Kopan Course No. 31 (1998)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1087)

Lamrim teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the 31st Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in Nov–Dec 1998. 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.

8. The Power of Tantra

December 9, 1998

Is there any point to ignorance?

It makes no sense at all to continuously allow ignorance to arise; it’s totally nonsense. It’s totally crazy that we allow these afflicted emotions to arise, these delusions to these causative phenomena which are in this nature. It’s childish; it doesn’t make sense. It has no meaning, no purpose.

If we analyze this concept of inherent existence, this ignorance, we see that, while the subject—the doer, the I, and the aggregates—as well as the action and the object of that action—in fact all phenomena that exist—while they are in reality totally empty from their own side, not existing at all from their own side, they do exist, but they exist in mere name. The way they exist is nothing extra than that. But we let our mind believe that they exist inherently, we let our mind hold on to them as inherently existent, seeing the inherently existent I as true, as the real I that appears from there is true, true in the sense that it can be found as it appears. And it is the same with the rest of phenomena. We think in that way. We let our mind believe and hold onto the hallucinations as if they are true. This has no meaning. This is totally nonsense. There is no purpose for this. Is there purpose for this? Has somebody found a purpose?

Student: Sure! Maybe ignorant minds are able to handle it.

Rinpoche: Able to handle it?

Student: I mean because we’re ignorant we need a label to be able to handle it. If you don’t have a label, you can’t.

Rinpoche: Can you repeat one more time?

Student: If you’re very ignorant, you need some security in your life. That’s why you put labels on [things]. That’s why you need them. So the purpose if you’re ignorant is to grasp onto things.

Rinpoche: “Grasp?” What do you mean, “grasp?” Do you mean “cling?” You need something to grasp onto, something to cling to?

Student: Something to hold in your life. Something to fix in your life. Like a baby needs a mother to hold. Ignorance needs the labels to grasp onto.

Rinpoche: Ignorance needs a label? Did you say ignorance needs a label? Mmm. Wisdom doesn’t need a label, only ignorance? Huh?

Student: Maybe. I don’t know!

Rinpoche: I think ignorance is very kind because it not only labels all the suffering but also labels “enlightenment” and “path.” All the paths. So it is very kind! I’m only joking.! But what happens if you don’t give ignorance a chance to arise?

Student: That’s a concept beyond my ignorance!

Rinpoche: What happens if you don’t allow ignorance to arise? Is it better or not? What is better? Which way is better for life?

Student: If you don’t have it, sure.

Rinpoche: If you don’t have it?

Student: Not having ignorance must be better. But you are born with a whole history, so you are probably born ignorant.

Rinpoche: Maybe it’s the fault of the monkeys! Because human beings came from monkeys! Ignorance came from monkeys, maybe gorillas! I’m joking. Or from the water, from the ocean, which is where everything evolved from in biology, in science. It goes back to the oceans, to bubbles or something. Monkeys are the nearest in evolution to human beings but then it got down to water, to some bubbles or something like that, if you go back in biology to the evolution of life. The very original life came from water; it started from bubbles or something like that, maybe from the bubbles children play with! I’m joking.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that, when we allow the mind to become ignorant, we let our mind believe in this way, holding onto the inherently existent I as true, as well as all the rest of phenomena. There’s no purpose of that. It has no meaning. It doesn’t make any sense to create this thought. It is total nonsense because, by creating this thought, which is a wrong concept, this produces all the other delusions, which motivate karma, which then creates the whole of samsara from that. Death—something we don’t want to think about, we are scared to even think about—comes from there, from this ignorance, from this thought; it is created by this. Every sickness [comes from there]. When we have a migraine headache, something which is utterly unbearable, it was created by this wrong concept, ignorance; it has come from this. This is only one example. This sickness is just one of the uncountable sufferings of samsara, one of the 424 sicknesses. If we think of all those sicknesses that are unbearable, they are all created by this ignorance, by this wrong concept.

When we have unbelievable relationship problems, so heavy we can’t breathe, we feel we can never move, we feel we are suffocated, like being ground to dust under a huge mountain, like our life has been put in a sack, in a container—when we have relationship problems like this, they were all created by this ignorance, this wrong concept. Even though day and night we eat the most expensive food, costing thousands of dollars, it has no taste; we can’t enjoy it. We might live in an expensive apartment or a five-star, six-star, seven-star or even ten-star hotel, something that is so expensive and has every comfort, but we can’t enjoy life at all. Even though physically our body is there, our mind cannot enjoy it. We can’t sleep at night. This whole suffering life, this painful mind that can’t see any light in life, that is totally dark, totally depressed, totally unhappy, seeing the outside world as unhappy, thinking we are unhappy inside, this was created by this ignorance, by this wrong concept. While there is no such I, we let ourselves believe that there is such an I there. Simply by this thought, we are forced to experience every problem, every suffering. We have to experience sufferings that are like the ocean, and this is just the sufferings and problems of human beings, without talking about those very heavy sufferings of the hell beings, as well as those of the hungry ghosts and animals.

If we watch the people who come into a hospital, we only see one particular sickness. That problem is only one sickness, not the whole problem, not all the sufferings from the oceans of samsaric suffering. If we just look at all the people in hospital, there are so many different sicknesses, it’s so unbearable, so unbearable. Even if we don’t have that sickness, just looking [at those people] is so unbearable.

There are sicknesses that cannot be cured and, of course, some that through a doctor’s knowledge, through right medicine and right treatment and with the patient’s merit, good karma, can be cured, but that doesn’t mean that the person will never have to experience those sicknesses again. Because the cause of sickness, the karma, is not purified, the seed of delusions is still there. As long as the delusion is there, it creates the karma again and again. Even if we finish one karma, delusion creates another karma. As long as we have delusion, as long as we have ignorance, anger, attachment, those delusions, even if we finish one karma, by going through all the problems, delusion will then create another karma, another cause of sickness, either that same sickness or another. Delusion creates the cause of the problem again and again. And it goes like that, from life to life.

As long as we don’t purify, as long as we don’t destroy the delusion, delusion arises again and again. Until we remove the seed of delusion that is on the mental continuum, delusion arises again and again, again and again. If we don’t actualize the remedy, the path, that which ceases the seed of delusion, as long as that part doesn’t happen, as long as we don’t realize the four noble truths—by realizing true suffering and the true cause of suffering, then by actualizing the true path and achieving the true cessation of suffering—as long as that doesn’t happen, delusion, the seed, is there, and delusion arises again and again, which creates karma again and again. This continues endlessly. The suffering of samsara is like that.

Therefore, all these various sicknesses that we see in a hospital, and all these people that are experiencing things that are utterly terrifying, living a life that is so heavy, all this is created by this ignorance; it has come from this ignorance. It is something that is unnecessary. We have let our mind become ignorant. We have let our mind believe and hold onto this I that appears to be true but which is not true at all, which is totally false, totally non-existent, this real I appearing from there. This is the cause of all the suffering, and it is something that doesn’t make sense. Why we create the very root of all the oceans of suffering doesn’t make sense. Why we let our mind believe and hold onto this false notion doesn’t make sense. It is total nonsense, totally crazy. But this is the thing that produces or creates all these oceans of suffering of samsara.

