Freedom More Precious Than Skies Filled with Gold, Diamonds and Sapphires

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Freedom worth more than skies of gold, diamonds and sapphires (2011)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Gyalwa Gyatso Center, San Jose, California (Archive #1859)

This unedited transcript is an excerpt from extensive Golden Light Sutra weekend teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in San Jose, California in March 2011. In this excerpt, Rinpoche encourages us to take advantage of this precious and rare opportunity to study the profound meaning of emptiness. These teachings were hosted by Gyalwa Gyatso Center, San Jose, and were attended by many FPMT Sangha including LYWA’s own dear Venerable Kunsang. You can also watch Rinpoche give this teaching.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the Light of the Path retreat, North Carolina, USA, 2014. Photo: Roy Harvey.

Do not commit any unwholesome actions
Engage in perfect wholesome actions
Subdue one’s mind
This is the teaching of the Buddha.

[Students recite in English: A star, a visual aberration, a flame of a lamp, an illusion, a drop of dew or a bubble, a dream, a flash of lightning, a cloud, see causative phenomena as such.]

Think of one's own view, view of one’s mind, the I, action, object, form, sound, smell, taste, tangible object, so that view, how they appear to you and how you, which way you've been believing. That they are empty, that all these phenomena are empty of existence from its side, that they all exist in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. Or they are all, including the I, external object, all the phenomena, are existing from their own side.

Having this total opposite view, totally opposite view then what they are, how they exist, stem from the I, self, and action, object, all the phenomena. Enlightenment, hell, enlightenment, samsara, nirvana, happiness, problems, so that’s it.

So while they do not have truly existent, even an atom of that, while they are totally empty—I totally empty, action totally empty, object totally empty—and this includes all the phenomena totally empty from their own side. Exists, empty but exist, exist in mere name, merely imputed by the mind.

From beginningless, not just from this morning, not just from birth, things that are actually appearing, existing from its own side, existing by its nature, or truly existent, which is a projection, a projection of one's own ignorance, concept of true existent, projection, decorated all these, including the true existent, the I, action, all the rest, truly, really hell, really enlightenment, really samsara, really nirvana, really happiness, daily life real happiness, real problem. So this decorated them, by the ignorance, concept of truly existent, ignorance, king of delusion, the king of superstitious mind. Decorated there, on the mere imputation, on the mere imputation of the I, mere imputation of the action, mere imputation of object, mere imputation of hell, mere imputation of enlightenment, mere imputation of samsara, mere imputation of the nirvana, mere imputation of happiness, mere imputation of the problems.

So from beginningless rebirths we have this hallucination, this projection, this hallucination, decorated there, projected then by the ignorance, leaving negative imprints in the mind. Then not realizing this hallucination, though biggest mistake, not realizing, not recognizing it as hallucination, and happen, believing because that, because lack of that recognition or realization, so then believing. We have been using our mind, how we have been using our mind, how we have been thinking of it, how we have been thinking of the I, action and object, how we have been using our mind, believe, totally in trust, totally in trust to the true existence, the real I, real action, real object, real everything.

What projected, hallucination projected by the ignorance, by relate our mind to use, we are using our mind to, wrong way, wrong believe, believing that they are all right, that they are truly, that they are all correct view. This I is real true, this action is real true, everything is true, what is projected as something real by the ignorance, we let our mind to, on top of that, on top of what ignorance projected hallucination, then we let our mind one hundred percent believe that true, that is the root of samsara. That the basis to arise attachment, anger, ignorance, jealous mind, pride and all that, those five, six delusions, the 22 secondary delusions and so forth, and 84,000 delusions branches, however there, from the ignorance and attachment.

By, like the root of a tree, spread out, more, like that, from ignorance, anger and attachment. Then, however from this very root of this wrong concept of truly existence, believing everything real. What ignorance projected the real I, the real this, the real that, all that, apprehend that, on top of that we let our mind to hold on to interest to believe all the true existent. This real I appearing from there, true really action appearing from there, real object appearing from there, every single phenomena, so that, any phenomena in samsara, any phenomena in nirvana, all that, which are not there, which are not there, total, total non-existent right there. Because that, if you look for, can’t find, if you look there, can’t find at all anywhere, can’t find there at all, if you look for and analyze. Can’t find anywhere, can’t find there on the base, neither that nor anywhere, can’t find if you look for, so that is the proof, all these hallucinations, all these do not exist at all, empty.

