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, Oral Transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra

I think better to talk more on the karma then emptiness at the moment. Some introduction, I’m not sure, but to get some idea in our life what is false, what is truth. In our life what is the false and what is the truth? In your view what is the false, what is the truth? What’s the reality? What exists? What doesn’t exist? Actually, this is the most important, extremely important subject to learn, to study, to meditate, to realise. The reason why we are suffering, why we have to die and reborn is because being ignorant in this subject: what is false and what is truth. Not knowing this.

What is the fault that we have in the perception, in the view of our mind, in the reality, the truth that exists. The “I” which doesn’t exist is the false “I”. Not knowing “I” which exists, “I” which doesn’t exist. Not knowing this; unable to realise this. So this becomes the root of all our sufferings. When you’re unable to realise the false and truth of the phenomena, when you’re unable to discover this, realise this, when you’re unable to differentiate this, differentiate false and truth, when you’re unable to differentiate then that becomes the basis to arise attachment to that object. Because you’re unable to differentiate false and truth of that phenomena so, on that basis, hallucination, then attachment, anger, all these emotional thoughts arises. Again you build up – already you have this huge ignorance, huge hallucination – unable to differentiate false and truth of object. You believe the false. Real “table” on the base – in your perception there’s a table on the base appearing to you; table un-differentiable from base.

“I” on the aggregates, there’s “I” in this body. However, this hallucination covered, as I mentioned the first night, the mind by seeing the aggregates, if somebody asked, “what are you doing here?” “I’m meditating” or “I’m listening to Dharma.” Mind thinking body sitting in meditation position or the mind, one is reflecting, what the mind is doing is reflecting on the Path, meditating on the Path to liberation and enlightenment, mind practising antidote to overcome delusion, doing meditation to overcome delusion.

However, anyway, the thought seeing the aggregates – body sitting in meditation position or mind doing meditation or listening teachings, so then thought that sees the aggregates doing these functions then that thought makes the label. That thought which sees the aggregates doing these activities, functions, then that thought make up the label, ’I’m listening Dharma.’ ‘I’m meditating.’ ‘I’m doing this and that.’ So the mind merely imputed the “I”. Then there’s a projection, hallucination decorated on that – inherently existent, true existence never came from your mind, never labeled by the mind you see, by the ignorance – the negative imprint left on the mental continuum. So like that.

The merely imputed beautiful body for example, then this projection, then this hallucination is decorated on that. Immediately, projected ‘real one’ appears from there. It’s come from your mind – merely imputed ‘beautiful body’. Your mind imputed by seeing the hairs like this way and nose this way, ears this way, then one’s own mind merely imputed beautiful. The idea having muscle on the body makes it good, beautiful. I thought the monk muscle [unclear]

The arms having big, what do you call? This muscle. Big muscles around body – here and there, here, here All these big muscles, anyway .. Because due to culture, by culture – the beauty is due to also culture of a society; what a society believes beauty. There’s so much it is what other people, what the society believes beauty and you follow to that, believing that.

You’re told that means beautiful: hair’s blonde, this way, that way shaped, however, that which you’re told by other people in the culture, by society. Your mind merely imputed beautiful and then, immediately after that, that negative imprint left by the ignorance projected, made this hallucination ‘real beauty’ appearing from there – never made up, never created by your mind. So this hallucination came from your mind, negative imprint. Then, on top of that, after you put the reason, then attachment comes. After you merely imputed, believed in that, after your mind merely imputed and believed in your label, then there’s appearance.

As I mentioned the other night, same: immediately after you have merely imputed this inherently existent beauty, real beauty, real in the sense existing from its own side, never label of the mind, never labeled by your mind, this is there.

Now, to repeat again: due to culture, society, what they believe – such as the shape of this body, muscles, colour of the hair, shape of the hair or body, or other skinny, thin, some things muscle, some things thin. Something thin is beautiful, something big muscle is beautiful, you have idea – mind merely imputed due to society, culture. Then believe in your label that desirable appearance. So, one, there’s appearance right after second merely imputed, then there’s this projection of inherently existent beauty which appears you nothing to do with your mind, never came from your mind, never labeled by your mind.

Then after that projection or hallucination then mind get attached. Attached. Then become painful. Then you have pain. Suffering is inseparable, which is the nature of attachment; difficult to separate from. Grasping. So that’s extra suffering. Already the suffering of that hallucination, that hallucination of inherently existent beauty and believing on that that’s true – that’s already the biggest suffering. That’s the biggest suffering. That’s the foundation, then, on top of that, attachment.

