Teachings at the Kadampa Deities Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Institut Vajra Yogini, France (Archive #1413)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a retreat held at Institut Vajra Yogini, France, from 18 April to 11 May 2003. The retreat was on the four Kadampa deities, however, Rinpoche teaches on a broad range of lamrim topics. Read the first fifteen discourses, lightly edited by Sandra Smith.

We have now posted three more lectures from this series. In Lectures 13 and 14, Rinpoche explains that Guru Puja (Lama Chöpa) is the heart practice highly recommended by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo and other great lamas. In Lecture 15, Rinpoche advises us to learn and practice lamrim while we have this precious opportunity. Rinpoche continues with commentary on Calling the Guru from Afar and concludes with extensive dedications.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche. From the collection of Francesco Prevosti.
15. Calling the Guru from Afar
April 29, 2003 (pm)
This Precious Human Rebirth

Good evening to everyone. It’s surprising that everybody survived from this morning up to now, very surprising. Oneself and others, all together, not only were we able to survive, especially having this precious human body, and not only that, having this human body which has eighteen qualities, or the eight ripening qualities, and then not only having this precious human body which has all these qualities but we were able to use it for this many hours today, not only to achieve the happiness of future lives, good rebirth and so forth, not only that, but to achieve liberation from samsara, creating the cause for that by practicing Dharma, which becomes the cause to achieve that. And not only that, practicing Dharma to achieve full enlightenment, the cessation of all the mistakes of the mind and completion of all the realizations, which enables us to liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them in full enlightenment.

This enables us to reveal the methods to bring the sentient beings from happiness to happiness to enlightenment, liberating them from the lower realms, those who are in the lower realms, like that, then from happiness to happiness, to bring them to the higher realms then to meet Dharma, to let them to practice Dharma, and then like that, step-by-step, from happiness to happiness, then gradually we can bring them to enlightenment. After we ourselves achieve enlightenment, this enables us to do the perfect work for the numberless sentient beings—not just one, not just a few, but numberless sentient beings.

So today, for that many hours we were able to use our precious human body for that, to utilize it for that, and especially with bodhicitta, to be able to make it most beneficial for sentient beings, for this many hours. So that is a miracle, or unimaginable, and it’s hard to believe that this is happening to us, if we look at the sentient beings who are just around us. We don’t have to think very far; we can just look around, examine, just around us. They have a human body but no opportunity to meditate, no wisdom to understand what is right and what is wrong; what is right to practice and what is wrong to abandon; no Dharma wisdom to be able to discriminate in the life what is right to practice. Right, which only causes happiness, what is to be practiced; and wrong, which brings only problems, which brings only suffering in this life and in the future lives after this, only bringing problems from life to life, life after life, so to abandon that. Not having Dharma wisdom, being totally ignorant, not knowing meditation practice, not knowing the path to happiness, not knowing the path to liberation, not knowing the path to enlightenment. So not knowing meditation on these things; not knowing meditation, which means not knowing meditation on these things. So even for oneself to achieve happiness, so like that.

Lamrim: The Heart of Buddhadharma

However, if we look at the rest of the world, we can see the differences, then we see how we are so fortunate. Think of those places where there are a lot of wars, a lot of torture, a lot of famine and sicknesses, where there are all these problems. It’s not only that there’s no opportunity to practice Dharma, but there are so many other problems in the life. By comparing ourselves to them we can see how we are so fortunate not having those problems, and on top of all that, having this incredible opportunity to practice Dharma, the most important Dharma, the most important practice, lamrim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, this essence, the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma, the 84,000 teachings of Buddha, the essence of the whole entire 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, the omniscient one, the compassionate one, the fully enlightened one.

The lamrim, especially lamrim, learning, meditating on the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma, sutra and tantra, that’s how amazing this is. For example in the Chinese Mahayana tradition, in those countries, such as Mainland China or Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, even though there is the Mahayana tradition even though they are very devoted, extremely devoted to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, they haven’t met the teaching of the lamrim, the stages of the path to enlightenment. They didn’t have the karma, so for example they spend many years reading one sutra text, one volume; they spend a few years learning that. So, for example, the suffering of rebirth from the womb.

There’s one volume of sutra on that, so if we spend three or four years studying just one volume, we can see that even though we are learning Buddhism we don’t know how to go about it. We have no idea how to go about attaining enlightenment; we have no idea how to go to enlightenment. We have no idea of what’s the beginning of the path to enlightenment, where to begin the path, the beginning of Dharma practice or the beginning of the path to enlightenment.

