Teachings on Karma (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Maitreya Instituut, Emst, Netherlands (Archive #144)

Teachings on karma, excerpted from a lamrim course led by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitreya Instituut, Emst, in August 1990.

Click on the audio links to listen to each section and read along with the unedited transcript.

Karmic Appearance

Rinpoche: Then what about, if that person become enlightened before you, then what happens, then what happens with your karma? Do you experience the karma or not? That person become enlightened already no longer it is sentient being ys doesn't have delusions so what happens? Do you still experience the negative karma or not? So what do you think?

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: It is like that? What? The Buddha can be appeared, right, in the form that which gives harm It is like that? Huh? Do you agree with what she is saying? It is like that? Huh?

Student: Can you repeat what she said because we did not hear it.

Rinpoche: What she is saying is that even that sentient being become enlightened, you still have karma so it can be appeared in the form that gives harm. Right? Is that correct or not?

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: In lower level?

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: That you yourself? No, no, here the question is the other being. No what she is saying has some meaning [pause]. If you relate to the naraks, those other beings who give harm to you, with the weapons, things like that who give harm to you. Now there is one question to that, yes, that has meaning [pause] those beings who harm to oneself when one is born in the hell, in the narak, those other beings who are giving harm with weapons to oneself, is that like a dream? in the dream you see things giving harm to you, somebody giving harm to you, it is like that? or actual being giving harm to you? In the narak, huh?

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: In the narak, those beings giving harm to you, is that real being giving harm to you or is is like a dream, it's just a hallucinated appearance, there's no actual being there, but due to your hallucinated mind you see somebody giving harm to you? Anyway, you can check.

So now here, that is yeah, anyway, so, [pause] so in your case, what you said, then is Buddha giving harm to you?

Student: From his side, he is not giving harm to me. But from my side, it appears to me as if he is giving harm [rest unintelligible]

Rinpoche: So Buddha is appeared as sentient being, ordinary sentient being giving harm, right? So, that time Buddha is appeared as sentient being, right? Then Buddha's giving harm.

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: So Buddha appeared as ordinary being and gives harm, right? That's the conclusion, no? That becomes the conclusion, right? He appeared, no, anybody, doesn't matter who, whomever it appears ordinary being. So Buddha appears as ordinary being and gives harm to that sentient being, huh? Like that? So you think that, so is that correct thinking or not?

Student: [unintelligible]

Rinpoche: So, Buddha doesn't give harm, right? Buddha doesn't manifest as ordinary being? Buddha doesn't manifest as sentient being. Anyway, it doesn't matter.

Yeah, things can be appeared, as she is saying, but not necessarily, for example, person who has paranoia, paranoid person, if there is anybody who has paranoia, then can use that as an example. Anyway, that paranoia, this plant is also criticizing me, or the goats, dogs are criticizing me or something even there's no people in the house, even there's nobody in the house, next room then you hear criticizing you, you hear the next person in the room criticizing you. Anyway, or there is a person there he is not speaking, he is doing meditation in silence but for you it appears that person is criticizing you, all day long talking about you, something.

So however things can be appeared because it's to do with your mind, the whole thing is to do, what appears is completely to do with one's own mind, so therefore things can appear even though in reality it's not like that, so very good example is paranoia. So Buddha [pause] similar the Hindus in India in their, it's not that Buddha has discriminating thought for other people who has devotion you show the aspect with beams and with all the signs, thirty-two holy signs, eighty exemplifications showing all these qualities, holy signs of Buddha's holy body and with the beams emitting. Those who have devotion, showing this; those who do not have devotion, who criticize then you show ordinary person, ordinary monk not having even one arm-length, the beam, what usually what they see is this one arm-length beam emitting from Buddha's holy body. So those Hindus, the founder, those who criticized, who tried to harm Buddha or who criticized Buddha, so when they meet Buddha in the road, they see ordinary person, they see ordinary monk, just very simple, very ordinary monk, they don't see even the light, even one arm-length light which common other ordinary beings see. So it is not that Buddha has discriminating thought, or somebody who criticize show bad aspect somebody who likes Buddha, who has devotion, show the aspect of Buddha, it's not like that. For Buddha, because Buddha's holy mind is completed training in the compassion for every sentient, so because of that there's no discriminating thought to help those who like Buddha, who have devotion, and to not help those who do not like Buddha, who criticize Buddha. From Buddha's side, there is no discriminating thought because mind is completed the training in the compassion to every sentient being. But it appears this way, Buddha appears this way because sentient beings being under the control of karma, so those who have pure karma see pure, those who have impure karma, see impure. Like that. [long pause]

So, the conclusion is even that sentient being become enlightened but this person, he didn't do anything with his own karma, imprint, so therefore it is definite, as long as this person doesn't do anything with his own mind, with the karma, so when the conditions come together, when the time, conditions come together, that appearance, production of that negative karma, that appearance is experienced. That person definitely experiences that.