[Long pause]

The biggest mistake, root mistake, biggest mistake in our way of thinking, in our concept, biggest mistake. While I, action, object, while samsara, nirvana, hell, enlightenment, happiness, problems, while everything totally, while the whole entire life is totally empty from its own side, we think the projections, hallucinations truly existent appearance there, they are projected by ignorance, on the merely labeled I, merely labeled aggregates. The way we think, that is one hundred percent true.

Mistaken way of thinking, wrong way of thinking, believe, wrong believe. So then this thought become ignorance, this is the root of samsara. From where all the delusions arise, and the karmas, motivated karma, then from there all the sufferings arises—oceans of sufferings of human beings, ocean of suffering for human beings, the human realm, all the ocean of suffering of rebirth, sufferings of old age, suffering of sicknesses.

Most people generally as ordinary beings do not remember, even coming out from mother’s womb, do not remember. Most of us do not remember even that. Even the mother, when you are baby, even mother took care, always kept to her own body, do not remember even that. Even after coming out, those things during baby time, you don’t remember. So therefore, so same, you cannot say it didn’t happen because you don’t remember, you can’t say because I don’t remember, I don’t understand, I don’t remember so that didn’t happen. So can’t say that, that is foolish. So similar you can’t say there is no rebirth, your human rebirth, didn’t have suffering, cannot say that because you don’t remember, you can’t use that because you don’t remember so therefore there is no suffering in human rebirth, there is no suffering.

There is all the sufferings of rebirth are outlined in the five by Lama Tsongkhapa, in sutra. There are so many things in life after you are born, there are so many things in life that you forgot, but then your friend, your parents, other people can remember what you did, then you have to negate, you have to say all those didn’t happen because you don’t remember. So that is foolish, you see. So exactly same, suffering rebirth means happen even though you don’t remember, so that similar, I am just using that as a reason that how that foolish is similar saying that human rebirth is no suffering because you don’t remember. That you don’t remember, you don’t see it, can’t use that, doesn’t become logic, doesn’t become logic to prove it, that human rebirth doesn’t have suffering.

Certainly holy beings and those who are free from, those who are liberated from the sufferings of samsara, by ceasing cause, karma and delusions, those mental factors, karma and delusions, which causes rebirth, that suffering. Whoever has ceased totally that, then even though they manifest taking rebirth but they don’t experience suffering. Similar the mother when they give birth to the holy beings, when they give birth, realized the holy beings, they don’t experience pain, birth, sorry I said birth, birth, they don’t experience pain. Even from the story, some incarnated lama's birth, the mother tell didn’t have pain at all, very easy like that. General, then it's unbelievable pain, many mother has experienced. Even from story, what I heard was like that, because of this, Yangsi Rinpoche who started the college, his mother told me that never had pain at all, very, very easy. Even the mother’s side, different experience for different children's birth. So the effect of that being's mind, the holy mind, or realized or whatever, the holy mind, the realized mind or things that, so doesn’t caused pain to the mother.

Suffering of rebirth, suffering of old age, suffering of sicknesses, and suffering of death which for us which hasn’t happen yet, suffering of death, or rather than that. The suffering, meeting the undesirable objects, all the suffering of that, then suffering of not meeting the desirable objects, meeting undesirable object, then the suffering of not meeting the desirable objects. Then even if one found the desirable objects but can’t get satisfaction, can’t get satisfaction, then you try so hard in the life, all kind of things, all kind of things you try to get satisfaction, happiness or like that.

Like you go by aeroplane, go up by aeroplane then you come out in the sky, you come out from the sky; not from the sky, sorry, from the aeroplane. I think you have trekking bag on your back side or I am not sure. Each person carries trekking bag. Parachute, not trekking bag. [Laughter] Backpack, backpack. I don’t carry backpack you know. Anyway each person holding hands, each person hold their hands in the sky, sometimes one person drops down, I see some, one person fall down, the way down, way down, but then didn’t show, they drop on ground into, but didn’t show. Anyway like that, all these for getting satisfaction, to try all kind of things in life to get satisfaction.

Another person used as a bullet, I don’t how, from another ground, they shoot as a bullet, inside a person. Person used as bullet, from somewhere, shoot another place, bullet is person, I saw that. [Laughter] In another mission, somewhere shot, shoot, but is person, but is a man, to some other place. Between that is crack, between the ground, big crack. Then like, what do you call [Tibetan], bat, you put wings, make wings, you tie with their arms, then you run with the wings, you run, then sometime you fell down, injured, on top of the hill, you run to fly. So anyway.