The beginning of the path to enlightenment, for those people who have done a course—in the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition, those who have done a course on lamrim, for example, the one-month course at Kopan or in the West at the centers or wherever, those who did a seven-day course on lamrim, or a five-day course on lamrim, or a two-day course on lamrim—everything is there in the lamrim. The whole entire Buddhadharma is embodied into the lamrim, the graduated path of the whole entire teaching of the Buddha, sutra and tantra, or the Lesser Vehicle path, Paramitayana Mahayana, the sutra path, the bodhisattva path, and then the Mahayana tantric path. Everything is embodied in lamrim, the graduated path of the lower capable being in general, the graduated path of the middle capable being in general and the graduated path of the higher capable being, it’s all embodied into lamrim, the three levels of the lamrim path. So we know what is the beginning of the path from perfect human rebirth, the graduated path of the lower capable being, the beginning of that is the first meditation on perfect human rebirth, the realization that this human body is so precious, qualified, which has eighteen qualities, so like that. That is the beginning of the path to enlightenment, as Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained.

So we have an idea how to go about enlightenment, in the essence, the graduated path, how to go about enlightenment, so we an idea of how to do this. It’s like if we are going from here to Paris, going by plane or going by train or car, we know the map and how to reach there.

Therefore, by meeting lamrim teachings, Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, the lamrim teachings, it becomes very simple, free from all the confusion of not knowing how to integrate the very extensive 84,000 teachings of Buddha, or the Lesser Vehicle, Paramitayana teaching and the Mahayana Paramitayana teaching, and the Mahayana Secret Mantra Vajrayana teaching, all these teachings of the Buddha. Without any confusion about all these, it’s a graduated practice for us to achieve enlightenment. By having heard lamrim then we know how to integrate all those teachings and there’s no confusion, how to go about achieving enlightenment is very simple. The only thing from our own side is to learn and practice. 

How Fortunate We Are

Therefore, we have this incredible fortune, this wisdom, by meeting the lamrim teaching we know how to go about [achieving enlightenment] or at least we have an idea how to go about it, even if we don’t practice, at least we have the idea, or the knowledge, the Dharma wisdom, of how to go about it, how to practice, how to go about achieving enlightenment.

Whereas in those countries so many people study Dharma, they have so much devotion, but they don’t know lamrim, they haven’t met lamrim teachings, they don’t have the karma to meet the lamrim teachings so there’s all this confusion. They don’t know how to integrate all these vast, many volumes of sutra teachings, how to put it into practice and achieve enlightenment. So there’s all this confusion, unclarity, like that. Can you imagine how that itself is a big problem in the life if we don’t know how to go about achieving enlightenment, even though we are studying those extensive teachings, so we can see how there is great suffering. We’re lost, our life is totally lost, even though it’s very fortunate comparing to other human beings or other Buddhists who do not have the karma to learn Mahayana teachings, who don’t have the karma to hear even the name bodhicitta. Most Buddhists do not have the karma to hear even the name bodhicitta, they don’t have the karma even to hear the name bodhicitta, besides having the karma to actually learn about those sutras on bodhicitta, to hear the name they do not have the karma. Even though there’s faith in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and they are Buddhist, but do not have the karma to hear even the name bodhicitta.

So to hear even the name bodhicitta, we have to have a lot of merit. Even just to hear the name, leave aside, forget about knowing the teaching, the techniques on how to develop the mind in bodhicitta step-by-step. Forget about that, knowing the teaching and then practicing, forget about that.

It becomes difficult, not only how to go about enlightenment but we have no idea even how to achieve the cessation of suffering, how to go about attaining liberation. We are totally lost even though we are studying those many sutra teachings, which are very extensive. We are lost, with no idea even of how to achieve liberation from samsara, so in our whole life even that is unclear. We can see, we can compare, if we look at that ignorance itself, having that ignorance is suffering, that ignorance become the fundamental suffering. That means we can’t achieve liberation if we don’t know how to proceed on the path.

If we compare this to other human beings, even the Buddhists, forget about other human beings, most human beings have no education on reincarnation, no education on karma, the advanced knowledge of mind, the education of mind, the depth, and because of that then how much they suffer, with all this very deep ignorance, having a totally wrong view of life, a wrong view of so many things, and so many hallucinations. The whole life is lived with big piles of wrong concepts and wrong views and they are constantly creating the cause of samsara, and not only that, they are creating the cause of the lower realms twenty-four hours a day, with all these wrong concepts, hallucinations of life.

