May 1, 2003
The Meaning of Our Life
[Rinpoche leads chanting of La ma tön pa… and mantra; then Refuge and Bodhicitta three times; then prayer preliminary to teaching.]
The purpose of our life is not just to have wealth, to have money—that alone is not the purpose of our living. Life is not just surviving for the wealth; the purpose of our sustaining the life or living the life is not to become a servant of material [things], just taking care of materials, for money, not that. Not that. That’s totally opposite the meaning of life. This precious human rebirth is not just for that, taking care of material things or being the servant of wealth. The purpose of our life is also not just to achieve power. Why?
Without a good heart, the thought of benefiting others in our own mental continuum or in our own heart, without that, then however much wealth we achieve, we can never get satisfaction from that. We can never achieve peace and happiness in our heart; we can never achieve fulfillment in our life. Without the good heart—the thought of benefiting others—the more wealth we achieve the more our life becomes miserable, the more [our misery] increases. Then after a thousand or tens of thousands, then one hundred thousand, then millions, billions, zillions, trillions, then what, trillions, then many trillions, [Rinpoche laughs] zillions, did I say zillions? Maybe I left out zillions. Zillions, trillions or trillion zillions, anyway, the more we achieve, the more misery.
Our inner life becomes more miserable and our dissatisfaction and suffering increases more and more. We have more worry, more fear, more unhappiness, definitely more and more unhappiness, more and more dissatisfaction; it increases. In our heart or our inner life, we become more and more miserable. Even though the external looks very rich and everything is the best in the world, our inner life is empty. We are always crying for peace and happiness, but we are unable to achieve that, so like this.
No matter how much power we achieve in this world, without the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, then that power becomes very dangerous. Without the good heart benefiting others, power is used by the self-cherishing thought, the selfish mind; power is used in the wrong way and then we harm ourselves and we bring harm to the world, to other sentient beings. Like the recent stories, like the recent world news, like that.
As it happened historically in this world so many times, one person had influence, power, but missed out the education of the good heart, education of the mind. Education of the good heart, that is missed out, that practice of the good heart is missed out, the experience of the good heart is missed out. So there is a lack of that, then the influence, the power they have achieved in this world is used [to harm others.]
In that person’s heart, if there is the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, that person could have brought unbelievable peace and happiness to many millions of people, to millions and millions of people and to this whole world, not only in their own country. They could have achieved so much fulfillment, so much satisfaction, in their own heart, but they lack the good heart to benefit others, so therefore no matter how much influence and power is achieved it ends up causing harm and they kill others.
If they were used by the self-cherishing thought to achieve power, to achieve happiness for themselves, then according to the politics of the self-cherishing thought, according to the methods of the self-cherishing thought, coming from self-cherishing thought, then that only brings harm to the world and to other sentient beings. Then they are trying to achieve happiness by harming others, by killing many millions of people, torturing them, so in that way they are trying to achieve happiness for themselves by harming so many human beings, without counting the animals. Animals are not counted normally—how many get killed by bombs and so forth, in the water, in the ocean, underground, they’re not counted—only human beings are counted. Human beings are a small number, so they are easiest to count. Human beings are a small number, a very small number, so it’s easy to count them. The insects, the animals, are numberless and we cannot count them.
Anyway, therefore, all this alone, the achievement of all this is not the meaning of being human. It’s not the purpose of our human life, just having this achievement alone.
Medicine for the Mind
No matter how much reputation we have achieved in this world, no matter how much fame we achieve in this world, that alone is not the purpose of our human life, it doesn’t fulfill the purpose of having this precious human body. It’s not just for that. Among the many famous singers and actors, there are many people who commit suicide. Among those who achieve fame, who became very famous in the world, there are many people who committed suicide, who killed themselves. So that shows their life has not been happy. There should be more and more happiness, there’s supposed to be more and more happiness and peace increased in one’s own inner life or in the heart as they become more and more famous but that is not happening. Even though it is meant for that, actually it’s not happening. Why many suicides are happening is because of dissatisfaction, because there’s so much dissatisfaction, an unhappy life.
As I mention from time to time, Elvis Presley, sorry, not Elvis Presley. Sorry, the rock and roll band, their name is difficult, Rolling Stones! The name is difficult to come in my mind, always rocking stone or rolling stone. [Group laughs] Oh, Rolling Stones. The name sounds very interesting, Rolling Stones. It’s a rolling stone up on the mountain, not rolling stone down but rolling the stone up on the mountain. I’m joking, anyway. I’m joking. [Laughter] No, I’m just joking.
Yeah, Rolling Stones, so as they made a song like that, with their big guitars, with their huge guitars, “I can’t get satisfaction,” with their huge guitars, “I can’t get satisfaction.” [Group laughs] I think it’s a great teaching. I think they’re definitely expressing their feelings, their life or their feelings into the song. They made a song from their life experience, they made their life experience into a song. They expressed to the world their experience with their life, what they are feeling inside their heart is expressed in the song.
Then at the end, what I heard is [one of them] committed suicide, like that, the main person killed himself. It is right? Something like that, I heard? The main person, something like that I heard, but I’m not sure. [Students explain that it’s not the Rolling Stones.] Oh, it’s another group, not this one? I have seen the image of the person on the TV, I think the one who did this. “I don’t get satisfaction.” Maybe another leader committed suicide in the end.
So that’s due to the lack of meditation practice, the lack of Dharma practice. There’s no food for the mind, they didn’t have food for the mind, medicine for the mind, food for the mind, it’s due to that. Therefore they did not achieve [happiness], so they had sadness in the heart, misery inside, their inner life was suffering, so empty, their inner life was so empty, the heart was so empty, they could not get satisfaction, fulfillment in the heart, so there was a lack of developing the qualities of the mind, the inner qualities, these things, and the ending was a very sad life.
I saw Elvis Presley’s last song, I think, maybe it was his last song. I saw it on the TV. So there he was crying while he was singing the song, I think he was expressing his sad mind. I think there might have been some premonition that he was going to die soon, so his tears were coming while he was singing something sad. And then, I mean, the audience there was crying, but I’m sure they might be crying normally, I think probably. [Laughter] Also at other times they might be crying too, but the singer himself was crying.
So just achieving fame, no matter how much fame we achieve in this world, that alone doesn’t fulfill us. Just that is not the meaning of our human life, why we are born as human beings this time, why we have this precious human body. It’s not just for that.
Food for the Delusions
Then, even having an education, even having a Dharma education, even studying Buddhism, leave aside other types of education, leave aside the other common types of education that are taught in school or universities, colleges, those things. Even education in Buddhism, even including that, merely just having the education like a library in our mind, having a library in our brain, anyway, just mere education itself, even if it’s Buddhism, that alone doesn’t fulfill the purpose of our life, of living, why we have this precious human body.
If there is no good heart benefiting others, then all that education, even the education of Buddhism, the understanding of the extensive philosophies, sutra, tantra, all this becomes equipment for the self-cherishing thought, all this becomes tools for self-cherishing thought, to feed the self-cherishing thought or to develop pride and arrogance. So if we lack the good heart benefiting others, then even the education of Buddhism we use to develop the delusions. That’s what happens, the danger is it’s used as a tool, used as a food for the delusions, for our pride, all that.
Therefore, it limits the benefit to sentient beings. Then also, without the good heart benefiting others there is danger, not just in general education but even the education of Buddhism, we are using it to, how do you say, I’ve forgotten now. I thought of something, but suddenly I forgot.
