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 3: Guru Devotion, How the Mind Labels, Q&A

[We’ll recite Foundation of all Good Qualities]

The Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism or meditation that we’re talking interest to learn, to practice, this is taught by kind compassionate Guru Sakyamuni Buddha; this method, this path, is revealed by kind, compassionate Guru Sakyamuni Buddha. So the medicine given to you, prescribed by doctor that you’re taking – you rely on the medicine that means also you rely on the doctor.

So same here: this method, this meditation practice that we take interest to learn and to practice, however for better life. So this, even without talking big aims like liberation or enlightenment, without talking that, better life just simple way. To have a better life, this is revealed by Buddha so, naturally, we rely upon Buddha. Naturally we take Refuge to Buddha. As we take Refuge to the meditation, the meditation practice, this path that is revealed by Buddha. As we rely on this, naturally, we rely on the Buddha. Naturally we already have taken Refuge to Buddha as we rely on the methods revealed by Buddha – the path to liberation and enlightenment.

Path to the happiness, liberation, and enlightenment that we want to learn, we want to discover, actualise. As we rely on this, naturally, we rely on Buddha. Naturally we’re taking Refuge to Buddha, so, therefore, as well as all the lineage Lamas. From Buddha this teaching has been handed down all those who have actualised the path. From Buddha handed down to our root Gurus.

So, naturally, we’re relying upon all them who passed the teaching from one Lama to another lineage Lama, passed down to our root Guru, like that. So, actually, we rely on all – the founder, the present Buddhadharma Buddha, then all other lineage Lamas, like this.

So, therefore, here it involves asking them to grant blessings for oneself and in the mind of all the sentient beings to purify the obstacles. [pause]

To purify the obstacles [pause] the main one: ignorance – mind which is unknowing the ultimate nature of the “I”, ultimate nature of the aggregates, the phenomena. And then, also, purifying the wrong conception, which is the obstacle, which is against bodhicitta, which interferes to actualise bodhicitta – the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. To purify this, the very basic wrong concepts, and then [unclear] what is purified wrong concepts - the main is these two. From Tantra, what is to be purified is ordinary impure thought; ordinary impure concepts and appearances [pause] and gross mind – the impure subtle wind and mind. From Tantra what is to be purified, by practising Tantra what is to be purified - these things.

Then to actualise wisdom realising emptiness - the fundamental path of Sutra: wisdom realising emptiness and bodhicitta. Those two are main one. From Tantra - method and wisdom path, such as the clear light illusory body, then to achieve the result, Dharmakaya; Buddha’s holy body – Rupakaya, and holy mind – Dharmakaya; the goal what is to be achieved.

When we ask for blessings, receiving blessings, blessings contain all this. The meaning of blessing is this: one’s own mind to be transformed so mind becomes Dharmakaya and body become Rupakaya. Transform mind into whole path – the whole path to enlightenment, method, wisdom; then goal: Dharmakaya, Rupakaya. So the meaning of blessing contains all that. From the root of the path to enlightenment - what Geshe Tashi explained yesterday and today, these two days, about Guru, the shortcomings of [pause] not devoting the Guru and making mistake. After having found the Guru then not correctly devoting, making mistakes – those shortcomings. And benefits, advantage, the skies of advantage of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend, with thought and action, which is the root and that which makes successful all the rest of the path. Beginning of the path, the graduated path of the lower capable being, which starts from perfect, which starts from realising that this perfect human body – discovering, realising, that this human body is qualified with eight freedoms and ten richness or ten receptacles, how this is so precious.

So beginning from that, beginning of Lam Rim, beginning of the path from there up to enlightenment, what makes successful. The graduated path of the lower, or middle, higher capability beings, that is mentioned in Sutra, which is foundation, and Tantra the result, the Tantra path.

So what makes all that successful up to enlightenment is by the root – correctly devoting, after one has found the virtuous friend, correctly devoting the virtuous friend. So when you ask for blessing, blessing contains from the beginning of the path, Guru devotion, up to enlightenment. So like that.

In Tibetan term, if you want to learn Tibetan language, chin-lap; chin is ‘glorious’, ‘magnificent’, lap means ‘transformation’. Your mind is transformed into compassion, into loving-kindness, into wisdom, into bodhicitta, into patience, into lam rim. From Guru devotion, your thought toward the Guru, which is ordinary, transform that into pure thought, devotional thought. That is the blessing. That time, when your mind become...

[tape change]

... You know, to samsara – samsaric happiness, which is only nature of suffering, not real happiness, not pure happiness – which is only nature of suffering. By discovering this, that samsara is only nature of suffering, then mind totally detached to this and total determination to be free from this samsara. So that’s the real blessing.

Then when the mind is transformed to bodhicitta, that’s incredible blessing. When one realises emptiness, ultimate nature of the ‘I’, aggregates, that’s another great blessing. Then Tantra path: generation and completion path. Like that.

Then last one is the Dharmakaya, Rupakaya – become that.