This becomes a reason to generate compassion for all those sentient beings, even though human beings, whether they are poor or whether they are billionaires or zillionaires; whether they are externally poor, or whether they are billionaires or zillionaires, however, with all this unbelievable ignorance like nighttime, with no stars or without sunlight, nighttime, no moon, no stars, dark then also filled with foggy, totally foggy, very heavy, the mind is very heavily obscured, totally wrong, with so many wrong views, and a very limited understanding about life, about the mind, about phenomena, like that.

So totally this becomes the reason for compassion to arise for all these sentient beings, human beings, like that, for their fundamental suffering. But in those countries, such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where there are a very large number of Chinese Mahayana Buddhists, maybe fifteen years ago, then there have been more people who have met lamrim teachings in recent years, but still not everybody. There are certain people, and there have been more and more in recent years who have met Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, the lamrim teachings, so there are more and more teachers, great lamas, those qualified great lamas, the geshes who did extensive study of the Buddhadharma for many years, so more and more came and through our centers, FPMT centers, having these established in those countries, that has also become a contribution so that more and more Chinese Mahayanists meet and are able to come to know lamrim teachings. Then of course, as well there is tantric practice, the highest tantric practice.

This has become just a side talk, to appreciate, to learn how we are fortunate, to learn about ourselves, to learn about how fortunate we are, and how precious this opportunity that we have is. When we think about this lamrim teaching and also the tantric teachings, on top of that then especially the highest tantric teachings then we can see that this human body is even more and more precious. When we think of all that, how this human body is able to practice all this, then we can see that the human body is even more and more precious.

So the conclusion is to enjoy the life, but how to enjoy the life is by realizing this incredible opportunity. We have met all this Buddhadharma and we have this human body, so if we wish we are able to practice; it gives us the opportunity, like that. This this opportunity doesn’t last long, it is just for a very short time, just about once. Therefore we must put effort into continuing our practice; we must take the opportunity as much as possible to learn and to practice, to learn and to practice. So that’s the way to enjoy the life. 

Oral Transmission of Calling the Guru from Afar

Tonight at the beginning I thought, it can become an oral transmission of Calling the Guru from Afar, composed by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. As I read, it becomes an oral transmission for you. This is the last teaching that I received from my root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who is His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s younger tutor, so this was the last teaching at Dharamsala that I have received. And this tune just naturally came in my mind. I wanted to have some tune and then just came naturally in my mind, maybe it’s a blessing of the guru, so like that. This is a very profound guru yoga, the essential meditation on guru yoga is there, guru devotion practice, and also lamrim, and there’s also Highest Yoga Tantra at the end and in a very effective way Pabongka has presented his own realizations, like that.

So think, “The purpose of my life is to free numberless hell beings from all the suffering and its causes, to bring them to enlightenment; and to free the numberless hungry ghosts from the suffering and its causes, and bring them to enlightenment; and to free the numberless animals from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to full enlightenment; to free the numberless human beings from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; to free the suras, asuras, those who are numberless, from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; to free the numberless intermediate stage beings from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve full enlightenment, and therefore I’m going to take the oral transmission of Calling the Guru from Afar."

I don’t have the title. I think the title is lost; the title of my text is lost. There must be some very rich title, but I think it’s lost.

And also we are going to meditate on the path.

Maybe somebody can read the English, the four stanzas, finish one sentence then I will chant the Tibetan. [ Ven. Rene: So, Calling the Guru from Afar. The long one, Rinpoche?] Yeah, the very long one. The longest one, that’s longer than the earth. I’m joking. [Laughter] That takes many days, that takes many, many months to finish. Read the English first.

[Ven. Rene reads the first verse in English, then Rinpoche chants it in Tibetan.]

Guru, think of me.
Guru, think of me.
Guru, think of me.

The transcendental wisdom of all buddhas, one taste in the great bliss dharmakaya,
Is itself the ultimate nature of all kind gurus.
I beseech you, guru, dharmakaya,
Please guide me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the bardo.

So, for meditation visualize [the guru] above your own crown or in front, so then you use all the subjects related to that guru, like that. It’s like when you do meditation on guru devotion, you visualize the guru is there, then you do the meditation, analytical and fixed meditation, and you are also using quotations. Similarly here either you visualize all your gurus or just the root guru who is all the other gurus, just one aspect, then meditate on these stanzas related to that.

When Our Life Is Ending

Please read the next one.

[Ven. Rene reads the second verse in English, then Rinpoche chants it in Tibetan. They continue in this way up to the following verse.]

Thinking of the experience of my naked body falling into the terrifying fires of hell
And being unable to bear it – reminds me of you, guru.

