Amitabha and White Tara Initiations and Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Taichung, Taiwan (Archive #1604)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings during Amitabha and White Tara long-life initiations and retreat at Shakyamuni Center, Taichung, Taiwan in February 2007. The teachings include the lung (oral transmission) of the Amitayus mantra and the long-life sutra. Lightly edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron.

The Index Page provides an outline of the topics discussed in each of the lectures. Click on the headings below to go directly to a particular lecture.

You can also listen to the audio files and read the unedited transcripts here.  

Lam-rim Teaching; Amitabha Practice

Hello everyone and a Happy New Year. I’m very happy to meet everyone again this year, today.

So many others, even if they are the same age as us, are unable to continue to be human beings and especially to practice Dharma in this year. They don’t have the opportunity. So many passed away already in this world—even in Taiwan, even in one city, so many passed away. So how fortunate we are. It’s like a dream, again this new year. What year, 2007? Eight, 2008? I’m jumping to the next year. 2007, OK.

To be a human being, not only having many more opportunities for happiness than the hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals, but especially having opportunities to practice Dharma, by meeting Buddhadharma, which reveals the unmistaken cause of happiness and gives us the opportunity in the future lives to achieve whatever happiness we wish for.

We can be be born in the pure land, such as Amitabha Buddha’s pure land, where we complete the path then come back to a suffering world to liberate numberless other beings. So like that, or we can achieve perfect human rebirth in next lives, in which we can meet the complete Mahayana teachings—not just only several teachings but Mahayana paramitayana teachings, Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana teachings that we can practice.

Or as Lama Tsongkhapa explained, by achieving the eight ripening aspects, such as the perfect human body, which has eight ripening qualities, we can make a very rapid, a great progression in attaining the path to enlightenment.

Also as it is explained in the lam-rim teachings, the human body has seven qualities: higher caste, perfect body, wealth, power, wisdom, long life, healthy body and mind. So these are seven qualities that are conditions to be able to practice Dharma, to have attainment and to benefit other sentient beings. Also that we can achieve the perfect human body which has the four Mahayana Dharma wheels: birth in the right environment, family. The environment needs to be that which does not hinder but which supports the practice of attaining the path to enlightenment. So the right environment; we can take birth in a Buddhist family which is supportive for our own practice, to attain the path. Then, we are able to meet and to follow the Mahayana virtuous friend. Then having collected merits, having done prayers, having collected merits, being in the right environment, a place that doesn’t interfere with our practice, which is supportive and harmonious according to the Dharma practice. These are the Four Mahayana Dharma wheels—a perfect body which is endowed with the four Mahayana Dharma wheels, so that we can attain the path to enlightenment. So we have this unbelievable opportunity, this human body that we have received this time.

So many people even the same age as us have already passed away. So many that we knew, even the family members; so many are unable to be human beings and continue to practice Dharma this new year. They didn’t get the opportunity. We have the opportunity to practice—therefore it is like a dream, unbelievable; so fortunate it’s unbelievable. So, we must rejoice. That is one thing, one very important thing, when the new year begins it is very important to rejoice, to feel great happiness, like having found, like we won the lottery, billions, zillions, trillions of dollars. Like we won the lottery, we should feel great happiness.

If we won billions, zillions of dollars, it would become the most unbelievable thing that happened in our life; an impossible thing that happened—something that is impossible became possible. In the world people regard this as most wonderful, most exciting. However, just to be a human being—each day, each hour, minute, second, just having human body is much more precious, much more exciting, much more wonderful, like dreaming. It’s something we think is not possible. Like this example, the billions, zillions of dollars that we achieved is nothing. This human body that we have achieved gives us the opportunity to be able to communicate, to learn words and meanings of Dharma. It gives us this opportunity.

As mentioned in the lam-rim teachings, the nagas have a wish-granting jewel, the most precious, precious thing in the external possessions, materially, amongst the precious materials, the most precious thing is the wish-granting jewel. So after it is found in the ocean, the sea, then you clean in two ways, then on the fifteenth, on the full-moon night, on that day you put that jewel on top of the banner on top of the house, on the roof of the house, then whatever you pray to that, all the material needs whatever you wish, material enjoyment you receive. Whatever you wish for, you generate. So like that, even more precious than billions, zillions of dollars, like this wish-granting jewel—even the nagas, they have one as an ornament on their head crown all the time, and they have like cities, like supermarkets, like department stores, of wish-granting jewels, wealth. But they have no opportunity to practice Dharma , because they are in animal realm.

Therefore, you can see from this example, you can see just to be human being, just to have this mere human body is unbelievably precious, more precious than a wish-granting jewel. We don’t have a wish-granting jewel or billions, zillions of dollars, however, by having the human body we have this unbelievable opportunity. It opened the opportunity like sky; the opportunity to learn Dharma, to understand what it means. By meeting Buddhadharma and by learning, we can remove all the causes of the sufferings, delusions, karma, the cause of the delusion, negative imprints. We can remove that by actualising the path revealed by Buddha, the cessation of the sufferings, the defilements. What causes us to achieve that is the true path, that which Buddha revealed. We can learn those paths, we can make preparation in the mind to actualise those paths. So just being a human being or having this mere human body, it is unbelievable, how precious it is. So nothing, so it’s nothing - billion, zillion dollars, even the most precious wish-granting jewel, for how many days, how much we own is nothing, the value is nothing compared to the value of the human body that we have. So therefore we must rejoice, we must realise, must discover this. Just even this mere human body, having just the mere human body is so precious.

[Huang Chun Roo translates.]

Rinpoche: What is ‘jon quoi’?

Huang Chun Roo:Jon quoi’ means precious.

