Teachings at Kadampa Center

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kadampa Center, Raleigh, USA (Archive #1955)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kadampa Center, Raleigh, NC, USA, on May 3, 2014, days prior to that year's Light of the Path retreat. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith.

In Chapter One, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains the importance of practicing the good heart and the role of parents in guiding their children. Rinpoche continues in Chapter Two with a teaching on emptiness, then discusses his mother's incarnation and the benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. In Chapter Three, Rinpoche gives a commentary on the Eight Verses and advises techniques for meditation on emptiness.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Italy.  Photo by Piero Sirianni.
Eight Verses of Thought Transformation

I will do the oral transmission of the verses. Sorry, I didn’t do the lung or the commentary [earlier.] The very basic thing is to cherish others. I explained this morning why that’s the most important thing to understand, the basic reason, how to live the life. As I explained this morning, all these practices are on that basis.

The Kadampa Geshe Chekawa, that I might check; I’m not sure of the name, who composed this one, Langri Tangpa, Dorje Senge. Anyway, there are the words of Nagarjuna: “Whatever suffering sentient beings have, may it be ripened on me; whatever happiness and virtue I have collected, may it be experienced by others.”

Practicing the Eight Verses is found to be extremely beneficial; the Eight Verses are extremely beneficial. I think it must be Kadampa Geshe Chekawa who found the Eight Verses very beneficial. When others treat us badly or abuse us, or when we are traveling and can’t find a lodging place or something; when there’s problem, then Geshe Chekawa found these Eight Verses very beneficial. The story is something like that. If we look at the basic teachings ... [audio missing] ... what Nagarjuna said.

Generally, how to live the life, the two main practices are bodhicitta, kun dzob jang chub sem, the truth for the all-obscuring mind, [conventional] bodhicitta, and absolute bodhicitta, so the two bodhicittas. This is in order to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to cause others to be free from that. And then with bodhicitta, for oneself to achieve enlightenment and to cause other sentient beings to achieve enlightenment.

The main thing is how to live the life in Dharma and how to transform the problems of everyday life into happiness. How to transform the problems and how to utilize them in order to achieve the peerless state of the omniscient mind, the peerless happiness. Not just the temporary happiness of the next life, not just that, but ultimate happiness. Not just liberation from samsara, from the oceans of samsaric suffering, not that; but the peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind, for sentient beings.

That means to transform the problems that we encounter; to transform the problems into the [wish for] sentient beings to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to bring them to the peerless happiness, full enlightenment.

So really, especially when we encounter problems, that’s how to deal with them. So the Eight Verses contain a very profound meaning. I will read [the verses.]

I received the lineage of this oral transmission from His Holiness Dalai Lama, I think quite a few times, and also from other lamas.

Think, “The purpose of my life is not just to achieve happiness for myself, not just that, but for numberless sentient beings to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to bring them to the peerless happiness, the total elimination—not illumination, elimination—of obscurations and completion of all the realizations. Therefore, for that reason, for that success, I must achieve the state of omniscient mind. Therefore, I must actualize the path to enlightenment. It doesn’t happen only by praying; it doesn’t happen like that, [Rinpoche snaps fingers] automatically, so I need to actualize the path. Therefore, for that reason, to benefit others, I will take the oral transmission of this thought transformation practice.”

If I say it in Western terms, it’s the best psychology.

Sentient beings are more precious than a wish-granting jewel

[Oral transmission]

1. Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit
From all sentient beings,
Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
I shall hold them most dear at all times.

This is the basis of all other practice, as I mentioned this morning. This verse is very important to understand, and I think it is very important.

The wish-granting jewel is something that only the universal kings or certain bodhisattvas used to get from the ocean, from the Pacific Ocean. It is something very rare, much more rare than a diamond or sapphire or any other jewel. It is much more rare than those things.

It is collected from, it was the Buddha’s relics before, much before; it was the Buddha’s relics from the world and then by going under the ocean it became a wish-granting jewel later.

So the jewel is cleaned in three ways. The last one is the smell. So then cleaning that, also that is cleaned. Then you put it on top of the banner on the auspicious fifteenth day, and you pray. Of course, the person who owns the wish-granting jewel has collected unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable merit. Due to that [merit] then that person is able to have this wish-granting jewel, otherwise [they can’t find it.] Without collecting so much unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merit, they cannot get it, they cannot find it.

Not everybody wins millions of dollars or billions of dollars in a lottery; it’s only certain people who have a lot of merit and that merit has ripened. Even very simple people, very poor people can win;  on the day when their karma has ripened they win many millions of dollars in the lottery.

Similarly, to get the idea, [to find] the wish-granting jewel, a person has to collect so much merit. About merit, good karma is not mentioned scientifically yet. Hopefully, one day scientists will come closer, closer, closer, and the scientific [knowledge] will become closer to Buddhism. What’s his name? The scientist that I mentioned before? Einstein, I mentioned. Yes, like that it’s becoming [closer] now. I hope that one day they discover merit, the need for merit and purification, all those things, the ultimate answer.

For example, many problems are happening in America, so many killings, even children killing many people. It’s happened again and again and again, and then old people killing, it happens many times, but the people don’t know [about karma.] What’s the name of the man on CNN? What’s his name, that man? The gentleman?

Student: Anderson Cooper.

Rinpoche: Anderson Cooper. He knows the common people don’t have an answer for that, when problems happen. They cannot explain that. He knew that, he wanted so much to know that, but the ordinary people in the street cannot explain it. He asked on TV why it was happening. He didn’t think there was an answer to why it was happening, but he was asking like that. He knew there was no answer, but he wanted to know. So it was like that. What am I saying? I’ve forgotten now. [Group laughs]

Purification, scientific knowledge of purification. There is a method so we can purify the negative karma. All this is a result of the negative karma of the people or the person who is shooting, the children who are shooting, and the children, the people who get killed, their karma ripened that day.

We can purify the karma; before it happens we can purify the karma, so like that. To really come to know this point, one day it comes to that level, so what the Buddha, the omniscient one, has explained.