Here, we can think that we are on our bed or either in the hospital, in the bed, or in the car on the way to hospital. What’s that car that makes a noise? Ambulance. We are either in an ambulance or in our own room, and the breath comes out stronger, but breathing in is weaker, so this is the last minute of our life and we know our life is ending.

Our eyes don’t close, they are like this when we are very near the death. The eyes don’t close, like that. Our nose is like this; those are the nearest signs of death. It becomes like this. Either we have all these wires hooked up to machines if we are in hospital, so we are in the bed, and our family and friends are around us looking at our face and they’re crying. Or our eyes are rolling up, we are so near the death, our eyes are rolling up. If we are going to reincarnate in the lower realms, our eyes roll up, white, rolled up, the white side is rolled up.

Everything is separated, our friends, family, property, house, land, all our possessions, money in the bank, cars, Mercedes cars. The long car, what’s it called? The one which has many windows. Limousine. Goodbye limousine. [Laughter] Goodbye TV. All those hundreds of dresses we wear in the wintertime, summertime, autumn time, springtime, cold, hot. All those billions of shoes we wear inside, outside, at different places, different times, different functions, different parties. Anyway, from the head down to the shoes, from the head down to the shoes, all is left. The most beloved children, the most beloved companion, friends, we are separating from everything, no choice, we separate from them. We alone have to go. Even the body that is cherished by us, that is cherished the most, that all the time in our life we cherished the most, that we spent how many dollars, I’m not sure for this body, the whole life, maybe many hundreds of thousands of dollars or, depending on the person, many millions of dollars or billions of dollars were spent for this body that we cherished the most. Now even that has to be left on the bed, and bare consciousness alone has to go to next life.

Then, however much we hold, grab, the hands of the most beloved one when we are dying, nothing can help. Holding onto the bed or grabbing our most beloved one’s hand, there is no choice, we have to leave. They can’t protect us, they can’t stop our death. However much we wish to live, to be with them, with our most beloved children, with our most beloved companion, with our family, there’s no choice, uncontrollably we have to leave, we have to go to the next life. Our consciousness alone, our bare consciousness alone has to go the next life, to the intermediate stage.

So if very powerful, intensive purification did not get done; if Dharma practice didn’t get done before death then that means rebirth in the lower realms.

However much the family members don’t want us to die, there’s no choice. However much they wish for us to live, they don’t want us to die, they’re all screaming, however much they scream for us to not die, there’s no choice.

And then with a very sad face, with tears coming out, then all these karmic appearances are happening, the signs that we will be reborn in the lower realms, all these frightening appearances. Even if we don’t believe in reincarnation or karma, karma exists, reincarnation exists, so the terrifying karmic appearance happens at the time of death, then we get so frightened, a very frightened face and we see all kinds of things, and have a very kind of violent death.

Anyway, I’m just elaborating from what Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo said about meditation.

As Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentioned, if we are Buddhist, then the last drink, and the blessed pills are in the mouth but they cannot go through our throat, they cannot go inside the body, they just stay in the mouth, last, as it is mentioned in the Heart-Spoon, the teachings on impermanence and death, like that.

Then, just near the time of death we see our whole path, we see our whole life like TV, like watching a documentary of a person, childhood time, middle age, when the person become old, so like watching a documentary of our life. In our view it’s like a revision of our life, seeing all the bad things, the negative karmas that we have done, all those, then seeing the whole life, going through it, just by karma. Then that makes us even more sad because of all the negative karma that was done. Even when we don’t accept reincarnation and karma, there’s fear in our heart. Our heart tells us, expresses that, even though intellectually we don’t believe in reincarnation or karma.

If there is no reincarnation, no karma, why should we be afraid? Something’s going to happen, we have no idea at all, but something terrible is going to happen after this. There’s some premonition. Our heart tells us, even though intellectually in our life we don’t believe in reincarnation and karma.

[Rinpoche continues to chant and Ven. Rene to read the English up to the following verse.]

Thinking of a refuge to protect me from this,
Since I am now about to fall into the wretched states of bad migration—reminds me of you, guru.

So here, after this higher rebirth with a human body, after this beautiful human body then if we are reborn as a dog, if we are reborn as a crocodile, once rebirth is taken what can we do? Nothing. We have to be like that; we have to live by eating other animals, giving incredible fear to other animals every day, so many times. This huge mouth, so many teeth, a huge mouth, what can we do? Nothing. We have to be a crocodile, we have to suffer. We have to be in that situation with that body until our karma finishes or we die and again are born as a crocodile. When the karma is heavy then it happens like that many times. Once the karma is ripened we can’t do anything, no matter how unbearable it is. No matter how much we suffer, there’s nothing we can do. 

