Kopan Course No. 06 (1974)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974 (Archive #028)

The following is a combination of notes taken at the teachings and a transcript of taped teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Sixth Kopan Meditation Course in March-April 1974. They form an auto-commentary on the course text, The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training.

You may also download the entire contents of these teachings in a pdf file.


Day Twenty-one
Thursday, April 11
5 a.m.

In order for the action of taking ordination to become the action of Dharma and the cause of enlightenment, it is necessary mind for the mind to go into the Dharma. Besides that, it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation of bodhicitta. So briefly think like this.

“I have been experiencing samsaric sufferings from beginningless previous samsaric lifetimes until now. It is definite that I will endlessly suffer samsaric suffering in the future if I still follow these wrong conceptions, so this time, just being reborn in the lower realms and being born in the upper realms, just only that isn’t enough. I still, even though I am born in the upper realm, I am still living in the suffering nature, I am always living in the suffering nature. So I must release from the bondage of samsaric suffering.

“Myself receiving cessation, releasing myself from the bondage of samsaric suffering is not enough, is not sufficient. There are infinite mother sentient beings who are suffering, not having received a perfect human rebirth and not having met the teaching explaining the path to enlightenment, not having met the teaching. As I have this precious chance this time, I must make all sentient beings receive enlightenment and release them from all their suffering. In order to do this I must achieve enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment I must subdue my actions of speech, body, and mind. Therefore, I am going to take the Mahayana ordination.” Repeat this prayer with this beneficial thought.

Prayer No. 1

At the end of the third repetition think that you receive the pure ordination in the form of light, your whole body full of light, think that you have received it. Think that you are making repetitions also as Guru Shakyamuni says and visualize yourself surrounded by infinite buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats, and that you are taking ordination in their presence.

Repeat the prayer of the precepts thinking that, “I am going to observe the precepts until tomorrow morning as the precious arhats followed these precepts.”

Prayer No. 2, Mantra

Prayer No. 3, Dedication Prayer

Dedicate the merits of taking ordination, “Due to these merits may I receive enlightenment soon, full realization of absolute true nature, bodhicitta, and the fully renounced mind of samsara only for the sake of sentient beings, to release them from suffering and to lead them to enlightenment quickly.”


5. (continued) So after, yesterday I explained the shortcomings of taking intoxicants. The opposite of the shortcomings are the benefits of keeping the precept of not taking intoxicants.

6. Fasting. Then, first thing, the reason: in order to diminish, in order to not bring up and to purify attachment, each time we eat food, whenever we eat food, we eat it with greed, and each time we create the karma to be born in the lower realm. So the first thing, we who are meditating in the afternoon the hindrances of sleeping or other hindrances such as not having clear concentration, things like this also interrupt the ultimate. These also interrupt temporarily, not receiving the enjoyments that one needs in the future lifetimes even though we are born as human beings, not receiving enjoyments as one needs, not receiving enjoyments without effort.

Ultimately, it hinders the achievement of the holy sign of the Enlightened Being’s holy body that has the forty teeth that are equal, not like other ordinary being’s teeth that are not equal. Also, for the Enlightened Being any undelicious food becomes the most delicious taste, only in the nature of giving infinite great bliss, like this. Any ugly food, anything, is seen by Buddha only as beautiful, in only beauty. Anyway, just like this, we feel a different taste with each food—some are undelicious and some are delicious, all kinds of things. It is difficult to get delicious food; also whatever we taste, most are undelicious. This is due to karma. Also, even if you offer undelicious food that you don’t find good in taste, having a bad smell, no good, they all become best tasting, with the best smell and delicious. Like this. So it interrupts the achievement of this knowledge. The same thing...the opposite of the shortcomings is the benefits. By keeping these precepts, also this time it helps the attachment not to arise, so that it stops creating karma, planting an extra seed in order to be born in the lower realm. Also, to not follow sluggishness, such as sleeping, if the stomach is full of food—also to not have these hindrances. Also generally having this discipline, general precepts, not only in the eight Mahayana precepts, but also because making food takes time, so also to save time, the use of that the temporal work. Also like this, many things.

By keeping these precepts, maybe in future lifetimes you receive food, enjoyments as you need. There are many people like this, who are living in such situations in this lifetime. It is because such good karma was created in the previous lifetime. Without much effort they receive things like this. Then, by keeping the precepts it causes one to achieve this knowledge, this supreme knowledge that the Enlightened Being has, such as holy teeth, equal in number, and then such power to enjoy untasty, undelicious bad food in the best way. Like nectar, nectar. Generally for the Enlightened Beings it is like this.

Same thing with sound. For the enlightened beings any unsweet sound is only sweet, giving infinite bliss. As well, any enjoyment with the holy enlightened body—for them there is no ugliness, roughness, all these problems. Same as others, only it is seen in the nature of infinite bliss. Same thing, any object that the Buddha sees is in the nature of infinite bliss, like this. Not like us when we go somewhere, we see it as beautiful, then we go to another place, and it is ugly, hot, cold, many things; not like this. Generally, for the enlightened beings everything is seen as oneness. But so, however, anyway as I said before, if you do much talk then it makes it much more complicated.

Like this, generally it is good, even for those who have general precepts, it is good to keep them. Since they are taken, it is good to keep them, those who keep precepts in our lifetime. Usually I try also to fast, but since a long time ago I came from Bodhgaya and I had a cold, coughing, so Guru Thubten Yeshe instructed me to eat. So until I start to give ordination I have been taking.

7. The seventh precept ... in keeping with attachment, putting perfumes, colors, these things, on the body. That interrupts the pure, very tasty, very sweet moral smell from the Enlightened Being’s holy body. Not artificial, but natural. The Enlightened Being, as he achieved enlightenment, at the same time he achieved this holy body which has a natural sweet taste or moral smell. This is on all of his body, all parts of his body. It interrupts the achievement of the knowledge of the Enlightened Being’s holy body. Also, not putting on ornaments and these things with greed. If we put these things on, it interrupts the achievement of the shape of the Enlightened Being, it also temporarily interrupts us receiving a body having a beautiful shape, with good color. Also, even if the person doesn’t put on any artificial smell because of keeping morality, abstaining from these actions done with greed, he is born with that smell, that very tasty smell, that natural smell, like this. They are like this. Sometimes there is a monk or lama in Tibet like this, who does things in the Dharmacentric way, such as the person keeping the morality purely, because nothing depends on the chemical things. By not avoiding these actions done with greed, one receives the opposite of the benefits of keeping these precepts, not receiving these things.

Singing and dancing interrupts—doing this with greed because of keeping precepts is not a method of action, but a matter of greed. Because we have greed, we do it in order to not follow or build up greed, and also to purify. Doing these things with greed interrupts the achievement of the Enlightened Being’s holy body that has many holy signs, such as the chakras and the wheels under the feet and hands, and the top hair knots; many other holy signs that signify that he is an Enlightened Being. There are many other knowledges that signify that he has the achievement of this knowledge, so it interrupts the achievement of this.

So then how it interrupts the temporary situation. It interrupts one from becoming subdued, having control in the actions of body, speech and mind, and from having continual Dharma speech. Keeping this precept of not singing, not dancing, these things, the mind will not be careless.

8. Without Dharma reason such as sitting on a high, large, expensive bed, keeping this precept. Not keeping this precept interrupts receiving the ultimate result of sitting on the throne and lotus, like the Enlightened Being, as we meditate. Also, it interrupts receiving the temporary results in the future lifetimes, such as sitting on a high bed, on a rich bed, like this. The benefits are to receive such power as an Enlightened Being, to sit on such a Dharma bed. And also, in the future lifetime you get admired, exalted by other people; other people always keep you higher, with respect, like this.

Also, one thing is left out in the fasting precepts. These also help in future lifetimes, even when we are born as human beings, to receive good crops, to grow good crops. Such as in this lifetime, people suffer due to famine, many things. Not growing crops due to rain, these things. According to Dharma signs, these things are due to previous karma, such as not following precepts. But in the same area, in the same place, some families have good crops, and another family does not get good crops out of the field. Why does the other family get good crops, without danger? That’s because of the previous karma, following the precepts, like this.

But there is so much to talk about other benefits. Also, there is so much history about how the results were brought by keeping these precepts. The previous beings who followed and observed this ordination were many. Sometimes, besides the king of the country himself making the law to keep these precepts to all the population, they keep these especially on these days, such as the full moon day, such as certain special days. There is so much good result and change that happened by keeping these precepts. Somehow totally it is something that besides helping you in the future to achieve enlightenment and also temporarily to achieve in the future lifetimes, it also helps a great deal in this life, while you are keeping precepts.

In the morning do meditation and read the death evolution part, then do meditation on the three suffering lower realms. You read the book, and you do visualization, like this.

That’s all. Thank you.

9 a.m.

From the holy speech of the great bodhisattva, Shantideva, “The cause of pleasing all sentient beings which is the medicine for curing sentient beings’ suffering. The benefits created by this precious thought, how can the mind discover the depth of it?”

The meaning of this, the cause of pleasing all sentient beings is bodhicitta—how does it cause the pleasure of all sentient beings? Briefly talking, this bodhicitta obliges one to enlighten all other sentient beings, and to release all other sentient beings from suffering. Bodhicitta pleases all other sentient beings by releasing them from suffering, and by enlightening them. Also, it pleases all sentient beings by giving them Dharma, by leading them in the path to enlightenment; it pleases all sentient beings by giving Dharma, by showing Dharma. Also, bodhicitta pleases all other sentient beings by opening, by giving Dharma, by opening the wisdom to realize the cause of suffering and the cause of happiness. Also, this bodhicitta always obliges the person, the bodhisattva, to help other sentient beings with different methods—those who need materials and so forth. For those who are starving, it brings food for them, for those who are suffering with children, such as the wife, husband, parents, many things, such as those who are beings suffering in the water, many things. However, as it fits other beings, bodhicitta obliges the bodhisattva to help in so many ways. The way bodhicitta becomes the cause of pleasing other sentient beings. However, anyone who has the achievement of bodhicitta always has such a good personality that pleases others, such subdued noble behavior that pleases all other sentient beings, all other people just by seeing his body. Other people receive a good feeling, feeling peaceful in the mind, like this, even if the other person doesn’t know anything about bodhicitta. Instead of harming other beings, they always take more care of others than oneself. This is just a brief explanation of how it becomes the cause of pleasing all other sentient beings. Also, this is the most practical medicine to take out sentient beings’ suffering.

The benefits of this bodhicitta can never be guessed, discovered by the mind; the depth cannot be discovered by the mind. The depth, the benefits of the bodhicitta is depthless, infinite. Since we desire to bring peace to the world, since we have this desire, not following this practical way is foolish. We are always managing our time, working, trying to work on something to bring peace to oneself and other beings, always trying to work on something, but in a wrong way. Even if it is done, it is not done in a practical way. So if we first of all achieve this, we can then become the cause of bringing peace to other sentient beings. Therefore, it is necessary to achieve this. Therefore, it is necessary to train. Therefore, in order for our action to become a cause of bodhicitta, to become a cause of enlightenment for other sentient beings, think, “I must achieve enlightenment in order to lead all sentient beings into enlightenment and release them from suffering. Therefore, I am going to listen to the holy profound teaching.”

This has great importance. The reason why I often begin with bodhicitta doesn’t matter, no need to show movie! Anyway, the mind get pleased hearing the knowledge of such a holy mind, and being willing to practice it. So also too, by understanding the benefits, the will to practice this in this life will arise—also it helps. Also, the source of suffering, the self-cherishing thought, what you call egocentric mind, really practically you become less under the control of this egocentric mind, self-cherishing thought. Otherwise there is no other way for you, for us, to escape the egocentric thought without going through the practice of bodhicitta, without understanding this. There is no other way to escape from the egocentric mind, without understanding this. There is no other way to escape from the egocentric mind, so if you really want to escape the egocentric mind, the source of suffering, bodhicitta is the remedy, because it is the opposite. Not only this, it has so much purpose. Each time when we hear about bodhicitta, generally like this.

However, on this earth the chance to hear about the knowledge of the bodhicitta is extremely rare. There are many religious countries where you see temples, stupas and monks, but to hear this teaching about the knowledge of bodhicitta is extremely rare. To know about it., to know this. For instance like this, if there is a big business shop, there are all kinds of things but there is one most expensive thing, the essential thing among those things that are in the shop, like this. So because of knowing the benefits just arising the will, “Oh I must practice bodhicitta, I must receive bodhicitta,” just this creates infinite benefits as it is said in sutra teachings by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Even just the will arising to cultivate this for the sake of other sentient beings.

Also, not only, besides this, there is so much importance. As we talk each day, it leaves much impression on the mind so in future lives the mind becomes ready for bodhicitta. Even though we don’t achieve bodhicitta in this life, it makes arrangement in the mind, plants the seed, it has so much more importance. This is not some kind of useless thing, it has so much more importance. This not some kind of useless thing, it is a big project, even though we don’t meditate in this life, even if you don’t do meditation after this. Also, usually in this life it is very good to always read books on bodhicitta, very effective for your mind, so good. Also, when your life gets in confusion, complications with people, when you read these books it helps a great deal to relieve this confusion, this trouble you correct by yourself. It is very helpful.

The listening subject is the graduated path, perfect human rebirth, the great usefulness of the perfect human rebirth, the great difficulty of receiving the perfect human rebirth, and how life is fragile.

