Heart Sutra Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Genting View Resort, Malaysia (Archive #1048)

The following are teachings from a Heart Sutra retreat held in Malaysia in 1997.

The teachings include oral transmissions of the Vajrasattva mantra and the Heart Sutra and teachings on rebirth, bodhicitta and emptiness.

Analyzing the I

I heard that this German, not ?Guwosel, huh? The one who came from Russia. One German, I think German - maybe Russian, I'm not sure. I think many, many years ago before Tibet, before this overtaken by the Communists, so before that happened, oh, Gurdieff! Gurdieff, yes. So Gurdieff, so I think it's very, definitely very skillful person, because that time people in the West, their mind is so closed up, I think very difficult to talk about Dharma I think, so closed up, no way to talk Dharma like now, no way. So closed up, so difficult to talk Dharma.

So he came from Russian, also seems he went to Tibet, so he spread, he gave teachings in London and different countries, so still the groups are still existing, the groups everywhere still existing, still there continuing by themselves, what he taught, in his books or what he taught, they are going, still continuing. But the terms that he used, very, very skillful, extremely skillful, think very intelligent person. So he used, for ignorance he used the word "sleep", for the wrong concept of inherent existence, the ignorance, instead of saying ignorance, so he used the term "sleep," "most people are asleep," he said. He used the term "sleep," so which is a very effective word, which is very true, unable to see the truth and all the false views, all the false objects then you have been believing they are true, so very deep sleep, sleep from beginningless rebirth, that never had break. So anyway, so there's no need many prayers, even just a two, three words, then immediately clicks your mind, when your mind is ready, so much merit, so much strong guru devotion, receiving so much blessing in your heart, so much negative karma, obscurations purified, much merit, then, it just clicks in your mind, when the mind is ready. When the mind is not ready, then even you hear the whole hundreds of volumes , nothing happening, it's like mind like harder than rock, harder than iron, nothing happens, even one recite the whole life, no this, no that, no this, no that, no this, no this . How many times you recite no eye, no nose, no tongue, no , nothing happening, here nothing happening, it's like rock. Nothing touched to that.

So therefore, so if some experience like this if it is happening, then, if one is meditating on emptiness, it's very important to know ahead of time what happens, to have some idea before, what happens, what kind of experience that you have to go through. If one doesn't know, if one has no idea what the experience that you have to go through, then you get, so most people, as it's mentioned in the teachings, intelligent bodhisattvas, when they realize emptiness then the tears come out the eyes, the hairs from the pores stand up, so much joy. And the lower intelligent bodhisattvas then get much fear when they realize emptiness. So therefore if one doesn't have some guidance in the actual time when you start to realize emptiness, so during those times what experience is going to happen, that what one has to go through, if one doesn't have some guidance, then so most of us, the fear is very deep, very deep fear, fear from very inside of the heart, very strong fear, very deep fear from the very inside of the heart can rise, when the I, that happens when we start to have the experience of losing the I, not knowing, being confused, not knowing what is happening. Even though it's correct, that is the way how you have to go through but one didn't know before, no guidance, didn't know before, didn't have idea before so then, even though it's correct experience, this is what should happen, that one should go through these experiences, but then there's a great danger, so strong fear rises and then because also thinking that you are doing something wrong, falling in nihilism, I might be falling in nihilism, so having this fear. So then that so strong fear that you don't want to think about [pause], anyway, so afraid then to meditate on, so afraid to do the meditation on emptiness, so afraid that don't want to think about, don't want to meditate, you don't want to touch to that, this subject, so for months, for a very long time don't want to touch, so afraid.

So then if this happens then this becomes great obstacle for you to achieve liberation from samsara. Now here's incredible opportunity, here's unbelievable opportunity opened, just about to realize emptiness, then because thinking that I'm falling in nihilism, because didn't have idea what's going to happen before, so then it stopped, you escaped away from that. So it becomes a huge obstacle, because that time it happened due to very good moment, having all the conditions gathered, very good moment, like very important, very good moment to catch or to take the jewels, so then afterwards, so because of the fear you never want to touch it, you never want to think about it, so this goes for a long time, and then difficult to come back, it doesn't happen easily to come back to the same state.