Or we are born as a snake, that poisonous snake that terrifies other people, who, even by seeing that, it makes them run away. Or they kill the snake just by seeing it. They throw stones or kill it. Just by seeing it they are terrified. Just by seeing this body others are terrified. We didn’t mean to take that body to terrify others; it was not willingly done, it’s not that. By karma, due to ignorance, karma, if we are born as a snake, in this situation we can do nothing. Then again our food is another animal, so every day we have to create so much negative karma killing others. There’s nothing we can do. There’s nothing we can do, so until the karma finishes we have to be like that.

The Sufferings of the Lower Realms

The purpose of meditating on the sufferings of the hell realm, hungry ghost and animal realms, the purpose of being educated on the sufferings of the lower realms, is because at the time of death it’s already too late. Our life is gone, finished, but much before then we can become educated on the sufferings of those realms and we can become educated about karma, the cause of those suffering rebirths, what causes us to reincarnate as those suffering beings. We can get education about that instead of being totally ignorant, having so much fear at the time of death and then being born in those realms and suffering for an unimaginable length of time. So earlier, we can be educated about those sufferings, those sentient beings’ sufferings and we can be educated on karma, we can understand karma, then we can seek a method, a means to purify.

We must seek the way to free ourselves, to liberate ourselves, and we must practice Dharma to purify the cause, the negative karma which is the cause of those lower rebirths, those sufferings. We must live in the morality, abstaining from those negative karmas; we must live in the precepts, abstaining from those negative karmas. So we can pursue that, not only receiving education about karma, but being courageous, inspired, enlightened, so that we can change, so that we can continuously practice Dharma courageously, we can practice meditation and continuously achieve happiness—from happiness to happiness, to achieve liberation, to achieve full enlightenment.

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan and Ven. Rene reads the next verse in English. Rinpoche chants the previous verse again.]

Thinking of a refuge to protect me from this,
Since I am now about to fall into the wretched states of bad migration—reminds me of you, guru.

I think maybe I repeated one verse twice. So now I have more jobs.

So here before the karma it says, “I’m close to falling down. I described the lower realms’ suffering before and I’m just about to fall down into this pitiful, evil-gone realm; I’m just about to be reborn there. While I’m thinking about the method, the refuge, that which protects me or saves me from this, I remember, it reminds me of you, guru.”

At the time of death or generally in our life, when we are in a critical situation, experiencing heavy obstacles or sicknesses, including death, we should remember the guru. It is said in the teachings by the lineage lamas of the lamrim that making request to the guru is the best thing to do. When other methods or practices don’t work, when other methods don’t work, making request to the guru is the most powerful thing. So here, remembering the lama is the best solution.

So here, this describes the lower realms’ sufferings, how they are unbearable, then it says, “Actually I’m now about to fall down, to experience those sufferings.” It’s not something very far in the future after many hundreds of years or thousands of years; it’s not like that. In our mind we might think, “Oh, yes, but this won’t happen for a long time. Yes, the lower realms, but even so, it won’t happen at this time, it won’t happen today. It won’t happen this year but after many years, after a long time.” So here it’s saying that concept of permanence cheats us.

Even the same day when we are going to die by car accident, in the morning when we wake up we have this concept that we’re going to live for many years. Even if we accept the lower realms, we think, “It won’t happen to me for a long time,” reincarnating in the lower realms. Even just before a car accident, we have this concept that we are going to live for many, many years. “I’m not going to die for a long time. I’m going to live for many years.” This concept accompanies us and it’s there even just before a car accident, just before dying, death happening by car accident, the concept is there even just before that, up to the car accident.

So here, the lower realms, these most terrifying lower realms, the hell realms, hungry ghost and animal realms, we will be reborn like those pitiful beings, totally overwhelmed by the heaviest suffering and not only that, there’s also no opportunity to practice Dharma. Between us and that most unbearable suffering of those lower realms, what is there between these is this breath. Whenever this fragile breath stops, there’s nothing solid, there’s just this breath. Between us and the lower realms there is only this breath. What’s left is this breath, breathing in and out. So any time this breath goes out and doesn’t come back, then that’s it. [Rinpoche snaps fingers] The lower realms are just there, the most terrifying hell, hungry ghost and animal realms are just there, they appear the minute this breath goes out and doesn’t come back. That’s it. So, it’s not something very far away.