Also, I think the discussion happened before, talking about Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. There are about twelve events in his life. As he was living the princely life in the palace there were four gates. In the east out of one gate, one day he saw an old man suffering from old age. So by this, he discovered the nature of samsaric suffering. At another gate he saw a dead person carried. By seeing these different things outside different gates he realized the nature of human beings’ suffering. Then due to this, he took the form of receiving the mind renouncing samsara, feeling upset with the suffering nature. Then due to this external view, he gave up the princely life, like this, to practice austerities for Dharma practice.

At the beginning, like this. He lived for six years in an austere life, completely living in the jungle doing concentration without moving, without one single movement, even though his whole body became like a tree, as if it were carved from wood, not seeing the blood, very dry, thin, dry nerves, without much flesh, only bones. Then also insects or ants made nests in the ears. He was a human being like a figure carved from wood. In that lifetime he took the form of fully realizing the absolute true nature and receiving enlightenment beneath the Bodhi tree at the dawn of the full moon night. So all this study, all these trips started from the condition of seeing this outer view. Also, many arhats passed away before he passed away.

Just about the time he was making arrangement to pass away, he subdued the king, who played such fantastic music. This king was thought of as the best, the most expert in the world at playing the violin, and he had much pride and spent all of his time playing that violin. Guru Shakyamuni transformed into the form of a beggar and then played outside of this person’s house, outside of the door. All of a sudden, while the king had so much pride, thinking he was the best in the world, all of a sudden he hears the most interesting sounds of playing music, the violin. Then he listens, then he stops, because the other one is much more attractive, more interesting. So Guru Shakyamuni controlled his pride, that negative mind, through playing the violin. Through the sound of the violin, he controlled his pride. Then afterwards he took lessons from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, he recognized the suffering nature, and his whole life changed, and became the complete opposite of whatever he had been doing before.

During the time when Guru Shakyamuni was passing away, he took off his robes. His followers asked him for his last thought, and he lay down and took off his robe and told his disciples, “This is the Tathagata. This is the Tathagata’s last holy body so you must look at it.” Then he gave the last teaching, “All composite phenomena is impermanent.” This is the last teaching of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. So, “All causative phenomena are impermanent and this is the Tathagata’s last talk.” Then he passed away.

The very last time, the teaching that he left, the teaching for us sentient beings, the most important thing, the very last time, what he left was the teaching on impermanence. Then he passed away. So when he asked his other disciples to look at this, the last of the Tathagata's holy body, at the same time many of then felt a tremble, and at the same time so many arhats passed away. Then later on five hundred arhats left, except one. Those are the arhats who brought all the teachings given by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Each of them said what they knew by heart, and the other arhat pandits wrote it down for future sentient beings. The very last thing that was left, the very last teaching, like a will for ordinary people leaving money or something—this is the biggest hang-up thing in the lifetime, leaving a will, because you have no power to take it with you. Guru Shakyamuni, for the benefit of other sentient beings, left this—the most beneficial thing for sentient beings, the most important thing to realize, to understand is impermanence. So impermanence means this. The reason is this. This is the reason that he ended with it, that all his teachings ended with it. Telling us this, we sentient beings should practice Dharma; if we do not practice Dharma there is impermanence and death. It shows the suffering; his one word shows all of samsaric suffering. “You sentient beings should practice Dharma because you are living in suffering, living in impermanence, under its control. You are living in the suffering of death, under the control of death.”

Usually, during meditation time, when you do meditation on this, it is useful to also remember and to count, to remember in this life how many of your relations that you have met have finished. Also, your friends are dead also; it is helpful to your mind. Also in my lifetime so many friends whom I have known, so many of them are dead—laypeople, monks, lamas, so many other things—dead, who were my friend. So before, when I was a small child I didn’t see my grandfather at all. I had no idea. I remember only my grandmother, very old, having white hair, carrying rosaries round. She always sat nearby the fireplace. Anyway, I remember this, but she was dead while I was in Tibet or India; during that time she got sick for seven years, and became blind later on, around her death time she was blind, she couldn’t do anything. So my uncle worked for her for many years; gave food; taking out kaka and peepee, then bringing it in; for a long time he offered service to his mother, taking care of her and making prostrations.

He was not well, my uncle was not well. Before this, my uncle got a disease. He went to check up with so many doctors in Tibet, around the Solu Khumbu are in Tibet. He took much medicine but nothing helped. He could not eat food, he had so much pain. For a long time, seven years, he got sick. He asked one lama, whose cave was at Lawudo near the center. He was quite a good meditator. I roughly remember because I was very little, I always thought of him as a good monk; he gave a good feeling. He always liked me very much, but he had a good feeling, somehow different from others, he always played with me. He had a good vibration, keeping a pure mind or something. My uncle checked up with this meditator, he asked for an observation. So this meditator made an observation saying that that his sickness was karmic obscuration, which means sinfulness, which means it is not something that can be ceased or cured by medicine. It was a sickness that could be only cured by purification. So then he asked for meditations, how to make prostrations and how to do meditation on refuge, how to do purification, these things. Then this lama gave him a meditation. Also the uncle was so poor, so later on, just above this meditator’s cave there was one family, also one family with a married lama, and he took care of my uncle, helped him with his temporal needs, with food. And so due to his help he built a little room to make prostrations, and also to take care of his mother. I think he made prostrations for about seven years, maybe seven times 100,000 prostrations—so many prostrations he made. Then gradually, as he made so many prostrations, his sickness got cured; he became completely well afterwards. After that I think he has not been sick; so much heavy disease. So anyway, as he was taking care of his mother, she died at that place.

Also, I never saw my father in my life. Maybe just about the time I was out of my mother’s womb, I think he had already went, left from home, to his future rebirth. He had already renounced home. What I remember is that the children were sleeping together in the nighttime. Our blanket was the father’s coat, the animal coat, his animal coat. Tibetans call it “chuba.” It has sleeves, but it is not made of simple cloth; it is made of animal cloth having hairs inside. So we were sleeping together under the dead father’s cloth and sometimes saying, “This belonged to father,” like this.

Then the mother had other children. Those born after us died, and those born before us, they died also. She had a child born with a double head, but that didn’t exist for a long time. As a baby he died. There are all kind of stories involving that little baby. Somehow she didn’t check up, she didn’t know how to check up, and she died. Also one sister who was born before me, she also died. She had a little tail like this, here. Must be some animal. So now there were three or four people left. Soon these two, these three will become in their time maybe only a name left, words—"Such a person did this and this,” and no one can see the physical body.

Also the first Western pen friend I had was when I was in India. Our schoolteacher was one of the older Western nuns. She had been a nun for many years. Before, she was a Christian, then later she traveled around Ceylon and took precepts from a Theravada guru, so then she came there and worked for a living in India. Then later on the Tibetan people escaped from Tibet to India at just about this time, and the relief committee of the Indian Government sent her to look after the Tibetan refugees, who were mostly monks who escaped from Lhasa. Then she had much contact with the monks, even her cook monk. So slowly she became familiar with the Tibetans and she got more and more interested. Later on she came several times to that place in India , the place where more than 1,000 monks lived for several years, continuing their studies, their philosophy, the Dharma philosophy subjects as well as the tantric subjects. So, she made a pen friend in order to help some lamas and monks as much as she could through correspondence. She found one pen friend for me. She was in London, and sometimes she used to send young photos and sometimes very old photos—sometimes I had confusion, because I was a child and I had confusion which one was which. I think it’s the same as the Jewish, the caste. She was born somewhere anyway, whatever it is. I think she was recognized by people as having a good personality and being wise. I think also she wrote books, but I didn’t read her books.

She kept on sending letters for seven years—a letter each week, so many letters. My place was full of the garbage of her letters. I only sent her answers sometimes, maybe three four letters. She was over 87 at that time; I couldn’t help much. She had so much feeling to understand Dharma, but that time I couldn’t communicate much in English because it was extremely difficult to communicate from that place, because no Tibetan could write well in English. There was a lot of writing ABCD but if you asked the Indians it was very complicated! They wrote something else that you don’t want! I had this trouble many times writing letters. Then later on I tried, whatever was correct or not correct, I tried to write by myself. However much it made mistakes, maybe she understood, maybe she did not understand. So, however, after a time she didn’t write, maybe she did not understand. She didn’t write for a long time, and usually she wrote so much. She didn’t write for one or two months and I wondered what happened. So I think she was worried to tell me that she had to go to a hospital for an operation, so that’s why she didn’t write. So afterwards, she came back from the hospital and she tried to write. Her handwriting was good. She started writing letters after the operation, and I think there was a girl to help her complete the letters. So that was her last letter

Then, after I received that she said she had come back from the hospital. Then after that I had a dream that someone had given me a white letter nearby my place. The next day I received a letter exactly like that from her friend, who was the friend of another incarnate lama. She explained that she was dead. Then we made puja—there were many monks in that place, more then 1,000—and requested them to pray. Then also his Holiness’ gurus and other high lamas from Lhasa were requested to pray for her, to fix her a better rebirth soon. Then later on I checked how she had died, where she was facing, all these things, someone explained to me. During that time I had sent something, but I am not sure whether she received it before she was dead; maybe just after. She was burnt, cremated, and a friend explained that the ashes were strewn in her garden outside. The paintings I sent from India of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and so on, before her death she left them at the Tibetan center Anyway, this is just a little story of the nature of impermanence.

So as it has happened like this for them, so it was the same thing for us, soon. Also in recent times, last year the first Western student, the nun, she was planning to come to Kathmandu and Dharamsala and receive teaching from gurus, so she made this plan to do all these precious thing. However, just before her time to come down, all of a sudden she was sick for three or four days or something .All of a sudden she got sick, she couldn’t get up. And then, all of a sudden without any expectation, she was dead. All of a sudden , she was dead. I think at the death time she was laying down for two or three days, but during the death itself maybe she was up, holding the rosary in one hand. And there was a little girl, her daughter, crying in the room, saying , “Please mother, don’t die.” Looking at her face and asking , “Please mother, don’t die,” and crying . Like this. She cried so much in that one day, but then after two days she become as usual playing outside. I think maybe she had a little time, even though she got sick, she had a little time to try to do something for the death. So somehow she was really completely expecting to do all these things, and all of sudden her life finished without having time to do these things. But she was very lucky that she could die being a nun. Luckier than one who dies in the USA, who dies in a beautiful, most expensive apartment without relatives around, so many things. She died in a very, very simple tiny room. Before that, she did retreat. Also, she usually so much desired to help other people. She always worried, being incapable of helping other people, especially Westerners . Even in the first letter she sent, she didn’t put even a signature .

Why Should I Be Afraid of Death? (Page 53)

Karmapa sumchenpa quotation.

This is the name of one highly realize lama who lived in previous times in Tibet.

Also at death time, actually calling it “Lord of Death” is also karmically created. It is also the one who interrupts this condition, interrupts the life, but this is also our karma, the karma of living beings, karmically created beings.

Following paragraph:

This time to also think like this is useful. If I am going to live to the age of seventy, then half of this life is spent sleeping at night. So then there is the day, but during the day what do we do? Maybe also sleeping and then we use it distractions; and also for the negative mind to create the cause of suffering. Even if there are merits that are created, they get lost because of the negative mind of heresy, anger, not being dedicated. They get lost, not existing, whatever virtuous action was created,. So therefore, it is definite therefore, mostly definite, that after this life one will take rebirth in the lower realms. Thinking like this is very effective, because the way it works is a factual evolution, it is true—then you know yourself, you recognize your own life.

Guru Shakyamuni Quotation

Same thing, you think tonight and then as Guru Shakyamuni said like this. Same thing. After this, for one hour the same thing, now; it is more definite to die than to exist. Why it is more definite to die? Because death is definite, it is for sure that we are permanently not existing, so therefore death is more definite than existing; even this time. Think like this, so useful, very useful.

Last Paragraph

It is true also if you check up with your mind, not only what Guru Shakyamuni says but the factual evolution within your mind. It is true. It is true. So it is more worthwhile, because death is more definite than existence even this time, so therefore it is more worthwhile and more profitable to do something for the future life, to work for the benefit of the future life; not spending time to do something only for this body. You are not sure when you have to leave this body, not sure; it is more definite that you leave this body now than keep it, so like this. You see, especially when you get angry, this is very helpful, so helpful to think about the time of death, rather than thinking about shunyata, the true nature, something that you cannot figure out. It is profound, it is profound, but in such problems this is more profound. Generally, shunyata is profound, but when you have this it is quicker to solve the problems more profoundly than those profound meditations, those shunyatas, those tantric things. Think of this when you have mind problems with someone, such as rising greed, extremely rising greed, so attached, either to a possession or person, or anger, or pride, or any other negative mind.

In order to stop creating this negative karma and to make your mind peaceful, to release confusion, remember the Guru Shakyamuni quotation, remember what Guru Shakyamuni said. Then think, “As Guru Shakyamuni said, my death is more definite than my existence. So if I die right away"— think from the depth of your mind that you are going to die—”So if I die right away, if the breath right away stops, what is the use of getting angry? What is the use of getting angry at other people, for pride, being jealous, or attached to the other person?” Nothing, it is no use. You cannot take the other person to whom you are attached with you to your future life, with you to the realms. This is useless, completely useless, nonsense, and all you create is the cause of suffering. If you die right away, what you create is only the cause of suffering that you create with other people. Think like this; it is so useful. Think, “It is more definite,” whenever you are attached to people, things, problems. Think, “To leave this body is more definite than existing. I am not sure whether the body has to be left now; I am not sure whether I can be with this body even just this time.” In the depth of your mind, think about leaving the body. Then in this way your own mind which you feel strongly coming up, strongly growing when there is anger or pride, this strong, uncomfortable feeling, all of sudden it will loosen, go down, and relax. You won’t find any purpose to getting angry; you will discover by yourself that it is meaningless, nonsense. So, it doesn’t cause problems for other people, and your mind gets relaxed—no more creating negative karma and confusion. This is really practical, using meditation in the actual time, in the critical time—that’s real, practical meditation. Because meditation is forcing you to stop the problem, not something that you have to practice very quietly somewhere on the mountain, not like this. These meditations are especially to solve the problem. If you don’t use them, what’s the point? Anyway, there is not much time but this is an important point so I introduce it.

