Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Practice Advice :
We Can Be Free From Samsara
|Rinpoche sent this card and advice to a student who was doing many nyung-näs.|
This mouse is so small and is in great danger, but the elephant can change its mind at any time; it can take its leg off and free the mouse.
Just like that we are in samsara. We came from the lower realms just now; the lower realms were our permanent residence and we are just about to go back there, but because of Dharma practice—especially the practice of nyung-näs that you are doing, being guided by Chenrezig —we can be free from the lower realms and even free from samsara, delusion and karma. We can achieve full enlightenment and then fully enlighten the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate state beings.
With much love and prayers...
Unable to Complete Nyung-näs
|A student wrote asking to give back a vow to complete three nyung-näs in five years, after taking this commitment with Rinpoche during a Chenrezig initiation. She said she was unable to do the nyung-näs due to her health, and she described how ill health was affecting her life.|
My dear Jenna,
Billions of thanks for writing and explaining that you tried very hard to do nyung-nä. That is the most worthwhile thing, it purifies so many eons of negative karma, and you collect unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable merits. It becomes much quicker to free all the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate state beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering, and then quicker to achieve enlightenment. Of course, the past karma is heavy so you experience all these difficulties, but that is generally good because it means you have purified past negative karma through Dharma practice.
As you know, purification has many different levels. First, if we purify past negative karma, then we never have to experience suffering in the lower realms in the next lives, and also in the human realm in this life. Secondly, we would have to suffer in the lower realms for so many eons, but through Dharma practice we don’t need to experience that, so we experience it now in this life as some disease. So that helps us to not get born in lower realms, to not experience the suffering for eons, then next time we get reborn in the lower realms, it is just for a minute or a second, like throwing a stone. We don’t stay there, it hits just quickly, with a duration like that. Next time we take rebirth in the lower realms, we will experience suffering for some time, but it will be much lighter.
There can be many different levels of purification, therefore you should rejoice, and look at it as positive. Look at your whole life as positive and look at all your sickness as great purification. I am so inspired by your introduction— that you meditate every day; that you try to meditate. It is so good that you are Buddhist, that you have met the Mahayana sutra teachings and Mahayana tantra teachings, and that you recite mantra and so forth.
In reality, even if you die by doing nyung-näs, it’s nothing to regret. It means you won’t get reborn in the lower realms. Even by doing one nyung-nä well, you get reborn in the pure land, so no question about doing three nyung-näs. It's amazing, amazing, amazing. It’s a quick way to be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings, as I mentioned before. It’s a quick way to be born in the pure land; a quick way to be enlightened. Even if you die during the nyung-nä, it is an incredibly worthwhile thing, so you should know that it is a very good thing. If you die doing a nyung-nä, it doesn’t matter.
Even though you can't do the nyung-näs at the moment, I won't ever accept to take back your Chenrezig vows. I will never take them back, that is completely silly. It doesn’t matter if you can't do nyung-nä now in your life. Whatever you have done in the past is so good, and later, when you can, try to do more. That would be so good, so please do that.
Then for example even if you have to take medicine on the fasting day—in the afternoon on the fasting day, or in the morning and afternoon, or on both days —so without choice, without freedom you have to take medicine, that’s OK. So from the eight Mahayana precepts, don't take the fasting vow, it doesn't happen, but you can take the rest of the seven vows. You can take these and you can still do nyung-nä like that.
Even if you can't do prostrations by standing up, you can sit down and put your palms together and visualize numberless bodies doing prostrations to Chenrezig. By reciting the prayer, with numberless bodies in the four directions filling the whole sky, you get the action merits, most unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merits of however many bodies you visualize. You get the merits, as Lama Tsongkhapa mentioned.
I am very happy coming to Bendigo.
With much love and prayers...
|A student met the Dharma while volunteering at a health clinic in Bodhgaya, India. After returning to Europe, she wrote to request Rinpoche to be her guru, and to ask for advice on daily practices which would bring the most benefit to other sentient beings.|
My very dear Anja,
Thank you very much for your kind letter, I was very happy to receive it. I am sorry about [not replying to] the last letter you sent.
I accept your request for me to be your guru. There must be some karma. It’s not that I’m as great as you think, but I accept because maybe there is past karma and you are a sincere person.