Rinpoche: Ah, jon quoi. So actually what I’m saying is that we should feel much greater happiness, unbelievable joy and happiness, than people feel when they win the lottery or achieve billions, zillions of dollars or even having found a wish-granting jewel, for the reasons that I explained before. Just having the mere human body is so precious, it is unbelievable. So therefore in the reality we should feel much greater happiness. It is even much more than which I mentioned before; it is like a dream, some very impossible thing has happened at this time.

Not only that, with this human body, which we have achieved now, we can achieve not only all the happiness in future lives that we wish for, but also ultimate happiness and total liberation. We can be free forever from the oceans of sufferings of human beings, suras, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, intermediate state beings, the oceans of sufferings of samsara—we can achieve this total liberation. Besides this we can achieve the great liberation—the non-abiding, sorrowless state, great liberation, full enlightenment, the cessation of all the mistakes of mind, the defilements, gross, subtle; and the completion of all the qualities, of realizations. So we can achieve that with this present human body we have received. By attaining that we can get enlightened, we can liberate numberless hell-beings from all the suffering of samsara and its causes, as well as numberless human beings, animals, pretas and so forth. What we can achieve and do for others is unbelievable, by having achieved the human body.

By these reasons you can see how it is so precious, not only that, then, because we have this human body, which can achieve all this happiness, this perfect human body qualified with eight freedoms and ten endowments this time, what we have received, achieved.

Also in the six realms, there is no other body with which we can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, only the human body, and even that, no other human body. Other continents like eastern continents, northern continents, western continents, with those human bodies we can’t achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. It’s only the southern continent’s human body. This human body is the only one with which we can achieve full enlightenment in one lifetime. So that one we have now, we have achieved this time. So that reason aids the fact that this human body we have achieved now is so precious, most unbelievably precious.

[Huang Chun Roo translates.]

Rinpoche: What is ‘bookacee’?

Huang Chun Roo: ‘Bookacee’ means unbelievable.

Rinpoche: Booka-cee. I learnt one very important word in the Chinese language, ‘booka-cee’.
So for this reason, the southern continent human body is the only one that can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. This is another reason, a very important reason why this is most precious—so that we should take this opportunity to achieve enlightenment in this life, that we should not miss the opportunity, that we should not waste this most precious human body, this southern continent human body.

As is mentioned in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand by great enlightened Pabongka, even the bodhisattvas in the pure lands, such as Amitabha’s, pray to be in our world, to receive the body of the human being of the southern continent. Why? Because there are tantric teachings existing. Because to practice the tantric path and to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime or in a brief lifetime, or adding extra reasons, in a brief lifetime of degenerated time, one needs the body that is constituted of six elements: three received from the father and three received from the mother. Three received from the father: the sperm, bone and inside the bone the marrow, three white things received from the father; three red things: blood, flesh, skin, three red things from the mother. It should be a body that is constituted with the six elements to practice tantra, particularly the Highest Yoga Tantra, So we have that, this southern continent human body.

Not only that, the additional reason that it makes easier to achieve; besides these reasons what makes it possible to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, even in a brief lifetime of degenerate time, is that in this world there are 24 holy places—32 or 24 holy places. There are numberless dakas, dakinis in those places and when you practice body-mandala practices—the mother tantra, the body-mandala practices such as Heruka, Vajrayogini and so forth—numberless dakas and dakinis who abide in those 24 holy places in this world, the minute you do the meditation of the body mandala they enter into your body and bless your chakra wind and drops. So that makes it so easy, that makes functional, through your meditation, your drops, chakras, wind become functional. Then through that, you are able to draw the wind into the central channel; you are able to enter, abide and absorb, such as the 24 absorptions, through the meditation. One can achieve these things. Able to achieve the clear light, gone to bliss, samten, gone to bliss, create the transcendental wisdom, this clear light, which is the direct cause of dharmakaya. So by adding this reason one can see how this human body is unbelievable, the southern continent human body we have achieved at this time, how this is unbelievably precious, so that we can achieve full enlightenment, not only in one life but within that, even in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.

So this perfect human body that we have received, even in one second, this perfect human rebirth that we have received, even each second that we have this perfect human body is more precious than the whole sky filled with, not only billion, zillion dollars but filled with wish-granting jewels. All that is nothing compared to this perfect human body we have received. So this is something for us day and night, 24 hours to feel unbelievable happiness and joy. There’s no space in the mind for depression, there’s no space in the mind to feel unhappiness or depression. So reality is like that, if you think this way.

As I normally mention about people who win soccer or football, or Olympic competition, when they win, when they are able to put the ball into the goal through the door that is set up there between two sticks, able to put the ball inside there—how they show much unbelievable excitement, they raise up the arms and shake them, with very intensive face. They raise up their arms and shake to all those 100,000 people there in the audience. When I see, sometimes I’m not sure—in reality it means they won, but in my view, when I see them, because their face is very intensive I wasn’t sure whether sad or, I thought—sometimes I got confused—maybe sad, face is very intensive, maybe doesn’t seem like peace, doesn’t show peace, very intensive face. So sometimes I get confused as to whether it means something went wrong or failed. Anyway, we should be doing like that, much more than that, as I mentioned before, raise up the arms and shake, show much greater, 100,000 times show much greater excitement than that. We should every day, every second be like that, by realising all this, it is unbelievable how this body is so precious, all these reasons ------- what it gives to you, what you can do, what you can achieve, for yourself and for numberless other sentient beings.

No matter how much one is able to climb very high mountains like Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, or able to win competition, the Olympics, soccer, all these things. First of all these pleasures are nothing, what is regarded as pleasure is nothing new. All these things that are regarded as pleasures are nothing new, we experienced these samsaric pleasures numberless times from beginningless rebirth; we had all these pleasures numberless times. Not only that, by achieving shamatha, calm abiding, perfect meditation we achieve, we are born in the deva realm, the form realm where there is no suffering of pain. And we are born in the formless realm where there is not even the suffering of change: of the temporary samsaric pleasures, besides there’s no suffering of pain, there’s not even the temporary samsaric pleasure, the suffering of change. We were born numberless times in those realms where there’s no suffering. Even that samsaric peace and happiness we achieved numberless times, we experienced numberless times from beginningless rebirth. It is nothing new. All this is nothing new.