During the break time, read well about samsara, the third meditation. Especially try to understand the meaning of the outline such as the twelve links, the important points. Then try to understand the path of the higher being, the seven Mahayana techniques that follow the equilibrium meditation—also try to know the essence.

3 p.m.

However, this is also very, very useful to remember. Because first of all, how can one create more negative karma than has already been created from beginningless lifetimes? First of all, there is no reason to create extra donations. Then secondly, there is no reason to put off the practice of Dharma, because one cannot give up the practice of Dharma, trying to get relaxed. The reason one cannot get relaxed is more definite—thinking like this—death is more definite than my existence, the whole day, today.

There are so many incredible negative karmas. If you are going to count each negative karma that we have been collecting in our consciousness from beginningless previous lifetimes, it is an incredible number. Therefore, it is saying how can you relax? How can one relax, and put off the Dharma practice, since one has created and collected such infinite negative karma. However, there is that much infinite negative karma, there is always the rising suffering because of the cause that has been collected, and there will always be the rise of suffering. Therefore, it is possible that death is more definite than existence, so how can the Dharma be given up? Secondly, that much negative karma, incredible negative karma has been created, so how can one relax in practicing Dharma even for one day, because the suffering arises because of all those karmas. So there is continuously arising suffering, one reason, and second, so much negative karma has been collected. Then death. Because of these reasons, how can one get relaxed by giving up Dharma practice? So this is a very tasty teaching. It is useful to remember, it means many things. When someone feels laziness to do meditation, to practice Dharma, at that time it is useful to think, useful to remember these powerful blessed words.

Maybe if you think in the form of making the meditation better. Think. It is necessary to think that you are at the time of death. Then these feelings arise (as Rinpoche reads).

“.. enemy,” why is it enemy? Because as you feel that you are going to separate, leave the body, there is such extremely strong worry, not wanting to separate from the body. Strong attachment to the body, instead of helping to solve the problem at that time, can only cause one to be longer in samsara, to always get involved in the circle of the bondage of suffering, rebirth, and death.

The same trouble that you had with your body, the same worry—not wanting to separate, fear of separating from the body, attached and not wanting—the same thing with the possessions and the relatives, feeling very upset, feeling so much upset leaving them. Feeling so much upset separating from the relations.

If you had a dream last night, last night’s dream was so quick. It was very short, so short from the time you started to dream and from the end. You may see in the dream, you may feel in the dream as if you had a long journey, as if you spent a long time in the dream, while you are on the trip you may feel this sometimes. You may feel that you spent so many years doing something, but actually it was only a few minutes' dream. So quickly finishes the whole thing, whatever good thing that happened in the dream. Also, one thing, the reason that it says dream, one thing is that it is like a dream in regards to how quickly it finishes, and the shortness of the life, it is like a dream.

And also, wanting, for instance, whatever we enjoyed in the dream. You receive so many billions of dollars in the dream and you are so happy about it, then after you finish the dream there is not one single dollar. After the person awakens from the dream, there is nothing that the person can bring from the dream with him. So just like this, exactly the same thing as we dreamed, as we had so much, received so much, billions of dollars, possessions, as much as we are happy in that time, so exactly it is the same thing with this life. As many possessions as we have, as much as we made business, whatever we do, it is all like last night’s dream—not one single atom out of that can be carried by us. So exactly as the dream, it is the same what we are doing with this life, which means it is as meaningless. As the dream was meaningless, in the same way the things that we had in this life, that were received by making much effort, are meaningless.

“All meaningless actions are like ripples on the lake.” Ripples on the lake—one goes, one comes, one goes, one comes—always like that. If you check the water where the drop coming, always a ripple goes and comes, goes and comes, like this. The work that is only done for this life is like that. However, it is something that has no end. As much as it is done, it is something that can never be ended. This quotation was said by the great yogi, Padmasambhava, and is also very powerful.

This is also very helpful to think about during your death meditation; it is very useful to think. If you check like this, that you are going to die, that it is more definite to die now; as none of these possessions can be carried, nothing is useful at this time, so the same thing exactly. As one single hair is not useful at this time, as it cannot do anything, the same thing with the body and the other possessions. So in this way it makes you see how it is meaningless, how it is trivial. In this way, for instance, in terms of the possessions that make you put your life, which you think of as the most important thing, in danger, that make you give up your life to preserve them, to take care of them, once you check like this, you see that the possessions are no longer important, when you equal the one single hair which is growing on the body.

“Why should I be attached to any possession?” This also should include the body. Sometimes, when you do this meditation and when there are creation problems, when there are certain problems going on, then you think about death like this. Sometimes there is a problem that relates to your body, which has something to do with your body—so you are fighting for or doing something in order to take care the body. So when you think, “It is more definite that I will leave the body,” then you think this, “So therefore there is no reason why I should be attached to this body. How do I know that I definitely exist?” In this way you will find that what you were doing before was nonsense. You discover that what you were doing before, making confusion, causing problems to others, is nonsense.

So, during the meditation time, what is to remember in terms of this important subject is all of page 53 and 54, the backside. Also you can do like this—if there are so many subjects, in order to use them for your meditation, choose whatever you find more powerful, more effective from this subject; which one, you look. Also, generally it is good to remember. If you really find it difficult, then use the part that is more effective and strong, that is more useful, to remember and use in your meditation, and then on the basis of that amplify yourself which makes you see it clearer.

Question: If we have a friend or relative who’s dying, what should we do with the body and how long should we leave it?

Rinpoche: Generally, it used to be kept two or three days. The time when the corpse should be taken out—in the morning, in the afternoon, all these things—is checked according to astrology, goes through astrology like this. Usually, around this area Tibetans do it like this. If the person is dead, they check up the astrology. Then the astrology tells that them what state the person’s mind was in at the time, where he’s attached and, I don’t know the details, the life external cause and the external cooperative cause, what kind of spirits cut off the life, and also the time when the body should be taken out. This is done according to astrology.

However, at death time, if the person is dying, generally it is so very, very difficult to really talk to the person dying; it is very difficult, extremely difficult. Unless it is a person who has a little control to listen. Usually there are many methods. However whether the person has faith or not in the Enlightened Being, whether the person knows something about this—generally what I mean, for the person in life who has no idea of Dharma, of the Enlightened Being, who has no faith, it is difficult to say things, especially at death time. Even in the lifetime it is difficult to communicate, difficult for him to understand this; and it is difficult at death time, his mind becomes more uncontrolled.

But however, if as the person stops breathing, you can very loudly recite the Avalokiteshvara mantra, generally it is good. You can say also the Guru Shakyamuni mantra, Lama Ton.ba ... You can say this very loudly. If don’t say it very loudly, the person cannot hear easily. Then you blow in the ear and say it very loudly. If you call the name of a person and say it very loudly, such as the Avalokiteshvara mantra, it is very powerful, very effective if at that time the person can hear it, has a chance to hear it. Because the gross superstitions absorb and gradually sink, so just before stopping breathing there are things going on, changes going on, but the person doesn’t recognize them. Before stopping breathing, the four elements, the five skandhas, the five basic wisdoms, and the five inner objects—such as form, sound, taste, contact, these things—anyway, these are gradually getting stopped, degenerated. So all the gross mind gets absorbed, and the senses outside don’t feel much. At that time, it is very difficult for the person to feel or hear the object. One thing is this.

The other thing is that also at that time the person has so much fear, much suffering, and it is extremely difficult to have the chance to hear any of these words, except for the person who is a little fortunate, who has such merits in that lifetime. Then it is possible to have a little chance to hear. If the person hears a little bit, it helps so much, it helps great deal. He is in such terrible suffering, so it helps very much to create less suffering at that time. Also, depending on the other dead person, it can be possible that if he has created so much good karma in that lifetime, so much purification, if he has really observed karma and taken care, at the death time if someone calls his guru’s name to pray, like this, then because of this, even if his mind is uncontrolled, because there is so much purification made and his friends help him, trying to make him understand, then he remembers to pray to his guru or that manifestation of Buddha. So it is like this. Usually the person all of a sudden gets a big shock or fear due to something; and at the same time when that happens he doesn’t remember; but if someone tells him, “Do this,” he remembers, so his suffering becomes less. Just like this.

Also, those who have created more merits, and are a little more fortunate, who have a little control, by remembering the guru, the manifestation of the buddhas, as they pray, it can be possible to protect them from not being born in the lower suffering realms. Like this. For instance, even in the dreams when there is a big fear, something happening, if you don’t remember to take refuge to pray, to rely on something, to rely on the enlightened being, the perfect guide, who has the perfect power to guide, so even if you don’t remember in dream times when there are things going on, frightening things happening, if you don’t remember this then at death time it is really very difficult to remember.

In Tibet, when people die, they do like this. If the other people who know a little bit of Dharma know what to do, as much as they understand, they recite mantra; that’s the way to help. But as it is, if a person dying is surrounded by people who don’t know anything, who only cry, but who don’t know anything, he is suffering, and the other people are also suffering, crying, only creating an upset environment, and then it is difficult to get help at death time. Even these little things, saying mantras loudly, asking the person to mention the name of the guru, calling his name and asking him to pray about it. So, according to the other person, his fortune, it gets helped, like this. Usually it is difficult  - after the person is dead, trying to read things like this; it is difficult, difficult. If the person doesn’t understand in this lifetime, how can the person understand at death time? It is difficult. Extremely, like this. Extremely difficult. But because of reading, because of the teaching of the Enlightened Being, it has some power. But how much it works and helps depends on the other person, his fortune, like this. Also if he is around, nearby also ... like this. In Tibet, when the person dies, the breath stops, he dies, they try to put blessed nectars and pills in the mouth. They do these things.

Anyway, the most practical thing is to recite mantra and blow, this one of the most practical things. Just hearing the enlightened holy name can help a lot. But generally, making offerings of the possessions to the holy beings, and praying also that the possessions may be used for virtuous work—doing this also helps the dead person. Even if the person is born in the narak realms, this definitely helps. Also, the holy beings' prayers, due to their mind powers, as they pray it is also very effective, very powerful.

Also, there is a method in Tibet to do this. When a person dies they call the lama from the monastery to transfer the consciousness. They do this. However much it works for the other person’s consciousness mostly depends on the other person’s creating good karma. But however much puja is done by using the dead person’s possessions can definitely help. There are many stories.

You can do like this, like we did before. Meditate, and in the place of crying, meditate, do purification with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and yourself purifying all sentient beings, including him. Like this. This is very good. This is a practical puja.

Anyway, one or two years ago, below the Everest center there was a Tibetan monastery, and there was one monk who also passed away. Just before the other head lama passed away he instructed the monk to never come out from his retreat. I think he was doing retreat on Avalokiteshvara, reciting mantra and other things. I think he was quite a fortunate person. So just before, he was a little bit sick, and then just about the time of death he got better. Then he didn’t want to be in the room, so he told another person that he wanted to move outside, just before his death. There was one abbot in that monastery, one very quiet, simple, good monk who was living, keeping morality, taking care of him very well, and he asked him to read, “The Book of the Dead” just before his death. After reading he asked about any other methods just before the actual time. This was wise, because you can try the best you can when the actual time comes, there is the chance to try. He asked someone to read this book because at death time, during this evolution, it is extremely difficult to remember, so if the person does not have enough control, then he has to depend on someone’s help in reading it. So he asked about this before his death. However, he had a good death, the way he died was peaceful.

Also there was one nun there. Usually people, the monks, had no idea that she would die like this. First of all, I will tell about the death! This nun, at death time, had no sickness, no problem. Then she lay down in the position that Guru Shakyamuni took when he passed into Nirvana. In that position, by remembering this she lay down in the position of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha without worry—nothing, peaceful. Then she instructed her helper (there was another nun who helps her) so that at the death time she remembered her gurus. Then also she meditated for I don’t remember how many days, but for a certain number of days she was in meditation during her death time. Really, she had a peaceful death. I checked up with those nuns, they came to ask me to pray. So I asked what she usually did, how she lived her daily life. They said she did much purification, that she never breaks saying this prayer, that she continuously always says this, always practicing this, always doing much purification in her daily life. Also, she took many teaching on the graduated path. She was not the kind of person who studied philosophical teachings, this and that, learned, but just her daily life. She had little understanding but her daily life was good.

There are many people, so many that this happened to in India and Tibet. Even in modern times, these times so many. Also in India. Also at the same monastery, the head lama was an ascetic lama, which means one who is living and who has renounced this life, living in the pure Dharma practice. Always he put on just very old simple clothes; also he was very old. I don’t know very much about him because I saw him only like this. The story is that he heard that above that place a monastery was going to be built. We didn’t have a chance to go to see him that time; he was very sick—sometimes pots of bloods coming, and when he hears good news about Dharma, all of a sudden he gets better; and then again vomits and gets sick. Like this. So we were invited to come down to see him, so we went. First of all I thought he was a nun! He looked very simple and had one piece of cloth put on his head. But he had a good vibration. First of all I thought he was a very old nun. Then he was very pleased to hear about us, hear about the monastery, about teaching Dharma. He was very pleased, and he told me that I should not build small, I should not build the monastery small, “You shouldn’t have a little mind, thinking of expenses, and build small; you should have a very big, strong mind, and this monastery should be built as large as possible.” He said it like this. So it will be very beneficial for the teaching. Then also he gave me some books—he had already made arrangements, books on the graduated path and some tantric teachings to take to America. He checked, made observations, and prayed with the texts, then he gave the texts to us. Then he said that he had only one year to live. Also, he said some other things too. So I told him I am building, and asked him to pray for success in all these works, building the monastery, and this and that. He said, “If the mind is noble, (this means pure, like bodhicitta, pure) then everything can be successful, everything can be successful.” So I think he also quoted Guru Tsongkhapa’s teachings, a quotation that says, “If the mind is noble,” which means bodhicitta, noble, the opposite of evil, “If the mind is pure and noble, then the place, path, and everything can become noble; if the mind is evil, everything that you enjoy becomes evil.” This is Guru Tsongkhapa’s teaching which is really true. As I told you this morning about bodhicitta, it is the same thing.

