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 4: Thought Transformation is Most Beneficial, The Four Noble Truths, The Twelve Links

So going back, the subject, going back – so now, here, in this case, is positive. You label ‘positive’. With these reasons, as you label ‘positive’, you see positive. Like that.

So what I was saying before, with this special practice, thought transformation, bodhicitta practice, the problems in the life you make most meaningful, best use, most beneficial for you and for all sentient beings. You use the problem to cause happiness to all the sentient beings. By using this problem for you to achieve enlightenment. So, however, in our daily life how to have less suffering, less problem, no problem, only happiness, if you train mind always to look at life situation positive – to look at the situation of life always positive, always put positive label ‘good’ as I explained, gave quite a number of reasons for these few days. So like that. By putting positive label ‘good’. More your mind trained this way then less problem in your daily life. Less problem, less negative emotional thoughts, less problem in our daily life. If you’re able to that, twenty-four hours, there’s no problem in that day. So like that. So more our mind, by following ego, self-centred mind, the mind get under the control of that, the mind get more used of, trained more looking at things negative – putting negative label on life situation.

If the mind become more in that way, trained more that way, then in your daily life more and more problems. Then, after some time, by mind getting habit, getting used to this, then there’s nothing positive in your life. Everything becomes bad. Whatever you see, whatever happens around, everything is unpleasant, bad. Then, everyone become enemy – even the dog barking outside, even the bird making noise outside, everything become harmful to you. Everything becomes distracting to you, annoying you, because your mind is so habituated in ego, self-centred mind. And putting negative label – ‘this is bad’, ‘this is bad’, ‘this is bad’. Then whatever appears in your life, to you, everything become harmful, kind of enemy. Like that.

So, as such, this thought transformation practice is the best psychology. That is the most practical meditation and the best psychology to stop the suffering of life and to achieve happiness from within your mind. From your mind, stop the suffering, and achieve, create happiness. Like that. Next thing I mention, I stop there. So Buddha descended in this world for what purpose? To liberate the sentient beings from the suffering, to benefit sentient beings, to liberate us sentient beings from the suffering that we have been experiencing from beginning-less rebirth. Buddha’s way of liberating us sentient beings is, as Buddha mentioned, not by washing with water. Buddha’s way of removing the cause, liberating us from the suffering, or removing the cause of the suffering, that is not by washing with the water. Also, not like thorn – that which went inside the body – taking out with hand. Not in that way the way Buddha liberate us sentient beings. The way Buddha liberate us sentient beings, not by transplanting his realisations within us, like transplanting monkey’s brain or heart into human beings. Kind of like that or human being’s heart in somebody’s heart. Anyway, not in that way.

Only the way Buddha liberate us sentient beings is by revealing the Truth. That is the reason why, sorry didn’t happen last night . Anyway, so that is like these teachings – teachings of the Prajnaparamita. The way they liberate us sentient beings is by revealing the Truth, by revealing the teachings - Perfection of Wisdom, Prajnaparamita teachings. However, now here, that which is basic teaching is the Four Noble Truths; as I mentioned before, the base, the Mahayana Sutra, the Mahayana Tantra.

First the Buddha revealed true suffering...

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...without cause and conditions, it doesn’t have inherent existence. The suffering doesn’t have any inherent existence. Suffering exists because there’s the cause and conditions, because it has cause. So then Buddha has revealed, has shown the cause: karma and delusions. Then the Buddha has explained whether these can be ceased or not – karma and delusion. This can be ceased. By ceasing this one gets liberated from the sufferings. So by revealing the cause of the suffering, delusion and karma, one comes to know to be free from suffering - that you have to be liberated from the delusion and karma, the cause of suffering. So whether it is possible or not, the Buddha has shown the cessation of suffering. One can achieve this cessation of whole entire suffering – cause, delusion, karma. One can achieve. Then who it’s possible to achieve this, Buddha has revealed the true path – that there is a method to achieve cessation of the suffering.

As mentioned by Buddha, the suffering is to be known; the cause of the suffering is to be abandoned; the cessation of the suffering is to be actualised; and the true path is to be practised. So, like [pause] like these symptoms, the sicknesses – the doctor explained the sicknesses, and from how it happened. Normally they give some explanation how this happened and then, how this can be recovered. The doctor give medicine, treatment, what is medicine or whatever, to heal. All this depends on following a wise doctor. All the success depends on finding and following a wise doctor. So same here – for the success of all this, cessation of the suffering, cause, by actualising true path - that depend on qualified spiritual master or virtuous friend to reveal the path.

So now, here, Buddha has explained the evolution of the suffering – how we circle in samsara. Buddha has explained, the Sutra of Rice Planting, I think. Rice Plant – maybe, plant. In Tibetan called [Tibetan] Buddha explained the twelve interdependent links by relating to the external plant. [pause] Like farmer cultivates the field, the ignorance, the very first… there are twelve dependently related limbs which description, the evolution of samsara; how we circle in the samsara, graduate entering or involving in samsara.