If you have received the Chenrezig Great Initiation, then if you do one nyung-nä well, it is said that 40,000 eons of negative karma get purified, but that happens even just by reciting the mantra. By reciting one mala of the long Chenrezig mantra, 40,000 eons of negative karma get purified and of course, it can be much more—it depends on how strongly you have loving compassion and bodhicitta for sentient beings.
|Practices for Purification and Collecting Merit|
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a student doing nyung-nä practice.|
My very dear Julie,
Thank you very much for your kind email. I am extremely happy and rejoice in all your nyung-näs. It is extremely good to continue whatever you can do in the future, also to inspire others to do nyung-näs.
You mentioned in your letter that you want to become a bodhisattva. The extensive answer is in the lam-rim, so you should study and read Liberation in the Palm of your Hand by Pabongka Rinpoche. This would be helpful for you.
|A student who worked at a Dharma center asked Rinpoche for advice about life practices and his personal yidam.|
- 2,000 refuge
- 400,000 tong-len. The main thing is to do the meditation.
- 10,000 mandala offerings
It didn’t come out for you to do many preliminaries, which is very unusual. But it came out that your main practice is nyung-nä and that you should do around 2,000 nyung-näs. Geshe Lama Konchog did 1,000 nyung-näs, but there was one great lama who was a Geshe Lharampa, which is like a professor, from Drepung Monastery in Tibet. He took initiations from lamas of other traditions and benefited unbelievably the sentient beings in the Himalayan regions. He made a law for people not to kill animals and in many places, like Tsum, this is still kept. Then he organized the recitation of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUM mantras in many places. Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. He himself did 1,000 nyung-näs and he had a disciple who did 2,000 nyung-näs.
Doing nyung-nä is the way to save yourself from being born in the lower realms. It’s the quick way to get enlightened for sentient beings and the quick way to free all sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. So, generally you should aim to do 2,000 nyung-näs, but don’t worry, do as many as you can your whole life. That means Chenrezig practice.
It’s an unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable practice. By doing just one nyung-nä well, you are liberated from the lower realms. In Swayambhunath, Nepal there is one monastery where they do eight nyung-näs all the time on special days. There are many old mothers who join the nyung-näs. They don’t do hundreds of nyung-näs, just a few, but by that they are completely freed from the fear of death. They can tell the Rinpoche at that monastery when they are going to die and at exactly that time they pass away. It’s really amazing. One lady told the Rinpoche when she was going to pass away and the lama did puja for her. An hour before she was going to pass, she was still walking around and doing things so the Rinpoche thought that it may not be true what she had said. Then she sat down and asked the Rinpoche for prayers and passed away in meditation. This is not ancient news; it’s a present-day story. It happened just a few years ago.
Lam-Rim Effortful Realization
The main lam-rim you should study is Lama Tsongkhapa’s Middle Length Lam-Rim. Of course, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand is good, but the main one for you is the Middle Length Lam-Rim. Best is to read it a few times first and study it well, then use it for your meditation.
- One month: guru devotion
- Two months: lower path
- Four months: middle path
- Eleven months: bodhicitta
- Two months: emptiness
After the effortful experience, try to get the effortless experience, no matter how many months or years it takes. Go back through the lam-rim, starting from guru devotion, then up through the lower path, middle path, higher path.
The two months’ meditation on emptiness is for effortful experience but emptiness is something you have to meditate on every day using the Heart Sutra, the Four Analyses or even just one verse or one stanza on emptiness.
After generating bodhicitta, put more emphasis on tantra—generation and completion stage.
At least every day, for realizations of the path, for enlightenment and to enlighten all sentient beings, the minimum practice is to recite a lam-rim prayer and do direct meditation on the lam-rim. Also, recite your own deity’s graduated path (the prayer is at the end of the long sadhana of the deity.) You must at least do these two as a minimum practice.
