Your Gift to Sentient Beings

Your Gift to Sentient Beings

Date of Advice:
March 2017
Date Posted:
June 2017

Rinpoche wrote this letter to thank a Nepalese shopkeeper for selling buddha statues. Rinpoche explained the unbelievable merit of just seeing a buddha statue, and advised that well-made statues allow devotion to arise more easily.    

My dear one,
I just want to inform you of the good side, the positive side, the benefit that people get from you by your selling statues. First I want to explain the benefits, and to thank you for selling statues that have the best art, special statues of the Buddha, so I’m giving you some pictures of buddhas here.

I know it’s not easy to make Shakyamuni Buddha with the best art. I know one artist group in Kathmandu that made a big buddha statue but the art was not good. In their view it might have been good, but in my view it wasn’t good art.

You have some buddhas of which the art of the face is very good. However, many are different and are not very good art. Of course, the Buddha’s holy body has no mistakes and has all the beauty, but the art of a statue can be bad and good.

Anyway, by buying a statue from you, first of all the buyer, just by seeing one statue of  the Buddha in your shop, even though most of them might not know this, they collect numberless, greatest merit. I’m talking about merit because it is very important. Without merit, there’s no happiness or success in this life or in future lives, which could be billions, trillions, until we realize the four noble truths. These are true suffering, true cause of suffering, true cessation of suffering and true path—developing the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness only, shunyata, and ceasing the sea of delusions and karma, which are the cause of the suffering, not material but mental, what we have in the mind.

By ceasing delusions and karma with wisdom, then we become free forever from the oceans of suffering of samsara. That only comes from Dharma practice, not from an operation in a hospital to take delusions and karma out, because it’s not material but [comes from] the mind. It comes only through Dharma practice and especially through realizing emptiness only, shunyata.

Then, of course, by collecting the merits of wisdom and merits of virtue, we achieve Buddha’s holy mind and holy body, called dharmakaya and rupakaya. Then we’re able to do perfect work without the slightest mistake for numberless sentient beings—the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras, suras and intermediate state beings. Then we’re able to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering. Not only that, we’re able to bring everyone to the peerless happiness, the total cessation of the mistakes of the mind and the completion of all realizations. That is from collecting merit, therefore you can see that it is most important.

All our wishes for happiness get fulfilled from that. Without that, most happiness and success is temporary. Even when we are tired or hot, and cold air passes over our head so that we feel good, even such a small pleasure like that is dependent on merit, having collected merit.

Just by coming to buy a statue in your shop, just by seeing the statue, people collect numberless great merit. How unbelievably, unbelievably, unbelievably great that is. For somebody who is a solitary realizer arhat (called rang sangye in Tibetan), there is no continuation of rebirth and death; it is stopped or ceased by actualizing the remedy path in their mind.

[Just by seeing a statue of the Buddha ] we collect unbelievable merit. How much merit? Equaling the number of atoms of dust of the universe, that many number of arhats. So an arhat is a great human being who is totally free from rebirth, sickness, old age and death. In Buddhism we can be free but for that we have to listen to teachings from a qualified teacher, then reflect and meditate and actualize the path.

For that many arhats, if we were to make offerings of incredible jewels—gold, diamonds and so forth. If we were to offer to them for how long? One hundred eons, which is beyond what we can understand. In ancient times in India, one man who had nothing offered a medicinal drink to four ordinary monks, not arhats, but ordinary monks living in 253 vows. Only one time he offered that, but after he died he was reborn as the richest and most powerful king in India. That’s a simple example to understand the unbelievable, unbelievable benefit. So like that.

Now, seeing the statues, just seeing one statue gets that much merit. Offering jewels to solitary realizer arhats equaling the atoms of dust of this universe becomes very small compared to seeing a buddha. So seeing a buddha is unbelievably, unbelievably more merit. However many statues a person looks at—one hundred or one thousand—imagine how much merit that person gets. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! It’s really mind-blowing. That is your gift to the sentient beings.

Now by making offerings and prostrating and so forth, we collect even greater numberless merits than by seeing a buddha. The pictures, statues, stupas and scriptures of the Buddha are representing the Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, so what we ordinary sentient beings can see are really wonderful holy objects, priceless. From that merit all the happiness comes—the temporary happiness of this life and future lives and the ultimate happiness of liberation and enlightenment. Therefore statues, stupas and pictures are really wish-fulfilling; they are so, so precious. Money is nothing compared to that value.

