Kopan Course No. 36 (2003)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1441)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 36th Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2003. Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

Rinpoche teaches on a range of lamrim topics, including refuge, motivation, Medicine Buddha and seven-limb practice, the purpose of our life, emptiness and much more. The edited transcript is freely available for download as a PDF file.

Lecture 13: The Purpose of Our Life
Extensive offerings

So, I’m going to maybe read one or two pages from the Golden Light Sutra.

[Chanting]

We’re going to do the short seven-limb practice and the Thirty-five Buddhas, and the homage. And then we’ll do the meditation as I have gone through before, at least briefly like that, before we listen to the Buddha’s most precious teaching. So, the preliminary prayers, offering the seven-limb practice, which comes in three conclusions: purifying the defilements, collecting merits and increasing merits.

[Chanting]

All the offerings here, the offerings in Kopan monastery, upstairs in the rooms where I stay, all the extensive offerings that are in all the FPMT centers’ gompas, which are in the nature of great bliss and all the offerings, all the many thousands of light offerings, water offerings, the flowers outside and inside, as well as the food and tea offerings in Aptos House in America and in Washington, the many lights, all the offerings there. And then extensive offerings also in Mongolia at the center. The extensive offerings also in Lillian Too’s house upstairs, where many offerings are arranged, as well in Singapore, in Derek’s house, all the extensive offerings upstairs. So arranged there to make offerings.

Those two offerings—in Lillian Too’s house upstairs and Derek’s house upstairs in Singapore—those offerings are made by Filipino maids. They are Christians but they are very happy doing water bowl offerings. They enjoy it very much. One time at Lillian Too’s house, Lillian made offerings herself early in the morning, so the next day the maid got up even earlier and made the water bowl offerings, she enjoys doing it so much.

The water of the water bowl offerings is wet, it makes substances wet, so it’s very easy to soften the heart. The water bowl offerings soften the heart. If the heart is not soft, the mind can’t change. If the mind is very solid, we can’t practice Dharma; the mind doesn’t become Dharma. So, it’s very helpful to soften the heart, like cotton or like tissue paper, toilet paper or tissue paper. Anyway, like cotton, soft. The nature of the offering is wet so it softens the heart and grows realizations. Water bowl offering are also to have a clear mind. Because the water is very clear, so the mind becomes very clear.

Maybe this is according to Tibet. Generally any offering you can make is good, but I think why the water is done more, is that water is good. The reason was, I guess in Tibet you don’t have to buy the water, you just get water from the river or stream. So, it’s very easy to make offering with water and you don’t have much miserliness, general speaking, of course. Where there is scarcity of water, like Africa or somewhere, that may be different in that case, but I think generally in Tibet, a stream or whatever is always running. So I think there are no difficulties. There is no miserliness so it’s a very pure offering, there is not sense of stinginess. So, it collects merits and it’s very easy to offer without being stingy. Other offerings might be difficult, because of miserliness or stinginess, so it is more difficult to make offerings, for them to become pure offerings, to give from the heart.

There may be other benefits. Your mind is watered with loving kindness. I don’t remember a hundred percent, to generate loving kindness, to be watered with loving kindness. Anyway, there is no miserliness, no stinginess, so water is easy to offer. That’s why it can be a purer offering. That is why the water is offered more, that is the reason.

They explained to the maids how to offer all the things. And then they said they enjoyed it somehow. Maybe it is the blessing they receive by doing that; it might be because they are Christian but somehow maybe it’s the Buddha’s blessing. It’s possible. One maid in Singapore is Christian but she was also doing water bowl offerings. And then when she had some sickness, there was a Medicine Buddha picture. Somehow she made a prayer and she was healed. And then she somehow responded. That gave her faith, I think.

So, the offerings here, upstairs, all those things. Then, all the extensive offerings at all the FPMT centers’ gompas, which are in the nature of great bliss, then all the offerings at Aptos House, so many thousands of offerings, the water offerings, many hundreds of water offerings and then food offerings, tea offerings in front of His Holiness and those gurus. Then, the flowers inside and outside. Then the extensive offerings at Lillian’s house upstairs in Malaysia as well as Derek’s house in Singapore, upstairs there are extensive offerings, many water offerings offered in crystal bowls. We can offer all that, by thinking of them all in the nature of great bliss. So, offer to the merit field. Either Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, as all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, all the holy objects or the elaborate merit field, or the lamrim merit field, either way. So, please offer.

[Chanting]

The seven-limb prayer: Rejoicing

Maybe I’ll mention here, in case it doesn’t happen because it becomes late, but a very important practice is rejoicing. Rejoicing is a very important practice. You must know that, if some of you are not aware of that. This is because any success with happiness has to come from virtue.

Why it’s so important to rejoice is any success or happiness, even the temporal happiness of this life, has to come from virtue. Of course the realizations on the path to enlightenment have to come from merit, there is no question. If you think of that, it becomes so important to collect merit. It is a necessary condition in order to have realizations of the path to enlightenment. To be able to learn teachings, to be able to listen, to be able to hear, to be able to receive teachings depends on merit. To be able to comprehend the words and meanings, to understand the meaning, depends on merit. To be able to practice depends on merit. To be able to have realization depends on merit. Everything depends on that. Even if you want to help others, to benefit others, to be able to benefit others, it has to come from the merit, from good karma. If you want to do social service, to benefit others, without depending on merit, you just cannot simply benefit others. How much you can benefit others, how much success your service has with others, depends on merit, how much merit, how much luck you have. Therefore, everything, any good thing that you wish for depends on merit.

As Lama Tsongkhapa mentions in the Hymns of Experience of the Path to Enlightenment, in which he tells his own realizations of the path to enlightenment, rejoicing is the treasure of merit, like the hand collecting grain. Among the means of collecting merit, rejoicing is the best one. As Lama Tsongkhapa mentions in the Hymns of Experience of the Path to Enlightenment, it collects limitless skies of merit.

