Kopan Course No. 29 (1996) (Audio and Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1045)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings at the 29th Kopan Meditation Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1996. These excerpts include teachings on patience, bodhicitta, and reincarnation, and a question and answer session.

Click on the audio links to listen to the teachings and read along with the transcripts.

Portrait of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 1999.
Benefits of Bodhicitta

Without ego then in my mind, in my heart is bodhicitta, which by having in the twenty-four hours of the day even my breathing in and out, not even talking other activities, just breathing in and out is benefiting all living beings, numberless living beings. If there is no ego then there will be bodhicitta in my heart, so that means besides all the actions of eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing practices, even just each breath in and out becomes cause of happiness for all the numberless living beings, benefits numberless living beings. You become the source of numberless living beings’ happiness because of bodhicitta, the thought of cherishing others, to achieve enlightenment for them. So you become the source of happiness for all the sentient beings, who are numberless. So you accumulate merit in every second like the sky, good karma, good luck, like the sky in every second because of this bodhicitta attitude.

At that time you become friend of every sentient being without discrimination whether they like you or don't like you, whether they abuse you or don't abuse you, whether they respect or not, whether they make material gift or not. Without depending on those things you become friend to everyone, to every living being and then even you cherish more the one who harms you, who has negative mind, the one who is so evil, so many heavy negative thoughts, so heavy mind, very stubborn. So those who harm, you cherish them.

For example, recently His Holiness the Dalai Lama mentioned in the private interview with some geshes who teach at our centers in Australia, those very learned great practitioners, great scholars and practitioners. So in the private interview His Holiness mentioned that there had been some people criticizing His Holiness, protesting. So His Holiness mentioned that every day he does self-initiation, no matter how busy life, unbelievable, in one day so many hundreds and hundreds of people have to meet and talk, but every day he does the practice of taking self-initiation, this tantric practice which is one of the most powerful purifications that purifies all the negative karma of breaking the pratimoksha, bodhisattva vow, tantric vows, the general negative karmas and even those Highest Tantra vows, everything gets purified by doing this practice. When you take this self-initiation then you have to take bodhisattva vow to restore what has been degenerated and what has not been degenerated to be revived and increased. So in the bodhisattva vow there are words, "I invite the sentient beings as my guest to enlightenment," so His Holiness said that when he does this prayer he thinks particularly of those who are criticizing, protesting against, especially he thinks of them in the inside of the heart and makes very strong prayer for them. So when he does this daily practice, he keeps in the heart this one especially and makes strong prayer for that person. So that is due to bodhicitta, due to having the realization of great compassion, loving kindness and bodhicitta, so able to do that. Especially with the person who gives you a bad reputation in the world, then you keep inside the heart like a jewel and then you pray for the best thing to happen to that person.

So similar Guru Shakyamuni Buddha—I’m not sure, I might be a little bit confused this—so the spirits who suck the blood from his body when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was a bodhisattva, he made a prayer for the spirits to be born as human beings and next life that he can teach Dharma, liberate them from the sufferings, he teach Dharma to them next life, to those spirits, them to have good rebirth, to be born human being and then to reveal Dharma to them, bring in liberation and enlightenment. So those spirits who were sucking his blood in return he made this prayer for them. Then next life they were born human beings, they became his disciples and taught Dharma, so became arya being. So these five disciples whom the Buddha gave teachings, the next life. So a bodhisattva in return for the harm there is only benefit. So next life they were born human beings, they became his disciples, and after Buddha became enlightened, revealed, they became Buddha’s disciples, those five disciples Buddha taught the four noble truths and so they became arya beings. There are so many stories like this, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s life story then so many bodhisattva life stories.

So by having realization of bodhicitta one receives the name “bodhisattva, son of the Buddha.” That “son” is nothing to do with the physical body. So even the arhats, who are free from samsara, they don’t receive the name bodhisattva, even they have unbelievable qualities and so much power to perform miracles and show incredible things that they can do like making big mountains small like atoms. So many things they can show, psychic power or miracle power and even they are liberated from all the suffering of samsara, all the karma and delusions, even they don't receive the name bodhisattva.

