Reflect on the Kindness of Others

Reflect on the Kindness of Others

Date of Advice:
December 2020
Date Posted:
April 2021

Lama Zopa Rinpoche sent this advice to a Dharma center which was having difficulties with the decisions and conduct of one of the people working at the center. This advice is excerpted from a long letter which you can read here.

My most dear, most precious, most kind, wish-granting jewels,

Lozang Tenpai Gyaltsen said:

When the blazing fire of anger, the enemy of the life of virtue,
Burns the seeds of liberation without exception,
Please extinguish it with the strong continual water
Of the nectar of your great compassion, Arya Compassionate-Eye-Looking One (Chenrezig).

His Holiness the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, said:

In the view of the mind stirred by spirit possession and delusions,
Even though you feel that pride is good, it is like a dancing act of craziness.
However many collections of vices looked down upon by the holy beings you have done,
From the depths of your heart confess them individually with fervent regret.

The old mother sentient beings, who have guided me with kindness again and again,
Have fallen into the midst of a burning fire of suffering.
Since I don’t have the capacity to guide them now,
Please bless me to quickly achieve enlightenment.

On the basis of the teachings of the Buddha, the present founder of Buddhadharma, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said in his Seven Points of Thought Transformation,

Put all the blame on one.
Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Putting all the blame on one means to blame one’s own negative mind, the self-cherishing thought. This is what causes you to suffer; this is the creator of your suffering from beginningless rebirths up to now, and if you follow the self-cherishing thought, you will suffer continuously. You will continuously be stuck in samsara, experiencing suffering forever. The self-cherishing mind controls you; it has harmed numberless sentient beings in the past and continues to do so in the present. It has prevented you from achieving enlightenment, buddhahood, from beginningless rebirths up to now. As long as you follow this selfish mind, it will prevent you from becoming enlightened in the future and will continuously harm you and all other sentient beings. This is the great demon, the enemy—the self-cherishing thought.


Even though there are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas, why so far have we not become free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings? Why do we suffer continuously? Why are we not yet enlightened? Why do we continue to suffer and suffer? We have followed our self-cherishing as if it were our best guide, a god, our best helper. We have been led by the selfish mind, the great demon, doing exactly what it says, thinking, “This is me. This is I. This is what I want.” That is totally wrong! That’s not you, that’s not me, that’s not the I. The body is not the I; mind is not the I; both together are not the I. Yet there is no I that exists separate from the aggregates.

Of course, I’m not saying that there is no I. There is an I. But what exists is nothing other than what is merely labeled by the mind. So what the I is is most extremely subtle. We ordinary beings, like myself, never think we are acting for the merely labeled I. If, for example, when we got angry we were able to meditate right at that time—“What is I? It exists in mere name”—then there would be no place for our anger. It would totally disappear. It doesn’t go anywhere; it just becomes not existent. The place from where that anger arises, the I, would no longer be there.

Similarly, the moment that you think the I exists in mere name, right at that time you see the real I is one hundred percent not there. That proves to your mind, or identifies to your mind, that the false I is simply an illusion.

In the first moment, the mind focuses on the aggregates, and then that same mind merely labels, or merely imputes, “I” upon them. That is how we create the I. Then, in the second moment, the I appears back to our mind as if it existed from its own side, as if it existed by itself, as if it were truly existent, or, in everyday language, as if it were a real I. It appears that way because of negative imprints left on our mental continuum from beginningless rebirths by the ignorance that holds the I as real, as existing from its own side, as existing by nature. That is projected, or decorated, by these negative imprints.

Then, in the third moment, we believe, or we hold on to, this concept of an I existing from its own side as one hundred percent true. Just to clarify, not a permanent I existing alone and existing with its own freedom. Also, not an I existing self-sufficiently. Also, not an I existing from its own side completely without depending on the substance, the imprint, left on the seventh consciousness, the mind-basis-of-all, and then experienced as both the object and the subject, the knowing mind. It is not even that, the gag cha, the object to be refuted, according to the Cittamatra school of Buddhist philosophy.

The view of the next highest school, Madhyamika Svatantrika, is that the gag cha is the I that is not labeled by the mind but truly exists from its own side. According to the Svatantrika view, there is some existence from its own side but it is also labeled by the mind. Even that is not correct, but this is what they falsely believe. This is their right view.

But in the view of the highest philosophical school, that of the Madhyamika Prasangika, this is the actual gag cha, the object of refutation. Something that exists from its own side, even a little; something not totally from its own side but something from its own side, something small—that is totally non-existent according to Prasangika.

Realizing the total non-existence of that is the realization of the Prasangika view of emptiness. The wisdom realizing that is the only view that can directly eliminate the root of samsara, the ignorance that holds the I as real. Here I’m talking about the very subtle gag cha—that there is something from its own side, even though it is labeled by mind. Even that is totally nonexistent. That belief is the root of samsara, the oceans of suffering. From that, ignorance arises, attachment arises, anger arises, jealousy arises, pride arises, and doubt arises. From that, the six root delusions and the twenty secondary delusions arise, and then in all the details, the 84,000 delusions.

Thus, that wrong concept, the ignorance that believes something exists from its own side, is the true cause of suffering, the principal one. From that, delusion and karma arise, bringing about all the various samsaric sufferings: the heavy suffering of the hells, the heavy suffering of the hungry ghosts, the heavy suffering of the animals, the heavy suffering of the human beings, the heavy suffering of the sura and asura beings, the suffering of rebirth, the suffering of sickness, the suffering of old age, and the suffering of death. All that comes from there.

