The Kindness of All Sentient Beings

The Kindness of All Sentient Beings

Date Posted:
January 2012

A student wrote to Rinpoche about his difficult life; he had attempted suicide several times and had lost his health, his job, his friends and his compassion. He felt persecuted by his enemies and had many negative, angry thoughts towards his enemies and his teachers. He deeply regretted his anger, confessed his mistakes and asked Rinpoche for guidance.

My very dear Andrew,
Thank you very much for your kind email. I am sorry for the many eons of delay it took to reply and I am very sorry about all the difficulties you have had.

Please think that all problems and all the happiness, including enlightenment, come from our own mind—this includes day-to-day happiness and liberation from samsara, all the way up to enlightenment.

Many of these present life problems come from thinking in the wrong way, so this way of thinking makes more problems arise, particularly anger. Before anger, there is the mistaken way of thinking—putting a negative label on something and thinking it is bad, then after that anger arises.

In the same way, with something attractive, we think it is wonderful, good; then attachment arises. It’s the same with ignorance, how we create ignorance—we think the I, the action and the object are truly existent, that they are not merely labeled by the mind, merely imputed by the mind.

Nothing exists from its own side; everything is totally empty from its own side—the I, action and object—everything is totally empty from its own side. There is the appearance of true existence that is decorated, projected onto this merely labeled phenomena, which is empty of existing from its own side. It has left an imprint from our past ignorance on our own mind, so we let our mind believe that it’s really true. That is how we create ignorance.

What we have experienced is the result of past negative karma. Whatever happens in this life, any good thing is the result of past good karma and whatever bad thing happens in our life is the result of past negative karma. The minute we think, “This is the result of my past negative karma,” then immediately there is nothing to blame outside.

This makes our life most easy and prevents us from harming others. Whatever difficulty we experience, just think that this is the result of past negative karma. If we give harm back, then it creates the cause to constantly suffer. From even just one harm done to others, we experience the result, which is harm from others for hundreds of lifetimes, even thousands of lifetimes. So it is totally silly to give harm back to others. So, in this way if we think that this is the result of past negative karma, this will also inspire us to create good karma and from that there will be the result of happiness—this life’s happiness and future lives’ happiness.

If the virtuous action is done with renunciation, detachment from samsara and the thought that samsara is in the nature of suffering, for example, these aggregates are only in the nature of suffering. Circling and reincarnating from one life to another is in the nature of suffering. With this thought, any virtuous action we do becomes the cause of ultimate happiness, total liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its cause— karma and delusion.

Please think about what was said in the Wheel of Sharp Weapons, a teaching on bodhicitta and karma. It is a most unbelievable teaching, because it explains all the antidotes to all the sufferings, and how to meditate on the kindness of numberless sentient beings, every single sentient being.

Please think about this quote: “Put all the blame on oneself, meditate on the kindness of all.”

Please keep this quote in your heart. Please write it down in your notebook, so that you look at it every day, and please keep this as your main practice. So, always remember this.

“Put all the blame on oneself”— this means our own self-cherishing thought. Every day, practice mindfulness so that whatever we encounter—whether it is some problem—as quickly as possible, think this came from our own self-cherishing thought; that this is the result of negative actions done in the past by the self-cherishing thought. This means no other sentient being is giving us harm; our self-cherishing thought is giving us harm, it comes from our own mind. Even if someone kills us or is angry towards us, even if someone does black magic to us, it comes from our self-cherishing thought.

The self-cherishing thought has also harmed others in the past. Others have suffered and got angry, so we have harmed them in the past and now we receive harm from others in this life.

If others get angry and create negative karma, acting out of anger and delusion, that makes sentient beings disappear from the human realm, the realm of the happy migratory realm, and makes them be reborn in the lower realms, hell, hungry ghost and animal rebirth, so they experience unimaginable suffering.

Our own self-cherishing thought is really most unbelievable, the most harmful one, not only to ourselves but to numberless sentient beings. If it was only harmful to ourselves then it would only be a little harm, but here you can see it is harmful to numberless sentient beings, from life to life. So it is the most harmful thing; it is much more dangerous than atomic bombs, numberless guns, numberless poisons, numberless sicknesses, it is much more dangerous than cancer.

