My most dear Celia,
Billions of thanks for your kind letter, explaining and giving me all your information. After I met you at the airport and you asked about studying the Basic Program and Masters Program, I said it would be very good and then you followed that. So you followed the advice. This is so important. I should give you billions of dollars to thank you, but I do prayers for you and for those who rely upon me, who I promised to pray for and whose names have been given to me.
This shows that you are quite a stable person. Many students, even though they have the wish to learn the Basic Program and Master’s Program, after some time they are unable to continue, due to many conditions—there are obstacles inside the mind and outside obstacles. You studied much more sutra and tantra than me. I have received many teachings and commentaries, but it doesn’t mean I studied all those texts, so you are much more fortunate than me.
You put so much effort into studying. This means unbelievable, most unbelievable imprints are left on your mind. It means even if you don’t actualize the path in this life, because of doing this study and purifying so much, in the next life you will meet the Buddha’s teachings and be able to learn, because you have purified so much past negative karma and obscurations. This helps to achieve a higher rebirth, a perfect human rebirth, to meet the Dharma again and to become so expert and through that to have realizations through practicing, and not only that, to be able to go to nirvana and to enlightenment. That is so great, really, to rejoice in.
So here I want to mention one thing. Our parents are a more powerful object, so if we make them happy and serve them, we create more merit than serving other ordinary people or making other people happy.
Even more powerful than that is one ordained Sangha, who is living in higher vows, so we collect more merit serving Sangha and making them happy, than our parents. There are numberless Sangha, but more powerful than that is one arhat, who is free from samsara. An arhat is more powerful than ordinary Sanghas. There are numberless arhats and more powerful than that is one bodhisattva. By serving them, making them happy and following their wishes, this is more powerful, and we create more merit, more purification, than serving numberless arhats. Then more powerful than numberless bodhisattvas is one buddha.
Then there are numberless buddhas and more powerful than that is the Guru. We collect even more merit and the strongest purification by fulfilling the Guru’s wishes, than from numberless bodhisattvas. So by obtaining advice from one’s Guru, then following it, following the wishes of the Guru, offering service, this is most powerful for purification. It purifies obstacles and negative karma collected from beginningless rebirths and we collect the most extensive merits by serving the Guru, making offerings to the Guru. If we offer to our Guru or to our Guru’s pores—this means our Guru’s dogs, animals, friends and neighbors, and if the Guru is a lay person, then offering to the Guru’s children and wife, and also to the Guru’s students. Even if we offer one glass of water or one candy to our Guru’s students, we collect the most extensive merits and purification—more than having offered to numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, numberless Sanghas, numberless statues, numberless texts and numberless stupas. Of course, offering to all those is unbelievable. Even offering one grain of rice or a tiny flower to a picture or statue of the Buddha, it is mind-blowing the merits we collect.
To get an idea, in ancient times, one person offered a medicinal drink to an ordinary monk and in the future was born as a powerful and most wealthy king in India. Can you imagine the result of just offering to a fully ordained monk, just one time? From there you can see the merit is unimaginable, unimaginable, unimaginable!
So now this is said by the Buddha: whoever prostrates, offers flowers, incense, etc, collects even greater, numberless merit than having just seen the holy form of a buddha statue.
All the happiness from beginningless time up to now and the happiness in all future lives comes from that tiny offering. That means ultimate liberation and enlightenment. There are five paths and thirty-seven aids to enlightenment, so we have to achieve these in order to achieve liberation, then we can achieve full enlightenment. That means just by making this tiny offering it is the cause to achieve the five Mahayana paths and the ten bhumi [grounds]. Within each path there are so many details and different levels of realization, and then there is the tantric path— the generation stage and the completion stage. So we can achieve full enlightenment, which is the completion of all the qualities of total cessation of the gross and subtle mistaken mind, and we can complete all the qualities of realization.
The benefits don’t even finish there. We liberate numberless sentient beings from each realm, from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Only when every sentient being is brought to enlightenment, only that time the benefit we have received from offering that one flower to the statue, only then is it completed. The benefit is unbelievable, like the sky.
But compared to this, offering service or making offerings to our Guru, we get the highest merits and the most extensive purification and merits.
