Renouncing Attachment to a Monk

Renouncing Attachment to a Monk

Date of Advice:
September 2013
Date Posted:
November 2020

A student wrote that she had fallen in love with a monk. Rinpoche responded with advice about renunciation, which can’t co-exist with attachment. Rinpoche also recommended lamrim study and practice, preliminary practices and recitation of 500 million Chenrezig mantras.

My very dear one,
Thank you very much for your most kind letter. Well, I need to explain about this monk. He is totally dedicated to sentient beings, to help not only you, but all the sentient beings. That is his prayer and he told me that many times.

You should try to live your life as an ascetic, with no attachment to this life, without the eight worldly concerns, which is where all the problems come from, where all the obstacles to Dharma practice come from.

So, for example, you have strong attachment to this life but at the same time you wish to be free from suffering and to achieve the blissful state of bliss, ultimate happiness; you want to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering, and for all beings to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering—the oceans of hell beings’ sufferings, oceans of hungry ghosts’ sufferings, oceans of animals’ sufferings, oceans of human beings’ sufferings, oceans of suras’ sufferings, oceans of asuras’ sufferings and oceans of intermediate state beings’ sufferings. How is it possible to have those two thoughts? They are opposite thoughts. One thought is renunciation, thinking of peace, freedom from desire and attachment, freedom from delusion, and the other is wishing to have the attachments of this life.

Developing renunciation for this life depends on seeing samsara only in the nature of suffering, seeing that it is like being in the center of fire. Through that we see the shortcomings of delusion, including attachment to this life. Another example is when we are on the ice or snow and we have no clothing; we are freezing but at the same time expecting sunshine and warmth, so that doesn’t happen. How can those two things happen? While we are on the ice or snow with no clothing and we are freezing, but at the same time expecting to not have ice or snow and for there to be warmth and sunshine—it doesn’t happen together, so we have to choose one. If we don’t want to be freezing cold, then we need to be in a place where there is warm sunshine. Expecting both to happen together is hopeless.

We need to seek enlightenment, the state of omniscient mind, for sentient beings—to be able to do perfect works for sentient beings. That is the whole purpose of our life, why we are born as human beings. That is the most important goal to achieve for oneself and for sentient beings. This is what the monk wishes for himself and for all sentient beings. The cause of this is bodhicitta, great compassion for numberless sentient beings and bodhicitta. This is what sentient beings need, to achieve enlightenment, so they can receive perfect help without subtle mistakes.

It is the same thing relating to you and numberless sentient beings. For this we need the realization of guru devotion, that every guru is all the numberless buddhas and each buddha is all the gurus. We need this to arise without effort from our own side. After realizing guru devotion we need renunciation of samsara, then bodhicitta and then the realization of emptiness. This is what numberless buddhas want for you and also what they want for all sentient beings. These realizations are the foundation of tantra, the generation and completion stages. Then from that we can achieve the unified state of Vajradhara, which has seven qualities, embracing and so forth.

Please do the preliminary practices. I checked and it might be better to stay at the center and try to do the preliminary practices there and meditate on the lamrim, especially thought transformation, as well as the graduated path of the lower capable being—the sufferings of samsara, perfect human rebirth, the difficulties in obtaining it again, etc. In this way use the obstacles in the path to enlightenment for sentient beings, so that means using the path to bring happiness to sentient beings, then there are no obstacles.

The most important thing is for you to practice the lamrim, so read books like Essence of Refined Gold. Read this book from beginning to end, read it well and if there is something you don’t understand then you can ask Geshe-la or an old student you know well who has already studied the lamrim. Also, meditate on the lamrim—that is the most important thing—to have lamrim realizations.

First study the lamrim well, then after that, in order to have effortful realizations, follow the lamrim outline. Go through each topic in the lamrim outline again and again in order to have effortless meditation experience, no matter how many weeks, months or years it takes to have realizations. Start from guru devotion and if possible on the same day also do some meditation on the graduated path of the lower capable being, so go through the meditations one by one and try to have realizations by meditating on them, no matter how many weeks, months or years it takes, however long it takes to have realizations. If you can, try to do a little meditation every day on emptiness, by reciting the Heart Sutra or reciting one verse, even something like: “The I does not have true existence….” Try meditating on that, then meditate on the reason for that, which is that it is dependent arising. So you can meditate on different verses like that and try to realize emptiness.

The practices for you to do for the quickest enlightenment for sentient beings, so you can free them from oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment, the peerless happiness are:

  • Refuge: 4,000 times
  • Tonglen: 300,000
  • Four immeasurable thoughts: 100,000
  • Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga: 10,000
  • Nyung näs: Try to do at least three nyung näs each year, but if you can do more, you are most welcome to do so.

Also recite OM MANI PADME HUM 500 million times, if you can. Attempt that if you can, but if you don’t finish it doesn’t matter. Count this mantra every day with Chenrezig meditation. Visualize beams of light emitting from Chenrezig to the six-realm sentient beings. Also if you have a prayer wheel, you can turn that and you can visualize beams emitting also from the prayer wheel to the six-realm sentient beings. You can turn the prayer wheel with your right hand and count the mantras with your left hand. This is just if you have a prayer wheel. Do whatever you can, reciting the mantras every day and counting in this way.

Do whatever you can. Don’t be afraid, even you don’t finish, its OK, just be happy in doing that. Just be happy, even just reciting some mantras every day, even if you don’t finish, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you can finish is good, very, very good.

From time to time, if possible, you can do a deity retreat. Please enjoy your life with bodhicitta.

With much love and prayers,

Lama Zopa

P.S. I’m very happy you informed me of your difficulties. Thank you very, very much.