Cancer is nothing, it only causes death; cancer may prevent us from helping others, but cancer doesn’t harm others, in a general way of speaking, though it may prevent us from benefiting others in our life. This self-cherishing thought is heavier than cancer—cancer is nothing. For example, our cancer doesn’t harm us for life to life—this life’s cancer doesn’t harm for life to life, causing harm forever. The harm is just for this life, but the self-cherishing thought harms numberless sentient beings and this harm goes on from life to life. Also, cancer doesn’t cause harm to numberless sentient beings.

So, we should put all the blame on the self-cherishing thought, then this destroys the self-cherishing thought, our enemy. Put all the blame on that, so we destroy our enemy. As much as we can, lessen the self-cherishing thought, then there is more of the thought of cherishing others. Then we are able to dedicate more of our life to others, we are able to cause more happiness to others.

When there is no self-cherishing thought, there is bodhicitta— cherishing numberless sentient beings and seeking happiness for others, who are numberless. If we have the realization of bodhicitta we become the most precious person, fulfilling all the wishes of all sentient beings. We become a most unbelievable, powerful object for sentient beings to collect extensive merit, good karma, the cause of success and unbelievable, unbelievable merit and cause of success for all their happiness, to be free from samsara and to achieve enlightenment. So, putting the blame on the ego, the self-cherishing thought, has skies of benefit.

Then, meditate on the kindness of all.

One way to think is this, for example, is that we receive this precious human body, which has buddha nature, that we have in the mind, and with this precious human body we can achieve not only happiness of this life, but happiness of future lives and the ultimate happiness—enlightenment. If we are just looking for the happiness of this life, then even the animals seek this—even the ants seek the happiness of this life, even the mice and every insect—what they are looking for is the happiness of this life.

With this precious human body we are able to achieve all the happiness of all future lives, to be reborn in a pure land, where we can become enlightened, then we can achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara. We can achieve ultimate happiness, liberation forever from the oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes, karma and delusion and also full enlightenment. We will be able to liberate numberless sentient beings from each realm, from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to peerless happiness, full enlightenment, which is the cessation of all the defilements—gross and subtle defilements—and the actualization of all the realizations.

All this happiness is caused by creating good karma, by practicing Dharma, from the mind which becomes Dharma and the pure action that becomes Dharma. By practicing pure morality and charity, with the prayers and dedication, we create the result, a good rebirth—the perfect human rebirth in our future lives and so forth. This is just to give you an idea.

By training the mind in the higher training of morality and concentration, we can achieve the ultimate happiness, liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its cause, forever. By training the mind in bodhicitta and entering the Mahayana path, not only gross defilements and subtle defilements are purified, but we are able to achieve peerless happiness, full enlightenment, forever.

So this precious human body is able to fulfill all our happiness and is able to fulfill all the wishes of numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings.

This precious human body is received by the kindness of our parents. If we didn’t create karma ourselves to receive this precious human body, then we would not have it. If our parents didn’t take care of us—if they hadn’t given birth to us and taken care of us for nine months in our mother’s womb, then we wouldn’t be alive now. If our mother had an abortion, then we wouldn’t be a human being now and we wouldn’t have this precious human body at all. So, you can see how she is most unbelievably precious, the kindest one.

Even after the birth, for so many years she looked after us. Not only did she give us this most precious human body, but she bore so many hardships, protecting us from hundreds of dangers each day, starting from inside the mother’s womb and then outside when we were born; she protected our life from hundreds of dangers each day. For example, during childhood if a baby is not watched even for one minute or five minutes, it’s life is in danger. It could fall down or eat the wrong thing or put harmful things in its mouth, stones or knives—immediately we see the danger if no-one is watching. Our mother bore so much hardship for us; she protected us from hundreds of dangers in our life, otherwise we wouldn’t be a human being now, we wouldn’t be able to meet the Dharma and understand the Dharma and have all the realizations, by practicing and collecting extensive merits with bodhicitta, and be able to purify negative karma collected from beginningless rebirth. We wouldn’t be able to do that. We would be unable to meditate on the path to enlightenment and then plant the seeds of enlightenment by listening to teachings, reflecting and meditating.

