Teachings at Medicine Buddha Puja (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Shakyamuni Center, Taiwan 2007 (Archive #1610)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings during a Medicine Buddha Puja at Shakyamuni Center, Taichung, Taiwan on March 10, 2007. The teachings include extensive commentary on the Thirty-five Buddhas practice, the offering bath and dedications, along with the recitation of the puja.

The teachings were being translated into Chinese and while we have edited those sections out you may still occasionally hear the Chinese interpreter's voice in the background.

How to Collect More Merit With Prostrations

So good evening. So before we did the teaching by standing, so maybe that might help in case somebody’s falling down, in case somebody’s falling asleep. By standing then maybe you don’t fall asleep.

So usually, I don’t know about today, but usually if we do teachings in the evening time after work, hard work done, all day long working then coming to the teachings in the evening time is like coming to rest, to relax. Coming to sleep, relax. So usually coming like that.

Not sure today but usually in the evening time after many hours of work then come for teachings the evening time then you’re already exhausted. Already exhausted so then it becomes perfect time for sleeping.

Since I started talking about prostration so I would like to mention some benefits what explained by Buddha in the sutra. That, perfect body, it causes, prostrations causes to achieve perfect body in next life/lives and to have, the color of the body golden color, like the color when Maitreya Buddha descends or Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, as described in the teachings. Then it causes to receive a beautiful body in the future. So it’s not just one time, it’s not just one time in one life, because karma is expandable. You create one good karma, the result you experience so many times in one life, or so many times in thousands of lifetimes, many hundred thousands of lifetimes, one good karma you experience. So one negative karma you experience the suffering result many hundreds of lifetimes or thousands of lifetimes, depending on how powerful the karma is.

So for example, negative way, if you cheat one sentient being in this life, one time cheating one sentient being, deceiving, you will be deceived one thousand lifetimes by others, in next lives. How many times? One thousand lifetimes, next lives you will be cheated by other sentient beings. So if you kill one sentient being, from that karma you will be killed 500 lifetimes by others, by other sentient beings. So there mentioned like this in the texts. If you cheat one sentient being you will be cheated one thousand lifetimes is in the commentary by Aryadeva, the Indian great pandit, Aryadeva, Phag pa la, in Tibetan, in the commentary of the 400 stanzas, ?Shi Gyapa, the text composed by Aryadeva, great pandit. In the commentary of that explained that if you cheat one sentient being you will be cheated 1,000 lifetimes by other sentient beings. So one karma, one negative karma, cheat one time a sentient being.

Also another text it is mentioned that, there is text about the benefits of saving the lives of others, either a human being or animal, whoever. There it is mentioned that if you kill one sentient being, so it could be insect or anything, that you will be killed 500 lifetimes. So the idea is that because karma is expandable that means one time negative karma but the result is experienced so many times in one life or so many lifetimes. So here now relating to good karma it’s not just one life. You experience this result many hundreds, thousands of lifetimes.

So here even while you are in samsara and after being liberated from samsara, including the result, this, so perfect body in the future lives, then golden color of the body, golden color, beautiful body. So if you have a beautiful body you can draw many sentient beings. Then in that way you can use your beauty to benefit many sentient beings. You can draw many sentient beings, they will listen to you so you reveal Dharma and you bring in the path to liberation and enlightenment. So it makes it very easy to benefit others.

Then a very sweet voice like the singers who have very sweet, those famous singers who draw from the sweet voice that draw so many millions of people in the world, get attracted, drawn to that. So again same, you can use that to benefit others, to liberate others from suffering, bring them to enlightenment by revealing Dharma. [pause]

Then, so [Tibetan], I’m not sure the exact meaning but I think maybe who is able speak well, with a sweet voice able to speak well. So when the person speaks it makes, so sweet the voice then the other person has to listen so somehow naturally obey, attracted to that. [Tibetan] I guess when you talk to people, people will keep your words, they will listen to you and they keep it there. They keep in their heart, I guess might be that, [Tibetan] but not something bad words, other person harbor, not, this is in a positive way.

Then [Tibetan] no fear to be in public, to lead people, to guide people, you have no fear, having courage, no fear.

Then all the devas, they like you, all the people, all the human beings they like you. Sometimes there are people, nobody likes them, nobody likes that person. In the family nobody likes the person, then you go in the office nobody likes that person. Somehow the karma, wherever you go, east, west, people don’t like that person. There’s no particular reason that this person harmed to those other people, there’s no story, nothing like this in this life. Or remembering from past lives , there’s nothing particular like that but just seeing that person, people don’t like, just by seeing this person, dislike. So there are people like that. Then the person suffer, very unhappy. So not like that, everybody like you.

