Universal Love (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Los Angeles, USA. June 28, 1975. (Archive #206)

In 1975, Lama Yeshe gave introductory talks on Buddhism; one in Los Angeles, CA and one in Madison, WI. These talks form the first three chapters of the LYWA book Universal Love.

In these talks Lama covers a variety of introductory topics followed by lively question-and-answer sessions that convey Lama's unique and engaging character. Click here to download the PDF of Chapters 1–3 from the book Universal Love.

Compassion and Emptiness - Part A

…peaceful, enlightenment or inner freedom, we must intensively should check up the action of our body, speech, mind, that’s all. This the most important thing.

Normally we say positive action or morality action or negative action or immorality, we say the real morality action or immorality action is, who make divided is motivation, is mental attitude. That’s all. So, the mental attitude brings action positive and negative.

Sometimes we confused: what is positive, what is negative, what is morality, what is aim morality? Something like that. So actually, it’s very simple, it’s just, scientifically we can pam! check up. Divide. What is morality, positive action, is the action which is comes from the mental attitude is the positive. OK. The other one is opposite.

So, example, we say, the Hinayana and the Mahayana also, seems normally we looking, (?) we looking, something philosophical, something to do with doctrine or something. Actually, if we practical levels if we check up, the what is Hinayana, what is Mahayana, is the, the yana is the mental attitude. You understand?

The arhat who looking arhatship realization rather than seeking the enlightenment is the first beginning, mental attitude is only concerned oneself, by understanding oneself the confused samsaric nature, so he hasn’t got time to look at other mother sentient being problem. “My problem is biggest problem; I must reach such self-realization arhat.” So that’s why we call that kind of mental attitude and seeking self-realization nirvana is called, we call Hinayana.

The Mahayana is, Mahayana, maha means great, yana is vehicle, so how becomes great? It the mental attitude. OK. So we call bodhicitta. It means the enlightenment attitude rather than concerned “I,” “I,” always self-attachment.

So, many times we say, “I want enlightenment,” but our practical and view of our spiritual trip is, becomes almost becomes materialistic action…if we not check up be carefully.

However, the being who has the bodhicitta, the enlightenment attitude innermost thought, the bodhicitta, that is, he is seeking the enlightenment and he becomes Mahayanist. Person who seeking self-realization by only concerned his own problem, samsaric problem, that is the Hinayana.

Why called vehicle? The vehicle, vehicle is the carrying, having that thought, brings you, carry you, into nirvana. That’s all we call vehicle. The bodhicitta, bodhicitta, the action of bodhicitta carry you into enlightenment. That’s why they call vehicle, or yana.

Otherwise, many times we say Hinayana doctrine that, that, that, Mahayana doctrine this, this, this, this, this. We can explain, but actually, it means we have to know. So, can be we are talking about Mahayana philosophy and doctrine and the same time we are person who becomes Hinayana. You understand? You see, it’s not just the something doctrine you talk about intellectual, it’s the, how the, your mind is, which levels standing. That’s way distinct [distinguish] who is great or who isn’t great.

So, lam-rim, lam-rim subject actually explain from sort of beginning the Hinayana way up to end, the Mahayana vehicle, and all the way enlightenment explain. But gradually lead the student such way. You cannot jump, having intelligent mind. So, we have to go as much possible through, then we becomes realistic. Otherwise difficult. OK.

And also, to have, having the experience, experience, concerning others’ happiness rather than principal concerned oneself, first one must have to understand oneself problem. Therefore, look, when we say this prayer,

Rang nyi si tshor lhung wa ji shin du
Mar gyur dro wa kün kyang de dra war
[Thong nä dro wa dröl wäi khur khyer wäi
Jang chhub sem chhog jong par jin gyi lob]


[Just as I have fallen into the sea of samsara,
So have all mother migratory beings.
Please bless me to see this, train in supreme bodhichitta,
And bear the responsibility of freeing migratory beings.]

Rang nyi means myself, myself…OK…as falling into ocean of samsara. By seeing that situation, mar gyur dro wa kün kyang means, all mother sentient being also, having this kind of situation, mar gyur dro wa kün kyang de dra war, thong nä, thong nä, seeing, dro wa dröl wäi means, dro wa means mother sentient beings, dröl wäi means to liberate, not only just seeing—taking great responsible by myself, khur khyer wäi, khur means somebody is creating his things, like that, relatively, but this way is the, he taking responsible the, other mother sentient beings, to liberate or to bring into enlightenment, taking responsible by myself, khur khyer wäi.