Yeah, anyway, then it becomes a problem; we are using our education to create problems; we are using our education, even our understanding of Buddhism, to create problems in our life. So that’s what happens, it becomes a tool for delusions, food for the delusions, like that, to develop pride, instead of reducing pride, even though every single word of the Buddha, the words of the Buddha’s teaching are to destroy pride. All the Tripitaka teachings, all the three basket teachings, all the Abhidharma, the scriptures, Vinaya scriptures, sutra scriptures, all these teachings, the Buddha’s teachings, which are embodied in the three baskets, sutra, tantra, which embody all the 84,000 teachings, every single teaching. The whole entire teachings are to tame the mind, to destroy our pride, to destroy the enemy, the delusion, from where all the sufferings comes, from where we get all the sufferings, all the problems, so to destroy that originator of the suffering, that delusion, our own enemy, the delusion.
Even if we have the whole entire understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, sutra and tantra, all the Kangyur, about a hundred volumes, or the Tengyur, Buddha’s direct teachings, maybe about one hundred volumes or maybe three hundred or two hundred, I’m not sure, I don’t remember exactly the number. Anyway, all those commentaries by those great Indian pandits, those ancient yogis, and all the commentaries by the [great masters], such as Lama Tsongkhapa and so forth, from the four traditions, those great enlightened beings. Even if we know all those by heart and we can explain them, if our own heart is empty of the thought of benefiting others, the good heart, the precious quality of the human mind, the thought of benefiting others, if that is not there, then our life becomes empty.
We have all this education, this understanding, like a library, we know all these words by heart, but if we lack this good heart, then our life becomes meaningless and there’s no Dharma practice. There’s all this unimaginable, all the intellectual understanding is there but no Dharma practice, so the heart stays the same. If not worse, it stays the same, totally empty, the heart is totally empty, it stays the same, the heart. If it’s [not] worse, it’s the same, like we knew nothing about Buddhism, we knew nothing, not even one word, not even one point of the path. The state of mind, the nature of the mind, our heart is the same as if we had no knowledge, no idea at all, even the intellectual understanding. So having all that extensive knowledge didn’t make any difference, because there’s no practice. So the heart, the mind, if it’s not worse then it’s still the same as before, the same as many years ago, still the same, no change, nothing. Nothing. There’s not the slightest change, nothing has improved, so like that, without practice. Therefore now, it’s the same. There’s still no peace and happiness, we didn’t achieve satisfaction in our heart. It is still the same, like that, there’s a lack of practice.
And then somebody, a beggar or somebody who knows nothing, who has no intellectual understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, the philosophies, who has no intellect at all. What the person knows is just OM MANI PADME HUM, nothing else; what the person knows is OM MANI PADME HUM but nothing else. If this person has a good heart, the thought of benefiting others, they practice contentment. So what the person knows is just OM MANI PADME HUM, nothing else. This beggar who only chants OM MANI PADME HUM day and night knows nothing, has no intellectual knowledge, nothing, but in that person’s heart there’s so much peace and happiness, satisfaction. There’s love, loving kindness, a warm heart for others, like that. The heart is not empty. That person’s inner life is not empty. It’s filled with peace and happiness, joy.
Using Wealth, Power, Education and Fame to Benefit to Others
However, with the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, then with that, if there’s wealth outside then every single wealth becomes so beneficial. Along with the good heart, if we are wealthy, then we can make all our wealth beneficial to other sentient beings, it becomes useful to other sentient beings.
Every single power that we have, with the good heart, the thought of benefiting others we can make all the power that we have—every single power and influence we have—only beneficial, useful for other sentient beings, to achieve happiness, to cause happiness for other sentient beings.
With the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, then every education, any education we have, not only Buddhism, any other education we have, we always use it to benefit other sentient beings, to cause happiness to other sentient beings, to not create problems for others or oneself, but only to use it to bring happiness to others. So every education we have, understanding, we use to benefit other sentient beings, we make it useful to others.
Also, with this good heart, the thought of benefiting others, how much reputation, fame, how much we become famous in this world, our fame, our reputation, becomes only beneficial for other sentient beings. It is the cause to bring happiness to the sentient beings. Like the famous Buddha, like Milarepa, like the reputation of Milarepa, that fame gives courage to people.
We think, “I’m hopeless. My life has no meaning,” then by reading Milarepa’s story, by hearing and by knowing that it gives us courage, strength, a strong mind, courage, determination like Milarepa. It gives us determination to practice, determination to achieve enlightenment, determination to benefit, determination to have realizations of the path in order to benefit the sentient beings who are numberless. Strong determination to bear the hardships of practice in order to liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment.
So like those saints, the great bodhisattvas, like the Buddha of Compassion, Chenrezig, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, like that, the fame is only to bring more and more peace and happiness, to cause happiness to sentient beings.
Begin the Session by Reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ Names
I want to bring up this issue. We started the tradition here in this organization of how to do retreat, how to do the sessions. We started this, I think, of course, some things are from Kopan, from many eons ago, from Kopan, the early times, but some years ago we recently started doing Vajrasattva retreat and Mitugpa retreat and Medicine Buddha retreat. So anyway, there has been Mitugpa retreat. That’s another one done. I think the first one was in Spain, at O Sel Ling, the recent second one was at Milarepa Center in America. At Land of Medicine Buddha we had a Vajrasattva retreat, the first group Vajrasattva retreat and then we did three months or something, and then the Medicine Buddha retreat was also done. The Vajrasattva retreat was for three months—do you remember? [Student: Yes. Three months.]
So every time we begin a session, we begin with prostrations to guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha by reciting the prayer Confession of a Bodhisattva’s Downfalls, the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names and the Medicine Buddhas. When you recite this over and over many times, doing prostrations, with one prostration you repeat the name many, many times, with that one name you repeat it many times. So at the beginning, you do the Medicine Buddhas, you include the seven Medicine Buddhas’ names, but afterwards it can be just the Thirty-five Buddhas. Like in the mornings, when doing prostrations, repeat that buddha’s name as many times as you can during one prostration. Then after you have put your forehead on the floor, change to the next name, then repeat that name over and over during that one prostration. So like that, you can do this three times. You finish the last name then come back, starting from refuge, so like that when you do it three times, it becomes about 115 or 116 prostrations. Without needing to count the prostrations, just from that, by doing the prayer like that, it becomes 115 or 116 prostrations including refuge.
If that is done in the morning, then in the other sessions you can just do straight, without repeating [the names] over and over. You can do that in the other sessions. Of course if it’s a preliminary, if it’s a retreat for preliminary practice then, of course, that’s different. But if it’s another session, a deity retreat or something else or the lamrim; if it is not fixed, the main idea is to begin the session with prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names. You can recite the names straight without repeating them over and over, so without counting the prostrations you can just recite the name straight, like that. Every session you can begin with this, with prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names.
Purify the Karmic Obscurations
The main point, why it’s difficult, even intellectually if we studied the teachings on emptiness explained by the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Lama Tsongkhapa and so forth, all those great pandits, even if we have studied all those reasonings, the various ways of reasoning, all those debating subjects or the philosophies, even if we have studied all those texts but when we meditate, the experience doesn’t come. Even though we have all the intellectual [knowledge], the experience is not happening and we are unable to see emptiness. It becomes so difficult when we actually meditate. So, all these walls, all these wrong concepts, all these hallucinations become very solid.