This breath can be stopped at any time; this breath can be stopped any time. Therefore the negative karma to be reborn, in one day, within one hour, the actions done with attachment clinging to this life, nonvirtue, the nonvirtuous thought, whatever action is done—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, even doing meditation, even doing prayers, even making charity to others—if it’s done with attachment, clinging to our own happiness of this life, either to receive something back from that person or to get a good reputation, attachment to reputation, or to become famous or so other people are praising that we are so good, so generous, so kind, that mind is the nonvirtuous thought. Clinging to the happiness of this life is nonvirtuous thought, so even giving, making charity, becomes nonvirtue. Also meditation becomes nonvirtue, doing prayer becomes nonvirtue if it’s done with a motivation which is nonvirtuous. Therefore, so many negative karmas are collected within one hour, one day, then this week, this month, this year, from birth, from beginningless rebirths.

Even if we are trying to practice Dharma, even if we know, even if we learn Dharma and try to practice, very few of our actions become virtue. Therefore, no question, for human beings who haven’t met Dharma, who don’t know Dharma, how that would be. Then being born in the lower realms, how would that be? If there is nothing, no virtuous action in the whole life, even if that animal lived for a thousand years, like the turtles, there is not one single virtue there. Can you imagine, their karma is so heavy because it’s only nonvirtue, so heavy, so can you imagine how the karma is expandable on top of that? Can you imagine continually getting reborn in the lower realms for an incredible length of time?

Therefore, this breath can be stopped any time and we can be reborn in the lower realms, these terrifying lower realms, at any time. At any moment we can be there. So this is what we need to understand in our meditation.

[Rinpoche continues chanting in Tibetan and Ven. Rene reads in English up to the following verse.]

Therefore, guru, please bless me to generate in my mental continuum
Effortless experience of the profound three principles of the path and the two stages.

Here I want to say something. Some people think we live our life not meaning to harm others; we don’t mean to do bad things, to harm others, and then it’s OK because we don’t mean to harm others, for example, killing another human being. Not generating compassion, not developing compassion for all the sentient beings, great compassion, that which becomes the cause of bodhicitta, not like that. They think we can just simply be kind people, just simple, good-hearted, kind people. It’s enough. They think we don’t need to learn much in the life, we don’t need to learn the path, we don’t need to meditate on the path, that’s enough.

Breaking the Cycle of Endless Rebirths

However, that’s not enough because we have to get out of samsara, we need to be liberated from samsara, otherwise even if we are reborn into a higher realm in the next life—we are in a higher realm now, the human realm—it doesn’t mean that we will never be reborn in the lower realms. We are in the human realm now, but there is no confidence that we will be human beings forever, that we will never get reborn in the lower realms, not that. It’s just a short time in the higher realms but again we will be reborn in the lower realms, because of all the past negative karmas, and even the deva and human realms are only suffering, besides the lower realms.

Therefore, we need to [accomplish the path], until we are liberated, forever totally free from samsara, until we break the continuity of these aggregates caused by karma and delusion, and because of that these aggregates are in the nature of suffering, pervaded by suffering and the contaminated seed of disturbing thoughts. That’s why this becomes the basis of suffering; these aggregates are the container of suffering and the basis for our future lives’ sufferings. The continuity of this is circling from one life to another life and until we break this cycle, until we cease this, we have to suffer continuously, just as we have been suffering, reincarnating like this, suffering since time without beginning from past lives.

So that’s not enough, just that [simple] life is not enough. We really have to learn the path, how to get out of samsara. We have to learn about the four noble truths, the true path and cessation of the suffering. In order to achieve that we have to really meditate on the path in this life, where’s there’s all the opportunity. We really have to learn the path, meditate on the path and accomplish it, and make progression. We have to go through it; we have to make progression on the path to achieve liberation from samsara.

So I’m just making that comment. We have no choice, otherwise we will continuously have to suffer. We have to learn about the path and we have to make real progression, proceeding on the path to achieve liberation.

Please read the next one.

[Ven. Rene reads in English “Please bless me to strive….”Rinpoche chants the following verse in Tibetan.]

Thinking of a method to escape this prison of endless existences,
The source of all suffering—reminds me of you, guru.

I don’t know where I reached. Ah lay, oh! I went way down there.

[Rinpoche continues chanting several verses in Tibetan and Ven. Rene reads in English, up to the following verse.]

Please bless me to meet the ultimate guru—the bare face of my innate mind
With the covering of perception of true existence and perceiving it as true removed.

That is the clear light, the realization of clear light, the completion stage, the ultimate guru. I think the ultimate guru is dharmakaya, so when we achieve that we meet the guru mentally. There is conventional guru and absolute guru, so this is talking about the absolute guru, to experience that, which then leads to dharmakaya.

