Eight Verses of Thought Transformation (Audio and Unedited Transcript)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
San Francisco, CA USA (Archive #1448)

A commentary on Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, an essential mind training text composed by Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa. This teaching was given at Tse Chen Ling Center, in San Francisco, California USA, in November 2003.

See also His Holiness the Dalai Lama's commentary on this text.

Day Two: Questions and Answers

[Prayers]

Rinpoche: So, good afternoon everyone. Maybe before I start, one or two questions.

Student: when we’re trying to generate bodhicitta, and we think of all sentient beings as our mother, that generates an attachment. Like, it’s ‘my’ mother I want to help them. How do we make that a healthy attachment so that it doesn’t make it unhealthy?

Rinpoche: I think if you can feel, I would say, if you can feel how you feel with your mother, with all the sentient beings, I think it’s great. That’s great achievement. That’s what I would say. If you feel like you feel with your mother with every sentient being like that, that’s great. Then you feel everyone close in your heart and you cherish everyone. You cherish everyone like you cherish your mum. I think that’s the whole psychology. That’s why we – you can meditate somebody who has been kind to you, easy. Of course, you’re born from mother, but who brought up you is somebody else, father or some other man brought up. In your heart you feel that person is most precious, kind one. Then that affection, that love, you think all the living beings have been kind like him. The purpose of, the main purpose, main goal to visualize the kindness of parents is that, generally speaking.

Of course, even if the individual person think, look at his parents as enemy, either due to society or due to idea believe in society, or influence, advice to the person, came from there – however the individual person look at their parent as enemy, mother or father as enemy, however, that’s just simply due to ignorance. Very simple thing: if they didn’t give you this body, if they didn’t create the karma to receive you, they didn’t create the karma at the beginning, very first time, and then they didn’t make this body, they didn’t give you this body, you wouldn’t have even, leave aside practice meditation, opportunity to practice meditation. Leaving aside that, even just you have more opportunity of even temporary happiness. The unfortunate beings, in hell, or other beings, hungry ghosts, animals who have so much suffering, not much opportunity to have even temporary worldly pleasure as human beings have. So, even this enjoyment, wouldn’t have opportunity to enjoy, to experience.

Even just from the very beginning thing incredible kindness. Like that. Then, on the basis of that, there’s so many. So it’s just lack of education for that person. There’s no education taught about the kindness of parents in the schools. Not so much taught kindness of others. As it’s taught in Buddhism, teachings of Buddha, how Buddha teach sentient beings kind to you, parents and even non-parents, any living being, that is not in there, not taught, education not there which only helps to generate loving kindness and compassion to others; only helps to bring peace to you and to others in the world.

From that then you’re able to take the altruistic, special attitude to take the responsibility. More you realize how kind, precious, able to take the special attitude that I want liberate others from this ocean of problems, causes, and bring them to cause them all the happiness, especially, liberation, full enlightenment. Liberate them form whole entire suffering – from the cycle of death and rebirth, old age, sickness; all the sufferings that experienced between death and rebirth. So, to liberate completely from those and the cause, and bring them to full enlightenment. You get this incredible, you take universal responsibility, special attitude, then from there comes yourself to make perfect guide, to develop all the wisdoms, develop all the methods of Path, cease all the defilements, all the obstacles to benefit others - to cease all that, gross and subtle, by developing in your mind Path. It gives all the energy, courage, to yourself become perfect fully enlightened being, or perfect guide, having full understanding in our mind and the perfected wisdom, compassion, and power to do perfect work towards numberless other living beings to cause limitless skies of happiness, peace, benefit to numberless living beings. So this is the main point. This is the main goal, objective, target of practice; why we should meditate on the kindness of others.

So normally the parents, generally speaking, from whom you feel close, who take care of you, whom you rely on totally. When you’re baby, like worm, knows nothing – totally rely on them: education, survival. Totally depend on them. They took care of you completely. So that’s supposed to be easy to understand that. The reason we’re using parents is supposed to be easy to meditate, learn about loving kindness. It’s supposed to be easy. That’s why the parents are used in the meditation like that. But generally, of course, you can start with anybody whom you feel most precious, most kind to you. Then use that, all sentient being happen like this. So what other, sorry, this is just blah, blah, blah I think, as I mentioned before, if you by thinking all sentient beings are also mother, I don’t know what attachment rises there. I don’t know. It hasn’t been my experience to actual be, it hasn’t been rising attachment to all the sentient beings being mother. Anyway, because I think maybe I didn’t meditate enough so doesn’t feel attachment to all sentient beings.

So I think feeling close, anybody whom you meditate their kindness, you feel close. You feel that person in your heart. If you’re able to feel how you feel with mother, close in your heart, object to cherish – all the sentient beings, that’s great. That’s unbelievable.

