Golden Light Sutra in Portland (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Portland, USA 2007 (Archive #1667)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this commentary and partial oral transmission of the Sutra of Golden Light at Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, USA, over two days, November 2-3, 2007. Note that the first three audio files contain introductory teachings and the oral transmission commences in Chapter Four.

Rinpoche advises recitation of the Sutra of Golden Light every day. In support of this advice, FPMT has created a webpage dedicated to the Sutra of Golden Light. You will find a complete oral transmission as well as links for downloading the text in various languages, advice on the benefits and a page for reporting your recitations.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa College, Portland, USA, 2010. Photo: Marc Sakamoto.
4. Benefits of Golden Light Sutra

And dedicate each word that I hear, that I listen to, may it be most beneficial for all sentient beings and immediately actualize the path within me, and may the cause, when other sentient beings hear the words from me, may the cause to actualize the path within them—the bodhicitta, renunciation, wisdom realizing emptiness, so forth—be the path to enlightenment within them, within the hearts of sentient beings instantly. The minute when they hear my words from me, dedicate this. So gives the mind power, due to power of mind when we generate a wish like this, then things can happen.

And then think that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is giving me the Golden Light Sutra teaching, so that I, like a bridge or something, like oracle, like medium oracle using the body, so like that, so giving you the oral transmission. That means all the buddhas giving oral transmission, so this way, while you listen if you think like that, then you feel you’re connected with all the buddhas. You’re guided by all the buddhas.

[Rinpoche starts the oral transmission of the Golden Light Sutra]

Also useful to think when you are listening to Dharma that each word, each word liberates from samsara, from the oceans of suffering of samsara. Each word brings me to enlightenment, then you think, then you know each word is so precious, wish-fulfilling, it’s all wish-fulfilling, each word is all wish-fulfilling for you. So that can help also to concentrate.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission of the Golden Light Sutra]

So here just a few drops, what I was going to say, then never finished so took a long time, so says then that cleaning the body and then listening to the teaching the Golden Light Sutra with the virtuous thought. So normally, I think it’s good after washing, then to clean the body, washing or either bath or whatever, cleaning the mouth, face, the hands. However, after washing, either bath or whatever and then, clean. Then you lit incense to the Golden Light Sutra, so then there’s a lot of unbelievable merit to offer incense, offering to the sutra, so then read.

When the place where the Golden Light Sutra is read, where the teaching is given, there’s many protectors that come, so there’s many other beings come. So it is said to offer incense which has different incense [puja?], so during the Golden Light Sutra offer incense continuously. And also seven days where the teaching is given there’s protectors, beings, they stay under the throne or around the throne for seven days, because the teaching is so precious. So there are many other, maybe so much karma, even to bring the lama from the place, from the house where the lama is, where give teachings, then to the place where the teaching is given, so there’s procession with the umbrella, extensive procession from there to that place where the teaching is given.

So the people who doing procession, bringing each step, you many eons duration to be in samsara becomes shorter with each step, many eons, I don’t remember how many but huge, many eons that comes there, you know when you bring the lama to give the Golden Light Sutra, so people will receiving, so each step those people received and been driving car, late, maybe not sleeping, but driving car. So each step is many eons, I don’t remember what the number, unbelievable, becomes short, your duration to be in samsara becomes shorter, so it’s unbelievable even just for that benefit.

So here, so if you listen to the sutra, by the many versions of this sutra then all the sentient beings’ harm get pacified, harm to you get pacified and so many pretas, many tens, many millions of, many tens of millions of [_?] and the guardians and these protect you, so many [_?] so like that.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So what the Buddha is saying here, the extremely profound with [_?] of the Buddha’s holy mind, only Buddha can, omniscient mind can see every single benefit of the Golden Light Sutra-- listening, explaining—so this is secrecy of all the Buddha, so this is hard to, difficult to find for ten million eons, but this sutra I’m going to explain here.