Anyway, I’ll stop here.


Breaktime should be breaktime from samsara

Make a request to the lineage lamas to grant blessings to gain realizations of the whole path to enlightenment.

Although we don’t normally see the virtuous friend as a buddha or bodhisattva, by using quotations and logic, by doing analytical meditation and then fixed meditation, we can prove that this virtuous friend, who appears from their own side as an ordinary being, is a buddha. With all these quotations, logic, personal experience, we are able to look at them as a buddha. That is analytical meditation. That is the result that will happen, looking at them as a buddha and seeing them as a buddha.

In that way, the mind gets transformed into this pure devotional thought, seeing the virtuous friend as a buddha. After our mind is transformed by guru yoga into the mind of guru devotion, we keep our mind in that state as long as possible. That is fixed meditation. The beginning is analysis, then our mind is transformed into this pure, devotional thought, seeing them as a buddha, and we keep the mind in that state as long as possible. That is fixed meditation.

It is also the same with renunciation and bodhicitta. When we see with all the analysis how samsara is the nature of suffering, our mind totally sees the whole samsara like a nest of the poisonous snakes, like the center of the fire or like the inside of a toilet, a septic tank, as something totally disgusting. We have not the slightest attraction, seeing it is only in the nature of suffering. Before we found samsara attractive, thinking it was beautiful, as a pleasure, as happiness. Now, after the mind is transformed, we see it as it really is, as only suffering. We then keep the mind in that state, in the renunciation of samsara, for as long as possible. That is fixed meditation.

And the same thing with bodhicitta. In order to have the realization, we do it like that. And then for the rest of day we live our life with that experience. In the morning we meditate on the lamrim, transforming our mind into that experience, and then we try to live the rest of the day with that thought. That is a very powerful way to have quick realizations of the lamrim, because not only do we transform our mind into the lamrim during the meditation session, but even during the breaktime, when we break from the sitting meditation. Our breaktime should not be breaktime from the Dharma, just breaktime from sitting meditation.

We should actually understand breaktime in this way. If it is break time from the Dharma, we are creating the cause of samsara, we are creating the cause of the lower realms. Breaktime from the Dharma means we are having a break from the Dharma, and that is what keeps us away from enlightenment and liberation, and that is what creates the cause of samsara, the cause of the lower realms. But now, when we practice the Dharma in the breaktime, and especially the lamrim, renunciation, bodhicitta and emptiness, at that time, that is breaktime from samsara.

I don’t mean we are liberated from samsara, but we are not creating the cause of samsara at that time when our attitude is the renunciation of samsara in breaktime. If our attitude is right view, we are not creating the cause of samsara. Especially, if our attitude is the mind of enlightenment, we are always creating the cause of enlightenment.

Therefore, when we practice the Dharma, it should especially be the lamrim, not just breathing meditation or watching the sensations in order to have some peace of mind, some quiet within us, not that kind of thing, but the lamrim, the three principal aspects of the path: renunciation, bodhicitta and emptiness. When we do that, we are having a break from samsara, a break from the lower realms, because we don’t create the cause during that time. So we should understand it on this way.

The twelve links

Maybe the mandala offering can be done this time before I do the oral transmission of the lamrim.

[Mandala offering]

The refuge, bodhicitta prayer, “I go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha until I achieve enlightenment…” contains two types or practices of refuge: causal refuge and resultant refuge.

“Until I achieve enlightenment” contains the resultant refuge. The purpose of our life is not just to achieve happiness for ourselves, not just to solve our own problems, it is to lead other beings from suffering and bring them to happiness. That is the purpose of our life. In other words, this life, having this precious human body, is not for ourselves but for others. “Others” doesn’t mean only the people that we like, only the people who are friends, it also includes enemies and strangers, all beings without any kind of discrimination, every living being. This also refers to buddhas, bodhisattvas, all sentient beings—this life is for everybody. Our life having this precious human body is for all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and for all sentient beings.

Of course, we can also think that those who practice guru devotion can include the guru along with the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha [when taking refuge]. To cause all the happiness to all sentient beings, including enlightenment, we need to have the Dharma refuge within our mental continuum. Then we ourselves become a Sangha, and through this we become a Buddha. So, “Until I achieve enlightenment…” is our resultant time Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Taking refuge in that, we are relying on that, the resultant refuge.

For that success, we need to rely on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who exist separately from our mental continuum. In order to become a qualified doctor, we need to study by relying upon another qualified doctor. Without that, we alone cannot become a qualified doctor. We need to rely upon another qualified doctor, somebody who is separate from us, whose mind is separate from our mind. Similarly here, for us to be able to become a perfect guide to all other sentient beings, with all the qualities, we need to rely on a Buddha, Dharma and Sangha that exists, possessed by others’ minds. So “Until I achieve enlightenment…” is practicing the resultant refuge, whereas “I go for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha…” contains the practice of the causal refuge, refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha possessed by others’ minds.

“Due to the merits of having collected charity and so forth, may I achieve enlightenment in order to benefit all the transmigratory beings.” Practicing morality, patience, perseverance, concentration, as well as wisdom, whatever merit we have collected by benefiting other sentient beings or by making offering to the holy objects, through various practices, may we achieve enlightenment for all the transmigratory beings.

Geshe Lama Konchog has introduced you to the evolution of samsara, the twelve links. You should bring that understanding here; you should bring in the meaning of the twelve dependent related limbs, that explanation of samsara that contains the result and the cause. The evolution of suffering—the whole package of samsaric suffering—true suffering and the true cause of suffering, the whole thing is explained in the Wheel of Life. It explains the three lower realms in order to show the suffering of pain and the samsaric pleasures of the gods, demigods and humans in order to show the suffering of change. There are seventeen categories [of the god realms] drawn on the Wheel of Life. Some artists draw all seventeen, some don’t. The formless realm has four categories which aren’t included as a part of samsara that is shown, only the seventeen categories of the form realm. It shows the realm where there is no suffering of pain or suffering of change but pervasive compounding suffering, which is the fundamental suffering of those two.

The Wheel shows three animals in the hub [representing] the three poisonous minds and, around that, a black semicircle and a white semicircle [representing] negative karma that is the cause to reincarnate in the lower realms and positive karma that is the cause to reincarnate in the realm of the happy migratory beings.

So, when you say, “Due to the merit of having collected charity and so forth, may I achieve enlightenment in order to benefit all transmigratory beings,” the term “transmigratory beings” contains the whole explanation of true suffering and the true cause of suffering, of delusion and karma. It explains the evolution of samsara, how we transmigrate in the six realms. The whole thing comes in the meaning of “in order to benefit transmigratory beings.”

There are numberless sentient beings and each sentient being in samsara is a transmigratory being. Why? In the twelve links there are three delusions and two actions. Ignorance and craving and grasping are the two delusions that cause us to be reborn in samsara again. Then the two actions are karmic formation or compounding action motivated by ignorance, and becoming. After craving and grasping there is becoming. Like that, there are the three delusions and two actions. In the Heart of Dependent Arising, Nagarjuna says,

The first, eighth and ninth are delusions,
The second and tenth are karma.
The remaining seven are sufferings.