After one year, as I came down, he passed away. Before his death he gave instruction and final advice to all the monks about what to do The monastery had money from offerings made by people, and they collected and used it for making pujas on special days, things like this. However, during that lama’s time he took care of all the monks, and when people offered money for pujas and prayers, he spent all this for his monks. He was the kind of person who spends whatever he receives. He said you should not keep it longer, otherwise it will become a cause of fighting and problems. At death time, however, he was very well; they talked at night time and then afterwards, about dawn time, he sent all the people out. He asked for tea first, good tea, and then he filled his bowl with tea; and then he sent the people out, closed the door, and at about dawn then he passed away. He was in meditation, his body up in the usual position of meditation. Then I think for quite a long time he was in meditation, and now there is his reincarnation who was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in that area. Not only by His Holiness, but also by many other high lamas. They also checked with other lamas, and they all discovered the same thing.

It was like this, this lama’s life. There is one big monastery in Tibet. There was a huge rocky mountain—if you are on the ground, you can see the path to go to the monastery on top of the rock; the monastery is so beautiful. The original evolution, as I think I mentioned before, was that the female aspect of Buddha, Tara, founded this monastery. So this lama was a monk in that monastery and he was the manager of the monastery. He brought things from outside, took care of the expenses, made offerings, and these things. He had to work so much, but however much he tried, he failed as a manager. He got very upset and left that job; then he went to take teachings from another place, from his gurus. Then he did retreat for many years, so many years in hermitage; for so many years he did retreat. Then afterwards, slowly, slowly as his realization developed, people recognized it. Before he was just a simple ordinary monk, but later on people recognized him, people knew things like this about him. When Tibet was overtaken by the Chinese, he first of all lived in a tent. Then later on a benefactor offered him land, and he built a monastery within six days. The walls were very quickly built up, and they had no shape, but there was such a relaxed, good feeling, very quiet.

There are many methods, wise things. The wisest thing to do, the most clever thing to do is, before death, make yourself practical, capable of protecting yourself from danger when death occurs. Make yourself capable before death, try to make yourself capable. When death occurs, you, just like these lamas, just like that nun, make yourself capable to help yourself, to guide yourself, without depending on others to guide you. You be the guide to protect yourself from suffering during death time. This is the most clever thing to do, the best thing to do. Try to train in these meditations before death, in the lifetime. Make yourself get ready. Make yourself capable. Just like this example, if you are born to carry heavy things, if your body is so weak you cannot carry them, you have to rely on a porter, on other people. Just like this example, make yourself capable of becoming the guide at death time. The main thing is making continual meditation on the graduated path. This is very helpful. And then continuously doing purification of negative karma, and trying not to make negative karma, especially with holy objects. Then, on the basis of that, observing karma, these things, and on the basis of that there are also many tantric techniques, special methods, very practical techniques to train to make yourself get trained before your death, in order to transfer your consciousness by yourself. As death happens, transfer your own consciousness to be born in a pure land, through your own guidance, your own Dharma practice.

There are many special, powerful techniques. But to learn them without having any idea of the fundamental meditations and practice, it cannot be that practical. That practice has to be done with bodhicitta, on the basis of the strong motivation of bodhicitta, and by thinking and understanding the samsaric suffering of oneself and others with great love and great compassion. It is not easy, it has to be done on the basis of these things. However, the fundamental meditations are very important, so important, like this. There are many special practical methods to transfer consciousness and so forth at death time, and many gods and goddesses from the pure realm making prostration to you with powerful sweet music, and with many offerings, such as the smell of incense, as if a king were coming. One can be born in a pure realm like this.

But, to make your practice practical, useful, to make it beneficial in that time, it depends on a strong understanding of the fundamental things, especially the impermanence of life and death, and the nature of suffering. Besides bodhicitta and these fundamental things such as the suffering nature, the person must have the understanding and the practice of the graduated path. So, totally speaking, the pure Dharma practice makes these higher techniques practical, and causes one to be born more quickly in the pure realm. Otherwise, without these fundamentals, one cannot make it. Just like without the wheel of the car, one cannot go even a few steps. Just like this.

One example of how much the gradual meditations and practice on the graduated path helps, especially in terms of the pure practice of renouncing this life—in Tibet in a monastery there was one monk. In his lifetime he practiced the methods of transferring the consciousness to the pure realms. However, when he came to the time of death, even though he tried to use this technique, it didn’t work. The reason for this was because he did not have strong understanding of impermanent nature, and was not living in pure Dharma practice. His mind was attached to Tibetan butter tea, which was served in a wooden bowl. Because of this, even though he used the technique, he could not transfer his consciousness at the time of death. So his guru, with his psychic powers and powers of prophecy, realized that he was trying to transfer his consciousness to a pure realm called Tushita, the pure land of Maitreya, Guru Tsongkhapa, but that it was not working. So the guru sent a message saying that there was better tea in Tushita, and not to worry. As soon as the monk received the message, he was able to transfer his consciousness to Tushita. So this is an important point, and the reason that I emphasize pure Dharma practice. The tea was the object of one of the eight worldly Dharmas, being attached to material possessions. At this time, his mind could renounce it, could stop being attached to it, like this. The more important thing is making the technique practical and beneficial in that time; the whole thing depends on this fundamental thing.

So therefore, it is extremely difficult at death time because we do not continuously train in the lifetime, and then all of a sudden we try to do something. The most clever, skillful thing is to train principally in these fundamental things, and to do meditation in order to lose this negative mind. This is the most important thing. If one trains during the lifetime, then when the time comes it is very useful; because the mind is trained it is easy. There is also another, opposite, example. It is the opposite thing. Before there was one man in a family who thought that he was ready and that he could go any time to the pure realm of Padmasambhava. He said, “You people are terribly poor, so I am ready, I am ahead of time.” At his death time all the other people were crying, they were so upset. Not because of him, not because he was dying, but because they were thinking, “He has no worries, he can go to the pure realm, and we are terrible, we are not ready, not capable, we cannot go.” So they were all upset themselves. But the man said, “I would rather pray to be here with you now, than go the pure realm.”

6 p.m.

Do meditation on Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, purifying meditation, beginning with the pure motivation of bodhicitta. Do the visualization of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, with knowledge rays coming and purifying, and the second, similar Guru Shakyamuni coming from the original one, melting into light, becoming oneness with you. Then out of that state, your mind, which becomes oneness with Guru Shakyamuni's holy mind, in the form of Guru Shakyamuni's holy body manifesting in the form of Guru Shakyamuni's holy body, manifesting in the form of Guru shakyamuni's holy body. Then yourself being oneness with the seed syllable, your mind which is oneness with Guru Shakyamuni's holy mind being in the form of the seed syllable, as you are reciting the mantra, making purification for the sentient beings.

Prayer and Mantra

Therefore, as in those examples that we talked about, those who had a peaceful death through Dharma—all this is the power of the Enlightened Being’s Dharma. Otherwise, even if you are on the moon, nothing can help; under the earth, on the moon, on the planets, nothing can help; you are scared of your death at the time, no matter wherever you are. So we, also, if we do meditation on the graduated path before the danger comes, keeping this meditation fundamental to our lifetime’s work, then also there are other higher teachings to practice. It is necessary to try. So like this.

Since we copy—usually on earth, some other person has many material things, and because of seeing the other people who have so many good material things, you also want to have the same material things as the other person. People have such beautiful saris, clothes, to put on, so you want to buy them too. There is confusion in the mind, always keeping you busy, always trying to be like another person whom you think is good, rich-looking—trying to be many things. If another person has long hair, you also keep long hair. You try to copy many things, but nothing helps at this dangerous time; there is only confusion.

But there are so many other good examples done by holy beings and yogis, so why don’t we copy them? We are also human beings. However, like animals, we are all scared of death, so it is necessary, wise, and skillful to, in our time, find a method to manage something. That is the keeping the practice life work. Then also we can try to practice the higher tantric teachings. We can learn, we can study, we can practice. These things are not only for monks and nuns and lamas, these are not things that can only be attained by monks and nuns and lamas. Even laypeople can practice these high methods.

In Tibet it happened many times that an ordinary human who was not a nun died peacefully. There have been many, many who have gone to the pure realms. Anyway, I am not going to tell many stories. Also in India it happened that one of our benefactor’s mother died. Usually she was just a very simple person, but she had one special deity whose mantra she recited all the time. She used to go to the monastery, where there were more than 1,000 monks. One day, all of a sudden as she went down without problems, she told her sons “Thank you,” for helping her, and then she said goodbye. Then she sat on a chair and asked for a little cold water, and before receiving the cold water, all of a sudden she left home peacefully. Also, it happened many times in Tibet that one would pass away in meditating. One lady knew her time of death, so she fixed her room, cleaned, put on a new dress, made many offerings, and then in meditation she passed away to a pure realm. This is not only for Tibet; also we Westerners can do this, it is worthwhile.

So there is no need to talk much about the death evolution; the changes. This is briefly written there. Then as you study, you will understand clearly. There is no time to go through this. It is just like this, similar to these things—visions like a phantom, like a snake, a flame vision; like a white vision, like an autumn moon rising; or like snow on the ground; then a red vision, such as the way the sky looks red when the sun sets. Then there is the dark vision, like complete darkness, like we are in a dark room, like that feeling, darkness. Also there are feelings—all of a sudden the darkness happens as if you are falling in the darkness, like this. As the red seed comes up, the white seed comes down, and according to that evolution, these visions arise.

After the dark vision, there is emptiness, the clear light vision. But this is not called shunyata. It is not shunyata. If it were shunyata, then, without need of meditation, training in the meditation of shunyata would be effortless realization. It is not shunyata, but just emptiness, like the dawn time that is devoid of the dark vision, the white vision, and the red vision. This is the point that I am just briefly introducing to you, just giving you a little idea. Generally, I cannot talk about these methods. Anyway, at this point the yogis, the meditators who meditated in their lifetimes and also practiced the tantric, Vajrayana method, who observed karma well and kept the precepts well, in this time they use the methods that they have been practicing in their lifetimes. This is the real actual thing for which they have been making arrangements. So they use this method that they have been training in. They meditate sometimes for twenty days, or seven days, depending on the meditator; they are not sure how long. So like this.

During those times the skins (there are six skins) never move or smell as they do when one is usually alive. Also, they are very magnificent looking, not like ordinary people, who when they die they have open big eyes, their eyes up, and many awful things, their skin changes, going down, and becomes very fearful looking—not like this. Also, when the ordinary person dies, a person who doesn’t practice in the lifetime, and especially one who doesn’t observe karma well, who creates so much negative karma, at death times cries so much because he sees so many awful things happening, such fearful visions, incredible. As a result of this, at death time they move their legs, putting their hands up grasping, trying to grasp something; many awful things. During death time the peepee and kaka comes out because there is such strong fear, so many things happening, like this.

In India there are lamas who passed away like this, meditating. Indians never believe. The Indian people who work in the office don’t believe people can sit like this. Their usual conception is—of course, they don’t know anything about this, they don’t see or hear—but their conception is that after the person dies, right away they should be taken out and burnt in the fire, otherwise the body will smell. Sometimes, many times the monks go to the hospital in India. If they die in the hospital, it is a difficult trip to get permission for the dead monk to be in the hospital for some time, because the doctors never listen. All of a sudden the body has to be taken out. However, because their conception is this, just as the breathing stops, the person at the very end of death, is finished. So the Indians came to see the lama, and they touched him while he was in meditation, and they tried to smell him. So they got a big surprise; there was no smell, nothing. Instead of a bad smell, during that time, those high lamas give off a fantastic sweet smell due to the power of their realization—a sweet smell floating around in his room. So they got a big surprise, like this.

This vision also happens during, between dreams and waking up, but this happens very quickly. It is very short, very, very short, but between this it also happens. Falling asleep, then dreaming, then waking up—between this things happen, such the clear light vision, but it is very short, so short, so quick. Those great meditators who practice tantra, first of all they practice. When they have control of the dreams, then for sure they can use their profound methods in the actual death time, like this. They realize this during their sleep times first—according to the present situation it is an impossible thing—doing this consciously, with consciousness, being conscious, to use the methods during this time, being conscious as the vision happens.

These visions, down to the clear light vision, is an ordinary thing that happens to all the ordinary beings—those who die a death not caused by an accident, getting killed or something—all of a sudden their whole bodies are destroyed. Also, for an ordinary person the consciousness, even the breath stops during this time, in which these eighty gross superstitions are gradually absorbed, sink, and the breathing stops, before these visions arise. The consciousness is a certain mind, an indestructible subtle mind with this vehicle that is in that seed, which is in that seed like a bean, like two lids put together, so inside tiny, like beans—it is situated inside that. Sometimes, at the very final point of death, when the subtle mind or consciousness leaves, the drop opens, and the consciousness exits from that place. When the consciousness leaves there is a sign—red blood that comes up through the nose, and white going down. For this to happen sometimes it takes usually three days. Sometimes due to a person’s disease, it sometimes doesn’t happen that the seed comes out. But when great meditators finish meditation, the seed comes out, like this.

