Teachings Before Chöd Initiation (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon 2009 (Archive #1787)

These extracts are from a series of teachings prior to a chöd initiation given by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, in June 2009.

Listen to the audio files and read along with the unedited transcripts.

Rinpoche doing chod offering practice at Jamyang Buddhist Centre (formerly Manjushri London) London, 1983. Photo by Robin Bath.
Dharma in Daily Life

So, I mean, this is besides hell, hungry ghosts, other things, you see, so, say, so generally speaking, generally speaking, , even for us whom we believe, I’m practicing Dharma, but if you check the motivation, from morning when you get up, when you get up, with what you got up? When you were dressing, with what motivation you were dressing, so, thinking of other sentient beings? Did you dress, by thinking of other sentient beings? Their happiness? Or, your happiness? But your happiness is not enlightenment, not liberation from samsara, not even the happiness of future lives, not even the happiness of future lives, the last one, the last, which becomes Dharma, your actions become Dharma, with that motivation, the very last one, so not even that, not even that. So it’s just the happiness, just this life, okay. So, with that motivation, dress up. Then, when we wash, did you, did one wash by thinking to purify the obscurations of sentient beings, by thinking the sentient beings, to bring the sentient beings to enlightenment. So if one check whether I did the washing with that motivation or not, with bodhicitta, or you see, with the, however with thought of benefiting other sentient beings, so cannot find, wasn’t done. So again, for the comfort, for the happiness of this life, okay, so didn’t become, nothing of this become, didn’t become Dharma, dressing, washing didn’t become Dharma.

Then the, then having breakfast, and then, probably, maybe have made offerings, maybe have made quick offerings, one second offering, one second or half-second offering, anyway, I’m joking. Maybe some quick offering, or maybe just recite the prayers, just recite the prayers, maybe even didn’t think offering, maybe didn’t think offer, but maybe just recite the prayers. Or, you see, maybe you did make offering, but then, but the motivation of eating, so there was no bodhicitta, there was no renunciation, ?except especially empty, it’s very rare, you know that’s, so, yeah, so that’s just, just become, just happiness of one’s own life, this life, so just worldly concern and just become pure non-virtue, so like that.

And then the going for work, doing job, then, then we check motivation, so did it become Dharma, going to do job, or going to study, however, so was there a motivation of bodhicitta, to benefit for sentient beings, wasn’t there. And then, whether to do job or whether to study, or, there was not that motivation, so then, just for this life happiness, not even the happiness, so there’s no motivation even the happiness of future lives, the last, the very last, the last motivation, Dharma motivation, you know the graduate path of, say, the lower capable being’s motivation is not there, so the, kind of the last Dharma, you see, not there.

So, however, and then, so, so what was done is rush for that, but not actual the motivation, say, to make the action many hours doing job, many hours of doing job or study, that day, and, so, didn’t have the motivation which transforms those actions become Dharma it’s not there, didn’t happen, that didn’t get done. So like that.

Then, you see, having lunch, having dinner, all the eating, all those activities, again, so did not become Dharma, there’s no Dharma motivation, even for, even renunciation, or happiness for oneself is not there, the liberation from samsara, or happiness of future lives, only the happiness of this life. So like that.

So, like that, so, whatever the activity, it was done, so maybe, then, maybe when you do sadhana, beginning there’s a motivation of bodhicitta, so, and sometimes even that becomes just words, there’s no real feeling in your heart, so you’re reciting it, so it just becomes recitation, but not, not feeling, the feeling is not there. So, then, just only recitation doesn’t become the action, even doing sadhana become Dharma, so it only becomes recitation, this feeling not there. So like that.

So anyway, so just a rough idea, even, even we believe I’m a Dharma practitioner, and I, practicing Dharma for a long time, for many years, but in reality like this, if one examines. So, I’m not saying everybody, but I’m saying, just like myself, like many others, like that. So, if you really examine, it’s like that, very little in the daily life that becomes Dharma, real Dharma, pure Dharma.

So there may be circumambulation, prostrations, offerings to the holy objects, and the statues, stupas, scriptures, so then by power of the, not from your motivation, but from the power of the holy object, then those actions become Dharma, so sometimes those things can happen, so like that.