If you rejoice in your own merit, it doubles it. By rejoicing in your merit collected from beginningless rebirth, all those merits become double, every time you rejoice in your own virtue, in all the past merits. Whatever practice you have done, by rejoicing it becomes double. It’s very good, it is very good in our everyday life, whenever we finish one practice, after that we rejoice. If you can add that, it’s very good. For example, after making offerings, performing offerings at the altar, after you do the practice of offering, then at the end think, “How fortunate I am that I collected innumerable numbers of merit, so much merit, how wonderful it is.”

All the extensive merit you collect, whether it’s one light offering or one incense offering or many offerings, after practicing offering if you rejoice then all the merit becomes double. Just rejoicing in one second, all your past merits, everything becomes double, so limitless skies of merit are collected that way. If you rejoice in others’ merits, whose level of mind is lower than yours, then you collect more merit than that sentient being, whose level of mind is lower than yours. You collect double the merit.

If that person’s level of mind is higher than you, you don’t collect the same amount of merit but you collect half of what the other person collected, whose level of mind is higher than yours, so how much merit you collect is half of that.

If you are not a bodhisattva and you rejoice in a bodhisattva’s merit, as it is said in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, you collect half as much merit as the bodhisattva collects in one day. You get half that amount, half of that merit.

Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains that to collect that much merit without rejoicing, to get half of what a bodhisattva collects one day, takes thirteen thousand years. That is unbelievable! That is unbelievable, inconceivable, unbelievable, inconceivable! What takes thirteen thousand years to collect, you collect within a second. How wonderful it is, these bodhisattvas’ one day merit, if you generate happiness, what takes thirteen thousand years you collect within one second.

Normally I explain it like this. For example, when you go to Singapore or Hong Kong or Taiwan—I haven’t been to mainland China yet—there are huge monasteries, huge temples, very well-decorated, huge beautiful monasteries. As soon as you see them, when you see them and later you realize what’s happening in your mind, you rejoice. The abbot, the benefactors, all those people who donated to build this temple, who did the labor, building and constructing, who created the idea, all those people, how wonderful it is that they collected so much merit, how wonderful it is. So you should rejoice, rather than feeling envy or jealousy, which doesn’t help your mind, which causes pain to your mental continuum. It creates negative karma. Just by rejoicing, how wonderful that they collected unconceivable merit.

If the level of mind of the people who built this temple—this incredible huge temple—who serve this temple, is lower than yours, you collect more merit than those who built it, than those who worked for this for many years. Maybe it took fifteen, twenty or even thirty years, raising funds and building, for that many years, they bore so much hardship to actualize this temple.

For those whose level of mind is higher than yours you get half of the merit.

So you see, by rejoicing, within that second you collect unconceivable merit. And you yourself didn’t put any effort into that at all, not even one paisa. According to [the currency of] Nepal or India, one paisa, you didn’t put one paisa into that. You didn’t even lay one brick for it, but you collected unimaginable merit, even more than the many people who put many years of effort into building it, if their level of mind is lower than yours.

And then it creates the karma to be able to build a temple like that. Just that one time rejoicing creates the karma so that you can build temples like this, so many—ten, fifteen, twenty—so many, if not in this life, then in the near future. You create the cause. Then, you benefit sentient beings, you offer service to the Sangha, to let them build a temple. To able to benefit the Sangha, to have a place for the Sangha to do their practice, to preserve the Buddhadharma, to actualize it, to help it spread.

I used to say this. We are building this five-hundred-foot Maitreya Buddha statue. It’s not the statue itself. Inside there are many shrine rooms. In the holy body, in the heart and the neck and different places, there are different shrine rooms of deities. Inside Maitreya Buddha’s legs, there are many temples. There are temples of Twenty-one Taras, of only Tara, and one temple of only Medicine Buddha, one temple of only the Thousand-arm Chenrezig and one of the sixteen arhats. There is one temple with only Lama Yeshe’s statue. Then one temple with many hundreds of Lama Tsongkhapas. So there are many, many temples in the holy body.

The throne itself I think is probably—I am not sure—nearly like the Potala in Tibet. Maybe it’s almost more than half the Potala, I am not sure. Anyway, it’s a huge throne, so huge, so there will be one hundred thousand Maitreya Buddha statues within that. Then there will be another sambhogakaya aspect, the divine aspect Maitreya Buddha statue inside. Then on top of that a very large Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, advised by the most respected Nyingma lama, Trulshik Rinpoche, from whom I have received teachings, oral transmissions and advice. So there will be Prajnaparamita statues, advised by His Holiness Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. So there will also be the thousand buddhas of the fortunate eon around the Buddha, upstairs, within the throne on the second level.

Outside will be the Buddha’s life story, the Jataka Tales, those stories of the bodhisattva who for three countless great eons bore hardships to benefit for sentient beings, who sacrificed his life for sentient beings. He collected merit and actualized the path, having given his own body as charity to sentient beings for so many lifetimes, and when he was born as a king, he gave his whole family as charity to others, his wife and so forth. Having practiced morality, charity and practiced perseverance, patience, this will be shown in stories around the park. The idea is that when the people from all over the world come there to look around, at the end they get impact in their heart. They will think, “The Buddha sacrificed his life for that many eons, he gave everything for sentient beings; he bore so much hardships to collect merit, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. From now on my life should be different. From now on I should make my life beneficial for others.” So this is to inspire even the tourists, the people who come there, by going around and seeing this, at the end to get that impact, to transform the mind. “Now my life should be something different from the past; it should be better, more beneficial for others.”

Then, there are twelve deeds, the Buddha’s twelve deeds around the first circle, the circumambulation road, after the very first one. By seeing this it causes the people to realize the four noble truths: that there is suffering, that it depends on the cause, that it didn’t exist from its own side, it depends on causes and conditions, that it came from delusion and karma—to understand that and that by removing the cause completely, that is the sorrowless state. That’s the liberation we need to achieve, and that can be achieved because there is a path. So they realize the four noble truths from that.

Anyway there are many, many things. It’s not just the statue itself, that’s not the only thing. I didn’t mean to give an introduction to the Maitreya Project! By the way, it became that.