A person who is listening to this sutra, who is expounding to others, and who is rejoicing in somebody listening, and somebody giving, so even those who are rejoicing and those who make offerings, so nagas, devas, nagas, human beings, [Tibetan] the eight groups of protectors. They get in human form taking teachings, so they called [Tibetan] and asuras, so many they make offering to you for ten millions of eons, so there’s even just listening. And if somebody who is rejoicing there’s somebody listening to the Golden Light Sutra, or somebody explaining and making offerings, so even somebody making offerings to the person who is listening or, so you see, then you become the object of other sentient beings, so many sentient beings’ offerings, and so those sentient beings who make offerings to that person who is listening to the Golden Light Sutra, explaining, who are making offerings to one who is listening, one who is explaining, so they collect, those sentient beings who make offerings numberless merit, they collect by making offerings to the person, sentient beings who are listening to the Golden Light Sutra and who are explaining.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

The first chapter is done, fortunately.

[Rinpoche continues chanting]

In order to benefit sentient beings the Buddha left the relics, manifested.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So the sentient beings making offerings to the relics of Buddha and doing service to the relics, doing service to the relics, so it means bringing the relics or making place for relics, however all that, making offerings, bring the relics [ _?]. So the service to the relics is due to because, due to Buddha’s compassion, due to the root of merits.

Anybody who makes offerings to the relics, do service to the relics in the future, they will be free from eight states that which has no freedom to practice Dharma. So they will be free from those eight states:

  1. No freedom to practice Dharma, being born in the hells;
  2. No freedom to practice Dharma, being born in the hungry ghosts;
  3. No freedom to practice Dharma, being an animal;
  4. No freedom to practice Dharma by being a barbarian;
  5. Long life god or so forth, like that;
  6. Then a heretical being, heretical being, no freedom to practice Dharma;
  7. Being in a place where Buddha hasn’t descended; and no freedom to practice Dharma;
  8. And mentally being a fool, also no opportunity, no freedom to practice Dharma.

So you’ll be free from those, you’ll be free from those non-freedoms, eight non-freedoms and you will meet, by doing service to the relics, then you will meet buddhas in the future lives, and you will have virtuous friend in the future lives. You won’t give up bodhicitta, and all your merits will get increased, and then you will quickly be liberated from this bondage of to be in samsara. So many important benefits.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So the second chapter is done.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So here it is said, Buddha is saying that by hearing this Golden Light Sutra, then will never get reborn in the hell realms, animals, pretas, and the asuras, and always you will get reborn in the devas, human beings. You will never get reborn in the lower realms, and always you will offer, always you will offer service, respect, offer service to Buddha, and always you will listen to Dharma and able to hold Dharma, and you get reborn in the pure land of Buddha so that’s it because, because having heard this profound, extremely profound holy Dharma.

So that’s listening to this teaching, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable, priceless, priceless, unbelievable protection from the lower realms, reincarnating in the hells, hungry ghosts, animal realms. So even one day, even within one hour, even us who are trying to practice Dharma, but there’s more nonvirtuous thought arises within the hour, and very difficult to find any virtuous thought arise even within one hour, even within one day. You see, even virtuous, I mean it’s very difficult to arise virtuous thought, if it arising, but it’s very few, mostly nonvirtue.

So then all the actions done out of that become nonvirtue, negative karma. Even doing, even some verse, I mean depending on some people, even doing prayers, meditation becomes negative karma, nonvirtue, because the motivation is nonvirtue, attachment, looking for power, and looking for power, and long life and health, and all that so just the attachment to this life. So therefore all those, even meditation, what appears to be spiritual practice, but it becomes negative karma. So like chanting mantras, prayers for this life, free from problems for this life, so think that, so also become, done with attachment, then becomes negative karma, so like that.

Then you can imagine that a week, a month, a year from the birth how many negative karmas collected, can’t imagine. So then from beginningless rebirth that we haven’t finished experiencing karma, that we haven’t purified so many so then listening to these teachings unbelievable purification and protection from those many eons of suffering in the lower realms. Unimaginable eons suffering in the lower realms, so this is unbelievable protection listening to this Golden Light Sutra.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

The reading the Golden Light Sutra also helps very much for the leader of the country, the leader of the country doesn’t get harmed, cannot be harmed by the enemy from the other side, the enemy by become more power, cannot harm the leader of the country where the Golden Light Sutra is read. And then eliminates all the sicknesses and have long life and auspicious. And also the wheel of Dharma, perfect Dharma with happiness and so then harmonious among the families and then receive respect from others and harmonious so many things like that. Also the leader of the country doesn’t get harmed by others, other enemy parties, then also country, country it becomes a great protection for the country, doesn’t get, cannot be harmed by enemies, by other countries cannot harm.