What we have to remember in our heart when we do guru yoga, when we hear the word “guru” or when we think of the word “guru,” what understanding should come in our heart is the realization; [we need] the understanding of how to meditate, and through meditation, as a result, the realization that should come from our own side is the dharmakaya. By developing the clear light, the path-time dharmakaya—there are path-time three kayas, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, dharmakaya—so path-time dharmakaya, also by doing that meditation and from our own side, when we see the guru we should realize that they are also [dharmakaya], so that understanding should also come in our heart. Then the meaning is there, what it means, so this is the way of meditating and what we should realize from our own side.

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan and Ven. Rene reads in English to the end of the extensive version.]

Dedications

Then the prayer which comes with the short version of Calling the Guru from Afar.

May I not give rise to heresy for even a second
In regard to the actions of the glorious guru.
May I see whatever actions are done as pure.
With this devotion, may I receive the guru’s blessings in my heart.

“Due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may I myself and all my own family members, all of us here, all the students and benefactors in the FPMT organization, especially those who give up their life to the organization doing service to sentient beings and the teaching of the Buddha and all the rest of the sentient beings, may all of us in all the future lifetimes meet only the perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend, and from each sentient being’s side, from our own side, to see the virtuous friend only as an enlightened being and to do actions most pleasing, only most pleasing to the holy mind of the virtuous friend, from each sentient being’s side, from our own side. May I be able to fulfill the holy wishes of the virtuous friend immediately, from each sentient being’s side and from my own side, and for this to happen from now on in all the future lifetimes.

“Due to all the three-time merits collected by me and by others, may the Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness, have a stable life and may all the holy wishes be successful immediately. May all other virtuous friends have a stable life and may all their holy wishes succeed immediately.

And may Lama Ösel Rinpoche, the incarnation of Lama Yeshe, who is kinder than all the three-time buddhas, have a stable life, a long life, and may he be able to complete his study in the monastery and then show the same aspect as Lama Tsongkhapa. By showing the same qualities as Lama Tsongkhapa and offering extensive benefit to sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha, may he be a dynamic liberator, a holy being in this world by spreading Dharma in all the different parts of the world and then bringing so much peace and happiness, East and West, in every part of the world, and may he be able to guide the organization and all the students. May this happen without any obstacle. 

Gang rii ra wä …
Päl dän la mäi ku tshe …

[Students and Rinpoche chant the short mandala offering, then students chant Rinpoche’s short long-life prayer.]

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, that which is empty from its own side, may I, who am empty from my own side, achieve Chenrezig’s enlightenment, that which is empty from its own side, and lead all the sentient beings, who are empty from their own side, to Chenrezig’s enlightenment, which is also empty from its own side, by myself alone, who am also empty from my own side.”

When we dedicate the merits by sealing with emptiness, we either have the understanding that things are merely labeled by mind, for example, after the person died there’s nothing left of the body, nothing to see, nothing left. The mere name is left that people talk about, the mere name, the person’s life story, “They did this and did that.”

Another example is a scarecrow—from a distance if our eyesight is not clear we see a person standing there; we believe it’s a person. We label, our mind labels and then we believe; it appears and we believe that. We believe in our appearance and we think that it is a person, but when we come nearby we realize there’s no such thing there. Then now, how do we see it, how do we feel? The person that we have been believing before, how do we see it now? What’s our feeling of the person? So, just mere name, like that.

Merely labeled correctly, that means we see it is empty of existing from its own side, or that there’s nothing, in our view, in the view of our mind, there’s nothing there, there’s no merit at all there. There’s no I at all, no enlightenment at all, no sentient beings at all. In the view of our mind, nothing in the slightest exists from its own side, there’s nothing at all, nothing of this exists, it’s totally empty.

So to try to get to this point, in emptiness there’s nothing; in emptiness there’s no merit, no enlightenment, nothing. There’s no this and that differentiation, there are no sentient beings, there’s no Buddha, nothing. It’s only differentiated conventionally.

It’s not that I have realization of this; it’s not saying that I’m seeing this, it’s not saying that I have realization but I guess, I think it should be like that. But it all means trying, not that there’s realization but try, try to meditate, so like that.

“I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the holy extensive deeds of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra and Manjugosha as they realized. I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the three-time buddhas and bodhisattvas, who dedicated their merits in the same way.