What I was trying to say was, we build all these projects and then somebody comes along and rejoices in all these projects, the statues and so forth, “How wonderful it is that all these people build this, they collect so much merit, how wonderful it is.” When somebody comes along and rejoices in that way, if this person’s level of mind is higher than us, the organization, they collect far greater merit than those of us from the organization and those people who donate to the project. That person collects double the merit. They didn’t give anything, they didn’t spend one penny to build it, they didn’t do anything but go there and simply rejoice. That person didn’t put one single effort but got all the profit by rejoicing. They get all the merits and even double it if their level of mind is higher than us, the organization. So I use that example to show the importance of rejoicing, what incredible profit you can have, how the meditation technique of rejoicing creates great profit in collecting merit.

Here in one second, that person didn’t have to do anything but still collected so much merit. We, the organization, spent so many years working. How many years is it already? Already it has been many years ago, since starting, looking for the land and planning it—it took a long time to buy the land and all that, then so many people donating to that. It has taken so many people so much effort, then to build it—the companies and the workers transporting things, doing the labor. But after all this materializes, this person comes along one day, and rejoices. “All these people who built this Maitreya statue, how wonderful it is that they collect so much merit.”

If that person’s level of mind is higher than the organization who built it, in that second they collect so much merit, double the merit. If the level is the same as the people who built the project, they collect the same amount of merit, and if the level of mind is lower than those who built the holy object, then they get half of what the organization or people who built it collect. This is mentioned in the teachings. That’s unbelievable, you don’t have to do anything, but you receive all the merit just by rejoicing. That gives you an idea.

Then that creates the cause for you to build similar things many, many times, in the near future. When you go on pilgrimage, like here in Nepal, at Swayambunath, there are so many prayer wheels, monasteries or incredibly beautiful stupas—each time you see one, even if you didn’t get to make offering but at least to think how wonderful it is, you collect so much merit. Each time you see a beautiful holy object or temple or whatever it is and think, “How wonderful it is that all these people who built this collected immeasurable merit,” you generate happiness. In that second you collect so much merit. As I mentioned before, you collect double the merit or the same merit as them, depending on the level of mind. But you yourself collect it without needing to do anything, without donating money or laboring, building, just by rejoicing, in that second you collect unimaginable merit.

You can do this practice while you are lying down or while you are walking. Any time at all you can do that practice. Even if you are not a bodhisattva, there are many sentient beings whose level of mind is lower than yours, there are numberless sentient beings, so you collect double the merit, besides rejoicing in your own merit, it becomes double. Then, as I mentioned before, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains that if you rejoice in the merit a bodhisattva collects in one day, you get half of that. So, if you rejoice in all the past, present and future merits of even one bodhisattva, it’s unimaginable. Then, there are numberless bodhisattvas, not just one—there are numberless, so if you rejoice in all their merit, it’s mind-blowing, it’s mind-blowing merit. And then if you rejoice in all the buddhas’ merit, it is said you get a tenth of all their merit. By dividing their merit by ten, you get one part. That’s how much merit you collect.

For those of you who are not aware, who do not know that rejoicing is the easiest practice you can do to collect the most extensive merit, in case there are any of you, this is an explanation. Since you are doing the meditation, I thought just to take the opportunity to explain now, so then that gives you the opportunity to practice this in the daily life from now on. So we can complete this.

So you can rejoice again. When you start to rejoice think like this, “Without merit, there is no happiness at all. Without merit there is no happiness at all, either temporary or ultimate, therefore merit is so precious. Merit is so precious. I have collected merit from the beginningless rebirths, I have collected so much merit up to now, in the past, in the present and I will continue to collect merit in the future.” So, you see how it’s so precious, then think, “How happy I am.” Repeat this over and over, “How happy I am. How precious, all these merits that I have collected, how happy I am.” So you feel the happiness and repeat this over and over. Each time you do that, you collect limitless skies of merit, all the merit is doubled up. You can do this twenty-one times, depending on your mind, or five times or ten times or twenty-one times. You can do like that, rejoicing in your own merit, for half a mala and then for the other half you can rejoice in the merit of all the other sentient beings and buddhas. You can do like that for one mala, or one mala rejoicing in your own merit, then one mala rejoicing in others’ merit—other sentient beings and buddhas.

When you do the Condensed Four Mandala Ritual of Cittamani Tara, you repeat the seven-limb practice four times. For the first time you rejoice in your own merit, for the second time you rejoice in sentient beings’ merit, which includes the bodhisattvas, so you collect unconceivable merit.

For the next one, you can rejoice in the bodhisattvas’ and the buddhas’ merit, due to the realization of bodhicitta. Even if you don’t have the realization of bodhicitta, when you generate effortful bodhicitta—not effortless bodhicitta but effortful bodhicitta—you collect skies of merit. With the effortful experience, bodhicitta, the altruistic mind wishing to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, even if you don’t have actual realization of bodhicitta but with effort, by thinking of the reasons why sentient beings are so precious and their unimaginable suffering, you take full responsibility to free them from all the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment. Thinking like this, “Therefore I must achieve enlightenment.”

With effort, when you generate the bodhicitta motivation, you collect limitless skies of merit. You collect limitless skies of merit. The bodhisattvas, by having realization of bodhicitta, in every second they collect limitless skies of merit. As Khedrup Rinpoche praised Lama Tsongkhapa in every breath, that became the cause of happiness for all sentient beings, for numberless sentient beings. Every single action done with that motivation, in every second, collects limitless skies of merit. Therefore, if you rejoice in the bodhisattvas’ merit and the bodhisattvas’ realizations and especially when they achieve the bhumis, especially the arya bodhisattvas who achieved the bhumis and who have incredible qualities, if you rejoice in their merit and their realizations, you collect unimaginable merit. Therefore, it is very important to rejoice in the bodhisattvas’ merits. So anyway, the third one is rejoicing in the bodhisattvas’ and buddhas’ merit.

With the fourth one, you rejoice in your own three times’ merits.

