Golden Light Sutra in Portland (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Portland, USA 2007 (Archive #1667)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this commentary and partial oral transmission of the Sutra of Golden Light at Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, USA, over two days, November 2-3, 2007. Note that the first three audio files contain introductory teachings and the oral transmission commences in Chapter Four.

Rinpoche advises recitation of the Sutra of Golden Light every day. In support of this advice, FPMT has created a webpage dedicated to the Sutra of Golden Light. You will find a complete oral transmission as well as links for downloading the text in various languages, advice on the benefits and a page for reporting your recitations.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa College, 2010. Photo: Marc Sakamoto.
1. The Suffering Nature of Samsara

[Prayers at the Beginning of the Teachings]

I prostrate to the arya Triple Gems. Thus I have heard. Read in English, the Heart Sutra, okay.

[Group chants the Heart Sutra in English, Rinpoche chants in Tibetan]

So before the granting the oral transmission of the Golden Light Sutra, so we experiment, practice. We might visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha that is the embodiment of all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and then all embodied into one, so with that visualization we do offering practice of seven limbs and the short mandala to the merit field. We make that request.

So first limb is prostration. So even though we are sitting, but you can mentally visualize numberless of your body cover the whole ground, either the body or like Thousand-arm Chenrezig, the holy body, thousand arms, so it’s easy to cover and visualize large, so it’s easy to cover the ground. So four directions corners, cover the whole ground and then lay down doing prostrations to the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all the holy objects here include that. So the same not only here, but when you are, can’t sometimes due to sicknesses or however unable to prostrate with the body, so one can still do the prostrations by visualizing.

So you have an altar here, may do in house wherever your altar is, so then numberless of your body lay down from four direction corners and then lay down and do prostration and then physically, you do like this, put the palms together.

So there’s eight benefits and ten benefits. The minute when you put palms together to Buddha, to the holy objects, merit field. So the minute when you put your palms together towards the Buddha, towards statues, stupas, scriptures; statues, stupas, scriptures, the Buddha, merit field, holy objects, you get, you create cause to be reborn higher rebirth, deva, human rebirth, so to be king in those realms.

I mentioned many times in the past, some years ago, but now I forgot a little bit, the benefits. So anyway, I don’t remember. So then it creates cause, the minute you put palms together like this to the Buddha, the merit field, you create cause to generate devotion the Guru, Triple Gems, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. So without devotion, then cannot, there’s no way to receive blessings, there’s no cause to receive blessings. Without receiving blessings then there’s no cause for attaining realizations, attaining the path to enlightenment.

So devotion becomes the root here, this transformation of mind into this the positive mind, the devotion. Devotion is like the fuel—the car, the airplanes, the rocket—all that makes to move, makes to move even though there are many, even though there are many other complicated, even though there are many other machines. The airplane has many parts, so many, so many details [_?], but without fuel cannot do anything, all that cannot function.

So here, devotion, for inner development, inner development. Outside, all the vehicles to function, electricity, fuel to function, the whole city to function, the lift. There’s so many computers, so many things in the city to function electricity. If electricity stopped, then nothing, everything stopped.

But here, inside, inner development, devotion, this positive mind that causes to receive blessings the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and then from that, attainment. From this then, realization comes up to enlightenment. From the root, from the root realizing, discovering or realizing, the Guru is Buddha, from there then the realization from the beginning of the path, perfect human rebirth, the lam-rim, stages of the path to enlightenment, then the whole entire renunciation to this life, renunciation to future lives, samsara, then based on that bodhicitta, able to generate the basic root, the compassion towards all sentient beings.

Then also able to have realizations of right view, the common and uncommon, then yoga highest tantra, the lower tantra, the path having signs and not having signs, the highest Mahayana tantra, the generation stage, the completion stage, all that to the unified state of Vajradhara. So all that development, inner development, complete inner development, so it creates the cause to have this realization devotion Then also then morality, again that as the basis, that’s the basis for happiness, and that’s the basis for future rebirth, good rebirth, the basis of happiness.