“Due to all the three-time merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others—I didn’t bring the names here, those people who passed away, I forgot—however, due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, all those whose names were given to me, whom I promised to pray for, who rely upon me, those who died, and all the students who passed away in this organization up to now, and the numberless beings who are in the lower realms who are suffering unimaginably now, may they reincarnate in the pure land as quickly as possible. May they all reincarnate in the pure land as quickly as possible where they can be enlightened there or may they receive a perfect human body and by meeting a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and Mahayana teachings, may they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, then we dedicate this way. By my hearing of a sentient being who is sick, somebody who is sick, by hearing that, may it cause that sentient being to recover immediately. By my hearing of a sentient being who died, through war or whatever, by just hearing that somebody died then may it cause that sentient being to immediately be born in the pure land where they can become enlightened. May the sentient beings who are born as human beings but have no opportunity to practice Dharma, may all those sentient beings meet the perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and the Mahayana teachings, and may they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by actualizing the path, by putting the teachings into practice.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-times merits collected by others, may our own family members, all the students and benefactors in this organization and especially those who give up their life to the organization doing service for sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, may all of us, everyone here, have a long life. Including everyone here, all the organizers at Vajrayogini center and Nalanda, all the people here, all the students coming to learn here, including them and all the rest, the organizers at the center and the students, may all of us, everyone, have a long life and be healthy. May all our wishes succeed immediately according to the holy Dharma.

And then most important:

“May we be able to actualize the stainless teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, from guru devotion up to enlightenment, the unified sutra and tantra, the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, from guru devotion up to enlightenment, in this very lifetime within all of our hearts without delay of even a second.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may all the Sangha in this organization be able to complete their scriptural understanding and the realizations of path to enlightenment in this very lifetime, on the basis of pure vinaya practice and by receiving all the needs, all the protections, in their lives.

“May the social service centers such as Universal Education, the hospices and the meditation centers, immediately pacify the sufferings of body and mind of the sentient beings and especially be able to generate loving kindness, compassion, bodhicitta in the hearts of all sentient beings, then bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible. May all their projects, including Vajrayogini center, Nalanda and all the rest of the centers, whatever they have, may they succeed immediately by receiving all their needs and be able to spread the pure, stainless teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa in the hearts of all the sentient beings.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may the 500-feet Maitreya statue be started as quickly as possible and may it continue and be completed and be able to last for many millions of years in this world. Every day may it liberate many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of sentient beings so they achieve liberation, enlightenment. May it be able to cause bodhicitta to be generated in the hearts of all the sentient beings. May it particularly be able to have this effect, and then with this they will stop creating negative karma and will only collect extensive merit and in this way all their wishes get fulfilled, they will achieve perfect peace and happiness, global peace and happiness and the individual being’s peace and happiness.

“May nobody experience war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, sicknesses, dangers of fire, water, air, earthquakes. May the Maitreya statue cause them to collect merit and purify their mind and generate bodhicitta. May it cause all this happiness to sentient beings, inner prosperity and outer prosperity. Inner prosperity is bodhicitta and all the realizations, and outer prosperity is all the wealth, no economic problems. May both prosperities cause and bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“May anybody who hears about the project, who talks about the project or who dreams about this project, all those, may they never ever be born in the lower realms after that time and may they immediately be able to find unshakeable faith in refuge and karma and may they actualize bodhicitta. May they meet Maitreya Buddha’s teachings and actualize the path and achieve enlightenment quickly. May the companies who are building the statue and even the laborers who are doing transportation, and all the people who are donating, during the work, the construction, may everyone be able to actualize guru devotion, the whole path to enlightenment in that life and achieve enlightenment as quick as possible.

“May the general teaching of the Buddha, and particularly the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, be spread in all directions and be actualized, flourishing forever in this world.”

[Recitation of the prayer For Lama Tsongkhapa’s Teachings to Spread in the Hearts of All Sentient Beings]

Maybe every time you can do both chanting and then if time is maybe difficult, you can use this as a motivation at the beginning of one of the sessions.

So the idea is, after the mandala offering then do some short analytical and fixed meditation on lamrim. Do a little bit there, to follow that. Use The Essential Nectar or the lamrim outline to go over that, and whatever is not finished in the first session, you can do it in the next session, so like that, then continue the next day. So in this way you can also do analytical or fixed meditation on lamrim. Also you can do quite extensive lamrim meditation to finish along with the deity’s meditation so maybe within five days or ten days quite a lot of the lamrim subjects are finished, so like that. This you can use at the beginning as a motivation, and only if there’s time then you can do the chanting and read it in English. Otherwise just read the English. So that can be done.

So, I think that’s it. Maybe good morning, good night. No, just good morning. [Laughter]

[End of discourse]