And then, then, even we try to collect merit, with so much effort, with so much effort, by putting all the effort, trying to practice Dharma, trying to collect merit, trying to make the action virtue, either there’s no motivation of bodhicitta, or there’s no dedication after that, like that, dedication is missing. Then, as I mentioned before, even the dedication is there, but not done well, didn’t dedicate to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, or didn’t get to seal with emptiness, so like that. Then later, heresy, anger, rises, even it’s dedicated, no question if it’s not dedicated to achieve enlightenment, but even dedicated but still, heresy, anger can make the merits weaker. So like that, you see, if it’s not sealed with emptiness, so like that. Then there’s heresy, anger, ill will, there’s so many of these negative thoughts which harms the merits, makes weaker or destroys the merits, so there are many of these negative thoughts, like that.

So, but non-virtuous thought, there’s the motivation, so much in our life, non-virtuous action we create, has a very strong motivation, and also many of the, what we succeed, then rejoice, happy at the end, so that makes the negative actions very powerful, like that.

So, for example, for example, as it is mentioned in Bodhicaryavatara [Tibetan], so having made charity and offerings to the buddha, so forth, done for thousands [Tibetan], collected merits for a thousand eons, [Tibetan] arising anger in one second, arising anger in one second, then, destroys all that [Tibetan]. So all those merits get destroyed by one second rising anger, say, rising anger one second [snaps fingers] destroys all that.

So that is a non-bodhisattva, non-bodhisattva get angry to a bodhisattva, so yourself, who’s not a bodhisattva get angry to a bodhisattva.

So we cannot tell, we cannot tell, we cannot judge externally who is a bodhisattva, who is not a bodhisattva, just the external view, just by ______ ?of that, cannot judge who is, who is not. Because you don’t see that person as a bodhisattva, say, that doesn’t prove that is not a bodhisattva. So, you don’t see that living being as a buddha, so that doesn’t become logical, logic, that’s not buddha. Because you don’t see that’s buddha, that doesn’t become logical reason, that doesn’t prove, that is not buddha.

Only when we have, only we have pure karma, only when our defilements become thinner, purified, thinner, when you have pure karma, then you see that living being is a buddha, you see with that qualities. So, whenever our mind is very obscured, doesn’t have pure karma, then, cannot see, you see only, even it’s buddha, you see only sentient being, having delusion, having sicknesses, having delusion, having suffering, sicknesses, having mistakes in the actions, so like that, which is a projection of one’s own, the obscured mind, obscured mind, the negative karma. So the, so like this.

So therefore, in our life, in our life, we, who is buddha, actually buddha, that particular, I mean Tara or whatever, Manjushri, or those male, female tantric deities, so, enlightened beings, but how you see that living being is according to your, if your mind is impure, then you see impure there, so that project, that project impure appearance, having delusion, having mistakes in the action, having suffering, it decorates there, it project, the impure mind project there. So you see, so you have appearance as a sentient being, and you see as a sentient being, so like that.

So like this, so, many times, many times, those beings are enlightened beings, manifestation of those deities, but what you see is ordinary being, and, because what appears to you is ordinary being, that is because projection of one’s own impure mind, like that.

So, anyway, even a non-bodhisattva get angry to a bodhisattva, like that, arising anger for one second destroys the merits for a thousand eons, destroys the merits which one, which have been collected for a thousand eons, so like that.

So therefore, say, I think the, so this is according to Mahayana, according to Mahayana, so this duration of [snaps finger] snapping finger by a youthful person, duration of snapping finger [snaps fingers a few times,] so it is counted 365 the shortest time, 365 [snaps fingers] shortest time, according to Mahayana. According to the Hinayana, Vaibhashika, then sixty-five, sixty-five the shortest time.

So now here, so it means, as Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained, it means rising anger, not just duration [snaps fingers], not counted this duration [snaps fingers] but 365 [snaps fingers] shortest time, so, [snaps fingers] one like that, [snaps fingers], one of like that [snaps fingers] rising anger, [snaps fingers] I mean one of like that, 365 shortest time, see, one of like that [snaps fingers], so it destroys that much merit, what you have collected for 1,000 eons, all those merits get destroyed.