The psychic powers, such as the five types of psychic powers—not the psychic powers that arya beings or Buddha have, such as arya beings have—but those common five types of psychic powers and those eight siddhis, the various miracle powers that can be shown, those attainments, able to fly or able, through wind power, that which takes many months you can go in few days or even few hours – the eight ordinary siddhis. The concentration that can last for eons, for many years or eons that, as Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained in the Three Principle Aspects of the Path to Enlightenment commentary, even the big drum beating right in front of the ear cannot disturb. Those clairvoyance, all those things, all the powers we achieved numberless times from beginningless rebirth. But that alone didn’t make us to be free from samsara, to cease the defilements, delusion and karma, by that experience.

All these samsaric pleasures, which in the world people see with incredible excitement as if it is the first time experience, because, later they understand reincarnation, that reincarnation and karma, lack of understanding these things. Even they achieved all these things, the pleasure doesn’t last. To achieve them one has to bear so much hardships, has to suffer so much for that, have to bear so much hardships for that, then even they achieve the pleasure but it doesn’t last. Then in the future, they have to experience, as a result, unceasing suffering because all this intent, the motivation to attain all this, is not Dharma. It is simply attachment, clinging to this life’s happiness, totally pure nonvirtue.

Therefore, here, this time we have opportunity to practice lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment. By attaining the three principle aspects of the path to enlightenment: renunciation, bodhicitta, right view—which make to be liberated, the fundamental path which makes to be liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and which makes to eliminate the root of all the suffering, delusion and karma. The root of all the suffering and its cause, the delusions and karma, the root of that, the ignorance, by realising right view, by actualising bodhicitta, which is developed from the root, compassion, that which is the root of enlightenment, the great compassion towards sentient beings—so this is a new experience. We never achieved it in the past from beginningless rebirth, we never had this experience, we never achieved this.

You can see, by comparing, how it is extremely worthwhile to practice Dharma. Especially, the heart of that, the most important is attaining the lam-rim, the three principles of the path—to be able to eliminate the root of samsara and to achieve liberation, which is forever free from samsara, and to achieve full enlightenment.

This time we have received the eight freedoms and ten endowments or ten richnesses—eighteen qualities, eighteen very precious things this present human body has, is qualified with. Eighteen very precious conditions we have received. Whichever Dharma we wish to practice, we can practice. Unbelievable freedoms we have.

First of all we should know that. Those who haven’t read lam-rim or haven’t learnt lam-rim teachings before, wouldn’t know why practicing Dharma is so important, why it is the most important thing in the life. Other than praying that you have long life, or by praying to be healthy or to get wealth or something like that, other than the knowledge that it helps to achieve the happiness of this life—other than that they wouldn’t know how Dharma is the most important thing in the life. How many billions of things there are to do in the life, however busy you are, how many billions of things to do in the life, but however the most important, most precious thing to do is the Dharma. They wouldn’t know that, wouldn’t have that knowledge.

Therefore first one should know that without Dharma there’s no happiness at all. Without Dharma there’s no happiness. Whether yourself or others, for any particular sentient being to experience happiness there has to be a preliminary cause: having practiced Dharma, having collected, done virtuous actions, having created virtuous actions, good karma.

Without Dharma, what helps when you die, what helps is nothing else, no other, nothing except holy Dharma. What can help when you die, the most critical, most dangerous time or point of your life, what can help is only Dharma, nothing else.

That time you have to leave everything, even your own most cherished body, even that has to be left. Then the consciousness alone has to go to the next life. Like, as is mentioned in the teachings, when you pull the hair from the butter, butter doesn’t come with it, only hair comes. So like that, only bare consciousness goes to the next life. All the material possessions, all the family members, even king or president, even one who has billions of populations - not pollutions - populations, families, servants, whatever, everything has to be left. Like the beggar whose only possession is a stick, a hand-stick that he uses for walking, or whatever, to chase dogs, so anyway the beggar has to leave that stick, only the bare consciousness goes to next life. So exactly the same, even the wheel-turning king, everything, all the power and wealth, all the servants and the population, everything has to be left at the time of death.

What benefits at the time of death, what we enjoy, and the life after this is only Dharma. If one practices Dharma and as a result of that, happiness, then you enjoy the next lives. What you can carry with you is that good karma, Dharma, if you have attainment of those realisations. That which benefits to oneself; benefits the life after this is only Dharma. The happiness of future lives, with what one can achieve is only Dharma. Therefore Dharma is the most important, more than anything else, Dharma practice.

Besides that, even in this life, even talking only of this life without talking future lives, even talking only this life, Dharma becomes the most important thing because without Dharma, there’s no positive thought in our daily life. Whatever lifestyle, business life or student studying or farmer or what-ever lifestyle, actor or singer, whatever lifestyle one leads, however there’s no Dharma in one’s mental continuum, there’s no Dharma. The positive thought, virtuous thought, contentment, renunciation, Dharma; Dharma, renunciation, contentment, contentment, renunciation, letting go of attachment, experiencing satisfaction. And Dharma, the compassion; instead of self-cherishing thought, compassion to others, cherishing others, that is Dharma, the bodhicitta. Then Dharma, the wisdom understanding emptiness, understanding ultimate nature of the I, the self; understanding, meditating, looking at things empty as they are, their ultimate nature.

