To the World Buddhist Organization, to the World Compassionate, Kind, Full of Wisdom, Awakening the Living Beings From the Darkness of Ignorance, From So Much Suffering, From the Unbelievable Sufferings, Organization,
I’m very happy that the organization has come into existence. It came into existence, however, still at the right time. Still it’s not too late.
Most people in the world don’t know about Buddhism and don’t know about Dharma. That means they don’t know about the mind and that even though the body disintegrates, the mind continues, as it has no beginning. Also, in Mahayana Buddhism, the mind has no end. Also most people don’t know about karma—cause and effect. The actions of the mind are the intention, thus from virtuous actions the result is happiness and from nonvirtuous actions the result is suffering. The result of virtue or nonvirtue will be experienced in this life, another life or in a million, zillion, numberless zillion eons and eons. These things people don’t know.
They have no idea of past and future lives; they have no idea of a future life, so of course no idea of a past life. They are either completely ignorant or even if it is explained, they do not believe it. By practicing morality, which is the main cause, we can achieve a human or deva existence or be reborn in a pure land. Also through charity and the dedication of merits, we can receive a human or deva body, also buddhahood, ultimate happiness.
Most people have no idea that such a state of total freedom from the oceans of samsaric suffering is possible, and they don’t know that peace, nirvana, can be achieved. Freedom from suffering and the cause of suffering is possible because the cause of suffering, karma and delusion, and the seed of suffering can be totally ceased. It is not possible for it to arise again because there is no cause. When that happens, no suffering comes again. We never fall back into suffering. There’s no such thing. The cessation of suffering is achieved by actualizing the true path, which is the remedy.
The main truth is the direct perception of emptiness, shunyata. That’s actually what ceases the seeds of the delusions. Therefore, one of the endeavors of utmost importance is to be able to realize emptiness in this life. It is possible in this life.
As Maitreya Buddha said in his teaching:
The disease needs to be known; the cause of the disease needs to be abandoned; the abiding or living in a healthy life is what is to be achieved, and the medicine is to be taken. True suffering, true cause, true cessation and true path are like that.
Buddha said that the way he liberates us, the sentient beings, from the ocean of samsaric sufferings is not by washing with water, not by taking suffering out like taking a thorn by the hand, nor by transferring his realizations into the hearts of sentient beings. How then does the Buddha liberate us? By revealing the ultimate truth or ultimate nature to sentient beings. Thus sentient beings can be liberated from the oceans of samsaric sufferings.
The actual verse says,
The Mighty One does not wash away negative karma with water. The suffering of sentient beings does not get eliminated by his hand, nor does he transfer his realizations to others.
By revealing the ultimate truth or nature, sentient beings get liberated from the ocean of samsaric sufferings, then they can achieve full enlightenment, peerless happiness, which is the cessation of not only the gross disturbing-thought obscurations but also the subtle obscurations—those that mainly obscure the achievement of omniscience. After the achievement of omniscience there is nothing more to gain or learn.
Numberless beings besides the Buddha himself—many great yogis, such as Saraha, Tilopa, the greats Naropa and Marpa from Tibet, Milarepa, Gampopa—achieved omniscience. Also, those Indian yogis and pandits, like Nagarjuna and many others, became fully enlightened, just like the Buddha. They achieved omniscient mind. As well, many yogis from Nepal, from China and many from Tibet, those main countries and also from other places, numberless beings became enlightened. They achieved omniscient mind by practicing the Paramitayana path based on the four noble truths, the Lesser Vehicle or Hinayana path, the five Greater Vehicle paths and the ten bhumis. Through practicing the Paramitayana path to achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings, Gyalwa Longchenpa, the five Sakya pandits and Lama Tsongkhapa, along with many others, attained enlightenment in Tibet.
Even these days, there are many who have experienced the path to liberation and enlightenment. There are people who have actualized perfect renunciation, bodhicitta and the correct realization of emptiness, by following the sutra teachings as well as the tantric teachings taught by the Buddha, not the Hindu teachings. For example, in Amravati, a city in the state of Maharashtra, India, the Kalachakra initiation happened, by the Buddha manifesting as Kalachakra. In 2006, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the Kalachakra initiation there, where the Buddha manifested as Vajradhara. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, by manifesting in the form of the tantric deity Yamantaka, gave this initiation in Orgyen, Pakistan. Then also, by manifesting as the tantric deity Heruka, he gave that initiation on Mount Kailash in Tibet. As the manifestation of Guhyasamaja, Buddha gave the initiation to King Indrabhuti of Oddiyana.