So a few years ago when I was in Mongolia, because I hadn’t read the Golden Light Sutra. I discovered this in Mongolia, one Mongolian doctor who was in Delhi, we met. The Delhi Tushita, our meditation center, Tushita Mahayana Centre in Delhi, the director is professor from Delhi University. So her sister is married to a Mongolian doctor. So then the first time, when I went to Mongolia didn’t meet, second time I met him, then went to his house. So in his house there very high on the wall there are a few texts wrapped with a very old, a very, very old black cover, so very highly respected, very high up, so I was curious.  So I said, but I think it must be a Buddha, must be Buddha’s action, you know Buddha’s action, you know, I think they’re guiding me or they, either guiding me or through me, however.

The first text, I didn’t get to see other texts, but the first text he brought down was the Golden Light Sutra, I think the middle version, I think. So the Golden Light Sutra is very famous in Mongolia, almost every family has. Many families have this text, and then I don’t know who, I don’t know who introduced to Mongolia, either the Seventh Dalai Lama, the Seventh Dalai Lama propagated Dharma, so that’s been unbelievable strong Dharma spread established in Mongolia. So many, so many learned geshes, top, very, so many happened in Mongolia.

There’s one monastery, Ganden Monastery, 100,000 monks. There’s no probably monastery in Tibet have the 100,000 monks. So they said that when they go pipi, when the monks go out, when the monks go out pipi, so you have a break, so they said that in the ditch of the pipi, what the 100,000 monks, when they go pipi, there’s a ditch. So the pipi carries child, pipi in the ditch, in the pipi, can carry like a four year child, can carry, can be drawn or can be carried, so there’s a saying, can be drawn or can be carried. That’s what they say. So, so many monks to show the 100 monks that in Mongolia in the past.

So I think a very strong with a Lama Tsongkhapa initiation [?], so I think, so I don’t know who. I think in Mongolia also too many other countries in the past, so many countries in the West I think grow so powerful. However, I think some, I don’t know which lama introduced, probably much interest to them the Golden Light Sutra.

So I opened, so the first line I saw was, “By hearing this all the negative karma gets purified.”

So that advertisement, that, so anyway that line, what I saw first, that hooked me, so that hooked me, so I said, “Can I borrow this text?” So he said, “Yes,” so I didn’t have time to read there, went to one, I thought to read at a shopping place where there’s a lot of people then you read, sit down and read, so that many people can hear, but I went to one place, huge place where there’s Mongolian boots, boot, Mongolian their shoes, boots, full Mongolian boots, and there’s some covers and there’s no place to read.

So then outside of the house, there was some people [_?] and that didn’t happen. So then when I came to New York, so that time Kyabje Ribur Rinpoche was doing retreat at Richard Gere’s house, Rinpoche I think one year. So Rinpoche asked me to come there to do retreat. So I went there to do retreat. So I think the American, Geshe Michael, he just came back from Mongolia, so I thought he might have text. So he didn’t have, but his student had, so I read when I was at Richard Gere’s house. So normally I’m very lazy, I carry three suitcases of other texts, but I don’t read.

So I read that, unbelievable benefit for sentient beings, so I put my head and made a vow to benefit the world by this text. So now how many languages? So, maybe nine languages have been translated. So first one is Spanish. So I’m, when very happy of this offering service, a little service to Buddha, to fulfill Buddha’s holy wishes, that Buddha left this precious teaching in the world, so to spread out in different language.

I think it was translated in, during the Second World War in German language by some professor there. So that’s something to rejoice and to have a translation gradually into many, many languages, spread all over the world so to provide peace and happiness to this world and peace and happiness for individual beings and throughout all their lives up to enlightenment. So take care of them.

So I told, so I went to see the Mongolian president who was a lawyer before, who helped the center in Mongolia. So I offer my suggestion that because Mongolia seems very insecure, so there’s also danger from Mainland China and many things, so I offered my suggestion to, in each city every year invite one hundred monks in each city and read this one hundred times for protection for Mongolia. So then he took interest, and he asked one young man who does activities between monastery and him, the president. I don’t know what happened or not, so anyway, but I thought to offer, anyway, the idea. Where there’s something very easy you can do, and if you don’t do it, then there’s a great loss, so for the protection of the country, whatever it is, like that.