So this is without talking about tantra practice, just the sutra, just the fundamental lam-rim. Without this Dharma, these positive minds, without talking about future lives’ happiness, just only talking about this life; for example, if there’s no compassion to others, this Dharma compassion, bodhicitta, cherishing others, then your motivation of life is the self-cherishing thought, ego. Then it brings so many problems, so much unhappiness, so many problems to yourself, to others; to the family; in the work with the other people, with the boss, with the other employees; at home; at the office; wherever you go. Bringing so many problems to others, causing so much unhappiness—because the motivation that you have, the motivation of your life is only seeking happiness, concern only with your happiness. There’s no concern for others’ need, others’ happiness. So because of that, then how you live your life, the activities one engages in are only seeking happiness for oneself. Not seeking happiness for others, not working for others, so brings so many problems. Doesn’t get along, doesn’t become harmonious with others. Then others’ wishes, you interfere with others’ wishes for happiness to be fulfilled, you don’t allow wishes of others, so many problems arise. Just even if there’s no Dharma in the daily life, in your mind, such as contentment, satisfaction, the renunciation, letting go desire, if it doesn’t have that, then your mind becomes always unhappy, because you follow desire all the time, so always dissatisfied. No matter how much reputation, no matter how much fame or reputation you achieve in this world, no matter how much wealth you achieve in this world, no matter how much famous you become, no matter how much you are surrounded by people, friends, can never achieve satisfaction, can never achieve inner peace, happiness.

Then that thought, the attachment—what is the opposite to renunciation? That is the attachment seeking happiness of this life, the desire. That’s the opposite of the positive thought, pure thought, renunciation. That has the same meaning, meaning one’s own mind is satisfied—same, just a different way of saying. With this emotional thought, negative thought, attachment, seeking only happiness of this life, seeking happiness for one’s own life and that being only this life, then that brings, if you are like that then anger arises, many other negative thoughts, jealous mind, many other emotional thoughts, disturbing thoughts, unhappy mind arises. It brings so many problems in the life. Mind becomes so dissatisfied, so it never achieves happiness. When there’s strong attachment, desire, when you don’t achieve that object then you commit suicide, you engage in immoral things, unethical activities, killing, stealing, and so forth, telling lies, all these things, engage in so many negative karmas. Then so many other people in the family or office receive harm from you, disturbance from you. Then life ends up with separation in the family, the others, due to one’s own negative attitude, the desire, others become unhappy and they also get angry, upset. Then life ends in prison or committing suicide. So many things, so many problems arise.

Without talking about future lives, in this life if there’s no Dharma in the mental continuum, in everyday life in that mental continuum, the motivation, in everyday life there’s no Dharma, then many problems arise. So the life can never be happy—so many problems, so much unhappiness arises, so many obstacles, your wishes don’t get fulfilled.

This is what we see when we watch TV. This is what we see all the time. When we read newspapers this is what we see all the time, and when we hear news, the same—always the problems caused by lack of renunciation, lack of letting go of desire, lack of that. Then lack of compassion, lack of wisdom understanding ultimate nature.

So even the first one, so much problem due to that, lack of renunciation, not letting go of desire. So much problem, when we watch TV, when we read newspaper, when we meet others, their life problems. Therefore, even for the happiness of this life, peace, happiness of this life, even for that we need Dharma in our life. Motivation of the life, whatever lifestyle we do we need Dharma, in the motivation of the business or whatever lifestyle. If there’s no Dharma in the motivation of our life then whatever actions we do that aren’t Dharma, then so many problems come, we encounter so many problems. There’s no problem coming from outside but there’s a problem coming from your mind, from your wrong motivation, opposite from lam-rim, opposite to three principle paths. As I mentioned before it’s like that.

Generally speaking, without Dharma there’s no happiness. Whether it is this life’s happiness or future life happiness, whatever happiness, without Dharma there is no happiness. So that is very important, that is the first thing to be known, the first thing we should know.

So it is simple to understand that even if we don’t think about reincarnation and karma, even if we just think about this life to be happy, we need Dharma. For that we need Dharma. For example if we want to be harmonious in the family, in the relationships or in the office or anywhere, if we don’t practice patience and tolerance, but every time we allow the anger to rise, every time we follow anger then that breaks our relationship, it breaks our harmony, peace in the family or in the office, anywhere.

So you can see that very simply, where there’s no Dharma in daily life, even without talking about reincarnation or karma. You can see here by practicing patience, Dharma, patience, the antidote to anger, the delusion anger, the result is so much peace and happiness to yourself and others. Similar, there’s an example, if your motivation in life is only self-cherishing thought then sooner or later, even though people see you as very sweet at the beginning, when they meet you, you’re a very sweet person but sooner or later they discover your hidden motivation, your back side motivation—back room or back side. Sooner or later it manifests out, they can see it very clearly, then they won’t be happy. Then there’s a personality clash. So this happens many times in our life story, our biography.

Then, as far as the right view, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama said at one time in San Francisco at Stanford University, he said, “Shouldn’t be like animal.” His Holiness said, “Shouldn’t be like animal.” Animals, you see, whatever appears they believe. They don’t analyse, they don’t check the appearance, whatever appears they just grasp at, and believe in that, trust in that. However it appears to them. So we shouldn’t act like animal, we must examine the appearance, we shouldn’t trust, shouldn’t immediately believe in that. We must examine our own view. Of course that means many things. It can mean to look at it as empty. It appears to us as truly existent, existent from its own side, not merely labelled by mind, so do not hold on that, do not trust on that and look at it as empty. You examine and you find it’s empty.

Of course that’s the definitive meaning but also the other: even in conventional truth, whatever people tell you or whatever you see—without going to the ultimate truth—even in conventional life, which means conventional truth, whatever appears to you, must not be like animal. If you immediately believe then you get into trouble, great confusion and trouble. So then you rise anger, desire, many things, jealous mind, heresy, many negative thoughts. Then you get caught, continuously you engage in negative karma and then get caught. You create the continuous cause of samsara, so you continuously get caught in the prison of samsara.