As I mentioned over the last few days, all these hallucinations become so solid, so hard, so solid, and we cannot see the reality, we cannot see the truth, we cannot see the emptiness. That is because of the obscurations, the negative karma, the obscurations. That’s because of the obscurations, the negative karma. When we meditate, why we cannot see the emptiness, we are unable to experience that because of all these very solid, heavy hallucinations, wrong concepts. That is because of the heavy defilements, the negative karmas. Without continual strong purification in everyday life; without strong purification with the remedy of the four powers, continual strong practice of purification, we just have understanding of the mere words and we cannot have the experience.
Similarly, even if we know the scriptures, the teachings, very well; if we know by heart the scriptures, how to develop bodhicitta that is explained in the text, even though we can explain that well intellectually, we don’t feel it because the heart is something else. We are talking about how to develop loving kindness, compassion, but our heart doesn’t feel that. All this is due to the defilements, all these negative karmas, obscurations, blocking [the realizations]. So again, here it shows the need for purification.
Even if we read the teachings on impermanence and death, even if we hear the teachings, even if we read the texts talking about that, even if we hear the teachings, we do not feel in our heart what the teaching says, as the lama explains or as the text says. Again, here we don’t feel that. There’s a gap between what the text says and our heart.. There’s no connection. We don’t feel that in the heart. Whether it’s talking about bodhicitta, whether it’s talking about emptiness, whether it’s talking about guru yoga practice, guru devotion, or whether it’s talking about renunciation—there’s no connection, we feel disconnected, there’s a gap between our own heart and what the subject says. So we are unable to feel [the connection]. There’s no connection or instead of feeling one with what the text says and our heart is into that, whatever teachings we listen to or read, our heart is into that, there’s no gap between the two, there’s no space, there’s no gap, no separation, so not like that.
All this is due to being blocked by the [karmic obscurations]. Why this experience is not happening, the realization is not happening, is because we are blocked by the [obscurations]. Therefore, no change is happening to the mind, even though we met Buddhadharma so many years ago and we have heard those teachings. It’s nothing new, we heard the teachings many years ago, but still they’re disconnected from our own heart. Instead of feeling that experience with our heart or at least having some harmonious feeling, that’s not happening; all that is blocked by the karmic obscurations, negative karma. All this is blocked by the defilements, the negative karma, the obscurations, karmic obscurations.
As it is mentioned—I don’t remember the whole quotation—in mahamudra, to be able to see the nature of the mind, even to see the nature of the mind depends on purification, receiving the blessing of the guru in the heart and purifying the defilements, the negative karma.
However, when the defilements, the negative karma, are not purified, then we’re a sentient being. If there’s negative karma, if there are defilements and negative karma, we’re a sentient being; but when the negative karma and defilements are purified we’re a buddha. So it’s differentiated by that. If there are defilements on this mental continuum, we’re a sentient being, and when they are gone we’re a buddha, our mind is omniscient mind, we’re a buddha. The question of whether we are enlightened or not is a question of the defilements, whether we have defilements or not.
Therefore, even though we may do meditation on the deity or lamrim, those, of course, are important, but without purification, without intensive powerful, continual purification, purifying the mind, then it doesn’t come easily, the experience doesn’t come. However long we meditate, as I mentioned before, even if we know intellectually the whole entire text, the experience doesn’t come.
Anyway, we started this tradition so when we do retreat, we begin the session with prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names. Each name is so powerful, like an atomic bomb—not an atomic bomb for our enemy, but an atomic bomb for our mind, to destroy the defilements, the negative karma. I think by using the example of an atomic bomb, that’s the best way, that’s the clearest way to explain how powerful it is, I think. Anyway, each name of the Thirty-five Buddhas purifies so many eons of negative karma, so many negative karmas get purified.
Experiencing the Results of Our Negative Karma
Since I’m talking about this, I already mentioned a few nights ago about the negative karma of killing and sexual misconduct; I mentioned on the basis of those negative karmas. So, by having engaged or committed one negative karma, one complete negative karma, either killing or sexual misconduct, whatever it is, I mentioned that it has four suffering results: the ripened aspect result, rebirth in lower realm, and three other sufferings, the possessed result, experiencing the result similar to the cause and creating the result similar to the cause. Those three sufferings are from that one negative karma, then we experience the result in the human realm later when, due to another good karma, we get born a human being, then we experience those three sufferings in the human realm.
One of them is creating the result similar to the cause. In that life again we commit the same negative karma, we engage again in that because of the imprint from a past life. From that one negative karma, the imprint is left on our mental continuum, that negative imprint is left on the mental continuum, like planting a seed. Due to that, because of the habituation of the past negative karma, then again in the next life when we are born as a human being we will do the same thing again, the same mistake again. So that complete negative karma has again four suffering results, creating the result similar to the cause in another life, then again we do the same thing, engaging in the same negative karma, then again that produces the four suffering results. So it goes on and on, that endless suffering goes on and on in our future lives, that endless suffering which came from this one negative karma that is done, whatever it is, killing or sexual misconduct, whatever it is.
So it becomes endless, the suffering results become endless until we purify that negative karma. If we do nothing with that one negative karma, here I’m talking about just one negative karma, if nothing is done, if no change is made to that, if no purification is done, if we have not actualized the path so that we can overcome this, [ the suffering is endless.] We don’t need to experience all those resultant sufferings if we actualize the remedy path within our own mental continuum. If no purification is done, if nothing is done to purify that karma, then this is what happens, and on top of that, if we are not living in the precepts, living in the vows, abstaining from that negative karma—if that is not done, not practiced.
One thing is the past negative karma and the other one is to stop doing it again, to stop engaging again, repeating the same [action] and creating the same negative karma. Without that, it means there’s no protection in the life. In our life there’s no protection from negative karma, no protection from the cause of the suffering and no protection from the result suffering, because we always engage in creating the cause. There’s no protection from that danger, that means no protection from the result sufferings, the problems, that we experience from life to life.
Now here, what I’m saying is that, among these Thirty-five Buddhas, each one dedicated when they were bodhisattvas. The Thirty-five Buddhas, before they achieved enlightenment, when they were bodhisattvas, they dedicated. One [bodhisattva] dedicated to purify a particular negative karma of sentient beings, like killing, then another bodhisattva dedicated for sentient beings particularly to purify the negative karma of sexual misconduct. One did a particular dedication to benefit sentient beings particularly to purify the negative karma of stealing, so like that.
So many various negative karmas that we commit in everyday life in this life, or even negative karmas not done in this life but done in the past lives, some of those negative karmas not done in this life but we have committed them in past lives, [we can purify that karma] by reciting one buddha’s name, for example, the buddha whose name by reciting that, it purifies the negative karma of sexual misconduct. Here the point is, why I’m bringing up this issue is this: by reciting that particular buddha’s name once, just one time, it not only purifies this one negative karma for which we would experience the results endlessly, without end, again and again. Reciting that buddha’s name once not only purifies this one negative karma for which we would experience the results again and again, without end, not only that, but that negative karma, how many times we have done [that action]—in one day or in this life, in one week, one month, one year, and in this life from birth, how many times that negative karma is done, repeated—so that gets purified.
Then not only that, reciting one time that particular buddha’s name purifies the past life, that same negative karma, whether it is killing or sexual misconduct or whatever was done in the past lives, so that gets purified. So it’s not just purifying the past one hundred lifetimes, the negative karma of sexual misconduct, not only that. Not only that, what it purifies is not only that. It purifies not just past lives, one hundred thousand lifetimes of negative karma of sexual misconduct is purified, not just only that. So, many eons, like five or six or seven, many eons, so many eons, aeons or eons; maybe the English one, I think. Maybe I want to say the American one, I don’t know which one, aeons, eons?