Then there is the intermediate stage. The person’s consciousness leaves from that place like a bean inside the central nadi according to the person’s future rebirth (page 54). For instance, the consciousness of a being who will be born in a pure land will exit through the center of the head; and a being who will be born in the formless realm, like this. Then the consciousness of a being who will be reborn as an animal will exit through the peepee place, and the consciousness of a being who will be reborn as a narak will exit through the kaka place—sorry, I have no good terms. The consciousness goes through these places, from nose to ears, according to the person’s future rebirth. Also, there are two ways. For some people the heat gradually comes down from the head, and for some people it happens from the feet—it depends if the person is more able, and has created more merits. Then also there are paths—down, in the middle, and up, and also in the intermediate stage there are visions that the person sees according to the rebirth that they will take.

Then the person is born in the intermediate stage—there is the body and the cooperative cause, that person’s consciousness, the subtle mind. Once one goes to the intermediate stage, then again gradually as the visions occur before, now, from the clear light, they occur again, reversed—first the dark vision, then the red vision, then the white vision. Then the eighty superstitions arise, and the whole thing is reversed. The cooperative cause of the body is this. The principal cause of the intermediate being’s body is the wind, and that is also a cooperative cause of that being’s mind. That intermediate stage being’s body is indestructible like a vajra, like a diamond—indestructible, nothing can resist it. Also, karmically it has certain karmic powers. Wherever it thinks—if someone is dead, then born in the intermediate stage, and then in the intermediate stage thinks that it is going to America—without any resistance, with its karmic power it can reach there. It can reach anywhere except the parent’s sex if it is going to be born as a human being. Other than this, it can reach anywhere.

There is so much suffering during the intermediate stage. One feels as if one is underneath the earth, pressed down between mountains—big mountain having cracks, then pressing. There is so much suffering, and visions of the illusive mind. They do not realize the visions of their own illusive mind, and they are so frightened. For example, they may see a very heavy storm, with strong red wind taking everything away in different places, and a big noise of fire sparkling. There are so many fearful visions, such as being taken by the ocean waves, very strong wrathful waves. These are karmically created. There are yamas that have fearful, frightening shapes with different animal heads—such as lions, sheep, scorpions—all kinds of different animal heads. All of them are chasing, shouting, beating, many things. Even in the intermediate stage, there is no relaxed time, there is so much suffering, so much fear.

If that intermediate state being could recognize his dead, previous body, he could come back, but karmically he doesn’t recognize it. It is like it is completely forgotten, once the consciousness has left from there. Like this. Then, from this intermediate stage there is usually seven days. Sometimes after being born in the intermediate state, all of a sudden the being gets born, sometimes usually after seven days or one week, that length of time. Then again, he quickly goes through the changes of karma—then again he dies and goes through this evolution; it is very short, very quick, then again like this. Again seven days, and if he did not find a place yet.. the total time cannot be longer, however, than seven times seven days. An intermediate state being cannot be there longer than for this period. Therefore, for that length of time, when someone dies the Tibetans do puja for that length of time. They do it after one week, at the end of the second week, at the end of the third week until the forty-ninth day. After each week, at the end of each week, they do puja; and the reason is because of this.

Then, like this. This is another way of talking. When we die, it is like we are falling asleep; the intermediate stage is like being in a dream; and waking up out of a dream is like being born in the lower realm. We wake out of the dream all of a sudden, and get born there, and it is such an incredible fearful place. The whole ground is hot red, burning iron; then on that basis, there are so much different things, different places. Sometimes there are doorless houses, with no holes, just iron, hot red iron burning houses, and the beings suffer in the double houses like that. This doesn’t mean that someone built them—all this karmic creation intuitively happens, according to the person’s karma. There have been so many eons of suffering. Even if one could release oneself from one iron burning house, and finish that karmic suffering, again one would still receive another one. The suffering being of the narak realm has a huge body, specially designed to receive great suffering—a very big body and very thin skin, not like the skin underneath our feet. It is like the thin skin that grows over a wound, which is like paper—very, very thin skin. Besides that, as much suffering as there is, the beings don’t die as easily as we do. When we die, we don’t die of being in a suffering realm—we can die even due to an injection, many things, due to a thorn going inside. But these beings, no matter how much extremely great suffering there is, how long they are suffering, because it is karmically created, they don’t die.

I heard also, at some place in the West, that they put a man in a box and then later on they took him to the cemetery, and noise began coming from inside the box. So they opened the box and the person ran away or something. The doctors and people there tried to check and couldn’t figure out how it happened. How was it possible that this could happen to someone that they really believed was completely dead, with no breathing? Also recently, I don’t remember the cause, but one man’s wife somehow was taken by the river, and after two or three months later people found her alive, coming back home. But as she was coming home, her husband got another wife. The first wife, however, could not remember her previous things—about her home and so on. So the husband and new wife offered her welcome when she came, they were happy, but she couldn’t remember anything. People could not discover how this had happened. So these are evolutions, previous incarnations—the consciousness making a trip, even if there is no body to be seen with it. Even when people, from their sides, try to stop understanding this, from evolution’s side it is explained—so they have to do research, check up, and find out. They cannot contradict, because it is something that they saw.

Question: Is the whole evolution of the bardo karmically determined?

Rinpoche: Yes, yes. As I explained, I am trying to introduce this. Please, somebody put a question. Maybe you put a question ...

Question: What happens to a person who dies in a car accident or quickly, so there is no time to go through normal process?

Rinpoche: Then consciousness leaves. It depends on how much it gets injured, and this depends on the individual. It is possible to leave right away, things like this. According to the injury.

Question. Would there be much more suffering for that person if the consciousness had to leave very quickly?

Rinpoche: Not sure. Definitely, there can be more, it is almost definite, to be born in the suffering realms. But anyone who dies like, due to physical trouble, due to something causing physical trouble, all that cannot be the same thing. But for the person who has control and dies, it is almost impossible to be born in the lower realms. But any physical troubles, like this, due to that cause and the death, cannot be the same.

Question: What is the best way to sleep if you want to train your mind?

Rinpoche: Then the best thing that is very useful thing to do—usually there are so many things—but you can do them like this. If you are in the bed, then try to think, try to go through the evolution, go through this trip, the evolution. Then meditate on the point, the clear light vision; your mind should be just like we used to meditate before—the clear light vision and Guru Shakyamuni’s holy mind and your mind, all three are oneness. Then try to fall asleep, try to sleep with concentration; this helps great to practice higher tantric methods later on, this makes arrangements for that. This is very good because this way it reminds the person of death also. Also, doing this makes the mind get trained, so that when the person is in the actual trip of these things, as the mind gets trained the person can use a similar method at that time; this is real. Then perhaps it can be possible even to meditate in the dream, continuously concentrating—that is possible. That depends if the mind gets trained, gets habit.

When you sleep in the position of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the position he took when he was passing away, passing into nirvana, the position that he had had lying down. This (fourth right) finger stops the right nostril like this, stopping the right, and you are breathing from the right nostril, like this. Then the right side, then his left side up, and the two legs straight together like this. This has also much benefit. Also remember Guru Shakyamuni’s position when he passed into nirvana, that he went into this position, and think, “When he shows impermanence and suffering nature, then by remembering this I will also follow it, and this is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.” Do that position, lay down in that position. This has purpose, this has purpose—this (closing the nostril) means stopping, also the wind, greed. If you meditate like this, it is very good.

Then, like this, especially also if you can visualize your body in the form of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, I think I told you that before. Visualize Guru Shakyamuni’s form, his holy body purifying, absorbing into you, becoming oneness, then you are in the form of Guru Shakyamuni’s holy body, and then you lay down. Then go through this evolution. Then also when you get up, also remember the meditation that you did last night, and out of that state, your mind which is oneness with Guru Shakyamuni’s holy mind, in the form of Guru Shakyamuni’s, is getting up. This is very useful. This cooperates and relates very much to the higher tantric methods.

Dedicate the merits of keeping the precepts, “May I achieve enlightenment soon by receiving the full realization of the absolute true nature, of bodhicitta, and of the fully renounced mind of samsara, in order to enlighten all other sentient beings and release them from suffering.”

Thank you.

Day Twenty-two
Friday, April 12
5 a.m.

“From beginningless samsaric lifetimes until now, I have been continuously experiencing samsaric suffering, particularly, numberless times the suffering of the three lower realms. Also, in the future I will continuously experience samsaric suffering if I still follow delusions and karma. So after this life, not being reborn in the three suffering lower realms and being born in the upper realms is not enough, because at this time I am in the upper realm, but still in the suffering nature, with so many problems. Therefore, I must release myself from the cause of suffering, ignorance.

“Oneself achieving the cessation of the cause of suffering, ignorance, is not enough, not sufficient. Numberless sentient beings are suffering in the three lower realms, numberless sentient beings are suffering in the upper realms. Most sentient beings are not born with a perfect human rebirth, and have not met the precious teachings that lead to enlightenment and liberation and have not met the teacher explaining the teaching. So as I have the chance this time, I am responsible for releasing them from suffering and enlightening them. Besides that, all mother sentient beings have been kind from beginningless samsaric lifetime until now; and even in this recent time, they will be kind until I am released from samsaric suffering or until I achieve enlightenment. So therefore, in order to repay them, as they are that kind to me, I am responsible for releasing them from suffering as quickly as possible and enlightening them. Therefore I must achieve enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment I must subdue the negative actions of speech, body, and mind. Therefore I am going to take ordination.”

So visualize the person granting ordination as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, surrounded by infinite buddhas, bodhisattvas, and arhats.

At the end of the third repetition, think that you perfectly received ordination in the form of light and that your holy body is full of light.

Think that, “I am going to observe the precepts until tomorrow morning as the previous arhats followed the precepts.”

Dedicate the merits of taking the ordination. “Due to these merits may I achieve enlightenment soon by having the full realization of the absolute true nature, bodhicitta, and the fully renounced mind of samsara, only to enlighten all sentient beings by making them release from suffering.”

Generally, the benefits of keeping these general precepts, related to the previous history—the benefits of keeping the precepts are dependent on virtue, just like the trees grow by depending on the earth. Due to the causes of keeping these precepts, one can receive a perfect human rebirth, be born in the realm of gods, meet the guru, listen to the teachings, think, meditate, receive liberation, and receive all knowledge. By keeping these precepts one creates benefits, avoiding the eight non-freedom stages, with the eight freedoms and ten endowments avoiding the opposite that hinders Dharma practice. The cause of perfect human rebirth is morality, so this brings that result.

So how does this close the door of the lower realms?

In previous times, in a world called, “Adorned by Jewel,” in this place there was a Buddha called “Well-Seeing Buddha.” He gave many Dharma sermons to those people, and he caused all those people to follow the eight precepts. Some of them received rebirth in the upper realm, such as the realm of the gods and human beings, some of them received the path of the lesser vehicles, some of them received the bodhisattva path, and some of them received enlightenment. During that time, one very rich king took this ordination from that Buddha. Then he made the law for all the people to follow the eight precepts. During that time, many of the people followed the ordination and this caused them not to be born in the lower realm. Due to keeping these precepts they were born in the different stages of the god realms.

Also, in another time there was a Buddha who was called “Magnificent Powerful Buddha,” and after he passed he away, there was a religious king. When a Buddha passes away, the teachings shown by that Buddha always degenerate. So this king checked up the teachings, the text, and in the text the king found the benefits of keeping the eight precepts. Then he invited the monks and the Brahmins, and asked for the prayer of the eight precepts that was spoken by Buddha. He told them, “You should try to make this understandable and give it to me. If you don’t find this text then I will punish you.” So all of these people consulted each other. They were so frightened, because they didn’t even know the name of the text, and wherever they tried to find it, they couldn’t. Later on, one very old mother said, “When I was a girl my father used to keep these precepts. In my house there is a post, and in that post, the sutra teaching, the prayer of the eight precepts spoken by the Enlightened Being’s Holy Speech is there.” So they checked up that pillar in the old mother’s house. The father had made a hole in the pillar and put the text inside, and covered it with a square piece of wood. The people found it, and retrieved the small text that explained the benefits of keeping the precepts. All of the monks took it and offered it to the king. The king was extremely pleased and gave many presents to the people, and also gave many possessions to the old mother. Then they made the law to follow the eight precepts on those special days. As they followed the precepts, even the gods who were in the god realms were very pleased, because as the number of people observing the precepts increased, so did the number of people being born in the god realm. Also, as they observed the precepts, they received rain in time in their lands, and fights and epidemics and many other troubles were finished. Also, keeping these precepts for one day creates so much more benefit than making charity every day for 100 years. Keeping these precepts during the Guru Shakyamuni period causes one to be born in the retinue of Maitreya in the future. These are just some benefits of keeping general precepts.

In the morning, in the first hour, you do meditation. First do brief meditation on the suffering realm. Then do meditation of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, remembering or reading. Even if you don’t remember, read the refuge part that explains the knowledge of the Enlightened Being, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Then during that time, do purification for a longer time. After that, do checking meditation by going through the outlines of karma. There are four main outlines for karma, so also try to understand, and relate them to the karmas you created in this life, what you remember.

From the holy speech of the great bodhisattva, Shantideva, “Even just thinking to benefit is much higher than making offerings to buddhas, to the enlightened beings, so why not trying and working to obtain the purpose of all and each sentient being’s happiness?”