We can put the wish-fulfilling jewel on a banner, then whatever we pray for, the temporary needs of this life, the comfort of this life, the needs of this life—for our life and for others—whatever we pray for, we get. For example, Sai Baba did like this [Rinpoche demonstrates], then he gave golden chains or watches or something else to the people, even to the monks from Sera Monastery, the Tibetan monastery in south India. The monks went to do puja, and he gave them gold chains or something—not to every monk, but he did this for the elder monks.

Sai Baba, that was his own merit. Not that the people took [the gift] away to their home, then it disappeared like black magic. In India, it happens sometimes; you see maybe a thousand rupees or something, but when you arrive at home it’s gone, there’s nothing; it was a hallucination. Not like that. But those materials you have for a long time. It was also due to Sai Baba’s own merits.

The wish-granting jewel, we have to collect so much merit to be able to have a wish-granting jewel.

If we are praying, then whatever we pray for—the material needs of this life, for ourselves and others—it happens suddenly. The cars or a TV or an apartment or just anything. [Rinpoche snaps fingers] It just happens like that, due to that power.

But we can’t have a higher rebirth, as a deva or human being in the next life, and we can’t purify our negative karma, the cause of the lower realms—reincarnating in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms; the consciousness reincarnating. We can’t purify the negative karma, it doesn’t happen like that.

But if we cherish others; if we cherish the other sentient being—I was talking this morning about even one sentient being, you know how I said [one sentient being] is the most important, precious, kind, most kind, most dear, most precious, wish-granting jewel for us—by cherishing that sentient being, then from that sentient being we achieve a higher rebirth as a human being, deva or even in a pure land. We’re able to be born in a pure land of a buddha from cherishing that sentient being, with the bodhicitta, cherishing, from that good heart. But that doesn’t happen from a wish-granting jewel; a wish-granting jewel cannot give us that.

Now the ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, we can’t get from a wish-granting jewel. But by cherishing the sentient being, having the ultimate good heart, cherishing the sentient being, then from the sentient being we can achieve the ultimate happiness, liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering forever. Not going down after some time, like taking drugs—we’re high, then we go down—not like that. It’s forever.

We achieve that from the sentient being, by generating the good heart, cherishing the sentient being, then from the sentient being we achieve that. But a wish-granting jewel cannot do that.

Now cherishing the sentient being, from that we can achieve full enlightenment, the state of peerless happiness, the state of the omniscient mind, the total elimination of the obscurations and completion of all the realizations. We can achieve that. We can achieve that from our good heart, cherishing, and the sentient being gives us that. The sentient being whom we cherish gives us that—peerless happiness, buddhahood, the omniscient mind.

But the wish-granting jewel cannot do that because it doesn’t have mind, it doesn’t have suffering. The sentient being has mind, has suffering, so we can generate compassion. As I said, if we can cherish that person with bodhicitta, then we can achieve enlightenment. Cherishing that sentient being with bodhicitta, and seeing that the sentient being is unbelievably, unbelievably precious.

The wish-granting jewel is only for the needs of this life, that’s all. But even that, by our good heart cherishing the sentient being; our compassion, our bodhicitta cherishing the sentient being, then from that sentient being, from our good heart, cherishing that sentient being, oh then we even get the needs of this life from that.

Therefore the sentient beings are much, much, much, much, much, much, much more precious. Then with that thought, serve that sentient being with our body, speech and mind. That is the ultimate practice, to free others from their problems and to cause happiness and ultimately to bring them to enlightenment. So I will read [the text.]

1. Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit
From all sentient beings,
Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
I shall hold them most dear at all times.

2. When in the company of others,
I shall always consider myself the lowest of all,
And from the depths of my heart
Hold others dear and supreme.

It should be “where.” [Tibetan] It should be “where” not “when.” [Tibetan] “When in the company of others.” “Where in the company of any others,” anybody, anybody, any others; I shall always consider myself the lowest of all, and from the depths of my heart, hold others dear and supreme.

OK, then,

3. Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears in my mind,
Endangering myself and others,
I shall confront and avert it
Without delay.

4. Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature
And overwhelmed ...

Before reading that, just two or three words.

The real I does not exist from its own side

We have the antidote to ignorance, the ignorance holding the I, aggregates, phenomena as real, holding as real, apprehending as real as it appears. Holding as real, which never happened that way, which never existed in reality and is totally empty of that.

So this real I, which never existed from the beginning, from the very beginning it never existed even for one second, but it appears to our mind in the wrong way and the way we apprehend it is totally wrong. Then for this real I, we believe the real I is there, even though we can’t find it from the tip of the hairs down to the toes, nowhere. If we check, there’s nowhere we can find it at all, but we believe it exists there, we believe it exists in this body or in the chest or something like that, and then we live the life from birth. I’m just talking about this life, without talking about life before, but from birth and up to death, including death, then with the body, speech and mind, we do everything to achieve happiness for this I, which is inside the chest or somewhere, the real I—for the happiness, to achieve happiness for this I, to free this I from suffering, to not have suffering.

So we do everything, we dedicate our body, speech and mind, everything is for this I. If somebody blames us, then we are put in the court and we spend thousands or a million dollars; then we are put in prison, and then we kill somebody. If there’s somebody we don’t like we kill them, and if we have power, then we kill millions of people in the world, to get happiness for this I.

But this I cannot be found there. This I we cannot find. To achieve happiness for this I, to do with this I, to win, but this I, this real I we cannot find there, it doesn’t exist at all inside this body, in the chest, nowhere. If we look for it, we can’t find it anywhere—neither inside nor outside. There’s nowhere it exists at all, completely at all.

Not analyzing, but believing it’s there in the body, we do everything with the body, speech and mind, day and night. We do everything—killing many people, stealing, whatever, harming others; to win, to get happiness, to harm and to give the loss to others, or to win. We do so much, so much, so much. We study in college or university; so much, so much, so much, and marriage, children, the whole thing, the whole story, is for this I, to get happiness for this I. To not suffer, to not get suffering, to get happiness for the I.