My suggestion is that it’s good to have statues in your shop as much as possible, so that’s why I’m giving you these pictures. By having better art it’s easier to arise devotion to the Buddha, so negative thoughts don’t arise to the Buddha. Negative thoughts to the Buddha create negative karma. Buddha has no mistakes and only good qualities. As best as possible, art makes it easy to arise devotion in us ordinary beings. Wherever they are, it’s easy to arise devotion. It arises more and it’s easier to achieve [the state of a] buddha, with the total cessation of all mistakes and the completion of realizations.

So with devotion, it’s the root. It’s very important. It’s like the root of a tree. If there’s the root, a tree can grow; if not, it can’t grow.

It is said in a teaching by Buddha that devotion is like the mother who can produce many babies, all the time. They come from the mother; many animals come from the mother. The realizations come from devotion, so it’s like the mother. All qualities are produced and increased by devotion.

Devotion eliminates doubts and those who have no devotion in their mind become very skeptical, finding it hard to believe something. Even if it’s worthwhile, if it’s not wrong but right, they find it hard to believe. For example, even real gold, they do not believe. It’s hard to believe that brass is gold, but with real gold, if they find that hard to believe, it’s different.

Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the perfect power to free us from samsara and to liberate us from the great rivers—the river of ignorance, the river of craving and grasping, the river of becoming. Basically that is the cause of samsara, of being reborn again in samsara and experiencing all the sufferings.

Devotion is like the city from where all the collections of happiness and goodness come. Devotion signifies that. From devotion comes unbelievable qualities, all the qualities up to enlightenment— the five paths to arhatship, the unbelievable qualities the arhats have; for the bodhisattvas, the five Mahayana paths and ten bhumis; and for those who are on the tantric path, the quick path to achieve enlightenment.

A quotation from Konchog Talai Do [Precious Tala Sutra] says that devotion is not like murky water, but is like very calm water. With strong devotion, the nature of the mind is like that, so it helps very much to bring that. With devotion to Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and karma, there is so much happiness and success in this life and in future lives. There is no attraction to this life or future lives’ samsara, thus we are freed from the oceans of samsaric suffering forever. Devotion makes us to achieve that and makes us to achieve buddhahood, the total cessation of all obscurations and completion of all realizations.

Anybody who has strong devotion, every day so much vast good karma is collected by the way—eating, talking, sleeping, so many things are virtue. It helps to achieve enlightenment oneself and causes happiness and enlightenment to the sentient beings in daily life.

I want to explain one more thing to you, so you know how statues, stupas and pictures of the Buddha are very precious things, amazing.

If we offer one grain of rice or one tiny flower to a statue of the Buddha, it creates virtue and causes us to not be born in the lower realms as a result of negative karmas collected in the past. We get higher rebirth as a human being or deva, we also meet the Dharma in our next life, and we connect with the Buddhadharma, which is so fortunate.

The most surprising thing, the happiness that we experienced during beginningless rebirths in the past, that much we will experience in the future by offering one grain of rice to a statue or picture of the Buddha, no matter how big or small. This is mentioned in the Heaps of Flowers Sutra. After that it causes ultimate happiness, everlasting happiness, with cessation of the oceans of samsaric sufferings. Amazing, amazing!

Not only that, it causes us to achieve buddhahood, ultimate happiness, the total cessation of obscurations—not only gross but also subtle—and the completion of all realizations. And not only do we achieve that but we become the perfect guide, a buddha, so we’re able to liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering. Not only that, we’re able to bring everyone—the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras, suras and intermediate state beings—to the peerless happiness of buddhahood. So when everyone is brought there to buddhahood, the benefit of offering that one grain of rice is completed at that time.

I want to explain this to you, about the people who come into your shop to buy statues. It’s very important to have good art. Therefore, for that, [I am giving you] these pictures of statues. The hands of the large buddha statue are well-made. The face of your statue [in the shop] is well-made but the hands are not. Well-made statues cause devotion in other people’s minds.

Thank you very much.