I won’t to go any further.
So, the quotation says a buddha sometimes even manifests as mara to do the work for sentient beings, sem-chen. Tri ken nam ke dor me means worldly beings don’t understand, they don’t realize. They think because they see as mara, then believe mara. They see Indra, then they believe it’s Indra. They see Brahma and believe it’s Brahma. Whatever appears to them, they believe; they don’t see beyond that, they don’t realize.
Po me che tse cho pa dze means the Buddha can also manifest as a woman, wearing female dress and manifesting female the conduct.
Tro be gen ne na yan da. In the animal realm, the Buddha manifests as animal.
Do cha men na cha. Although there’s no attachment, the Buddha can manifest as having attachment.
[Tibetan quote] Similarly, the Buddha doesn’t have fear. He has removed all the cause of fear, delusion and karma, and even subtle defilements, so how the Buddha can have fear? The cause of fear is delusion, karma and delusion. He has removed that so Buddha doesn’t have fear. Buddha has no fear but he can show the aspect of fear.
[Tibetan quote] The Buddha is not crazy but he can show the aspect of being crazy.
[Tibetan quote] Buddha is not sha-wa. This could be the blind if related to the eye or a limp if related to the leg, so we can read this two ways. The Buddha is not blind but can show the aspect of blindness, or the Buddha is not crippled with a limp but he can show that aspect.
[Tibetan quote] The Buddha subdues sentient beings by manifesting in various forms, even manifesting as an insect, as a tiger, as a snake, as a cockroach, as a rat. The Buddha can manifest in any form that benefits the sentient being, that is needed at that time.
So, anyway, the continuation of the quotation, wheel-turning kings reveal Dharma, so the Buddha manifests as a wheel-turning king and reveals Dharma.
Then, the Buddha manifests into the nyen tö, followers of the Lesser Vehicle Path, who listen to the teachings, and attainers. The Buddha also manifests in those forms, as nyen tö, as a follower of the Lesser Vehicle path, and reveals the Dharma.
Then Buddha manifests in the form of animals—I’m following the quotation—the Buddha manifests in the form of animals. The Buddha manifests as an asura; the Buddha manifests as a statue; the Buddha manifests as relics.
In these degenerate times, we sentient beings who have impure karma don’t have karma to see the Buddha in the aspect of the Buddha, only in the form of relics. So then the Buddha manifests in the form of relics for our devotional object, so we can collect merits, and to plant the seeds of enlightenment.
It is said in the teachings that each time you see the Buddha’s relics, it purifies a thousand eons negative karma, it mentions that. So, like that, even though it doesn’t give teachings, communicate, but just, collect extensive merits, causes us sentient beings to collect extensive merits and purify the defilements.
To continue the quotation: In order to liberate the king from ignorance, then Buddha manifests as Brahma. It’s talking about the stories that happened in the past.
In order to liberate the king from the anger, then Buddha manifests as what Hindus follow, kam-chu [?] What’s that? [There is some discussion in Tibetan.] Krishna, maybe Krishna, I’m not sure.
It’s very useful to know this. In order to liberate the king from anger. There must be some story that happened in the past; it might be in the Buddha’s life story, where the Buddha manifests as kam-chu, maybe Krishna.
In order to liberate the owner of the attachment, in order to subdue the owner of the attachment, that is the Ganesh, what the Hindus worship, Ganesh, the owner of the attachment, the Buddha manifests in the wrathful form.
I don’t remember very clearly but one of my gurus, Kyabje Ribur Rinpoche, explained that there’s a Ganesh related to the attachment. Sorry, I made a mistake. This could be wang-chuk, Mahadeva, I’m not sure. To liberate the owner of the attachment the Buddha manifests into the wrathful form.
To liberate the owner of the pride, the Buddha manifests into Ganapati.
Rinpoche told me the story of Ganapati and pride. Ganesh is a worldly being. Ganesh went for outing. [Group laughs] Maybe there are some large, five star restaurants in the deva realm, I’m not sure, anyway, he went out. So Chenrezig took the form of Ganapati, took his form and he sat on the throne.
I think Ganesh said, with pride, “I’m the only one in the universe,” or something, proud of his own qualities or whatever. So then Chenrezig manifested as Ganapati and took a similar form but, of course, one is ordinary and the other one is an enlightened being , unbelievably glorious, radiating, there’s no question, and he sat on the throne. He was sitting on the throne when Ganesh came in from outside. So then I don’t know what happened. [Group laughs] I forgot the story! I’m very sorry, maybe next time. I only remember the middle part. [Rinpoche laughs ]
I think he subdued, he tamed the worldly being, the deva, Ganesh, what Hindus worship.