In this way, the seven-limb practice gets done, as Pabongka explains in the lamrim teachings  these are seven very important parts which create enlightenment. It’s like the seven different parts of a horse carriage or car that make it function, taking people where they want to go. So this is the essential preliminary practice to collect merit and to purify obstacles. It enables you to change your mind, to be able to actualize realizations, to grow them from within. This is an extremely essential practice.

If you don’t meditate, if you don’t take the opportunity, you won’t get the profit. Only by meditating then you get the benefit. If you don’t do the meditation, but just repeat the words, then you miss out on the inconceivable merit each of these practices creates or you miss out on the purification. And life is short, life is not long, it’s short. Even in the time it becomes just words, then you don’t really take the essence in your life. Life becomes empty. You are unable to take the essence.

The Medicine Buddha practice can bring world peace

You can do the same thing when you do the Medicine Buddha puja. At the moment, the long version is not translated into English but I have asked a student, who is also Geshe Sopa’s student, a professor, to translate the long version of the Medicine Buddha puja. However, as I mentioned, with the Condensed Four Mandala Ritual of Cittamani Tara practice, how you divide the different sections of rejoicing, you can do the same when you do the Medicine Buddha sutra. In the ceremony puja, again the seven-limb practice comes many times. So, the first time you rejoice in your own merit, then the second time you rejoice in sentient beings’ merits, which includes the bodhisattvas. Then next one, rejoice in the bodhisattvas’ and buddhas’ merit. Then again, you rejoice in your own merits, and so you continue like that. So, within that hour doing the Medicine Buddha puja, you collect inconceivable merit. Then, after that, you dedicate all the merit for the benefactors or the people who asked to do the puja. That way, it becomes unbelievably rich. All that merit, the limitless skies of merit, you have collected so many times you are able to offer, to dedicate to the benefactors or for all the sentient beings. It’s a great gift for numberless sentient beings, for them to be able to eliminate poverty, famine, disease, torture, all the sufferings, and to achieve whatever happiness they wish for.

In a similar way, to stop violence in a country, to have peace and happiness, that depends on merit. Stopping the violence and having peace and happiness in a country has to come from merit—the merit of the people in that country. So here you dedicate for that, and then you collect so much merit during this one hour puja. There is so much to offer to the world, to the sentient beings. From there peace and happiness can come and it can affect, it can change their minds.

It’s the same thing in the case of the Tibetan people, to achieve freedom, to get their country back, to have total freedom. In this case, it’s also the same. The more merit you collect and dedicate for that, when there is so much merit dedicated, you can change the karma. If there is more merit then you can overwhelm the negative forces; the obstacles can be overcome. The more merit that you can offer, you can overcome that. So then from that, even the freedom to get back the country or to have total religious freedom, all that, and so that His Holiness continues to guide, so all that also comes from having collected more merit.

This includes your own enlightenment. It all depends on sentient beings. When I was in Bangalore, just a few days, I did my Mickey Mouse talk, my Mickey Mouse Dharma talk, for two days to Indian people. A person asked a question. In Sri Lanka, there has been so much violence for so many years between the two sides, Tamil and what? Huh? [Student explains] Tamil and the Sri Lankans themselves, I think. So, this Indian man asked—I don’t remember the question to do with karma—or something like if you are talking about compassion, then how to deal with such a problem. He asked a question, but I don’t remember exactly. A person asked a question about compassion then this Indian man got up and he said he was a teacher of Sanskrit at the university, and what about the situation with Mao Zedong and this and that, who did so much harm, and took over Tibet. How do you deal with this, if you are talking about compassion, then how do you deal with this?

Anyway, I explained that the Tamil need to collect a lot of merit. If they collect a lot of merit then they can overcome the problems; they can change the karma. They can stop the violence. Of course, collecting merit depends on the education, understanding Dharma, understanding karma. So anyway, this person asked the question.

So, we’ll just finish there.

[Chanting]

The Golden Light Sutra: Oral transmission

By these merits, by having these merits of offering the mandala, that I have met this time the teaching of the peerless founder is by your kindness. By this, may all the transmigratory beings also meet your teachings, you, the supreme leader.

[Chanting]

You, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, trained the mind for countless eons and sacrificed your body, possessions and family numberless times. You bore so much hardship to actualize the path to enlightenment. May I be able to bring all the sentient beings to this path and cause them to achieve enlightenment.

[Chanting]

What page number are we on? Huh? 169. Thank you very much. I am glad, very clear.

[Chanting]

And then, the purpose of my life is to free the numberless sentient beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment, therefore I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I am going to take the oral transmission of the Golden Light Sutra. By hearing each word it will purify all the negative karma and collect inconceivable merits and that which brings peace and happiness in the world, in the country, in the area, and plant the seed of enlightenment in my own mental continuum.

[Oral transmission]

So, it is saying some part of the benefits, that the race or type of son or daughter, anyone who hears this Golden Light Sutra and generates faith will never ever fall down in the hell realm, the animal realm, the hungry ghost realm or the asura realm, in those realms. They will never be reborn there. That’s what is said. By anyone who hears this sutra and generates faith. And it says, all the time they will be born in the deva and human realms, and even then, they will never be reborn in a lower caste. In India or Nepal, the countries where there is this culture, there is the discrimination of caste. So, such as in these countries they won’t be born as lower caste. Lower caste, like the problems in India with the untouchables. There are many millions of them. Everybody puts them down and they find it difficult to get a higher job and even in society they are kept down. If you are born in those lower castes, there is a limitation, you can’t benefit others, others won’t listen to you. I think that’s the reason why it’s stated here that even if you are born as a human being, you won’t get reborn in this lower caste. You will always make offerings to the Buddha, and you will always be able to listen to the Dharma, the Buddhadharma, and be able to preserve and be able to be born in a buddha’s pure realm, pure land. Why? Due to hearing this extremely profound Dharma, the Golden Light Sutra.