All kinds of, unbelievable kinds, all kinds of satisfaction. Stop, I am not going to talk so much. Probably some of you might have heard, your body wants to be eaten by somebody else, your body want to be eaten by somebody. I think person from London? Germany? Berlin? I don’t know. One person want to be eaten, his body want to be eaten by somebody, so he advertise, so he found one person to eat his body. So that person came and he ate his body. He found that one person by advertising, from one person, to eat his body. He made none. Made none? Not sure. That person, the body, I think, completely.

Student: There were twenty-five people who applied and he chose that one person. And he was cut into pieces and put into a refrigerator and then he ate him gradually. When they found it, there was just a little bit left in the fridge, haven’t quite finished.

Rinpoche: Twenty-five people what?

Student: Applied to eat him.

Rinpoche: Oh I see, so twenty-five applied to eat him, to eat his body, but he chose this particular person, so cut his body into pieces, put in refrigerator, with creams of top of that. I am joking, I didn’t hear creams on that. Maybe with peanut butter. [Laughter] Anyway I am joking, sorry.

So anyway he ate. But there is also one person, I don’t know where, London or somewhere, the man’s girlfriend or wife, he killed and ate half the body, he actually ate. This man’s girlfriend or wife, he ate the body and left some piece, part of the body left in refrigerator. So that happened also.

So all these to get satisfaction, all kinds of satisfactions. So one thing is that karma of the past life. When you have that karma, it happens, it happens when you have that karma from past life, created the cause for this to happen. Even when normally man not believe at all, this will happen, he will do that, at all, can’t think, it is impossible, but when karma is ripen, it happens.

So this subject, what I want to say is one way, that. So the karma. So therefore you see in the teachings of sutra and tantra, the teaching of karma is how that emphasize so strongly that. Very careful in the karma, even a small negative karma, one has to be very careful, must abandon as much as possible.

So here, that story bring that emphasis, must abandon even small negative karma, must abandon as much as possible. Even small good karma must practice as well, virtuous actions, even small one must practice as much as possible because you want even small happiness. And even dream, you want to have small comfort in your dream, if you wish, look for that. So in that case, even small virtuous action, good karma must do it, even small negative karma must abandon. Even small discomfort of suffering, one doesn’t want to experience, so because of that. So the whole thing emphasis unbelievable of the karma, a little bit teaching one.

Must study those teachings, not only being scholar in the words of the teachings, but must protect karma, must abandon the cause of suffering, the negative karma. If it is small, then practice it even if it is small virtue as much as possible.

That in The Foundation of Good Qualities there Lama Tsongkhapa mentioned. [Tibetan] The good body which has freedom, freedom to practice Dharma, which has freedom, that which is found, this good body which has freedom, it means freedom to practice Dharma. Which is found,  which is found at one time, at one, which is found at one time. The words that Lama Tsongkhapa said [Tibetan] is one time, I see it make it short, extremely, unbelievable, most rare, to find the body qualified of eight freedom, ten richness. Eight freedom and  ten richness, ten endowments, ten richness. But I think ten leisure, I don’t think is correct, because it become kind of a, I am not clear, but from the Tibetan it doesn’t become of that, ten richness.

So which we have now, which we have now, there is it, once, one time. [Tibetan] Extremely difficult to find again, extremely difficult to find again. By example, by number, by cause.

That extremely difficult to found, extremely difficult to find again. So by example, this time, that I think I mentioned in recent time I think. There is golden ring on the ocean, over the ocean there is golden ring. Golden ring is extremely difficult to hold still; wooden ring can stay still but golden ring can’t stay still. It is said golden ring in the Lam-rim Chen-mo, but some other texts say it is wooden ring. However this, extremely difficult, extremely difficult to stay on the water, then it stand still one time, one place, it can move by waves. Then the blind turtle, the turtle that comes up is blind, cannot see the golden ring, blind, but doesn’t come often, it comes only after one hundred years, only after one hundred years it comes up to surface of ocean. Then the neck of the turtle going through the golden ring, can’t imagine, golden ring doesn’t stay in one place, even it stays on the water, but doesn’t stay on place. So the neck going through the golden ring, can’t imagine. That is, even if usually people who says impossible, impossible thing, wouldn’t believe, it is impossible.