Your Highest Yoga Tantra deity is Guhyasamaja, but your deity can also be Chenrezig because you are doing many, many nyung-näs . However, to achieve enlightenment quickest you need to have the imprint of Highest Yoga Tantra, so you can take the initiation of Guhyasamaja and do the nearing retreat.
|The Benefits of Nyung-näs|
|Rinpoche gave the following advice regarding nyung-nä practice.|
Nyung-näs are a most powerful, beneficial and quick way to develop bodhicitta, to collect extensive merit to quickly achieve enlightenment, to become Chenrezig, and to liberate sentient beings from the oceans of samsara suffering and bring them to enlightenment.
This practice is a trillion, billion times greater than becoming an Olympic champion. Doing so many nyung-näs you become an unbelievable champion, this is what makes numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas most happy and brings sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible. If you have many to do, then it would be good to take Great Chenrezig initiation, to receive the blessings of Chenrezig.
You do not need to do all of them at one time; you can do some each year, from time to time. Just build up slowly and eventually you will be able to complete them. Some people do 50 nyung-näs in a row, but you don’t have to do this.
Try to do some on the Buddha days , when the merit is multiplied 100 million times. Some FPMT centers do eight or three in a row during Saka Dawa and on other Buddha days. This is an extremely powerful practice and an incredible way to develop bodhicitta.
[Note: The Buddha days are the 15th day of Losar (Tibetan first month), Saka Dawa (Buddha Shakyamuni was born, attained enlightenment, and passed away), Buddha’s first teaching and Buddha's descent from Tushita(Lhabab Duchen). For exact dates each year, please check the Liberation Tibetan Calendar, available from FPMT Foundation Store. The Nyung-nä practice book is also available from the Foundation Store.]
|Thank you for Nyung-näs|
|Rinpoche sent the following letter thanking a student who had completed 200 nyung-näs and was continuing to do up to 1,000.|
Thank you for doing so many nyung-näs. What you have accomplished is really unbelievable! I wish I could do this some time. I think I have to meditate more on impermanence and death, the lower realms, and karma.
If you can finish these 1,000 nyung-näs, it will be unbelievable. Shi-nä (calm abiding) is just one small aspect of the path, but the nyung-näs are a cause to achieve the path to enlightenment and to achieve all the qualities of Buddha, also so many eons of negative karma are purified. Forty thousand eons of negative karma are purified by just doing one nyung-nä, then depending on how much compassion you generate and, of course, if you generate bodhicitta, then you can purify much more than that.
|Rinpoche sent a student the following advice on nyung-nä practice.|
If you can do so many nyung-näs, it would be unbelievably beneficial for sentient beings. As your major practice is nyung-näs, this is the most powerful, most beneficial, and quickest way for you to develop bodhicitta, to collect extensive merit to quickly achieve enlightenment, to become Chenrezig, and to liberate sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment.
This practice is a trillion, billion times greater than becoming an Olympic champion. Doing so many nyung-näs, you become an unbelievable champion. This is what makes numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas most happy, and brings sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible.
The more you do this practice to develop bodhicitta, the more your food will have more blessings and great benefit for sentient beings, including the dogs.
As you know, Geshe Lama Konchog did 2,000 nyung-näs. Also, a great lama in Tsum, who built the monastery and nunnery and was the main lama in the area, who prevented people from killing and hunting animals, also did 2,000 nyung-näs, and many of his disciples did 3000 nyung-näs.
As you have so many to do, it would be good for you to take the Great Chenrezig initiation, to receive the blessings of Chenrezig. You do not have to do all of them at once. You can do some each year, from time to time, just build up slowly and eventually you can complete them.
Some people do 50 in a row, but you don’t have to do it like that. If you can, try to do some on the wheel-turning days. Often, Dharma centers do eight in a row during Sakadawa, and in this way you can slowly build up.
This is an extremely powerful practice, and is in an incredible way to develop bodhicitta.
|A nun had completed 65 nyung-näs in one year, trying to finish 100 to offer to Rinpoche. Rinpoche wrote the following to her, as her parents had expressed that they wanted her to be close to them.|
My Dear Lesley,
I am happy to hear of your retreat. You should be in touch with and stay where you can be in touch with your parents. I am happy that they support you, so it is good to be in touch with them.
Thank you for all your service and your unbelievable accomplishment. I think all the buddhas and bodhisattvas would agree with me.
