Kopan Course No. 33 (2000): Audio and Unedited Transcripts

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1257)

The following are excerpts of the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Thirty-third Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000. Included is an oral transmission of the Heart Sutra and an oral transmission of portions of the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

The first five days of lectures are below; the remainder of the lectures can be found here. You can also read the entire lightly edited transcript here.

Day 2: Emptiness of the A, Everything Comes From the Mind

...you experience something came from mind. So when were learning alphabet in kindergarten time, at the beginning the teacher, whoever introduce you alphabet, for example, so on the blackboard it is written. Line like this. Like that and then like this there’s a drawing, design, like this. That time, you’re not told ‘A’. You’re not introduced that this is ‘A’. Just like this – the line like this you see there. That’s all what you see. That time you don’t see that this is ‘A’. You don’t have that perception that this is ‘A’. You just see the line like this.

Then, after that, the teacher or who ever, introduces you that this is ‘A’. Then you believe what the person says, tells you. You believe in that. Then your mind label, makes up the label. Because seeing this your mind, mind which sees this, that mind makes up the label ’A’ and then you believe in that label. You believe in your label. After that then there’s appearance. After, you’re believing in the label that you put, ‘A’, after that, only after that, then there’s appearance. But you don’t believe in that I don’t think there’s appearance to you – ‘A’.

If you don’t believe in your label I don’t think that you will have appearance ‘A’. But, anyway, you can analyse. You can check. You put a lot of labels then you check with your appearance. You check your label is ‘gold’, when you have appearance of gold. You have ten dollars that you label ‘billion dollars’. I have billion dollars then you check! So easy; just one minute, one second, you become billionaire.

Anyway, after you believe in your label then you have appearance of ‘A’ like that. After the appearance then you see ‘A’, then you see this is ‘A’. Only after appearance then you see – only then you see this is ‘A’. Until you see that this ‘A’ there’s a whole evolution there that takes time. There’s whole evolution that it takes starting from your mind seeing this line then making up the label ‘A’ – starting from there. And, before that, you follow, you were told by somebody and then you believe in that.

So now, here, therefore, you’re seeing the ‘A’, this appearance of ‘A’, where it came from. The appearance, your view of ‘A’, the ‘A’ that you see came from your mind.

So like that. All the - after ‘Z’ all the same; all those appearance that you have, that you see this and that all came from your mind. So like that, same. From morning after we wake up, that one day, whatever we see is all these appearance came from our mind. All these forms, here, the temple, statues, all this appearance, whatever appears, the ceiling, the pillars, all these flowers, these colours, all this appearance whatever we have, whatever we see – came from our mind. Whatever we see, whatever appears to us, all came from our mind labeling. ‘This is a pillar.’ ‘This is a ceiling.’ ‘This is a flower.’ ‘This is yellow.’ ‘This is red.’ ‘This is a clock.’ ‘This is a mug.’ Came from our mind labeling – everything. Trees, sky, clouds, grass, road, car, people, all this what you see, all these appearances came from mind. Friend, enemy, stranger, bad, good, beautiful, ugly – same; they originate by mind labeling, your mind labeling.

So whatever you hear, what the sense of ear, the object what sense of ear hears or listens, that is the base. And, because this is there, so then your mind label ‘sound’. Object of the sense of ear listens or hears, that’s the base. The mind seeing that makes up the label ‘sound’. So ‘sound’ is the label and that one is the base; so, again, two different phenomena. But when we don’t analyse it looks like they’re one. They’re in different shape or – that is false, wrong view. That’s the way to how to meditate on emptiness of the sound – how the sound doesn’t exist from its own side. It’s merely imputed by mind. So, again, your mind makes up label ‘sound’, ‘bad’ and ‘good’, whatever, believe in that, appeared, see that way. After labeling, believe in that, then you hear bad or good sound, like that. So it came from mind.

So like that same – smell, taste, tangible object. Same. All those what appear to you, what you smell, came from one’s own mind originally by imputing. The very first start: your mind labeling. Started with that. So, therefore, twenty-four hours, whatever your world, your six senses, the views – what you see, what you hear, what you taste, what smell – everything came from one’s mind. The logic is that. The root is that everything starts from your mind, first your mind labeling. By seeing the base, your mind labels and that’s how things start.