For example, ten nonvirtues, ten nonvirtues that our life problem, our this life, whatever problems we have been going through so far, and what you’re going to experience in the future. So however basically from where, what’s the cause of the root, ten nonvirtues, basically from the result of the ten nonvirtues basically. So all the problems that we do not like and that we are afraid of, so the result of. All the future lives’ sufferings, whether it’s the lower realm, or it’s the higher realm, the deva, human realms, however all is basically, it’s not every single thing but it’s basically [_?] the ten nonvirtues. So therefore now total opposite. So all the happiness we wish, so basically it’s the ten virtues, even while we are in samsara, all the pleasure, all the happiness, all the success, so no question about liberation and full enlightenment.

So without the morality, then cannot have, cannot achieve, so put it this way, without the higher training of the morality, the morality, higher training. What’s higher about? Higher, special, as by having refuge within one’s own heart. The useful fear, the positive fear, the useful fear, the sufferings of samsara and particularly of the lower realms, and so the fear that’s needed to get out of samsara, to get out of suffering, fear that’s needed to get out of that, which courage, which gives inspiration to get out of the suffering of samsara, oceans of samsaric suffering which continuation has no beginning, which continuation has no beginning, which continuation has no beginning, but end. So need the fear, fear which came from intelligence, fear which came from understanding how samsara is in the nature of suffering, fear which came from intelligently understanding how samsara in nature of suffering, not nature of happiness, but nature of suffering.

If we look in nature of happiness, then that’s how being attached to that, that’s how we get caught into the prison of samsara from beginningless time by thinking, looking at it as pleasure, looking at it as something like Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen mentioned, looking at samsara that’s in the nature of suffering or looking like it’s a beautiful garden, pleasurable, as achievement, something to look for achievement, then because of attachment, tied up in continuously for samsara. Bound to.

So like that, because so far, up to now we haven’t got liberated from this burden, from this burden, from this heavy burden of samsara, we didn’t get liberated. So because always looking at it as something to achieve pleasure, pleasurable, happy, like a beautiful garden.

So anyway, so that’s why that attachment which is suffering, but looking pleasurable, something nice, good. So no problem, then got cheated, all the time deceived, all the time from beginningless rebirth up to now, this attachment cheated, this believing this as pleasurable, instead of looking at it as suffering that which is suffering. So as for that, that only makes that to be detached and it makes the courage to get out of that, actualizing the path and get out of this, totally liberated oneself. So that didn’t happen, because of that mistake, looking at samsara as no mistakes, something good, nature is pleasurable, something like that.

So as it’s mentioned in the four noble truths: the true suffering, the true cause of suffering, cessation of those sufferings, and true path. So from where the sufferings came, all rising the karma and delusion, from where all the suffering arises, the delusions, the wrong concepts, this delusion, wrong concepts, this superstitious thought, superstitious thought, superstition.

The life, one’s own body and mind, possessions, and surrounding people, families, all this, even though their nature is impermanent, their nature is impermanence, but having superstitious thought the concept of permanence that oneself will live for, every morning when we get up, “I will live for many years”. Everyday this, the superstitious thought that “I will live for many years.” Every morning when we get up the thought is there. Even five minutes before the car accident or airplane accident, airplane crash or whatever, maybe an earthquake or before your heart failed, before you collapse, [_?] coma; however, even five minutes before that this thought is still there, “I will live for many years.”

So you can see that’s how that’s superstition, concept of permanence. Then all these things, it’s going to be always like this. If you see a beautiful flower, it’s always going to be like this. If you see a beautiful body, it’s always going to be like this. It’s always going to be like this, never change, no decay, no change, everyday, no change, no decay. Not only no change, no decay every day, but even within hour, even within minutes, you never see the change, you never discover, you never see the change, decay. This doesn’t last even an hour, minutes, and second by second, and even split second, it’s that subtlest impermanence, that doesn’t, even within a second it doesn’t last, it decays, it changes, it decays.

That thing which exists previous second, it doesn’t exist, whether it was become a beautiful flower or body, whatever it is, whatever exists before, the second before it didn’t exist now, this second. Same, whatever exist before, previous minute, doesn’t exist now; that which existed before, previous hour, doesn’t exist in this hour; so what exist yesterday, didn’t exist so that same thing.