So it's important if one is meditating on emptiness to have some idea what's going to happen, and knowing that one has to go through this fear, in order to realize emptiness you have to go through this fear. So then by developing wisdom realizing emptiness then you overcome all the fear, the whole fear of samsara, so like that.

So then if one has realized emptiness, then what one should do, what is advised in the teachings by those experienced lamas, lineage lamas of the path, then, so try to go back to the state of emptiness by doing four analyses or whatever logic you use, so to go back to the same state, emptiness, that very skillful, in a very skillful way, so try to develop one-pointed concentration, so in other words, one can practice samatha, calm abiding on the object, emptiness, so that is what is called, meditating on the, practicing meditation from the right view. First do samatha then afterwards realizing emptiness, that is called right view from the meditation.

Then, when these experiences happen [long pause], what Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the teaching, the Three Principal Aspects of Path to Enlightenment, a person, all the existence of the samsara and nirvana, cause and result of the existence of the samsara and nirvana, the unbetrayable forever, so a person sees, discovers or realizes the cause and result of the existence of samsara and nirvana is unbetrayable forever. The object that which is apprehended or that which is held on, the object of the ignorance, the object that which is held on or by the ignorance, completely becomes destroyed, like the rainbow disappeared, completely become non-existent, that time that person is entered in the path that pleases the Buddhas.

So then one get, Lama Tsongkhapa's such as these teachings, these words, the way Lama Tsongkhapa presented, then unshakable faith, because what Lama Tsongkhapa said, you yourself experienced, you yourself saw, you yourself experienced, so there's unshakable faith in Lama Tsongkhapa's teachings, those words. So anyway, meaning is this. [pause]

So, for your study to get more clear idea, so I would like to mention a few different things. So this way to help to get more clear idea and also for meditation as well, to use as meditation technique. Especially those difficult to comprehend, the subject. Generally, yes, it is regarded very difficult subject, very subtle, very difficult subject it's regarded, commonly recognized the teachings on emptiness, the philosophical subject, to understand.

As far as realizing, it is said by my root guru His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, so realizing emptiness is actually very easy, that His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche used to say when the thread become tangled like this - I'm joking, anyway . So when the thread becomes tangled, if you know the point, if you know this one point there, if you pull that then everything comes out. So it's like that, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche said that it's just a question of recognizing the object to be refuted, once you recognize this [snaps fingers], then that's it, then after that you realize emptiness. But what is the most difficult to realize is the bodhicitta, that one is, so realizing bodhicitta is most difficult and realizing emptiness is easy, it's just a question of this, from the four-point, analysis of the four points, the first one, the point of recognizing the object to be refuted. So what is blocked to realize emptiness is because the object to be refuted, the false view is there all the time, always we believe, we apprehend that, we hold on to that all the time, but haven't recognized. It's always there but haven't recognized, unable to recognize that which is hallucination is hallucination, that which is false is false.

So what, the secret point or what blocks to realize emptiness is by not having recognized this object that which is false, for example, I that which is false, that which is object to be refuted, not having recognized that it's object to be refuted and that it's false. So that's what blocked to realize emptiness. So there're merit, the imprint of emptiness, imprint to realize emptiness left from past lives, past times, then skillful, and then much merit, support of much merit, then this able to, so as I mentioned before, the blessing of the guru, so then it clicks the mind to be able to recognize and then the object to be refuted, what is that and then immediately after that then seeing emptiness, so this is what normally mentioned in the teachings or the lineage lamas mentioned, like that.

So, now to start some simple way, so this also helpful that [pause], so yeah, which I normally tell, the parents got a child, so there is the aggregates, the base, the aggregates, is there, the association of body and mind is there, but the parents haven't given the name yet, they haven't decided the name, they haven't given the name. So the name is Wong. So they haven't given the name Wong, haven't given the name Mrs Wong, what? Anyway, so they haven't given the name. So that time Mrs Wong, so that time the aggregates are there but the parents haven't given the name yet, so that time Wong doesn't exist.