So these prostrations to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha has these benefits.

Then always you company with buddhas, bodhisattvas. Yeah.

The last one, [Tibetan] so always that you will be able to company with the buddhas, bodhisattvas in the future. So before that, also that you will have magnificent, for example how His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when there are many tens of thousands of people but among them you see totally different. No matter how many people there are in the audience, in the lecture, how many there are, so many tens of thousands there are, but you see this particular being totally different from others. Very glorious, magnificent, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche or the many…., like that. No matter how many people there are but you see that being is totally different from all others, very glowing, very magnificent. Something very special. So like that, [Tibetan] very glorifying, very magnificent, in the future you will become like that.

Then [Tibetan] in the future lives you have so much wealth, great wealth. Normally what I say is this. One mandala offering, for example, people, millionaires, billionaires, they are regarded as very successful, in the world regarded by common people as very successful person, like a model or something like that. However like achieved liberation, kind of achieved liberation by becoming billionaire. But of course if you come to know a billionaire’s life, when you explore, when you come to know, when you become close, then you hear all the problems, problems poor that people don’t have. That people begging in the road, begging in the street, they don’t have all these unbelievable mental problems. Then because of mental problem, then physical problem. So anyway all this wealth, properties in different countries, wherever, all the wealth, how many swimming pools they have or how many airplanes they have or how many Mercedes cars they have, however, what I think is that all that is a small result, one part of small result of one time mandala offering. One time mandala offering, one small result, that’s not all the benefit of offering one mandala to Buddha, to the Guru Puja merit field, offering to the guru. That’s one small part of the benefit of offering one mandala, all that. So, now same thing in the future lives, great wealth. So that’s a small part from the skies of benefit there is by having done one prostration to the merit field, the guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. That’s great wealth in the future you will experience, millionaire, billionaire, whatever it is, but it’s a small part, small benefit from the, like the atoms of this earth benefit from one prostration done to guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Then [Tibetan] you achieve higher rebirth, and then [Tibetan] you achieve sorrowless state. In the sutra it stops there but it may sound, it might sound just only liberation from samsara but [Tibetan] has two meanings, you have to understand the two meanings. One is lower nirvana, sorrowless state, cessation, liberation from samsara. But the other one within that you have to understand great liberation, that means full enlightenment, cessation of even the subtle defilements. Fully knowing obscuration or knowledge obscuration, obscuration which mainly interfere to achieve the fully knowing mind. Cessation of even that, so the great liberation. I added this word, [Tibetan] that just extended, but actually the great liberation, enlightenment, is contained in the word before, within that. But that’s known, even though it’s not clarified separately, but it’s known that towards Buddha, every single offering, every single prostration, circumambulation, whatever you do towards Buddha immediately becomes cause of enlightenment [snaps fingers], immediately becomes cause of enlightenment [snaps fingers].

Even those actions done with the mind, with the motivation which is nonvirtue, become Dharma, not only Dharma but cause of enlightenment. Immediately. Even the motivation is nonvirtue, not Dharma, worldly dharma. Usually the actions, what transforms the actions to become Dharma, virtue, is by the motivation. If the motivation is virtue then the action become virtue, if the motivation is nonvirtue the action becomes nonvirtue. Then the result only suffering. If the action is virtue the result only happiness. But here relating with the action of prostration, making offering, respect, circumambulation towards the holy objects such as a statue of Buddha, scripture, statue of Buddha, scripture, stupas, leave aside the actual Buddha himself, leave aside, even these holy objects. Because of the power of the holy object, then all these actions, even though the motivation of the act is nonvirtue but these actions become virtue, not only virtue but the cause of enlightenment. Therefore, it is understood, not only lower nirvana, not only the sorrowless state of the Lesser Vehicle path, not only that. That contains also the great liberation, the great sorrowless state. But I add it at the end, [Tibetan] you will achieve the state which has all the qualities of cessation and all the qualities of realization. Just clarified the enlightenment at the end separately. So there are about roughly fifteen benefits like that.