So however, I remember from His Holiness, maybe the Peace of... [Tibetan], the Happiness Peace of Mind, in that book.1 So when you meet the person, “Oh, you’re the person, that person, I met you young time and this and this and this,” so you remember the story, “you’re this person”. His Holiness said, “Of course we think that’s the same person, but it’s not in reality, because there’s a lot of change, there’s so much change happened, decay.” But normally in our daily life, concept it’s the same person which is not true.

So that’s right, it means, so which exists second before, doesn’t exist in the next second so change, decay, so even within seconds. So therefore the whole conclusion it means there’s nothing to be attached to, there’s nothing to cling to, the conclusion is that. That helps the mindfulness and the impermanence, discover of this, realization of this, it helps to overcome attachment and the delusion, this main cause for samsara, this superstition, this attachment, means it doesn’t exist, as we believe. What it project, the object, attachment has its own view, it has its own view which what is projected by that, it doesn’t exist.

Like the ignorance, concept of ignorance, what it projects truly existent, doesn’t exist, it’s not there. So the attachment is built on the basis of that, so attachment, it’s own view project on that. So [_?] it exist, it’s empty.

So same thing the anger, on the basis of true existence which is projected by the ignorance, concept of true existence, by leaving negative imprint on the mind. Then anger by thinking of, interpreting that person’s mind or actions as harm, because of your attachment, it hurts your attachment, it hurts your self-cherishing thought. So then your attachment, your superstitious, self-cherishing interprets that as harm. It doesn’t hurt your bodhicitta, it doesn’t hurt your compassion, it doesn’t hurt your wisdom realizing or seeing empty, it doesn’t effect. But your attachment, self-cherishing thought, it hurts that, then interpret, labeled "harm" and believe as harm, believe as bad.

So again anger, then the anger arises, because of that then anger arises then it has its own project on that, so built up the inherently existence. So that doesn’t exist, so what anger believes, how it exists, the object you see. So the reason why I’m saying how that’s superstition, so the object what it believes, does not exist, there’s no such thing there.

So similar how the concept of true existence, concept of true existence, true existence, concept of holding the I and so forth, phenomena as truly existent while they’re not, while they’re empty of true existence, while they’re totally empty, there’s no slightest even atom of existing from its own side or existing by nature, inherently existence, there’s no slightest even atom of that, if you look for, can’t find.

When you don’t analyze it looks like there, but it looks like there’s some real thing there, but when you analyze, cannot find anywhere, not on the base, nor anywhere it exists. You find total nonexistence, that’s what you discover through analysis.

So therefore, that ignorance, that concept that superstitious, that’s great superstitious thought. So similar to those other delusions, all of the rest of the delusions, same, so superstitious thought. So therefore, even that, even thinking of that superstitious, superstition, superstitious thought, it’s helpful because what it means is the way to apprehend the object, believe there’s no such thing, it doesn’t exist.

So it overcomes attachment, delusions, superstitious thought, attachment the main cause of the samsara. In our daily life, maybe there are some people, most have anger arising, maybe some, in which case attachment cause, from among the delusions what arises is mostly attachment, day and night, what makes to reincarnate again and again in samsara. Due to concept of true existence, the self-grasping of the person, self-grasping of the aggregates, the phenomena, however this, then this person’s mind the attachment, the ignorance, not knowing Dharma, not knowing karma, anger those things arises, those superstitious thoughts arise.

Then, motivates the karmic formation, the compounding actions which leaves, that which leaves the karmic imprint on the mental, on the consciousness, the mind, that which throws or which brings future rebirth. So that’s there, then also craving, grasping which makes the karmic imprint left on the mental continuum, the future samsara, future rebirth left on the mental continuum by the karmic formation which is motivated by the ignorance, so those delusions. So craving, grasping, also attachment, so that which procrastinates the karmic imprint left on the mental continuum, that which just next life, next life, then life after that, then takes the rebirth, so like that.

So here, meditate on the impermanence, having this realization then overcome attachment. So doesn’t find any reason to be attached to, when our mind is in the meditation, mindfulness of the nature impermanence.