First, it means this. Just thinking to benefit all sentient beings, just having this thought arise, has greater benefit than making offerings to the enlightened beings. Even if one makes offerings to the enlightened beings, filling up as many buddha fields as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges with seven kinds of jewels and offering it to that many buddhas, it cannot compare to the thought of bodhicitta thinking of the benefit of all sentient beings. This benefits them much more greatly, and cannot compare to other virtuous actions.

So what this great bodhisattva Shantideva is trying to say is that if even just merely thinking of, allowing this thought to arise has that much benefit, then of course there is even greater benefit in actually obtaining the happiness and peace of all sentient beings. Of course there is nothing to talk about—of course it has greater benefit. Therefore, the action of listening to teachings should become work for other sentient beings, not only for one’s own development of wisdom. If it becomes the cause of enlightenment, the cause of bodhicitta, it can become work for sentient beings, definitely. Therefore, it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation of bodhicitta.

“I must achieve enlightenment in order to enlighten all and each suffering sentient being from his suffering realm.”

When we cultivate the motivation, not just mere words, think of the mere words, like this. If a person is going to help other people, his friends or parents or someone, then that person has the idea that today he’s going to spend all of his mind with happiness. Willingly he goes to work for his relatives, friends, those people; willingly, with happiness thinking that he’s dedicating himself completely like this. Then there is great purpose. Also, it is so useful to remember the suffering of the narak stages. As Nagarjuna said in his teachings, “Remember every day.” Also, Shantideva said in his teaching that the benefits and usefulness of remembering the narak sufferings are that it causes one to lose pride, to lose the thought thinking that oneself is so important, that oneself is so great, that oneself is the most competent person or expert. Also, by remembering and thinking of these sufferings, it causes compassion to rise for other samsaric beings, especially samsaric beings who are suffering in those realms.

For instance, one doesn’t have any idea about those extremely great incredible sufferings—these are the sufferings as explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, as his omniscient mind sees it. These examples are given by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in order to give an idea to other beings, whose minds have no power to see these things, to have an idea how it is. Also, for those ordinary beings to practice Dharma, to follow the path, and to receive liberation. As Shantideva taught, “ The person becomes pleased by creating virtuous actions and careful of creating negative actions by remembering the narak sufferings, the sufferings of the lower realms.”

If these points are not explained, if the person does not understand the suffering of the three lower realms, the person does not understand what happens, the fault. Even if the path is shown by someone, by a holy being, they wouldn’t see any special reason to follow it. Following the path is based on observing karma, avoiding the negative actions, and creating virtuous actions, so if the person has no interest in observing karma he will not feel that it is important.

Because of laziness, sometimes even if one tries to do something, one cannot purely observe karma, and thus cannot follow the path and receive the everlasting happiness that arises from following the path. Such laziness is arisen from ignorance—the ignorance not knowing the suffering nature. In order to know the suffering nature one has to know suffering and the suffering result which is experienced in the different realms. Because the negative mind is so strong, the negative mind that came with our mind from beginningless previous lifetimes, there are so many hindrances such as laziness, so many things. Due to not realizing the suffering nature, not understanding these things, it is extremely difficult to purely observe karma and to do pure Dharma practice. If one has no idea of the suffering of the lower realms, and doesn’t meditate on the upper realm, then even if the person is told by someone that he should not do evil actions, the person doesn’t think it is important.

Usually we are not that afraid—why don’t we pay attention, why are we careless about creating negative actions? First of all, we do not understand the different suffering realms where you have to experience suffering numberless times, and also where your body will be continuously suffering. Not knowing the different suffering realms, not knowing our next rebirth, we create so much negative karma with such ignorance. Then even when we hear about it through explanation, because of not doing continual meditation on it, not deeply understanding it, still there is not that much feeling, and we are still careless about creating evil actions—we have lack of deep understanding and faith in karmic evolution, belief in karmic evolution. That's why even though we hear about it, we still easily do the negative action, because of these things, not having deep understanding, and not doing continual meditation on these things. We do not really deeply understand karmic evolution, that negative actions bring suffering results.

Generally, when any negative mind arises, any problem in your mind arises, it is very useful all of a sudden to remember, “I should not follow this negative mind, I should not let it happen because the result of following the negative karma, of allowing this negative mind to arise, it is only for me to suffer. Who will suffer? Me—I, who has this negative mind, will suffer in the lower realm.” As you remember the suffering of the lower realm with understanding of this explanation, as you remember the way karma works, all of a sudden you get frightened because of remembering this, because of the mind being conscious. All of a sudden your mind gets afraid, and the negative mind, that creates the cause of body, speech, and mind, goes down. This is very helpful. Just as Shantideva said, remembering this, feeling upset about the suffering and worry can cure many things, such as feeling tired. This is an example, but it can also help when there is the rising of different negative minds, such as greed. Greed is very difficult to control; it is really difficult to control greed. Also, greed is difficult to discover. Anger is easier to discover, but greed is difficult to discover. So remembering this can help a great deal, so much.

Then, compassion arising for other samsaric beings. As I told you once before, for bodhicitta to arise for the sake of sentient beings, it is necessary to depend on great compassion and great love. For this, it is necessary to understand other beings’ suffering, those who are in the upper and lower realms. Without understanding the incredible suffering of the lower realm that other beings experience, it is difficult for such strong compassion to arise. So in order for this compassion to arise, to feel and understand other beings’ suffering, it is necessary for oneself to understand first. Without depending on something we can perceive, we don’t have the power. Without depending on the teaching, on the explanation, the introduction of these sufferings, we cannot understand them by ourselves. If we don’t even remember all the things that we did in this life, even the time when we were born, how can we remember these sufferings, even though we have experienced them numberless times. Understanding this has to depend on the explanation, the teaching which explains this.

Then, to really see this clearly, to really understand it, it is necessary to do continual meditation on it until you have the experience. Also, one thing is this—to really escape from suffering, without even planning to achieve enlightenment, it is necessary to follow the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.

We Westerners are like this: even before the suffering is shown, when we hear about the suffering we get shocked, we are not interested. We think, “What’s the point of knowing? At the moment I do not have these sufferings, so what’s the point of knowing? We don’t know it.” This is completely the wrong idea. Thinking this means that in the depth of your mind you always have the feeling that you won’t ever be reborn in those realms, that you won’t ever become like those other suffering beings. There is always this feeling in the mind. Because the person is now, momentarily, a human being, he can talk and do many things—he can cheat other people, be sneaky, and do many things. Temporarily, for a short time, while he has this body he can do so many things, so he doesn’t see the karmic evolution, that from this cause this result will be achieved. So the person is always feeling, “I am good, I am good,” never having the expectation that he will be born in those realms, and become a suffering being. Or thinking, “The explanation of suffering is only for Tibetans, or for poor people who wear torn clothes and don’t speak English.” Some people think like this, having the feeling that their minds are much higher than other people’s. This is just a wrong conception. Thinking that you are higher because you have much material, this and that, having more possessions, looking better than others on the outside is a completely wrong idea.

So if the suffering is not shown, it is like this. First the suffering is shown, and one is not interested. But let’s say the path, the actual method that leads to nirvana and enlightenment was shown first—with no talk of suffering, if the path is shown first, the person cannot follow it, cannot continuously practice it, and would not try that much. It would always be like this.

However, like the scholar, a person who knows many words without doing much meditation, that’s like explaining things in America, people like Nepalis and Tibetans talking about the possessions in America, this and that, counting each one like this; like counting one family’s possessions, saying that family has this and that, although you don’t have this, but counting—that doesn’t help at all. You are suffering, feeling hungry and thirsty, but counting other people’s possessions, they have rice this and that, and this cannot help quench your feeling thirsty. So just like this, if one doesn’t really practice meditation, if one doesn’t try to have the experience, then it is like this, just counting numbers, it doesn’t help solve your problems.

Just like this, a person wouldn’t follow the path if suffering was not shown. Showing how to practice Dharma without showing these things, how can a person practice Dharma? Without explaining what is Dharma, what is non-Dharma, the opposite thing, forget about following the path, how does this person practice Dharma? There is no hope for this person to receive the path. Also, the person doesn’t try to do continual meditation. Why wouldn’t the person do continual meditation? Because there is no energy. Why it is impossible if there is not that much energy? It is difficult because that person doesn’t realize the suffering nature, doesn’t understand suffering, and so therefore doesn’t have the mind renouncing suffering. The person will have difficulties in Dharma practice, and that person will always wait, always try to solve temporal problems, and spend more time in this than in Dharma practice. For this person, curing these temporal problems becomes more important than practicing Dharma, because he does not have perfect peace, he does not see clearly, and he does not have that much idea. He doesn’t recognize suffering nature, so he doesn’t have that much idea. He thinks it is more important to stop the temporal suffering that he is experiencing than to practice Dharma, so he spends more time in this, and when his mind is a little bit happy, maybe then only he does meditation.

Why is it impossible to receive the path for those kinds of people? Because to receive the path, I think I told you before, you need the understanding that is possessed by the fully renounced mind of samsara. This is the meaning of path—to receive the path, it is necessary to receive the fully renounced mind of samsara. Without receiving this, it is impossible to enter the path, the cessation of suffering, and nirvana. Without understanding suffering, how can a person renounce it? How can a person feel aversion for it? To feel aversion for it, the person should understand that suffering is terrible. This is the same as a person who feels aversion for his food because he recognizes suffering like this.

To renounce this point is to receive the fully renounced mind of samsara. To receive this mind, it is necessary to realize samsaric pleasure as suffering. Receiving the mind renouncing all samsaric suffering depends on realizing samsaric pleasure as being the nature of suffering. Without understanding this, there is no way to receive the mind fully renouncing all samsaric suffering. If the person doesn’t realize this, the person can never renounce samsaric pleasure. Samsaric pleasure can be renounced by understanding it as suffering, and without understanding that there is no way to renounce it. The person doesn’t see any purpose in renouncing it. The person doesn’t understand how pleasure is suffering, so there is no way for the mind renouncing it to arise. As long as there is no mind renouncing samsaric pleasure, there is no way to receive the path—besides the Mahayana path, not even the Hinayana path. There is no way, it is all blocked. Especially as long as the person does not realize pleasure as suffering, and as long as the person is attached to it, that attachment always keeps the person in samsara. Attachment is like glue that attaches two things together. Like this, like glue.

The point I want to make is that in order to fully realize that samsaric pleasure is suffering, it is necessary to understand and receive the experience of the meditation on the lower suffering realms. This depends on not just mere words, but on actual understanding with feeling, deep understanding of the suffering of the lower realms as it is explained the Enlightened Being, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Without knowing the suffering of the lower realms, without really deeply understanding this feelings, there is no way that the person can discover that samsaric pleasure is suffering. This is the worst thing—not recognizing samsaric pleasure as suffering, and this is the main problem for human beings, who are higher than animals. This is what we do not discover.

If you fully discover this, then there is really a great change in your mind. There is a big change and a much quicker progression of Dharma wisdom. The deeper we see, the more we discover that there is no difficulty in practicing Dharma, no difficulty in renouncing negative mind, no difficulty in living the ascetic life, no difficulty in following the path, achieving bodhicitta. Also, there is no difficulty in receiving the full realization of the absolute true nature.

Therefore, it is not enough just knowing the few sufferings, such as pain, sickness, very gross things. Even animals, the lower beings, even though they know it, hate it, they do not desire these problems. Also, even though they escape from this, they have these problems. Just understanding suffering doesn’t mean this. So therefore, now you can guess how important it is to know about suffering.

Question: Is there a difference between practicing Dharma just because you are scared of the suffering of the lower realms and practicing Dharma because you are trying to receive better future rebirths?

Rinpoche: There is a difference. Both have value, but different levels of value. Like materials, like different materials, like diamonds. If there are two jewels, both jewels are different—one is gold, one is diamond for instance—then one has less value; one is worth less but both have value. It is the same thing in the case of the person who doesn’t think of bodhicitta, but only wants to receive a better future life for future lifetimes’ happiness, to not suffer, and then for that reason follows morality. And also, if he doesn’t follow morality, if he doesn’t try to observe karma, to avoid negative action, the opposite of morality—moral conduct is avoiding negative action—if the person thinks that if he does the opposite of moral conduct, negative actions, that action will make him suffer in the lower realms as a punishment for his actions, if he is scared of this future suffering, then observing morality has value. It has that much value if the work is done with that motivation, thinking of the benefit for future lives. Also, following moral conduct causes the person to be born in the upper realms, to receive higher enjoyments and have less suffering. This good result is due to following morality. If he’s following moral conduct, it has value. Besides trying to receive an upper rebirth and trying to follow the moral conduct to be born in the upper realm, to be born again as a human being in order to practice Dharma for other sentient beings, in order to work for enlightenment for other sentient beings, this has more value because of the motivation. But both have value, just like gold and diamonds.

Question: Could you say something about morality in its more positive aspect—I think you mentioned about protecting life—rather than the negative aspect. Morality in the sense of actually going things, towards other sentient beings rather than avoiding thoughts of greed.