Jang chhub sem chhog jong par jin gyi lob. It means, actually, what is bodhicitta? Now, this explains, enlightenment attitude is explained, how bodhicitta is enlightenment attitude…OK, maybe I make distinction, example, if you understand your own problems and that experience you seeing all mother sentient beings and then you sorrow, maybe, “Oh, sorrow,” emotionally sorrow, “How can I do, what can I do, how can I help these people?”—this not bodhicitta. You understand what I means, now?

I understand my problem, I understand my psychological problem, I understand my attachment problem, I understand my ego problem, and the same thing, this situation, having confused the attitude and brings this kind of samsaric problem, and all mother sentient beings, all universal living beings, it’s the same thing. “What can I do? I have no method.” Sort of very emotionally sorrow, sort of, normally we do this way. This not bodhicitta. Especially, if you sort of emotionally bother, maybe you becomes crazy. Instead of becomes wisdom, is becomes illusion. Possible. If you too much sort of pumping, seeing, “Look at myself is completely negative and confused and sorrow, the same thing, this situation is all this Earth, perhaps there no reason I live this Earth, better cut my neck.” I’m joking.

This is the, this the possible, this kind of normal, but if we not be careful, we think this is bodhicitta. Totally misconception, OK? You understand? We have to know. Bodhicitta is tremendous, involving tremendous wisdom, tremendous wisdom, not the emotionally something, seeing something sorrow. No. So, therefore, I saying the bodhicitta is enlightenment attitude. Means, the possibility to reach all mother sentient beings including by myself to reach enlightenment or buddhahood.

Before we like that, “Oh, what can I do? I have no method, “ and you too much seeing, you sorrowful, but when you see that possibility to lead into enlightenment, then somehow the door opened in the mind rather than suffocate and emotionally bother your mind.

That’s why jang chhub, jang chhub sem chhog, jang chhub means, can be enlightenment, OK? Sem chhog means, sem chhog means, sem means the mind, maybe chhog means perfect or magnificent, magnificent. That’s why Jang chhub sem chhog jong par jin gyi lob means, the bodhicitta name, OK, enlightenment attitude, the magnificent mind or thought is the Bodhicitta.

So there’s two things we need, you understand, bodhicitta. Order to gaining bodhicitta, one thing is, rang nyi si tshor lhung wa, beginning is, rang nyi means myself, first beginning you have to meditate, you have to check up, what is your samsaric nature. By realizing all the false conception, sorrow function is comes from the ego, from that, when you understand within you enough, then you can take that experience all mother sentient beings, Mar gyur dro wa kün kyang de dra war, by seeing the possibility to lead all mother sentient beings into enlightenment, taking the responsible by myself. OK, this thought is the bodhicitta.

Technically, Tibetan, we called jang chhub, jang chhub; one is jang chhub, one is shen dön. So these two together simultaneously coming into one mind, then becomes bodhicitta. OK, doesn’t matter, technically.

Actually, you understand now, very important things, the possibility to lead all mother sentient beings into enlightenment, that is very important. And also, taking that responsible by yourself. Then automatically attachment is releasing. Your action is simultaneously benefit others without intellectual.

Otherwise many people think bodhicitta is something dualistic mind. They contradicting: “Buddha, buddha, one who reach buddhahood one must release dualistic mind,” Buddha said so. The, why we actualizing bodhicitta because, anyway bodhicitta is dualistic thought. Some people philosophically argument. Possible. Very good.

Actually, dualistic mind, the view, the mind who has perceiving dualistic view does not, not necessarily it is totally negative. Anyway, whoever beginning understand the samsaric nature or impermanence or shunyata or absolute, whatever you call, understanding, first beginning, only perceiving dualistic view; impossible to reach, the first beginning, beyond dualistic experience. Impossible.

Even if sometimes maybe you see something unity experience but still there is involving dualistic view. The dualistic view is very subtle. It not something easily say. “OK, this is that.” It’s very subtle.

Therefore, remember, the ten state bodhisattva, who reach completely the understanding the absolute nature, shunyata, but still the slight subtle levels dualistic view. They have to go samadhi meditation until tenth state bodhisattva.