Nagarjuna explained that from the three delusions arise the two actions, and then, from them, the other seven links, which are suffering, arise. The seven results start from name and form. Then there is consciousness on which the karmic imprint is left. There are two traditions. One counts the part of the consciousness as a cause, where the compounding action motivated by ignorance leaves a karmic imprint there; in the other system consciousness is counted as a result, not a cause. Whichever way is followed, they are just different systems. Then, from the seven sufferings again arise the three delusions and the two actions, and then the seven again. So it circles like this. It becomes a wheel as Nagarjuna said, the Wheel of Life. If you think of the twelve links, with the three delusions and the two actions, the beings within samsara have no freedom; they are totally overwhelmed by the karma and delusion. They are forced to transmigrate in that realm and then experience all those problems and sufferings of that realm.

Monkeys don’t choose to be monkeys

One time, when I was going from Dharamsala up to Tushita, the retreat center there, there were monkeys on the road. In Dharamsala there are many monkeys, there are also many monks! On the road that goes up, below Tibetan family houses, there were monkeys. It just made me think that those monkeys didn’t purposely reincarnate as monkeys, they didn’t choose willingly, with free will. They didn’t become monkeys with their own freedom. They had no freedom at all; they were completely overwhelmed by delusion and the negative karma that forced their consciousness, no matter who they were in the past, to take a monkey’s body; they were forced to transmigrate into a monkey’s body. They themselves had not one single freedom, they transmigrated into a monkey’s body totally due to negative karma and delusion. It’s exactly the same with the spider with the long legs, or the mosquito, and there is another one, I don’t know what it’s called. Its body is like a blade of grass, not that much long but the legs very long. What’s the name? [Student: Praying mantis.] Praying mantis? Do you live in the Australian bush or where? [Student: New Zealand.]

Oh, New Zealand. Anyway, I am joking. They look like a blade of grass, with long legs. [Student: grasshopper.] No, not a grasshopper. [Student: Stick insects. They look like a stick. They have legs but they look like a stick, a twig. They actually look like food but they’re an insect.] Anyway, whatever it is, it’s the same. So let’s say a mosquito or a spider. They never took this body willingly, not with free will, not out of choice. Whatever their past life was, it was totally under the control of negative karma and delusion, meaning they migrated into this body, as a spider or mosquito or a worm that has many, many hairs or the one that has so many legs, millions of legs. Anyway, these and snakes, have no freedom; they are totally under the control of karma and delusion, of negative karma, that forces them to migrate into that body and they can do nothing about it. Once their consciousness migrates into that body, what can they do? Nothing. They have to suffer until the karma finishes. How many times will we have to be reborn like that? Until the karma finishes.

Liberation does not just depend on the hand of the Buddha, it also depends on sentient beings’ effort, on sentient beings from their side creating good karma by practicing morality, living an ethical life, living in the vows.

That is the very basis. Then, with concentration and wisdom, sentient beings can cease the delusions, actualize the path and achieve liberation. So from sentient beings’ side, they have to put effort into the practice to create good karma to have the realizations of the path to liberation. Liberation is not only in the Buddha’s hand. Otherwise by now there wouldn’t be a single hell being suffering, there wouldn’t be a single hungry ghost suffering, there wouldn’t be a single animal suffering, there wouldn’t be one single human being suffering. There wouldn’t be a single sentient being suffering if it were only in the hands of bodhisattvas, if it were only in the hands of holy beings, if it were only in the hands of buddhas, especially the Buddha who completed all the qualities. The bodhisattvas haven’t yet completed the path, but the Buddha has completed all the realizations and cessations. So if it were only in the hands of the Buddha, if it were only up to Buddha, there wouldn’t be any sentient beings. The Buddha wouldn’t let even one sentient being suffer for one second, no question the numberless sentient beings. The Buddha’s compassion embraces every sentient being. The Buddha cherishes us many, many thousands of times more than we cherish ourselves. No matter how selfish we are, no matter how much we cherish ourselves, the Buddha cherishes us thousands of times more than we cherish ourselves. That’s how the Buddha’s holy mind is.

Therefore, it is said in the teachings that the Buddha doesn’t have a discriminating thought, where there is a partial mind and partial actions. The example that’s given in the text is of one sentient being putting perfume on one side of the Buddha’s holy body, and on the other side one sentient being is cutting the flesh of the Buddha piece by piece with an axe. Even though the sentient beings’ actions are different—one is making offering, one is harming—from the Buddha’s side there is equal love and compassion for both sentient beings; there is no discrimination.

With an attitude of love and compassion without the slightest discrimination, the actions are only to benefit in the same way. That is the quality of the Buddha, and it is the same thing with the bodhisattvas. It is not only the particular Buddha, but due to having compassion for all sentient beings, that is also the bodhisattvas’ quality. The Buddha wouldn’t let us sentient beings suffer for even a second if it were completely in his hands. But because liberation depends on both the Buddha and us sentient beings ourselves, from our side we must put the effort in, practicing morality, practicing concentration and wisdom, actualizing the entire path, the five paths to liberation. Without that, we cannot attain liberation. It’s half and half; half depends on sentient beings’ karma and half depends on the Buddha.

The Buddha has revealed the path; he has done his job already. If our karma had been purified before, if we had practiced Dharma in previous lives and already purified our karma, this [suffering] wouldn’t happen. But that didn’t happen, we didn’t practice the Dharma, so there’s still delusion and negative karma. Then, without choice, this is what has happened; we have transmigrated into this body. The karma has already ripened, so there is nothing that the numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas can do about it; they cannot liberate us immediately. If that were the case, as I just mentioned before, if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be any hell realm. Achieving liberation and enlightenment depends half on sentient beings and half on the Buddha.

These pitiful creatures, the spider, the snake, the mosquito, have to suffer with this body no matter how long it takes, no matter how many lifetimes, until the karma finishes. It never happens with their choice. They have no such freedom. This spider, this snake, this insect with the long legs, this mosquito, this scorpion, this worm, they themselves have not the slightest freedom. It doesn’t happen through their choice, their free will. In the past they didn’t practice the Dharma, therefore they are totally under the control of delusion and negative karma, causing them to transmigrate into this body.

Therefore, when we think of beings, including the mosquitoes and fish, all these, when we think about the meaning of “transmigrator,” the evolution of the twelve links—how those beings are completely under the control of karma and delusion and must experience all those sufferings, how if we are an animal with an animal realm’s suffering, there is no choice—when we think of that, compassion has to rise. Compassion has to arise when we think of the meaning of transmigratory being for all those fish in the water that people catch, and for each of those sentient beings, the mosquito, who make a lot of noise, woooooo, who irritate us, make us angry, when they fly around us. When we think of these sentient beings, how they themselves have no freedom, how they are transmigrating under the force of karma and delusion and have to experience very heavy suffering until the karma finishes, there is nothing that we can do.