Rinpoche: Morality, actually morality. When you hear the word morality it sounds like something good, something good. Not containing any explanation, something kind of good, moral conduct. But fact is, the explanation of morality is avoiding negative actions, avoiding the hindrances of liberation, enlightenment, and the path. So among the hindrances there are all kinds of hindrances, so many hindrances. This is the clear way, without going through details: totally saying, if the person is living in the avoidance of the hindrances, there are less hindrances, less hindrances. If the person is living in avoidance of the hindrances to enlightenment, the person has that much less hindrance, like this. This actual meaning is what it really means, this tells the meaning of morality, the actual meaning of the ordination. Just this meaning explains the purpose of observing morality. The purpose is to stop all the hindrances of the path to enlightenment and achievement of enlightenment. Also like this: if the person is living in avoidance, the person at the same time—how does the moral conduct help right away, besides guiding in the future, even though it guides in the present time, at the same time? That is because it is like this. If the person is living in the avoidance of the negative actions, at the same time the hindrances become that much less. Also at the same time, as the person took ordination, made the decision, made the vow to follow the precepts, at the same time as the person receives ordination, as he has made that vow, at the same time the person has made ground, has made the level for liberation, the cessation of suffering. The person has planted the root of everlasting happiness, because that is the thing that brings everlasting happiness. As I talked to you this morning, it is like the round earth where people can exist, people can enjoy, do many things, build, just like this. The person has planted the root of infinite knowledge of the path. The path and all the knowledge of the goals of the path all arise from this root. So there is a great difference. For that person, before he wasn’t in that, living in that practice, he wasn’t living in ordination, in moral law. At the time when he was living in ordination, in moral law—there is a big difference between these two persons, big difference. The other person doesn’t plant the seed, doesn’t put the root, doesn’t plant the seed of everlasting happiness. When he took the ordination, he planted the seed of everlasting happiness, he planted the root of everlasting happiness. There is a big difference between the time when he was living in ordination and the time when he was not living in ordination.

Generally, like this: moral conduct—in Sanskrit, shilashila means cool. That means this: a person who is feeling hot, suffering from being hot, if there is wind blowing, it cools the air, cools the person, makes you feel pleasure by relieving that problem, the suffering of feeling hot. Feeling hot is suffering that the person does not desire. This is the example of how the word shila means cool. The actual meaning is that samsaric suffering is like feeling hot, and the air that cools is the method—the moral conduct, the ordination. So if the person took ordination and is living in ordination it purifies, cools.

Observing ordination or moral conduct cools his suffering at the same time—as long as he keeps it, it cools his suffering. How? Just by living in that, confusion does not arise, nor do the problems that happen with the actions that are the opposite of moral conduct. This doesn’t happen with that person. The temporal life problems that other people who are not living in moral conduct get involved in do not happen. Living in and observing moral conduct cools him to not create negative karma, the cause of suffering. By creating the cause, there is the suffering result. Just keeping moral conduct cools that—it doesn’t allow the person to experience the suffering result. Also, it purifies other negative karma, that which has been created in previous lifetimes.

This is the way that the person’s ordination and moral conduct becomes the best protection among any external protection. Outside bodyguards are recognized as reliable in order to protect the body, but it has happened many times in different countries that the bodyguard kills the person inside, the king, or the president. They kill the person inside who they are supposed to protect. This can also cause much danger. Also, weapons that are made in the country to protect the country can destroy the people in that country. Instead of protecting the country, keeping the people there, using them to protect the life, the weapons become the destroyer of people in that country. The weapons that are recognized as weapons of protection become weapons to cause danger to one’s own country and people. There are so many examples.

In a fight, ordinary worldly people think that the best protection is a weapon. Using a weapon is recognized as protection to protect themselves and their own lives. They use machines, and however many people go for war, no matter how many weapons they take, many die, not coming back. External weapons are recognized as protection for their country and themselves, but they have no power to protect the people of the country.

However, even if the country people die, this doesn’t really protect the country people who go into the fight. It is not that some part of the country people are recognized as country people, it is not like this; those who go to fight, also they are country people—as they become less, they die, no matter even though the country people in that country don’t get killed, the number becomes less, and that many people are killed. This doesn’t protect them.

Also, even if it doesn’t cause problems for oneself, even if one is not killed, it harms other beings, it gives suffering to the other person. The other one is not a rock, a tree, or a non-living being. If it was a non-living thing it would be okay, but this other living being gets killed, so it harms living beings. You don’t like to suffer, however, this is not the best protection. Sometimes the families have many weapons, and sometimes the families themselves use the weapons to kill themselves. Sometimes one’s own weapons are used by other people to kill oneself, instead of killing others. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The best protection is moral conduct. It can never harm other beings like external weapons can, it can never cause one single problem to oneself. Also, you are the weapon, and this protection cannot be stolen by other people, and cannot be used by other people to cause danger to you, and it cannot get lost like material things.

The point is, why do we need deep understanding realizing samsaric pleasure as suffering? Because it is like this—one is always attached to samsaric pleasure. It is negative action and this produces many other negative actions of body, speech, and mind. This negative actions’ result is his suffering in the lower realm. All these things are caused by samsaric pleasure. Therefore, it is the root of these sufferings. Therefore, it is suffering.

For instance, another example. When you touch poisonous honey to the tongue, it is sweet. But by taken poison, no matter how you feel, no matter how much you are attached to the sweetness, no matter how you believe it is good, you experience the suffering as bad. Therefore, as the result brought by this is bad, so also is the cause that brings it bad, it is something that destroys. So if you do not desire the result of this suffering, it is the same thing, you should not desire this honey, and you should not eat it. As you want to renounce and have aversion for this suffering, you should have aversion to the cause that brings the suffering result—the poisonous honey. Why are we scared of poison? Because by tasting it, by it going into the stomach, and by eating it, it causes life danger and other problems, much pain. Therefore, the person does not want to touch poison, and when they see poison they get scared, they don’t smell and taste.

Just like this, it is exactly the same thing with samsaric pleasure. Like the poisonous plant that has beautiful flowers and leaves, and the same thing with honey. So all suffering lower realms are caused by samsaric pleasure. So as we do not want suffering—even though we don’t want to hear about this, of course we don’t want to suffer. We don’t even want to hear the sound. If it is true, if you feel that, then it is worthwhile—if you want to renounce this, it is the same thing, it is much more worthwhile to renounce samsaric pleasure. By renouncing this, by understanding its suffering nature, this lower, greater suffering doesn’t have to be experienced. One gets released from the cause of suffering. It is important to know the way to understand how that is suffering, because otherwise, without knowing this, there is no way to discover. If you don’t know this, you are not recognizing the suffering nature of samsara. Many people who meditate think, “I know samsaric suffering, I don’t want this.” But really if you check up, there is no understanding of real suffering. This is one way of understanding how it is suffering.

Therefore, what I want to emphasize for that purpose, is that in order to really receive strong aversion, to encourage yourself, for this strong will to not get attached to arise, to renounce it, it is necessary. To observe karma, to cease the cause of suffering and suffering, doing meditation on this is necessary. It is not just words, but really, when you do meditation on this, put yourself in the situation, as we did with the animals before. Then as it is explained as if you were in that stage and suffering, you will feel it is incredibly unbearable—that much is good. That means your experience is coming out of meditation. Even though you think the words, you don’t feel anything—no fear, nothing, and also the person doesn’t care much about observing karma. If the person has that kind of feeling, he doesn’t observe karma carefully, for the person is not that careful about observing karma. The way of doing meditation is like that.

Perhaps you may think about imagination, “Why should I be avoiding imagination?” Perhaps you may think, “Maybe feeling this is just speculation or imagination, it is nonsense; oneself creating this through imagination and trying to feel scared is nonsense.” Perhaps you may think like this. However, like this: while in this lifetime, while there is the chance to recognize that the practice, the method is escape, if it is not done in this short life, if you don’t make yourself conscious, careful, after one month, who knows? Maybe next year, someone is in those narak stages born as an awful animal having so many thousands of hands and legs, going like this. Who knows? Next year even though you have that much, even though your temporal body looks strong, looks all right, it is not sure. Evolution is really funny. When we are there, next time, when we are there, all of a sudden when we get there it is finished. That time there is nothing to do, infinite buddhas, nothing to do. Because of your karma, nothing is done; we don’t do this before, we have to suffer. However much you want to find refuge, it is methodless, methodless. Like this.

Today we are a little bit late, a half hour late because the lama who is coming, who has just arrived, is one of our gurus from whom we received so many teachings, as well as many tantric initiations. In modern times he is among the lamas who fled from Tibet to India. He is one of the holders of the whole teaching, sutra and tantra, who has all the teachings. He is not only capable of teaching and explaining, but also has real experience and lives in pure morality. This guru is originally from Tibet; he studied a long time in college in Tibet.

There are three famous monasteries in Tibet, where so many thousands of monk studied the philosophical teachings. Also, there were other colleges to study the general philosophical teachings. There are five divisions of philosophical teachings, and there are other colleges called tantric colleges to do future study in tantric subjects. But also, those monks who study the philosophical teachings also practice tantra. Then, after they finish their study, which is mostly on sutra teachings, general philosophical teachings, they go to tantric college to further their study there. It influences many things.

There are different kind of degrees; there are many things to do according to the person’s knowledge. Anyway—this is a very long story also—there are many different jobs, besides studying, there are many other things to do, so the person has to do them gradually, has to take the place of another person gradually. This highest one is the substitute of Guru Tsongkhapa’s throne. There is always a very, very highly realized lama or geshe, very highly realized, who has completed deep study and not only studied sutra and tantra, but also practiced it and kept pure morality. The person who studies and finishes all these things becomes the possessor of Guru Tsongkhapa’s holy throne. At this time, one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s gurus was the owner of the throne. This throne is called the Golden Throne of Tushita. This lama had studied for a very long time in Ganden College in Tibet, which has many thousands of monks. While he was abbot he was very strict with the rules.

Then later on, one of His Holiness’ gurus called the Younger Tutor was usually busy giving teachings. Tibet is quite big. In one area way down in lower Tibet they requested His Holiness to come down to give teachings. He didn’t have time, so he sent this teacher in his place. It was very successful, and there were so many people in that part of Tibet. His understanding of Dharma was eminent—in sutra, in tantra, in any aspect. He gave many teachings in Tibet and in India where I lived for about seven or eight years in a camp.

When Western people come to that place they freak out, because that place was used for a prison. The whole building that we lived in was an army building that had barbed wire all around outside the windows. There was a gate, a barbed wire fence, then the window. At each important place there was a small room to check up maybe for spies! Anyway, those are the houses where the monks stayed, and they were used when India was under the control of the British. At that time they used the place as a prison for Prime Minister Nehru, and then it was used later on by our college, Sera, and called the prayer hall. The prison was also used by a few nuns who escaped from Tibet. Also during this time, this lama gave so many sutra teachings to many nuns and monks there. He was invited by different Tibetan refugee camps and he used to go around to give teachings to them as they requested. Before he came here, one year before, I think I sent a message for him to come to Nepal to make pilgrimage. There were other benefactors who also requested him to come, so he had been giving teachings and initiations in other monasteries. For two or three years he was also the principal of the Tibetan University in Sarnath, and then he resigned. Everything this guru studied it was impossible for him to forget.

Just briefly—this morning we were talking about the purpose of doing meditation on the sufferings of the three lower realms. There are so many other examples to talk about—there is always the notebook from last year’s course that some people worked on—in there maybe there are some examples and some stories about the suffering of the narak realms, the suffering of the preta realms—old stories explained by the yogis and enlightened beings, if you want to know further.

Also, there are common narak realms above the earth, and in very far desolate places near the Pacific. In previous times, many business people also sometimes bodhisattvas, when they travel to get jewels from the Pacific, on the way in the desert they saw all kinds of things. They saw beautiful palaces where people enjoyed so much in the daytime, and then at nighttime all the houses burned and the people inside suffered, killing each other and so forth. They saw so many things, changes like this. Beings suffering that way arises as the result of keeping their precepts in the daytime and not keeping them at nighttime in their previous lifetimes as human beings. Also, in the nighttime they became animals, and in the daytime they became humans enjoying greatly. One example—there were three people, one man and two women. In the day they enjoyed very much, then at night the two women became dogs and ate the man’s flesh, taking bites from it. Then in the daytime it changed again—always suffering like that. These things are called common narak sufferings, those are still not heavy. Common narak suffering is due to keeping precepts at one time, but at another time not keeping them.

Also, there are some examples given about the eight stages—even the sufferings of the first narak stage are incredible. Even—I think I told you before—the suffering of three hundred sixty stings and spears in one day to the body on the human earth is nothing compared to the suffering of the first narak stage, which itself is a little lighter than the second stage, and so on. The suffering in the second stage is double that, and so forth. In the first, the beings are killed again and again, getting trampled, and there is the sound, “Kill again, may it be killed again.” This is karmically created suffering. Then again they become conscious, and again they fight, cutting each other into pieces, and again the sound comes. But not only this—the duration of their suffering life is very long. Fifty human years is one day in the realms where there are gods called Gyalsten. A year of those months is five hundred years, which is one day for the first stage narak being, where he is killed again and again.

Then double times the length of suffering is one day—five thousand years for these samsaric gods is one day for those suffering beings in the first suffering stage. Then, again that has to be made into a year, a month—so that suffering is for a long time. Even counting days, years, these suffering beings suffer for a long time. Think of our human year—how much does it take for those suffering beings? Many millions of human years, so many millions of human years. Everything is explained by the Enlightened Being—the length of their life, of the life of all those suffering beings who suffered in different stages like this. The duration of suffering life for the second level narak beings is twice as long as those in the first level.

Then, the duration of the suffering of the beings in the third stage is double the second one. Then the longest is the lowest, unceasing suffering stage. Like this: fires come from all directions, even without touching fire the whole body gets melted, the flesh gets melted, and only leaves the inside bone, the marrow, and then that becomes oneness with the fire. It is some kind of impossible thing to recognize by shape, only hearing sound, screaming, an extremely suffering body in oneness with the fire for eons and eons. Those suffering beings have the longest periods that they suffer like this.