And also, the conception of dualistic mind and perceiving dual is different. OK, maybe, good example, maybe, I mean, like that, look at, this way, when I squeezing this [one eye], can be perceive there two butter lamps, like that, you know? Perceiving two butter lamp but does not necessarily, the conception, holding two butter lamp it’s not necessarily. Can you understand that distinction? I’m not sure what I’m saying! Therefore, I must, we, I must ask you. OK.

When we look at the butter lamp, sometimes we do this way [squeezing eye-ball], there’s two butter lamp, isn’t it? One becomes two. You know what I means? [Students: double vision.] Two, double vision; double vision coming but that not necessarily you believing; conception is dual, you now holding; you know it is just perceiving wrong view. You know, isn’t it?

Same thing, same thing, even if your conception is right, even first beginning you experience shunyata knowledge wisdom, that knowledge wisdom has still dual view. But the conception is right, the view is wrong, still.

However, from samsara, beginningless samsara, until we not reach buddhahood, buddhahood, most our relativity mind is wrong view, dualistic view. Pam! OK? That’s all. Except…there’s exceptional; the, except the union-oneness, distinguished bodhisattva samadhi meditation, only. Otherwise everything is dualistic view.

Therefore, many times we say, “Oh, it’s difficult, checking meditation is very difficult. Too much involving intellectual, the energy— that-this checking. Better to stop thinking.” That is ego. How you stop thinking? The thinking or thought is the automatic watch, like automatic. No matter you are sleeping or you are taking drug, the thought is there. Now you understand, really?

Many times we say, “Oh, that’s too much; sometimes.” Some people has this problem, the checking meditation is too much too difficult. “We trying to not think. Better go empty.” Empty stomach; maybe empty stomach is possible but empty mind is, I think, impossible. My point of view is impossible. Yes. How?

Doesn’t matter you say, “There’s nothing, nothing,” that is still intellectual. “I have no nose, I have no mouth, I’m no stomach, I’m no leg, I’m no head.” You can intellect still; that also intellectual. OK. There no heat; heat is too much and so, water is coming here [don’t know what that means]. That is reality.

So, intellectual arrogant mind thinking such way but reality is sometimes miserable. Oh, good. Wonderful. I think we must be realistic, check up.

Real, the Tibetan lamas, the, the, I mean, understanding, all the relative sentient being, all sentient beings’ relative mind, relative mind, everything is perceiving wrong view, OK. So why is first beginning intellectual empty thought come? How? How?

The shunyata experience is not the intellectual experience. If the shunyata experience intellectual experience, then you make up again, you make up intellectually something, “Oh, this is shunyata. I’m here.” That’s also you make up, then you feel, “Oh, I have shunyata experience.” Now you can…you understand…still polluted; still deluded wrong conception mind. So the really takes time to real experience shunyata or empty or voidness; it’s takes time! But can be the degree, degree. Possible. OK.

So first beginner, impossible, something shunyata things you intellectually, something, intellectually things. Impossible. It is actually beyond intellectual experience.

There’s two things dangerous, actually, normally, our spiritual trip. The one way, we too much emotionally “Ah, I’m suffering and he’s suffering, he’ suffering, ooh…,” too much emotional. “Oh, God help,” something like that. Seeing everything is ridiculous. That is emotional. But one way we, this is also extreme, the one way we say, “Nothing.” Everything sort of rejecting. You cannot reject reality of your suffering. You cannot reject. But the skillful wisdom and practicing, you can stop that one, release.

So, two different things is very difficult, isn’t it, to go middle path. One way is too extreme emotionally; sort of seeing relative nature of sorrow and no too much wisdom; the one way is too much intellectual, emphasizing nothingness, shunyata. OK? So to go middle path is very difficult.

Therefore, Lama Tsong Khapa emphasize, order to receive the realization of enlightenment one must have method and wisdom simultaneously developed. So much emphasizing; all the time. Because, you can see that kind of. One is too extreme relative spiritual trip miserable, no wisdom; one way too much wisdom emphasizing the emptiness but rejecting the morality and those things. So, one must have the wisdom and method simultaneously developing.