But this I is not there! We cannot find it. We cannot find it—in the hospital, if we do operations on the body we cannot find it. So like that. [Rinpoche laughs] So it’s very interesting.

We dedicate the whole life for that, but it’s not there. So it’s very interesting. That’s one of the main, important meditations in Tibetan Buddhism, so what the Buddha explained, how to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering, to liberate ourselves, to do meditation on that, to realize emptiness and to develop the wisdom. That wisdom directly eradicates the delusions; it removes the seed of delusion. Then we’re free; we become free from the oceans of samsaric suffering.

Ignorance [is eradicated] by the meditation thinking about emptiness or dependent arising and so forth, thinking like that. Then, the other ignorance [is eradicated] by the Dharma wisdom; then attachment, for example, attachment to the body. We think of the inside, all the secretions, all the flesh and pieces of flesh, and wrapped with the muscles, whatever, and veins, and all that, then covered by skin. [Rinpoche laughs] Like that, we can look inside, whether that’s the object to be attached to or not.

Without skin, put the skeleton here, put the flesh here, put blood here, and then we can check whether there’s attachment, whether we’re attached or not. Then put the skin somewhere else, as the great bodhisattva Kyabje Khunu Lama Rinpoche mentioned. Even the skin, if we put all the skin under a magnifying glass, the skin is not [beautiful]. Even the skin’s beauty is gone. It’s like a mountain with many pores, if you look at the skin with a magnifying glass. So that’s the object we are attached to.

Think about the outside [of the body], make-up, the colors and so forth, and if it’s not washed, how we can smell all the things. There is attachment, so we can think like that. Nagarjuna explained there are 65 or six impurities, and so forth. This is to control attachment, then attachment goes away. But ordinary people normally don’t think about that.

Also, the relationship problems, relationships, then it causes the family problems, relationship problems The relationship doesn’t last, then the husband [and wife] become enemies of each other. The enemy is not outside, but [inside.] There are so many, so many, so many problems, then court cases. Wow, wow; this, that.

How to control anger

And then practicing patience. To control anger, the practice of patience is very important. Even if we are non-believers, we need to do that for the relationship to last a long time and to be harmonious. We need harmony in the family, in relationships, with our husband, our wife, our children. Therefore we need to practice patience if we want to have a relationship that lasts longer. For the happiness, we need to practice patience.

There are six different ways to meditate on patience according to the Kadampa geshes, the collections of advice. However, our mind makes it up, our mind creates bad and good, and then bad and good appear and then we feel angry or get attached, all that. So it’s our mind’s creation.

So the example, it’s mentioned, it’s one of the techniques—if somebody beats us with a stick, we get angry with the person. We don’t get angry with the stick, we get angry with the person, but there’s no reason to get angry with the person. Same thing, that person is like the stick, because that person used a stick to hit us, but the stick doesn’t have mind, so we don’t get angry with the stick.

Now the person is also similar to the stick because the person is used by the delusion. The person is used by the delusion, so they have no choice, and so we should practice patience, we should practice compassion. They are controlled by anger, so then because of their anger, we are treated like that. The person has no choice, so we [need to] practice compassion or patience and so forth, like that.

There are many methods, so I will stop there. The next one is,

4. Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature
And overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering,
I shall hold such rare ones dear,

Who are wicked in nature. That means somebody who is unbelievably selfish, unbelievably angry, impatient, very selfish, like that. Also having unbelievable attachment, unbelievable ignorance, like that.

And overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering, I shall hold such rare ones dear. The heaviest negative karma, creating the heaviest negative karma, like the [five actions] without break, then the heaviest negative karma to be born in the lowest hot hell. The heaviest negative karmas—killing one’s father or mother, killing an arhat, drawing blood from a buddha, causing disunity among the Sangha and so on.2 For example, arising heresy, feeling anger toward the guru or criticizing the guru, breaking samaya with the guru, or abandoning the holy Dharma, so many things. Then suffering very heavy sicknesses, very, very heavy sicknesses and contagious diseases, such as leprosy and so forth, like that.

I shall hold such rare ones dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.

The great compassion of Getsul Tsimbulwa

I will give one example, then that is enough. In the past, in Odi—in West Bengal, India, there’s a place called Odi, where there are caves in the mountains. Each year many people go from Bombay to a festival in Odi on an auspicious day.

From Buxa, monks of my teacher who looked after me in Buxa, he went to see those caves and then some monks went there. When they went there, the leader of the puja was the um-dze of Namgyal Monastery, His Holiness’s monastery. He went there and he heard religious music tunes from the cave. He could hear music in the cave and then he taught the monks in the monastery. Anyway, it’s called Odi.

The great yogi, Ngapa Chöpawa, went there before. The great yogi, Ngapa Chöpawa, the yogi of Heruka, came before. There was one lady who was totally [suffering from] the leprosy disease, with pus coming out and something like that. She was very, very, very, very much suffering. She was waiting [by the river] and she asked, “Please take me to the other side of river,” but Ngapa Chöpawa didn’t bother; he went straight [across by himself.]

Later on, his disciple, Getsul Tsimbulwa, came there. Getsul Tsimbulwa saw this lady and she asked the same thing, “Please carry me to the other side of the river.” Then Getsul Tsimbulwa had unbearable, unbearable, unbearable, unbearable compassion, so much compassion, unbearable.

Monks cannot touch … women, it’s a vow, but he felt unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable compassion for her, so immediately without feeling dirty or shy, he just immediately grabbed her and carried her on his back. He carried her on his back. He was a monk and he carried her into the river. In the middle of the river, when he reached the middle of the river, she was no longer like that. She transformed into Dorje Pagmo, the enlightened deity, Dorje Pagmo. And then she took the getsul monk, she took him—without needing to die—she took him with this body to the pure land, to Vajrayogini’s pure land. Then once you are there, you become enlightened. Once you’re born there, you become enlightened.

She was Dorje Pagmo, but due to his negative karma, the karmic obscurations, the monk could not see the deity. He could not see the enlightened being; he saw only an ordinary being, an unbelievable, most unbelievable, terrible, most suffering being. He saw an ordinary being because his mind was obscured by karma, by negative karma. She was an enlightened being with no suffering at all, but the monk saw a suffering being.