The Masters Program was started by Geshe Jampa Gyatso and Lama Yeshe, and the Basic Program was started by me, so you can see, you also have been offering service and fulfilling our wishes by studying. Every time you study, this is service to Lama Yeshe and to me. So we have a Dharma connection, we have a guru-disciple relationship. Then in addition, all this is according to the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, so you are also fulfilling the wishes of His Holiness each time you study.
It is mentioned in the lam-rim that each time we make offerings to our Guru, like a cup of tea or anything, we become closer to enlightenment. That also means we become free from samsara more quickly. That means each time we are studying, we are fulfilling our Guru’s wishes, so we are becoming closer to enlightenment each time. We become closer to being free from samsara, and closer to enlightenment. So this is what has been happening all these years that you have been studying, doing homework, attending classes, these are the benefits of that. So you have gained unbelievably, so much, even though maybe you didn’t succeed because of the exam, but the real gain happened. Therefore you should rejoice, it is most unbelievable, your whole life should be filled with incredible joy and happiness.
It is mentioned by Sakya Pandita that even though the beams of the sun are extremely hot, without a magnifying glass it cannot catch fire. Like that, even the blessings of the buddhas who are numberless—without the Guru, we cannot receive the blessings. Therefore by pleasing the guru, it pleases all the numberless buddhas. This is a quick way to achieve enlightenment, the total elimination of all the obscurations and the completion of all the qualities.
Also Sakya Pandita mentioned:
The merits from a thousand eons of practicing the paramita of charity of one’s limbs, even the merits received from that, giving away one’s limbs countless times—all that merit, which took one thousand eons to create, is collected in one second by following the path of the Guru.
That means when we fulfill the Guru’s wishes, all the merit collected from making charity of our limbs is achieved in one second. That means it is the quickest way to achieve enlightenment.
As mentioned in the text, Drop of Mahamudra:
When the wood is burned by the fire, it becomes ashes in one second. Like that, by pleasing the Guru, the negative karma is burned in one second.
Just as matches are used to light a candle and make the candle flame, also a tiny flame can burn a few stories of hay so quickly, or a whole mountain of hay can be burned just from a tiny flame; in the same way, so much heavy negative karma that has been collected from thousands, millions, billions and trillions of past lives can be purified in one second, just by pleasing the Guru. So by following the Guru’s advice or wishes, we can see how powerful it is to purify negative karma, so we can rejoice.
There are numberless human beings and numberless sentient beings. This is not only mentioned by the Buddha, it is also mentioned by scientists. So many numberless beings haven’t met the Dharma, they don’t understand Dharma, and even if they have the shape of a human body, their mind or way of behaving, their way of thinking, is more like an animal—like ants or worms. Everything they do becomes the cause of negative karma during the daytime and at nighttime, except for those who have a good heart, or do some charity, or help and create virtue that way. Of course, if we don’t practice patience, then in one instant just by getting angry we destroy all the merits. If the merit has not been dedicated for enlightenment, all the merit gets destroyed. Even if the merit is dedicated for enlightenment, if it is not sealed with emptiness, then the merit becomes weaker. Without dedicating it for enlightenment, then all the merits get destroyed each time anger or heresy arises. Depending on whom we get angry at—whether it is a non-bodhisattva or bodhisattva—even one second of anger at a bodhisattva destroys one thousand eons of the merit that we have created by having made charity to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. All that merit is destroyed in one second.
Among all the sentient beings, the amount of people who are Buddhists is so small. Then from those who are Buddhist, those who have the opportunity to study are very rare. Then to be able to find a qualified teacher who can teach philosophy, it’s so, so rare. So you can rejoice, it’s unbelievable.
Since you have a child, you can be a good example for your child, and help your child to generate compassion and to have kindness towards others. This is the most important thing. This is the best education that you can give a child—to be kind to others, even insects, to help in whatever way you can, and then that karma from that one good action of being kind to others—from that one action the result is happiness in this life, and not just in this life but for 500 lifetimes or 1,000 lifetimes. So from just that one action of helping others, if the child does that in this life, then it takes care of all the future lives, to have a higher rebirth and to receive happiness. Others will help them all the time and there is less harm done. So you can learn and teach your child what I have suggested in Universal Education. That might be good, however, the whole essence of Universal Education is to develop the good heart. However much good heart there is, then there is more happiness and less suffering.
With much love and prayers...