So many eons of negative karma have been purified, and you are now closer to enlightenment and closer to the three principles of the path. Inconceivable merit is collected even in one session, by chanting the mantras and keeping the precepts with bodhicitta. This is most beneficial for sentient beings and pleases Chenrezig and the buddhas and bodhisattvas. You can be the twentieth-century Gelongma Palmo of the FPMT. What about that?
Everything comes from this practice: your happiness and the happiness of sentient beings. Your practice is a puja for everything: for me, your parents, everyone. You should tell them that you dedicate to them. Tell them you are trying to be of benefit to sentient beings and dedicating to the family and everyone. Tell them not to worry, that you life is like being in heaven or a pure land, because of all the opportunities to practice. Even though externally it is simple, mentally it is a pure land. I am looking at the FPMT having many people do nyung-näs, 1,000 or 2,000. It is very good to have many people doing this.
Even in future lives you should continue to do nyung-näs, until enlightenment.
I congratulate you on behalf of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas.
With much love and prayer,
“You are not alone because all the time there are numberless Buddhas and bodhisattvas surrounding you, everywhere loving you, guiding you, that is what they do.”
|Rinpoche gave the following advice on the nyung-nä practice.|
I am very happy that you are interested in doing nyung-nä. It is great. Fantastic!
Nyung-nä does not just purify many eons of negative karma, especially developing compassion, which means bodhicitta, it makes us so much closer to enlightenment, so close to being able to enlighten all sentient beings, which is our ultimate goal in life. It also brings you closer to the Guru-Compassion Buddha.
As you chant more OM MANI PADME HUM mantras and generate more compassion for others, by doing one nyung-nä, you will be guided by Chenrezig in all lifetimes. By making one prayer to Chenrezig, you are guided in all future lives by the Compassionate Buddha, again and again. There is a story to illustrate this:
In the past, a person named Nyuktuk wandered in the intermediate state after death. He had lots of fear. Then, a white light came to him, and on the tip of the white light was an Ayra Being. His right hand was in the mudra of giving sublime realizations and his left hand was holding the stem of a white lotus. He was adorned with scarves and jeweled ornaments, very holy and adorned, exemplified with marks and signs, and glowing. He descended in front of him and called to him: "Son, don't be afraid. I am Arya Compassionate one. I have come to guide you on the path. He said this directly from his holy mouth.
Then the hairs of Nyuktuk's body stood on end, tears fell from his eyes, devotion arose, he prostrated his head at the feet of Compassionate Buddha, and said: "Why have you come to such a pitiful being as me? What is the cause for you to guide me?"
Compassionate Buddha replied, "The cause is that in one of your past lives you were looking after an elephant that belonged to a king. You threw a baby elephant off a cliff. Due to that karmic result, in your next life you would have fallen down a cliff. At that time you made a request: ‘Please Compassion Buddha, understand.’ At that time I saved you from falling down the cliff. Since that time I've been guiding you in all your lifetimes. I guide anyone who makes just one request to me."
Every day, if you can recite OM MANI PADME HUM just one time, it stops you being reborn in the animal realm. If you recite it 100 times, it purifies the negative karma to be reborn in the lower realms. If you recite it 1,000 times a day, you will be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha. If you recite it 10,000 times a day, you will do extensive work for sentient beings.
In the past, a very foolish person, who knew nothing of Dharma, was looking after goats. He only knew how to recite OM MANI PADME HUM. When he died, a rainbow came out of the corpse and dissolved into the sky. He went to the Pure Land—Naro Kacho. Other people saw this happen. OM MANI PADME HUM naturally appeared on his skull, and it was worshipped by other virtuous friends.
Therefore, you are unbelievably fortunate to be able to practice nyung-nä. Your retreat is very important. You can dedicate the merits to the world and all living beings, for peace and happiness, to generate compassion, a good heart, and bodhicitta in all terrorists and violent people, in every person’s mind who has so much hatred for America and for themselves. Also, dedicate the merits to people who have the heavy karma to suffer from fire and other elements. So many animals have died in forest fires: ants, big and small beings. Pray for them. Perform nyung-näs for them. Perform nyung-näs for all the sick people, for all the people who are tortured, homeless, have no living and no job.
*Note: Alternate spellings may include nyung nye, nyung-nä, nyung nay, nyung-näy.