Because Getsul Tsimbulwa carried her with so much compassion, because he dedicated himself and carried her on back, then his negative karma was purified during that time. He didn’t even need to cross the whole river, but in middle of the river his negative karma, his obscurations, were purified. Because the karma was purified, he could see the actual enlightened being as she was. She was always an enlightened being, but he could not see that before. Now he could see the enlightened being, Dorje Pagmo, who took him to the pure land in that life, then he became enlightened.

Now here, because of the suffering, so much suffering, he generated unbelievable, unbelievable, strong compassion. Because of such strong compassion, he carried her without feeling shy, without feeling dirty, then as a result he was able to go to the pure land without needing to die. He went to the pure land and became enlightened there. That’s the story.

Therefore, seeing the suffering being as very precious. Therefore, seeing the suffering being as more precious than treasure, more precious than gold or diamonds. More precious than skies of diamonds or skies of wish-granting jewels, so precious, thus giving enlightenment [Rinpoche snaps fingers] in that life. Getsul Tsimbulwa went to the pure land; he was brought to the pure land in this example, like that.

Therefore, being able to generate compassion. What makes us free from samsara quickly and what makes us reach enlightenment quickly is how much we can generate compassion for even one sentient being. Forget about numberless sentient beings, how much we can develop compassion for even one insect, for one person, for one sentient being, it depends on that. That’s the main answer.

Treasure—why it is precious treasure. The person—the being, not only the human being—who has such a wicked nature and so much suffering, and many negative actions, why we need to see that person as a great, great, great, great treasure, like treasure,  as if we found a precious treasure, it’s like that other example I gave. That person is much more than treasure, therefore, we must generate compassion. The point is that we must generate strong compassion, that’s the point.

Take the loss and offer the victory to others

5. When, out of envy, others mistreat me
With abuse, insults or the like,
I shall accept defeat
And offer the victory to others.

I don’t know, when you lead the country, for example, as president or something like that, then that is different.

But this is mainly to practice yourself. It’s like this; this is the Mahayana practice, this is the Mahayana practice of Buddhism. This is also what the Christian, St. Francis, practiced; this is what he advised. He asked his disciple to criticize him because he didn’t like praise; he liked to be criticized. He asked his disciple to criticize him. His disciple could never criticize St. Francis and could only praise him; he could not find the way to criticize, but St. Francis liked to be criticized.

The Kadampa geshes, the great Tibetan meditators, and St. Francis are similar. Not San Francisco, that’s a city, but St. Francis. St. Francis is a great bodhisattva and I have his statue at Kopan. He is a bodhisattva.

Here, as I mentioned to you, I think this is very important. Otherwise, people might think we’re crazy. The worldly people don’t do that; the worldly people try to win and give the loss to others. They think that’s totally crazy, what we think, like that.

In Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, here we have to think about karma. If somebody blames us—even if we didn’t do anything—if somebody blames us then we should take the loss. We don’t say, “Not me, this is him,” or “This is her,” or something. [By doing that] we would give the loss to others and take the win for ourselves.

When we give the loss to others and take the win for ourselves, then what happens is that—if that is done with the self-cherishing thought, of course—what happens is that in the future, in the next [life] and for hundreds of thousands, millions of lifetimes, then we will suffer. We will experience loss for a long time, for many lives, for hundreds, thousands or millions of lifetimes we will experience loss. We will experience loss, we won’t win. That’s what happens, that’s what we will experience in the future. When we give [the loss the others], that’s the karmic result.

So we should take the loss upon ourselves, we should take the blame ourselves and offer the victory to others. By doing that, as I explained this morning, cherishing that sentient being who is most kind, most dear, most precious, then we take the loss and offer the victory to the other person, the other sentient being. By doing that, then it’s good karma. By doing that, we will win victory for a hundred, thousand, million lifetimes. We will win victory for many lifetimes as a result of that good karma.

That is the real [victory], when we offer the victory to others and take the loss ourselves—being humble, like the second verse. Being humble, sincerely humble, and offering the victory to others—that is the real victory. Look at the ordinary people in the world who don’t know this. To those people it looks like, “He took the loss and gave the victory to others. Oh, he is so stupid.” [Rinpoche laughs] But this person got the real victory, a victory for many lifetimes—victory for hundreds, thousands, millions of lifetimes. We get victory and so much success for our wishes, oh that happens.

This life is very short—a few years, a few months, a few weeks, not sure, we can’t say. Anything can happen, day and night. [Rinpoche snaps fingers] We can die anytime. Anything, something can happen and we die. Like that it happens all the time, every day, to others.

That’s why His Holiness the Dalai Lama, that’s why he didn’t want to fight with mainland China for Tibet. He didn’t want to fight how the ordinary world does; he didn’t want to ask other countries to fight, he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to have peace, he wanted to go through peace. Tibetan young people who don’t know much Dharma, who don’t know much about karma, they want to fight, but His Holiness wants to go in peace. He cares for that, even though Tibetans lost their country and many monasteries were destroyed [and people] killed, but His Holiness wants peace, to get freedom in a peaceful way. So like that, it’s the reason why His Holiness is doing that. Do you understand?

We can understand about karma, about making war and killing others. Sorry, I must read the lines, sorry. There’s one word and then a lot to say.

By eliminating anger, outside enemies will cease

Nagarjuna said ... [Tibetan quote] Oh this, we must learn. Nagarjuna, the savior, the great Indian pandit who propagated the right view, said “Even if you kill with harm, by harming, even if you kill by harming, your enemy doesn’t finish because by killing others, you’ll constantly have enemies.” You’ll have even more and more enemies. You’ll have a life with more and more enemies. If one person is killed, then all the family becomes your enemy; then all the friends [of that person] become your enemy. If you [kill people from] another country, then the whole country becomes your enemy. It’s like that.