So now this time, we have received the perfect human body, eight freedom and ten richness to practice Dharma, whatever one wishes, Dharma, not only Hinayana teachings, Mahayana. Not only Hinayana teaching, the four noble truths, the whole path reach liberation and you become liberated from ocean of samsaric suffering and causes, not only that you met Mahayana teaching, that can achieve Paramita teachings, that can achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Great liberation, cessation of the, total, complete qualities of cessation; not only of grosser defilements but subtle defilements, complete qualities for the realization, full enlightenment for other sentient beings. Not only that, also, met also, Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana teachings, that you can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime without to complete the merits and wisdom, merits to virtue, cause of dharmakaya, rupakaya, for three countless great eons so without needing that, that we can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime by practicing secret mantra Vajrayana. So we have met that. If you have more, more, more teachings, then the most rare, the tantra teachings which is the path which can cease the gross mind and actualize the extremely subtle mind, simultaneously born great bliss that is the clear light. In a brief lifetime of degenerated time, much shorter time, so fast, very quickly one can achieve. Even practicing the lower tantra you can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, because of achieving immortality, long life, then you live for hundred thousand years then achieve enlightenment.

But here without needing to do that, in very short, in a few numbers of years, one can achieve full enlightenment, the state of unified, the unified state of Vajradhara. So this time, something impossible, like that example, impossible thing to happen have happened, received perfect human body. So most amazing, biggest success, what you have achieved. What we have achieved is most amazing, most amazing, most amazing.

So here, after you win all the soccer, after you win all the soccer play, soccer, football, football or the soccer, anyway I'm not sure what the soccer is. So the football or soccer, after they win, after put in the goal, after they did the goal, the person stretch arms like this, but not smiling, face not smiling, very intensive, very intensive, but not smiling, the arms like this, show this to everybody, to all the audience, all those, so many tens of thousands, maybe hundred thousands, not sure, anyway, for show of this to, that he great success. But you see on TV, I wasn’t sure what it means, good thing or bad thing, because he doesn’t smile, very intensive, so I thought maybe angry or, I wasn’t sure. So it is like that for us, can achieve this perfect human body, we have to do like this. [Rinpoche stretches arms to show great success.] We have to do like this every day, every minute, all day and all night we have to do like that; doing all day and all night, every minute, we have to do like this first.

That is nothing, what the soccer, many million dollars that you get, all those is nothing, that is nothing, even so get million dollars is nothing. For this, you have this, wow, this perfect human rebirth, can’t imagine. Here nobody does like this, nobody does like this one. [Laughter] Because not recognized, not have realized, not having realized, not having discovered that, even if you go through the words a few times, but there is no real, there is no real, most precious, how this, most precious, most unbelievable, there is not feeling, no feeling there. So if you are going to do the words, if you think you are good, but not really think most precious thing like, more precious than billion dollars, you don’t think that. You think billion dollars is more precious than this human life, don’t think this important more precious than billion dollars after that. Even just billion dollars.

So I will just mention this too and then finish. So for example, the ten, not being born, freedom to practice Dharma, not being born in hell. That is first, there is eight freedom and ten richness, so the first, freedom to practice Dharma, not being born in hell. So with that, now this one is much precious than mountains of gold and diamond, because, why? Why? Because you can practice Hinayana teachings, the rest of the teachings, you can achieve liberation, ultimate happiness, total liberation from ocean of samsara suffering cause. You can achieve that with this first freedom, freedom to practice Dharma and not being born in hell. But without this even if you have, even if you own mountains of gold and diamond, you cannot achieve, you cannot practice, you cannot achieve liberation from ocean of samsara sufferings, no way.  If you don’t have this freedom, even if you own mountains of gold and diamond, cannot achieve liberation from samsara. So therefore this freedom is more precious, much more unbelievable precious than mountains of gold and diamond.

Now the next one is size of this earth, mountain, size of this earth, gold and diamond. And your first freedom, eight freedom you have to practice Dharma, the first freedom to practice Dharma, not born in hell. This is more precious than size of this earth’s gold and diamond or sapphire. This is more precious than size of this earth’s gold and diamond, because ... With this, why? Because with this freedom you can achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. So without this freedom, even if you own the size of this earth, gold and diamond, sapphire, but can’t achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, no way, can’t achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. So therefore this freedom, this first freedom, freedom to practice Dharma without born in hell, is more precious than this size of earth of gold and diamond.

So now even much, this one is even more precious than sky filled with gold and diamond and all the precious things, gold and diamond and sapphire. This first freedom is more precious, more precious than, more precious than sky filled with gold and diamond and sapphire. Why? Without this freedom, even if you own that much, even if you own that much, cannot, cannot achieve enlightenment, no way, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. You cannot practice tantra and achieve enlightenment for sentient beings in one life, cannot, even if you own that much of wealth, the diamond, gold filled the sky, without that freedom to practice Dharma and not born in hell.

But if you have this, even if you don’t have skies of diamond, gold and all the things, but you can achieve, can practice secret mantra Vajrayana and achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. So think that. Therefore this freedom is much more precious, unbelievable precious than the sky filled with gold, diamond all those. So that.