[Oral transmission]

As I mentioned, it brings peace and happiness in the country. It says here, the place where this Golden Light Sutra is expounded, is explained, there are four benefits you receive. What are they? In that country, if there is an enemy, a group of people, like the Maoists, who attack the king or the leader of the country, the king of the country cannot receive harm from them. Also, by expounding, by explaining this Golden Light Sutra then also disease will be eliminated and the people will have a long life and it will be auspicious. There will be happiness and perfect Dharma will be revealed. The kings, the prince and the ministers, all of them, will be harmonious, they won’t quarrel and they will abandon harming each other, cheating each other.

The virtuous friends, the Buddhist Sangha and the Brahmins, will all enjoy the holy Dharma; they will engage in the holy Dharma. And there will be no sicknesses or sudden death; they will be able to have happiness and sudden death won’t happen and they will collect a lot of merit. They won’t experience things like the four elements being unbalanced and all the devas will protect them. They will have equal loving kindness, compassion and have no thought of harm and all the sentient beings will go for refuge to the Triple Gem. So, the people in that country will pray to be able to accomplish, to follow the bodhisattvas’ holy deeds. There are many benefits like that.

[Oral transmission]

And the bodhisattva, Essence of Sky, I don’t know the Sanskrit, Indra, Brahma, the four guardians, they told the Buddha that they will benefit anybody who preserves this teaching. In order to spread this text, this Golden Light Sutra, whoever preserves this text, this teaching, then they will be there, wherever this person is preserving this teaching. They will benefit anybody who preserves this teaching

[Oral transmission]

So the Buddha told them, the Buddha responded, saying, “Good, good, yes, yes. This Golden Light Sutra, the King of the Sutras, what is called King of the Sutras, in order for this holy teaching to exist for a long time in this world you must spread it and then attempt to elaborate this.”

[Oral transmission]

So the third chapter is finished.

[Chanting]

We are going to recite the Six-arm Mahakala praise and Kalarupa and then Palden Lhamo, as traditionally it is done but also now it is the most urgent, it’s a crucial point, an emergency, in the Maitreya Project. Within this day and within these days it is the most crucial point. If it succeeds then that’s the start. Then all the debts get paid, all those millions of dollars of debts get paid and we will be able to start something. Today and in these few days, it is a very crucial point. And then if nothing happens, then I think it won’t for a long time, then I think maybe for long time, I’m not sure when. So while we are reciting the prayers, if you have the prayers there in your book, then you can recite, and make strong requests to the Dharma protectors.

[Chanting]

The Medicine Buddha Sutra: The benefits when somebody has died

Just to mention briefly the benefits of the Medicine Buddha practice, reciting the name and mantra.

Lama Atisha explains the Tibetan chag tshäl lo. Lama Atisha praises the Medicine Buddha, which contains the essential benefits.

“The Destroyer, the qualified Gone Beyond One, who has equal compassion for all the sentient beings, just merely hearing the name eliminates sufferings of the lower realms, the bad migratory beings.” By merely hearing the Medicine Buddha’s name it eliminates, it purifies the sufferings of the lower realms. Then it is said that there are inconceivable benefits in hearing, even hearing the name Medicine Buddha, it purifies the negative karma that causes you to be reborn in the lower realms. There is no question if you actually recite the name and mantra. After explaining so much benefit, the Buddha asked Ananda, “Do you believe in this?” So Ananda said, “Yes, I believe in this.” Why? Because the Buddha has inconceivable qualities, that’s why reciting the Medicine Buddha’s name and mantra has all these inconceivable powers, these benefits for sentient beings, it is so easy to purify negative karma and the sufferings of the lower realms, the problems of whatever sicknesses, whatever problems we have in this life. All these things, the very heavy negative karmas, it is so easy to purify. There is so much explained in the Medicine Buddha’s sutra.

There are two parts to the Medicine Buddha sutra. When I go to Taiwan or Singapore or Hong Kong, many Chinese, they say “Oh, I recite the Amitabha sutra, I recite the White Lotus sutra, the Chenrezig sutra, the Medicine Buddha sutra, all these.” I always hear this from the lay people. They read many sutras and they chant the whole sutra for many hours. I haven’t read these sutras, so I get embarrassed. I myself haven’t seen or haven’t read them.

So I finally read the Medicine Buddha sutra. I think last year or the year before, I went to Germany. There is the Arya Tara Center, whose resident teacher is Geshe Thubten Sopa from Sera Je. He had made copies of the Medicine Buddha sutra for me before I came, ready to give me. He got them from another geshe from Sera Je, who was from the same khangtsen as Geshe Rabten and Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey. He’s Geshe Rabten’s disciple, who has established a center in Hamburg, originally Geshe Rabten’s center. Geshe Thubten Sopa got the sutra from that geshe from Hamburg. So he made copies for me. Normally I don’t get to read the texts I receive, but I read this, because the lay people read so many sutras.

In the two parts of the sutra, there is unconceivable benefit in reciting the Medicine Buddha’s name mantra, just that—there is so much benefit. When you read that, it seems you can use Medicine Buddha practice for any problem, for example, when there are difficulties in giving birth, the Medicine Buddha practice is the best thing. And if somebody passes away, the best thing to do is the Medicine Buddha puja practice.

So many times when somebody passes away, the question is asked, “What should I do?” Even from some of our Sangha who are resident teachers, even if they have been conducting meditations for many years, giving teachings for many years but when people call them saying some family member has died and they call for some practice, [they are not sure what to do.] You can do a Guru Puja, you can recite the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas with strong devotion, you can take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This is the most powerful thing, even just refuge. You have so many things you can do.

Among those, the basic thing, the most powerful thing is to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and with your whole heart rely upon the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Even if you don’t do anything else, even if you don’t do any other things, just take refuge, Namo Guru, Namo Buddha, Namo Dharma, Namo Sangha. Whichever language you recite, that’s the foundation. With any practice you do refuge. With strong refuge, you chant this and then nectar comes from Buddha. If you think of the Buddha as all the gurus, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, as everything, with strong faith, and purify that being’s negative karma, it’s extremely powerful. Whatever practice you do, that’s the foundation. There are so many things you can do—the daily prayer or whatever you normally do, you can use that to benefit that person.