So while you are driving a car in the road, suddenly in the road, unexpectedly, somebody shoots you with gun. So that time the imprint that was left in the past in the mental continuum time, conditions came together, happened together, the imprint left by karma it is actualized, so you see the appearance, suddenly, the appearance, the production of that karma the result which is appearance of somebody giving harm to you it is actualized, it is projected by the imprint, it is actualized. Suddenly, why this thing happened your mind is very relaxed you are going through, never expecting to happen such a problem, but suddenly this thing happened. Suddenly there you meet some people who beat, suddenly, you are walking in the road, and suddenly some people, doesn't have to be a person that whom you knew yesterday or today or last, in this life, not necessary, doesn't have to be. So suddenly while you going on the road, suddenly somebody attack you, suddenly somebody beat you so suddenly, so the various karmas, so like this, accumulated, left imprint on the mind so suddenly it become ready to experience, like the seed that is ready to bring its sprout like that, suddenly it become ready to experience so suddenly there is change in your appearance.

So now, I am talking to you, you are listening, what we see here is also appearance of karma, how things appear here now but [pause] so it is the same, the question is whether it is pure appearance or impure appearance the pure karma, impure karma, otherwise it is the same. So how we see each other, is also a production of our own karma, appearance of the karma.

So when you are meditating on karma, should meditate, should relate from this morning until tonight, this life so therefore all of a sudden, now while everything is very pleasant, comfortable, all of a sudden the house is burned by fire, all of a sudden the place where one lives is fire like that. So, therefore conclusion is, extremely important that always to attempt purification, always, as long as there is karma to be experienced, always important continuously to purify, to practice purification, the solution for that to do strong, perfect purification with the power, the four remedies. So otherwise we cannot predict what can happen in the life, what can happen after this minute, after this hour, tonight, tomorrow, next year, cannot predict, you can't say, you can't really say I am going to be always like this, healthy everything okay, it is hard to say, you cannot judge the future by the present situation, the present success, due to present experience, you cannot use that as logic to prove the future it's going to be like that. So this point is very important when you meditate on karma. Can never say what is going to happen, now, future, death after death, so even the nearest, after one hour, after one minute, nearest from that then after death, from that.

So, the person is very strong, healthy now, but suddenly [snaps fingers] suddenly, right now very healthy, strong you never expect something will happen but suddenly the person got some disease screaming, body is curling, couldn't stand, crawling or hts because of pain, cannot sit, cannot relax or suddenly however all of the sudden, morning very healthy, strong, but in the evening time, by the time of afternoon, evening, the person is, big change even with the physical body, become something else, completely become something else can't recognize, unrecognizable. Suddenly in the hospital, suddenly turned out in the hospital - never expected this morning to be in the hospital, but by the time the afternoon in the hospital, life is in the hospital by the time in the afternoon. So like that.

So again what Buddha says, subduing the mind is the teaching of the Buddha. This becomes the unique instruction, this becomes the very essential instruction. "Subdue one's own mind," it looks few words, subdue one's own word, only three words, but what it contains is everything, everything, all the wrong conceptions the thought of mistake towards the virtuous friend up to the subtle dual view. However purify all the negative karmas, it is contained there and also to not create, by subduing one's own mind then one don't create negative karma again so like that.

Yeah, so, the awareness so we should meditate like this that while you are eating practice awareness, as we discussed this morning, yesterday when you see a beautiful flower think, clean place, think, this is the result of my practice, this appearance or this enjoyment is the result of good karma, of practicing morality, by abandoning sexual misconduct. So relate to each different karma, when you see good things, when one experience happiness, comfort, or when you eat food those things then practicing morality not stealing however having those enjoyments. So happiness, comfort when you experience, you relate to good karma practice awareness. Then when you see something that you don't like, undesirable, ugly or something, then relate to the negative karma, those different negative karmas as mentioned in the lam-rim teachings.

So this is the main meditation, main awareness, during these days, break-times, so when you eat food practice awareness, then when you walk, then you go out, you walk around, and practice awareness of karma. Look at your sense objects, be aware of the sense objects then relate to the karma, which is one's own thought. Practice awareness, break-time like this then also meditation session. So this should put concentration. So if there's no important things to do then you just keep silence, if the talking distracts the mind to practice this, then those things what has to be done, you do then even break-times walking or sitting, practice awareness. But if talking doesn't distract your mind still you keep the mind in the awareness of this and that's very good.

So however during these days to put more concentration on this, like that. And then use that, not just leaving up to that, Oh this is the result of good karma, this is the result of negative karma, blah, blah, blah, not leaving just up to that but so therefore this appearance or this enjoyment is the result of such-and-such a karma, good karma, what kind of good karma is such-and-such. So therefore if I don't create the good karma again, this result cannot be experienced so to continue then only for oneself, but for other sentient beings. And then when one experience some suffering result something people disrespect or something, then don't treat well or something, doesn't help, or doesn't love, something, then use that, so that means if I continue the negative karma I will experience the problem without end, so therefore I should abandon the negative karma these negative attitudes so use these things as a teaching to continue to practice. So if we do like this, then the teachings that we hear all the time about karma, so much teaching, all the time, so this get actualized, something that is related to your own life rather than just studying words, so not leaving up to the words, the intellect.