So by having the realization of bodhicitta one receives the name bodhisattva and is then able to control, by the bodhisattva caste, the type, caste of the mind, having bodhicitta mind, this is not talking about the blood generation caste. So the minute you have the realization of bodhicitta you are able to overwhelm even the arhats, those who are even free from samsara, those numberless arhats who are free from samsara, who are free from all the karma and delusions, you overwhelm them.

Then you become the best object of other sentient beings to make offerings, you become the best object for other sentient beings to make offering. Because of your bodhicitta realization, therefore other sentient beings if they make offering they collect inconceivable merit, when others respect you they collect inconceivable merit, good karma, cause of happiness. For example, it is mentioned in the lam-rim teachings that if somebody looks at a bodhisattva with a peaceful, calm mind to a bodhisattva, when someone looks with that kind of an eye, the merit is much more than making charity of your eyeballs to the numberless desire realm beings, and form and formless realm beings, means all the samsaric beings. So looking at a bodhisattva with a very calm mind, devotional mind, respectfully looking at a bodhisattva the merit is unbelievable, like you have made charity of eyeball to all the samsaric beings. Even just looking with devotional calm mind at one bodhisattva the merit is unbelievable. Even the footprint, as soon as you have realization of bodhicitta even your footprint left on the road becomes devotional object of the worldly gods. Even the king of the desire realm worldly gods, Indra and Brahma, even their crowns touch to your footprint left on the road in the dust, it becomes object to be respected even by the king of worldly gods, those devas.

I remember one time many years ago in south India at Drepung Monastery—there’s Sera, Ganden, Drepung, three largest the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition, the monasteries, where they do the most extensive study on Buddhism, philosophy, sutra and then after that tantra. So in this world where the most extensive learning on Buddhism is in those three monasteries in south India, such as like Kopan is a branch of that, so similar form of study also here because the teachers came from there. So if these three monasteries do not exist where there are many well educated, very learned teachers from Tibet and many young ones receiving education, if something happens to them, unable to exist, then finished in this world this unbelievable, unmistaken path to peace, liberation, enlightenment. So this whole entire teaching of the Dharma, Buddha's teaching that has been studied and practiced and so many numberless beings become enlightened in this world, so if something happened to these monasteries and unable to continue then all this incredible extensive knowledge, able to preserve the whole entire thing and able to integrate, put into practice, so this then gets stopped, lost in this world.

So now, many years ago at Drepung Monastery when His Holiness was giving a teaching, usually monasteries have many, many dogs. I think I saw also in Thailand, even in Thailand the monasteries have many dogs. I thought only Tibetans have many dogs, but in Thailand also I saw many dogs. When the monks go for begging and then leftover...

[tape change]

...I think. So His Holiness said one time, ‘These dogs..’, so you see, I think was talking about the precious human body, how the human body is so precious I think, so encouraging to practice, to not waste, to practice Dharma. So His Holiness said, ‘These dogs, the only way, only when some people give food to them there is some meaning in their life, they get some benefit.’ So what His Holiness was saying is that of course there are many people giving food to the dogs but some monks who are having bodhicitta realization, having holy mind, holy means absence of ego, the holy mind, bodhicitta. I think when those monks give food, when they give food to the dog, the dog gets purified. Not only gets food but they get purified, the dog gets liberated. So what His Holiness was saying is the benefit they get, when someone with bodhicitta mind gives food they get some benefit, otherwise nothing. They make some connection with a bodhisattva.

So if you have bodhicitta realization, if another sentient being shows a little respect they get unbelievable merit, cause of happiness, and the mind making offerings and so forth. So it becomes a supreme object of other sentient beings offering and accumulating merit. Then so swiftly finish, able to complete the two types of merit, the merit of wisdom and the merit of method, so quickly completed.

Then if one has bodhicitta no matter how much heavy negative karma one has, practicing bodhicitta is the most powerful method to purify negative karma. By having bodhicitta no matter how heavy negative karma you have done in the past it quickly gets purified and then all the wishes get fulfilled, all the happiness for oneself and all the temporary and ultimate happiness, liberation, enlightenment, of all sentient beings you are able to bring success, accomplish and then able to achieve enlightenment quickly.