Even putting the palms together like this, the minute when you put the palms together to a statue of Buddha or picture of Buddha, stupa, immediately you create ten benefits, you collect ten benefits. The minute when you put palms together towards a statue of Buddha, stupa or scripture, any holy object, Buddha’s relics or prayer wheels, any holy object, then no question about the actual Buddha. So putting palms together with respect to guru or Buddha, that’s no question. So even putting palms together it is explained in the sutra, ten benefits.

So you achieve eight extensive things. In the king’s family, you are able to take birth in the great king’s family. Then the extensive form. Then the extensive surrounding people, servants and so forth, surrounding people who help you. Then, I think extensive form that would be your body, beautiful body and perfect organs, all the senses, perfect limbs, organs. Then able to make extensive offerings, able to receive extensive offerings and service and in the future, you’re able to serve others. Then extensive wealth, you will have extensive wealth. Then extensive listening to Dharma. Then extensive devotion and you will have extensive remembrance, very clear memory, remembering past lives, all that. Not having forgetful mind, very good memory. So, for example, teachings what you studied, what you heard, able to remember. Then extensive wisdom, realizations. So there are about ten extensive things explained.

Then there are also eight as I have explained many times in the past, there’s also eight very important benefits, yeah, it is contained within these ten extensive benefits. When you put palms together immediately you get the ten benefits.

The eight benefits, I don’t remember all the eight, however, the essence is there in this sutra. Perfect body next lives you achieve. Then you are able to live in pure morality. So without pure morality you can’t have higher training of concentration, shamatha, you can’t have great insight. Without that realization, you can’t achieve arya exalted path which has the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, that which directly ceases the defilements. Those things, the defilements, the intellectual defilements due to wrong doctrine. Then the simultaneously born delusions, which is removed by the path of meditation. So those exalted paths you can’t achieve. And you can’t achieve the path of learning, then the arhat, no more learning, you can’t achieve those, so can’t achieve sorrowless state. So the pure morality is a very important foundation. So putting palms together, prostrating, it has that, to the three Jewels, statues, stupas, scriptures has this benefit.

Also, other one, very important, it causes devotion. So without devotion, without faith in karma, without devotion to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha again you can’t have attainment of the path to liberation, to enlightenment. So you create the cause to have realization, devotion.

Then it causes to have courage, to have brave heart, courage, to work for sentient beings, to be leader of the sentient beings, many people, courage. To have courage to practice.

Then you achieve arya path, then you born deva, human being, you achieve arya path where you overcome rebirth, old age, sickness and death. Then last one is enlightenment. The minute you put palms together like this to the holy object then you achieve these very important eight benefits.

Therefore, normally I mention when we go for pilgrimage or when we go to temples, very important you put the palms together, every single holy object you put the palms together like this, in the mind you think, I’m prostrating, so how many there is, thousands, hundreds of thousands, how many there in the temple, so in my mind I’m prostrating to all. I mean, it would take a lot of time to each one, I’m prostrating now this one, now this one , it would take a lot of time. But if you think, I’m prostrating to all these holy objects, so you put the two palms together then all the holy objects here, there here go like this, like that, so within a second you prostrate to all this, how many, 100,000 or millions, billions there is, holy objects. So you create these ten extensive benefits or the eight, however, 100,000 or million, billion, how many holy objects there is, within those few seconds [snaps fingers] you have collected that many causes of enlightenment. How many holy objects there, that many causes of enlightenment, liberation from samsara, happiness of future lives. Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. Then no question about the success for this life, it just comes by the way.

So same in your own house. I’m not going to expand because by talking one benefit then it leads to another benefit, then leads to another benefit, so then we won’t get to do Medicine Buddha puja tonight. So in your own house, there are many Buddhas pictures, however, deities, many Buddhas, photos, statues, however, so having so many it’s great, so every day when you open your eye, when you see all these holy objects it purifies you. It purifies your defilements, it makes to see ten millions of Buddha in the near future and receive teachings from them. So then actualize the path, achieve liberation, enlightenment. So it plants the seed of enlightenment, all the realizations, so it’s unbelievable what it does, just when you open the eye you see the holy statues, stupas, scriptures, how many you have in the room, different rooms, so unbelievable benefit, what it does to you, all the family, people who are living in the house, unbelievable. Incredible purification and unbelievable merit you collect. Numberless great merits just merely seeing the holy object, painting of Buddha or statue, thangka, small or big. In one small photo or thangka there are so many, in one thangka or in one picture of a thangka, there are so many, many hundreds.