So therefore, so therefore, so therefore, can’t imagine, can’t imagine, if you get angry to a buddha, if one gets angry to a buddha, now before it’s bodhisattva, but now I’m talking about buddha, then it should be much more, should be, how much merit gets destroyed will be much more than that.

Then now, on top, there’s the guru, on the top is the guru, how to say, for example, just to understand, just to understand the power, it’s a dependent arising, like the fire has power to burn things, water has its own power to, hts, whatever, the earth, I mean, made wet, whatever, you see, make things wet, that it can do many things, so, each phenomenon has its own power, like that. So now similar, here the guru is one who has the most power, from whom one has received a Dharma connection, from whom one has received Dharma connection with the recognition oneself disciple, that’s guru, then, received even one stanza of teaching, or one verse of teaching, or a few syllable teachings, or mantra, oral transmission of mantra, or whatever, you see, then the Dharma connection is established. So that person becomes the most powerful, after one make Dharma, established Dharma connection, then that person becomes the most powerful being in one’s whole life.

So, maybe I’m going to stop here, but just finish this.

For example, if one offer a glass of water, if one offer a glass of water related to the guru, then, one collects merits far more greater having made offering to numberless buddhas, numberless past buddhas, numberless present buddhas, numberless future buddhas, buddhas in all the ten directions, you collect far more greater merit then having made offering to numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, numberless Sangha, and numberless statues, numberless stupas, numberless scriptures. So all those merits become small compared, even one glass of water offering to the guru, or even one drop, even one drop of perfume, scented water, you offer to the guru’s pores, one pores, one tiny pores, one pores, I’m talking about the one pores, so scented water you offer to one pores of the guru’s holy body, you collect more merit then having made offering to numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, numberless Sangha, numberless statues, numberless stupas, numberless scriptures. So this one tiny scented water, one tiny scented water to pores, say, one pores of the guru’s holy body, so can you imagine the merit? Oh, because this is, in your life, to that person, then, most powerful, this is the most powerful object, most powerful object, most powerful holy object.

So now similar, similar, if one praise to the guru, then same, merits far more greater than having made offering or praise to numberless Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, numberless statues, stupas, scriptures, all that, you see.

So if one criticizes, say, even one criticism to guru, now, because that’s the most powerful holy object among all the holy objects, so therefore, negative karma is much heavier than having criticized to numberless Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and all the holy objects, statues, stupas, scriptures, all the numberless Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, you see, all those become small, compared to this one, so like that.

So as far as negative karma, any mistakes, to, relationship with the guru, like that. But any positive things, any positive action, respect or whatever, praise or obtaining advice, fulfilling the holy wishes, however, the good karma is the most powerful, the most extensive merit one accumulate, so like that.

So therefore, therefore, here, to finish this talk, so now here, if one gets angry, I mentioned before buddha, should be much more. If the bodhisattva like this, then buddha, one get angry, get angry shortest time like that, in one shortest time, then, unbelievable, most unbelievable, unbelievable heavy, destroy the merits, so 1,000 eons’ merits get destroyed by rising anger to a bodhisattva in one shortest time. There are 365, in one shortest time, then now the, now to buddha, can you imagine, how many thousands, can be many thousands eons merits were destroyed, by rising anger, one shortest time, like that, to buddha. So now here, guru, so can’t imagine, so like that, so that will be most, the heaviest one.

But here, in the lamrim outline, the lamrim outline, in the guru devotion subject, guru devotion subject, [Tibetan], so if one rises anger towards the guru, then merits you have collected, merits, so, one second, if one get angry then 1,000 eon merit get destroyed. There in the outline it says like this. In the lamrim outline, guru devotion subject, if one get angry to a guru one second, then one eon, hts, one eon merit get destroyed, it says. [Tibetan] So that, and then what Bodhicaryavatara says, or, in the lamrim, beginning of the lamrim, Lama Tsongkhapa’s lamrim commentary, there also, if a non-bodhisattva get angry to a bodhisattva, that much merit get destroyed. One, arising anger one second, then, to a bodhisattva, 1000 eons of merits get destroyed, like that.