[Tibetan quote] By harming others, if you kill somebody, the outside enemy will never finish, will never end. However, if you kill your anger, then it’s like all the enemies in the world are killed, you understand?

“If you kill your anger” means eliminating your anger, ceasing your anger and practicing patience, then no anger. You cease your anger by realizing emptiness, by meditating on emptiness. By realizing emptiness you cease the delusions, so your anger is ceased. Or by the pure practice of patience, anger is eliminated. By practicing patience, by killing your anger, then all the enemies in the world are killed, like killed. You have no enemies in the world, you understand.

Otherwise, by killing the outside enemies, by killing, there is no end because we create the karma for the next life. This man, which country was it? In America some years ago. Was it last year? This man was a normal person; they checked and he was a normal person, he was not a crazy person, he was not a person doing strange things, he was a normal person—but suddenly he changed and he shot many people. Suddenly he changed.

That’s because the karma was not purified, therefore those people who were killed by him [in this life] had killed him in the past. The result karma was not purified, then the karma ripened in this life and he killed them. There’s karma involved for both, and this is the result of past negative karma. Then the killing goes on and on and on, like that.1

6. When someone whom I have benefited
And in whom I have great hopes
Gives me terrible harm,
I shall regard that person as my holy guru.

7. In short, both directly and indirectly,
Do I offer [every happiness and benefit to all my mothers.
I shall secretly take upon myself
All their harmful actions and suffering.]

Taking and giving (tong-len)

In short, both directly and indirectly. “Directly” means by thinking, for example, on the road, when you go on the road, for example, in India—here maybe you don’t see that, or maybe in the villages—but in India there are cows and other animals that have to pull very heavy [loads.] They are the carriers, by pulling such heavy [loads] and there is so much suffering.

When we see an animal like that, we should take the suffering. We visualize taking the suffering and the cause of suffering on ourselves, if possible, then that destroys our self-cherishing thought from where the suffering comes. [Taking the] suffering can destroy the self-cherishing thought. Then we give all our happiness, merits, to that animal who is suffering so much.

Then pray for the animal or the person, somebody who is suffering so much, then at least what we can do is tong-len. We take their sufferings and cause of suffering onto ourselves, then give all our happiness and merits to the other [person.] Tong-len, we do tong-len.

If it’s somebody we can help, we can actually help by giving money or giving food or whatever. How we can do, do it directly; or if it’s not something we can do directly, then we can visualize, by doing tong-len. So for example, like that. This is just an example. There have been many other similar examples, but I’m just giving you this one.

Eight worldly Concerns

8. Undefiled by the stains of the superstitions
Of the eight worldly concerns,
May I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

The eight worldly concerns; there are the black eight worldly concerns. There is the attachment to comfort, then if there is no comfort we are unhappy in this life. Life is up and down, and that makes attachment. If there is comfort in life, then up; and if no comfort in life, then unhappy and our life is down.

When there are many people who say good things about us, who praise us, many people in the country or the village talking about us, saying good things, praising us, then there is attachment. And when there’s no reputation, then our life is down, we feel unhappy, we dislike that, we feel unhappy, we dislike the discomfort. Before, someone praised us, but now dislikes us, so our life is down. Our life is up and down.

When somebody praises us, there is attachment; we like that. When there’s no praise, when there is criticism, we dislike that, then our life is down. So, up and down.

Material gifts, like birthday gifts, like birthday presents or like that, gifts. We like [the gift] and we have attachment. But when there’s no [gift]—when we have our birthday but there’s no gift—we dislike, dislike, [Rinpoche laughs] and then life is down. So like that, it’s just an example.

So there’s attachment to those four things, the desire objects. The four opposites are not [wanting] discomfort, not [wanting] criticism, [not wanting a bad reputation] and not [receiving] material gifts. We dislike [and that leads to] unhappiness, so our life is up and down. That’s because we have attachment toward the four desirable objects. And because of that, we have dislike. If there’s no attachment to those things, then we have no dislike for those four things.

Those four desirable objects and the four non-desirable objects—if those four things are equalized, as Nagarjuna said, then we’re totally free. We’re free from the eight worldly dharmas; we’re pure, totally pure practitioners in this life, like that. Our mind controls the eight worldly dharmas, so we have total inner satisfaction, inner happiness, satisfaction. We have great inner happiness, satisfaction.

I have a label in my car and I think it’s very important. I labeled the front of the car. What does the car say? It says, “Avoiding desire is achieving satisfaction, happiness, achieving satisfaction.” Can you remember?

Student: I can’t.

Rinpoche:  On the outside of the car. [Group laughter] “Avoiding desire is gaining satisfaction, happiness, inner happiness.” That’s what is mentioned on the car. And I think some people read that, but maybe they don’t take time to think, however, that’s most important. That is the most important subject in the world, the answer, how to achieve happiness.

Most people in the world are trying to achieve happiness from outside. They don’t get any satisfaction; their happiness is not increasing from outside, their happiness is not increasing. External looking, nothing ... and can never find satisfaction. There’s big suffering. So here, letting go of desire is gaining inner happiness, satisfaction.

Here, both are suffering. The four desirable objects—we have attachment, that’s why we have ups and downs; life being up and down. Then because of the four undesirable objects, there’s suffering.

If we don’t practice Dharma, this is what, the basic suffering life is this. We’re living a life for the suffering. This is what is suffering in the world, for the people, the ordinary people who don’t know Dharma, who don’t practice Dharma. So without talking much, that’s the black eight worldly dharmas.

Then the mixed eight worldly dharmas, done with the self-cherishing thought [but without worldly concern.] When doing [actions of] the body, speech and mind with the self-cherishing thought, then that’s the mixed eight worldly dharmas. [Audio unclear]

Then [activities done] with ignorance, ma-rig-pa, the ignorance holding the I, aggregates and so forth [as truly existent], while there’s no real I, no real aggregates, no real phenomena, nothing. While these are totally empty forever. These are totally empty but we have the hallucination; things appear real and we believe they are real, however it’s totally like a dream, like an illusion, like a mirage.

The ignorance holding that as real while it’s not; holding that as real. The white worldly dharmas is doing the activities with that ignorance. That is the white worldly dharmas.