The person who will experience this is a person who has a heretical mind for the gurus, or gets angry at the holy beings such as bodhisattvas. There are many other things that cause one to be born in the suffering stages. Especially people who take tantric initiation and break tantric rules, root vows, and branches. There are basic rules, root vows that have fourteen numbers. Also those who break the bodhisattva vow, and then also those who take ordination and lose the four basic things—killing, sexual intercourse, stealing, or telling lies—the completed actions of any of these. After a person breaks a tantric root vow, as many split seconds go between the time he breaks it and makes a confession, the negativity of breaking that root vow increases, and in one split second it causes one to be born in the worst suffering narak stage. As many split seconds pass, that number of eons the person has to suffer in the worst suffering stage. So it is very dangerous if one is not strong enough to keep this vow. If one can, it is extremely good—the best, quickest way. If one cannot, it is the most dangerous way.

Question: Those who took the Kalachakra initiation without understanding what was happening, did we take vows in the Kalachakra initiation?

Rinpoche: It is based on precepts, yes. During the initiation, time first of all you take the bodhisattva ordination, then the second time, you take the bodhisattva ordination, then the tantric ordination, like this. But if you didn’t make the vow, just looking at the initiation or something, if you have made the decision before, then it is something else. Also, it is based on bodhisattva ordination, so to make confession is useful.

Question: Actually, by spending many eons in the narak realms, especially the worst one, it may be possible that one would achieve enlightenment quicker ultimately. You couldn’t experience any worse suffering than that.

Rinpoche: How can bad karma finish like that? No matter how great the suffering, according to the karma you have to experience it. After finishing suffering there, that is the result of another karma, so even when that karma finishes, again there are other karmas that have been collected from many other previous lives, which brings suffering again. Perhaps it can be possible that one is passed on from that stage, and then maybe is born in a little bit lighter suffering narak stage, and then again the living being has to come back and suffer because of other karma. There are things like this. So it is not up to what you suffer, it is up to the karma, whether you suffer more or less.

Page 65: The Realm of the Pretas

Then pretas. Anyway, I am not going to spend much time talking about the examples, the stories. It takes much time. There are also pretas in the human realm, and under the Earth, also on the Earth—sometimes we don’t see them even though they see us. So much suffering; always trying to come to Earth to find food, to seek food but they have the karmically created suffering of not finding food for a long time, many, many years. Sometimes we see people suffering like pretas, having an ugly shape, a terrible shape of body, like this.

Usually one is born in that stage because one is very miserly, has such strong miserliness; due to the previous karma of being miserly in the possessions, not wanting other’s to use or to give them to other people. There are many stories about the pretas, those who are on the earth suffering, trying to find food, who are under the earth. Also, sometimes you can see them at night time, sometimes you can see and recognize them as pretas, “flaming pretas”—you don’t see the actual living being, but you see a flame going round. Sometimes in the night time you see a flame going on in the forest; but you don’t see any being, the light goes there and there. In India you can see it; also in Tibet I saw it many times.

Also, when the body gets very dry, it is like skin put on wood, like this, really so thin. They have two or three knots in their long necks, very tiny like a horse tail. It is so difficult, extremely difficult to send food through. Their hands and legs are so tiny, but they have such an incredibly big stomach. And they have hairs all over, very long, very awful looking, not good colors. You don’t see any blood—like animal skin put on wood and dried, like that, very dry. And then they have a mouth like the eye of a needle, very tiny. Then when they go they cannot carry their body; they roll, as it is difficult to walk, and they experience many sufferings. Then, when their body is touched, when their hands and legs are touched there are sparks, like two stones that produce fire, because they are very dry. I am not going to tell much.

Briefly, totally, the way they suffer, the total thing is this. Maybe if you check in the other notes maybe you will see more about the suffering. When you do meditation, to remember these three total is useful.

1. First of all, for the preta’s whole life, as long as it exists, its life is usually spent feeling hungry and thirsty. This is the basic, continual problem. There are also other problems besides that. For a long time they try to seek food and they don’t find it, and even if they do find it, as they see a beautiful lake very far away, they get extremely pleased and run there. As they run there, they see that the beautiful lake is really dirty water, not worthwhile to drink, full of other rubbish, of garbage, and full of hairs, not worthwhile to drink. All of a sudden, as the preta arrives it changes—this is karmically created suffering because of that preta’s previous karma. Then the being gets extremely upset and there is much suffering.

2. Even though they may find the food or water, there are protectors called yamas that have karmically created bodies in all different shapes—with heads like animals, very awful and fearful looking—so even if the pretas see the food it is not free. First of all they are not free to eat or drink; then secondly even if they find food that is not mixed with garbage and hairs, the yamas keep them away from it. They are bitten and suffer as a result of these karmically created beings, the yamas.

3. Even if the preta gets food or drink, then it can only take a drop, because the mouth is so small and tiny like the eye of a needle. Once it gets one drop, that drop disappears, dries up in the mouth, and disappears. If something does happen to go into the stomach, it burns. Besides burning the stomach, it causes much pain, incredible suffering, the food going inside causing great suffering and burning, with flames coming out of the mouth.

First of all the food gets changed, so the preta cannot eat it. Second, the preta is stopped by yamas. Third, even if it gets the food, it dries up in the mouth, or if it goes into the stomach it causes pain. The stomach is so wide, miles long, inside it is so big—incredibly big, like a huge, large mountain. Out of the body comes pus and so forth, like this.

When you meditate on animals and pretas, if you cannot figure out the suffering of feeling hunger and thirst, try to remember the examples that you have experienced in this lifetime. Make it bigger, try to imagine it as infinite. By doing meditation like this, the experience will arise more quickly; it is very useful to work like this. When you meditate on the narak realms, if you don’t feel anything do this—imagine your finger touching the flame of a fire, or burning incense. Then make that example bigger.

Then the suffering of the animals—as you see it in your life, in different countries. The general suffering of animals is as follows.

1. Being eaten by others. No matter how big the animal is, there are always animals that are its enemy. Even the birds have enemies. There is always someone that comes to kill and attack, even those animals that fly. Same thing, those who are crawling on the ground always have some other enemy to kill or attack them. Then those suffering beings are eaten by others.

2. The suffering of being deeply ignorant and foolish.

3. The suffering of feeling cold and hot.

4. The suffering of feeling hunger and thirst.

These are the general sufferings of the animals.

Then the animals that are used by human beings experience torturing and suffering, are used for work—experience that type of suffering. They have no freedom, no chance, no way to contact, no way to do anything. Even if the animal is killed by a person, there is nothing to talk about, nothing to say—it is up to the person to keep the animal alive or put an incredible heavy weight on it. If the animal doesn’t go it may be beaten or kicked. The suffering that the animals will experience is completely controlled by the person. Even if the animal doesn’t get food in time, is hungry, thirsty, or sick, there is nothing to tell the person. Even if there is a wound on the backside, with the skin off, still the animal cannot say, “I have pain.” The suffering the animal will experience and the work it will have to do is completely controlled by the person.

The animal is even sold to another person to kill, and there is nothing to do, it is completely controlled by the person. Very upsetting. Many times animals, in most countries, are used for food. The animals that are on the earth get killed, and suffer from that, because of the meat. So many animals get killed because of the color of their skin. Many animals get killed for horns or many things. For many reasons they suffer, are killed without freedom. Even in the butcher’s place, the animals are tied up in lines, and one gets killed; even if they are crying, they look at the other one crying, and they have no control, they can’t say, “Please excuse me, I will do something for you if you don’t kill me.” Maybe animals have more idea than people. But what to do? Nothing to do. The suffering of being foolish, dumb, is like this.

So as when you do meditation, putting yourself in the situation is recognized as a special technique by the meditators; it is a technique given by the guru to his followers, meditators. So as you see and have seen in your life, as you remember the way the animal gets tortured, killed, many things, put yourself in that situation—like the butcher's place, sacrificed, killed or eaten by other animals. You put yourself in the situation and try to see the suffering. As this feeling comes stronger and stronger, becomes more and more real, stronger, then also you have this kind of feeling for those other animals who are suffering like this. You can guess, understand through this. Also in this way you can receive stronger compassion. It is very helpful, suffering is very helpful for compassion, for really pure, strong compassion for other beings. Briefly like this.

So how to do meditation, and how to use it? This is still brief, just very small talk about suffering. Generally these are a few examples, but generally we could never finish explaining suffering at any time—the different types of suffering, or even only the narak suffering.

First of all, death. After the perfect human rebirth, then come down to death. The reason one should worry about death is because death is not like the cessation of life in the sense of the candle flame—as the candle burns out the flame stops, not like this. There is always mental continuity—why is there mental continuity after death? Because there is mental continuity before rebirth; before this present rebirth there was mental continuity.

That’s why last night I talked about the example of the person who forgot everything about their other life, but had the same body, example, and story that I told last time. This girl’s other life was completely forgotten, but she can talk, she has a mind—although she can’t remember the works done by that physical body in other times, in past times. The reason is this. Why did it happen? Because another consciousness entered that dead body, so that’s why the woman cannot remember. Other people think the woman is the same person as she was before. The body is the same, but the mind is different—the previous and later minds are different, and the later mind is another being’s mind and consciousness. She’s like a new person. Somehow also the death consciousness that takes the corpse has been karmically created to enter in such a dead body.

Why should one be afraid of death? Because there is suffering like this, suffering like this worse than this present life’s suffering. There is suffering. But why? We are not certain to be born there, so why should we be afraid? What causes one to be born in that suffering? Negative karma, not positive karma. So check in this life—how much negative karma has been created? Clearly, so much more negative karma has been created than less. Sometimes it is possible to live a completely black life. Then think back—not only this present life, but many other previous lifetimes—more negative karma has been created. So therefore it is definite that we will be born in these suffering realms. Whatever is stronger, whatever is more, that is the karma that will bring the result after death. This negative karma is stronger, and when we create it we create it strongly with intention. To create virtuous action with this motivation is very difficult, but to create non-virtuous action with this motivation is very strong. Therefore, checking like this, it is definite that we will be born in the lower suffering realm.

Then after that, I am going to be born there, but what can I do before death? What am I supposed to do, what can I do? If there is suffering like this, what can I do? Then comes refuge, the method. The connection is like this. Then comes refuge. I think there are so many Tibetan refuges, many in Europe!

Taking refuge is asking for guidance. Refuge means asking for guidance. This is clear, this can be taken with any example. Usually when people are starving or suffering, those things, they want to rely on other countries for help. They ask for that; that’s taking refuge. Generally, talking like this. Refuge is relying on someone. So therefore it is necessary to take. Therefore, the most useful thing is to take refuge as the method. But whom do we take refuge in? Who can guide us, who has the power to guide us? We should take the refuge in the perfect object. First of all, I say this.

If you take refuge in a being who is living in suffering—first of all, how can we take refuge in the beings in the lower realms, since they are suffering? We want guidance to not become that, we want to be saved from danger. Even beings who are not out of samsara, even those worldly beings who have such a great reputation, so much magic power, so many things—however, since they are worldly beings, they do not have the full realization of the absolute true nature, so how can they be a perfect guide? How can they be a perfect guide, any worldly samsaric being? Many people take refuge in the sun. However, other samsaric gods who are worldly beings, no matter how much they have the power to grant temporal help to receive materials and things like that, even if they have the power to grant material help, even if they have many thousands of eyes, those gods are not perfect objects of refuge because they are in samsara, they have not received the full realization of the absolute true nature, or the noble path. Therefore they do not have the power to guide us from those dangers of suffering in the lower realms.

So who are the perfect, holy objects in whom we can take refuge? The perfect holy objects in whom we can take refuge are Buddha, the Enlightened Being, the founder of the Dharma, the teacher, and the helper to achieve the path, the Sangha. The Enlightened Being is a being who has the achievement of complete understanding and have completely purified all their obscurations. And the Dharma. Generally the Dharma is the true path and cessation of suffering. But here too—we should think like this—we should think of it as the whole graduated path, which leads to enlightenment, which saves, which protects, which guides the suffering beings from the lower suffering realms and samsaric sufferings, and from the subtle illusive minds, the subtle obscurations.

Then the actual Sangha are those who have the achievement of the full realization of the absolute true nature. One person like that can be called Sangha, having these realizations. But usually, Sangha is called four numbers of ordinary people, ordinary celibates.

So these are the objects that can never betray us, upon which we can completely rely, that can cause not one single danger. If we completely rely on them, everything becomes successful. Everything becomes successful. These are objects upon whom we can rely; they will guide us from the danger of being born in the suffering realms.

I think mainly to do on karma. Then go through this, maybe one person read the part of karma. First of all, read page 77 and 78, “What causes the countless billions of karmas ... Ten immoralities of body, speech and mind.” One person read this. I think maybe during this break time read this, then think if there is anything that you have done, any action that you have done in this life. Although there may be actions that you don’t find—sometimes you don’t recognize actions created in this lifetimes, sometimes however you have definitely created it in other previous lifetimes. So you cannot say, “I am all right, I am not guilty of this action.” Then, during the meditation time, karma has four outlines: just remember the four outlines, then think also as you make meditation on karma on the four outlines, remember the negative actions that you have done from within these ten immoralities.

First of all, at the beginning, do meditation on Guru Shakyamuni, the purifying meditation, remembering Guru Shakyamuni’s knowledge as it is explained in the section on refuge, but then do purification. Then after that, do meditation on karma. Then also the eight causes of suffering, page 87. Those who can do meditation on this, maybe it is good if the person reads so that other people don’t have to read the book, and also anyway, there are less problems. In the second part, in the second hour, or the first hour, do meditation on page 87, the cause of samsaric suffering. Maybe Ann can read and other people think.

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