So, our mother is the most unbelievable, precious, kindest, dearest one. She also gave us education; she is so kind, so therefore we can now write and read and do so many things, and especially we are able to learn and practice Dharma. Can you imagine her unbelievable kindness? From this, we can eventually overcome the oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes—karma and delusion, and achieve the highest enlightenment.

Our mother, our parents, bore so much hardship; they are so kind, they bore so much hardship for us, like the nine months in the womb, when our mother couldn’t do many things that she wanted to or enjoyed. Then, after being born, for so many years she bore so many hardships, day and night. At night time we cried, and in the day time our mother had to watch us all the time. We always demanded attention; our mother bore so much hardship. I can’t even list all the kindness here.

Also, our mothers created so much negative karma for our happiness, such as killing, telling lies, causing harm to others and harm to themselves by creating negative karma with ignorance, anger, attachment and selfish mind. This is what makes them to be reborn in the lower realms, so they created negative karma and bore so many hardships for our happiness. Now, from this kindness they gave us this precious human body and protected us from hundreds of dangers of life every day; they gave us education and bore so many hardships. This is not only in this life; they did this numberless times—each of these kindnesses they did numberless times in the past, from beginningless rebirth. This is what they did.

Every sentient being did that for us; they were most unbelievably kind to us, they gave us a body and protected our life from hundreds of dangers every day; they gave us education, especially Dharma education, and they bore so much hardship for our own happiness. Every sentient being did that numberless times for us, therefore every single sentient being is the most kindest, dearest, most precious one.

Now we need to repay their kindness. What they need most is to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes, karma and delusion. They need liberation from samsara, ultimate happiness, enlightenment—this is what they need. This is the real way to repay their kindness.

I am just giving you an idea of how to think about the kindness of others in a more extensive way. The other kindness to think about is how sentient beings are kind to us every day, just so we can stay alive; how it is by the kindness of numberless sentient beings that we can stay alive. For instance, for this one plate of rice, so many sentient beings were harmed, when they ploughed the land and worked on the land, to grow this rice. Human beings worked, and in undeveloped countries, buffalos and cows also worked by pulling iron through the land to dig the ground. In developed countries they use machines, and so many ants and mice, and so many living beings in the ground are killed. People have to work very hard for this one plate of rice.

This rice came from another rice and is a continuation from another rice, and so on. So many people have suffered and worked and died—so many sentient beings not only worked but died for this rice—like this, the evolution of the whole entire rice, from the beginning rice in this world, the first rice in this world. Can you imagine for hundreds and thousands of years, the numberless, numberless sentient beings who have suffered and been killed, so that finally we can eat this rice.

You can’t imagine, if you eat this rice for only your happiness, for your self-cherishing thought, cherishing only I, seeking only happiness for the self. Can you imagine? That is so selfish, most unbearable for all those numberless sentient beings who were killed, who died and suffered for this. Can you imagine? In their view, from their side, it is most terrible, not bringing any benefit to them; it is most terrible, it is something that they would get unbelievably angry with us.

So now, on the plate, can you imagine how many rice grains you have? So many thousands of rice grains, that we eat with a selfish mind. Can you imagine how terrible that is? We eat it only for our own happiness; we have no awareness, no understanding, and we are totally ignorant of how this one plate of rice came, and then all the rest of the grains of rice, how they came from numberless sentient beings. It’s amazing. Normally, there is not even a prayer done for their good rebirth, happiness, ultimate happiness, enlightenment. There is not even a prayer, nothing is done to benefit them. Can you imagine that? It’s like they don’t exist; it’s very, very sad, so therefore we must think to repay their kindness. Not just by giving them a house, shelter or food, not just that—that is just a temporary thing—what they need is to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes, karma and delusion, and to be brought to full enlightenment. This is what they need.

Even if we chant OM MANI PADME HUM one time with the thought to benefit all those sentient beings from whom we receive all the comforts, being alive every day, and every hour, minute or second. We must repay their kindness and benefit all the past ones who were unbelievably kind to us—from whom we received all the past food, from birth to death. Therefore it is most urgent; we must repay their kindness.

So, please live your life only to benefit others. Please try to think this way and live your life this way as much as possible. That is the most important thing.

With much love and prayers,

Lama Zopa