So without those three types of worldly dharmas—black, mixed and white.3

The other one is ... [Tibetan], so the extreme of the creativity, so no cessation, no birth. You add there’s cessation and there’s birth, but there’s no truly existent death and there’s no truly existent birth.

There are no extremes. There’s no nihilism and there’s no eternalism. No nihilism and no eternalism, but also there’s no cessation of our mind, reincarnation, karma, the cessation of that. [Audio unclear]

There’s no I which is permanent; that’s also how we can think. There’s no nihilism and there’s no eternalism. There’s no truly existent going and there’s no truly existing coming. There’s no truly existent going and there’s no truly existing coming.

I think the ... [Tibetan] means, for example, that the I is neither one with the aggregates nor does the I exist separately from aggregates. The I is neither oneness with the aggregates nor existing separately from aggregates. So these eight worldly dharmas also relate to emptiness. So ... [Tibetan], the extreme of the creativity, the real, believing things are real while they are not.

Things exist in mere name

May I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory, be released from the bondage of attachment, or clinging.

The I, action, object, all the phenomena, how they exist is—I’m not saying they don’t exist, but they exist in the most subtle way—they exist in mere name, mere name, mere name. I, action, object, whatever we do—I, action, object, and all the rest of phenomena exist in mere name, mere name, merely labeled by the valid mind.

It’s unbelievably, most unbelievably, unbelievably, unbelievably subtle when we check how things exist. What is the I, how does the I exist, action, object, everything—hell, enlightenment, samsara, nirvana, happiness, problems, everything that exists—what exists is such subtle phenomena, merely labeled by the valid mind.

Therefore, nothing exists—I, action, object, all the phenomena—nothing exists from its own side, nothing exists from its own side. The I does not exist at all from its own side. That is the ultimate emptiness, the ultimate truth of the I.

Same thing, ultimate truth, the emptiness of the action, the object—or real action, real object—the emptiness of each one. And the emptiness, the ultimate truth of the action, the ultimate truth of the object, so like that, to understand all the phenomena. Nothing exists from its own side. That is the ultimate truth of everything, of all the phenomena.

While they do not exist, while they do not exist from their own side, they exist in mere name, they exist in mere name, merely labeled by the mind.

The emptiness and their existence, the dependent arising is oneness, is inseparable, is oneness. If our realization of emptiness is correct, then it gives us more understanding about karma, about reincarnation and karma. Then all this understanding of karma is unshakable, unshakable; our understanding karma is unshakable.

First we realize the ultimate truth of the I. Then as a result, when there’s a realization of emptiness that is correct, according to the Prasangika right view, then afterward, as a result, we understand that the I exists. Not nihilism, where the I doesn’t [exist.] The I exists, so not nihilism and not eternalism.

By realizing it is empty, we eliminate the other extreme, eternalism. As a result, when we realize that the I exists in mere name, merely labeled by the mind, when we realize that, no choice, no choice, we have a strong understanding, a strong understanding of karma, all that.

Then there’s the extreme of nihilism, thinking nothing exists; the extreme of nihilism. We also eliminate the extreme of nihilism.

So those two are inseparable, unified, not just on I, but on every phenomena. That’s why the understanding of emptiness helps us to understand karma more, to generate faith in karma, like that. That’s how it is.

We say, “Oh, I realized emptiness, therefore, karma doesn’t exist.” That’s wrong, that is wrong understanding. That emptiness is wrong and we fall into nihilism.

The I is merely imputed

I was told by the meditator, Gen Jampa Wangdu, who has realized emptiness, even the Six Yogas of Naropa, besides bodhicitta, renunciation, shamatha, all that; he said that after realizing emptiness, the emptiness of the I, then after fifteen days, meditating, meditating, meditating, then after fifteen days we come to realize the conventional truth, that the I exists, the I definitely exists in mere name, merely labeled by the mind. Then we come to the conclusion, so the conventional truth, the truth for the all-obscuring mind, then we come to realize that. That’s what he said.

Therefore, he said that after fifteen days we realize that. We see the I as illusory. We see the I as illusory, we see that. That’s what he said.

Like this, for us, this is not relating to a buddha but for us, this is by knowing all the phenomena are illusory. Then like this, there are aggregates and depending on what the aggregates are going to do, our mind labels “I am going to do this and that.” We label what the aggregates are going to do, going to experience, then our mind labels I. We merely label “I” and “going to do this and that” in mere name.

So the mind has merely imputed I; the mind has merely imputed I. So the merely imputed I [exists] because there’s the base, the aggregates. When the I appears back to us in the next second, it should appear as merely labeled by the mind, but that doesn’t happen. Merely labeled by the mind, it should happen this way, but because we have not ceased ... [Tibetan], the concept of true existence has left negative imprints on our mind.

Because we haven’t completed the path, we did not complete the path, therefore we didn’t cease the negative imprints. The negative imprint is left by the concept of true existence, the real I and so forth. So the negative imprint projects [in the] first second the I, the merely imputed I. The negative imprint projects true existence, the real I is projected. There’s no real I, so what should appear—the merely labeled I, merely labeled by mind—that doesn’t happen. That only [happens to] a buddha; that doesn’t happen to us, that doesn’t happen to us sentient beings.

The reason is brought by the negative imprint left by the [concept of] true existence on our mind, on the continuation of mind. That negative imprint is projected immediately. After our mind merely imputes I, then that is projected immediately, that is made real, existing from its own side, which is totally hallucination, which is totally hallucination. Just now our mind created that—it came from our mind just now—it is merely imputed, but then just after this second, then we project that it’s real, existing from its own side.

Therefore now, believing this, the concept we’re believing; believing this is true, the concept believing this is true, that is root of samsara. That concept—believing something exists from its own side, not completely merely labeled by the mind, but something exists from its own side; oh that one, believing something exists from its own side—that concept is the root of samsara.