This is my appeal to the organization, to everyone who is compassionate, full of wisdom and dedicated to benefiting the world through relieving the world of suffering by means of the Buddha’s teachings:
There is a place, called Garsha Khandroling in the Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti region in India. A great holy being from Tibet came to this area, and acted as a herder for goats and sheep for about twenty years. One family there was milking their goats but no milk was forthcoming. The holy man asked what happened and advised them to look the next day. Meanwhile, he went to a lake and on the land near the lake, he explained this situation to Chenrezig.
Chenrezig replied, "Carry me and go quickly. There’ll be a huge noise but don’t look back."
People there at that time, the ordinary beings, asked to see the statue and when the big noise happened, the herder looked back and saw seven white beings following Chenrezig, the Compassionate Buddha. The seven were enlightened beings, and when he looked at them, they absorbed into the lake. At that time in Garsha, the people were disharmonious. They were in two groups and when the statue arrived there, the herder couldn’t carry it anymore, so then it manifested as a marble stone for us ordinary beings. The herder also dissolved into the stone.
These days, ordinary people can pray there and get their wishes fulfilled. People who can’t get pregnant come there. The statue’s right hand is in the mudra of sublime realization while the left hand holds a lotus. It can be seen very clearly. After visiting, those who wish to can become pregnant.
In the beginning and for many years the Chenrezig statue was in a family house, then the government took over the care of it. The statue was taken from the family so that everyone could come to see it. Now it is in a temple and there are some guest houses built nearby.
In the past several Hindu sadhus and pandits took care of the statue, but somehow it didn’t fit to them. Then a Tibetan took care of it for three years but he left for Dharamsala where His Holiness gave him another job of looking after a temple. One Ladakhi Buddhist monk who was very good with people has been there for three years. His Holiness the Dalai Lama came once and stayed for five days.
The houses there are very, very poor and simple. That’s how they live, both now and in the old times. When His Holiness asked the caretaker to please take care of all the holy objects, he cried. He has now been there for sixteen years, but if he becomes sick or passes away, the holy place will be taken over by Hindu groups. Then after some time, if Hindu things are put there, the story of the place will be lost and people will think it is only a Hindu place.
Actually, there are books written about the place, explaining the Heruka mountain and the Palden Lhamo statue which is so ancient, and was made by the same artist, Sri Gyalpo Vishugarma [?] who made the first Guru Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the Bodhgaya stupa—not the present one, but the previous one. In another place in Garsha, there is a thousand-year-old Tara statue. There are other holy objects, other holy places.
Before the present caretaker came, the Hindus took care of the statue. They believed in Shiva, so they wrote that name outside and brought many incongruous things inside, making it messy and outside they made a small house with linga inside. They took away the prayer flags and installed the small house with linga and a cow in their place.
When I was there, people were still making the festival of coming from the lake, they keep that day. But also, they sacrifice sheep outside. Inside it is not allowed. So it is very bad. In my view, they can have a Hindu place separate, as it makes their people happy to have their gods. However, Hindus taking over a Buddhist place is very bad, even from the worldly point of view. Similarly, it would be bad if Buddhists took over a Hindu place, but we never hear of that.
The caretaker explained that before, the Hindus put many things inside and also painted it. Nowadays there’s just one picture of Shiva and the linga outside. Before, there were many OM MANI PADME HUM carvings but these were replaced by the Hindu trident and other similar things.
Many ancient holy places are incredibly precious. Here, this was the place of a living Chenrezig who manifested as actual marble. One can’t find anything like this in the West or in other places. It’s unbelievably precious.
In Garsha, I was in retreat for one month. During that time, many people came every day to see the statue. Just by coming there, they collected unbelievable skies of merit and purification.
Similarly, in ancient Buddhist holy places where people don’t know much or where not many Buddhists come, then Hindus turn the place into a Hindu place with many implements. Also then, Buddhists who don’t know better think it is a Hindu place and they don’t come. This obstacle happens and blocks the accumulation of so much positive karma and purifies negative karma. The also happens in Nepal.
Now in Garsha, this is the danger. I told the caretaker to build a monastery. Then the senior monks can teach the younger ones and if the caretaker dies, there will be others who can take care. In the monastery, the sadhana of Chenrezig can be done, also other Dharma practice and study can be done, if not extensive philosophy then at least essential study. Vinaya can be followed, then the reviving and confession ceremony can be performed twice monthly along with the rains retreat and releasing from the retreat. Doing this would be highly meaningful for the world and also for that area.
I am begging you from my heart to have a monastery in Garsha to take care of this holy place in order to benefit many people in the world, so that they may purify negativities, accumulate a lot of merit, generate bodhicitta and achieve nirvana and enlightenment quickly.
This is the total of my appeal.
Thank you very much,
Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
[Editor's note: Read more about the statue in this FPMT news article and on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Facebook page.]