Heart Sutra Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Genting View Resort, Malaysia (Archive #1048)

The following are teachings from a Heart Sutra retreat held in Malaysia in 1997.

The teachings include oral transmissions of the Vajrasattva mantra and the Heart Sutra and teachings on rebirth, bodhicitta and emptiness.

The Importance of Lam-rim In Daily Life

[preliminary prayers]

So this morning before the precepts that I tried to explain those preliminary practices, some explanations on those and how to make, how to collect extensive merit by making extensive offerings so forth, so some of those little explanations so that those who are not familiar with the practice, so that to get some idea in the daily life how to do practice, those very important, essential practices to purify the mind, the purify the obstacles to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment and how to do the practices in the skillful way, to be able to collect as much as possible extensive merits. Even the practice, even the prayer is short, even it is just a few practices but how to make that, those few points or those few practices, even it's a very short practice in regards words, but how to meditate with those, in the best way how to meditate, how to use it to achieve enlightenment in the quickest way. So everything's to do with the skill, how long it takes time to be free from samsara and how long it takes time to achieve full enlightenment, to be able to do perfect work towards other sentient beings that depends on skill, so that depends on individual person how one skillfully practice Dharma. It's not like fixed time like university or college. [pause]

So, anyway I mention here at this point, since I brought this point of the daily life, everyday life practice, in the most skillful way, so what are the most important ones, to achieve enlightenment, what are the most important ones to achieve enlightenment, to actualize realizations of the path to enlightenment quicker, to be able to achieve enlightenment, to be able to achieve enlightenment quicker. [pause]

So, the most important one, very essential one to practice in the daily life in order to make preparation or to be able to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment, that the building temples, making holy objects of Buddha and making offerings and worshipping to Buddha, doing prostrations, chanting all these mantras, all these what for we are doing this? Why all these different mantras, different because mantras happened, why are we reciting all these chants, every day all these mantras and prayers, what is it for? So all these things we have to understand, without mistake we have to understand what is the real purpose of doing all these things. So all these things are actually to, the main goal is to actualize the realizations of the steps of the path to enlightenment, to have root of the path to enlightenment, guru devotion, from that then you get all the blessings, from guru devotion, which is the root of the path to enlightenment then you get all the blessings from that towards the spiritual master from whom one has received Dharma connection, that doesn't mean just having heard teachings, but it means with the recognition guru-disciple. Then, through blessings, by receiving the blessings of the guru, from that then the mind get opened and, it's like pouring water, on the seed that which is planted in the ground, you pour water then the seed by receiving the water it is able to function, able to produce the stem, then from there comes fruit, from the stem. The stem comes and then from that flower, fruit comes. So the realizations of the whole path to enlightenment, the renunciation of samsara, the foundation, then bodhicitta, then wisdom realizing emptiness, then on top of that for the quick enlightenment, to achieve enlightenment quickly then the realizations of the Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana, so one is able to have those realizations. So, whether one practice just the sutra, five paths and ten bhumis or on the basis of the three principles of the path, the sutra, then actualize the tantric path to achieve enlightenment quickly.

So the main goal, why all these various practice, why we do, including reading, chanting prayers, reading Dharma texts, chanting those many mantras, so the whole point is to have realizations of the steps of the path to enlightenment, on the basis of this, guru devotion, then three principles of the path, especially bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, especially this one. So like this, so forth, all the rest of the path to enlightenment. So this is the main goal, to reduce the delusions, to have realizations and to reduce the delusions, to have realizations so that you can reduce the delusions, the realizations of the path of method and wisdom so that you can reduce the delusions, one can cease the defilements, all the disturbing thoughts, the karma and delusions.

So the ultimate goal of all this, actualizing the path, all these realizations - what for? Is to be able to benefit for others, to be able to benefit others, to be able to do perfect work towards other sentient beings without any mistake, to be able to give perfect guidance towards other sentient beings, towards the numberless of other sentient beings. So that is the ultimate goal of why we should have realizations of the path to enlightenment, why we should reduce delusions, why we get rid of delusions, cease the delusions. Of course, there is the reason so that you don't have to suffer in samsara, of course, but that's not the real meaning of life, just to make yourself free from samsara that is not the real meaning of the life, I mean just that alone.