So, first thing, is to meditate this. Sitting meditation like this and when you’re walking around practice awareness. Same thing – how you’re seeing things but also, at the same time, how you see the person beautiful, ugly, depend what kind of label your mind put on it. Including enemy, friend – same: came from your mind. All these appearance and you’re seeing those, and how you see those – same. How you see those is how your mind, what kind of label you put on it. What kind of label you put on it then that’s how you see it. So, while you’re walking around practice awareness of this seeing, hearing, touch, smell. This is very important meditation.

This also helps to understand karma. Karma. Everything came, whatever happens in the life came from karma. This helps also to understand karma. Especially, it helps, it becomes the process, how things they do not exist from their own side; how things are empty. To go into emptiness, to see the truth of the phenomena – it become process for that. So this is very important. Even to do meditation like this even for one week like that is so good, so powerful, so good. And then you know that your twenty-four hours of life experience – like this: depending on what kind of label you put you see things that way.

If you put negative label you see negative, then you have unpleasant feeling. You put negative label by your mind you see negative. When you see negative then, when it appears negative you see negative, then you have unpleasant feeling. For example, your mind put label this is ‘enemy’, what this person does is harm, bad. Enemy. Then appears that way. You see that way. Then your sense contacting the enemy then you get unpleasant feeling, unhappiness. You get unhappiness. Your mind put label ‘enemy’; appeared. You see enemy. When you see enemy then you get negative effect – unpleasant feeling, unhappiness. So what makes you upset is [unclear]. This person is not making you upset. Now you see the analysis, this person is not making you upset.

Who is making you upset is your mind. Your mind is making you upset. Your mind, your concept, is making you upset. Your concept is making you depressed. That’s the whole point. This way of meditating then you come to realise, actually, that object is not what is disturbing me. It’s my mind. It’s my concept. My mind is disturbing me. My mind is making me unhappy. It’s my concept – my impure concept. It’s impure mind. My impure, negative – then that affects me, makes me depressed, unhappy. So it’s my mind is the one making, my negative mind, impure mind, is that one that gives suffering to me, give problem to me.

If my mind pure, correct, pure thought, positive label, see positive, good - then you have pleasant feeling, makes you happy. So making happy also has come from your mind. So here’s the key of your happiness. Your mind becomes your key for your suffering. Your mind becomes the key for your happiness. What kind of label you put. Whether you put negative label on your life situation, on the objects, or positive – your mind become channel, like TV channel. Bad movie or good movie – same your mind is like that. So that’s how, in the daily life, happy, unhappiness, ups and downs, it comes from your mind. It’s your mind. Your mind is doing that.

Your mind is bringing your life’s ups and downs. So if your mind is always positive, only putting positive labels, everything ‘good’, then what you see, everything what appears – good. Everything what you see is good and you have always pleasant, always happiness. Whatever happens to your life, you always happiness. Even if you have cancer you have happiness. Even if you have AIDS you have happiness. Even if you are dying you have happiness. So like that.

So through meditation, of course, your mind becomes path. As you put positive label you see positively - death, cancer, whatever problem. Through meditation, especially bodhicitta not just emptiness, but especially bodhicitta – the compassion toward other sentient beings, thought transformation - makes everything positive. Makes everything positive so you see everything positive. You have happiness. No matter whatever problem you encounter you have happiness.

So this is how you transform your problem into happiness, including death. Especially with bodhicitta you use your death to achieve enlightenment. You use your death to purify your mind. You use your death as path to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. With bodhicitta, all like that. So death does not become suffering, cause unhappiness. Taking positive way, using bodhicitta, experiencing death with bodhicitta it only positive. You use death experience to achieve the path to enlightenment, to cease all the defilements, achieve all the qualities, perfected qualities, to liberate numberless sentient beings to bring them to enlightenment. So like that you see.

I think this meditation is very important. Maybe can try one of those sitting meditation but most important when you’re out, when you’re not doing sitting meditation, that time, do practice this. Especially these weeks you know, to put much effort in the practising of this mindfulness - in your room, outside; to practice mindfulness as much as possible in this - extremely useful. This way you can see, even with this meditation you can see, your mind – as Buddha said, you are the enemy to yourself, you are the liberator to yourself. Depends on what you do with your mind, like that. You can create a hell realm, also, you can create enlightenment – depend on what you do with your mind. Like that.

Dedication Prayers [English and Tibetan, not transcribed]

Thank you very much. Thank you.