Animal liberation

I’ll just give an example and then I’ll finish. We used to liberate many, many animals, especially in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. This practice of saving life is slowly starting a little bit in the West but hasn’t become popular yet. Of course, you save animals like the dogs, but what I mean is buying animals from the place where they are to be killed and freeing them, that one. In the West, people buy dogs from where they keep the dogs picked up from the street, or maybe somebody who can no longer keep their dog. What is the place? [Student: Pound.] A dog pound. Then, if nobody comes to pick them up, they get “put to sleep.” It’s called “sleep” but anyway, they are killed. After the injection they are going to sleep forever! They never wake up from the sleep. Anyway, I’m joking. So, because of that, many people like to save them and take care of them by themselves, choosing the dog sincerely, not just for their own comfort and happiness or for companionship. Many people do it sincerely for the happiness of the dog.

Anyway, liberating animals happens in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I haven’t yet been to mainland China, so I am not sure if it’s there. Anyway, all three centers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan do a lot of practice. There is always somebody who takes responsibility for this job, a member or student, when people want to save the lives of animals, of birds, frogs and fish.

In Taiwan or Hong Kong—I’m not sure, my mind gets mixed up which place, but maybe in Hong Kong—they hire a whole truck and place very big fish in the water tank with oxygen, then they drive the truck to the water where the fish can be liberated. People come with all their family: children, father, mother, the whole family. All the children and all their friends also engage in the practice of liberating the animals. It’s a very nice practice. On that day, you feel you have offered something, you have done something for the others, something good, something positive. I think that’s to do with the attitude that that day is spent mainly for others. I’m not sure but I think that at other times doing jobs and all this could be mostly for yourself, but on that day, you are doing something for others.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to say this, I wasn’t going to tell some stories, to expand. Once, in the early times in Singapore, we bought a lot of snakes, many frogs and many different types of turtles, and frogs and pigeons and also fish, and a long eel in a box that they had to cut holes in so the eel could breathe. There were many, many frogs and maybe also some insects. Anyway, one time there were a few huge snakes bought from the shop where they are sold for food. It is quite difficult to recite mantras to them. With frogs and those other things, you can blow on them, but the snakes are kind of terrifying because they are in a sack, so it’s kind of difficult. You can visualize the Buddha and purify them, but it is difficult to get close. I was thinking what to do. If you liberate them, they eat mice in the forest; but if you don’t liberate them, they get killed. They are not vegetarian; they don’t go to vegetarian restaurants! If you liberate them in the mountains, they eat mice and other things, especially frogs, but if you don’t liberate them, they get killed. The whole body gets sliced while they’re alive. This is what happens with them and they have an especially long body, so they suffer very much. So, what to do? Both ways cause suffering, both are problems. It’s very difficult to decide what to do. Either they suffer or they create negative karma by killing others, then others have to suffer and they suffer by creating negative karma. I think they didn’t get many mantras blown on them or blessed water sprinkled on them.

Normally, we bless many buckets of water, and many people and all the gurus chant Medicine Buddha mantras and OM MANI PADME HUM, then sprinkle the water over the birds, frogs and others. In this way, their negative karma gets purified and they have a chance to achieve a good rebirth by purifying negative karma. Most people know OM MANI PADME HUM and maybe the Medicine Buddha mantra, but there are many other powerful mantras. There are five very powerful mantras to recite. These are the same ones that you use for people when they are dying or have died, to liberate them. And among these mantras there is one mantra, Stainless Pinnacle, if you recite it seventy-three times if somebody has died, even if that being has been born in the hell realm, they will definitely get liberated from the lower realms. This mantra is very, very powerful. Even if people don’t know this one, everybody usually recites many malas of the Compassionate Buddha mantra and the Medicine Buddha mantra in public, then they blow on the animals, purifying them.

Chenrezig initiation motivation

Today is the particular initiation of Compassion Buddha. There are many different aspects of Compassion Buddha. This is from Rinjung Gyatsa, where there are hundreds of initiations of different deities.  So it’s called the Eleven-face Compassion Buddha, Five Deities. This somehow came out in the divination, according to my divination. So, tonight the Compassion Buddha initiation is this one.

To grant permission to do this practice, there are graduated actions to be done on the side of the lama: the sadhana, the self-generation, the front-generation, blessing the vase and so forth, as well as taking the initiation. Here, it also involves a self-initiation of this deity. The lama has to take this before granting the permission to the disciples to practice. Then there are the graduated actions to be done by the disciples, such as cleaning the mouth by washing with the blessed water, prostrations, distributing flowers and a mandala offering. Just before the mandala offering, there is a torma offering, giving torma to the interferers, the interferers who came not just from Nepal but from the United States and various countries. I’m joking! Anyway, giving torma to the interferers who interfere with us granting and receiving the initiation, which is part of the graduated action of the guru, the lama who grants the permission to practice of the deity. During this time you can meditate on emptiness. Meditating on emptiness is the most powerful one for protection, to eliminate obstacles. Or you can meditate on compassion, generating compassion for sentient beings.

[Rinpoche chants, possibly giving the initiation]

Make a mandala offering, then think the place where you take the initiation is not an ordinary place. You can think of the Potala, the pure land of Compassion Buddha. It is the celestial mansion that is the appearance of Compassion Buddha’s transcendental wisdom, and, by stopping impure appearances, you have to meditate on looking at the lama you take the initiation from, the permission to practice the deity, as the essence of Compassion Buddha. Not only that, also in the aspect of Compassion Buddha.

Protecting the mind

There are different practices regarding devoting to the virtuous friend. The lesser vehicle path, the Hinayana, doesn’t mention visualizing the spiritual master we have established a Dharma connection with as the virtuous friend. What is mentioned is to respect and obey them like the Buddha. In the Mahayana, in the Paramitayana, the way of devoting to the virtuous friend is by looking at them as the Buddha. In the Secret Mantra, the Vajrayana, in tantra, the way of devoting to the virtuous friend is not only looking at them as the Buddha but also visualizing them in the pure form, in the aspect of the deity. That method becomes more skillful, more profound than in the Paramitayana and in the lesser vehicle path. By visualizing as the pure appearance, we stop all impure appearances. Why? In tantra or Secret Mantra, the meaning of “mantra” doesn’t just mean reciting sounds. Usually when we do not know the meaning of mantra, we might think it just means something to pray, but it’s not just that. The chanting is not the meaning of “mantra.” The main meaning of “mantra” is the tantric path that is the quickest method or the quickest path that ceases the defilements, the gross and subtle mistakes of mind. It ceases the defilements quicker than what is explained in the Mahayana Sutrayana. Mantra is the whole tantric path to achieve enlightenment; it’s not just the words we chant, the words we recite. That is a very limited understanding of what “mantra” means. [Microphone makes a sound] I think this one is just so that you can hear my cough clearer than the teachings!

Protecting the mind, that is the actual meaning of “mantra.” Actually, the whole path to enlightenment protects the mind, if we relate it to the lamrim, from guru devotion, perfect human rebirth up to karma and the subjects of the four noble truths. And then there is the path of the higher capable being, bodhicitta, the six perfections and all the foundations of tantra—they are all means of protecting the mind. Protecting the mind is another meaning of “Dharma.” The nature of Dharma, the function of Dharma is that which protects us, which holds us up and protects us from falling down into the lower realms. So of course, that is the very foundation. That is the lowest level of Dharma. When we practice, when our mind and our actions become Dharma, it protects us from falling down into the lower realms. This is the definition of the Dharma that we practice. In Tibetan it is chö, which has two ways to be understood. One chö means “all existence.” Things that hold their own nature, that’s one definition of chö, holding its own nature. But here, when we say “practicing Dharma,” this means to hold us. This Dharma protects us from the suffering, it holds us from, for example, falling down into the lower suffering realms. Of course, it is not only that; it holds us from or protects us from samsara. There can be different levels of meaning of what our Dharma protects us from. However, that and the meaning of “mantra”—protecting the mind—are similar.