Anyway, by seeing one painting of Buddha, drawing of Buddha, you create great, numberless great merit, just merely seeing, than having made offerings to arhats, solitary realizers, arhats, equaling the number of the sand grains of the world or universe. There’s unbelievable number, not just one arhat. Even by offering medicinal drink, somebody who has nothing, poor, offering medicinal drink to four monks, they’re not, it doesn’t seem arya monk who has achieved the true path, true cessation of suffering, but ordinary monk, ordinary Sangha. By that, next life that person was born a very powerful king. King Kashika or something like that. Anyway, a very powerful king who has unbelievable wealth. Just offering medicinal drink four monks. But now here you’re talking about, here Buddha is explaining, offering to arhat, offering to a solitary realizer arhats, who are free from samsara. So, much higher. Now, how many arhats? Equaling the number of the, might be sand grains, but I’m forgetting a little bit, the atoms or sand grains of the universe, anyway, so there’s unbelievable number. So now the offering is every day, you offer 100 divine food, not human food, divine food nectar, and 100 divine dress to all those arhats every day. So that much for eons. And then just merely seeing a picture, statue of Buddha, with this one you collect numberless greater merit. So all others before, small merit if you compare. So if you have many holy objects, as many as Buddha, picture or statue or whatever, holy objects, how many you have in the house, so every day when you see them by the way, because they are there, so how many Buddha pictures or thangkas that are there, you collect unbelievable merit. Incredible, incredible. You are so lucky person, unbelievably fortunate person according to what Buddha explained in the sutra.

Developing the devotion, the sutra, developing the power of devotion, the sutra of the mudra, in Tibetan called [?De pai tob kyai pai chag kyi do], so there Buddha explained. So even at your own house, so many on the wall, around. Also tsa-tsas, those small tsa-tsas, so if you put in the house on the beams, tsa-tsas, if you put all the way round, tsa-tsas, if you put there, and if you offer also Christmas lights, at the bottom, there’s a row of buddhas, tsa-tsas, then you put Christmas lights, then you have another row, another Christmas lights, can do that, so light offering. So anyway, so then even at your house, every day a few times you do like this, think in mind, “I’m prostrating.” Unbelievable. So this what I just explained, just there in your own house, unbelievable every day many times you can create skies of merit. So then more merit means your life is so easy. More merit means any thought, any wish comes [snaps fingers], then it happens, sooner or later, without worry, anything, just very easily, you generate the wish, then it comes, the next day or same day, or sooner or later it happens. So even in this life. Similar the attaining realizations, which are the most important. Attaining the path to liberation, enlightenment.

There are two things, about prostrations finished, the information about prostration. Mention that.

When you do prostration, one method to collect extensive merit is Lama Tsongkhapa what explained in Lam-rim Chen-mo, that when you prostrate so you visualize numberless of your body doing prostration, covered the whole earth, from the four directions and corners covered the whole earth and doing prostration to, so for example here there is altar here so holy objects, so numberless of your body doing prostrations from the four directions and corners, completely covered the ground. So that’s one special meditation technique, while you’re doing prostration that collects unbelievable extensive merits, that Lama Tsongkhapa explained. Didn’t explain much, didn’t explain many details in the preliminary practice before meditating on the path, Lama Tsongkhapa explained the very essence, the very essence what makes to collect most extensive merit.

For example, mandala offering, best quality and many. So that, the whole, the very essential technique how to make the mandala offering the most extensive merit, the best quality, then as many as, the whole sky filled with Samantabhadra offerings, extensive, you can visualize like that. However, on each atom of the mandala, whole entire universe there’s numberless of yourself offering mandala. Or from each atom of the mandala, beams emitted then it carries mandala offering then from each atom of those mandalas then beams emitted and carries mandala offering so filled the whole sky. So however, ?may ?see like that. Best quality and many. He didn’t explain many words but just the very point, the technique because preliminary practice means to purify and to collect merits in order to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment.

So prostrations explained, visualize many bodies covered the ground. As I explained before as you lay down, as you bow down, then mind think quickly, I am going to prostrate to all the ten-direction Buddha, Dharma, Sangha and all the holy objects, statues, stupas, scriptures who are guru, means manifestation of guru. Not the guru in the world but the guru your own root virtuous friend who transformed your mind into Dharma, among the gurus who’s most kind, who subdued your mind. So the root virtuous friend. Thinking that then you bow down, you touch your forehead on the ground. Then right after that, then think, whether you are doing five-limb prostration or whether you’re doing full-length prostration, then right after that think, you visualize numberless of your body, it’s good to, if you haven’t received a great initiation then your ordinary body like ridge of mountains, very, very tall, ridge of mountains, like that, covered the whole ground from four directions, corners. For example here the altar and all the holy objects, so towards that doing prostration. Here the holy objects that’s all the guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, all the ten-direction holy objects, doing prostration, numberless of your body like ridge of mountain, so long, so tall, from the four directions, corners. So you can do that visualization even while you are standing, you don’t have to lay down on the floor a long time, you might fall asleep or might forget you are doing prostrations, anyway. Anyway, so while you are standing you can still do that visualization.