But somehow it doesn’t click in the mind. When somebody dies and people ask for help, suddenly, somehow it doesn’t click. You should know what to do, but you can’t think. Whatever you do in your daily practice, you can do that. Even refuge, that’s so powerful. That’s the main thing, taking refuge, having really strong reliance on the Buddha. And purify, and pray for that person to born in the pure land of a buddha, where that person can become enlightened or receive a perfect human body by meeting the perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and then receive teachings, actualize the path and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible. Dedicate the merits for that.

However, the best practice to do at the meditation center or in the individual person’s house where some member has died is the Medicine Buddha puja, especially in that situation.

Even if you are doing powa, this special practice of transferring the consciousness of the person to the pure land, what makes powa powerful is if you do the Medicine Buddha practice before, then the powa becomes very powerful, so that you are able to shoot that other person’s consciousness into the pure land.

I have to say this. Why is it so powerful? Because when Medicine Buddha was a bodhisattva, as you know if you have done Medicine Buddha before, each of the Medicine Buddhas made so many prayers, they vowed that anyone who recites the name mantra of that buddha will pacify whatever problem they have. Each one made so many vows when they were bodhisattvas. “Who recites my name prayer will pacify whatever problem they have and receive all these happinesses.” They became buddhas and one of the qualities from the infinite qualities, one of the qualities they have is the Buddha’s ten powers. Among the ten powers, there is the power of prayer. Because they have achieved the power of prayer, as they made these prayers when they were bodhisattvas, their name and mantra gets all the power, as they intended, as they motivated when they were bodhisattvas. Therefore, when we recite the Medicine Buddha’s name mantra, we receive the benefits of all the prayers they did before, when they were bodhisattvas. Not only that, whatever we pray for succeeds. People think the Medicine Buddha practice is only for healing sickness, but it’s not only that. It’s for success. It is very powerful for success.

Even by making offering to Medicine Buddha, without reciting the prayer, just making offering to Medicine Buddha, it is mentioned in the sutra that there are twelve groups of hosts, the protectors, and each of those protectors are surrounded by seven hundred thousand protectors—all those protectors protect you in everyday life, simply by making offering to Medicine Buddha. They protect your everyday life. That means you are free from obstacles and all your wishes get fulfilled. So, even just making offerings to Medicine Buddha has incredible benefit for success. That’s the main thing, if you recite. Medicine Buddha has achieved the ten powers, one of the qualities of Buddha, and among them is the power of prayer. Because of that, it gives all the power, as they intended before, the name and mantra has all the power. That’s why the prayer we normally do is so effective to fulfill all our wishes. We receive all their prayers.

First, you do Medicine Buddha. Even if you are unable to do the long version, the middle version is already in English. Even if you are unable to do that, just reciting the seven Medicine Buddhas’ names and mantra, the short meditation I translated many years ago—you can visualize what comes during the initiation. It’s short, but has a very rich essence. If you do that first, if it’s for a dead person you can visualize on the crown of that person, instead of visualizing on your head, then you do the same meditation, purifying and absorbing, all that.

If, after reciting the name and mantra, you do powa, that’s very powerful. I’ve already explained the reason before. Powa becomes very powerful. That’s what Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche often does when we pray for somebody. One time, at Tushita during Lama’s time we had many dogs, a mixture of Pekinese and Lhasa Apso, I think. Is that right? Anyway, many dogs. I think maybe at one time we had thirteen dogs. I labeled all these dogs the whole path to enlightenment. I don’t think “Guru Devotion” was there, but “Renunciation,” “Bodhicitta,” “Emptiness” and then the names of the tantric path, “Rupakaya,” “Dharmakaya.” There was the whole path to enlightenment named on the dogs. So anyway, Lama said he didn’t want to give them to other people. He said, “I love my dogs.” Lama said this. So, they increased. Some dogs died, so I asked Rinpoche to pray. Just by standing where the dogs were in the room, the dogs slept curled like this—I don’t know what you call it—Rinpoche did Medicine Buddha first, chanting the seven Medicine Buddhas’ names, each name seven times, then the mantra, then he did powa.

Of course, the best, most powerful thing to do is the other powerful mantras: the five powerful mantras, the deities’ mantras, the Chenrezig mantra. There are many other prayers you can do. There are eight different types of prayer like that, including the King of Prayers. However, to do Medicine Buddha practice, even if you don’t know how to do powa, if you haven’t received the lineage, but to do Medicine Buddha practice is the most powerful thing.

When there is danger, such as a tornado in America, within one hour or a few minutes it destroys a whole city or a whole town. There are some parts where it happens, where it completely destroys a whole town. After an hour, all the buildings are completely destroyed, everything is in pieces. Recently there has been the danger of fire in America, in San Francisco there were so many fires that even the government could not control them. It took a very long time. And then, two years ago, in Australia, there was a fire that lasted for a few months; it could not be controlled. My idea at that time was that there are many centers there, there are many geshes there who are qualified, great practitioners, so if they were asked to pray, to do some puja, if they knew what they could do in the country, there are so many spiritual people. There are Christians, there are other religions, so they can ask them to do prayers. I sent the message because the fire was getting closer and closer to the city, and it was becoming very dangerous. I sent a message to our centers to do four Medicine Buddha pujas. I don’t know whether they did it or not but around that time the fire did stop. Whether it was because the karma had finished or because the centers did Medicine Buddha pujas, I was not sure, but the fire stopped.

You can read the sutra, this Medicine Buddha practice, for any problem, for court cases, for anything, especially if you don’t know other things to do. You can do this for everything.

The Buddha asked Kungawo, Ananda, “Do you believe in this as I have explained, with all these benefits?” Kungawo replied, “Yes, I believe, because the Buddha has inconceivable qualities.” And then the Buddha told Kungawo that even animals which hear the Medicine Buddhas’ names and mantra will never ever be reborn in the lower realms. That’s what the Buddha said, it’s explained in the sutra.