With guru devotion, when our mind is transformed into the pure mind of guru devotion, the lamrim protects us from the opposite, the non-devotional thought, the ordinary thought of seeing the virtuous friend as having mistakes, including having heresy and anger toward them. Guru devotion protects us from all these negative thoughts toward the virtuous friend, which are the heaviest negative karma, the heaviest obstacles to having realizations on the path to enlightenment. From this, by then meditating on the perfect human rebirth—its usefulness and how it is difficult to find again—and impermanence and death, the lower realms’ suffering and so forth, the conclusion is that, when our mind is transformed into the lamrim, whether it is the effortful experience or the effortless experience, the actual realization, this protects our mind from suffering.

During that time, it protects us from the attachment clinging to this life, the eight worldly concerns that make us to suffer, that always bring confusion into our life and obstacles to our mind, to our actions becoming pure Dharma. Even if we are not a practitioner, they bring so many problems in our life. The attachment clinging to this life is the main one that doesn’t allow us any satisfaction in life. Whatever different lifestyle we try to live, nothing gives satisfaction because of the eight worldly dharmas, the eight worldly concerns, this attachment clinging to this life. Nothing fundamentally changes when this abides all the time in our heart. No matter how much we change externally, whatever lifestyle we try, nothing gives us happiness, nothing gives satisfaction and peace in the heart.

When our mind and actions become Dharma, because we have transformed our mind into this lamrim meditation, we protect the mind from the attachment clinging to this life, this evil thought of the eight worldly dharmas: craving comfort and happiness, craving receiving material possessions, praise, and a good reputation, and disliking the opposite of these four. When these four don’t happen, we dislike it. These eight concerns are what stop us having peace in our heart, they always torture us. Attachment to these eight worldly concerns makes us suffer so much. Whatever different lifestyle we try to have, as long as no change is done to these, there are always the same problems; we are always tortured. When this has been our attitude in life, all the actions we do become nonvirtuous, because the thought is nonvirtuous, the attachment clinging to this life is nonvirtuous. That means the result is only rebirth in the lower realms; the result is only suffering.

When our mind becomes Dharma, all our actions become Dharma, and this protects us from these eight worldly concerns, the attachment clinging to this life, and from all the negative actions, the negative karma, and all the suffering results of the lower realms. Then, by meditating on bodhicitta, when our mind is transformed into bodhicitta, that protects us from the ego, the self-cherishing thought, which is the main obstacle to achieving enlightenment. The self-cherishing thought doesn’t allow our actions to become the cause of enlightenment, so it is very harmful for all sentient beings because we are unable to develop our mind in the path to enlightenment to be able to benefit all sentient beings. This is also very harmful for us because the best thing in our life is to benefit others, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings and the ego harms that. That means the ego is so very harmful to us. When we practice bodhicitta, it protects us from the ego, the self-cherishing thought where all the obstacles come from, where all the unfavorable conditions, all the problems come from.

When we meditate on the renunciation of samsara, that protects our mind. When the mind is transformed into renunciation, the detached mind that has aversion to samsara by seeing samsara as only in the nature of suffering, as unbearable, that protects us from the cause of samsara, attachment. When our attitude, our mind is transformed into the renunciation of samsara, our actions become the cause of liberation. That directs our life toward liberation, and the actions done out of that motivation also become the cause of liberation.

Similarly, with emptiness, when we meditate on the very nature of the phenomena, when we are looking at things that are empty as being empty, at that time, it protects us from the root of samsara, it protects us from whole of samsara, from all the oceans of suffering of samsara.

When we practice all this basic Dharma, it all has the meaning of protecting our mind. And the very beginning of protecting the mind is guru devotion. When we say that mantra protects the mind, we are specifically talking about how the tantric path protects the mind. After receiving a great initiation, we enter the door of tantra. The door of the tantric path is the great initiation.

The power of tantra

Practicing tantra means practicing pure thought and pure appearances. That means [visualizing our result time now], what we are going to achieve in the future when we become a buddha, the complete pure holy body of the buddha and the completely pure place, the deity’s mandala, which is the appearance of the deity’s completely pure holy mind, the wisdom. We will achieve this in the future; this will happen in the future. Then, when we become enlightened, we do the completely purified actions of a buddha for sentient beings. When we become a buddha, beams of light are emitted from each pore that, even in a minute, a second, liberate and enlighten numberless sentient beings. Each beam emitting from each pore when we become a buddha, even in a minute or a second liberates inconceivable sentient beings from samsara. These are the completely purified actions, in the result time when we become a buddha.

Then there is the completely pure enjoyment, where everything appears the purest form, in the nature of the greatest bliss, because when we become a buddha we have completed both accumulations of merit, the merit of wisdom and the merit of method. As a result, all the mistakes of mind have ceased. As a result, whatever enjoyment appears to a buddha’s senses is completely pure and in the nature of the greatest bliss. This is what we experience when we become a buddha.

These are the four completely purified results in tantra, and when we practice tantra, we visualize it is happening now. We visualize ourselves as a buddha—that buddha we want to achieve in the future we visualize as happening now, and we hold divine pride on that. It’s the same with all the other three—what we are going to achieve in the future we visualize as happening now. We practice pure appearances like this. Looking at everything as pure, we only have pure thoughts; we don’t have impure thoughts. No afflicted minds arise, no delusions arise because, depending on pure appearance, only pure thoughts arise. When we project impure appearance, then only impure thoughts arise. For example, on the basis of the inherently existent appearance, the projection of our ignorance, on top of that, we make up the label, “That person’s way of thinking and talking is bad; that person’s way of behaving is bad.” Then we believe it and become angry. So, with all these impure thoughts, we create impure appearance, then on the basis of inherent existence, which is not there, after that we see all this as bad, as harmful—what the person thinks, what they say, how they behave—and then, after that, we become angry. We create this appearance of “bad,” which makes anger arise. Because the seed of the anger is there, when we create the conditions with our superstitious mind, anger arises. We can see all these thoughts arising because we have impure appearances. Similarly here, with pure appearances, only pure thoughts arise.

Tantra is also based on emptiness. Without meditating on emptiness, there is no way to practice tantra. When the wisdom part is missing, it does not become Vajrayana. Whether we visualize ourselves as the deity or visualize the deity outside, or we visualize the mandala or offerings, if the awareness of emptiness is not there, it does not become Vajrayana. We are just practicing the method, we are not practicing wisdom. Just as a bird with one wing cannot fly, without wisdom, the tantra we are practicing—seeing ourselves as a deity, the mandala, all these things—even if we visualize them all as pure, if the awareness of emptiness is missing, we are visualizing all these things as inherently existent: the inherently existent deity, the inherently existent mandala, the inherently existent enjoyment, offerings—everything is inherently existent. That then becomes wrong practice. It does not even become the remedy to the root of samsara. Without the practice of emptiness, without wisdom, the danger is that our tantra meditation becomes the cause of samsara. If the awareness of emptiness is not there when we practice tantra, it does not become Vajrayana. The “vajra” in Vajrayana refers to the inseparability of these two things, method and wisdom.