So this third chapter is finished. So maybe stop soon, very soon anyway, just a warning. So maybe a little bit and then stop there.

I think it’s mention there, but also you have to have a lot of merit to listen to these teachings, cause, preparation is in the past, lots of merit collected to hear this, so you must rejoice. So put some feeling in that.

[Rinpoche continues with the oral transmission]

This section of confession it says, The Chapter of Confession in a Dream, it says. So here it talks about, you know, and the Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, the Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, so the great enlightened being, Pabongka, he mentioned that how for practice of purification, mentioned this [Tibetan] The Confession from this Golden Light Sutra, he mentioned this chapter. And he mentioned that many other, in Tibet, I think, some people recite some, it’s not Buddha’s teaching, but something [Tibetan], that’s some text from Buddha. So some people they don’t know Dharma so they recite this everyday in daily practice, in the daily recitation they recite so much those doesn’t look so much like something, those some texts, it’s in the gold collections of the collections of the various methods. the [Tibetan]. So some people it’s daily, like a commitment recitation, they recite so much, so great enlightened Pabongka is saying, he says has no meaning so must recite like this Confession Prayer from the Golden Light Sutra.

So this is regarded very powerful purification, so then also by the way you receive the oral transmission lineage of this confession practice or if you’re doing, see, there.

The purpose of the lung, oral transmission, importance of this is that by receiving the lung, the oral transmission, I think lung, I saw in the text, meaning “lung” is oral transmission, it means something which leaves positive imprint on your mental continuum, in other words, it leaves positive imprint on your mental continuum. So since you have to hear, I think you have to hear the words, so if you don’t hear the words then I’m not sure, I mean, I think it depends on the lama who I mean by hearing just voice, I mean someone who has higher realization, just hearing the voice your negative karma gets purified.

So depending the level the lama’s attainment, even just being there, even just being around nearby, then you receive blessings, your negative karmas get purified, even being in the neighborhood, or even around the house. Yogi who has realizations of the clear light illusory body, then like practicing Heruka, like that, then the neighbors nearby, they also receive blessings, their negative karmas get purified, so like that. So no question about, even one _ who has high like that, then of course, even if you hear the voice, no question somebody who like that. So myself many eons to become like that, so anyway, that very many benefits like that, so even if you don’t hear the words.

So one time Lama Ösel, Lama Ösel when he was at Kopan, so one day he came in my room and he laid down, rolled like this on the floor. Then he said, “If I tell people I’m not Buddha, then they believe I’m Buddha. If I tell people,” he says, “If I tell people I’m not Buddha,” him, letting him, you see, “I’m not Buddha,” then people believe he’s a Buddha. “But you never tell Buddha, I’m Buddha, that’s not right. But if you tell I’m not Buddha, they believe I’m Buddha.” So it’s like that, you know. Lama said, suddenly came in the room and playing on the floor like this, then he said that, probably somebody hear from whom sit outside. If you say, “I’m not,” then people believe you are. So it’s difficult.

So the lung, oral transmission, so one thing leaves positive imprint on your mind and then from that, sooner or later, in the future life, in the future you meet Dharma again. Then that time, unbelievable easy to, the minute when you hear, you understand the meaning. Then like that, so easy to understand words, meanings, unbelievable easy, then you become expert in that, then you are also able to practice to have realizations, then that having attained the path ceases the defilements, that’s how you achieve liberation, enlightenment.

So the listening to the teachings, oral transmission has great importance, like this. So even general listening to the teachings, teachings of the Buddha has this great benefit that brings to enlightenment.

