Teachings on Karma (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Maitreya Instituut, Emst, Netherlands (Archive #144)

Teachings on karma, excerpted from a lam-rim course led by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitreya Instituut, Emst, in August 1990.

Click on the audio links to listen to each section and read along with the unedited transcript.

The Benefits of Understanding Karma

Anyway, something to meditate on or to analyze you see because the heresy, for example what in the teachings of Buddha what things are heresy now the opposite to the heresy, faith in the reincarnation, karma, four noble truths and so forth you see now this faith become heresy in other faiths, religions you see so both are true or one is true however both are true or not? So, if it is true, so the concept of reincarnation, the faith in reincarnation, karma, that is, as it is labeled heresy, if it is heresy, according to, what that mind believes means that it doesn't exist. This concept, the faith in reincarnation and karma, these things you see as it is labeled by certain people, group, agreed or labeled, heresy, and as it is labeled, if it is true, if it exists in meaning. Not only labeling you see you can label you see, one can label that, I am the president of the world, the whole country, or you can label you see anyway some high position that which has power and wealth, that one wants to become. So you see one can label, whether other people label you or not, you can label you see to yourself, I am president, I am this and that, I am king of this country, this and that, you can label. But, just having put the label, doesn't necessarily mean you are able to function, that you are in that position you know but you can label. Your labeling yourself king or I am the president of the world you see just simply by labeling you don't get the position or power you see just by that if you go to tell other president of the country you see or other people in the street, if you go to tell, I am the king or I am the president of the whole world then people might think you are completely crazy. The label goes, which makes to receive the label king or president is the aggregates which is able to do the function you see having that power and able to do that function, having that position, means having that power you see to guide the people, to lead the people, things like that.

So then that one, that aggregates, body and mind, which is in that position, which can do that function, which does that function, that activity, then that receives the name king, that can receive the name king or president. So that is valid, on which you label king or president is valid you label king, president on the valid base. So when the aggregates is not doing the functions, is not in that position, is not doing the functions of that activity you see did not receive, have the qualifications and doesn't do those activities, even you label "I am president of the whole world, or king of the whole world" however by having the label doesn't mean you are in that position, doesn't mean you have that power you know so like that. Having put the label does not prove, doesn't identify that you are president or king of the whole world. That alone doesn't prove, so there's need of something else, something more than that you see [pause]. In order, there's need of something else than that you see than just labeling. In order to establish you see in order to exist the king or the president, in order to be true, the basis on which one label king or president you see the base has to be valid base which has qualifications or which has received that position or which does that function. Then, on that, president or king is true, on that, depending on that it is true. But when the basis, the aggregates, basis, is not in that position, is not doing those activities then you see labeling king or president on that, that alone does not make the king or president on this, true, depending on these aggregates, it doesn't become true.

Otherwise, in a country, everyone wants to become president of a country you see as almost everyone wants to become president, wants to have power you see then you just label yourself, I am president of the country, then everyone become president you see if the labeling is enough. So then you don't need to go to job because you cut, you buy a lot of paper, you cut, and pile it up in the house and then say, I have a million dollars you know millions is very small, so let's say trillions, you fill up the whole house with the paper you know you cut newspaper and then pile it up the whole house you know then you label all these as dollars, deutsch mark or then in this way, [snaps fingers] you can become millionaire in one day you know just by labeling you become millionaire, just only by labeling you know that day, just cutting, piling up a lot of newspaper, cutting, pile up and you call all this dollars. So the label alone, so therefore you see why you cannot take these newspapers that you've cut in pieces you know go to a supermarket, and you cannot use as dollars is because, why you cannot use is because other people don't accept you know why you can't buy things, you know food, things from the shop, department stores you see you can't get things you know that is because other people don't accept, why other people don't accept is because what you are giving is newspaper, it's not, that is not the basis, that doesn't have the qualifications, that piece of newspaper cut that doesn't have the proper design, that valid base which has all those designs and quality of the paper and all the designs you see it doesn't have. So that which is the base, it is not that base which functions.

So because it is not a valid base, which has all those particular quality of paper and designs, all these things, so therefore there's no base, it is not a valid base so therefore you see people, even if you from your side label dollar, but other people don't label on that, dollar you see even you label dollar, but other people in the shops, they don't label on that dollar. So that's why you cannot use it, on that newspaper you cannot do the function of buying, the piece of newspaper you see cannot do the function of buying you see even one day lunch from the supermarket, you can't get.