In the Paramitayana or Bodhisattva Path, we practice method and wisdom separately. The mind that practices wisdom and the mind that practices method are two separate minds. That is the reason it takes a long time to achieve enlightenment within Sutrayana, three countless great eons. There is no method mentioned where one mind practices both method and wisdom. But tantra uses greater skill, where one mind practices both method and wisdom together. This more skilled method allows us to achieve enlightenment within one life.

We visualize the completely purified holy body of the deity. That is the mind practicing method. Then, with the same mind, at the same time, we simultaneously have the understanding that this deity’s holy body doesn’t have inherent existence. There may be the appearance of inherent existence but we understand at the same time that there’s no inherent existence. Because we are not yet enlightened, there’s the appearance of inherent existence as we visualize the deity’s holy body, but we are aware that this is not true. There is the understanding that the aspect of the deity’s holy body totally lacks inherent existence. This is one mind practicing method and wisdom together. Then it becomes Vajrayana, the “vajra,” the inseparability of the two, method and wisdom. Here, this yoga, this mind concentrating on the deity’s holy body while at the same time understanding that the aspect of this deity’s holy body lacks inherent existence, this becomes Vajrayana.

When we do this meditation that focuses on the deity’s holy body in this way, we are continuously creating the cause of that buddha’s holy body, the rupakaya. And the mind that is simultaneously practicing wisdom, understanding the deity’s holy body is not inherently existent, we are continuously creating the cause of the buddha’s holy mind, the dharmakaya. So, at the same time, we are creating the cause of the dharmakaya and the rupakaya, which is the ultimate goal to be achieved. When our mind becomes Vajrayana, we are continuously creating the cause of those two. The last realization is the ultimate goal to be achieved.

Then, in the highest tantra, it continuously becomes the preparation to actualize the completion path, the method and wisdom, the clear light and illusory body, then, the unification of no more learning, which is the ultimate goal. When we visualize the mandala, even when we are making offerings, the perfect way to do the meditation is supposed to be the same, with the mind focused on the offerings and that same mind understanding that the offerings are not inherently existent. This is to introduce the details, but then, of course, you need to receive the great initiation, otherwise it cannot really be explained because there is the danger of revealing the secrecy, which breaks the tantric vow, the samaya.

Before a great initiation is done, there can be some introduction to tantra, because the people are definitely going to practice tantra. So, I think, even though they haven’t actually taken a great initiation, they have decided to do the practice and they are ready. The reason some of the introductions are given might be that. Otherwise, generally, some introduction is given just before the great initiation is granted.

So, the meaning of “mantra,” just once more before we talk on that. When we practice like this, if we are looking at everything as pure and if our mind is perfectly qualified with method and wisdom, this is a much more skillful meditation on the path than a Sutrayana meditation. It has great power. Within a moment, within a second, we purify eons of negative karma. For example, just visualizing the mandala of the deity purifies ten million eons of negative karma. When we visualize the deity, it is an unbelievably powerful way to purify, the quickest way to purify the defilements, the negative karmas, and not only that, to collect inconceivable merit. When we become a buddha and send beams to sentient beings, purifying them, this collects more merit than the tonglen practice in the Sutrayana, where we take others’ suffering and give them all our happiness and merit. We collect much more extensive merit by practicing tantra. This is how tantra becomes the quick path to enlightenment, how we can achieve enlightenment within one life, or even more quickly, like in highest tantra, where we can become enlightened within a few years in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.

Because there is even greater skill in highest tantra, this is what I have just introduced, but it is the same with the lower tantras. As I have mentioned, the greatest skill is in highest tantra. To cease all the gross and subtle delusions and to actualize the extremely subtle mind, we need to achieve enlightenment. We are able to do that within a few years in this brief lifetime of degenerate times, without the need to have a long life of a hundred thousand years [such as in the lower tantras]. This very subtle inseparability of method and wisdom is not revealed in the lower tantras, in Kriya Tantra, Charya Tantra and Yoga Tantra, only in highest tantra. Therefore, the quickest way to achieve enlightenment is by practicing highest tantra because only this has this method. Without ceasing the gross and subtle delusions, we cannot achieve full enlightenment, we cannot achieve the dharmakaya. This extremely subtle mind, called the clear light, is the only direct cause to achieve enlightenment, the dharmakaya.

Even the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas who have never practiced tantra before and who are about to achieve enlightenment, before achieving enlightenment, they have to receive an initiation. The buddhas initiate them and, by practicing tantra with the support of the wisdom mother, they are only then able to cease the gross minds, ceasing the subtle dualistic view, actualizing the extremely subtle mind of the clear light and achieving enlightenment. That is the only way they are able to achieve enlightenment.

So, the meaning of mantra here refers to protecting the mind from ordinary appearance, ordinary thoughts. That is the explanation of the meaning of mantra relating to the generation stage, the first stage. Then, with the completion stage, we cease the ordinary mind and the ordinary wind by actualizing the completion path and we achieve the clear light and illusory body and the union of these.

Therefore, the meaning of “mantra,” on the basis of the lamrim, means the root, guru devotion, and then the three principal aspects of the path. And then there is the meaning of mantra as it is contained in the specific tantric path. Even though the whole basic lamrim is to protect the mind, here “mantra” specifically refers to this one, the tantric path.

Anyway, this side-talk happened again.

The disadvantages of the self-cherishing mind

One reason to visualize the place [transformed] into the mandala and the lama who gives the initiation in the aspect of deity is according to the guru yoga practice of tantra. So now, visualize the essence, the Thousand-arm, Thousand-eye Compassionate Buddha, also in that aspect and offer the mandala.

[Students chant the mandala offering]

Death is definite to happen and when it will happen is uncertain. Therefore, before the death happens, it is not sufficient to be able to achieve a god or human rebirth in the next life, without being reborn in the lower realms after this life. It is not even sufficient to achieve liberation from samsara for ourselves. That is still not the real meaning of life. Whatever suffering we experience in samsara is nothing new; it’s not the first time. Whatever problems we have experienced are not for the first time. Even though we think it is the first time, we have experienced them all numberless times before. Whatever pleasure we have experienced is nothing new; we have experienced each pleasure numberless times before. However, all the pleasures of samsara are like last night’s dream.

As I mentioned in the past, this samsaric pleasure, that feeling that is only suffering, is merely labelled by our mind “pleasure.” Then also, seeking happiness for ourselves is nothing special because even the tiniest insect, that we can only see through a microscope, seeks the happiness of this life and works for their own happiness. So, that is nothing special. That attitude does not become the special quality of a human being.