So it says examine. By examining ,without letting oneself trust in that or believe immediately, by examining you are protected, you don’t hold on to the false view even conventionally, the conventional truth. You don’t hold on to a false view which is wrong, mistaken, you don’t hold on to that as true. Then that is where you are protected in your life. You are always protected from all this confusion, from all the wrong concepts that drive you crazy.

So that is related to the other one, the third, even without relating to the ultimate nature. Without letting your mind hold on to the way the things appear as truly existent—without letting your mind hold on to that, immediately to hold on to that, grasp on to that—thinking whether it exists or not. When you examine, it doesn’t exist as it appeared and you held on to, believed to. It doesn’t exist because it’s empty. Not only that, even in our conventional life there are so many things that appear which are wrong, but we immediately believe in that and then all these emotional minds, the wrong concepts arise, then you put yourself in trouble or deep confusion, then you are prisoner of samsara all the time.

So here we are talking about why there is need of Dharma in our daily life, without question of liberation, enlightenment or happiness of future life - without talking about those things, how Dharma is great protection in our life.

So now to end the talk.

Dromtönpa, the translator of Lama Atisha who is also manifestation of Chenrezig, asked Lama Atisha what the result would be of the action done with the attachment clinging to this life. What the result would be of the action done with the motivation, possessed by the motivation of attachment seeking this life’s happiness. Lama Atisha answered that result would be rebirth in hell, or as hungry ghost or animal. The actions done unstained by the motivation of attachment seeking happiness this life would have the result of deva or human rebirth, the higher rebirth, the body of the happy transmigrating being. Lama Atisha answered like that.

The first explanation, activities done stained by attachment, clinging, grasping, seeking the happiness of this life—the result would be rebirth in hell, as a hungry ghost or animal. That means those actions of eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, even the action of listening Dharma, meditating, reflecting—even those actions of making prayers, reciting prayers, but if the motivation for doing them is stained by the attachment—they are not Dharma but stained by attachment clinging to this life, which is pure nonvirtue, pure nonvirtuous thought. That’s why all those actions, even including listening to Dharma, reflecting, meditation, reciting prayers, become nonvirtue—they don’t become virtue, they don’t become Dharma, they become nonvirtue, worldly dharma; they don’t become holy Dharma, they become worldly Dharma. That’s why they have result, as Lama Atisha explained, the result of hell or animal, like that. But of course, as I explained before, without even talking about the difficulties or problems that arise even in this life, that’s just talking about the result that you experience in the next lives.

The other one, actions done—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing job, whatever it is—of course, including doing reflection, meditation, doing prayers, all of them, done with the unstained motivation, unstained by the happiness clinging to this life, all those become Dharma, become virtue. That’s why the result becomes happiness. Lama Atisha explained the body of the happy transmigrator, not suffering transmigrator, but the body of the happy transmigratory being, higher rebirth. So the result is happiness.

Then why the action becomes nonvirtue is because the motivation is nonvirtue. If the motivation is worldly concern then the actions—even including reciting, listening, reflecting, meditation, saying prayers—all become worldly activity. They didn’t become Dharma; they are like Dharma but they are not Dharma. So listening, reflecting, doing meditation, prayers so forth, done with the motivation of attachment clinging to this life’s happiness, they don’t become Dharma, they become like Dharma, appear like spiritual activities, but they are not Dharma. Then that person also is not a real Dharma practitioner but is like Dharma practitioner. So there’s a big difference— like a Dharma practitioner and then actual Dharma practitioner, there’s a difference like between sky and earth.

Something which is like ice-cream but is not ice-cream is uneatable. Ice-cream is eatable but something which is like ice-cream is uneatable. One time someone gave me ice-cream but made of plastic or something, like melting down, cream melting down, melting. Somebody gave me, I don’t remember who gave. Anyway, so I used it after lunch. Ueli, who is director of Mongolia projects, centre and projects, this is one or two years ago, he came after lunch so I offered him that with a spoon. So he really believed that it was real ice-cream, it was so well-made, he put the spoon on the side of the ice-cream like this but of course it’s not ice-cream, so the spoon doesn’t go through. But it was so well-made, the cream melting out like that. Anyway that is like ice-cream, but is not ice-cream. Like mo-mo but not really mo-mo. The person whose activities, even studying Dharma, listening, reflecting, meditation, doing retreat or whatever, teaching Dharma, whatever it is, all these various actions, if they are done with the motivation only seeking happiness of this life then all these did not become Dharma. They appear like Dharma but do not become Dharma. So the person also is like Dharma practitioner, but not Dharma practitioner.

The conclusion is that any activities we do in daily life, doing business, doing job, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, whatever, including listening, reflecting, meditation, reciting prayers or studying Dharma, whatever, all this is done with attachment clinging to this life happiness, that is nonvirtuous thought so all the actions done with this become nonvirtue, worldly Dharma because it is done with worldly concern, so like that. So the result is like Lama Atisha explained, except, as Lama Atisha explained in the Lam-Rim Chen-mo, except for some exceptional ones, depending on the power of the holy object. That means like circumambulation or prostrations, making offerings, things like that, even to statues or scriptures of Buddha. Even if the motivation is nonvirtue, but due to the power of the holy object these activities become virtue, become cause of enlightenment. Even if it is not pure Dharma because the motivation is nonvirtue. Otherwise all the activities done with a motivation opposite to bodhicitta, right view and renunciation, all become the cause of samsara, cause of the all-rising cyclic existence. All those things that are done with pure motivation, pure because unstained by the attachment clinging to this life, so that motivation is holy Dharma, pure Dharma and those actions become holy Dharma.

It is extremely essential, the very first, the very first thing to know in life is what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. The very first thing from where all the happiness comes, from Dharma, not from the nonvirtue, worldly attitude. From nonvirtue only suffering comes, from virtue only happiness comes; from virtue, Dharma, only happiness comes. Happiness has to come from only virtue, that is only Dharma. So what makes in our daily life our activities Dharma or not Dharma is defined by motivation, usually, except those actions done with, depending on the power of the holy object. Except those things.