So, therefore, one should have the bodhicitta. And also, not just the words, “Bodhicitta is something fantastic, the mind.” There is way of practicing explained in the lam-rim. If there is no method, still idea, Buddhist idea, but the perfect method gradually develop, so I think you people are really fortunate, you going receive this teaching. OK. So I think really fortunate Worthwhile. And this is real, we think, worthwhile.

Example, Shantideva, Shantideva. Shantideva explained bodhicitta and also Chandrakirti explained bodhicitta. These both, the experience, Lama Tsong Khapa putting into lam-rim, how to actualize.

That’s why sometimes we call dag-shen nyam-je, dag-shen nyam-je. Dag-she nyam-je [equalizing and exchanging self and others]. The je means to change one’s attachment attitude to others. The countless lives we have been always concerned only one’s pleasure, just, even seeing “I,” try to forget others’ suffering. So bodhicitta, the attitude is, oneself attachment, countless lives concerned only one’s pleasure, that attitude is the self-cherishing thought attitude. So this changing, totally change that attitude, more concerned others’ pleasure than concerning oneself.

Actually, so powerful; this thought is so powerful. Just having this thought automatically the ego is destroying. We, somebody, somebody say, “Can you bring some tea,” something like that, if somebody tell you, maybe inside here, “Mmmm, OK, maybe I get.” It’s really difficult, isn’t it? Even to bring with happiness cup of, to give cup of tea. Isn’t it?

So, one who has the changing oneself attachment to others, his, to do, somebody say, “Could you give me some tea?” like that, instinctively there no something here, going zzzzz [buzzing sound] like that, here. You understand something? I mean…this my experience, going here [irritation at heart] Something, something going on there.

So therefore, it is sort of simultaneously [spontaneously?], without sort of intellectual, is so happy you do for them, giving others. So psychologically, it stops that painful zzzzz, painful, painful attachment, painful is here, coming. It stops. So you be happy. It’s so simple, actually. It is simple.

You see, first beginning we need something, tremendous understanding and determinate intellectually because we have countless lives developed instinctively the, “My pleasure is the most important.” Each time, every minute, every minute, doesn’t matter you intellecting, “I’m not intellecting.” You can say “I’m not intellecting” but still, actually, attachment experience is beyond the intellectual, developed already. So each time you determinate already, like that. [shows something].

So, to order to destroying this, such, simultaneous [spontaneous?] experience attachment instinctive, to stop that, first beginning you must have strong dedication. Not just forcefully—by realizing even “’I lose my best friend’ is the comes from my attachment. Even somebody, my best friend come, and say somebody ‘Can I have some cup of tea?’ it’s going like that, zzzzz, this also selfish, incredible.

“So this attachment, this is the problem of all my lifetimes problem. So, real enemy is the, this attachment is the real my enemy. If I call there is existent enemy. Because it hurt all the time; it’s destroying all my pleasure. Countless lives I have been only concerned only my pleasure, which brings reaction totally miserable. So, I must change my attitude. Instead of concern my pleasure, the concerned other mother being pleasure. Because Guru Shakyamuni, who reached enlightenment, it comes from release attachment by concerned other mother sentient being and helping other mother sentient being. I have been countless lives attachment trip, therefore now confused, confused.”

So, one who really want enlightenment realization, then one must forget one’s pleasure, concerned others’ pleasure. This the most important thing. Is really the psychological things. If you look superficially, still maybe you think, “Oh, this is the still intellectual thought.” But if you really sincerely concerned others’ pleasure and forget oneself, the automatically the selfish motivation is release and less anger, then; less anger. Because anger hatred anger is comes from selfish motivation concerned only one’s pleasure. You know that; you know. You must check up. Just check up lifestyle, don’t think about something philosophical terms; just check up life, everyday life you check up. That’s all.

So therefore, for that reason, Nagarjuna said, “In the world, any morality or positive action is, comes from the concerning others’ pleasure and all the negative, immorality phenomena, everything is comes from selfish attachment…comes from, comes from.”

So clear, isn’t it? Not just these things philosophically we make up. It’s scientifically experience that one. Oh, I think very simple. You must check up everyday life, since you living, we all involve with human being, everyday life, all the time. Without involving human being, impossible. Maybe you becomes Milarepa? Maybe, maybe…and then OK. I don’t think so you become Milarepa forever.

So, this, bodhicitta is very practical...