Therefore, I try to recite the Medicine Buddha mantra for animals, and the Maitreya Buddha mantra. You can also recite other purifying mantras, like that. Anybody who hears the Maitreya Buddha mantra, even animals, never ever gets reborn in the lower realm. When I checked what’s best to recite for animals, to help them, the divinations came up as the Maitreya Buddha mantra. So, I recite both the Maitreya Buddha mantra and the Medicine Buddha mantra, sometimes the two of them, sometimes just one.

Lama Atisha said, “Guru Medicine Buddha eliminates sicknesses of the three poisonous minds, to the radiating…” I think I have been translating baidurya as lapis lazuli, but I think that’s wrong. The Tibetan I have been translating as lapis lazuli. I don’t know how others translate it but last year a Tibetan doctor came to Land of Medicine Buddha, an old friend I’ve known for a long time. He taught here at Kopan Monastery many years ago. I think he spent a year here, I am not sure. He taught all the elder monks how to diagnose and he also taught the root text, which they all memorized. And then, only what’s left for them to learn of medicine is how to mix them. He’s a very good doctor; he studied with very old geshes, with a very, very old monk, an ascetic monk with whom my root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, studied. So, last time he came to Land of Medicine Buddha in United States, he explained to me, when you say the Medicine Buddha holy body, baidurya, the translation is not lapis lazuli. The Tibetan translation for lapis lazuli is mumen the stone is called mumen; it is a healing stone, the blue one that has got sometimes silver inside, sometimes gold—that’s lapis lazuli and the Tibetan translation for that is mumen something, I don’t remember now.

There are five types of jewels that go into Kriya tantra vase pills. Of the Maha Anuttara Yoga Tantra pills, there are twenty-five substances, and the other five are five precious jewels, so this mumen is one of those that goes into the pills.

So, I think the translation of baidurya is maybe sapphire, very deep blue, very radiant or very shiny, very expensive, very, very expensive. How do others translate it, do you know? Huh? So baidurya is sapphire, sapphire. Not Sophia. So Lama Atisha praised Medicine Buddha.

Due to the Medicine Buddhas’ bodhicitta and prayers they did when they were bodhisattvas, due to the karmic connections, even just remembering the name protects you from the lower realms and the minute you remember them, even if you are in the lower realms you immediately get liberated from the lower realms’ suffering. By remembering even just the names, by hearing even the Medicine Buddhas’ names and mantra, your life always goes toward enlightenment; it never returns back. Then, you purify all the defilements, negative karma and you won’t get harmed, overwhelmed by maras, evil doers. You pacify all the harms, all the unhappiness, any problems, and all your wishes get fulfilled. So, it has that general benefit.

For a person who is almost dying, who has become sort of unconscious, by correctly doing the Medicine Buddha puja, by taking strong refuge in Medicine Buddha, anybody can benefit that person—parents doing it for children, children doing it for parents, the guru doing it for the disciple, disciple doing it for the guru or if you have some connection with the material existence of that person, such as staying in the same apartment or sharing the same material thing. For somebody who is passing, somebody who is dying and becomes sort of unconscious at such time, almost dying, by doing this Medicine Buddha puja correctly, that person is able to come back to consciousness, is able to come back to remember things.

If you have broken any of the five lay vows or the getsul’s 36 vows or any of the 253 vows of a fully ordained monk, due to ignorance or due to carelessness, due to many delusions, those who would have gone to the lower realm from life to life, just by hearing the Medicine Buddhas names, if you make offerings to Medicine Buddha, all those negative karmic downfalls get completely purified and then, as a result of hearing the Medicine Buddha names and mantra that person will never experience the lower realm sufferings. And then, in the future life, the person will be born as a wheel-turning king.

Then the merits of a person who hears the Medicine Buddha names and mantra will become inexhaustible. By living in those vows, he will be born in Amitabha’s pure land. It is much easier, reciting Amitabha Buddha’s name to be born in Amitabha Buddha’s pure land, and reciting the Medicine Buddha name, reciting and hearing—here, it’s talking about hearing Medicine Buddha’s name and having devotion to and respect for Medicine Buddha—this is one of the most powerful ways to make you be born in Amitabha Buddha’s pure land. When you die, the eight bodhisattvas will lead you to Amitabha Buddha’s pure land and you will be born in the lotus.

In a country where there is untimely rain, hailstones destroying the crops, earthquakes, the various contagious diseases such as SARS that happened some time ago—quite a number of people, so many people were scared to travel to the countries where various contagious diseases occurred—and then also wars happen, wars and famine, with other countries attacking. If, during that time, the king of the country receiving these problems, with a mind of loving kindness, an attitude of loving kindness, makes offerings to the Medicine Buddhas, as it is explained in the sutra, then there will be much happiness in that country. The crops will come at the right time, rain will come at the right time, wind and the rain will come at the right time, the crops will grow well and all the sentient beings will be free from sicknesses, they will have much happiness and they will have so much surrounding joy. The wars will be pacified and they will have long life, wealth and power, with no sickness. All these will be increased.

Because of the concentration of invoking the seven Medicine Buddhas, in the presence of all of them, Manjushri requested to grant the mantra of the Medicine Buddhas, of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the seven Medicine Buddhas, and all in one voice explained the benefits of the mantra. He granted the mantra and the benefits of mantra.

If you recite this mantra, all the buddhas will pay attention to you and all the bodhisattvas will think of you, all the vajra holders, the tantric practitioners, the yogis, will protect you and even Brahma, Indra and all those devas and the four guardians will protect you. It will purify negative karma, defilements, such as the five uninterrupted karmas—killing your father or mother, killing an arhat, harming the Buddha and causing disunity among the Sangha—so that means there is no question about purifying the ten nonvirtuous actions. They get purified and you won’t experience sicknesses or disease; you’ll have a long life and be free from untimely death.