So therefore, it's very important in everyday life to read a prayer, meditation prayer, that which contains the whole path to enlightenment, to read that prayer mindfully so that it becomes a meditation, it becomes a direct meditation because you go directly, that without, anyway you go directly, you read straight, by meditating on the meaning of the prayer, not just chanting, by thinking of the meaning of the prayer, meaning of the teaching, the words. So this way then such like this prayer, that the other day we read, that which is in these books, also the new book How to Meditate, there, so every day, that this is not the only prayer, there are many other different prayers that which has the whole path to enlightenment, there are different versions, some are longer, some are short, many different versions, you don't have to do always just one, you can change, you can do different lam-rim prayer. For example, if one is doing a retreat, three or four sessions, then at the beginning of each session for motivation to read different lam-rim prayers because the presentation is different so therefore there's more effect to your mind, more beneficial, and also you don't get bored with one prayer reciting, the same prayer reciting all the time.

So anyway, this one is the most important one as regards daily life practice, something to make the life most meaningful, beneficial. So, how? Each day when you do this prayer, then it leaves imprint of the whole path to enlightenment on your mental continuum within that minute, in a very short time. It leaves imprint, plants seed of the whole path to enlightenment, the heart of the whole entire Dharma, Buddha's teachings, so that means each day you become closer to the realization of the path to enlightenment, that means each day you become closer to the full enlightenment, that means each day you become closer to enlightenment, that means each day you become closer to your ultimate goal of life, to be able to do perfect work for other sentient beings, to free them from all the sufferings and to bring them in full enlightenment, so you become closer each day towards that. So this is how you make your life most beneficial towards other sentient beings, now and in the future.

Then, so this is the minimum, the fundamental, the minimum practice, so important. Otherwise, this and then doing, every day doing direct meditation on the whole path to enlightenment, this and then, on the basis of this then you expand the meditation, if one need to train the mind from the beginning of the path to enlightenment, so then you, the guru devotion and then the beginning of the path, the renunciation of samsara has two, the renunciation to this life and renunciation to the future life samsara, so there are two types of renunciation. So first one has to achieve realization of the renunciation to this life, so which starts from the eight freedoms, how this human body is so precious, that it's qualified of eight freedoms and ten richnesses. The perfect human rebirth and usefulness and difficulty to find again and impermanence-death, then the sufferings of the three lower realms, then refuge, karma.

So one need to start, the whole lam-rim, the whole steps of the path to enlightenment is divided in three, the graduated path of the lower capable being in general, graduated path of the middle capable being in general and graduated path of higher capable being in general, so it's divided, the whole path to enlightenment comes, it's divided in three. So first one need to have preliminary realization of the graduated path of the, in order to have realization of the graduated path of the higher capable being, that which root is bodhicitta, the foundation, bodhicitta, so including, so in order to have that realization then one need to have realization of the preliminary, the graduated path of the middle capable being. In order to have that realization, one need the preliminary, graduated path of the lower capable being. So therefore one need realization, the perfect human rebirth, usefulness, difficulty, then especially the realization of the impermanence-death, so that is extremely important one to have realization of that, then once one has that realization then the realization of karma, other realizations can be achieved easier because so much of the obstacles is cut off by the realization of impermanence-death.

So, on the basis of doing direct meditation by reciting the prayer of the steps of the path to enlightenment, then training the mind in the meditation that, so try to have realization of the steps of the path to enlightenment, try to have realization gradually, so by doing, so if one did not have those beginning part, realizations of the beginning part, the graduated path of the lower capable being, especially impermanence-death, so then here, trying to have these realizations by training the mind in this, by doing the analytical meditation and fixed meditation, by using these two techniques, so by expanding more, not just reciting the words, not just going over the words straight but by expanding in those subjects, by doing, the way of training the mind in the path, in those meditations, by doing analytical meditation and fixed meditation. So, whatever most effective and extensive one can do, analytical meditation, using all those valid reasons or useful reasons so that, useful reasons to prove to your mind so that the mind get transformed into that path, the quotations.