Whatever activities we do—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing job, doing business and so forth - whatever activity we do, if it is done with bodhicitta motivation to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings, it becomes cause to achieve enlightenment. If it’s done with the renunciation of samsara, how samsara is only in the nature of suffering, having aversion to that, then with the thought of seeking liberation, the cessation of that, then any of these activities done with that thought become the cause to achieve liberation, including listening, reflecting, meditation practice, reciting prayer or whatever.

Then if these activities are done with the motivation to achieve happiness in future lives, one’s own happiness, not this life but happiness of future lives, they still become Dharma, because that motivation is Dharma, because seeking happiness of future life is attachment seeking happiness future life, but it is not attachment seeking happiness of this life, therefore that motivation becomes pure Dharma—pure motivation, pure Dharma, pure in the sense that it is unstained by attachment clinging to this life. As I mentioned already, all the rest, all those activities done only with attachment seeking happiness of this life do not become Dharma. By understanding this point, then you know Dharma doesn’t mean only praying, only worshipping to the holy objects. Not only that. Even sleeping, even eating, walking, driving car, doing business and so forth, all these activities can become Dharma.

From this then, you know that you have incredible freedom in life, that you can practice, that all your actions can become Dharma. All your actions can become cause of happiness, all the coming future lives happiness. All your actions can become cause of liberation and all your actions can become cause of enlightenment, whatever you do. This way, your busy life, whatever you do, everything can become Dharma, cause of happiness.

So this is in case here, who haven’t studied lam-rim, who haven’t much lam-rim, who don’t think much about lam-rim, this is just to give emphasis, introduction or emphasis, what it means to practice Dharma, the most important thing to know, first thing to know in the life before we begin the practice. From that we know, by knowing that, by having that education, by transforming our mind and actions into Dharma you don’t waste your life. You never waste your life; you always make your life meaningful, productive. Otherwise one can waste the whole life. In reality, looking like practicing Dharma but not practicing Dharma. Looking like practicing Dharma then you believe you are really practicing Dharma so you cheat the whole life, the whole life becomes empty. Meaningless. There’s a great danger.

After explaining the definition of Dharma then we can tell how much the last year of life became Dharma, whether everything became Dharma or not, how many became Dharma or not, whether any actions became Dharma or not. By examining that we can discover, we can tell. Then also from birth-time since we met the Dharma, from birth-time how many activities became Dharma, how many activities became nonvirtue, cause of suffering. Then same from beginningless rebirth, can examine.

So rejoice if anything became Dharma. If one found out how much life was spent in wasted actions that did not become Dharma, then by discovering that one regrets it and then can change one’s mind for this new year, for this coming year. Then to make project or plan for this new year, very strong determination that everyday life, as much as possible the motivation to become Dharma, and then all the actions, whatever one does become Dharma. To make one’s own life meaningful, as much as possible motivation, actions become cause of happiness, as I mentioned before.

Then most important, to live life with compassion for others. Not only when you do sessions, meditation, chant prayers or whatever, not only that time generate bodhicitta motivation, compassion for others, not only that time but all the rest of the day whatever activity we do, do with compassion, bodhicitta, the thought to benefit others as much as possible. As much as possible always examine one’s own mind, then keep in virtue. Especially, best virtue the compassion to others, bodhicitta, thought to benefit others. This way even other times when life is busy everything, as much as possible everything becomes the cause of enlightenment, that which is the highest success. Day and night taking the essence, every day making life meaningful, taking highest essence enlightenment.

Then, if one hasn’t studied lam-rim, one must study lam-rim as many times as possible, two or three times, as many as possible. After a while, one has studied from beginning to end one or two times, at least once, then every day some meditation on guru devotion, whatever time one can do, even half an hour or even 20 minutes or 15 minutes or 10 minutes or whatever. But every day, whatever the length of time it is, every day some on guru devotion, by following the outlines of the guru devotion meditation of lam-rim. Then from perfect human rebirth up to karma, the gradual path of the lower capable being, try to meditate on that by following the outlines. So when you finish karma you come back again and start from perfect human rebirth. Doesn’t mean you have to finish all the meditations in one day but just means to continue. You do that, one month on the perfect human rebirth up to karma. Then next month on the gradual path of the middle capable being, how samsara is suffering, the general suffering, the six types, the four types, the three types, the evolution of samsara, the shortcomings, delusions, all those. Then next one month on bodhicitta, by four outlines. Every day some meditation, doesn’t matter length of time. Then next month, one month on emptiness.

Or the other way is one week on perfect human rebirth, next week on the usefulness, next week on the difficulties, next week on death and impermanence, next week lower realm, next week karma. Could be like that, one week on each meditation by following the outline of the lam-rim.

The third way to do is on the basis of every day guru devotion, then until we achieve the realisation of the perfect human rebirth, continue with that, meditate on that however many weeks, months it takes, year. So like that for each meditation.

These are different suggestions how you can do even a short time, but every day. In this way mind is kept in the lam-rim, recharged like battery so totally doesn’t become dead. So then sooner or later experience comes, realisation comes, along with practice of purification and collecting merit and the guru yoga, the guru devotion meditations. Then, whole life living with compassion for others, the thought of benefiting others.

This way our new year becomes meaningful. If you live life as much as possible with the thought of benefiting others, with compassion, then if you can, meditate on lam-rim, so the new year— 2007 right?—not 2008—so, 2007 becomes very meaningful. That we are alive, still alive as a human being becomes very meaningful, a very productive year. Then by the way it becomes the cause of world peace, peace for yourself, peace in the family, peace in the country, in the world. Also, eventually to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment.

So that’s the initiation done. Amitabha initiation is finished!

[Huang Chun Roo translates.]