So like the story that Vasubandhu, the great pandit, the Indian, those great pandit who wrote the Abhidharmakosha. Abhidharmakosha, of course based on Buddha’s teachings, he wrote, the very vast teachings of Buddha, he wrote Abhidharmakosha. So then he was reciting every day, there’s a pigeon above his hermitage, the pigeon hears every day. And then one day the pigeon died, so he checked with his clairvoyance where the pigeon is reincarnated. He saw the pigeon was reincarnated in the same area, way down there, in the area in one family. So I think he went down, asked the family, he saw the child whose past life was a pigeon, so then he asked the family whether I can have that child. So the family offered the child to him, and then he took that child and then became a monk and became his disciple, called [Tibetan], and he, then he became expert in the teaching Abhidharmakosha which he heard when he was a pigeon in the past life. So he wrote four commentaries, wrote four commentaries on that. But then he did not hear, when it comes to Madhyamaka teachings, he had difficulties to understand, because in the past life he did not hear much the Madhyamaka subject, the teachings. That’s explained by Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche.

So therefore, so you have to understand as far as the Buddhadharma, as far as the Buddhadharma, listening to the Buddha’s teachings, as far as the Buddha’s teachings that one benefit you get higher rebirth the next life, deva, human rebirth, you get liberated from the lower realms, purify cause of the lower realms, you get higher rebirth by listening to the Dharma even if you don’t understand. As long as it’s the teaching of Buddha, it has that special benefit.

First, you get higher rebirth and second, then you meet the Buddhadharma again in that life, you meet the Buddhadharma again, you become expert in the teachings that you received in the past lives. So like that, that’s how it becomes very easy to have attainment and to achieve enlightenment, so like that.

And then, the other one is when you teach others, when you explain, when you recite for others it has great benefit to other sentient beings’ mental continuum, so that’s the other one, that’s the benefit of why what the lung, oral transmission is important. And then also when you practice, when you recite, when you study for yourself it has more greater effect, so there’s a lineage of blessings, so it’s lineage from Buddha. Golden Light Sutra transmission, there’s a lineage, unbroken lineage from Buddha, so like that, you receive blessings.

So this confession you beat the drum and then it’s talking about a dream, anyway dedicating for sentient beings, so many problems to be pacified and to have  achieve [_?] and then from confessing the various negative karmas, like that.

So I thought at LMB, Land of Medicine Buddha, so in the future to have large Medicine Buddha Temple inside there’s 100,000 Medicine Buddha statues and outside to have Chenrezig statues where the people do nyung-nä, so to be like that. So to have very large drum, very large drum, maybe bigger than this hall. I’m joking, anyway, very large drum, so people can beat the drum and do this prayer for the center, the confession practice and the many prayers dedicating for sentient beings, so I think the drum can be an offering, I think that, I was thinking to so in the near future, when the temple is done.

So this is about nearly to finish.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So I recited this with a pure mind and then prostration, praise, and dedication, and reciting this it purifies. One doesn’t get reborn for sixty eons, one doesn’t get reborn in the lower realms, so one I think maybe purifies that many eons of negative karma, I think.

[Rinpoche continues oral transmission]

So Buddha [_?] expounded to bodhisattva [Tib: Zevatog?],3 so it said in your dream from the golden drum, then expressing the qualities of buddhas and confessing all the negative karmas, so this prayer anybody who hear this will have extensive heaps of merits and will, these people who hear this will benefit so many sentient beings and they will be satisfied by happiness and their negative karma, all their defilements will be purified. So you should know this, Buddha told bodhisattva [Tib: Zevatog?]. So those people, all those people who listen to this confession prayer, all their negative karma will be purified.

So it says here, as I mentioned before, you have to have enough merit collected in order to listen to these teachings, much merit, so that’s what the Buddha said here, so such a special, extraordinary, able to engage in this conduct. That’s because in the past, that you have, you know, those people see who heard this teaching, in the past they have praised tathagatas, buddhas, and they did extensive prayer in the past and that’s the cause of able to hear this teaching: Golden Light Sutra confession and due to their blessings with tathagatas. Tathagatas bless those people who listen to these teachings, then that’s why they hear this teaching, it says.

So same as the rest, exactly to us.

[Rinpoche continues to chant]

So the fourth chapter, the fourth chapter is done. So maybe stop here and then the other chapter we do in a dream, go to bed and then maybe we can do in the dream, anyway, I don’t know, might do.

[Rinpoche speaks with Yangsi Rinpoche in Tibetan]

Maybe to do a little bit tomorrow morning.


3 The bodhisattva Ruchiketu. See Chapters 3 and 4 of the Golden Light Sutra. [Return to text]