Anyway, I’m joking. Or maybe the Spanish one. [Group laughs] Anyway, eons, I’m not sure in Spanish, many eons of negative karma, for example, by reciting that buddha’s name one time, many eons of, for example, the negative karma of sexual misconduct or killing is purified. That buddha purifies the negative karma of sexual misconduct, many eons of that negative karma that is done repeatedly, so by reciting that buddha’s name one time so many eons of that negative karma get purified.
Now here the point is, if we are able to purify just one negative karma, amongst even those done in this life. So many times we have done the same thing, we have committed the same negative karma. From many that are done in this life if we can make less, if we can purify just one—that which results, these suffering results that go on and on without end—if we can purify just one, that brings incredible joy. If we’re able to purify even one negative karma, we don’t have to experience all the suffering result, that which goes on and on from life to life, endlessly. It’s incredible joyful if just one becomes less, because it’s one negative karma that we don’t have to experience all these suffering results that come from it and that we would experience from life to life, endlessly.
The absence of all that suffering that goes from life to life, without end, that’s happiness, that’s incredible happiness, incredible success, achievement. Can you imagine that?
I use the example that if a doctor or somebody, a healer, cured our cancer, it’s not making it impossible to experience cancer from now on in all future lifetimes, it’s not that. But this life’s cancer, if somebody healed that, we would think that other person gave us life. We would think this doctor or this healer, this person gave us life, then we would so appreciate that. We’d have unbelievable appreciation, so precious, the extra life that we can have, so precious, a gift. But here, even if it’s healed this time and also if the karma is not purified, it will come back again, so even if [we’re healed] in this life, this doesn’t mean we don’t ever experience cancer in the future lives, it doesn’t mean that. But by reciting that buddha’s name just once, that buddha which purifies the particular negative karma of sexual misconduct like that, we’re able to purify just that one negative karma, amongst so many. That one we’re able to make less, we’re able to purify it, which means all the four suffering results that we would have to experience again and again without end, we don’t have to experience, we are totally free. That’s incredible.
Here, if we think like that then we can see why this buddha has all that power to purify, so much power to purify not only this one negative karma, making it impossible to experience the result, but also to purify so many eons of negative karma that can be purified, the same negative karma can be purified. There’s so much power, and they are able to benefit other sentient beings, they’re able to benefit us sentient beings. So that power is achieved, the quality, the power is achieved.
What caused that buddha to achieve that quality, that power to benefit us, to be able to benefit us so much, so deeply? It is [due to] the compassion which was generated even before, as a bodhisattva, the great compassion for us sentient beings. So this helps us to have devotion to that buddha, for our devotion to that buddha to arise. [We take] refuge and rely upon that buddha and have devotion for them.
How kind that buddha is, first developing compassion for us and for all sentient beings and then achieving all these qualities, all the power, to benefit us. They made it so easy for us to purify all our evil deeds, negative karmas. They made it so easy to become liberated, for us to be free from the sufferings of samsara, from the defilements, negative karma. By discovering the buddha’s compassion that was generated during the bodhisattva’s time, that was generated for us sentient beings even before bodhicitta. It becomes great, it become very inspiring for us. Also all the benefits of the Thirty-five Buddhas, all these incredible benefits, the power to purify our negative karma, makes it so easy for us to achieve realization and to achieve enlightenment. So here also it becomes guru yoga practice, guru devotion practice.
Lama Chöpa: Requests Expressing the Guru’s Qualities
As Lama Chöpa [LC51] says, “the primordial savior,” in Tibetan, Zung jug dang pöi gön la, the unified primordial savior, so that is the absolute guru.
Zung jug dang pöi gön la söl wa deb
Unified primordial savior, I make requests to you.
In Lama Chöpa, Guru Puja, [Requests Expressing the Guru’s Qualities, LC 49–52] this section is requesting the gurus, by expressing the qualities of the guru—those of the Lesser Vehicle path and those who reveal the Mahayana path, the qualities of the Mahayana virtuous friend, then the Vajrayana, those who reveal tantric path, their qualities, all that, and the kindness of the virtuous friend.
Then near the end [LC 51] it talks about the absolute guru, the unified primordial savior, the dharmakaya, that which manifests as the numberless buddhas— peaceful, wrathful, controlling, increasing, in the various aspects, doing various activities for sentient beings, fulfilling our wishes for happiness, temporary and ultimate, then bringing us to enlightenment. So, manifesting as various deities, and the sutra side buddhas, the Thirty-five Buddhas, the Medicine Buddhas, the thousand buddhas of the fortunate eon, all those. Manifesting in all these different aspects of buddha, and the mandalas, manifesting as the mandalas of each deity, manifesting out like this, infinitely.
All these numberless deities, buddhas, are embodied in the ultimate guru, the absolute guru, this dharmakaya, which manifests in Vajradhara, the tantric aspect, to guide us sentient beings by manifesting through ordinary aspect. As we do not have pure mind to see the pure aspect of a buddha; as we do not have that pure mind to see them only in the pure aspect, in the aspect of a buddha; as our mind at present is obscured, only impure karma, the impure mind, a mistaken mind, so exactly according to that, then they manifest into mistaken ordinary form. They manifest in ordinary form, which by definition is an ordinary aspect, which by definition is showing mistakes, having delusions, having suffering aggregates and [showing] mistakes in their actions. Through this ordinary aspect they guide us by revealing various methods and guide us from happiness to happiness to enlightenment.
Therefore now, all these benefits of the Thirty-five Buddhas that we receive, the Thirty-five Buddhas are existing for us sentient beings to purify negative karma. We get all this benefit from each buddha, so without the guru there are no Thirty-five Buddhas. So now here, all this benefit that we receive, all this power that they have, the benefit, the incredible skies of merit that we can collect, by doing prostrations and by reciting the names, so many eons of negative karma get purified. So here, we can see this way that the actions of the guru, what it is, is the guru and, in this aspect and in all these actions, each time by prostrating we collect skies of merit and it becomes the cause of enlightenment, liberation from samsara, happiness of future lives, all that.
So many eons of negative karma get purified by reciting the buddha’s name, and the actions of the guru [guide us.] So here, thinking in this way it becomes guru yoga practice, and then it also becomes meditation on how the guru guides us, or the kindness of guru. It also becomes meditation, like that.
Thirty-five Buddhas Thangka
Here, I think, the drawing that is done here, this was just my Mickey Mouse idea. How many years ago, Peter? Since you made the thangka? Huh? Since you made the thangka, twenty-five years ago? Twenty-five? Twenty-five? Twenty-five years? Really? Wow! [Group laughs] I couldn’t believe it! I think you’re trying to heal me, [so I] feel better, anyway.
I asked Peter [Iseli] to make a large thangka of the Thirty-five Buddhas. The original one is at Kopan Monastery, so I think in recent years, Kopan has that. The Nepalese man who has the largest thangka shop in Kathmandu, called Surendra, who has a beard, who has a mustache like this, anyway, he used that to make many of these, but the original is much bigger. So he made many like this. It is extremely beneficial that he picked up this idea from Peter’s thangka, and he made many of these so that people have the chance to buy one and have it at home or at their center, where everybody can prostrate. So it’s very easy, you don’t have to worry about not having a clear visualization—you can just prostrate. If no visualization is coming, just space; if no visualization is coming, you don’t have to worry about it.