The first, the ignorance, not knowing what is “I”, ultimate nature of “I”, the aggregates such as the mind; so that is like the farmer, cultivator.

Karmic formation or compounding action is called [du che kyi le] – compounding action, the second one. That’s like the field from where various crops grow. From the karma, compounded action, the various life, various rebirth, suffering life, happy life – all these.

Then the consciousness on which the… you see, the compounding action is motivated by the ignorance, and the consciousness on which the compounding action leaves or plants seed, the imprint – that which produces future samsara, the future rebirth. The consciousness is like the seed.

The consciousness carries the imprint, the seed, left by the karma. Various imprints, seeds, which result rebirth in the lower realm – hell beings, animal, or deva, human, however, consciousness of the mind, that which continues, that which travels, continues from one life to another life is not the consciousness of eye, ear. Not those five. The sixth one: consciousness of the mind.

Generally speaking, sixth consciousness – consciousness of the mind. But in details there maybe, different schools have different way of explaining, especially Cittamanta, Mind Only School. However, the Cittamantra School says seven consciousnesses or even eight consciousnesses, like that.

However, so the compounding action leaves imprint, seed, on the consciousness of the mind – that which continues from life to life. This consciousness of the mind is like the seed. One small seed like the Bodhi tree seed or like that, one small seed, that carries power, potential to produce huge trunk and many thousands of branches and leaves, so huge tree. That small seed carries all that potential, that huge tree. Carries potential to grow like that. The consciousness of the mind is like that. That which travels from life to life carries all this imprint, seed.

Then after that, sprout comes out of having planted the seed. Sprout comes. So like that. Then: ‘name and form’. After consciousness took place in the fertilised egg in mother’s womb, name and form.

Name is all the body and mind - all the mind part is ‘name’, and the physical part is the ‘body’. So that’s like sprout coming from the seed. So, generally, like this, name and form.

There’s two ways, the consciousness, the twelve links, the consciousness, you count that where the compounded action leaves imprint, or you count the consciousness as a result – that which takes place on the fertilised egg. Depending on which College text whether the result consciousness is counted; the previous consciousness on which the past life compounding action left imprint, that’s counted. So depending which College text, which monastery college text – there’s different way of explaining. So this is a way of counting.

However, I don’t remember but I think at Sera Jhe we were counting, the Drepung Monastery Loseling, there’s different ways. They count the consciousness on which the compounding action leaves imprint. And Sera Jhe college counts, those texts count consciousness which takes place on the fertilised egg, something like that. I have some vague memories regarding that.

However, the ‘name and form’; Then, ‘six sense bases’; six sources or six sense bases. Then ‘contact’, feeling.

Then, so birth happened already, then, so now what’s related to us – ‘old age, death’ - there’s no end, old age, death. So, actually, old age, in the reality, getting older starts from mother’s womb.

In reality getting old, decaying, started from mother’s womb; from the time after consciousness took place, after the birth, consciousness took place on the fertilised egg, in reality, from there getting older. In the ordinary people’s definition of old age, wrinkles and all these signs of the physical body old age. However, death can happen even before that – death can happen even before that, so comes together ‘old age and death’, like that. So now what’s left for us to experience is death.

One thing that I didn’t say, that’s right. I left out that. I left out in the cause. The ignorance is like cultivator, then the compounding action, which motivates that, is like the field that you cultivate and grows various crops; then on which the imprint left by the compounding action, the consciousness, this seed. Then to grow that you need soil and water – so that’s like ‘craving’, ‘grasping’. Before this life, before we were born, whatever life whether human life or animal, whatever that previous life was, at the death time, when is to end the life, about to end the life, then the craving and grasping, like the conditions of soil and water that makes the seed to grow, produce stem. The craving and grasping rises and that makes the imprint seed left by the compounding action ready to produce its future result – samsara. Like the soil and the water make the seed ready to produce stem, like that.

Then this life, the name and the form, six sense bases, contact feeling, old age and death. Like that.

Now, the conclusion, two things: in the film, when you’re in a movie, movie film, you record many people, country, mountains, beautiful flowers, people fighting, having entertainment, party, enjoyment – all kinds of things make film, printed in that. You put this into machine, with electricity, then you project on the movie screen. Whatever is on the film, then project on the movie screen. So like that.

So this life, including this body, these aggregates, then form, sound, taste, smell. tangible object, whatever, today whatever we, all the forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects – all these appearances, all these sense objects, whatever we have – all this is production of karma. All this came from the mind. All this came from the consciousness. How? With imprint left on that mind: negative imprint or positive imprint. Depending on that, object you see: beautiful, ugly, bad and good, all these things.

So it depends on what kind of imprint, positive or negative imprint, left on the consciousness. That is projected in this life. Whatever we see in this life, include these ideas, all came from the consciousness on which the imprint is– consciousness how? The imprints left on that manifest out. So like the negative roll, there’s so many printed there; then all this what is projected on the screen came from that film. How it came from film is what is printed on that, so projected there. So same like that – all these came from one’s own mind, the consciousness of mind. There’s imprint left on that and that manifest out. So that’s the first thing – how everything came from mind.