Rinpoche: I didn’t realise how long I spoke, so when I listened back I was completely shocked, so long, how long it was. . I think I can stay in my room and Huang Chun Roo can speak. She is familiar for many years, so she can speak and I can stay in the room. I stay in the room, sleep, she can speak all night. I’m proud and happy to have the good karma of having good translator. Some karma created from past life, maybe this early life. Or the past life before this, have some karma to have good translator. Even that depends on having good karma, to have good translator, otherwise very difficult, so many problems.

Not sure what rebirth I will take next life. I hope that she can become translator in next life too. Not sure what rebirth I will take next life but I hope that she can be translator also in next life. Maybe we should fix that agreement in this life, now.

To be a good translator you need a lot of merit, it’s not easy, you need a lot of merit to be able to present correctly and effectively so that people can understand. You need a lot of merit; otherwise it’s not easy, especially for people to understand easily. I heard translating Dharma into Chinese not easy, not easy. So anyway translators need a lot of merit. It is possible in the past having recited the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra prayer which says: ‘I will reveal Dharma in various languages of sentient beings. I will teach Dharma’. So it could be a result of having recited the King of Prayers where it says like that. It could be a result of those either past or in this early life.

I know the difficulties of perfect translation, even somebody is very expert in debate, in the philosophical explanation, even somebody who studied very well but only comes to that point. Because person who studied very well can translate very well but when it comes to lam-rim or some thought transformation or some simple teachings, the person is not familiar, then it doesn’t come out because the person has not been familiar with those, didn’t practice or did not become familiar, even those very simple subjects. Doesn’t come out exactly, many mistakes, a simple teaching. These things happen, so not easy the job to translate Dharma, it needs very, very exact understanding of what the speaker, the lama or whoever it is, his way of thinking, way of expressing, need to understand exactly. And good memory, without memory you forget after a few words. As you start translating you forget . That’s my experience, when I translate you see I begin a few words and I forget the next part. So you need a very good memory, not only understanding but a good memory. Even you have good understanding but bad memory, you can’t complete or remember. So it needs many qualities. So I think that it’s very fortunate to have a good translator, very fortunate.

Particularly I’m talking about Huang Chun Roo, who has translated for me for many years, since I came the second time in Taiwan. The first time I came I stayed a few days. Talked at the airport, just a little opportunity to talk Dharma. I think I met the Professor George at the airport. That was the only time, then I went back. After my first Western Sangha attendant Neil, after one year then Fritz, then Wanpochen. The group of friends started, invited Neil, the Western Sangha attendant that I had before Roger. So he taught at Fritz’s house, he started teaching lam-rim at Fritz’s house. That’s how it started. I think I came maybe after one year to Taiwan, maybe after one year or two, I’m not sure. [Student says something.] After three years? So after three years since Neil started teaching at Fritz’s house. Seems I came after three years . I think then from that time she was the translator. So I think there must be some karma there, without it, otherwise it doesn’t happen, it won’t happen. Has to have karma.

So I would like to say this makes it very easy for me and for all the students who come to listen to the talk, makes it very easy to understand. Of course I’m sure the good translators, even if the lama or geshe who gave the teaching but the translators makes, even the geshe’s or lama’s way of presenting is even not clear or something, then the translator makes it clear. I’ve seen translators like that, the translator makes clear, makes jokes. The geshe or lama didn’t make jokes but the translator brings up jokes along with that, while he’s translating.

There was one incarnate lama, we lived together at Buxa under the guidance of our teacher Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, from whom I received the very beginning of the philosophy, du-ra, the very first teaching on philosophy. We lived together, we played, sometimes we fight. Fight and play you know. Anyway this Rinpoche, his name is Gonsar Rinpoche; a very, very high lama. He was translating for one geshe, so I went there to Switzerland to visit one family, the mother is a psychologist and she is a benefactor of my root guru His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. So one Geshe-la was teaching there, one geshe passed away, maybe reincarnated not sure, Geshe, I don’t remember the name. Anyway, he was teaching lam-rim there. It was Geshe Rabten Rinpoche actually, to give teaching but then he was busy so he asked that geshe to take that role, to teach. So Gonsar Rinpoche was the translator so he did things, he brings jokes. Geshe-la didn’t make joke but he’d bring up jokes because he knows Western people what they like to hear. Brings up jokes and makes it clearer than what Geshe-la taught.

However the main thing is to make clear and to benefit for the listeners, the students. So I think it is great, very precious, having that quality. I think highly beneficial not only for me, but everybody who listens to Dharma. Of course my Dharma talks are Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse, something like that, but anyway people can understand clearly, so it’s beneficial, kind for everybody, myself and for all the people who are listening, so I want to express that.

To add to what I mentioned before: to make preparation in the mind for all the attainments; to attain all the realisations on the path to enlightenment, the fundamental lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment and the stages of the tantra. To leave a positive imprint every day in the mind, to make preparation for all the realisations up to enlightenment, the common path and the particular, uncommon tantra, recite the prayer that contains the whole path to enlightenment, the lam-rim, the foundation of tantra. Then the other one is from tantra, whichever is your main deity, yidam or mind-seal deity, which you practice being one with every day, day and night being one with, so that practice, that path brings you to achieve enlightenment of that deity, to be able to enlighten all sentient beings. So recite that deity’s prayer containing the whole tantric gradual stages to enlightenment of that deity.

One is from the foundation of lam-rim, direct meditation of that. The other one is the tantric path, the direct meditation, the prayer that contains the essence of the whole path to enlightenment of one’s own deity, to recite those every day. That makes incredible preparation in the mind. Every day plants the seed of the whole path to enlightenment. From that, every day imprint is left on the mind from the foundation of lam-rim and then the stages of tantra of one’s own deity. The prayer comes at the end of the sadhana, at the end of the long version of the sadhana—always is there. That sooner or later causes to have realisation of the whole path to enlightenment. So that’s one thing every day, is very important.

