Numberless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Are Always with Us

Numberless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Are Always with Us

Date of Advice:
June 2021
Date Posted:
August 2022

A longtime student wrote that he felt very alone and not connected with the lama. He also told Rinpoche he was doing nyung näs.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Rinchen Jangsem Ling, Triang, Malaysia, April 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.

My very dear, most kind one,
I’m very, very happy that you have been doing nyung näs. If you die now, you will not go to the hells but to the pure land. My root guru says that you will attain enlightenment within sixteen lifetimes! We have died and suffered so much since beginningless time and we have even been born in good places, but we are still suffering now. This has been going on for a countless time and we did not practice Dharma even for ourselves. If we receive a good rebirth in the next life, then we can continue to benefit of all sentient beings.

Nyung näs are for the benefit of sentient beings, so the hardship is for sentient beings—that is so worthwhile, so worthwhile, so worthwhile—and we achieve good future lives and enlightenment. This is the best life! For us it is the best life. There are many reasons why.

All the infinite qualities are received from the kindness of all six-realm sentient beings, from each one of them. They are most kind, most precious by their kindness, most dear and wish-fulfilling for us. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, that we take refuge in day and night and at the beginning of each practice, came from every sentient being. Just as we think Buddha is so precious, it’s the same for every sentient being.

As we offer service to Buddha, we should do the same for every sentient being. In the Jewel Garland it says we should totally dedicate to sentient beings, to be used by sentient beings as we do with the elements, however they want to be used! This is the bodhisattva’s motivation, even dying for sentient beings, to let them achieve dharmakaya.

We become like lu. There is a puja where you make a figure like the patient and then hook the different spirits and praise them numberless times. Whatever you say in the prayer, they believe you and stop giving harm. This one is called lu. You are given to them on behalf of all sentient beings; you are used as lu for all sentient beings.

It’s totally wrong to believe that you are alone. There are so many buddhas and bodhisattvas around you all the time, working to free numberless sentient beings from suffering. Before bodhicitta is received, they have received, or realized, compassion. Numberless beings like this are with you day and night, so no question about the bodhisattvas and buddhas. They are with us all the time. We need to think well with logic.

Kadampa Geshe Jayulwa was offering service to his guru every day. When he heard the guru call, he immediately ran to him without hesitation, like Milarepa and others. Every morning he swept the dust [from his guru’s room] and put it in his shemthab to throw it out. Then one time he reached the third step and suddenly received the path of merit, the first path, the Concentration of Continual Dharma. Suddenly he could see numberless buddhas in supreme [nirmanakaya] aspect, just there! Before, he couldn’t [see even one buddha, but] then he could [see the buddhas] just there.

So Chenrezig is always there in the gompa when you are doing nyung näs. It can be another aspect that we don’t recognize, as mentioned in The Essential Nectar, until we become free from this bad karma.

Obscurations obscure the mind, so even if all the buddhas came in front of us, we have no fortune to see them with all the special signs. We only have the karma to see the ordinary aspect. We have to know numberless buddhas are with us all the time, even in the toilet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dirty place or clean.

So this advice is for you, and you have to use logic. In essence, the Buddha’s mind is omniscient, so the Buddha can see everything in detail all the time. The Buddha’s perfect power brings us gradually to enlightenment and the Buddha has infinite compassion embracing sentient beings. The Buddha guides us according to our karma in all ways, even in the aspect of Mara while the mind is ordinary. When we have a higher mind, the aspect becomes more pure. When the mind becomes completely purified we become one with the Buddha, for example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Essential Advice of the Kadam Scriptures: A Good Vase of Nectar by Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, (v. 3.6) says:

If from your own side you do not take refuge,
Even if the power of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas is put together,
It cannot save you from the precipice of the lower realms.
Therefore, do not cheat yourself.1

This essential text of Kadampa instruction says that if you don’t go for refuge from your side, even if all the power of the buddhas and bodhisattvas is integrated, you cannot be saved from the precipice of the evil-gone realm. Therefore you should not cheat yourself. In samsara, however much suffering and happiness there is, it all comes from your own karma. Therefore, all the time—even if you are miserable, any time—examine your body, speech and mind and attempt to avoid negative karma and practice virtue.

It's similar to a doctor giving us the right medicine but we don’t take it. That is another example. There are numberless sentient beings suffering in samsara, and we have to know why. There are those who have met Dharma but don’t follow it and follow the wrong concept of “I” instead. I hope you can understand from this talk why there are numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas. The Buddha was the same as us before. He was a sentient being, then he practiced and achieved enlightenment.

I hope this letter gives you helpful advice. Thank you very much.

With love and prayer...


Rinpoche translated and gave commentary on this verse in his Thought Transformation teachings from Kopan. See video 124: Having Taken Refuge, What to Abandon and What to Practice, and video 118: The Merits of Taking Refuge Don't Fit in the Three-Thousand-Fold Galaxies. [Return to text]