So these are just some examples to give an idea of the incredible benefit that one will achieve by having the realization bodhicitta. The benefits of bodhicitta can never be finished explaining it is said in the teachings by Buddha, like limitless sky. So this is just making outline, to give some rough idea.

Even after one has achieved enlightenment, spontaneously, naturally doing work for numberless sentient beings without effort, without thought. Spontaneously bringing every sentient being to enlightenment, from happiness to happiness and then to enlightenment. So all this is the result of bodhicitta. The sentient beings receive unbelievable benefit. So if you have bodhicitta the numberless sentient beings receive benefit like the sky from you.

So what I was saying before—it has become long—was that without ego then there is bodhicitta in the heart. So then there is all this benefit you get and the numberless sentient beings. Therefore, what this person is doing, if you carefully think, is not harming you, he is harming the ego which means being against your enemy and destroying your ego. So this person becomes the most kind in your life, the most precious, the most kind, because by destroying your ego you get all these benefits, you are able to actualize bodhicitta, skies of benefit, peace and happiness for yourself and you can cause to numberless other living beings. So all this benefit is given to you by this person who hurts your ego, who destroys your ego, ego which doesn’t allow you to achieve enlightenment, liberation, even good rebirth next life, even peace and happiness in this life. [pause]

So by thinking that he is helping me, together, to destroy the enemy ego, when you think like this then one feels the kindness in the very inside of your heart. Very deep kindness. Then you feel so much appreciation, the way the person treats you, it becomes so beneficial for your practice, to your mind, so incredible appreciation so you want to thank. Even the thought comes what can I give to that person, what can I offer. So when one practices definitely this appreciation, feeling kindness in the very inside of your heart instead of getting angry to that person, feel the deep kindness in your heart and feel great appreciation. [pause]

In the past when I was trying to think a little bit of lam-rim, now totally lazy, but in the past when I tried to think of the lam-rim, when this situation comes, so when you practice definitely your mind gets transformed, but unfortunately it didn't happen, it didn't succeed giving present. Actually going there and giving present didn't happen even the mind thinks, wished, but then actually to do that, to go down to that person's house and actually offer didn't happen. So hopefully it happens in the future - not only future, hopefully it happens in the present too.

So this just happened from the conversation that I started. So what happened was this, going back to the story. George Farley he mentioned like that, he made up the story and told the people that this is what I would do, so then this lady told to that person and then this person thought, "oh", he was happy to find some solution. So this person thought what present to give this person who scratched the car again and again. And then he went to buy in the shop a ball, cricket ball or I’m not sure. This person I think he likes to play I'm not sure what, maybe this hitting with cricket, maybe cricket ball [Student: It was a golf ball!]. So he went to buy a ball and he went to offer the present, so he opened the door and gave the present and shut the door, angry, and then after some minutes or after half an hour that person came to his house because he didn't open the present at the beginning, so then he came to the house with a big smile, came to the owner of the car's house with a big smile, he came to thank. All the other times angry, but now he was very happy. So this is exactly what he wanted, this present was what he really liked, so also the person who went to buy the present was very skillful. So he became so happy and came to the house to thank and then became friend. So as I was telling, with good heart even the enemy can become friend.

So the conclusion is to achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings there is no question; even for oneself to achieve liberation from samsara you need to achieve these five paths, the path of merit and preparation, the right-seeing path, meditation and no more learning. So you need to achieve the five paths. And what makes you to enter into the path of merit, the door of the path to liberation is the mind renouncing samsara, having aversion to samsara by realizing how samsara is only in the nature of suffering and the thought of wanting to be free from samsara, that determination to renounce samsara. So that realization is the door of the path to liberation. So now to understand, to realize how samsara is in the nature of suffering then you have to know karma and reincarnation, have to understand reincarnation and having faith in reincarnation. Then also to be able to make preparation for all the coming future lives’ happiness also depends upon, is based on reincarnation, understanding and having faith in reincarnation.