Because of that, we didn’t cease [samsara] yet. That’s why we’ve been suffering in the six realms, the six realms’ suffering, continuously we have been suffering from beginningless rebirth until now. And if we don’t realize emptiness, the direct perception of emptiness, eliminating the concept, ignorance; if we don’t do that, then we will experience the suffering of samsara endlessly, taking rebirth and death, taking rebirth and death, and suffering in the six realms again and again, all this, endlessly. This is most, most terrifying. If we know, if we think well, it’s most terrifying.

How to meditate on emptiness

Therefore, day and night, we must meditate on emptiness. One is bodhicitta and one is renunciation, but emptiness, how important it is. Meditation or study, learning, meditation, practice. With Buddhism, it’s the fundamental practice, one of the fundamental practices, already it’s mentioned there. So by realizing emptiness, then we eliminate the concept ignorance, holding [the I] as real, believing it is real.

Illusory, false, by seeing it as illusory, then, through that, then the wisdom realizing emptiness. Meditating as illusory, and then that makes to not have the ignorance holding the I which appears real, to not believe it is real. By thinking illusory, then it stops, it eliminates ignorance, the root of samsara. The ignorance holding the I and the aggregates as real; it eliminates the concept, that ignorance.

That eliminates the concept, then in this way there’s no binding us to samsara, there’s no continuously binding us to samsara by that. By eliminating that, there’s no binding us to samsara and then we become free from the oceans of samsaric suffering.

I’m sorry, the time is over. The details didn’t happen, but I tried. Sorry, just brief, so just auspicious. I didn’t explain the whole verses, like tong-len, all those things, but you got the essence. I think that’s enough.

So, to finish. If you want to practice meditation every day, one example is that one day you can do, in regards to renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness, the essence of Buddhism, the Hinayana, Paramitayana, the tantra, then all three into lam-rim, embodied in lam-rim, embodied into the three principle paths.

So, emptiness—for one day you can meditate again and again on that. One day, for example, [meditate on] the merely labeled I. The merely labeled I is merely labeled sitting on a merely labeled cushion; the merely labeled I is merely labeled walking on the merely labeled road; the merely labeled I is merely labeled eating merely labeled food. You can relate all the time like that for one day, for example. I mean you can do [it for one] week, then each week you can change, or each month or each day, as you like. So merely labeled, dependent arising, do meditation on that.

Then one day, you can do meditation on the negative imprint left by delusion, left by true existence, that is like the magician person. The ignorance is like the magician person and the negative imprint left is like the magician person’s mantra or the magician’s [illusion] that you hallucinate.

And then look at the I, action, object, everything, samsara, nirvana, enlightenment, samsara, nirvana, hell, enlightenment, happiness, problems, everything. Everything appears as real, but the magician person hallucinated the people in the scenery. What do you call them? The people in the scenery, the people looking, hallucinate their mind.

It gives projection, it gives hallucination, illusion. The magician person gives you illusion, therefore the real I is an illusion. The real I, action, object, real object, is an illusion, like illusion. The whole day, this illusion. The gompa, illusion; me sitting here, illusion; you sitting here, illusion; the whole thing, illusion; car is illusion; your home going back, illusion. Looking at everything as real; everything appears real, but its illusion.

The whole thing’s illusion; doing all the works is illusion. One day [meditate on] illusion. You can look at everything appearing as real, but it is illusion. You, illusion; this ignorance leaving negative imprint, illusion. Illusion, illusion. Then that comes to [realization of] emptiness when you meditate on illusion.

Then on another day, you can [meditate that everything] is like a dream. On another day, think the real I, real action, real object, so everything in your whole life—eating, walking, working in the office, your whole life—it’s all like a dream, like a dream. Look at it like a dream, like a dream—it’s not there, but it appears to you. It’s not there but it appears to you, so it’s like a dream. Everything is like a dream.

When you’re traveling anywhere, whatever you see—when you go shopping or when you are coming back; your children, wife, husband; if you go to the supermarket or the department store, the whole thing is like a dream. In the dream, you’re walking, like that, exactly. That comes to the emptiness; that comes to the same point, the emptiness, so meditation on emptiness.

Then another day [meditate on] gag-cha, the object to be refuted, having the awareness, the mindfulness of gag-cha, so the real I, real action, real object, whatever you do, the whole life, like that. So gag-cha, the object to be refuted, which is not there, so gag-cha.

Look at your whole life as gag-cha and meditate on that. Even if you’re walking, running, making food or driving a car, it’s all like a dream. You’re doing it all in the dream, gag-cha. Sorry, gag-cha; everything gag-cha, the object to be refuted, the object of ignorance.

Instead of believing this is real, instead of believing, you practice awareness it’s not, gag-cha, looking at it as that which is gag-cha, the object to be refuted. So that comes to emptiness, the same.

Then also you can do mirage one day. That is really, really, really fantastic, really. Even when you go shopping in a big department store or supermarket, you can meditate. While you’re buying [things] you can meditate. While you’re buying things; all the things you’re doing, at the same time meditate on the hallucination, here, the gag-cha. The person who’s selling; the real person is gag-cha; the real money is gag-cha; the real you gag-cha, like that, the whole thing is gag-cha, the object to be refuted, the object of ignorance, the false object.

That’s fantastic, then your life is a fantastic life; it’s really most enjoyable. The problem, if only worldly concerns, then you create so many problems in the life, so many problems, for other people and for yourself. Here, in this way, then the problems are gone.

Thank you so much.


Jang chhub…

The first verse from the Eight Verses is to cherish the sentient beings.

The three time merits collected by oneself, by sentient beings, by numberless buddhas and by us, the students and the center benefactors and the volunteers working for the center, also those who rely upon me, whom I promised to pray for, whose name is given to me, all those, then all of us here who came in the past, who are coming here now, and who will be coming to Kadampa Center in the future, then for all the staff to be able to cherish sentient beings like that.


