Remedy for Obstacles, Fear and Worry

Remedy for Obstacles, Fear and Worry

Date of Advice:
January 2016
Date Posted:
January 2018

A student was experiencing a lot of obstacles, as well as fear, unhappiness and worry. Rinpoche advised that while our difficulties appear real, they are merely labeled. Rinpoche also offered extensive advice on cherishing others and said that cherishing even one sentient being is a gateway to happiness.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Thailand, May 2016. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
I heard about your difficulties. As you know, all these difficulties do not exist from their own side, even though they appear like that to our hallucinated mind. The difficulty appears to exist from its own side, to exist by itself. It appears real, using ordinary language.

Basically, what you believe is difficult is just your mind thinking, your mind merely labelling, “This is difficult.” Your mind is merely labelling that it is difficult and that’s how it came into existence. When the difficulty appeared to you, even though it is merely imputed, it appears totally opposite, as though it never came from the mind and it was never merely labeled by the mind. That is totally a hallucination.

For example, we are living our whole life in a hallucination, so like that, everything—including the I, form, sounds, smell, tangible objects; everything that appears to our senses, to our hallucinated mind—appears as real, as if something is existing from there. However, it doesn’t appear real unless our mind merely imputes it first. Everything that appears real is not true, it is a total hallucination. It is a totally hallucinated real I, a totally hallucinated real action and a totally hallucinated real object.

While everything—I, action, object—is totally empty of existing from its own side, it exists in mere name. Everything—I, action, object—exists in mere name; it is merely labeled by the valid mind, on the valid base.

What we think is difficult, in a complicated way, is all made up by our own concepts, and is to do with our own concepts.

Let me say something, what the great bodhisattva Shantideva has advised:

Whatever befalls me,
I shall not disturb my mental joy;
For having been made unhappy, I shall not accomplish what I wish,
And my virtues will decline.
  - [Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 9]

There are so many problems in the West; also in the East, but especially in the West. If there is a way for the problem to be fixed or mended, what is there to dislike about it? If there is a method then do it, and if there is no method and no way to fix it, then why dislike it? If there is a way to fix the problem, then do it, and if there isn’t, then no need to be worried. It just makes us mentally sick and it also causes physical sickness. As it increases more, it brings more problems.

Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?
  - [Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 10]

Please think about this. It is what Shantideva advised and this is my advice to you. When you think this way, it will bring happiness to your life.

Generally, if our motivation is the self-cherishing thought, then of course, as it is mentioned by Shantideva in the Bodhicaryavatara:

If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.
  - [Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 8, v. 131]

Enlightenment is the complete cessation of all the obscurations and total completion of all the realizations, however, if our motivation is the self-cherishing thought we cannot achieve this for sentient beings. Even while we are in samsara there is no happiness or success, leave aside the happiness and success beyond this life. Even in this life, the works of this life cannot succeed. All our unhappiness and obstacles come from the self-cherishing thought, and by cherishing our mothers, this leads to happiness and is the door to receiving infinite qualities.

Should even all the beings of the three realms without exception
Become angry at me, humiliate, criticize, threaten, or even kill me,
I seek your blessings not to be agitated, but to complete the perfection of patience
That works for their benefit in response to their harm.
  - [Guru Puja, v. 103]

Please think more about this every day or quite often. Don’t read this advice I am giving you just one time and then throw it away. Don’t read it very fast and then throw it away in the garbage.

Here is a little bit of commentary.

Cherish even one mother sentient being, who has been our own mother and has been kind, giving birth to us, especially a human rebirth, so that we can practice Dharma. She has been kind from beginningless rebirth and has protected our life from hundreds of dangers every day. She took care of us while we were in the womb for nine months and even after that she took care of us for a long time. This has been happening from beginningless rebirths, and our mother has borne hardship for us many times, every day, numberless times from beginningless rebirths. She also gave us education numberless times from beginningless rebirths.

Just one clear example, if she had an abortion, we could be a maggot in cow dung or maybe a bird would be eating us by now. Half our body would be outside moving around and the other half would be inside the bird’s beak, things like that. Or our whole body could be covered by ants and we would have no way to escape being eaten by ants, let alone meeting Dharma and being able to study, leaving that aside.

Now you can see very clearly the kindness of the mother. Therefore the thought of cherishing even one sentient being and bringing that being happiness is the door or the gateway for a number of qualities.

New bodhisattvas who actualize the five paths—the path of merit, the path of preparation, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning—arya bodhisattvas and even new bodhisattvas have unbelievable qualities that we don’t have. New bodhisattvas have unbelievable, unbelievable qualities.

Those bodhisattvas who have achieved the third or fourth bhumi and so forth, and who have achieved the exalted path, have a spiritual body. This means they don’t have the sufferings of old age, sickness, rebirth and death. Those who have achieved the eighth, ninth and tenth bhumis can manifest as oceans, as water, as mountains, as bridges or anything that benefits sentient beings.

First bhumi bodhisattvas can go to hundreds of different pure lands through their psychic power and receive teachings. They can do prostrations with hundreds of different manifestations and they can give different teachings to sentient beings, so they can do eleven different activities one hundred times. It is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable! The second bhumi bodhisattvas can increase their holy activities one thousand times, so like that it goes on and on. The eighth, ninth and tenth bhumi bodhisattvas can manifest a billion, zillion, trillion times and make prostrations, do meditations and give teachings.

To our very obscured limited mind, there is no way to understand their qualities. Also, their pores are filled with pure land worlds. This is beyond our concepts, there’s no way to understand. It is unbelievable, unbelievable, how they can benefit sentient beings, like the sky, so much.

These are with effort but the Buddha, of course, makes no effort; everything is done without resistance. The Buddha can directly can see all phenomena of the past, at the same time the present and at the same time the future. There is no phenomena that the Buddha does not see directly, all at the same time.

The Buddha’s holy mind can function as his holy speech, the Buddha’s holy body can function as his holy speech and so forth. The Buddha has no resistance and is totally free, so wherever his holy mind manifests, his holy body can also manifest.

When our mind is purified of more and more obscurations we can see numberless buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect, then in sambhogakaya aspect, then oneness with all the buddhas, when we have achieved dharmakaya and have totally ceased all the obscurations. Anyway the Buddha has infinite qualities.

The Buddha’s holy body, speech and mind all come from bodhicitta, so we can say that all the happiness of sentient beings comes from bodhicitta, from cherishing others, from letting go of the I and cherishing others. Every single happiness that we have experienced in the past from beginningless rebirths until now and what will be experienced in the future; all the happiness of this life and all the happiness of future lives, liberation from samsara and ultimate happiness, the peerless happiness—the total cessation of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations—what we experience all comes from and is received from the kindness of numberless sentient beings, numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings.

That means every maggot, every mosquito, every bed bug, every flea, every spider, every slug, everything. They are the most kind, most precious, most dear wish-fulfilling ones, our wish-fulfilling ones.

By taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha we can be free from the lower realms, free from samsara, free from the lower nirvana, and we can achieve the peerless happiness, sang gye, the total elimination of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations. All of that comes from every insect and every animal that I mentioned, so it comes from every sentient being.

When our mind’s motivation is cherishing the I, then everything becomes a problem or difficulty. We have so many problems, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable. Even in relationships with our parents, children, wife or husband, not getting along, even one day is difficult. However, when the mind is cherishing others totally, then it brings all the happiness to ourselves and to others.

Please keep this in your heart. This is most important advice, so keep it in your prayer book. It’s not just to read one time quickly and then throw away. Please don’t do that.

Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers ...