Kopan Course No. 38 (2005)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1544)

Lamrim teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the 38th Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 2005. Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

Go to the Index page to view an outline of topics and click on the links to go directly to the lectures. You can also download a PDF of the entire course.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Delhi, India, January 2009. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.
3. Actualizing the Path to Enlightenment

December 6, 2005


Good afternoon. I think you have already done the lamrim prayer this morning, but we are doing it again! That way, it leaves a more positive imprint on the mind. These preliminary prayers are not just prayer. It’s a meditation—the prayer goes with the meditation to collect merit. For the listening, reflecting and meditating to become effective, to become beneficial, that depends on having collected the necessary conditions, having collected the merit. If we have a lot of merit, then by listening to teachings and reflecting on them and analyzing them, we not only understand the meaning, familiarizing them with our mind, but also becoming the path explained by the words in our heart.

What is written in the text, the path, we have in our heart, in our mental continuum so our mind becomes that path to enlightenment from the root, guru devotion, and the graduated path of the lower capable being, the graduated path of the middle capable being [to the graduated path of the higher capable being.] “Capable being,” which is kyi o in Tibetan, has great meaning. Much of the time it’s not translated, it’s just “lower scope” or “higher scope.” That’s OK but the actual translation is “graduated path of the lower capable being,” the “middle capable being,” or the “higher capable being.”

People who are living life with the attitude that is attached to the thought of the eight worldly dharmas, which is basically the attachment clinging to this life, their objective, what they want to achieve, is just the happiness of this life: the pleasure of food, clothing, shelter, being praised by others, having a good reputation, being famous. Nothing else, just that. This is just very short-term happiness, just for some years, some months, some weeks, some days. It is very uncertain. Life is in the nature of impermanence and death, and we can never tell when it will happen.

Generally, in the world, nothing is definite in life, particularly in these degenerate times. Now the times are over-degenerated and life in these degenerate times is even more indefinite. There are so many conditions for death and so few for living. And even the conditions that we arrange for the benefit of our living become the condition for death, such as food becoming poisonous or medicines having side effects. Many people die because they are unable to digest food or as a side effect of having taken medicine. People eat fish for pleasure and a bone gets caught in their throat and they die. I’ve heard stories of this happening. Many people die when their house collapses during an earthquake or it burns down. Cars are made for pleasure, but so many people die in car accidents.

Anyway, [wrapped up in worldly concern] we are only looking for very short-term pleasure. Our objectives are just the pleasure of this life which is something very short-term—the pleasure of a few seconds or minutes.

This is the same attitude as the pigs, the ants, the worms, the mosquitoes, even all those insects. In the same way, they keep so busy, running around—especially the ants. What is their motivation? Nothing special, just the happiness of this life. Nothing more than that, just the happiness of this life. I don’t think the ants have attachment to becoming famous! What do you think? Do you think they have attachment to becoming famous? To becoming well-known? Do you think they’re looking for that? I don’t think so. I don’t think the pigs have that motivation either, the attachment to becoming famous! Even though they are so fat, I don’t think it’s for competition!

Even those tiniest white insects we can see on the old trees when they became damp. I don’t know what you call them. When it’s damp, there are tiny insects you can see. [Student prompts] Termites! They have the same attitude. They don’t have the attitude to seek enlightenment for sentient beings! They don’t have the attitude to seek liberation from samsara! They don’t have the attitude to seek happiness of future lives. Only to have happiness in this life.

This includes all those fish, all the sharks or dolphins in the water, all those billions and billions of fish that are constantly moving around looking for food. There are billions of them together in the water. What do you call them? What do you call their names? [Student prompts] School of fish. Maybe they’re in school. Anyway, I’m joking! It’s the same. Their attitude is nothing else but looking for the happiness of this life, to achieve happiness in this life, to be constantly free from the problems of this life and just get comfort, to survive. That’s it.

Now you can see that all the rest are like that, even those tiny insects I mentioned that live on the damp wood. So, human beings who have that same attitude as all those other creatures who are called “animals” do not belong to [the path of] the small capable being. They don’t belong to the middle capable being or the higher capable human being. These three are special capable beings. Ordinary people—those who live their lives with only this attitude—don’t belong to any of these. They are the same as the animals; they are nothing special, nothing more than those tiny insects, the worms or the flies, or the birds. While the worms are looking for food to eat, the birds are looking for worms to eat! For birds, eating worms is their comfort and for worms eating other things is their comfort. Humans with this same attitude might have a human body but mentally they are no different from the animals. It’s like they are wearing the mask of a human being.

A human being with this attitude might be an ordinary capable being, but they are only capable of achieving this life’s happiness, nothing else. They are not capable of what is mentioned in the lamrim, in the paths of the lower capable being, the middle capable being or the higher capable being.

Maybe I should mention this since I brought up this issue! You can understand why we need to practice Dharma. Even logically, even just from experience, the reason we need to practice Dharma is very clear. You can understand why we need to do something else, something special in our life.

If a person’s attitude is not the bodhicitta attitude of achieving enlightenment for sentient beings, nor the renunciation of samsara—seeking liberation that is free forever from oceans of samsaric suffering—nor seeking happiness of future lives with a good rebirth, if it is none of these, then the motivation of living is only the attitude of seeking the happiness of just this life.

You have gone through this motivation, seeing what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. Within the Dharma there are different levels of Dharma that result in different levels of happiness. You have already gone through all this. You have already gone the whole lamrim, so you should have a clear idea.

Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, that great enlightened Tibetan lama, explained how four people can recite the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras prayer with four different motivations. Of course, you can also say there are four people making charity with four different motivations, using different activities, but he mentioned reciting the Twenty-one Taras prayer.

Tara is the female aspect of the Buddha, representing all the Buddha’s holy actions embodied into this female aspect, particularly to grant all the sentient beings’ wishes for success and happiness. There are twenty-one aspects of Tara and there’s a verse of praise to each Tara.

So, the first person recites the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with the motivation to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. That person’s action of reciting the prayer becomes the cause of achieving enlightenment for sentient beings.

The next person does not recite the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with bodhicitta to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings but just to achieve liberation from samsara for themself. That second person’s action of reciting the prayer doesn’t become the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings but only becomes the cause to achieve liberation, the ultimate happiness for themself.

Then, the third person recites the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras not with bodhicitta to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, and not to achieve liberation from samsara for themself but just with the motivation to achieve the happiness of future lives. [That person’s action only becomes the cause of the happiness of future lives.]

The fourth person recites the prayer only to achieve the happiness of this life—to live long, to be healthy, to be wealthy or have power in this life, and so forth, just for that. They don’t pray for others, just for themself. As I mentioned before, this is no different than an animal’s motivation. It’s nothing special. Even though they might be living in a five-star hotel or a five-star house, being driven around in, what do you call it? A limousine.

In the United States I saw a lot of these long cars. They are very long cars; they look a little bit strange. When I went to Florida, where we have a center—I’ve forgotten the name of the center. What’s the name? [Student prompts] Thubten Kunga Center. I had to go to a university to give a talk and I was surprised when the director, a gentleman, arranged this long car! I think I later mentioned to him it was not necessary to arrange that. There was a cocktail bar in the car, where you could drink anything. There was no shower! It would have been nice to have a shower in the car, and a kitchen! Anyway, the director arranged this car on that day to go to the university to give the talk.

I just remembered as I was just talking about the long car, the limousine. Basically, the way of living of a rich person is no difference from those tiny creatures. The aim is just this life’s happiness, the actions they do is just for their own happiness just for this life, nothing else. All the important happiness is left out. It is unknown to them because they lack enough knowledge of the mind.

If we have more knowledge of the mind, we will know all those different levels of happiness. It’s all a mental state. Whatever happiness we have, we achieve from the mind. So, it’s just this lack of education. Education here doesn’t mean a school education, how to make things. This is education of the mind, understanding the reality of the mind. Understanding its nature, what it can do, its continuity—it’s a very extensive subject.

Lama Yeshe used to say that learning about the mind is much more extensive than learning about outside phenomena. There are all the five paths needed to achieve liberation: the path of merit, the path of preparation, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning. There are five paths to achieve liberation, the ultimate happiness, and five Mahayana paths, with the ten bhumis, to achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings, the state which is total cessation of all gross and subtle mistakes, and which has all the qualities, all the realizations. Then there are all the tantric paths, such as the lower tantric path, the path having the sign, the path not having the sign, and then the graduated generation stage and the graduated completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra.


All those meditators who have attained each of the five paths to liberation have so many unbelievable qualities, especially the Mahayana practitioners, the bodhisattvas who have attained the five Mahayana paths, the ten bhumis. As each path goes higher and higher, they gain unbelievable qualities.

When a bodhisattva achieves the first bhumi, they are able to see the past hundred eons and a hundred eons into the future. At the same time, they are able to reveal the different Dharmas to the sentient beings by manifesting a hundred bodies and they are able to go to a hundred different pure lands of the buddhas. By going to the pure land, that many bodies can do prostration to the buddhas. I think there are eleven different things they are able to do in these hundred manifestations.

In the second bhumi, the number increases to a thousand. So, they can manifest in a thousand bodies and go to a thousand different pure lands and with their thousand bodies do prostrations and make offerings to the buddhas. And they can reveal the different Dharma subjects to sentient beings. So, these qualities increase more and more. I think, when it comes to the ninth or tenth bhumi, they are able to manifest in billions and billions and billions and zillions of bodies and with their billions and zillions of bodies go to the pure lands and do prostrations to the buddhas to collect merit, then to give teachings to sentient beings. The number increases unbelievably.

So, even before they become a buddha, they can manifest as a bridge or as water, whatever they want. They can even manifest those forms for the sentient beings. It is unimaginable, beyond our ordinary beings’ concept of what the mind can do if it is developed on the path.

What is this mind, this mind you cannot see with the eye? It doesn’t have color or shape, it is formless, but its nature is clear and it perceives objects. The mind has buddha nature, all the potential to become a buddha. That is not saying it is already a buddha, that it is already enlightened. Buddha nature means it has the potential to become a buddha. It is a question of developing the mind. If we develop our mind, we can do unbelievable things, like those bodhisattvas even before they become buddhas. We can offer unbelievable benefit to sentient beings, so deep, like the oceans, freeing them from sufferings and bringing them from happiness to happiness, all the way to enlightenment. Bodhisattvas can offer benefit like the oceans, like the sky. We all have this potential; everybody has, even the ants, the mosquitoes, every sentient being has this potential, this buddha nature.

As it’s mentioned in the teachings, when a gong meets a stick, the gong is able to produce sound. The gong has the potential to produce sound but it has to meet the stick. The stick is like the guru, the virtuous friend. We sentient beings meet a virtuous friend who reveals the path to liberation, to enlightenment. Then, because the potential is there, the realizations come and we are able to remove all defilements. That is because all the potential is there. It is compared to being on a road in the dark of night. We can’t see the road, the place, or where we wish to be, but then a torch gives us light to see, and we can progress without mistakes, without difficulties. It helps us go to the place where we wish to be. The virtuous friend is like the torch, showing us the path clearly, allowing us to walk to the place we wish to be.

Even before becoming enlightened, after having achieved shamatha, calm abiding meditation, which makes the mind so clear, by developing that, we are able to see very clearly even every single atom of a mountain. The mind is so clear we can see like that. Or later, as I mentioned, when we attain those higher bhumis, we can manifest our body like many atoms of a mountain to benefit for sentient beings.

Going back, everyone has this potential to have a mind so clear like that. Everyone has all this potential that can manifest to benefit numberless sentient beings. The Buddha’s holy mind can see all phenomena directly, not just seeing from afar, not seeing it from a pure land or something like that. The Buddha’s holy mind covers all the phenomena. The actual explanation is very secret, coming from highest tantra. Why the Buddha’s holy mind covers all phenomena is because the body covers all phenomena. Buddha’s holy body covers all phenomena. Experience comes from that side; not from the mind but from the side of the body. That body is not like our body, which is caused by karma and delusions and is gross. Because it is not like that, there are no obstacles, no resistance. Having removed the two types of delusions—disturbing-thought obscurations and subtle obscurations—there is no resistance, so it can cover all phenomena. With no blockage, the holy mind covers all phenomena. That is made very clear in the highest tantric explanation, which is very secret.


When our mind is purified, we see the Buddha wherever we are, right there. It doesn’t matter which place. The minute our mind is purified we see the Buddha there, right in front of us.

For example, the Kadampa Geshe Jayulpa was offering service to his guru, Kadampa Geshe Chengawa. His guru devotion practice, correctly devoting to the virtuous friend, was unequaled, incomparable. In the teachings it is explained that we make prayers to be able to practice guru devotion like Kadampa Geshe Jayulpa and Milarepa.

There are quite a few, such as Milarepa, who did incomparable guru devotion practice. Because they had been very badly treated by their aunts and uncles, his mother advised Milarepa to learn black magic from a lama, which he did. He went to a mountain, I think, maybe a monastery, a hall, I’m not sure, and meditated for up to seven days to do black magic to harm their uncle’s family. The uncle’s family were having a wedding in a house, with so many people upstairs and all the horses downstairs. (At that time, there was no cars in Tibet.) 

Milarepa did black magic from the mountain and the whole house collapsed. All the pillars downstairs broke and then the whole house collapsed, and all the people and animals died. I’m not sure how many people there were, maybe thirty or forty. His mother, who had been waiting for revenge, came out and went onto the roof, placing a pair of trousers on a stick, shouting “Victory” or something like that.

I’m sure Milarepa felt regret, so he went back to the black magic lama, who told him if he wanted to practice Dharma, he had to go to see Marpa. The lama who taught Milarepa black magic advised that. So, Milarepa went to see Marpa.

Marpa himself is Buddha Vajradhara, Heruka, the already enlightened being, but when Milarepa came, he appeared to be working in a field with his wife, as a married couple, like an ordinary being, his body hot and dusty, plowing in the field, drinking wine. This is how it appeared. There are verses but I don’t remember them. Milarepa said, “I have nothing, so I offer my body, speech and mind to you. Please give me Dharma and also give me food.” Marpa accepted, but he didn’t give teachings or initiations to Milarepa for a long time, for years and years.

Marpa asked him to build a nine-story tower alone. He was not allowed to hire other porters or other people to help build it. Only Milarepa himself could do it. So, he built this nine-story tower. And after that, Marpa asked him to tear it down again, putting each stone back in the place he brought it from. So he did that. The skin on Milarepa’s back became very hardened, very bluish, from carrying all those stones. And then after that, Marpa told Milarepa to rebuild the tower, and after finishing it to tear it down and put the stones back. And then again to do this a third time. I guess the third one still exists in Tibet, in Lhokha, the southern part of Tibet. You can still see Milarepa’s nine-story tower there. I haven’t been there yet.

There was a statue of both Marpa and Marpa’s wisdom-mother in this tower. I don’t remember clearly but it seems the statue was there when Tibet was invaded by the Communist Chinese army in 1959.

I came to know about the statue from one of my gurus, His Holiness Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche. I received hundreds of initiations and many teachings from Rinpoche. He was extremely loving and always took care of me, guiding me like his child. His attendant was with him when they escaped from Tibet.

Besides His Holiness Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, my guru, there is also Serkong Dorje Chang, who is the reincarnation of Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche’s father who was great yogi in Tibet. He became extremely learned in the Buddhist sutra and tantra teachings, becoming a Lharampa geshe, the top level of geshe, He took the geshe examinations in Lhasa in the presence of thousands of learned monks of Sera, Ganden and Drepung. Then, I think he went into a cave, a hermitage, to actualize the path. So, he is somebody who completed the path to enlightenment, a great yogi who achieved the unification of clear light and illusory body, who actually completed the path with the wisdom-mother. He passed away in Tibet and then reincarnated. Serkong Dorje Chang, the reincarnation, studied again in the monastery and completed the whole path again. There is no question that the past life’s great yogi, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, was the father of Serkong Dorje Chang. 

When they were escaping from Tibet with a group of people, the Communist Chinese army was coming from many directions and it was very difficult for them to get out. Without telling other people, both of them just went quietly into this tower, and His Holiness Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche verbally talked to the statue. Because he was the reincarnation of Darma Dodé, the son of the great yogi Marpa, when he saw the statue of Marpa, he called it “father,” and asked the statue to guide them. Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche had either a bell and damaru or a bell and mala that had belonged to Marpa so many years ago, so he offered it to the statue of Marpa and to the wisdom mother, saying, “Father, mother, please help.” I think maybe the mala belonged to her, I’m not sure. Anyway, that’s how I found out there was a statue in the nine-story tower that Milarepa built.

So anyway, Marpa asked Milarepa to build the tower three times. Not only that, during those years, Marpa never gave him teachings, and if he came along very quietly with the other disciples to seek teachings from Marpa, when Marpa saw him there in the group, Marpa immediately scolded him and kicked him out. So many times he beat and scolded him without a nice word or any praise, only scolding and beating. If this had happened now in the West it would be called abuse! Maybe the police would be called!

Anyway, for years and years Marpa never gave any teaching to Milarepa, only scolding and beating him. Finally, Milarepa’s wisdom-mother, feeling great pity for Milarepa, couldn’t bear it and she pushed Marpa, insisting he give Milarepa teachings. Then, Marpa gave teachings and initiations to him, and guided him to a mountain where he could go to meditate and actualize path. So Marpa even pointed out the place he should go and guided him in everything. 

Then, Milarepa went to that isolated place and practiced exactly as Marpa advised. He achieved total control, total freedom of his mind, of the chakras, wind and drops. He gained control over his speech. From his realizations, the Dharma came to him very naturally, without any effort, in the form of songs or hymns. He had total control over such things as the psychic power to fly from place to place. He achieved full enlightenment in that life, in a brief lifetime of degenerated time.

This happened because of his guru Marpa’s skillful guidance, such as asking him to build the tower three times which was like doing all the preliminary practices, the many hundreds of thousands of prostrations, the many hundreds of thousands of mandala offerings, the many hundreds of thousands of Vajrasattva mantras, the many hundreds of thousands of refuge prayers. There are many different preliminary practices to do, a hundred thousand of this, a hundred thousand of that. Letting Milarepa build the tower three times by himself was all preliminary practice for Milarepa. Building it three times contained the many hundreds of thousands of prostrations, the many hundreds of thousands of Vajrasattva mantras, of mandala offerings, of all these things. Each time Marpa scolded Milarepa was an incredibly powerful purification, purifying Milarepa’s negative karma. Each time Marpa beat Milarepa it was incredibly powerful, purifying so many eons of negative karma.

Milarepa became enlightened in a few years, in one brief lifetime of degenerate time, because of his guru Marpa’s most skillful way of guiding him. Because it was the quickest way to purify his negative karma and to collect the most extensive merit, he was able to achieve the realizations of the path to enlightenment very quickly. And the very important thing is that, during all those years when he was never given any teaching, only hard work and scolding and beating, from Milarepa’s side he never had a bad thought about Marpa. From Milarepa’s side, he never developed any heresy, any negative thoughts towards Marpa. He was such an incredibly devoted disciple, a perfect disciple. He never thought Marpa was abusing him or taking advantage of him. He never had a single thought of heresy, never one negative thought about Marpa. Because of that, he never created an obstacle to hinder his realizations.

He followed every single piece of advice that Marpa gave him exactly. That’s how he was able to achieve the unified state of Vajradhara, full enlightenment, in a number of years in one brief lifetime of degenerate time. That’s why Milarepa is always used as an example when we pray to be able practice guru devotion. Among the names of those who are incomparable in devoting to the virtuous friend, Milarepa is the name most used.

Reading Milarepa’s life story is extremely beneficial. If you haven’t read it or even if you have read it before, to read it again is very good, especially if you are training your mind in order to have a realization of guru devotion, that which is the root of the path to enlightenment. It brings the success of the whole path, beginning with the graduated path of the lower capable being, the realization of how this human rebirth is qualified with the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, how it is so precious, or of the graduated path of the middle capable being or the higher capable being, all the way up to enlightenment, including the tantric path.

The realization of guru devotion is what makes actualizing the whole path to enlightenment successful, from the beginning of the path, the realization the graduated path of the lower capable being, how our own body which is qualified with the eight freedoms and ten richnesses is so precious. If you are training the mind to have this realization, it is very good to read the great yogi Milarepa’s life story, how he practiced guru devotion, how he sacrificed his life, how despite all the many hardships he bore, he remained totally devoted, never giving rise to any negative thoughts, any heresy or anger. 

There are many other life stories of great yogis that are extremely inspiring. Reading them gives us insight, courage, it makes us happy. No matter how hard it is, in our mind, in our heart there is so much happiness, so much incredible joy, bliss, to follow the advice of the guru, to do the practice.

I wanted to mention this before going back to what I started to explain.

I think maybe it’s chai time.


What I was saying before was to elaborate on Milarepa’s life story by mentioning the Kadampa Geshe Jayulpa, whose way of devoting to the virtuous friend was incomparable.

What I was talking about before is that when our mind is purified, we can see all the buddhas. For example, Kadampa Geshe Jayulpa had incomparable devotion to the virtuous friend. Even while he was offering mandala, the minute his guru, Chengawa, called him, as soon as he heard his guru’s voice calling him, he immediately stopped the mandala, even though he was in the middle of it, and ran to offer service. Even if he was writing a syllable na, or something like that, in the middle of that, he stopped and immediately ran to offer service to his guru, Chengawa.

Every day he cleaned this guru’s house. One day, after he had cleaned the room, he wrapped all the dust and garbage in his robe, and he was on the way to throw the garbage out. I think the house must have had two stories, so as he was going down the steps, when he reached the third level of steps, he immediately saw numberless buddhas. They were just there, in the nirmanakaya aspect. As soon as he reached the third level, the third wooden step going down—I’m not talking about the step toward liberation and enlightenment this time—he saw the numberless buddhas there in nirmanakaya aspect, adorned with all the thirty-two holy signs and eighty holy exemplifications. Why? Because through his guru devotion, his level of mind had reached the Mahayana path of merit, the first of the five paths to the enlightenment. 

On the path of merit, there are three categories: the small path of merit, the middle path of merit and the great path of merit. The concentration that is called the concentration of Dharma continuity occurs on the great path of merit. So, by offering service to his guru, Chengawa, by cleaning the guru’s room, he purified his mind of defilements and, when he reached the third step, his level of mind reached the third level of the first path, the great path of merit. The bodhisattva who achieves the great path of merit usually sees numberless buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.

There are many other similar stories. Even ordinary people, when their mind is more purified, are able to see like that; they are able to have pure appearance and see the buddhas. There are many stories, like when people go for pilgrimage to the Buddhist holy places, they see the buddhas. That happens to those who have a purer mind.

The buddhas are always there with us. Wherever we are there are numberless buddhas. They always see us, they always look at us. From our own side, however, because the mind is temporarily obscured, we are blocked; we cannot see them. But when we have purified more, we have a purer appearance and are able to see them.

Even among ordinary beings, those who not yet reached that level of the path, there are many whose mind is purer through living purely, through doing the practice of purification every day, who are also able to see the buddhas. From time to time, I meet people like that, even students.

There’s a lady in Singapore, a student, whose main practice is Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha. She chants the very long mantra, which is very, very powerful purification. She has statues in her room and some of those statues speak to her. She gave me one Dzambhala, which is Compassion Buddha, Chenrezig, manifested into the wealth-giving deity to relieve the suffering of poverty of those sentient beings who are suffering poverty. That statue spoke to her.

Because she wanted to help the Maitreya Project, the five-hundred-foot Maitreya statue that Lama Yeshe advised, she wanted to get the lottery numbers! So, she asked and the Dzambhala statue gave her the numbers and every number came out correctly. But I think it must have been my obstacle because somehow she didn’t believe the numbers. Anyway, later every single number came out exactly as the statue said. She gave the statue to me to help with the Maitreya Project, so now that statue is in the United States in the Aptos house and I’m making offerings there every day. So like that, the statues communicate—she asks questions and Chenrezig answers—and normally she sees many buddhas. When she goes to pray where people are dying or sick, she sees so many buddhas.

This can happen even among the community, with people who are leading a pure life and then doing a strong purification practice. People whose mind is clearer, purer, can see pure appearances like that.

When we achieve the bodhisattva’s path, the great path of merit, at that time even all the statues appear as living buddhas. The bodhisattva meditator who has attained the great path of merit sees all the statues as actual living buddhas and all the statues speak to them. It will be the same when we achieve the bodhisattva’s great path of merit. At that time, we will see all the statues in the nirmanakaya aspect, as actual buddhas. Then, when we achieve the exalted right-seeing path, having the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, because our mind is much more purified, at that time all the statues that we now see just as statues, we will see them as buddhas in the sambhogakaya aspect.

Then, after completing the path, when even the subtle defilements are ceased, at that time we mentally become one with all the buddhas. Before that, we see the buddhas as separate, but at that time, after we complete the path and cease even the subtle defilements, we mentally become one with all the buddhas. That’s the time we become the guru. What that actually means is that then we achieve the absolute guru because we achieve the dharmakaya. I think when the disciple’s mind is purified and reaches those levels, this is similar to how that disciple sees the guru.


What was I talking about before, before Milarepa’s story? I’ve lost my talk!

[Students prompt]

OK, we’ll go back to the subject I started from. I don’t know how I came along this way!

The first person who recites the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras has the bodhicitta motivation to achieve enlightenment. Their action of reciting the prayer becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. The second person recites the prayer, not with bodhicitta to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings but with the motivation to achieve liberation from samsara for themself. Their action of reciting the prayer becomes the cause to achieve not enlightenment but just liberation from samsara for themself. The third person recites the prayer not with the motivation to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings or to achieve liberation for themself, but just to achieve happiness in future lives and the good rebirth. That person’s action of reciting the prayer does not become the cause to achieve enlightenment, nor does it become the cause to achieve liberation from samsara for themself, it just becomes the cause of the happiness of future lives, to achieve good rebirth and so forth, just that.

What I was trying to say before is that all these three people’s motivations become Dharma. The person who recites the prayer with the bodhicitta motivation to achieve enlightenment can be said to be the Dharma of the higher capable being. The person who recites the prayer with the renunciation, to achieve liberation from samsara for themself, that action becomes the Dharma of the middle capability being. Then, the one who is detached to this life and then seeking the happiness of future lives, that person’s action of reciting the prayer becomes the Dharma of the lower capable being. The motivations of all three people are Dharma.

Now, the fourth person recites the prayer only seeking the happiness of this life, to have a long life or be healthy or to have power, wealth, pleasure, fame, a reputation and so forth. That fourth person’s motivation is simply attachment, clinging to this life, so that becomes totally nonvirtue. That motivation is totally nonvirtue.

Even if we analyze it scientifically, we can see there are big differences. If the mind is detached, totally free from attachment to this life but has attachment seeking the happiness of future lives, while that motivation, that state of mind, is still attachment seeking future samsaric pleasure, it is totally free from attachment to this life’s happiness. There’s no clinging or grasping to this life’s happiness and pleasure. 

So, there’s a great peace. Even if somebody praises us or gives us a present, the mind remains comfortable; there’s no disturbance to our mental continuum. And if somebody criticizes us, disrespects us, gets angry with us, no longer loves us, whatever they do with their body, speech or mind, it doesn’t bother us, it doesn’t upset us or make us angry. This is because we have no attachment, no clinging to this life’s happiness, to this life’s pleasures. There’s no grasping if we receive praise, reputation, material gifts, comfort, all those things, and there’s no aversion to the opposite, to the four undesirable things. When we encounter four undesirable things and when we receive the four undesirable things, it doesn’t bother us; it doesn’t make us upset or angry.

Our mind is peaceful, happy. This is real inner peace, real happiness, satisfaction, contentment. Whatever happens around us—receiving the four desirable objects, encountering the four undesirable objects—doesn’t bother us. As Nagarjuna said, the eight worldly dharmas are equalized. The four undesirable things and the four desirable things are equalized in our mind. So, there’s a big difference. With detachment to this life, even though there’s attachment seeking future samsara, we have so much incredible peace and satisfaction. It makes a huge difference to our daily life.

Wherever we go, to the East or West, whether we are alone or with people, there is great peace, there is so much happiness inside. Even if we wear rags and just live in a house made of hay, even if all we have to drink is water—no chai, no coffee, no chocolate! Anyway, I’m joking. However, the mind is incredibly peaceful; there is such joy in our life. Nothing bothers us. So, there are huge differences to our heart, to our life, like the earth and the sky.


This is hugely different from the person who has the thought of eight worldly dharmas, the attachment clinging to this life. For that person, there is so much suffering in their inner life, in their heart. Maybe I mentioned that. There is so much misery and suffering in life. When a person has the attachment clinging to this life, they grasp the comfort and pleasure of this life—the material gifts, the praise, the reputation. They crave the praise from others or the reputation where so many other people say nice things. Even just having attachment grasping these four desirable objects, that itself is such suffering. There is no peace. That mind is a suffering mind.

Even when they receive the four desirable objects, it affects their mind, it disturbs the mind. Because the grasping mind is attachment, they can’t get satisfaction, so that’s big suffering. No matter how much they get these four desirable objects, by being attached, by following attachment, the grasping never ends; they can never get satisfaction. They try again and try again and try again; it’s endless. The suffering has no end. Even if they achieve those four desirable objects so much, following attachment causes so much worry and fear.

I heard of somebody in America who’s so famous that everyone in the world knows them: children, old people, everybody. But I heard through a friend that that person is so worried something is going to happen to them, like their name might go down. They have so much worry. 

It’s the same thing for others. We go higher, then later we become less famous. Whether it’s wealth, reputation, whatever of these four desirable objects we have received, because of the attachment clinging to them, this causes so much worry and fear. Then, life has no peace. Even if we have achieved all these four and we are already so famous in the world, there’s no peace in our heart. That’s very clear among the many famous singers or actors. Many commit suicide because although they are famous with all this wealth, everything, they didn’t achieve satisfaction. There is much misery; they are even more unhappy because they achieved all these things but didn’t get satisfaction. Without any inner peace, they are even more unhappy, more miserable than the beggar who’s begging for food in the road every day. So, achieving the object of desire doesn’t bring satisfaction. It causes life to be filled with expectations, with worry and fear.

Then, when we don’t know how to handle the emotional problems in our life, we commit suicide. We don’t know what to do, we don’t have a method, we don’t know how to practice meditation, then the immediate thing to think is to kill ourselves.

Of course, there is then no question when we encounter the opposite, the undesirable objects, such as when we encounter criticism or do not receive a birthday present! Anyway, not receiving material possessions, getting a bad reputation or when there’s discomfort—when we don’t receive the four desirable objects but only encounter the opposite, of course we get angry and all the negative emotions arise. The mind becomes so unhappy. This is all because of the attachment clinging to this life.

Then, we go to a psychologist. Because of the thought of eight worldly dharmas, we have all these emotional problems and we have to go to a psychologist. Maybe that benefits the psychologist, who has studied psychology and has a degree. They get our money, so they benefit. Anyway, for years and years we go to a psychologist.

There is the loneliness, that’s one big suffering. And we think we are bad, hopeless. When we cannot be like others, we think, “I’m bad. I’m this and that.” We bring ourselves down. What’s the opposite of self-esteem? Low self-esteem! Then we suffer from a lot of depression. Many people suffer from depression. Again, this is due to the attachment, the thought of eight worldly dharmas.

The thought of the eight worldly dharmas particularly brings relationship problems. One day, the object of our attachment, our friend, leaves us. Even if we are physically living together, we find they don’t like us. We feel unbelievably sad and get depressed. We feel some very precious thing has been lost in our life. Then we find they have left us and got together with somebody else, and so as well as depression there is jealousy and anger. This can lead to all kinds of other negativities for those involved, telling lies, even killing—getting angry with the one who was a friend and then killing them. You always see this on TV, how the wife kills the husband or the husband kills the wife.

With the thought of the eight worldly dharmas clinging to the happiness of this life, there is no question if we encounter the opposite—the four undesirable objects—but even if we have found the four desirable objects, we can never get any satisfaction, because when something happens to that desirable object, when we lose it or something, we experience unbelievable depression, worry, fear, all these incredible problems in life.

In Sydney, Australia, there is a big bridge where many people go to jump off. And San Francisco also has a big bridge where many people go there to jump, to commit suicide. In Spain, was it Spain? No, I think Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. How do you say? Rio de Janeiro. I said ‘re-degenerated”! In Brazil where there’s the huge Christ statue. Anyway, there’s a mountain and a kind of tunnel going up in that mountain where I heard many people go to commit suicide.


We can make this human body, which is so precious, qualified with the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, achieve whatever happiness we want. We can achieve all the happiness of future lives with this, a good rebirth, wealth, long life, being born in a pure land—whatever we wish in the future we can achieve with this precious human body. Even liberation from samsara. And we can achieve the ultimate happiness, full enlightenment. Each moment, every second we can create the cause for any of these happinesses. As much as we want, we can create the cause with this precious human body twenty-four hours a day. Even within one hour, even within a minute, however much we wish to achieve any of these happinesses, we can create the cause for this.

And with this precious human body we can cause other sentient beings happiness: the happiness of this life and the happiness of all the coming future lives, liberation from samsara and the ultimate happiness, the great liberation, enlightenment. We can cause others to obtain all these four levels of happiness.

This life is something so precious and this happens about once. This is not what we achieve every life. We attain this just about once. It is extremely, extremely rare. Even if we have mountains of diamonds and gold, that alone can’t stop the rebirth in lower realms. Even if we have wish-granting jewels that give us whatever we pray for, all the sense enjoyments, the material enjoyments, whatever we wish for.

The bodhisattva wheel-turning kings in the past, those who had merit, could find these wish-granting jewels under the ocean. They cleaned them in three ways of the mud and smell, and put them on the top of a banner on the full moon day of the fifteen of the month. Then, whatever people prayed for, they would receive. But even if we had a wish-granting jewel, that alone cannot stop our rebirth in the lower realms. There is no way to achieve a good rebirth in the next life and liberation and enlightenment just from that. But having this precious human body allows us to practice Dharma. Then we can stop rebirth in the lower realms and we can achieve a high rebirth, liberation from samsara and enlightenment. Therefore, this precious human body is much more precious than a wish-granting jewel. Even if the whole sky were to be filled with wish-granting jewels, even if we owned that many, it would be nothing compared to the value of what we can do with our precious human body, how much it can benefit us. Having it gives us the opportunity to practice Dharma, to achieve everything up to enlightenment.


Therefore, the thought of the eight worldly dharmas—grasping the happiness of this life, grasping the four desirable objects—never brings satisfaction. When we lose them or don’t get more and better, then there is so much worry, fear, depression. In just a minute we destroy our precious human life. There’s no space in the mind, nothing but the thought to kill ourselves. We can’t see anything. The mind is totally foggy.

And now the last thing. Here, you can see that if we don’t let go of this attachment clinging to this life, this thought of the worldly dharma, there is no happiness at all in life, no real peace in our heart, only misery, only problems, as I mentioned before. It is the Dharma that protects us from suffering.

The meaning of Dharma is “holding up,” as Geshe Sopa Rinpoche said. We hold ourselves up, protecting ourselves from falling down to the lower realms. That’s one way to say it. Protecting ourselves from all this confusion and suffering.

So, what is the Dharma? It is letting go, freeing ourselves from this mind of attachment clinging to this life, the thought of the worldly dharmas. That is the Dharma. So, there is no question about abandoning anger and ignorance.

The mind that is detached from this life, the mind that is free from the thought of the eight worldly dharmas, that is the real Dharma. When we practice the real Dharma, [Rinpoche snaps his fingers] we achieve satisfaction, inner peace, inner happiness, right there in our heart. We achieve total freedom from all the fears, worries and all the problems that most of the people in the world suffer from in their daily life. They suffer unbelievably, having to take so many medicines for this and for that, needing sleeping pills to fall asleep—so many things.

So, you can see very clearly why there’s need for Dharma practice. Psychologically you can see the need to practice Dharma. It’s medicine; it’s basically like taking medicine. Because we want happiness, we have to practice Dharma. The Dharma is our positive, healthy mind, our renounced mind; it is this healthy, peaceful mind, this detached mind. Scientifically or psychologically, we have no choice if we want happiness; we need to practice Dharma. If we don’t want problems, we need to practice Dharma.

When there is this motivation of attachment clinging to this life, there are always negative minds like anger that are nonvirtuous. Then, actions done with those motivations—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, working, studying at university or college, even reciting prayers, even meditating—these are all done with this thought of worldly dharma, this attachment clinging to this life.

The big difference is that, even though studying Buddhism with this attitude might be a nonvirtue, it leaves a positive imprint on the mind. Then later, because of that imprint, in the future or in the next life, we are able to understand the Dharma much, much more easily and we are then able to practice and actualize the path, to cease defilements and achieve liberation and enlightenment. Our actions done with the attachment clinging to this life become nonvirtue but from the subject’s side, the Buddha’s teaching leaves a positive imprint. That’s a big difference.

The only exception is doing things like making or offering to statues of the Buddha, to scriptures and stupas, circumambulating, doing prostrations. Doing such things, due to the power of the holy object, even though the motivation is nonvirtue, the action doesn’t become nonvirtue but rather becomes the cause of enlightenment. That’s the exception, due to the power of the holy object. These actions become virtuous, not because of our motivation, which is nonvirtuous, but because of the power of the holy object. Otherwise, all the other activities done with the attachment clinging to this life, with anger or ignorance, there is no question that all these are all nonvirtuous.

Therefore, what I want to say here is that what we study at university or a professional college, even learning how to clean professionally or how to become a secretary or waiter professionally, whatever, learning to work well in the professions, all this education is how to do these things externally. Externally is not enough. For happiness, that’s not enough. We might learn how to do all these things externally but we never learned how to do them internally, how to live our life, how to achieve happiness in our mind. That’s not learned. That’s the biggest mistake. We might have learned from a college or university how to work professionally [externally] but we didn’t learn how to work professionally with our mind. To live our life or to work professionally with our mind, inwardly, our motivation must be positive, it must become Dharma. When our action becomes Dharma, the cause of happiness, of a good rebirth in the next life, even in this life there is so much peace and happiness. Because of our virtuous thoughts, our detached mind, we have moment-to-moment peace in our daily life. 

When we have an external profession, we also need the inner profession, transforming our mind into Dharma, into the healthy, pure thought, the detached mind. We can also say into non-anger, non-ignorance and non-attachment. As Nagarjuna said in The Precious Garland,

Desire, hatred, ignorance, and
The actions they generate are nonvirtues.
Non-attachment, non-hatred, non-ignorance,
And the actions they generate are virtues.

From nonvirtues come all sufferings
And likewise all bad transmigrations,
From virtues, all happy transmigrations
And the pleasures of all lives.

What I was saying is if we have a profession, along with that we need to know how to work professionally, inwardly, with our mind, meaning our mind must become Dharma. Then our actions become virtuous and only result in happiness. In our daily life, our moment-to-moment life, there’s peace, happiness, satisfaction, as well as the happiness of future lives.

Otherwise, everything becomes nonvirtuous, negative karma. In our everyday way of living, besides all the problems I mentioned before that our mind creates—problems to ourselves and others—we continuously create the cause of the lower realms, of the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. It becomes utterly terrifying if we really examine the nature of life, how all the actions are done. Without Dharma, life becomes incredibly frightening because whatever we do causes the lower realms, where the suffering is most unbearable and continues for an unbelievable length of time. 

If the mind is renounced, if our attitude in living life, in doing work, is with the renunciation of samsara, all our activities become the cause of liberation. And then, if our attitude is bodhicitta, how we live our life, all our work, all our activities become the cause of enlightenment. That means all our activities—working for many hours, sleeping, eating, doing prayers, meditating—everything becomes the cause of the happiness of all sentient beings.

Therefore, we can see that an external profession that is done for happiness is not enough. Without the Dharma we can’t have happiness; there is no way our life can be happy. If we want happiness, we need to practice Dharma. Scientifically or psychologically, it’s very clear. The need to practice Dharma is not dogma or a custom; it’s not that we are following the custom of some other country. Not like that. It’s all about transforming our mind, making it purer and purer.

So, I think that’s about it.

An action becomes virtuous or nonvirtuous depending on which type of mind we have, which type of motivation. Therefore, we need to practice Dharma. From the other type of mind, one with attachment clinging to this life, we experience all the problems. This is where all the problems of the people of the world come from. So, you can see that to practice Dharma is universal; it’s not just a Tibetan thing. When we come to know what the Dharma is, it’s universal. It’s like medicine that everybody can take. It’s not that there’s Catholic medicine and Muslim medicine; it’s just medicine. If you take it, it helps. Now, you can see that the Dharma is universal.


So, I’ll do a lung and then stop. Maybe the lung of the Heart of Wisdom Sutra, and then the lung of the Thirty-five Buddhas prayer, the Confession of a Bodhisattva's Downfalls to the Thirty-five Buddhas practice, and then a few lungs. This is especially for those who need to do the practice now or who will do practice in the future, so that everybody gets the lineage. 

The purpose of receiving a lung, an oral transmission, is that is if you receive the lung, when you practice it’s more powerful, it carries the blessing. If it’s from those highly attained great pandits or yogis, wherever the teachings come from, there’s a lineage. Without the lineage, you cannot do the lung, the transmitted teaching. To give the lineage to others, you yourself first have to receive the lineage of the oral transmission. So, it carries the blessing. If it’s from the teachings of the Buddha, the blessing is from the Buddha. Whoever composed the teachings, there’s a lineage of blessing from that great highly attained pandit or great yogi, from that bodhisattva. That means there’s more power, it is more effective when you practice. And also, when you teach others, it has more effect, it carries more power, it is more beneficial for others’ minds.

That’s one thing. The other one is that hearing it leaves a positive imprint on the mind. Then, as I mentioned before, either later in this life or in future lives, it becomes much easier to understand the words and the meaning, and then to be able to actualize realizations. Then, we are able to actualize the path, to cease the defilements and to achieve liberation and enlightenment. As much as we can read the Buddha’s teachings, even if we don’t understand them. provided they have been correctly translated, there’s no cheating sentient beings, there’s no misleading sentient beings. There’s no such danger. They only leave positive imprints on the mind, therefore it makes it so much easier and quicker in the future to achieve enlightenment.

Even if we don’t understand the teachings of the Buddha we are listening to or reading, there are these incredible benefits, these limitless skies of benefit. Even if we don’t understand, even if it’s a very hard subject to understand, just listening to the teachings or reading them has all these benefits. There is no misleading, no cheating. We achieve skies of benefit. Each word of the Buddha’s teachings liberates us from the oceans of samsaric suffering. When we read the teachings, each word brings us to liberation and enlightenment. By listening to the teachings of the Buddha, even if we don’t understand them, one of the benefits is that in our next life we will achieve a higher rebirth, as a god or human.

There were three monks in Tibet that had a dog, and when the monks were reciting prayers, the dog always heard them. Because of that, when the dog died, it was reborn in the very high deva realm, the Heaven of the Thirty-three. Or when the great pandit, Vasubandhu, was reciting the Abhidharmakosha, the pigeon living on the roof was able to hear it. When the pigeon died, Vasubandhu checked with his psychic power and saw that the pigeon was born as a human in a valley below to a family, so he went down there and asked the family if he could have the child. The family offered the child to him, then he brought him up. The child became his disciple, a monk called Lobpön Loden Dempa, who became an expert in the Abhidharmakosha, the teaching he heard in his past life when he was a pigeon. He wrote four commentaries on it. Even though as a pigeon he didn’t understand the text, when he was born in his next life as a human being, he became an expert in that subject. But when he heard a Madhyamaka subject, because he hadn’t heard much in the past life, he had more difficulties to understand it, whereas he easily understood the Abhidharmakosha. So, even if we don’t understand the teachings of the Buddha, even if they are in another language, not even in English, since it’s Buddha’s teachings, it has this benefit. 

Of the path of merit and the preparatory path, the second path, the preparatory path, has four categories: heat, tip, patience and sublime Dharma. When we achieve the sublime Dharma, we remember any oral transmission we have received in the past. This is before we achieve the arya path, the right-seeing path. Achieving the fourth level of the path of merit, the sublime Dharma, we remember every single word of any oral transmission we have ever received. This seems to be part of the quality before you enter in the exalted path.

So, set up the bodhicitta motivation.

[Rinpoche and the students chant the mandala offering and refuge and bodhicitta]

Think, “The purpose of my life is not just to achieve happiness for myself, to solve only my problems, but to benefit sentient beings, to free them from all the suffering and its causes and to bring them to enlightenment by myself alone. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I’m going to take the oral transmission of the teaching.” Think like that. Then, when you listen to the teachings, it’s good to think, “I’m receiving the teaching from Shakyamuni Buddha in this teacher’s form. I’m receiving the teaching from Manjushri, I’m receiving teachings from Tara, from all the buddhas. All the buddhas are giving me the teaching through this form that I have a karmic connection with. Through this, all the buddhas are guiding me.” You can feel that. It’s good to think like that when we listen to the teachings, when we study or when we listen to the teachings from the guru. In this way, we feel connected to all the buddhas. All the buddhas are looking after us. Then, as I mentioned before, each word stops oceans of samsaric suffering that we would have to experience without end, each word brings us to enlightenment. We can see that each word is most precious to us, wish-fulfilling for us. Thinking like that helps us keep our mind on the sound of the words and not be distracted.

I’m just going to do the lung. I’m not going to talk much on the benefits of this, the introduction or anything; just do the lung. Because the lung has so many benefits, I’ll just get it done without the introduction. 


[Rinpoche begins the lungs]

Now the Confession of Downfalls [to the Thirty-five Buddhas], the purification practice.

The Heart Sutra is an abbreviated teaching that directly revealed emptiness, the path to achieve enlightenment, wisdom. It also indirectly revealed the method to achieve enlightenment. The main thing of this teaching on the perfection of wisdom is to realize emptiness. Without the wisdom realizing emptiness, having any other realization—bodhicitta or even a high tantric realization, psychic powers where we can fly—we cannot cut the root of samsara, we cannot cease the gross and subtle defilements, we cannot achieve liberation and we cannot achieve full enlightenment. That’s why it is so important to recite this sutra and to meditate on it.

It is a very powerful method to purify the obstacles to achieve realizations, the path to enlightenment for sentient beings, to liberate ourselves and to liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. When Lama Tsongkhapa asked Manjushri, “What is the method to achieve full enlightenment?” Manjushri advised him to purify the obstacles to achieve realization of the path to enlightenment, to collect merits that are a necessary condition for having realizations of the path to enlightenment, and to pray to the guru with single-pointed devotion. That one is to receive the guru’s blessing in our own heart. Through single-pointed devotion, by looking at guru as the Buddha and seeing the Buddha, we receive the blessings of the guru. And from the blessings of the guru, we receive the realizations of the path to enlightenment.

The fourth part is the actual body, meditating on the path to enlightenment. Here, this is practicing confessing the downfalls. This is part of what Manjushri advised Lama Tsongkhapa on how to achieve enlightenment through the practice of purification.

[Rinpoche continues the lung

Some of the lamrim lineage lamas add the names of the seven Medicine Buddhas after the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names. This makes the recitation extremely powerful. By reciting the Medicine Buddhas’ names, all our wishes and all our prayers succeed. It’s a very powerful purification. Even though each one has so much benefit, the essence is that.

[Rinpoche continues the lung]

The coughing is not part of the oral transmission! It’s just an extra! In case somebody thinks that.

Now the general confession, and in particular confessing the broken pratimoksha, bodhisattva and tantric vows.

[Rinpoche continues the lung]

Another very powerful practice is the Dorje Khadro burning offering practice that Manjushri gave to Lama Tsongkhapa with one of the golden Dharmas. It’s so powerful for purifying negative karma and restoring degenerated samaya vows. This practice is highly admired for that and to eliminate obstacles. This is the instruction from Buddha Vajradhara; it is one of the heart practices of Lama Tsongkhapa, so it has great blessing.

[Rinpoche continues the lung]

Some other parts of the lung we’ll do at another time. That’s enough tonight. 


Yesterday, I started to explain why it’s important to learn as much as possible, why so many teachings are given, rather than spending the whole time just sitting in meditation. I started, but then I went somewhere else! It sort of expanded. I didn’t get to finish that part.

The essence of the advice is that whatever we practice, we must first analyze the practice we are going to spend our whole life doing. We must analyze, we must check. Of course, unless we have wisdom, we can’t check. With ignorance, we can’t check. The more we learn Dharma, Buddhist philosophy, the more wisdom we acquire. Then, we can judge the practices.

When somebody teaches us a practice, we can judge whether it’s correct or not because we have wisdom. When someone teach us any religion, even what’s called Buddhism, we can judge which is right and which is wrong. So, even just having an intellectual understanding of Buddhism is so helpful because we have the wisdom to judge, even if we are not practicing. In that way, nobody can cheat us, nobody can mislead us. If we don’t analyze, if we don’t check, we can easily get interested [in other things] and we get cheated. Like His Holiness’ quote yesterday, “Don’t act like dog.” I think that was also in relation to things appearing as something real from their own side and the fact we immediately grasp onto that. I said “dog” but it should be “animal.” I don’t know why “dog” came into my mind, but His Holiness said “animal.” Without examining, we should not immediately believe in it. 

It’s the same in politics. Even if we are practicing Dharma, it’s the same. What His Holiness said was very extensive. Don’t act like a dog. I’m sorry! Like an animal! Don’t believe something immediately without analyzing it. My advice is the more you learn Buddhist philosophy, the more wisdom you have to discriminate, even what’s called “Buddhism” that somebody teaches you or that you read in a book, you can see whether it’s right and wrong. And the same with other religions. In that way, nobody can cheat you. The more wisdom you have, the less danger and more safety you have and the less chance that somebody can cheat you. As far as Buddhism is concerned, even having an intellectual understanding without practicing is still so beneficial.

There was a Kopan monk called Thubten Sherab, one of the very intelligent ones, who left many years ago. He translated at Nalanda Monastery in France for many years for one of the great teachers, Geshe Jampa Tegchok. I don’t know how many years he translated for him. Then, he disrobed and went to Spain, working there. He’s the kind of person who hides nothing; he tells people everything, bad, good, anything. He told me that working in Spain, he saw so many people with so many problems, with so much suffering. And he told me that because he has some Dharma knowledge, something that allowed him to think, he didn’t suffer in the way many other people in Spain did. Because the people didn’t know the Dharma, there was so much emotional suffering, but because he had learned something [about Dharma], he was able to think about that and he didn’t have the problems that those other people had.

Analysis is very important; studying is very important, I think, because if we don’t study we don’t have much wisdom, then we will follow anything that looks interesting. Then our life goes in the wrong direction. Then, so many years of our precious life goes on the wrong path. We meditate for so many years without much result. Nothing happens. We waste our life, this precious human body that comes once. 

I don’t think there’s such a thing as momentary enlightenment, enlightenment for just a minute. I don’t believe in that. I don’t accept that. How is it possible we can become enlightened and then after that we become a suffering being again. How is it possible? That means, if we become a suffering being again, we were never enlightened. If there was no cause of sicknesses, either externally or internally—due to karma—how is it possible to get sick? Not at all, if we have purified karma and delusion, the cause of suffering, and those subtle defilements.

I started to talk about this yesterday, but I left out some clarification, so maybe sometime tomorrow I’ll clarify it when we talk about the Buddha. The Buddha is the only one where things appear merely labeled by the mind, where they appear back merely labeled by the mind. Not even the higher bodhisattvas have this. Even if they have the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, except in equipoise meditation, there’s still the hallucination of true existence.

Anyway, what I was saying before? After we have actualized the whole graduated path that ceases all the defilements—first the gross, then subtle—we become fully enlightened. Then, it’s impossible that we become a suffering being again; there’s no cause. Believing we can become momentarily enlightened, enlightened for a minute, is due to not having studied even the four noble truths well, about the cessation of suffering and the true path, the whole process. To believe we can become momentarily enlightened is illogical. That’s impossible.

It’s very easy to be drawn into these wrong, illogical kind of teachings. They sound nice, but there’s great danger our whole life can get wasted. Nothing gets achieved; nothing happens, even collecting extensive merit doesn’t happen. This is just to let you know to be careful after this course. Maybe you will be tempted to engage in another practice, even if it’s also called “Buddhism.” Before you do that, analyze it well; that’s very important. I was going to mention that the other day, but I went on to another subject. 

I think this is the first time George [Churinoff] has led a Kopan course. It’s not the first time he’s come to Kopan. How many years have you been a monk. Twenty? Thirty? Twenty-eight? He has been monk for twenty-eight years. He’s an antique! He’s one of the FPMT antiques. I’m not sure whether he accepts that or not. I’m not sure. He studied with many great teachers for many years. He is one of the old Sangha, and not just one with that many years as a fully ordained monk, he has also studied for many years and he is a very good teacher. That’s all. Thank you very much.


[Dedication prayers in Tibetan]

That we have this incredible opportunity to make our lives so meaningful to follow path to enlightenment is solely due to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Therefore, we dedicate our merits to His Holiness having a stable life. May all his holy wishes be successful immediately and may they be fulfilled. Then, we have received guidance from Lama Yeshe, who is kinder than all the three-time buddhas, even though we don’t see him in that form. Coming to Kopan Monastery and attending the course, learning all these teachings of the Buddha that help our mind, so in the future we can achieve enlightenment and enlighten all sentient beings, all this is by the kindness of Lama Yeshe. Even though we don’t see him in that aspect, his guidance is happening to us; we are receiving guidance from Lama Yeshe. So, we pray for whatever wishes Lama had to be actualized for sentient beings in this organization, and that Lama Ösel Rinpoche shows the same qualities as Lama Tsongkhapa and offers skies of benefit to sentient beings, the same as the Buddha. 

[Dedication prayers in Tibetan]

“May all the father and mother sentient beings have happiness and may the three lower realms be empty forever. May all the bodhisattvas’ prayers succeed immediately and may I be able to cause all this to happen by myself alone.

“Due to all the three-time merits collected by me, the three-time merits collected by others, may I be able to offer limitless skies of benefit to sentient beings, just like Lama Tsongkhapa, by having the same qualities within me as Lama Tsongkhapa has from now in all the future lifetimes.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three-time merits collected by others, may I and my family members, all of us here and all the students and supporters in this organization, those who have given over their lives to the organization, doing service to sentient beings, may we and all the sentient beings, in all our lifetimes, meet only perfectly qualified Mahayana gurus, and from each sentient being’s side, may we see them only as enlightened beings, as pure. May we only do actions that please the holy minds of the virtuous friends, from the side of each sentient being and from our side, and may we and all sentient beings be able to fulfill the wishes of the virtuous friend. May this happen in all lifetimes.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three-time merits collected by others, may all the needs of the entire organization be completed without delay of even a second. May we be able to complete the five-hundred-foot Maitreya Buddha statue without any obstacle. May it abide in this world, and when Maitreya Buddha comes, may that cause all sentient beings to collect extensive merits, purify all the defilements, and especially be the cause to actualize bodhicitta in everyone’s heart. May it bring perfect peace and happiness in this world and bring all sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible.”

“May all the other projects I mentioned last night be actualized immediately. By actualizing bodhicitta in everyone’s heart in this world, may nobody experience war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, the dangers of fire, water, air or earth. Wherever it is happening now, may it be stopped immediately, and may nobody in this world experience any of these problems forever.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three-time merits collected by others, that which are merely labeled by mind, merely imputed by the mind, may the I, who is also merely imputed by the mind, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which is also merely imputed by the mind, and lead all sentient beings, who are also merely imputed by mind, to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which is also merely imputed by mind, by myself alone, who is also merely imputed by mind.

“Just as the brave Manjushri and Samantabhadra realized things as they are, I dedicate all these virtues in the best way, that I may follow their perfect example. May the general teachings of the Buddha, and in particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, flourish forever in this world. May they spread in all the directions and be completely actualized within my own heart and in the hearts of all of us, of all the students and benefactors in this organization, in the hearts of all of those who devote their lives to doing service to sentient beings and to the Buddha, and in the hearts of everyone in this world without delay of even a second.”

[Dedication prayers in Tibetan]

So, good night. I talked for a very long time!