On top of that, cherishing the I is the source of all suffering. Whenever we cherish the I, we open the door for all the suffering in our daily life. In our daily life, whenever we cherish others, it opens the door for all the happiness, including enlightenment, and, not only that, for us to enlighten all sentient beings. From cherishing others and our bodhicitta comes enlightenment, and then we can enlighten all sentient beings. By cherishing the I, there is no space in our mind for bodhicitta. All our actions become the cause of samsara. Due to the self-cherishing thought, attachment clinging to this life arises. Our actions do not become Dharma. Even if we try to practice Dharma, by meditating or reciting something, it doesn’t become Dharma because of this attachment clinging to this life. Therefore, this ego makes our life empty, wasted. And not only wasted, but all our actions become nonvirtuous, the cause of the lower realms.

Not only does the self-cherishing thought use this precious human life to create the cause of those heaviest sufferings, the heat and cold of the hell realms, but also, because self-cherishing abides in our heart, there is attachment to samsara, to samsaric perfections. Therefore, even if we try to practice Dharma, our actions do not become the cause of liberation. So again the self-cherishing thought makes our life empty, wasted. And because of self-cherishing there is no space in our mind for bodhicitta. So, the self-cherishing doesn’t allow our actions to become the cause of enlightenment. Enlightenment is the highest quality, the cessation of all the mistakes of the mind and the completion of all the realizations. If our actions are unable to become the cause to achieve this, there is no greater loss. It is the ego, the self-cherishing thought, that causes this greatest loss in life.

This ego, this self-cherishing thought, makes our life empty. It makes us suffer, causing confusion all the time. When we see people who have a greater understanding of Dharma or who are better, with a more beautiful body or more wealth, whatever it is, we suffer from jealousy. Or when we meet somebody is comparatively lower than us, we feel pride. Not only that, even when we try to meditate, due to ego attachment, delusions arise constantly and, even for a minute, even for the duration of one mala of OM MANI PADME HUM, we cannot concentrate. Because of ego, all the other delusions arise, stopping us from meditating, from concentrating.

When we try to take vows, our ego stops us. It makes us afraid of taking them. And even if we do take them, because of ego and those other delusions such as attachment, we break the vows; we are unable to continue with morality. And ego blocks us from developing compassion for others, loving kindness for others; it doesn’t allow us to generate loving kindness and compassion.

Because of ego, even if we have found a guru, even one like the Compassionate Buddha, Manjushri or Shakyamuni Buddha, even if we have found a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru, we are unable to devote correctly. Then, we receive all the eight shortcomings of not devoting correctly to the guru, thus creating so many of the heaviest obstacles to having realizations of the path. We experience many problems; nothing happens, no realizations, and life gets worse and worse, more and more messy. Then, what happens in our daily life reflects on our future lives.

All these things are due to ego. Because of ego, we are unable to give up our life to follow the advice of the virtuous friend or to correctly devote to them. Instead of being under the guidance of the guru, we let ourselves be under the control of ego. All these problems, all these eight shortcomings are also caused by the ego. Whatever we do, even when we try to do those different practices, our ego disturbs us; it interferes. It is what makes it difficult to practice Dharma, what makes it difficult to continue to practice, what makes it unsuccessful. Ego is what makes us unable to complete the practice. All these problems come from ego, from cherishing the I, so what is called the “I” is to be renounced forever.

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says, the best way to cherish ourselves is to cherish others. We should cherish others if we want to be intelligently selfish. I don’t remember exactly the Tibetan words His Holiness used, but it sort of means “intelligent.” The best way of cherishing the I is cherishing others, because this is the reality and this is the evolution of happiness.

We don’t know this. For example, when people in the West hear of “renouncing the self,” when they are not familiar with the lamrim and bodhicitta practice, they interpret it as abandoning yourself, as not protecting yourself, not looking after yourself. They misinterpret Tibetan Buddhism, thinking it says that anything good that happens to us is somehow bad. They interpret it that way, as completely ignoring the I. This comes from a lack of understanding, a lack of experience. They have not practiced bodhicitta, they have not practiced a good heart. They have not seen how, by cherishing others instead of ourselves, by renouncing ourselves instead of others, so many emotional problems are solved, so much happiness and peace is actualized. They do not see the fulfilment we can achieve in life by doing this. Either they have not practiced or they have but they have not analyzed, so they don’t know all the benefits. Because of that, they have a totally wrong interpretation. Actually, cherishing others, living our life for others is the best way to fulfil all our wishes, all the happiness, up to the highest happiness, including enlightenment. Anyway, due to lack of experience, lack of knowledge, they think like that.

Just to use the simple example, a simple experience of daily life, instead of going very deeply into the subject, when we have a relationship problem, something very painful or we are dissatisfied and unhappy with our relationship, because we cherish the I so much, we only think of my happiness. As I mentioned before, we can’t achieve satisfaction with samsaric perfections, samsaric happiness. Satisfaction can only come through practicing Dharma, which means changing our mind, practicing renunciation, renouncing attachment. Only renouncing attachment, even renouncing attachment to this life, only when we practice this real Dharma will we have satisfaction, not from external things.

The advantages of bodhicitta

As I was saying, when we have these kinds of problems, when we feel we don’t have enough, no matter how much wealth we have, when there is so much fear and worry, when the ego is unable to achieve what it wants and we are so unhappy and dissatisfied, suddenly, while we are experiencing these problems, we change our attitude and think, “My life is for others. I am here for others to obtain happiness, to cause happiness for others.” The minute we think of others, the minute others come in our heart instead of only the I, suddenly there is peace and happiness in our heart. Suddenly our heart is restful. There is relaxation, inner rest, peace, enjoyment. When we change our attitude, suddenly we find enjoyment and fulfilment in our life.

With this change of attitude, we find fulfilment in the heart, which was empty until now. Previously, when we only cherished the I, there was no enjoyment in life, only pain, only depression, only worry, only fear, only all that anxiety. Suddenly there is relaxation when we think, “I am here for others. The purpose of my life is for others.” Suddenly the tension at the heart is released; the uptight feeling is gone. Then, we feel close even to unknown people in the street, in the shops and restaurants, people who are in the cars, everybody. With this attitude, we feel close to them and we feel that they are close to us. We don’t feel there is a gap, we don’t feel a distance between us and others. When we generate a good heart, loving kindness like this, we feel them in our heart.

If we can use this daily, when we practice like this, great joy or happiness comes in our heart, in our life. Using this example, we can understand that cherishing I is mistaken, it is wrong. Cherishing others is the proper way; it is the real solution to achieve happiness in life. It might be difficult to understand the deep reasons explained in the teachings, but just the day to day, simple examples of the benefits we can experience, this can wake up the mind from this sleep, from the ignorance that completely wrongly interprets the cause of happiness, cherishing the I instead of cherishing others.

If we cherish the I we can’t achieve all the realizations of the Mahayana path, we can’t cease all the mistakes of mind and complete all the qualities, we can’t achieve enlightenment. And we can’t enlighten all sentient beings. If we cherish others, all these things happen. We complete the works for the self, we complete the works for all other sentient beings. Cherishing others is the source of all the three times’ happiness; it opens the door for all the happiness. All our happiness of the past, present and future comes from bodhicitta. And bodhicitta comes from great compassion. Great compassion is generated by depending on the existence of suffering sentient beings. So, all our three times’ happiness, all our past, present and future happiness, is received by depending on the kindness of each sentient being. Even the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha that we pray to in order to purify negative karma and collect merit, even they came from sentient beings, even they happened due to the existence of suffering sentient beings, due to kindness of sentient beings. Therefore, sentient beings are the most precious field; sentient beings are more precious than the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in our life.