It’s kind of a similar aspect, what we take that initiation but Ganapati is the embodiment of Compassion Buddha; it’s not the Hindu Ganesh. There’s the worldly being and then there’s the enlightened being, Ganesh. The initiation that we have, to practice, to worship, that is Ganapati, the actual Compassion Buddha.
To release the sentient beings from the poverty, for their wishes to succeed.
Then it says, in order to liberate the king from jealousy, the Buddha manifests as Wang-go. I’m not sure what the last one is. [Rinpoche laughs] Maybe Indra, maybe Indra. It says Wang-go. I’m not sure; it could be Indra. It can be checked.
Anyway, the idea is that the Buddha manifests into all these forms, even into the various beings the Hindus worship, in order to subdue those different sentient beings, because they need to see that aspect. Because those beings have faith to Indra, Brahma, all these things, they worship that, so the Buddha manifests in those forms to subdue those sentient beings. That way he can benefit them.
THE MEANING OF TARA (CONT)
So here, with the Mother of the Victorious Ones, Mother, as I explained before, means guru, what is guru.
Now, “bound with infinite compassion.” So this, you have to understand, guide us, she has guided us from beginningless rebirths, caused us to have all the happiness from beginningless rebirths by letting us create virtue, the cause of those happinesses that we have experienced from beginningless rebirth. That all came from the guru. All the present happiness comes from the guru; while we are in samsara all the future happiness comes from the guru, because following the guru lets us to create virtue, the cause of happiness.
You remember I mentioned that every single virtuous thought or action is an action of a buddha. I mentioned that before. A buddha has two actions: one is within us sentient beings and one within is themselves, possessed by their own mind, so two types of actions.
From this comes all the happiness. That’s how we can relate to the guru. All the present happiness, all the future happiness comes from the guru. Then now, liberation from samsara comes from the guru, and of course enlightenment, full enlightenment, comes from the guru, as well as all the realizations to achieve liberation and enlightenment. It all comes from the guru.
Whenever our life has difficulties, in certain forms the guru guides us, protects us from those sufferings, those dangers, even though we do not know it, we do not recognize it, we do not realize it. All our own numberless past lives’ happiness from beginningless rebirth up to now, all our future lives’ happiness and liberation and enlightenment, everything, every single thing comes from the guru’s kindness.
So, that is the Mother of all the Buddhas.
We can also think we are always receiving guidance from Tara. But, you see, what is Tara? The Mother of all the Buddhas. Now you understand what “Mother of all the Buddhas” means.
The guru manifested in all this merit field. I went through that before.
Now here, we can understand why the guru is called mother. All the numberless buddhas come from that, all are manifestations of that, all are manifestations of that. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha come from that, from the guru. That’s why it’s called the mother.
If we can understand that, we can understand how all our happiness, everything, comes from Tara. But if you separate Tara and the guru, then it doesn’t make sense. We have to understand it’s all one; it’s just a different label but it’s one. Then, we understand we’re connected with Tara, you understand? We are connected with Tara; we are always guided by Tara. It is said that praying to Tara is very powerful, that we very quickly receive guidance.
It is said by one of my gurus, His Holiness Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche, it’s quicker to be born in the Chenrezig’s, in Avalokiteshvara’s pure land, Potala if you pray to Tara. That’s not the Potala, the one in Tibet, it’s called Potala, and there’s also Potala in China, with the same name, but this is talking about the pure land, Potala. His Holiness Serkyong Tsenshab Rinpoche, who is an incarnation of Marpa’s son, Darma Dodé, said that. Rinpoche used to tell me that.
Generally, it is very quick to receive help and guidance from Tara, if we pray to Tara, if we meditate on Tara. In particular to be born in a pure land, praying to Chenrezig and praying to Tara, if you pray to Tara it’s quicker to be born in the pure land. Think like that.
Rinpoche used to say that, he used to say that if you want to see the lama, if you know the attendant, if you have good connection with the attendant, then you’ll be able to see the lama quickly. Rinpoche used that example about the importance of praying to Tara.
In the essence, we must know that we are always guided by Tara. Tara is always looking after us; we must know that.
So, this time we have received perfect human rebirth, we have met the Buddhadharma, the most amazing, the most amazing Buddhadharma. We can meet many great teachers in this life, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to receive initiations, teachings, to learn Dharma and to actualize them, so it’s most amaaaaazing. This life is most amaaaazing; it’s unbelievable.
As I mentioned before, we can achieve all those different of happiness of future lives, from this human body that has seven results, this human body that has eight ripening aspects, this human body that has eighteen precious qualities, this perfect human rebirth.