So you see having put a label of heresy is not enough, that alone does not make, people agreed and put the label heresy, that alone cannot make you see as you see other people putting name heresy on the faith of reincarnation or karma, that cannot change, that cannot make reincarnation not exist, you understand? This is the essential point to understand, the argument what I'm trying to come to the point is this, other putting the label heresy that alone cannot make, what object of this faith to not exist. So you see there is need, as you label heresy, to exist heresy, there's need of something else, there's need of another reason and that [alone does not make it heresy.]

[tape change]

...that faith has to be valid. So it all comes to the point, whether, in the experience, in the reality, whether reincarnation exist or not you see like that in the experience, in the reality. Not so much a problem of people's different philosophies, not only following the philosophy, the view you see. So if it's up to the philosophy, if it's not up to the experience or the reality, it's it's up to the philosophy, if it's up to what people say, then life becomes very confused. So then you see becomes very puzzled you see if one has to accept what everyone says you see the right or wrong, without your own experiment from your, without developing your own wisdom and experimenting on that, without doing that, if one is going to accept what everyone says, this is right, this is wrong you see then one say this is right, one say this is wrong, then it becomes you see very confused, it only brings in to confusion. So, stop here.

So therefore the meditations on reincarnation, the karma, it's very important to really examine with your own wisdom, by using your own wisdom, to do meditation, to check.

So yeah, just to finish this last one, then this part of the subject is finished, completed. So these complete karma has four suffering results, ripening aspect result in the lower realms, then creating the result similar to the cause, when one is born as human being doing the heresy again you know you see in these things, karma and the four noble truths you know these things, that there's no such thing. And then something that which exists, something that which is experienced and which exists, then believing it does not exist. However so again you see having the heresy and then, experiencing the result similar to the cause is you see that you see difficult to understand the right view, difficult to understand karma, difficult to feel, difficult to rise faith, then also shunyata, emptiness, ultimate nature is very difficult to understand, so difficult to understand, difficult to realize you see one become ignorant in the ultimate nature, in the karma you see these things you see are experiencing the result similar to the cause.

And so you see through discussions and through meditations, by doing practice of purification you see one, it becomes, so one understands, one feels more and more karma and you see the emptiness, reincarnation, these things you see one feels more and more real. And so you see and some at the same time you see one or two different from others you see then you see find very hard to understand these things, somehow, even though others' understanding is improving, seeing it more in the experience, seeing it more and more real in the experience but you see still, among these one or two still could not figure out, could not see, couldn't understand you know could not have faith in these things. Also you see even as a practitioner of the Buddhadharma you see even one is practicing you see and then, even one has generated faith but certain times, but after some time or certain times you see comes some doubt you see for example, while one is doing retreat, or while one is doing something you see preliminary practices or you see prostrations or things you see while one is doing practice, retreat you see all of a sudden, a thought coming, maybe this is true or not. So these are past lives you see some kinds of thoughts coming like this, even though there's some general faith you know even one is doing the practice but you see sometimes, so this is the result of past karma, the heresy, creating the result similar to the cause. Or some people completely change, even years of practice, after some time, years of practice you see received many teachings and initiations, having done retreat, many things, but after some years, mind is completely changed, completely the other way you see so these things is experience the past lives karma, the heresy, the result of the karma, experiencing the result similar to the cause you see creating the result similar to the cause is happening you see like that.

So you see when you achieve the path of merit, for example, no, there are five paths, the path of merit, preparatory path, right- seeing path, the path of meditation, then no more learning, there are five paths you see to achieve liberation, to achieve enlightenment. So when you achieve the second path, the preparatory path, it has heat, point, patience, supreme Dharma, so there are four in the preparatory path, so when you reach the heat, the tip or point, patience and supreme Dharma, so until you achieve the second path, the path of preparatory and within that, the second path called point, so until you achieve that level, there's a possibility to rise heresy in the mind, even though that one has generated faith in these things but still there's the possibility to arise heresy you see until you reach the second path, the path of preparatory and even the second stage of that, point, tip. So tip or point means that is the very last time to rise heresy, the very last point to rise heresy. After that, beyond that, then you see you are beyond from heresy, you don't get, heresy doesn't come. So those paths has like that. So However yeah, example like this.