Now the second thing how everything came from mind – all this, your own aggregates, all the views you have, sense objects, form, sound, smell, taste, all this what you see. The pleasant sound, uninteresting sound, bad sound, beautiful sound, however all that, bad smell, good smell, good taste, bad taste, whatever all the sense objects. All this is a projection. The consciousness came from the imprint. All this came from the karma, the compounding action.

The second reason that I’m saying came from the mind, which came from the karma, the compounding action. Second reason, all this came from mind, compounding action of karma.

Now the third reason, all this came from the ignorance. Third one – came from the ignorance, including this body, this samsaric body we have, came from the ignorance. Even this human body came from the ignorance so that’s the mind. That’s not body, that’s the mind.

So I’m introducing that. First came from consciousness; second came from karma; third from ignorance. So using the twelve dependently related limbs, using that, is how everything came from the mind.

So, now, usually I say that the enemy – person who is negative towards you, have anger to you, who harms you, who abuses you, now all that from where it came?

You’re seeing somebody abusing you – that you label ‘abuse’, your mind label abuse and your mind label ‘bad’. Somebody angry: ‘bad’, ‘enemy’. All this came from consciousness of mind, karma, ignorance. So, therefore, by discovering this evolution, where all this came from – the creator is your own mind, so therefore, there is nobody there to blame. There’s nobody there to blame. There’s nobody there to blame. The creator is your own mind - if somebody abuse you, somebody harms you, criticises you. It came from your mind – the very root of ignorance. So there’s nobody there to blame.

So it is extremely good, beneficial, useful, to remember this in our daily life when somebody criticises you, when somebody badly treat you, when something unpleasant happens – to remember this, all these sources where it came from. I think very useful. That’s why in Buddhism, the basic philosophy of Buddhism is that there’s no creator outside. There’s no outside creator who creates your life. It’s your mind. There’s no god or something outside that creates your life. Whether there’s suffering, whether there’s happiness, creator of your life is your mind, your self. So here, in Buddhism, you have incredible freedom because you are, your mind is the creator of your happiness and your suffering. Ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, enlightenment, everything, all this happiness - the creator is your mind, not somebody outside.

Not somebody outside, so therefore, we have incredible freedom. It’s up to you. If you want freedom from suffering, if you want to achieve liberation, it’s up to you. It depends on what you do with your mind. Depends on what you do with your mind. So you can use your mind. From your mind you can stop the suffering. For example, like this: by realising emptiness, developing wisdom, you can stop. You can explain another way, vice versa. You can cease the ignorance. By ceasing ignorance you cease compounded action. Then you cease craving, grasping, all those things, becoming. Then you cease rebirth. You can cease old age, death. All these you can cease. All those suffering results you can cease by ceasing the cause, as described through the twelve links. By ceasing the cause you can cease all the result sufferings. By realising ultimate nature. With this wisdom you can cease ignorance. From that you can cease… by ceasing ignorance, all the rest of the cause, then all the result sufferings you can cease: rebirth and death, all the sufferings between.

So it’s up to you what you do with your mind. So, here, in Buddhist philosophy, you are the creator. Your mind is the creator. So it gives you incredible freedom. Like that.

This is same – people think because everything… oh, everything is up to karma, you have no choice. There’s no free will. There’s no free will. Everything is up to karma. You have no freedom (all in singsong voice). (Rinpoche clears throat) No, the coughing is not answer.

Anyway, because what I think, because of karma, because everything depends on karma, because of that, same answer. Therefore, you have so much freedom what you can do. Because everything depends on karma, it’s up to your mind.

The main thing: your mind has all the potentials to be free from suffering, to cease all the defilements. Your mind has all the potential to cease all your defilements, delusion, karma - to achieve liberation. Even to achieve full enlightenment. Your mind has all the potentials. Your clear light, nature of the mind, the clear light, is the Buddha-nature. That’s the Buddha-nature. Because of that, your mind has all the potentials. Because of that, you can remove, you can attempt to remove the cause of the suffering including negative karma, practice the virtues, and achieve liberation and enlightenment. So like that. So here I stop.


We have just finished the section on guru devotion. The subject just finished so here we do dedication this way. Very important dedication if you want to have success in Dharma practice, realisations.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by myself and others, three time merits collected by buddhas, bodhisattvas and all the sentient beings, oneself, ones own family members, all the students and benefactors in this organisation, and all the rest of the sentient beings, may we always find perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend guru in all the future life-times.

“May oneself and all the sentient beings able to see the virtuous friend as buddha in all the lifetimes, be able to see only buddha, and oneself and all sentient beings able to do actions only pleasing the holy mind of the virtuous friend.

“Oneself and all sentient beings able to fulfil the holy wishes of the virtuous friend immediately in all the future lifetimes.”

So this dedication is extremely important if you want to...

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