So then how many bodies you are able to visualize, you collect same amount of merit as that many actual body did prostration. So that’s unbelievable, unbelievable merit you collect. As it is explained in the ?Lankavatara Sutra that if you do one prostration, that when you do prostration to the Buddha, then if there’s one atom that your body covers then you collect merit to be reborn a wheel-turning king one thousand lifetimes. If there’s one atom that your body cover, you created merit wheel-turning king one thousand lifetimes. Why wheel-turning king? With that you have an idea of how much merit you collect. So to be reborn wheel-turning king one time you have to collect inconceivable merit, unbelievable merits, to have all the wealth and power and all the things. So, so much, it’s like a project, it’s like some big project, millions of dollars or billions of dollars you need money to ?run the project, so that similar. So to be born a wheel-turning king one time. So here now one thousand, if there’s one atom that you covers when you do prostration you create the merits to be born a wheel-turning king one thousand lifetimes. So, you see, unbelievable.

Therefore now, when you prostrate, from here down to the bottom of the earth, in the text, scripture it talks about the golden base, however, from here down to the bottom of the earth, there are inconceivable atoms, numberless atoms. So then if you have long nails when you do prostrations, if you have long nails then how many, there are so many atoms from here down to the bottom that your nail cover, just that itself unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable atoms it covers. So now can you imagine that many atoms, how many atoms there are that many wheel-turning kings that you created the karma to be born. Can you imagine, one thousand lifetimes. So that time if you have long hair, those who have long hair, when you do prostration, those who have long hair, then the long hair comes on the ground, spread out on the ground, if it’s spread out on the ground, so like those singers, anyway, when you prostrate if their hairs spread out on the ground, then how many atoms it covers, so many, down to the bottom. So therefore normally I advise, so long hair one of the benefits is that when you do prostration then when the long hair spread out then that time unbelievable merit you collect, the meaningful, that time the hair become, makes meaningful when you prostrate. That time, I don’t know other times but that’s one time making very meaningful to have long hair, having long hair. The long hair, the very expensive hair, that costs a lot of money the long hair, you spend a lot of money for the long hair, so that time if the hair covers the ground, then unbelievable merits according to the atoms it covers, then all those merits you can dedicate for enlightenment, to achieve enlightenment and to enlighten sentient beings, unbelievable.

So therefore, normally I advise, the feet, when you do prostration, the feet don’t keep like this, make your feet flat. So because that covers, each toe, even the small toes covers unbelievable number of atoms from here down to the bottom, even the small toes. So if you keep your feet flat, unbelievable atoms it covers down to the bottom, so that you have so many merit. Doesn’t mean you have to be born as a wheel-turning king but all that merit, then depending on where you dedicate, to achieve liberation, enlightenment, then you liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring to enlightenment, so you can dedicate like that. So it’s unbelievable when you dedicate for all sentient beings, all that merit, you make beneficial for all sentient beings. Again, that is amazing. That, to every hell being who are most unbelievable suffering now. Right now, most unbearable suffering, they’re guideless, there’s no refuge, they have no refuge. Unbelievable suffering, so the karma’s ripened, there’s nothing you can do, they have to suffer until their karma finishes. Those most hot suffering, cold suffering. Then hungry ghost, not just months hunger and thirst, a hundred years, a thousand years, even ten thousand years, could not find a drop of water, spoon of food. Unbelievable hunger. But they don’t die until their karma finishes. Then the animals, then animal suffering being eaten by another one, can’t imagine, if you watch the TV, the animal life, being eaten by another one. One old man from England, he always makes animal films, unbelievable, unbelievable, can’t imagine always the animals being eaten by another one. And wherever they are, the enemy’s always there, their karma, wherever they are, their enemy’s always there, so eaten by many other enemies. Then on top of that also human beings, eat them or torture them, used for skin and for many things. Then you are reborn again and again, animal, can you imagine, until the karma finishes.