Anyway, the reason why Chenrezig [is at the heart of] Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. There’s one lama, I think it’s Mokjor [?] Rinpoche or something, one of the previous lamas, because of his realization, as I explained, he has realized that any buddha is a manifestation [of the guru]. He realized that it’s the guru, a manifestation of the guru, there’s this realization. Each guru is all the buddhas and each buddha is all the gurus. Because this lama had the realization, he said “Guru Tara,” he called every deity “Guru.” So anyway, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, that has the same commentary that I explained before for the name Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. The idea is to understand that Chenrezig at the heart is to signify the guru’s compassion, then manifesting out the Thirty-five Buddhas, out of compassion for us sentient beings. This is to understand, to remember their compassion for oneself and sentient beings, so manifesting out the Thirty-five Buddhas to purify all those different negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirth.
And that one with three faces is Kunrig.1 I think maybe it’s a a Charya Tantra deity, very powerful, known as the King of the Deities Purifying the Lower Realms, so if somebody’s already born in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realm, then this deity can liberate them. One time a deva was born in the lower realms and they could not see higher realms, but they could see the lower realms. The king of the deva realms, King Indra, asked Buddha what could be done. So the Buddha manifested into that deity Kunrig and then gave the practice called Kunrig jangwa purification, to liberate those who are already born [in the lower realms.] Kunrig, the King of the Deities Purifying the Lower Realms.
Then the other one is Vajrasattva. Is that Vajrasattva? The other one, above? And this one is Namgyalma. Then, on top, that one is not Peter’s mistake, it’s my mistake. [Rinpoche laughs] It’s actually supposed to be blue, but I told him white. So it’s Mitugpa, the blue one, but I made a mistake. So it’s not his mistake, it’s my ignorance, so white Mitugpa. Maybe it’s white Mitugpa for the West. [Group laughs] So these are the offering goddesses.
And the thangka was made in Dharamsala, right? Some parts? Most parts in Dharamsala? Then I suggested to bring it to His Holiness and for him to bless the thangka, so His Holiness blessed it, right? His Holiness blessed the large thangka at Kopan. Normally here, it makes very easy; it’s supposed to help our meditation, to understand the way it’s done.
OK, I think that’s it.
Oral Transmission of Namgyalma Mantra
Maybe I’ll do the oral transmission of the Namgyalma mantra tonight. I was waiting to finish the section of karma and then to do this, but every night it’s not happening, so I think that’s not going through. The karma is not going through, so anyway I’ll do Namgyalma today. As I’m talking about it, I’ll do it.
Think, “For the benefit of all sentient beings I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I need to actualize the path, therefore I need to purify all the defilements and negative karmas, so I’m going to take the oral transmission of Namgyalma mantra.”
In case you haven’t heard the benefits before of the Namgyalma mantra, as I mentioned before, it is said in the text that if you have the Namgyalma mantra in the house, all the people in the house get purified, get blessed. All their negative karma gets purified and they also get blessed. If the mantra is on top of a mountain, if this is on top of a hill, then all the insects, all the animals and people who go on the mountain, their negative karmas get purified. Then if this is on a banner, if you put it on a banner, then the shadow of the banner, whomever it touches, any sentient being whom it touches, their negative karma gets purified.
Therefore, by seeing those benefits I got this idea to have this mantra, as many as possible, in the car, because so many insects get killed all the time. Flies are crushed on the windows and also there are so many ants on the road, so many insects. So by having as many mantras as possible, putting them in the car, it becomes very blessed, and all the time people who get in the car are purified and blessed. Especially all these insects, even though they die at least their negative karma gets purified, so there’s some meaning. Those insects who die on the windows and are crushed by the car on the road, at least there’s some benefit, purifying their negative karma just by touching the car. So like that, any insects, not only people but any insects that touch the car, flies or anything that touches the car, their negative karma gets purified because of having this mantra inside. So that’s the idea. You can also use the mantra in other ways to benefit sentient beings; there are various means to liberate sentient beings. And it’s very powerful, this recitation is very powerful. This mantra is for purifying negative karma and especially if some family member or somebody died, then reciting this is a very powerful thing to do, and also it’s for long life.
[Rinpoche gives the oral transmission of the Namgyalma mantra]
I had one Namgyalma mantra with the meanings, written by Jampa Chokyi many years ago, that I had been carrying around for many years, but recently, I think it was in Hong Kong, I might have put it in the pocket in the airplane. I’m not sure but I might have put it in the pocket in the airplane seat, the back side pocket. Quite a few times, by putting things in the pocket then I forget later, when we leave. That happened quite a few times.
There’s a phurba, a very precious phurba [Tibetan ritual dagger] given to me by Geshe Senge Rinpoche, who granted me almost all the initiations of Most Secret Hayagriva and all the teachings, for two months or something, at Dharamsala. Initiations were also given at Kopan and Dharamsala. So Geshe-la said that when he came first to Dharamsala, he had a phurba he would give me in Tibet, when I came to Tibet. Then I requested it in Tibet, so I got it, that which Geshe-la used, I think, I don’t know how long, an old one, a used one. So one time I was going to Dharamsala, from Delhi to Pathankot, so I put it in the pocket there when you sleep, the upper bed, I put in the pocket. When I arrived in Pathankot I forgot it, then I asked again for another one. I said I had lost it, so I got a second one. I have the second one from Geshe Senge. [Rinpoche laughs]
Recently I got a very long one from Tibet, that Rilbur Rinpoche had received. It’s from the most famous Nyingma monastery, Mindrolling. It belonged to Terdak Lingpa, one of the former, very famous, highly attained Nyingma lamas, Terdak Lingpa. I think it might be the manifestation of Padmasambhava probably, who found the treasures. So this phurba belonged to him. It is very worn out; it’s iron, called “sky iron,” I don’t know what it’s called in English. It’s very old, worn out, so it was kept in a box in this monastery. When the Chinese came they were looking more for skulls, things with bones, they were more kind of looking for those, so they didn’t pay attention to these other things. There was a very precious Heruka statue and this phurba. Somehow a Tibetan man got this and then offered it to Rilbur Rinpoche. So Rinpoche told me he kept the Heruka statue, and the phurba, Rinpoche thought it was more suitable for me.
Anyway, I’m not sure what my tradition is. I have no idea what my tradition is. [Rinpoche laughs] Anyway, Rinpoche gave me that, saying it was more suitable for me.
One time there was an ex-nun from Taiwan who had an unbelievable, unbelievable headache, so painful. It came out useful to put the phurba on the head, so I put it on her head and recited Padmasambhava mantras, one mala or something. Then she said she got completely better but I didn’t believe her; I thought she made it up to please me. Later it was found to be correct, immediately the headache went away.
So that’s the Namgyalma mantra. The short one is OM BHRUM SVAHA / OM AMRITA AYUR DADE SVAHA. While thinking of the person who passed away, you recite that. That’s one of the benefits. There are five powerful deities’ mantras that are used, that are chanted to bless sesame seeds or water which is sprinkled on the person or animal that died. Even if the consciousness has already left, it affects the consciousness and purifies negative karma and for that sentient being to have a good rebirth or to go to the pure land. It liberates them, so it’s one of the benefits, by thinking of that being, that person, the being who passed away, by thinking of that being then reciting this, it liberates them from the lower realms and they have a good rebirth.
Maybe we’ll do the Maitreya Buddha mantra tomorrow. Also the oral transmission of the King of Prayers. That is very good to have, to receive that lineage, that blessing. The bodhisattvas’ most extensive prayer, then along with that some other oral transmissions, for the practice of purification, some things that we need for our daily practice.