There is a requesting prayer to all the lineage Lamas. Maybe I remember or maybe don’t remember, not sure, all the prayers. However, we do just the requesting prayer to Guru Sakyamuni Buddha. That one aspect is all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, all the lineage lamas – direct and indirect - in that one aspect; we make total one-pointed request. Nectar beams are emitted to purify all these obstacles, wrong concepts just mentioned. And then receive all the realisations, all the blessing from Guru devotion, up to enlightenment – Dharmakaya, Rupakaya including the path of method and wisdom to be actualised right now with one’s mind. So make strong requests. One visualises nectar beams emitted from Buddha, enter into one’s own body, mind, and enter the body, mind of all of us here, all sentient beings. So thinking like that

So now I will lead, recite, the Lam Rim meditation prayer that contains essence of the whole path to enlightenment.

Yonten Shi-Gyurma - Foundation of All Good Qualities

Short Mandala Offering Refuge and Bodhicitta


So what I mentioned last night – did you do some meditation on this?

The sense objects, that which appears to us, everyone of them is something that we labelled. Something which appears to us, is something which our mind labelled, which one’s own mind labelled. That one is appeared back. Something that your mind labelled is appeared back to you. For example, you met a person a long time ago then you meet again but many times it happens you do not recognise. Then somebody introduce you, that is this person – that person that you met in such a place or person who did such and such, or person who has such story, or person who did such to you. Even though you met, you knew that person before, but after long time you didn’t meet, then you meet. You see that person but did not recognise person called Robert. You met somewhere, had lunch together, met in party or something somewhere. So then you didn’t recognise. As soon as somebody says, as soon as somebody tells, or as soon as you remember – as soon as you put that label, as soon as you remember, that means as soon as you put the label then you see the person that way. As soon as you remember means as soon as your mind put that same label then, immediately, you see that person – Robert. You didn’t see that person as Robert before but now you see. You see that person as Robert.

You saw the person’s body, you saw that person’s aggregates before, but you didn’t see that person as Robert. You didn’t see that person as Robert.

As somebody reminds you, or as soon as you remember – which means as soon as you label ‘Robert’ then that person is Robert. So now this is another example. This example helps also to realise emptiness. How it helps to realise emptiness in one way is that the false view of Robert, the inherently existent Robert appearing to you not merely labelled by mind. That Robert, inherently existent Robert, which doesn’t exist but all the time appears and one believes. One has that appearance of inherently existent Robert and then one believes but, in the reality, it doesn’t exist. So helps to recognise this false Robert or this false view of Robert.

First you see the person’s association of body and mind, you see. So that time you’re seeing the base. You did not recognise that as Robert so then you haven’t labelled ‘Robert’ so you don’t see the label ‘Robert’. You only see the base at that time. After you remember Robert, which means you’ve labelled ‘Robert’, then you see the label. After that you see the label ‘Robert’ – after your mind imputed. So that helps you see the base to be labelled ‘Robert’ and the label ‘Robert’. These two are different phenomena. They’re not one. Normally, according to our wrong view, view of our ignorance, might think they’re one. But it’s not one. That helps to realise that what you normally believe, what normally appears to you, is wrong. That is false. Robert and the aggregates, the association of body and mind, which is the base, un-differentiable from Robert – normally, we have that appearance, believe in that way.

So that analysis realising first what you see aggregates is the base, then next after your mind labelled, after you remembered Robert, labelled ‘Robert’ then you see Robert. You’re seeing the base. So that is the normal evolution. That is normally how you see things in our daily life. Every single phenomena - that’s how we see. First you see the base, then you see the label. That’s the evolution. That’s how we see things. Like that.

So, anyway, what I’m saying, before you don’t see Robert. Why? Because your mind hasn’t labelled ‘Robert’. You haven’t recognised. Your mind hasn’t labelled. After you remembered, your mind labelled, and then you see Robert.

So I’m relating to last night explanation. I gave example of A, B, C, D – how we see A, B, C, D. Up to that is alphabet. How we see the alphabet. I mentioned evolution – so, like that. I’m using Robert like this as another example of what appears to us as our mind labelled - another example in our life.

When somebody is angry to you, or when somebody dislike you, you help that person, you give a cup of tea to that person or whatever and that person doesn’t say ‘thank you’. Person walks in front of you with ‘nose up’, with nose in the sky. Anyway, what is it that upsets you? What is it that upsets you? Does it upset you or not?

Very much?


What is it that upsets you? Why it makes you upset?


Yeah. So why it should make upset you, even they don’t like you? Why should upset you?


You want hear?


A le! But that [unclear]? But why should upset? Why should upset you?


Offends. Yeah.


Mmm Why? But why it should upset ego?


Price? You put your price on the person? You mean you bid the person – how much price? How much cost the person? No I’m joking. I just didn’t hear properly. I didn’t hear properly what you said.

[students: pride]

Oh, I see, because you have pride. Yeah. Pride – after I think you mentioned something else more. I thought you mentioned more than that before – pride and something else?


Oh, I see.


Label pride on that person?


Oh, you [student] oh, I see, you interpreted that person doing something wrong. Yeah? Is that what you’re saying?


I think that is there. But why that should upset you?


Why it should upset ego?


That person is telling you that label is not like that


Yes. Yes


Mmm a le You mean label that you believe. That you have means - you mean the reputation what you have or what you believe? The good things what you want to believe, what you believe for yourself?