Then after that, after that one has generated the feeling, for example, if it's guru devotion, when the mind is transformed into the devotion then trying to hold that, fixed meditation, trying to hold that, that same, after meditating on the eight freedoms, ten richnesses, the perfect human body, the eighteen qualities of the human body, then when the mind is transformed into the feeling, recognition that this is so precious, then when the mind is transformed into that feeling or that recognition, then holding that experience, keeping that, whatever one can, so fixed meditation, after the analytical meditation then fixed meditation. So if it is impermanence-death, so then after doing the analytical meditation, then when the mind is transformed into the thought of impermanence-death from the wrong concept, concept of permanence, that I 'm going to live long, which betrays you, which cheats you, which only cheats you, not allowing to practice Dharma, and it cheats oneself, not allowing to practice Dharma, which makes to distract, which makes the mind, the life, to distract from practicing Dharma. Then, by doing analytical meditation, then when the mind is transformed into that, the thought of impermanence-death, having the feeling or having the appearance of this life is short, not long, short. Having the appearance of this life not long, short. So therefore, whatever happens, somebody criticizing or somebody praising, whatever life situation happens, not important, doesn't matter, it's nothing, just very short, the span of this life is very short, whatever happens to this life so it's not important, because you have appearance of a short life to that mind, so whatever happens, so these things it doesn't bother to one's own mind, somebody criticizing or somebody praising or whatever happens, so forth, difficulties in this life or comfort in this life or difficulties in this life, whatever happens is not important, doesn't bother, doesn't disturb the mind, not important, so in your heart what is more important is happiness of all the future lives and then liberation from samsara, the ultimate happiness, then, full enlightenment, to achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings. So what is more important to your mind, in your heart, is these things, the happiness beyond from this life up to enlightenment.

So, this is an example, so on the basis of direct meditation, going over a lam-rim prayer, the steps of the path to enlightenment, on the basis of that then whichever realization you don't have then from there you start. So one thing is the root of the path to enlightenment, guru devotion, so that is one to have realization, then another one, impermanence-death, the realizations of the graduated path of the lower capable being, so the other one is this, to start with, in order to have realization. So one do extensive, whatever one can do extensive meditation, analytical and fixed meditation.

Then, so according to how much time that one can make for meditation, to meditate on the path, so direct meditation on the path [gap], the guru devotion then including impermanence-death, the graduated path of the lower capable being, so in one day how many, two times or three times or one time, whatever time that one can give in order to train the mind in that. Then h/e the rest of the day, so you transform your mind in guru devotion or impermanence-death in the morning, whatever specific meditation that you are trying to train the mind, transform the mind, so the rest of the day, even during the working, doing job so the mind that which was transformed in that guru devotion or impermanence-death so forth, in the morning, so then you continue, one very important thing is, to have quick realization of the path and makes the rest of the day, life, meaningful is by keeping that experience you have generated in the morning, either guru devotion or impermanence-death or whichever meditation, so keep that mind which was transformed into that, then trying to, rather you transform your mind into that in the morning then when you get up from the meditation cushion then also that one stopped at the same time, in the meditation room stopped, where the cushion is left . So not like that, actually what it's supposed to be, the way to do is that experience you generate on the meditation cushion, then you are supposed to continue, the rest of the day try to live with that experience, try to keep that experience, try to live the rest of the day, life, doing job, whatever, whatever you do try to live, keep the mind in that experience. So by keeping the mind in that experience, then for example, impermanence-death, then this way then that doesn't allow to rise attachment clinging to this life and those non-virtuous thoughts, anger, and so forth, those delusions, so then your actions become Dharma, the whole, throughout the day, doing job and so forth, besides doing sadhana or prayer or chanting mantras, even other activities they become Dharma, it allows the actions to become Dharma. So therefore, either there's no negative karma or much less in that day, most of your actions become virtue, unmistaken cause of happiness, so in this way your life is taken care of, guided by oneself.

So two things, this way it helps to have quick realization of the path to enlightenment, and the other thing is, everyday life then this way becomes extremely meaningful, like that.

So now…