Now, similar, same, the way to meditate, analyse, same with anger. The first merely labeled ‘bad’. The way the person were acting, were thinking, towards you – ‘bad’. Your mind imputed that means bad. It’s merely imputed. Right after that you believe in that, in your label. Then there’s projection of inherently existent ‘bad’. Projection put on that merely labeled by mind, ‘real bad’, bad appearing from its own side. Looks like never came from your own mind, not merely labeled by your mind. It appears like that. Then, on that, you get angry. Anger, which means to harm, arises. So there’s a whole evolution. Before the anger rises there’s a whole foundation you created there: the merely labeled, then projection inherently existent ‘bad’, then anger arises.

[tape change]

...then those two has its own wrong view. There’s so many hallucinations. There’s so many hallucinations piled up. So therefore, now, you can see totally doesn’t make sense. After all this analysis you can see now our life like this, caught up all this hallucination. Then on top - anger, attachment, all these emotional thoughts. Totally childish. No meaning. Meaningless. Total nonsense; all this - total nonsense. Not only nonsense but it tortures you. It makes you suffer. All these wrong concepts, all these projections – you’re overwhelmed by these wrong concepts, trapped in these hallucinations. So this is the fundamental suffering. That’s why, that’s how we’re suffering in samsara like this.

So we need to wake up. We need to wake up by realising emptiness, by meditating on emptiness, by studying all the teachings on emptiness. We need to study whole Path. We need to study all the five Paths to liberation – called the Five Paths to Enlightenment. As I mentioned the other night to be free forever from all this hallucinatory mind, all these delusions, hallucinatory mind, all these hallucinations. To be free forever we need to cease totally not only the gross negative imprints, that which cause, that which gives birth to the delusions, not only that, even subtle negative imprint by studying the whole Path to liberation and enlightenment. Listening. Reflecting. Meditating. By doing these three, the next life, the whole path to enlightenment, which comes in two: method and wisdom, which ceases all the gross and subtle defilements. As I mentioned before, the gross and negative imprint, that which gives rise to delusion and subtle negative imprint, that which obstructs our mind to directly see all the past, present, and future, all the phenomena.

So this way of meditating – analysis - is extremely important. You see it’s baseless. All the, in our daily life, what makes our mind unhappy, what makes us to suffer with these wrong concepts, with all these hallucinations and believing that they’re real. So based on all this, it’s baseless. Our problem, you can say that our problem has no base. Here, I’m not talking that there’s no root of suffering. I’m not talking that. Here I’m saying our problem is baseless.

All the phenomena is empty. Like that. Not like the way it appears to us. Empty in reality. Baseless.

I think I will read few pages again. Only few.

So before - going back what I started to say, this body and mind which is the nature of suffering because it is created by karma and delusion. One thing that I left out, I started but left out, is at the birth there’s suffering. At conception mind took place on the fertilised egg. Whether there’s happiness, whether there’s suffering, however, that first experience is the result, that is the causative phenomena. After mind took place on the fertilised egg, suffering happens, whatever that you experience – so let’s say suffering. I think it depends on the level, depends on who is reincarnating. Whether there’s suffering rebirth – for that being in the womb I’m talking about – whether there’s suffering or whether there’s bliss it depends on who, depend on level of mind of the person who is reincarnated: how much pure, how much impure, the mind, the being who is reincarnating in the womb.

However, anyway, in the case of – so the first experience of suffering, happiness, whatever, that is the result. That is a causative phenomena. That is a result. So it should have a cause. That happiness, that suffering, the very first experience in the womb - that should have cause. The cause should exist before the result. The cause of that happiness or cause of that suffering should exist, cannot exist together. It should exist before. A specific result and the specific cause of that cannot exist together. That particular result and that cause of that, those tow cannot exist together. So before there’s that suffering or happiness, when the mind took place on the fertilised egg, that first experience, the cause of that experience, since that is a result it should have cause. Since that’s causative phenomena it should have cause.

So cause exists before that. That means, by that sense, there’s past life. Cause of that happiness is virtue. Cause of that suffering is non-virtue. However, if it is not Aryan being who are free from delusion and karma, who has completely removed delusion and karma, if not that, then if it’s ordinary being born under the control of delusion and karma than that’s suffering. The feeling, the very first feeling when the consciousness took place on the fertilised egg - that is suffering feeling. Cause of that is delusion and karma. However, that is the person’s body, however, body and mind, the delusion and karma from the body and mind, the mind of the person. So the person’s mind exists before that, that which caused the, produced the result, that feeling in the birth. When the consciousness took place on the fertilised egg.

However, the past life delusion, karma – that being’s past life delusion, karma resulted in that. So that’s why I’m saying by pressing here, by pressing skin here like this, by pressing here you feel pain – that proves, that shows reincarnation. That’s why I’m saying that. That shows reincarnation, that there is past life.