Because the other person didn’t put the label that you want, so then you get upset, yeah? Is that what you’re saying? That’s what you mean? Other person put a different label than your own label. Mmm Like what?


If somebody calls you ‘ice cream’, you get upset?

[student] You want to be ice cream?

Then somebody’s going to enjoy you. I’m joking. Sorry, I didn’t let you speak. What did you say? What example you’re going to give?

[student] You want good reputation. The person didn’t give you good reputation – that’s why? Like that? You want to have good reputation and person didn’t give good reputation – like that?

Something like that?

So why it upset ego? Why it should upset ego?


I see. Oh, it has meaning. Everything what you’re saying has meaning. All your answer has meaning.

You said why the ego get upset is because [student] false image of oneself [student] Mmm [student] other person is attacking to that projection.


I see, connect to that. Mmm. That other person is not connecting. Because ego get upset that person is only connecting your false self; your self that which is false. The other person is only connecting to that. That person is not connecting to your self which exists. That person is not connecting that. That person not talking to that – the self which exists, the self which is not false. The other person is not talking to that. The other person is talking to only your self who do not exist, yeah? That’s why the ego get upset. Huh?

You made much more profound than I expected.

[tape change]

If you get beaten by somebody do you get upset also? If you get beaten by somebody, do you get upset also? Beaten. Not bitten. Beaten, with ropes; with leather or ropes, beaten. Do you get upset? Huh? Yeah?

And if you ask to be beaten, do you get upset? It’s the same beating; beating is same – if you asked for it. If it is something you asked for then if you get beaten you get pleasure, right? Right?

But if it’s not, but if it’s something which you haven’t asked then you’re beaten, you get upset, right? If you asked for it then you don’t get upset, you get pleasure – huh? Is it like that? So here it becomes very interesting. If you asked for it – beating is same – if you asked for it you don’t get upset – even get happy!


No, your English is good, yeah.

[student] when things go the way we want ----- we just get upset when -------

Other student

Thank you very much. You’re right. You’re right. Perfectly right.

So, being beaten is same but whether you get upset or not t depends on the person who beats you, right? If it is a person whom you want to beat you then it’s no problem at all But if it’s a person that you don’t like to be beaten, if it’s a person whom you don’t like to beat you, then that become problem. Right?

Huh? If it’s a person whom you like to beat you there’s no problem. Beating’s same – exactly same. Maybe amount of beating same, how heavy beating same. If person who beat you is somebody whom you like to beat you, whom you wish to beat you then it’s no problem. You enjoy. But if it’s person that you don’t like, don’t interest to beat you, then it become problem to you. Other one doesn’t become problem to you. Same beating: same amount, heavy, same.

However, again, this is totally – I heard in the West people pay money to beat you. You pay money to beat you. I’m talking about that. You pay money to beat you! Business people go there to that place – pay money to beat you. I’m talking about that.

So that place, they don’t get angry. They don’t get upset. Even you pay money for it – to beat. So that person labelled that beating ‘good’. Here the point is that why is not upset, the person labelled ‘good’ the beating done by those particular persons at that place, so that same business person come out of that place where he had to pay money to beating. Come the place, [unclear] then somebody beat. Before he goes into the car somebody beat [unclear] get upset. That he will terribly upset and angry - then he will sue that person; immediately hand over the person to the police. So there’s big differences you see. When he was in that place, that beating could be even heavier beating, but that one, for him is not a problem. It’s a pleasure. And then, right after he came out of that place, somebody in the street comes along and beat – could be even lighter than how he was beaten inside, in that place where he pays money, but incredibly get angry, sue that person, like that. Or, maybe, beat back that person, revenge on that person. So, here, this person labelled ‘bad’, right after he came out of the house. Beaten by stranger. With that one, this person labelled ‘bad’. At the place being beaten by those girls then this person called ‘good’, labelled ‘good’. Like that.

So due to different label, due to what label you put to it – other one you put good label, you labelled ‘good’. Then, outside, when a stranger come by and beat, put negative label, ‘bad’. So, in that particular place where you ask to be beaten by that girl, the person, the business- person, doesn’t get upset. He wants to be more beaten. He doesn’t get upset because he labelled ‘good’ so doesn’t get upset. Outside he get upset because he labelled ‘bad’ even though beating could be much smaller, like that.

So, here you see, what upsets you, what doesn’t upset you, you see the point What upset you, what doesn’t upset you, dependent on what kind of label you put it. One beating could call ‘good’, one beating that person label ‘bad’, even if is much smaller beating; much smaller hurt. But the person’s mind labelled ‘bad’ so they have huge problem; because your mind labelled ‘bad’ becomes huge problem.

Whom you paid the money to go to beat you even though it’s much more harder, heavy beating, but the person labelled ‘good’ so person thinks that’s a pleasure instead of thinking it’s a problem, bad. Even if the beating is same depending what label you put, whether it become problem or not problem, is totally dependent what label your mind put on it – negative or positive, put good or bad. Then, depending on what label you put, it appears bad to you – one bad, one good. So like that.