We can be born in a pure land, where we can become enlightened. We can achieve liberation, the cessation of the oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes, and then also achieve the great liberation, full enlightenment.
Not only that, not only that, not just that, we’re only one living being. After we achieve enlightenment we can liberate numberless hell beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. We can liberate numberless hungry ghosts from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. We can liberate numberless animals from the oceans of samsara’s suffering and bring them to enlightenment. We can liberate numberless human beings from the oceans of samsara’s sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. We can liberate numberless suras and asuras from oceans of samsara’s sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. We can liberate numberless intermediate state beings from oceans of samsara’s sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. So, what we can do is even more amazing; it’s most amazing.
And this perfect human rebirth that we have now, which has all this unbelievable opportunity now, doesn’t last long, this doesn’t last long. Because the nature of impermanence, it can soon be ended. That we have this appearance, having this precious human body and all these comforts, wealth, all this, surrounding people to help, this can be ended, this can be stopped any day. This appearance can be stopped any day, any year, any month, week, any day, any moment; it can happen. Therefore, therefore, we must practice Dharma right away, without the delay of even a second, without the delay of even a second.
That’s the lam-rim, following the lam-rim, the path of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and the higher capable being, following it for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Now, for the success of this, take the blessing of Tara, the permission to practice, to recite the mantra of Tara. For the success of all this, take the Tara jenang, the permission to practice and then to have realizations, to have success in that and then to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, then to be able to have success in benefiting sentient beings, and offering service to the teachings of Buddha—to be able to have all this success. It’s very important. Tara is the manifestation of all the buddhas’ holy actions, to grant success for sentient beings, for their happiness, so it becomes very powerful.
What is the best thing, what is it that really makes us close to Tara? What really makes us close to Tara is bodhicitta, and especially the tong-len practice, taking other sentient beings’ sufferings on ourselves and giving our happiness and merits to others. The bodhicitta practice and meditation and especially tong-len, that’s what pleases Tara. When we sacrifice our life for others, that’s what brings us closer to Tara, what pleases Tara.
That’s why Lama Atisha was able to offer extensive benefit to the teachings of the Buddha and sentient beings, unbelievable benefit to sentient beings. In Tibet, when there was degeneration, there were a lot of misconceptions about tantra and about Dharma. People assumed you were unable to put sutra and tantra together; they regarded them like as hot and cold, two separate things. Because of the degeneration there were a lot of misunderstandings happening in Tibet, so Lama Atisha was invited to Tibet by Trison Genzen(?) from Nalanda, the great monastic university in India. I think there were three hundred great scholars there, all those highly attained beings, like Shantideva and so forth, and Lama Atisha was the crown of them.
So, he was invited to Tibet, and then he wrote The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. From that came the lam-rim, which integrated the entire meaning of the 84,000 teachings the Buddha taught, set up in the gradual path of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and higher capable being, in these three stages. All the Buddha’s teachings were integrated into stages of the path to enlightenment by Lama Atisha as The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, and the title “lam-rim” came from that. After that, many commentaries happened, the most essential one being by Lama Tsongkhapa.
Lama Atisha was of unbelievable benefit, teaching the sentient beings in India and Tibet. So many beings became enlightened by practicing The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the lam-rim. So many beings became bodhisattvas and then enlightened. Since Lama Atisha wrote this, showing how to go to enlightenment, it has become so easy to practice Dharma.
Lama Atisha was able to offer extensive benefit to sentient beings and to the teachings of Buddha, such unbelievable, unbelievable benefit, due to Tara. Lama Atisha always prayed to Tara and relied on Tara, whatever activity he did.
So, it’s for us, the same as Lama Atisha. We can have attainments on the path and offer extensive benefits by praying to Tara. It’s the experience of many people that by praying to Tara they received help. This has been the experience of many common people, not only highly attained beings.
Therefore now, we will take the jenang.
The preparation was done, generating oneself into deity, and then the front generation.
[Rinpoche gives the jenang]
7a Traditionally the mental factors are listed as 51. I’m not sure where Rinpoche has taken this number from. [Return to text]
7b This is the following verse from Calling the Guru From Afar by Pabongka Rinpoche:
NYE KA DÖN CHHEI TEN ZANG KHE NYEN KYI DUG DAM GA
Thinking of this excellent body, highly meaningful and difficult to obtain,
MA NOR NYING PO LEN DÖ SAM KYIN LA MA DRÄN NO
And wishing to take its essence with unerring choice between gain and loss, happiness and suffering – reminds me of you, Guru.