Dag gi ji nye….
[Students chant short mandala offering]
I was also going to mention this one, that the dedication at the end, one dedication is always [to receive] bodhicitta, the immediate one, then the other one, dedicate for our father, mother and all the sentient beings, so that is one, then for the long life of His Holiness, then the virtuous friend. So these are the general ones.
Then dedicating the merits, so that oneself and all other sentient beings together achieve enlightenment, and not only that, which makes it inexhaustible, to never finish the result, how much we enjoy. Even after we achieve enlightenment, we are still using that result because we liberate numberless sentient beings continuously. So until every sentient beings is brought by us to enlightenment, that’s the ultimate result of dedicating the merits to achieve enlightenment.
Not only that, making the merit inexhaustible, but on top of that, we seal with emptiness so that if heresy and anger arises later, it cannot destroy the merits. Otherwise later, if heresy and anger arise—if we are unable to control the mind, if we are unable to practice mindfulness, if we are unable to control the mind and unable to apply the meditation practices, the teachings, so then heresy and anger arise—if our mind is unable to keep in devotion so then heresy arises to the teachings of the Buddha, to the guru, so like that the merit gets destroyed. And then also if anger arises, the merit gets destroyed.
Therefore it’s very important, it’s not enough to just dedicate to achieve enlightenment—we also need to seal with emptiness, to look at everything as empty. While we are dedicating to achieve enlightenment, we have to look at everything in the nature of emptiness, or merely labeled. However, same thing, we come to the same conclusion, so in that way the merit cannot get destroyed by heresy or anger arising.
So this dedication is extremely essential. We do very extensive practice and a lot of merit is collected but at the end, if the dedication is not well done, if we didn’t remember the points on how to make the merits inexhaustible [the merits are destroyed.] Maybe we have the knowledge, maybe we are unable to remember how to dedicate to achieve enlightenment at the end, which makes it inexhaustible. So we must remember, as we have the understanding we must put it into practice. We must dedicate this way at the end of the practice and seal with emptiness so that heresy and anger cannot destroy the merits. This is extremely essential, otherwise we have no protection for our merits, so there’s nothing to guard.
That’s a very essential point, because we have put in so much time and made it so special. Our life is very busy and we have so many obligations or engagements, many things; we are so busy [it’s hard] to find time to collect merit, to do our practices. It’s not something that we can do extensively a lot; it’s not every day, it’s not our everyday life.
Let’s say we made a particular time for practice. In one year we took particular time to do the practice and after all this practice we are not careful, not wise in dedicating the merits, how to make the dedication most inexhaustible and how to protect the merits. As we recite the words, we must meditate along with that, otherwise we are just reciting the words and it does not become a dedication. Just doing the prayer does not become dedication. We must think along with that, we must meditate along with that. Even a tape recorder can do prayers, parrots or tape recorders can do prayers, they can do a lot of prayers, so we must think, we must meditate along with that, otherwise it doesn’t become actual practice.
When we do this, as I lead, do it slowly and remember the meditation, think about it. So do this and after that, the other very important prayer is the Lama Tsongkhapa dedication, “Due to the three-time merits collected by me and by others, may I be able to offer extensive benefit to all sentient beings, to the teaching of Buddha, like Lama Tsongkhapa, by having the same qualities within me as Lama Tsongkhapa has.” I think that one is a very important dedication.
We should read Lama Tsongkhapa’s life story, how Lama Tsongkhapa benefited sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha so much. He made the Buddha’s teachings so clear, sutra and tantra, all those difficult points where many great meditators make mistakes. Lama Tsongkhapa put special effort into clarifying all this and he made very clear explanation, many pages. He made it so easy, giving the clearest teachings on the most difficult points, then so many practitioners, so many sentient beings are saved from the wrong concept, saved from falling into extremes. They are saved and have correct understanding, correct practice and correct realization. They directed their life toward that, then there’s no obstacle to achieving enlightenment, it becomes very easy. Therefore, to be able to benefit like that too, I think it’s very important.
Then Jam päl pa wö…., dedicating the merits to be able to train like the bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjugosha, that one.2 Then, “As the three-time buddhas and bodhisattvas dedicated their merits, I will dedicate the merits.”
The very last one is for the Buddha’s teachings, particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, to spread in this world and particularly to flourish forever by actualizing the whole teaching in our own heart, like that. Then here, “I will do like this, dedicating for my own family members and all the students and benefactors in this organization. This is how I do it, by completely actualizing in this very lifetime.”
This last one is to spread Dharma, in short, so I think that’s very important, otherwise sentient beings cannot have happiness. Happiness comes from the teachings of Buddha—temporary and ultimate happiness for all the sentient beings.
So these are the general dedications. Then from these ones, from these, the shortest way to do it: first, still do the bodhicitta, then you can do long-life prayers, then Ge wa di yi ..., that one dedicating your merits and other sentient beings’ merits to achieve enlightenment by sealing with emptiness; then Jam päl pa wö …, then dedicating the merits to be able to follow the bodhisattvas, Samantabhadra and the three-time buddhas and bodhisattvas in the same way; then dedicate for Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, the general teachings of Buddha, and particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, to be spread.
So, the shortest, from those prayers, to make them even shorter you must do bodhicitta, so that becomes a practice. When we dedicate the merits to actualize bodhicitta then that becomes a part of the practice.
There are five powers, the lifetime practice integrating into five powers, condensed into five powers practice, the very essential points so it makes the life most meaningful and no obstacles. So from the five, the first one is the power of the white seed. You collect merit in order to actualize bodhicitta and you dedicate the merits to actualize bodhicitta. Here, if you dedicate the merits after each practice, it becomes a practice from the five powers, the power of the white seed. So this is the lojong, thought transformation practice.
Then you can do long-life prayers, and then Ge wa di yi … then Jam päl pa wö … and then Chho kyi gyal po …, that’s the shortest.
There is a particular dedication after each session, one particular dedication, different, so at the end of the Guru Puja, at the end of the guru yoga practice, then do that one. Since I’m going to say that, we should think together, so it becomes dedication anyway, so it saves time.
Due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may I and my family members, all the students and benefactors in this organization and those who give up their life to the organization doing service for sentient beings, the teachings of the Buddha, and all the rest of the sentient beings, may we be able to meet only the perfectly qualified Mahayana guru in all the future lifetimes. May we be able to see [the guru as] only an enlightened being from each sentient being’s side and from our own side. May we do only actions most pleasing to the holy mind of the virtuous friend, from each sentient being’s side and from our own side, and may we be able to fulfill the holy wishes of the virtuous friend immediately from each sentient being’s side and by ourselves, and may we be able to do like this from now on and in all the future lifetimes.
This is the particular dedication at end of the guru yoga practice.
Then, in the next session, the particular dedication is,
Due to all the three-time merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may any sentient being who sees me, touches me, remembers me, who thinks about me, talks about me, who praises me, criticizes me, whatever connection they make with me, just by that, may it cause them to never ever be reborn in the lower realms. So from that time, may they never ever be reborn in the lower realms and may they immediately be able to find faith in refuge, karma, actualize loving kindness, compassion, bodhicitta, and immediately be healed from all their sicknesses, spirit harm, negative karma, all the defilements, by actualizing the whole path. May they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
Then here I added this also, “When somebody who is dying sees me, hears my voice or touches me or whatever, that immediately stops their fear and they get incredible joy in their heart and are able to be born in the pure land of a buddha where they can become enlightened so easily.” Here, I added this particular dedication to help the dying people, so that you become beneficial and help the person who is dying.