So the possessed result you see of heresy, in the place where one is when one is born as human being then even there oil or gold or treasures you know before, even it is a place like that but during one's own time you know there's no production, could not find, things like that or then you see one is in the places you know that could not find refuge, could not find guide to save could not find protection for life you know guide, so that could be general guide from certain problems, dangers of life, things like that and could be also spiritual guide you know.

So then the opposite of these results is the you see you know so we should also meditate on the having faith, understanding, feelings of reincarnation or faith you see understanding the reincarnation, karma, these things, However the right view, these are the result, easy to understand or easy to feel or faith, these things are the result of past good karma you see lived in morality, living in the vow abandoning heresy, so like that you see with the possessed result and all other good results which one experiences you see to relate to the past life good karma.

So, actually by knowing karma you see the conclusion of this, by knowing about karma, how everything depend on karma, happiness, suffering depend on karma, one's own karma, you you see since it is dependent to your mind, since it is dependent to your action and to your own mind you see so you see actually by understanding karma, you see the freedom that you have. So you see that negative karma what has been accumulated already before, purify that and then abandon creating again, so this way you are giving freedom to yourself you see one is giving liberation to oneself. By knowing that it is up to oneself you see happy or suffering, enlightenment or hell or samsara or nirvana you see or happiness or suffering in day-to-day life you see however this life or future life, so knowing that is up to me, up to my mind, so you see by knowing that you see one can see that one has great freedom you see so one who doesn't know karma, one who doesn't know the evolution of suffering and happiness you see that one doesn't have freedom, that is the one who doesn't have freedom.

Why? Because doesn't have that wisdom you see Dharma wisdom, doesn't have the wisdom understanding karma you see so therefore because of the ignorance, lack of wisdom, the ignorance in the mind so you see there's no freedom, that person doesn't have freedom you see as far as how to eliminate suffering and to obtain happiness, so there's always danger, life is always in danger, like the person who doesn't know there's a cliff, and dark, nighttime, dark, no moon, so stars, so that's like not having Dharma wisdom, completely dark, ignorant. So, doesn't understand karma so therefore, doesn't understand how the suffering and happiness comes from one's own mind you see there's not that, understanding karma means this, this has to come from one's own mind, not from outside. So therefore since one do not understand this so you see like the person, nighttime, dark you know then believing there is a road then actually, in their action, in the practice, going over the cliffs you see However so like this, from morning until night, from birth to death, life is always you see in the danger, risk or like this.

So the person who knows karma, who has Dharma understanding, who knows that it has to come from one's own mind and how to do that you see those different positive and negative attitudes, knowing that and how to do that. So this person you see has freedom, by having the understanding the person has freedom what to do. So the second thing is a question of practice, second thing is a question of putting it into the action you see first the person has understanding so therefore the person has freedom what to do you see to abandon the suffering you see to obtain happiness, there's freedom to do that you see just by having the understanding. Then second is to put into the action, the practice. So that is wrong, thinking, Oh, understanding karma that is not giving freedom because you see understanding karma, so it's up to the karma, so I have no freedom, so that is completely wrong way of thinking. Karma is one's own thought, one's own creation. So, like that. [pause] So this conclusion is important to understand.

So meditation is the same, on the karma, then after that, going over the karma you see as I have gone through, then all the different problems that you can remember in this life, relationship problems, disharmony, all the things, whatever one experience you see then one, what you can remember in this life, so relate it to each karma. So then also, all the good things, relate to the good karma, what one has created, like that. So first you see meditate on all the problems, try to remember all the problems in this life, then relate to each negative karma, this came from this, this came from, why? because I created such-and-such negative karma in the past, like that. And then, after having done this meditation, then do purification with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha you know by reciting mantra, so maybe one mala of mantra like that you know do strong purification, not only yourself but for all sentient beings you know. Then after that, depending on the time, one could do also thinking of all the good things, present wealth, comfort, so as I mentioned before you see try to relate to each good karma you know this, why? Because I have created this morality, this good karma, this and that, then you see so one rejoice the past good karmas you know one rejoice and then make the determination, after you meditate on negative karma then, the problems, make the determination to purify the past ones you know to not commit again you know as much as possible to abandon, make that determination. Then after meditating on the good karma, the result happiness then make the conclusion that you know so if I don't continue to accumulate merit you know I won't experience these things, so you see I will attempt any virtue great or small all the time, then especially for the sake of other sentient beings.

So, I stop here.