So Pabongka, the great enlightened being, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained, he counted the seconds, according to Mahayana, then, [snaps fingers] duration like that, 365 shortest time. So then, Pabongka counted the second is like this, very shortest time. Not duration of snapping finger [snaps fingers], but [snaps fingers] the shortest one, so like that.

So then, according to the outline, it becomes different, say, according to the outline become much more gross. So something to be checked there.

So, conclusion what I was saying before, like this so we think that, “Oh, I’ve been doing this and that, I’ve been doing many year, I’ve been doing...

[End of audio file] [The following is from Ven. Munsel’s notes:

...many retreats for many years, many stories. I’ve been practicing Dharma for many years, I’ve done this many prostrations, Vajrasattvas. However, if you really examine all this, if it did become Dharma, even this life we met Dharma, and we believe we’re practicing Dharma, but if we really examine like this, in daily life, most activities we do become negative karma.

So therefore, now, as I just mentioned about shortcomings of anger, how it destroys merit that you put so much effort, collect merits for many lifetimes, then this life practice, then the merits get destroyed by anger, thousands of eons of merit get destroyed by anger. So therefore, now even this life, like this, so if you add past lives, so, past lives, then born as human being but haven’t met Dharma, then create negative karma, then born in lower realms, can you imagine, so born numberless times, since beginningless rebirth, so can you imagine negative karma, all kinds of things, unimaginable. So if you can remember something, if you have great clairvoyance, if you can remember, might get shocked, might cause heart attack, if you have clairvoyance, can remember.

So therefore, no matter how many years we did preliminary practice, how many hundred thousand we did this and that, _____ nothing compared to____ even one did retreat from birth, _____one hundred years retreat nothing, so anyway.

So that’s why, even we read lamrim teachings, even we do some meditation on lamrim, but why the realizations not happening, easily, why it’s so hard, so renunciation, bodhicitta, right view, not happening, so why it’s so difficult to have realizations, stable realizations, so this tells, what I’ve been talking, so it tells why we still haven’t achieved stable realization.

So what I was saying before, for example, in the airplane, filled with people, all the business people, all kinds of people, so if you think, so now, if you think, just only this life, if you think just only this life, how without relating to their mind, motivation, just relating to their body, it gives you different view of people.

[End of audio file]

[From Ven. Munsel’s notes: But if you look at their life, their motivation, only the happiness of this life, whatever they do,]

...you know, twenty-four hours, whatever they, it’s only the happiness just this life, to achieve, nothing else, no happiness of even future lives, doesn’t arise even for one second. Even they live for hundred years, even they live for hundred years, there’s no even one second thought [snaps fingers] to create the cause of happiness of future lives, there’s no even one second [snaps fingers], not even one time [snaps fingers] happened, not even one time it happened, you see, that thought, like that.

So, this is the life. So, you see, so the motivation is just this, only this life, which is non-virtuous, pure non-virtuous thought, so then all their actions become only non-virtue.

I mean, as I mentioned at the beginning, except some people with a sincere heart, with a compassionate thought, help animal, or help somebody without, without worldly concern, then become virtue, but again, as I mentioned before, then heresy, and anger, those negative thought arises and destroys, so they don’t protect the merits, so like that. So it’s very difficult, even they collect merit, but very difficult to, I mean to last the merits, so this.

So when you, relating to their minds, their motivation of their life, by relating to that, if you watch their life, then, you feel unbearable, you feel unbearable, so how much they’re suffering you see, how much they’re suffering, even though they have wealth and all this, you see, wealth, not experiencing poverty, but, so you can see how they’re suffering. So you can see them, now you see them, how, even just from this, simple idea how they’re suffering, and then especially, you see, next lives, so it becomes very unbearable for you, I mean, can’t stand or it’s unbearable, you see, so what they have to suffer, so like that.

So anyway, so therefore, oh, sorry, I got carried on. I got carried on and on and on.

Yeah, so maybe we have a break here.