However, you can also dedicate the merits so that other sentient beings who see you, touch you, remember you, think about you, talk about you or dream of you, or even see your photos, to become wish-fulfilling for them. Even if they criticize you or if they make fun of you, whatever, if they abuse or beat you, whatever they do, anyway, to be able to be beneficial back toward them, so like that, you become wish-fulfilling, return back, you become wish-fulfilling for all their happiness. So that’s the idea there.
So the next session has a particular dedication. For the next session, the particular dedication is: “Due to all the three-time merits collected by me and collected by others …” We will do it together then it gets done.
“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, and the three-time merits collected by others, from now on, whatever action I do—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing my job and so forth, whatever I do, all the activities, the actions, whatever I do, whatever life I experience, happy, unhappy, healthy, unhealthy …”—that means whether it’s cancer or not or whether it’s any other sicknesses. Here the main thing is to be beneficial for other sentient beings.
So even if you have cancer, your life becomes very beneficial to other sentient beings, your experience becomes so beneficial to other sentient beings, it becomes the cause for all sentient beings to achieve happiness, temporary and ultimate happiness. Then it becomes so meaningful having cancer, most meaningful. It becomes the path for you to achieve enlightenment, and it becomes the path, the means, to enlighten all sentient beings. Having cancer becomes the means for you to enlighten all sentient beings, it becomes the cause of happiness for all sentient beings.
Also, each time, you can think, “I am experiencing this cancer on behalf of all the sentient beings, all those numberless sentient beings who have cancer and who have the potential, who have negative karma to experience cancer, and all the sentient beings. I am experiencing this on behalf of all the sentient beings.” Each time you dedicate yourself, when you give up yourself to experience the sufferings of sentient beings, the cancer of sentient beings, the suffering of sentient beings, each time you do that, you purify limitless, unimaginable negative karma. So much, so many lifetimes, eons of negative karma get purified each time you think, “I’m experiencing the cancer on behalf of all sentient beings.” Each time you think, “Oh, I have cancer,” then immediately think, “I’m experiencing this on behalf of all sentient beings,” each time the thought comes.
Otherwise, the mind gets depressed. If you don’t apply Dharma, each time you have this problem, if you don’t apply Dharma immediately then your mind gets depressed, unhappy. So then if the mind is unhappy, depressed, then I think even the cancer or whatever sickness might get worse.
It’s important to keep [this attitude], even for AIDS, especially for AIDS. I had the experience that if the person is able to keep the mind in a happy state, before they could not walk, they had to be supported by people, but by listening to teachings on thought transformation, by looking at it very positively, by looking at it as, “I’m so lucky I have this AIDS; I’m so lucky because I can experience the suffering of all sentient beings, and from this experience, then I can achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, I can achieve enlightenment very quickly for sentient beings,” they develop bodhicitta.
When we think all this, there’s incredible purification and we collect limitless skies of merit. When we think all this, there is incredible advantage that we get each twenty-four hours, so anyway, when the person hears all this, how positive it is, how good it is, how great it is, then immediately the person—before person was kind of, had to be supported by people, could not get up, but then as the person’s mind became happier, by thinking of all these benefits they were able to raise their body without any supporters.
There was one student in Australia, after I was talking about how positive everything is, all these benefits, then he raised his arms like this and said, “Look, look. Now I’m better.” Before he was lying down like this, then suddenly he was able to lift himself up, he got strength. He said, “Look, now I’m better.” [Rinpoche laughs] So it’s very much to do with the state of mind, keeping the mind happy. This is not worldly happiness, this is Dharma happiness. This is not sensual happiness or pleasure; this is Dharma happiness. I think, if the mind is unhappy and depressed then also the person physically deteriorates very quickly, and their life becomes shorter.
So each time, you can think, “I’m experiencing this for the benefit of all sentient beings; I’m experiencing this on behalf of all sentient beings. This is the cancer of all sentient beings that I have received, the suffering of all sentient beings.” So you are taking it voluntarily, like those people who tried to go to Iraq recently as human shields—some people went there for that, but some people left before the war. They went there, but then gradually they left before the war.3 So you become voluntarily like a bodhisattva, taking all the sentient beings’ suffering and really taking it in the heart and you become really voluntarily like a bodhisattva. Here it’s not one sentient being, but numberless sentient beings’ suffering.
Each time you think that, experiencing [the suffering] on behalf of all sentient beings or experiencing it for all sentient beings, each time you think “I’m experiencing this suffering of all the sentient beings,” or “I’m experiencing this on behalf of all the sentient beings, for the benefit of all sentient beings,” this means you take the suffering and let them have all the happiness up to enlightenment. Each time you think, “I’m experiencing this suffering on behalf of all sentient beings” or “I’m experiencing the suffering of all sentient beings,” each time you collect limitless skies of merit. You collect limitless skies of merit each time you think that, so each time you become closer to enlightenment. Each time you think that, you become closer to enlightenment, and so many eons of negative karma get purified. What else is there to enjoy more in your life? What else is there to enjoy more in life? I mean, what else is there that’s more important to do in the life than this?
You can even include relationship problems, anything, you can use like that. Especially the relationship problems are very difficult; there’s so much pain in the heart and it's very difficult to transform, very difficult to apply Dharma. When there are emotional problems, it’s so difficult to apply Dharma.
So anyway, there’s no choice—we don’t want suffering, therefore we must practice, we must apply this, we must use this for bodhicitta practice.
Anyway, by using it for bodhicitta, by experiencing the suffering on behalf of others, then each time we think like that, we become closer to enlightenment, closer and closer to enlightenment. That’s the incredible benefit, the advantage, the benefit that we are achieving, and then many eons negative karma get purified. That’s the incredible advantage, the benefit. We collect limitless skies of merit each time. We collect unbelievable, limitless skies of merit, the cause of happiness. Each time we practice, experiencing the suffering for others, it becomes the cause of happiness for all sentient beings, because it becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for oneself and that means, naturally, it becomes the cause of happiness for all sentient beings. It becomes the means for us to also liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment because it causes us to actualize bodhicitta, and it causes us [to achieve] the whole path to enlightenment.
So think, if you have AIDS or if you have cancer, think that’s exactly as if you are in retreat. In a retreat you are supposed to control the mind. The main practice in retreat is to control the mind, otherwise, how does it become retreat? If you live with the delusions, the self-cherishing thought, desire, all that, how does it become retreat? Retreat means not allowing the mind to be controlled by delusions, it means keeping the mind in virtue, keeping the mind in Dharma, guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, right view, like that, then there’s tantra. So that’s what’s called retreat.
So here by having these sicknesses, in this way, with this practice, then it’s like being in retreat for however many years you get sick. If you are sick for one year, it’s like a one-year retreat, because every day in one year, because having the sicknesses makes you practice bodhicitta, especially, then also emptiness and renunciation. So then continuously it makes you practice, so you should think, “I am in retreat.” It means continual practice, living in continual practice. Because of the sicknesses, you do so much practice, you collect so much merit and purify so much negative karma, and then because of these sicknesses you generate compassion for others, you feel how other people who have cancer, how they feel, how much they’re suffering, or those who have AIDS, how much they suffering. You have so much feeling for others. Those who have the same problem, there are numberless of them. So that helps you to develop compassion for others, you really understand how they feel. And they need help, so you really feel compassion, loving kindness for others from the heart, because you know how the sickness is a problem, so like that.