This Amitabha is long life and also this initiation has two things: long life and also attaining Amitabha Buddha’s pure land, those two things. This initiation I received from His Holiness Chobgye Trijang Rinpoche, who is His Holiness Sakya Trizin’s guru, from whom His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya tradition, from whom His Holiness Sakya Trizin received the lam-rim teaching and many hundreds, so many initiations. Then also I think His Holiness took Sakya Lam-dre teachings from His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche. I was in California, so from Vajrapani I went to Boston just to receive this initiation from His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche in Boston. That time Rinpoche gave this initiation by sitting on a chair. His Holiness received this initiation from His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche who was head of the Nyingma before, in the past then reincarnated again. I heard there are maybe two reincarnations, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. So Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche said that when His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche gave the initiation it was done not by sitting on a throne but by sitting on chairs. There was some purpose in doing that. His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche gave the initiation with chocolate long-life pills, long-life pills made from chocolate .

Unfortunately Rinpoche passed away, I think maybe already a few weeks ago. Rinpoche was in the meditation state for 14 days. The holy body they were going to bring down from Rinpoche’s retreat place to the Maitreya Buddha temple near the Boudha stupa, Rinpoche’s monastery, they were going to bring down with all the four traditions lamas doing procession. Then His Holiness Shakya Trizin was there to lead all the functions, pujas, cremation, all that. I didn’t make it. His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche passed away, but I was taking teachings so I didn’t make it for the cremation this time. However, I requested the attendants to write a prayer to return quickly and also build a stupa as quickly as possible, so I offered some donation, 100,000 Nepalese rupees just as a donation for that, to build a stupa as quickly as possible. My experience is that by completing these things earlier the lama can return, reincarnate quicker, able to find, able to meet quicker. That’s a very important thing. This is from whom I received this initiation, the references of that.

With this initiation there’s a prayer to recite: “I am prostrating to the Tathagata, Saviour Limitless Light Buddha (or Immeasurable Light Buddha,) I prostrate to Amitabha Buddha.” Then, “I prostrate to Buddha, the Limitless Life, Immeasurable Life Buddha. OM AMI DHE WA HRIH. OM AMI DHE WA HRIH.” Also there’s another way in the great enlightened Pabongka’s teachings. Here you recite NAMO AMITOFU. In Pabongka’s teaching there is NAMO AMITOFU SHRI, I think, something like that. But normally, in other traditions the normal one is NAMO AMI DHE WA HRIH. So whichever way you recite, NAMO AMITOFU SHRI, the very common one and in the other tradition there’s NAMO AMI DHE WA HRIH. Anyway after these two names of Buddha then you recite NAMO AMITABHA SHRI.

Chant one mala, then at the end when you finish the mala, think: "May I be born in Amitabha Buddha’s pure land." That’s what you do at the end. You don’t need to do that with every one, with every name-mantra, only at the last. That makes to be reborn, like an eagle flying, so without any difficulties you go to Amitabha Buddha’s pure land.

The purpose to be reborn in Amitabha’s pure land: one thing is that if you reincarnate in Amitabha pure land, then that’s it—finished, finished everything, that’s the end, then you never get reborn in the lower realms. So that is done, you never get reborn in the lower realms. There are some other pure lands of buddhas where even if you reincarnate, still you can get reborn in the lower realms, the six realms. There are other pure lands, you see, that are not stable. Here, everyone, all the lamas explain the same, what is accepted or explained is that you never get reborn in the lower realms if you are born in Amitabha’s pure land. So you make very stable, and that causes you to develop the realisations there, of the bodhisattva path, all the realisations, then, as the King of Prayers says, you go to the suffering worlds to liberate others. So, making very stable.

Also here it is mentioned that Machig Labdron, the one who spread chöd practice in Tibet, who is the actual embodiment, reincarnation of the Mother Prajnaparamita, the Buddha, the Mother Prajnaparamita, who is the actual embodiment of that. Machig Labdron, born in Tibet, upper place of Tibet, Tsang, who spread the chöd practice in Tibet, is the embodiment of this buddha, the great Mother Prajnaparamita. She advised her son—she is an enlightened being you see—she advised her son, Gyalwa Dondrup; she gave him some dakinis’ secret words, instruction to her son: twenty-one samaya. There it says to achieve enlightenment quickly, one must pray to be reborn in the pure land, a very pure land, a land of buddha which is very pure. One should make prayer. However there are many other pure lands of the buddha, but some pure lands are extremely difficult to be reborn there, you need the attainment, realisations. Like even for Tushita, Maitreya Buddha’s pure land, Lama Tsongkhapa’s pure land, you need very pure morality. If you don’t have very pure morality it is very difficult to be reborn there, in those pure lands, such as Tushita, Maitreya’s pure land.

Here, Amitabha’s pure land; this is a pure land where ordinary beings who have delusions, who have all the emotional problems, it is very easy if you pray, very easy to reincarnate in this Amitabha pure land. This is because in the past, must be Amitabha Buddha’s past, maybe his bodhisattva’s time, I think, I’m not sure of the name, one wheel-turning king, might be Rim of the Spoke, the name we have to check. Anyway, he visualised the pure land, all these qualities, visualised all these unbelievable qualities, then dedicated for ordinary sentient beings very easily to reincarnate there. Dedicated, made so many prayers by visualising the pure land with all these qualities. That’s how this pure land happened, due to that bodhisattva’s prayer. Then people who created the cause, created so much merit to be reborn there, made prayers, generated the wish, who had the karma. Together this pure land happened: those sentient beings’ karma and that bodhisattva’s strong prayer done in the past. I guess that bodhisattva might be Amitabha Buddha before he became Buddha, in his bodhisattva time, might be that. Here the initiation text talks about the means, the quick way to achieve enlightenment.