When we generate bodhicitta, all sentient beings receive happiness from our bodhicitta. If we, this one person, have bodhicitta, all sentient beings receive happiness from our bodhicitta. The numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, gods, demigods and human beings all become enlightened, if we have bodhicitta. We can enlighten all those numberless sentient beings. Like that, we can give all the happiness to all sentient beings. For this reason, having bodhicitta in our heart becomes the most urgent, the most important thing. Without the delay of even a second, we have to have bodhicitta. It becomes the most urgent, unbelievable need for the numberless other sentient beings, for the happiness of numberless other sentient beings. Without that, we cannot offer numberless other sentient beings all the temporal and ultimate happiness.

Then the other thing is, as I was just saying, bodhicitta is the source of the numberless sentient beings’ happiness and the source of all of our own past, present and future happiness. Therefore in our life there is nobody to cherish other than sentient beings. Think, “In my life, there is nobody to cherish other than sentient beings. In my life, there is nobody to work for other than sentient beings. What the sentient beings want is happiness and what they do not want is suffering, therefore I must free them from all suffering and the cause of sufferings and lead them to the happiness, especially the happiness of full enlightenment. I must do this by myself alone. This work for others should be done by myself alone.” It is very important when we meditate on bodhicitta that we make this strong determination, to think precisely like this, to do this alone, to take this responsibility. Think, “To achieve this, first I must achieve enlightenment. For that reason, I need to actualize bodhicitta and the Mahayana path. Bodhicitta is the door of the Mahayana path and the root of bodhicitta is great compassion, therefore I need to receive the blessing of a special deity in order to have this realization. Therefore, because Compassion Buddha is the special deity for that, to have this realization of great compassion, loving kindness and bodhicitta, I am going to take the permission to practice Compassion Buddha.”

Then, we will also do Vajrasattva to purify all the obstacles.

Do you want to go for pipi?

We must create even the smallest positive karma

Killing doesn’t happen every day. Even the intention to kill doesn’t happen every day, and telling lies, sexual misconduct or stealing doesn’t happen every day, But gossiping! Gossiping can possibly happen every day! Nonvirtuous gossiping, as well as the three negative karmas of the mind. For instance, when we go shopping and see so many objects to buy, covetousness arises; we become attached and want to have them. When we go shopping, we collect so much covetousness, which is a nonvirtuous mental action.

Therefore, we need the practice of the three principal aspects of the path—renunciation, bodhicitta and emptiness—and not only in the meditation room. It’s like a dress we wear all the time. I mean, generally speaking! I mean, there are many times we don’t wear a particular dress, but the lamrim, the three principal aspects of the path, is something that we need all the time. When we go for shopping or do business, if there is no bodhicitta, if there is no right view, emptiness, if there is also no renunciation, then there is only the opposite. Attachment is the opposite of renunciation, so there is a possibility of collecting many of the ten nonvirtues. But, if there is renunciation while we are shopping, and if we have bodhicitta, thinking that we are shopping to benefit others, that we are taking care of our body so we can serve others, if we are shopping with this thought of benefiting others, then there’s no danger.

If we are also shopping or doing business with the meditation of the right view, there is also no danger of creating negative karma. We only purify negative karma while we are shopping by looking at everything as like an illusion. We are like an illusion and everything is like an illusion. Instead of saying, “like an illusion,” we can simply say “an illusion,” which means we relate our hallucinated view of things being inherently existent—the inherently existent I, the inherently existent material, the inherently existent shop, the inherently existent money. Then there is no need to say “like,” we can just say “an illusion”—an illusory me with illusory money buying illusory food from illusory people. So, if we are just referring to the conventional truth that exists, we have to say, “like an illusion,” or like a dream. It is more precise, more correct like that. This is another way of meditating. The conclusion is that everything is empty. In this way, attachment does not arise, so we have no danger of collecting the negative karma of covetousness.

The other one is renunciation. If we buy things with the thought of impermanence and death—maybe the only thing we think of is impermanence and death—we will save so much money! Thinking of impermanence and death is the best way of saving money, the best way of investing money. Thinking of impermanence and death, that death can happen at any time while we are shopping, also helps us to not have attachment, and so that doesn’t become the cause of creating the negative karma of covetousness.

Which negative karma we collect most from the ten nonvirtues basically depends on the individual person. Generally, from the ten nonvirtuous actions, we might think that we don’t create any of those negative karmas, but if we analyze we can find some happen many times a day. Not only that, if we check our motivation from morning to night, for twenty-four hours—if we check what motivation we get up with, we dress with, we eat breakfast with, and all the way through the day, what motivation we do our job with, we talk to people with, we eat dinner with, we go to sleep with—if we analyze like this, I’m sure we would find that almost everything is done with attachment. The motivation is attachment clinging to this life. Then, almost everything becomes negative karma. Whatever we do in each twenty-four hours becomes negative karma. Negative karma doesn’t have to be killing somebody. Then, the result is only a suffering rebirth in the lower realms. So now here you can understand.

On the basis of this, we can also see that karma is definite to bring its own result. No matter how many eons, it will definitely bring its own result. And it is expandable. From one negative karma, we experience the suffering result so many times; we experience it for so many years in one life or for so many lifetimes—hundreds of thousands of lifetimes—because karma is expandable.

Therefore, it is said in the teachings, even with a small negative karma we should not think, “This is so small.” We should never be careless; we must abandon even a very small negative karma. And we must practice even a small good karma; we must collect even a small merit. In every twenty-four hours of our life, we must take any opportunity to collect merit, by knowing the lamrim teachings, by doing all the preliminary practices, like rejoicing, making charity to other sentient beings and to the buddhas, the guru, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We must use every single opportunity in our daily life to collect merit, even a very small merit. We must use any opportunity to collect merit, by knowing all the practices, such as the lamrim practice.

With karma, without creating the cause the result cannot be experienced. That means we have so much freedom. Because we won’t experience a suffering result if we haven’t created the cause, we have so much freedom. If it were not like that, if it were not dependent on us creating the cause, we would have no choice, we would have no freedom. We would just have to experience the suffering at any time without any freedom at all. But because it is dependent on causes, if we don’t create the cause, we don’t experience the result. Therefore, by knowing karma, we have so much freedom to not experience suffering. It’s wrong understanding to think that the Buddha’s teachings on karma mean we have no freedom. It is completely the other way around. By knowing karma we know what to do. We know how to finish suffering, how to not experience suffering. And that is by not creating the cause of suffering. Then, because of karma, the cause that has been created can never be lost. That is very good. Because of all the merit that we have collected, the result of happiness will never be lost; we will definitely achieve it. For all these reasons, the Vajrasattva practice becomes extremely important in our daily life. Besides the retreat, this daily practice of Vajrasattva becomes so important.

Now, please make a mandala offering to thank. A short mandala.

[End of teachings]