Then if you don’t get liberated from samsara in this life, if you don’t get liberated from the cause of samsara - the delusion and karma - in this life then, again, we have to reincarnate, die and born, die and born gain. So, therefore, this feeling if suffering also shows future life. It also shows future life. Not only past life it shows, it proves, but also future life if you don’t get liberated from samsara in this life.

So what I was saying before, there’s real spiritual practice, spiritual development. What we should understand is real one is that - mind, total determination to be free from this samsara which is the nature of suffering, and then bodhicitta, altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings which is based on great compassion. Feeling unbearable, seeing other sentient beings that they’re suffering. Like you suffer, the numberless other sentient beings also suffering in samsara. Then feeling unbearable compassion to them. Transform the mind having these realisations and also realising emptiness. This is real spiritual development or practice – transforming mind into this, having these realisations. Then, based on that, the tantric path.

Then think, purpose of my life is to liberate, to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings; oceans of human sufferings, oceans of sura, asura, sufferings, oceans of hell beings sufferings, oceans of hungry ghosts sufferings, oceans of animals sufferings – to liberate completely from all these sufferings of samsara and including the cause – karma and delusion, and bringing them to full enlightenment. That is the real goal of my life. Why I am born this time as human being, why I have taken this precious human body this time is to benefit others, to offer this service. For the success of that, first myself must achieve omniscient mind. For that, depends on actualising, on ceasing the gross and subtle defilements. And that depends on actualising the wisdom realising emptiness - that which is the only one directly ceases the delusions, the defilements, including the negative imprints.

With the support of bodhicitta, the method, then this wisdom can directly cease even the subtle defilements, subtle negative imprints.

So, therefore, I’m going to take the oral transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra, Buddha’s teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom from where all the numberless past Buddhas born, present Buddhas born, future Buddhas will be born. From where all the Bodhisattvas born, all the Arhants born – that which ceases all the sentient beings, numberless sentient beings, including oneself, all the oceans of samsaric suffering that which continuation has no beginning.

[short Mandala Offering]

[Request to Turn the Wheel of Dharma]

[Rinpoche confers Lung: Dorje Chupa]

So here talking about how powerful this teaching is. So Ganga means, one meaning is the River Ganges, the Indian – there are four famous rivers. I think all, my understanding that, from texts, came from Mt Kailash, the four famous rivers in India. However, the River Ganges huge river, very long, near Varanasi; one meaning of Ganga is also means ‘ocean’. So the, equalling, in a world, it says ‘world’; in a world equalling number of sand grains of the River Ganges – world equalling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges - so, uncountable the sand grains, so huge river, so long.

So worlds equalling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges. So the men and women living in all those worlds, that many number of worlds, fill up that many worlds with jewels, with seven types of jewels – diamond, gold, silver, so forth. Worlds equalling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges - fill up with seven precious jewels; completely fill up all those worlds. Then make offering to Buddhas – not one Buddha but all the Buddhas - that much merit. And then, from this text, you memorise say four words, one verse which is four words, even just that much you memorise and then you explain to others. If you do that the merit that you collect, merit, good karma, good luck, merit what you create is unbelievable – far more greater, numberless, unimaginable, mush more than the previous one. Man and women in those worlds, filling up all those worlds equalling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges with seven precious jewels and offer to Buddhas. All that much merit is small if you compare it to this one.

One verse, which is four words, and memorised, and then explained to others from this text, merit is uncountable, much greater than the other one.

[Rinpoche continues with oral transmission]

Then it says, if you recite even just one verse, which is four words, from this text, the place where you read this, where you recite this, the place where you read even one verse, which has four words, from this text, that place becomes a holy place. That place becomes a holy object. So that means now we’re reading here, this text that we’re reading here, this place becomes, transforms, into holy object, becomes same as a stupa, statue, becomes holy object, even the place.

All the devas, human beings, suras, asuras, they all respect, they make offering to the place. Like we go for pilgrimage where Buddha became enlightened like Bodhgaya. Where great yogis achieved enlightenment, had high realisations – we go to those holy places or caves, make offering, prayer. The place where you read this text becomes holy place to all the devas, human beings, suras, asuras. So there is no question if somebody receive this text, write this text, memorise this text, read this text, keep this text – even keeping this text, trying to understand meaning of this text, no question, then that place, there’s Buddha or Guru there.

[Rinpoche continues with oral transmission]

This time twenty - starting from tenth page then up to thirty.

[Mandala Offering]

This meditation can be done, [unclear] meditation, especially in the break time from sitting meditation – [unclear] practice mindfulness in this, this will be extremely powerful and good. It’s real science. It’s learning about one’s own mind, learning about your life.

It’s basically what I mentioned before. Maybe just this way, maybe it’s just more simpler way to start, process to see emptiness. Process to see the truth. One example that I normally give, to understand what we see came from our mind...