So what cheated us so far, what really cheated us so far, didn’t allow to have any attainment, any realization, even one has met Buddhadharma a long time ago, but so far didn’t have any attainment, not even realization of impermanence, death, that we need at the very beginning, even didn’t have. Not even realization of perfect human rebirth, the very beginning of the path to enlightenment, so besides bodhicitta and so forth all those, no need to say tantric realizations, even the common path, so far didn’t have any attainment. The mind, the heart empty, so far, not only empty, empty in this life, empty from beginningless rebirth and so nothing happened, no progress happened. Still same, one’s own mental continuum, one’s own attitude is still the same before one met, even before one met Dharma, before one come to know anything about Buddhism, or maybe sometimes even worse then before met Buddhadharma. So examine, more, maybe more pride, which you didn’t have before, and all sorts of things. Anyway, many more emotional things then which you didn’t have before.

Then unable to really engage in the practice, even one knows the practice, and especially one who wants to understand, but unable to engage in the practice in the daily life, unable to do. But lots of time, one finds lots of time to do other things, meaningless activities, the thought of happiness this life, pleasure of this life one finds lots of time, but for Dharma practice from where you can achieve all the happiness, happiness in all the coming future lives, good rebirth and all the happiness of all the future lives. Not just one, but all the future lives. From where you can achieve liberation, from where you can achieve total liberation from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and cause, delusion and karma, and full enlightenment from this Dharma practice. Engage in this Dharma practice from where you can achieve all this, all the happiness of all the coming future lives and the ultimate happiness, everlasting happiness, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment. From where you achieve this, from where you can that your Dharma practice which makes you truly qualified to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them in full enlightenment.

However no time to engage in the practice, but there’s so much time to be able to have, so much time to work for this life, the pleasure of this life. In other words, there’s a lot of time, following, to serve delusion, to serve the delusion, to work for delusion, for self-cherishing thought and attachment, so like that. So however then, unable to do a practice. Then unable to engage in the lam-rim meditation in the daily life and even the one who has taken a lot of vows, then pratimoksha, bodhisattva, tantric vows, a lot of vows, but unable to practice, engage.

So however all this, and whatever the negative karma that one engages, even the very, very, very basic, the ten nonvirtues, so this and all the harm that other sentient beings receive with the negative emotional thoughts, jealous mind, so forth, all this, anger, this selfish mind, attachment. So all this due to this concept, concept of permanence, not thinking of death, not thinking of impermanence, death, so all this mistake, all this mistakes about that.

So there’s Kadampa geshes, they saying, they said that. I think probably, I think maybe said this way, “Hundred things that one knows [Tibetan], hundred things that one knows, but the one thing that you don’t think, one thing that you don’t think, one thing that one don’t think, so that cheated, deceived.”

So the hundred things one knows, the hundred is just many things everyone does, but there’s one thing, the big mistake, what doesn’t make the mind to develop Dharma, what does not allow. What thing doesn’t it in the life, Dharma practice, inner development, what doesn’t happen, know so many things, there’s so many things, well the meaning is that nothing becomes Dharma or no development, no inner development, nothing becomes Dharma. So that’s by one mistake is the not thinking impermanence, death, not thinking impermanence, death, the nature of your life. So that’s what cheated, or the concept of permanence, the whole mistake came from, the whole mistake came from that, not thinking of impermanence, death. So not only that I will die after some time, not that, that death can happen any day, death can happen any day —any day, any hour, any moment —that death can happen. That thought, death can happen any moment, any day, any moment it can happen, so that one.

So what the Kadampa geshes are saying is that, [true?] because nothing of that, then everything gets stuck. Attainment or the daily activities, what you do, or many hundreds of things, but not become Dharma.

So for example if the doctor says, “You’ll die any day,” when the doctor says. Go to the hospital and the doctor says, “You will die any day, you don’t have much longer to live, and you will die any day.” Then suddenly so many things what you’re doing, so many things what you’re doing suddenly you don’t see any meaning, suddenly when the doctor tells you you don’t have much time to live and you will die soon, any day you’ll die. Then suddenly you discover you’re doing so many things for this life only, kind of has no meaning, no meaning in the sense that something that you can carry with you and benefit, enjoy next life, so this isn’t there. What you’re doing, it isn’t that which benefits to future life happiness, liberation and enlightenment.