Please pray for all the success of the projects in the FPMT and in particular the Maitreya Project. Now there have become two: there’s the project in Bodhgaya and the one in Kushinagar where Maitreya Buddha will be born, so to have success of that. And then the Maitreya Project also in Mongolia, and here and in other countries, in many different countries, [pray that] we’re able to build large statues—not tsa-tsas but large statues; not small tsa-tsas but large statues. This is to stop the many, many people dying from war all over the world, and also to stop many people dying from famine all over the world, and many people dying from disease all over the world. To stop that, then that’s during this time.

Of course, when Maitreya Buddha comes down, that time you’ll become the first disciples and receive teachings from Maitreya Buddha, receive predictions for enlightenment, then like that, the building.

Then whatever—studying the teachings, Maitreya Buddha’s teachings, building other statues and so on, please pray [for that.] And also to benefit numberless sentient beings, so that they purify defilements and collect realizations, especially bodhicitta, and then to bring perfect peace and happiness in this world, so this is how the statue benefits.

And then all the Sangha in the FPMT that externally they have an extremely subdued manner like the hearer-listeners; and are inwardly subdued with bodhicitta, extremely subdued with bodhicitta; and they secretly experience the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, so to actualize all Lama Tsongkhapa teachings in the [correct] way.

[Dedicate] the three time merits collected by me, the three time merits collected by numberless sentient beings and the three time merits collected by numberless buddhas for this to be able to happen.


May all the projects become most successful and most beneficial for sentient beings and for the teaching of Buddha, for that to happen.

Then please [dedicate] the unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable merits collected by Kadampa Center, all the students and all those who, whatever help is done for the stupa, whatever help and service is done for the stupa, anything with the body, speech and mind, anything collected. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievableanyone who sees the stupa from afar; seeing or hearing; even seeing a picture of the stupa, just seeing, remembering, hearing, all those; seeing becomes so meaningful and plants the seed of enlightenment. It purifies the negative karma collected from eons and collects unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merits. I think maybe I’ll stop here. Otherwise, I’ll carry on tomorrow night, tomorrow morning. [Laughter]

If there’s time after the retreat, if there’s time one day, I will come down and talk about the benefits of the stupa, so the people will understand building a stupa is not a small thingit’s not just spending [ money], it’s not just some exciting project or something. Many of those artists build something, and after they built it,  at the airport or someplace, where they build some art or something else, not like that. [Laughter]

You have to understand, it really has unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable benefits for, of course, ourselves, and for other sentient beings. Without needing to talk—wow, wow, wow, wow—it  brings them to enlightenment. Wow, wowso much merit, so many causes [to help] other sentient beings. There’s a way to help sentient beings without talking, you understand? Without bothering them. [Laughter] So it’s unbelievable, unbelievable merit.

Due to thatthis is most important—[dedicate for] His Holiness to have a long life, until samsara ends. For His Holiness to have a long life and for all the holy wishes to succeed immediately, and especially for the teachings of the Buddha, the general teachings of the Buddha, and in particular, His Holiness, to last a long time in the world.

May all the Sangha who preserve and spread Dharma—particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s [teachings]—have a long life and may all the successes, all the wishes to benefit ... May all the benefactors of the teaching of the Buddha, and the Sangha, have a long life, and may all their wishes to serve the teaching of the Buddha, Sangha, succeed.

Especially here, due to the merits of the Kadampa Center, to be most beneficial for the numberless sentient beings and to spread the stainless teachings—the teachings of the Buddha and particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings—in the heart of the six realm sentient beings in this world.

Of course, the benefit of building the stupa, may the six realm sentient beings get the benefit; may numberless sentient beings get the benefit. However, may they actualize the lam-rim from guru devotion up to enlightenment, especially in their heart by building the stupa, by the merits of building the stupa. Especially everybody in this world, especially the students who came in the past, who are coming now and who will be coming in the future to Kadampa Center, for them to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and to actualize Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, to actualize the lam-rim and Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching, so for that to happen.

The people, the sentient beings, when they come here, may all their sufferings of body and mind be pacified immediately and may all their wishes succeed immediately according to the holy Dharma, and as well for the staff of the Kadampa Center, for that to happen.

And any difficulties, including death, and any difficulties, whatever comes, whatever difficulties we face, to be able to utilize those in the path to enlightenment, in the path to the state of omniscient mind, in the path to free the sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and the peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind.


[A student thanks Rinpoche and the Kadampa staff.]

Director [?]: … Please, please come back, Rinpoche. It sounds like you’ll be back in two weeks. [Laughter and applause]

[Someone mentions thanking the sponsors. Rinpoche then reads the names.]

Rinpoche: I would, so here, the main, the key benefactor of the center to sentient beings is Geshe Gelek’s teaching, being resident teacher here and teaching, and Geshe Sangpo is helping with that.

Really, from the heart, for so many years, I would like to thank from the heart, I would like to thank a billion, zillion, trillion times Geshe Gelek. [Applause] That’s the most important, the key benefactor of the center to sentient beings—Geshe Gelek’s teaching, guiding.

It’s making beneficial in so many ways and leading to future life happiness, leading to ultimate happiness, to liberation from samsara, to peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind. Even this life happiness, so really it’s very good. I want to thank Geshe Gelek for many years of patience and living here, helping, guiding and teaching and all that. Thank you so much.

I think, of course, Don Brown from the start of Kadampa Center, how many years ago? Since Kadampa Center started? Twenty-three years. Hopefully, His Holiness, hopefully, the center will succeed to receive His Holiness in North Carolina and to have the fortune for everybody to see, to hear and to enjoy the happiness of seeing Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha. To hear, to experience that, so hopefully within, before 25 years, huh? What? Before 25 years.

So there's Don Brown, then friend, Robbie and the president—the president’s name? Robbie and Robbie, and Robbie. So everybody, thank you so much, thank you.

[Mandala offering]


1  See the LYWA glossary for the four aspects of karma, the  four ways karma will ripen, either in this life or a future life. [Return to text]

2  Rinpoche is referring to the five immediate negativities, also called the five uninterrupted negative karmas or the five heinous crimes. [Return to text]

3 Read more about the eight worldly dharmas in How to Practice Dharma, by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The three types of eight worldly dharmas are discussed on pages 99-100 of this book. [Return to text]