[Rinpoche offers the tea.] [long pause, with Rinpoche drinking tea]

[End of audio file]

[From Ven. Munsel’s notes: So what I was talking about before]

...at the, particularly at the last, last part I talked about, relating yourself and outside people, neighbors, people in street, just watch and, just by examining, the reason why I was telling, brought up that issue was, so, I talked about in the airplane, if you think, when you look at the people, if you relate to them, if you look at their mind, motivation of their life, and then, then you see, then you feel so unbearable, how much they’re suffering, and then their next lives, you see, wow, there’s great change, unbelievable change from this, to another realm, and particularly the lower realms, like that.

So that makes, so anyway, so like that, when you examine the outside people who has never met Dharma, who has never met Dharma, leave aside about Mahayana, the Paramitayana teachings, the Mahayana, the Secret Mantra Vajrayana teachings, never met Dharma, no idea of Dharma, and, as I mentioned before, no idea about the mind, no idea about karma, no idea about life, at all, so can you imagine that, so can we imagine, can imagine.

So, now here you can see, why many people, why so many people suicidal thoughts, why so many people unhappy, so much depression, of course it would happen. Why in the world, so many people depression and suicidal, and so unhappy life, of course that would happen, of course that would happen, yeah, no idea of life at all, so of course that would happen, no idea of life at all.

So, you see, mind has, you see, completely not clear the life, you see, so, you don’t know where you’re going to, so, of course, so many people get bored of the life, what they’re doing, try this, get bored, try that, get bored, anyway, so, yeah, could not, say, of course that would happen, because there’s no knowledge of Dharma, no understanding of Dharma, so, of course that would happen. So, all the depression and all the suicidal thoughts, and, looking for something else, but doesn’t know; looking for something else, but doesn’t know, you see. Want to look for something else, but doesn’t know. So that’s the great difficulties in the life, so much they suffer.

So one Japanese man, one young Japanese man died, I think in California, I think Santa Cruz, something, so, when he died, when he died he got upset with the world, with the world he got upset. Why he got upset with the world, you have to understand, it’s quite intelligent, I think. So, you see, he has been believing, he has been believing things are permanent, I guess sort of like, concept of permanence, family, I mean the house, possessions, I mean the, I think, concept permanence, it’s always going to be like this, you know, whatever you have, whatever you see.

So what happened is, the day when he died, so just before he died, so the world is not like that. What he has been believing, that everything is sort of a perm-, what he has been believing, permanent, you see, it’s always going to be like this, his family, whatever it is. So the day when, anyway, the day when he was going to die, so, then he realized, he realized the way he has been believing, the way he has been believing, hts, I guess, have to clarify, I think he’s been believing, permanence, sort of always going to be like that. So then, the day when he was going to die [snaps fingers], so he discovered it’s not like that, how he has been believing, I mean, large way is to say, world, but I think means, family, possessions, other things. So, you see, the separation happened, you have to leave everything, even your body, everything you have to leave, you have to separate from them.

So before he has been thinking opposite. So he didn’t realize that he made a mistake, but he complained that the world cheated him, that’s what he thought, when he was dying, world cheated him. But, you see, his mind cheated him, his mind cheated him, his wrong concept, concept of permanence, so forth, I mean, the three poisonous minds, three poisonous minds cheated him, the selfish mind cheated him, attachment cheated him, anger cheated him, I mean, all that, ?all the belief, the concept of permanence cheated him.

But, you see, generally, he didn’t realize that. So now, suddenly he sees the life, suddenly he sees the, separating from the world, or from the things what he has. So he thought, so this is opposite to what he has been believing. So then, what’s happening, the death, everything he has to leave, separate. So he believing the world has been cheating him, so at the time of death, he thought the world cheated him. So he complained, not himself, his mind, way of thinking, but he complained the world, he put the blame outside, cheated him.

So he’s quite intelligent, I think he’s quite intelligent, but of course, not exact. I think it’s interesting, you know, the world cheated him. Because now he discover about the nature of life, death, so then he has to leave, suddenly, he never thought, so then he think world cheated. So, it’s interesting.