Now, the other way. The parents they decided, their mind already made the label Wong, Mrs Wong, but there's no aggregates, there's no base, aggregates, didn't happen yet, doesn't exist, there's no base, the aggregates, the child, that didn't happen yet. So that time Wong doesn't exist. There are two things, you see, before there is the aggregates, the association of body and mind, the child already happened, it's there, but they haven't gave the name Wong so that time Wong doesn't exist and other time the parents they gave the name Wong but there's no association of body and mind of the child yet, didn't happen, so that time Wong doesn't exist, also that time Wong doesn't exist. So now, so meditate on this, so it's very simple, one meditate on this. So this gives some idea, very simple example, but it makes some clear.

So when does Wong come in existence? Is only, there is the base, the aggregates, the association of body and mind, then parents make up the label, relating, there is the base, the association of body and mind, these aggregates, and then the parents relating or because there is these aggregates, association of the body and the mind of the child, then the parents make up the label Wong and believe in that. So they just made the idea, they just create the idea of Wong and believe in that. So that time Wong came in existence, only that time then Wong came in existence. Relating to the aggregates and depending on the mind, mind labeling, then Wong came in existence.

So therefore now, what is Wong? So now here you can see if one analyze this way, what is Wong is nothing except what is merely labeled by the mind. What is Wong is nothing other, except what is merely labeled by the parent's minds. So now here just this very simple meditation, but which gives some idea, some clear idea. So now here comes the conclusion, what is Wong is what is merely labeled by the mind. So therefore, this is the Wong how it exists, what is Wong is this, what is merely labeled by the mind and this is the way how Wong exists, no other way. So therefore, we can see from this there's no Wong there on the base, the aggregates, on the base, the association of the body and mind, there's no Wong there. There's no Wong there. Wong is not there, on the association of body and mind, which is the base, so Wong doesn't exist totally from its own, doesn't exist at all from its own side. Therefore, Wong doesn't exist at all, totally doesn't exist from its own side. It's not that it totally doesn't exist, but it totally doesn't exist from its own side. So Wong, nothing slightest exists from its own side. So that is the ultimate nature of the Wong, the emptiness of the Wong, the right view of the Wong. So that one has to realize.

So this is a very simple analysis but even this can be very effective to see what is false and what is truth, false Wong and Wong which actually exists. [pause]

So it is same, we should understand that example, feel that, then apply to the I. Instead of Wong then I. The analysis of the Wong, so here now apply the same, do the same analysis with the self, the I, then see what conclusion comes, what you discover. So if it's correctly, if it's precisely done as I explained, the analysis then what you discover is that there's no I, where we believe that there's I, it's not there, on these aggregates or inside this body, where we believe that there's I, discover, realize that there's no I there. But that doesn't mean that there's no I, but that doesn't mean that I doesn't exist. [pause]

As I often say, even there's no I on these aggregates, association of body and mind, or in other words, inside this body, which is normally believed, even there's no I there on those places that we believe, but there's I in this room, there's a I on the cushion, sitting on the cushion, there's I on the cushion, there's your self on the cushion, but there's no I, yourself, in the body or on the aggregates, the association of body and mind. The I doesn't exist at all from the tip of the hairs down to the toes, down to the big toes , anyway, toes. It exists nowhere. So as long as the aggregates is in this room, during those durations, there is I in this room while there's no I in the body or on the aggregates, association of body and mind, on the association of body and mind.

So here when we analyze like this, when we come to this point, here you can see now, even just by this analysis, what is the I becomes so subtle, becomes extremely subtle. So now what is that I? It's nothing other except what is merely labeled by the mind. So therefore [pause], now you can see, the I is not totally nonexistent; it exists but it's like non-existent. So it becomes extremely fine phenomenon. So the borderline, this is the borderline, I exists, doesn't exist, it becomes extremely fine, the borderline I exists, doesn't exist becomes extremely fine, so subtle, extremely subtle. So you cannot say it's totally non-existent; it exists, but it's like non-existent.