So suddenly have to change the whole entire attitude, suddenly have to change the whole entire attitude. Let’s say you have cancer, you have cancer and you could die any day, then have to change the whole, you see your whole life totally different and your whole entire motivation change, you see, totally see. So your direction in life is totally, I mean of course somebody who, I think who knows reincarnation, karma, I think, reincarnation, and then everything direct towards, doesn’t see any purpose to cling to this life, this body, or this enjoyments, belongings and surround with people and doesn’t make sense to grasp, you don’t see any purpose, doesn’t make any sense, like childish, it doesn’t make any sense.

 So then here, of course, only the thought of seeking happiness future lives, only thought of seeking happiness future lives and the liberation, and higher than that liberation from samsara, full enlightenment. So total transformation, total change. I think there are many stories however. So whatever you do, here it directed towards long-run happiness, not only just happiness in this life but happiness in all the coming future lives, liberation from samsara, enlightenment, depending on which Dharma motivation, so like that.

So there’s one monk in Bodhgaya, the Gelugpa monastery, there’s one monk, Denba, Denba something. So this monk had some heart things, so he went to see the doctor and the doctor said that he will die any time. So then this monk gave everything, all his belongings away, all the texts, he gave me some texts, he gave away all his belongings and then he requested His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s elder tutor to give Lama Chöpa, commentary on the Guru Puja, he requested.

So then not only myself receive benefit, but many other lamas, many other geshes, so many people got this incredible blessing, I mean benefit, received teachings from His Holiness Ling Rinpoche. And at the same, while Rinpoche was giving teachings to us, I think from, between this I think, I heard took lineage from His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who’s also Lama Yeshe’s and my root guru. So I think maybe also other teachings, I think maybe initiations he sponsored, so he spent all his money for this. He told me that he was told by doctor that he would die any time. So he’s preparing for that.

But after many years, after I think seven years, ten years, I met him in Ganden Monastery, and Kyabje [___?] Rinpoche, one great Lama, His Holiness [_?] Rinpoche’s heart disciple, so he requested a long-life initiation, so Lama Tsongkhapa long-life initiation. I was there, I got the opportunity, I got benefit also because he requested, so opportunity to receive, I think my first time Lama Tsongkhapa, a long-life initiation from Kyabje [_?] Rinpoche.

So anyway, because he, you know doctor said that that you can die any time, so then so many people got benefit from him, he sponsored teachings and he spent all his money on teachings and many things,  so, so many people got benefit. I mean he didn’t die, but even he died. there’s nothing to cling and he already collected so much merit, so much merit, benefit so much to so many sentient beings, even if the death happened. He made himself so free. there’s nothing to get caught to, there’s nothing to get, to cling onto. So he didn’t die, he lived for many years, but he got so much benefit also by living many years, so he was able to use his life to practice Dharma, to benefit many sentient beings. Anyway, so like that.

So whatever one thinks, any negative karma collected, or mistakes done, or unable to practice or something, whatever, the whole, the whooole mistake, the mistake is not thought properly, not thought deep in the heart that death can happen any time, no thought that. So that’s very clear.

Why our mind is, why delusions are so strong, why you can’t overcome, why you can’t overcome delusion, why the delusion overcome, delusion can always control us, you can’t control delusion, there’s also, all the problems, however, all the psychological problems or whatever it’s called, whatever it’s called —crazy or psychological problems or whatever it is labeled —all these due to the delusions however that you can’t, that you cannot control, that you cannot [_?] and delusion control all that. So then all these mental and physical problems, all this emotional problems, all this that one has go to see, that one has to go to so many psychologists, consultations. Of course, one good thing is that they can make money. But however all that is, however the basic thing is this: the superstitious mind due to this mistake of the concept of permanence.

So anyway, so I think with the mindfulness in this, meditation in this, mindfulness in daily life of this, and the result you have liberation. Then also with the bodhicitta there’s also that, and then with that bodhicitta on that basis, that’s the basis bodhicitta, then there’s enlightenment. Without this mindfulness, then the delusion arises, it overwhelms oneself and then endless samsara, endless samsara, so result is endless samsara, so then endless reincarnating, endless cycle of death and rebirth. However, the other thing is just [_?] to finish, to finish.


1 See for a list of books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. [Return to text]


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