Take your sickness as a jewel. In this way your sickness becomes a wish-granting jewel, because it makes you develop bodhicitta, compassion, loving kindness for others, and then you collect limitless skies of merit. I mean, each twenty-four hours, you collect so much merit each day; you are able to collect so much merit from that sickness. You get skies of merit, limitless skies of merit from that sickness. So that really brings you to enlightenment, this sickness brings you to enlightenment so fast and it doesn’t make you lazy. It doesn’t make you lazy. Look at it as a positive—while you have the sickness, while it is there, it’s like a wish-granting jewel, like that. Think “How fortunate I am, how fantastic this is!” Think of all these benefits that I explained, which are true if you use this for practice.
So this prayer, “From now on, whatever action I do—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing my job, and so forth, then whatever life I have, happy, unhappy, healthy, unhealthy.…” The point of what I was saying is, the aim of your life is not to be healthy, it’s not the main aim of life. To be healthy is not the main aim of life. The main aim of your life, as I already mentioned at the beginning, what is the purpose of life, so the main aim of the life is to benefit other sentient beings, for your life to be beneficial for other sentient beings. Whatever happens to you, for it to be beneficial for sentient beings; that’s the main aim. To be healthy is not the main benefit.
That psychology, that philosophy, that attitude we have to generate, we have to understand this, in this dedication prayer. What it’s saying is this: the main aim of our life is not to have comfort, not that; to be healthy, it’s not that; only to have praise and no criticism, not that; only to have good reputation, not that. The main meaning of life is whatever happens—happy, unhappy, healthy, unhealthy, even if we gain, even if we lose, even if we experience loss, even if we experience gain, criticism, praise, bad reputation, good reputation, living or even dying, even being born in the hell realm, so all of this, “May it be most beneficial to sentient beings.” What is that? We should think, “May it become most beneficial and cause all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.” We shouldn’t think only about giving food, shelter, medicine, finding a friend or something, only thinking of temporary benefits, temporary happiness. The main thing is enlightenment; to be most beneficial for sentient beings, that which causes all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
Happiness in our life depends on our attitude; happiness depends on what kind of attitude we have in life. Every day, every moment, what kind of attitude we have, depending on that, we have happiness or we have suffering, we have problems.
As I started a few days ago, so in one session the dedication is this, the third session. Then the fourth session and at the end, if there is fourth session. [Laughter] So at the end, yes, I think one time I may have done that.
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, whichever universe, world, country, area, place, house, wherever I will be, wherever I am, just myself being there, may all those sentient beings living in the universe, world, country, area, place, house, never ever get reborn in the lower realms. May I be able to benefit others, to bring all others benefit in that way. May all those sentient beings never ever get reborn in the lower realms from that time, since the time that I am in that universe, world, country, area, place, house. May they immediately find faith in refuge, karma, and actualize bodhicitta, loving kindness. May everybody live their life only helping each other, without harming others, and by that may all the wars be stopped, so nobody will experience war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, sicknesses, coma, all the sicknesses, curable and incurable, and may they all be healed immediately.
[This includes] those who are possessed by spirits. In the West, society doesn’t have this education, so they say it’s what’s called schizophrenia, so,
May they immediately be free from possession by spirits, and may they have a most meaningful life. Those who have depression, so much depression, so much suffering, may their hearts immediately be filled with bliss and may they have a most meaningful life. Then those who have relationship problems, may their hearts immediately be filled with loving kindness, compassion and so much joy and peace and happiness. May those who need a guru find a perfect guru and may those who need teachings receive unmistaken, perfect teachings. And may those who want to do retreat find all the conditions for retreat and receive all the realizations, without any obstacles.
So this is just to give you the basic idea, but you can add more, so that you become wish-fulfilling for all sentient beings naturally.
May they achieve all the happiness. By actualizing the path may they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
This is a special dedication after the fourth session. There are those dedications, the other general dedications, even very short ones, those which I mentioned there, even very short dedications.
So you can do those, then do these particular dedications at the end of each session. It’s not all this to be read at the end of each session, not that. There’s one particular dedication after each session. Of course, after the last session you can do a more extensive dedication.
At the end recite the King of Prayers, after the last session, the extensive dedication that day, dedicating the three-time merits and especially that day’s merits, you dedicate very extensively for the sentient beings.
Then you should recite the mantra prayers to multiply each merit by 100,000 times. You should recite that multiplying the merit mantra afterwards. That can also be done at the end of each session, the mantra multiplying the merits 100,000 times, and for all the prayers that you do to succeed. So that should be done. I forgot to tell you before, that when we do retreat, at the end, at least in the last session, that should be done. So, we do that.
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may bodhicitta be generated within my own heart and the hearts of my own family members, all the students and benefactors in this organization, those who give up their life for the organization doing service for sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha and all the sentient beings without delaying even a second, and for all those who have generated bodhicitta, may the bodhicitta be increased.
Jang chhub sem chhog rin po chhe ….
Gang rii ra wäi ….
Päl dän la mäi ku tshe ….
Due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, who exist, but do not exist from their own side, are totally nonexistent, empty, may the I, who exists but does not exist from its own side, who is totally non-existent, empty, achieve Tara’s enlightenment, that which exists but doesn’t exist from its own side, that which is totally empty, and lead all the sentient beings, who exist but do not exist from their own side, who are totally empty, to Tara’s enlightenment, which exists but doesn’t exist from its own side, that which is totally empty, by myself alone, who exists but does not exist from its own side, who is totally empty.
I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjugosha, as they realize. I dedicate all the merits in the same way as the three-time buddhas and bodhisattvas dedicate their merits.
Due to all the three-time merits collected by me and by others, may the general teachings of Buddha, particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, be spread in all the directions. May they flourish forever in this world by completely actualizing within our own heart and the hearts of our own family members, all the students and benefactors, those who give up their life to the organization, offering service, may they be completely actualized in everyone’s heart in this very lifetime.
Chhö kyi gyäl po ….
Dag dang zhän gyi ….
This is to multiply the merits, for every merit to increase 100,000 times. So you can recite together or imitate. [Rinpoche recites the multiplying mantras]
Now this is the buddha’s name, the last one. This is to actualize all our prayers, so whatever prayers we did will succeed and also it has the same benefit, to multiply each merit 100,000 times. [Rinpoche chants this mantra]
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the three-time merits collected by others, may the eminent blessings of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, due to that, and the unbetrayable dependent arising, and due to my special attitude, may all my pure prayers succeed immediately.
So now when there’s time you can recite, at the end of the Jorchö, the prayer for spreading Dharma, that, or the prayer for spreading Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, which expresses the particular, special qualities of Lama Tsongkhapa teachings. When there’s time, you can also do that. That’s what we did during the Vajrasattva retreat at Land of Medicine Buddha. At the end you can do different prayers, also King of Prayers or the Blissful Realm prayers, the different prayers. There are eight prayers, so you can change.
I’m telling you this as an education for the organization on how to do the practice, how to do the retreat, the sessions, so it’s very rich, powerful, very meaningful, perfect in the beginning, perfect in the middle and perfect at the end.
So good morning, good night.
[End of discourse]
1 Kunrig (Skt: Sarvavid) is from the Yoga Tantra class. Find a PDF of this mantra in the FPMT Catalogue. [Return to text]
2 See pp. 185–89, FPMT Essential Prayer Book, 2021 edn. [Return to text]
3 A group of anti-war activists travelled to Iraq as human shields in January 2003 but were unsuccessful in preventing the US invasion. [Return to text]