So therefore, the conclusion is, there is no slightest I existing from its own side. There's no slightest, size of atom, existing from its own side, totally empty. Appearing to us and which we have been holding onto that from time without beginning, from beginningless samsaric rebirths, so in reality, slightest of that never exists, slightest of that, even an atom it never happened, from beginningless rebirths up to now it never happened, never existed. It appears to us, that I is appearing to us inherently existent or not merely labeled by mind but in reality slightest even atom of that never happened, from beginningless rebirths until now never happened. It has been empty time without beginning.

Yeah, then maybe, so maybe we stop there.

So, another simple meditation to recognize what is false I and the I which exists, that is, which I normally tell during the courses, especially with the walking meditation, walking meditation with the dependent arising, that, so the way to find out the false I and the I which exists, in other words, to recognize the object to be refuted, to recognize that, that which is on the merely labeled I, to be able to recognize the inherently existent I, so that which is false, hallucination one, then I which exists, that which is merely labeled by the mind.

So, to do exercise, so even this is very simple but it's very effective, the meditation on emptiness. So you ask yourself what you are doing, and then you give answer to that question, I am sitting or I am talking or whatever. So then next question is, why I say, so right now we can meditate that, so what I am doing? You can ask yourself what you are doing, I am sitting. Why I say I am sitting? Why I believe I am sitting? Now here the point comes, the point to reach to is, there is no other reason at all except only the aggregates, the body is sitting. You use this logic, after using this logic then see what happened, what effect happened to your mind. After using this logic see what effect it happened to your mind. In regards your view of the I, what change happened. So if the change is, if there's change, after this if there's change, the way the I appears to you, there's a change in your view, there's no I there, except what is merely labeled by my mind, I am sitting. Here there's no I, here there's no I except what my mind made up the label, merely labeled, I am sitting, that's the conclusion, that's what has to realize. So stay there a little bit in the awareness of dependent arising, the subtle dependent arising.

Then when the mind is distracted from this then again check how the I is appearing to me. So that time I think it came back, the old I came back, the old I means that which is false, that which is hallucination, it again came back, again one has this appearance. When the mind is distracted, when you check how the I is appearing to you, the old way, the old style, not the I merely labeled by the mind but I existing from its own side. So after the mind is distracted from the meditation, so then practice mindfulness in dependent arising. Then when you examine how the I is appearing to you, then different from the previous one, the experience of the I that you had just before. So this one is, appearing back to you not merely labeled by mind, which means existing from its own side, so again this is what is object to be refuted and this is hallucination, this is false I, which means this is the one which is non-existent. So then again you use the same reason, ask question to yourself, maybe relating with the speech or relating with the mind, what you are thinking, What are you doing? Then I am thinking. Or, What are you experiencing? I am tired , sitting a long time, I'm tired . So anyway, becoming butter, anyway, I'm joking.

So then again do analysis, then you can say, Why I say this? Why I believe in this? You find the reason, then the reason is no reason except the aggregate, the mind, is thinking or speech doing this or body is doing this. There's no other reason except this. So again, when you look at the effect, effect to your mind or the view of your I, how you see the I, what happened in the view of your I, again there's no I there. So then you do on and off, so then it makes clear, makes more and more clear what is the I that which doesn't exist, and the object of ignorance, which is object of ignorance and that we have to realize is empty in order to cut, eradicate the ignorance, root of samsara. Yeah, then I think maybe stop here . So here I'm really stopping .

Yeah, maybe do refuge, bodhicitta. Visualize Vajrasattva on your crown. [refuge and bodhicitta in English] The purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from all the sufferings and causes and to bring them in the full enlightenment. To do that first I must achieve full enlightenment, I must actualize the steps of the path to enlightenment; for that reason I must purify all the obstacles of the negative karma, defilements. If I am now in the lower realms, hell realms, I have to experience, completely overwhelmed by the heaviest suffering, besides there's no opportunity to practice Dharma, and death can happen any time, any moment, so therefore without delay even a second I must purify all these obscurations. [pause]

So, you can do the visualization without need to repeat, explained yesterday the three types of different ways of purifying.

[recitation of Vajrasattva mantra]