Sorry. If there’s attachment, I think something, the attitude of that is something that you want that object for self. It differentiates the genuine love and attachment. Genuine love there’s no expectation. There’s no expectation to receive some return from that person to you for your benefit, for your happiness; to get something in return. So that’s genuine love, loving kindness. But if there’s, if you do something, there’s expectation to get something for your happiness it’s attachment. So when there’s expectation to get something in return for one’s own happiness then that means in your action there’s attachment. So that’s not genuine loving kindness. I would say from there, from that understanding, you can judge in our daily lives whether it’s loving kindness, genuine love, or it’s conditional love. That’s all then.

Student: If there’s a retreat and if you have realization of that yidam…..on that base will you become that yidam or will you become some other yidam?

Rinpoche: Or you become some other guy. Or some other guy or some other guy-ness? Only joking. When you become Buddha, you become all the guys. No, I’m joking. [applause] I’m joking. I’m just joking.

No, when you become Buddha - Buddha, in Tibetan, is called, Buddha means ‘having realised’, general term. However, in Tibetan, sang gye, clarified in two words what is mentioned in one word in Sanskrit. So, sang, eliminated, purified, the gross and subtle defilements – the intellectual delusions, or the simultaneously-born delusions or those negative imprints which is seed which gives rise to delusion. Even the subtle negative imprint, including these very subtle negative imprint left by the delusion the concept of holding things as truly existent, inherently existent – even the subtle negative imprint totally purified. That’s the meaning of sang. By actualizing the whole path to enlightenment. So, according to Sutra, the five paths, ten bhumis. By actualizing all that – up to seventh bhumi is the impure bhumi because there’s the disturbing thought obscuration. Then that is purified then eighth, ninth, tenth pure bhumi. So, didn’t have that, still not enlightened being because there’s the subtle negative imprint which projects the dualistic view of inherently existent appearance. So by completing path then even that is completely ceased, removed. Whenever that is totally removed then the meaning of sang is achieved: eliminated.

Then, gye, ‘fully developed’: the understanding, the realization completed, full understanding – so that happens. So like the mirror where more and more you clean the dust, that which obstructs the mirror to reflect the objects, many thousands of billions of objects. So more you clean the dust it is able to give more and more clear reflection and when is completely cleaned can give complete, very clear reflection. So like that. Similar the mind. It’s the nature of mind because it’s not oneness – the mirror is not oneness with dust so it can be purified. It can be cleaned. Also the mind is not oneness with the defilements so, therefore, it can be separated. Mental continuum can be separated from these defilements. So when these subtle negative imprints are purified then, that time, it become fully enlightened, or fully awakened; completed the whole realization, whole understanding. When your mind become that, that is what the deity’s holy mind is. Deity that is a Buddha, not some kind of spirit, or deva, or something like that; a fully enlightened being.

When you achieve that, when your mind become that, then you become Guru Shakyamuni Buddha - you achieve all the qualities equal the Buddha Shakyamuni has, or what Manjushri has, what Tara has, what Maitreya Buddha has. By achieving one buddha you achieve all the buddhas; the numberless buddhas you achieve. Like that. Those which are different aspect, appear different aspect. They are all one in essence but appear different aspect as they need those different aspects. There are sentient beings who have different karma who need that aspect to liberate them, save them, guard them from suffering, bring them to enlightenment. So like that.

Like in the restaurant, when people come, one food doesn’t fit to everybody. People need various type: various eastern food, various Western food, various types of food. All the people come – to fulfil their needs. So, similar, like dresses – small children there’s all kinds of dresses, then middle age, old people – all kinds of dresses, all kinds of shoes, billions of shoes, different types of shoes, hats anyway, as an example.

Buddha is perfected in the power manifesting various forms with the perfected understanding they need and then perfected compassion behind, from where all this activity, from where all these various aspect of Buddha – many hands or many arms, or many faces, one face two arm or whatever, wrathful, peaceful – many different aspect. Even Manjushri - so many different aspects. Chenrezig – there’s about a hundred different aspects of Chenrezig, Compassion Buddha. Tara – even twenty-one Tara, there are different aspects. So like that because there’s need for sentient beings’ karma, different characteristics; to fit it. So because of all their qualities they can see and they’re able to reveal. What I’m saying, comes out of, behind, there’s compassion. They perfected compassion. So everything comes from compassion. All this to us sentient beings. So when you achieve one Buddha, you achieve all numberless – all the Buddhas. So like that.

All the buddhas have - there’s no one buddha has greater quality, another buddha has smaller quality. There’s no such thing. They are same. Therefore, when you achieve one deity you achieve all the deities. So like that. From the sentient beings’ side where there’s karmic connection with that aspect of the Buddha, there’s___ that possible. Like that. Buddha said themselves, same quality. When you achieve one buddha you achieve all buddhas. Little bit slight helpful?

Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo used an example in the guru devotion commentary, Pabongka Rinpoche explains, the author of the Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, this great enlightened being, who’s actual deity Heruka, he takes this part of the explanation that all the buddhas are one in the essence. So when you achieve one deity you achieve all the deity. So many rivers, water streams, many come to the ocean; all get mixed in the ocean. From that if a drop comes from that ocean that is oneness with all the water – streams, rivers, come from many different countries, went in the ocean. So drop from that is everything. Taking a drop from that is everything.

My memory is so bad I don’t remember quotations. There’s whole quotation. I think Maitreya’s teaching, Do De Gyen mention. In the sense of dharmakaya one in that. So it’s just taking a different form. From that whenever sentient beings’ karma ripened, the minute when it’s ripened, from the dharmakaya manifest without the slightest effort. It just takes the form according what the need of the sentient being, karma of the sentient being. When one’s karma ripened, without any delay even for one second. That’s the Buddha’s special quality, manifest right there for that sentient being to help. Yeah, like that. To liberate as needed, to give advice, Dharma, or whatever.

As it is mentioned in the teaching by Buddha, I’m not blind but I appear as a blind; I’m not lame but I appear as lame. Similar, I am not crazy but I appear as crazy. So, whatever’s needed. Manifests even as spirits; manifests all sorts of forms, all kinds of forms. Whatever is needed that fits exactly to those sentient beings.

And as Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche recently , while Rinpoche was teaching tantric grounds, Rinpoche explained that even before becoming enlightened, even before you become Buddha, when you achieve the very high tantric path, the Path of Unification, after achieving those paths, the five stages of greater completion path, Rinpoche has a very high admiration because he can see the incredible benefit of what this meditator, what this practitioner can do to sentient being, can manifest – beyond our imagination, beyond our understanding. So very high admiration to this meditator who has achieved the path of unification – we mentioned that manifests bridge, water, whatever. Even this kind of form for the sentient being that need. Various forms can manifest. This is even before you become Buddha. Like that. So there’s no question when you become Buddha how much you can, how extensive you can, benefit without slightest effort.

Purpose of our life [pause] as I often mention that, if we are living in the real meaning of life then I think so much of the obstacles, problems of our life rises, comes, because not living in the real meaning, in the correct meaning of life. Real purpose of life – not living in that. Then, because of that, so many emotional - besides all the external so many problems, there’s so many problems within you. All these disturbing negative emotional thoughts that tortures you all the time. Makes you depressed, unhappy, this and that, up and down in everyday life. So much of it, not living, not making, not living in a meaningful life. When you’re living in a meaningful life then it cuts that. It’s to do with the mind. It’s not outer creation. It’s due to the mind. So it cuts the problems. You mind is free from the disturbing negative emotional thoughts, all this afflicted mind when you are making your life meaningful, or living the real purpose of life.

So I think, anyway, if you analyse it like that, whenever you are making your life meaningful, real purpose of life, you are living in that, then there’s peace and happiness. Along with that effect there’s peace and happiness in your heart. When you are not living in that, in that meaningful life, real purpose of life, then that, when you life become out of that, then that’s where all the troubles rises, or creates. With the attitude it creates or rises from within. Like that. Like water, hot water that’s boiled, making lot of noise, boiling up. One’s own life, mind, becomes like that. No peace.

However, in this world how much one achieve reputation, fame, in this world that alone is not the meaning of life, real meaning of life, real purpose of life. There’s so many who have achieved fame in this world, become so famous, but at the same time, worries, problems, build up. As you become more famous, more problems, more worries, more concerns - that you lose, bad reputation, or others become more famous, you become less. So many worries, fears. So many sufferings increase along with that instead of more peace and happiness in the heart. So that alone is not just the purpose of life.

And how much education one gains, how much knowledge one gains, without your mind becoming Dharma, without a good heart, no matter how much education, knowledge one gain, along with that also more pride, more suffering. Instead of more peace and happiness in your heart sufferings increase along with that. So just that alone is still not the meaning of life, real purpose of life.

Then same how much wealth one achieve. Same. As I mentioned yesterday, without mind becoming Dharma, without this pure mind, Dharma, the good heart, how much wealth one has, along with that, then other problems, new problems, another problem, increases. So much suffering, there’s so much suffering in the life. Always we hear and we see the TV, newspaper, all the time like that.

Not only the general education, that even learning Buddha’s teaching, learning Buddhism, having extensive knowledge but then, again, if your mind is not, doesn’t become Dharma, not good heart, then again same. Again, more education then, also, more the negative emotional thoughts – pride, many sufferings. The troubling mind rises. So like that. So there are so many problems in the life.

So if one doesn’t practice, if one doesn’t make one’s mind become Dharma, doesn’t develop good heart, person has knowledge, person has the intellectual knowledge but there’s differences between the knowledge and the person who she or he is. There’s a separation. Like the Kadampa geshes say there’s gap between Dharma and the person – like a hole, big hole. How they expressed, the Kadampa geshes, like that. If become like this then can’t really not making life meaningful. So like that.

However, if one’s mind becomes Dharma, able to develop good heart, generate and develop good heart ...