In Buddhism, a fundamental teaching is that on the four noble truths: true suffering, true cause of suffering, true cessation of suffering, and true path to the cessation of suffering. Why did the Buddha teach those? By realizing the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, we eradicate the seed of delusion and karma, the cause of samsara. In that way, delusion and karma completely cease. As a result, suffering ceases, is no longer experienced, and we become arhats free from death. If arhats are free from death there’s no question that buddhas, who have eradicated even the subtle imprints of ignorance and achieved buddhahood, sang gye, the total cessation of obscurations and the completion of all realizations, have achieved freedom from death.

Other sufferings that we cease include that of meeting undesirable objects, not finding desirable objects, and separating from desirable objects once found, such as receiving half your salary after three months of receiving a full salary without doing any work. And even if we get the objects we desire, they fail to satisfy us.

There are also the three kinds of suffering of the aggregates: suffering of suffering, suffering of change, and pervasive compounding suffering. All these come from the ignorance holding that things, including the I, truly exist. Even sufferings such as diarrhea, a stomachache from eating too many eggs, a headache, wind disease (lung), and so forth come from that ignorance, the ignorance that holds that something exists from the side of the I, even a tiny, subtle thing not merely labeled by the mind, that something exists from there.

In his Lamrim Chenmo (Great Treatise on the Graduated Path to Enlightenment), Lama Tsongkhapa explained that the ignorance that holds the I, aggregates, and so forth as real, as not merely labeled, as self-existent in nature, then exaggerates objects as good or bad. As a result, attachment and anger arise. So, attachments and anger hold objects as good or bad—not only good or bad but really good or bad, existing from their own side. Because valid reasoning proves that the way these wrong concepts apprehend their objects is wrong, these wrong concepts can be eliminated. I’m just elaborating what Lama Tsongkhapa said to make it clear so that you can understand.

This reasoning is excellent for proving how we can realize the way we perceive everything is totally false. It is a great meditation for seeing what is true and what is false, for seeing why we continuously suffer in samsara by not knowing the difference between truth and falsehood. We believe the false I we apprehend to be true and the true I—that which exists in mere name, that which we do not see—to be nonexistent. Thinking that the I that exists does not exist is nihilistic; we don’t see it, so we think it doesn’t exist. Talking straight, this is the point and the most important meditation.


I want to say that the FPMT is a religious organization, not a political one to hurt the world, to harm sentient beings. Buddhism differs from other religions in that it stresses compassion for all sentient beings in order to free them from suffering, and great compassion, where we take personal responsibility to do this by ourselves alone. The essence of Buddhism is not to harm sentient beings. That is so important.

Some person holding wrong views might seek to destroy the world because that is what they want to do, and since it’s democratic, if a majority supports that view we should let it happen, we should let that person do what they want, and it’s bad if we don’t. But at the same time, sentient beings want the world to last a long time and to live in peace, so we should protect them from that danger.

If, for example, a child is about to ingest a harmful substance that might even kill him or her, it’s the parents’ responsibility to protect the child and prevent that from happening. They can’t say, “Well, that’s what he wants, so let him do it.” You can’t do that; that’s crazy. While you want a long and healthy life, are you happy to be killed by someone who wants to kill you? Do you let it happen because it’s democratic? Is that correct? Generally speaking there are people in the world who think like that. Even if it’s rare, there are people in the world who, due to much suffering, are prepared to die.

Anyway, the FPMT organization’s function is, on the basis of not harming others, to benefit them as much as possible; to bring them happiness. That does not mean allowing everybody to just do what they want, to destroy the world. We cannot allow people to create the five extremely heavy negative karmas without break (tsam me nga): killing their father, killing their mother, killing an arhat, drawing blood from a buddha, and causing disunity within the sangha and create the cause to be born in the lower realms, in the hells, for numberless eons, which according to the sutra and tantra teachings is what will happen, just because they want to.

Say there are children at home and they don’t want to go to school. They want to stay home and play. Do the parents let them do that because that’s what they’d like to do? No. They get the children to go to school by cajoling them with sweet words and presents or by speaking wrathfully or punishing them, but out of heartfelt loving kindness and compassion. Parents do whatever they have to because it is important for the children to get an education so that they can get a job, make money, and survive in this world.


As above, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said:

Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Say, for example, a person is angry with you and tries to harm you with their body, speech or mind. When the Buddha explained how to attain enlightenment through the practice of the six perfections, he gave complete teachings on patience. Then, as a representative of Shakyamuni Buddha, our guru taught us how to practice patience ourselves. But we don’t practice patience with the buddhas, nor with friends or strangers. The only person who gives us the opportunity to put the teachings on patience into practice, to complete the practice in order to attain enlightenment, is the one we consider an enemy, the angry person trying to harm us. That’s the only one.

By practicing patience with our enemy, we can overcome our anger, complete the perfection of patience, and attain enlightenment, buddhahood, the total cessation of all obscurations and the completion of all realizations. In doing so we achieve the infinite qualities of a buddha’s holy body, speech, and mind. And even before we get there, we become higher bodhisattvas on the eighth, ninth, and tenth levels; for us, they are like buddhas.

Note: Rinpoche's advice continues. You can read the entire advice here.