I’m not sure but I thought that when Princess Diana died so many people in the world were very sad; so many people were upset, even people in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan or maybe mainland China, I think. She died in a car accident. I’m not sure but I thought, for example, if she practiced the long-life meditation mantra, if she recited the long-life mantra or did Medicine Buddha practice, then that car accident, that kind of untimely death would have been put off, that karma would have been purified. Not that I know, but it’s a thought that such an untimely death could have been put off if she had done a long-life meditation mantra, like White Tara or the Medicine Buddha practice.

Here, it says that by doing the Medicine Buddha practice, all the enemies, the harms, the quarrels, all these will be pacified and you won’t be controlled by the enemy and all your wishes get fulfilled.

If you recite this mantra 108 times, according to what is instructed in the text, then you blow over the food, drink, medicine or water, and then if you eat the food and drink, the pain, the sicknesses will be pacified and all your wishes will be fulfilled. You will be free from sickness and have long life and ultimately you will be born in the pure land of Medicine Buddha, and you will never turn back from enlightenment; you will always direct your life toward enlightenment.

Also, it can help if you bless the medicine that you are taking. Reciting the Medicine Buddha mantra, practicing Medicine Buddha, has all the power to receive the blessings of Medicine Buddha. It might help you avoid having side effects, to not get side effects. Even though the medicine might be correct, sometimes it harms; instead of getting better, it harms or creates other sicknesses. So, it can help you not to have side effects.

It also says you will achieve the result immediately. As the seven Medicine Buddhas generated bodhicitta, made all these prayers and vows, so you will receive the result immediately. And when you die you will be born on a lotus in the pure land of Medicine Buddha, then you will complete all the merits and bodhisattva deeds there and you will quickly become enlightened.

If you make the request to Medicine Buddha, by doing the practice exactly according to how it is explained in the sutra, then due to the blessings of the truth, of the seven Medicine Buddhas’ previous prayers and the compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the bodhisattva Manjushri and the skillfulness of the liberating Jamgon8 and Kyab Dröl,9 of Vajrapani and Indra and Brahma, the harm-givers, the leaders of the groups, those protectors, they will all protect you and will grant action and all your wishes, which will immediately result in you having success. Without doubt, by relying upon the Buddha’s valid instruction, the truthful valid instruction, you should keep this Dharma, the Medicine Buddha practice in your heart and then you will accomplish works for yourself and works for all sentient beings.

The Medicine Buddha is important for Dharma centers

In the past, why Buddhism spread so well in Tibet and was able to go for a long time, why so many people were able to learn, to practice and to become bodhisattvas and why so many became enlightened, it is said, was because the Medicine Buddha practice spread out so much. I think especially the Fifth Dalai Lama very strongly emphasized the Medicine Buddha practice. I think the Fifth Dalai Lama composed this long version of the Medicine Buddha practice. Because of that, so much development happened in Tibet, to be able to practice the Dharma, to spread the Dharma, and there was so much peace and happiness in Tibet. It is explained this is due to the practice of Medicine Buddha. All sentient beings' wishes were fulfilled, and there was inner prosperity and outer prosperity, wealth.

So, if centers have many expenses and need financial support, if they need external prosperity and inner prosperity, I would like to emphasize this. I did mention this to one person at a center in America, and I would like to emphasis that all the centers on the Tibetan eighth [of the month] should do Medicine Buddha puja. As the Fifth Dalai Lama explained how great success happened in Tibet because of this, it is the same with our centers. So, on the Tibetan eighth, please do Medicine Buddha puja. Normally many centers do Tara puja, especially the older centers, but I want to emphasize that all the centers, especially the organization, do Medicine Buddha puja. Many people love to do Tara puja, as a female deity, so you can do Tara puja in the afternoon or evening and do the Medicine Buddha puja in the morning, because you have to abstain from black food: onions, garlic and meat, things like that. Therefore, it’s good to do it in the morning, before the meal.

So, I thought that within the organization, the organizers don’t have to suffer, they don’t have to struggle with finances, they don’t have to struggle with so many things and they can have a very easy life with inner and outer prosperity. The organization has been developed over so many years with so much struggle, so many hardships, so much pain, struggling how to make the center more beneficial for sentient beings, how to make the center more accessible. With so much worry and fear, how to keep the center running, how to survive the next month. With many years of learning, going through so many hardships, so much pain, they have become really developed now, so beneficial; they are able to establish very good programs, good education, so people can learn Buddhist philosophy and do retreats. They have been able to create the conditions to offer this. Now, it is much better, much easier, because they have gained so much experience, building the experience for many, many years on how to do things. In the beginning, they had so much difficulty.

When the season of the drugs happened, when the karma of drugs happened—Buddha grass and LSD and all the other things—it opened, it broke many young people’s fixed solid concept, it broke that down. Somehow, they discovered or they felt that the mind could exist without the body; this was some idea through the drug experiences or whatever. At that time there were only two or three Dharma books, such as Lama Govinda’s book, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and Milarepa’s life story. That’s another great one! Through reading those books, they changed their minds and they came to search for a new life, a spiritual life. They came to the East, to India and Nepal, mainly to search for a new life, for something meaningful or some new thing. They got bored with their life in the Western society, and, being against that, according to their karma, some met Hindus, sadhus, according to their karma some met different lamas in India or here in Nepal.

For example, here at Kopan, by listening to the teachings they found much benefit for themselves. Then those young people wanted to go back to the West, to their own country; they wanted others also to have the same benefit. So, they started centers, meditation groups and like that. It started with nothing. Most of the centers started with nothing, not with a big fund. It started with a good heart but no money. They didn’t have experience of business, they had no business background, so then they got lots of debts and when they tried business they lost so much money.

The different centers developed due to so many people, but they started like that, with so much pain, so much hardship. For many years they bore so much hardship, they sacrificed their lives, they put so much effort into sustaining or helping the center survive, to continue the teachings. Now it’s like a flower blossoming; now it becomes so beneficial and now there are much better conditions. As I mentioned, Kopan was very primitive before; in the past it was extremely primitive. Now, there are much better conditions. So many other centers are also better.

Of course, individual beings also practice Medicine Buddha. On the Tibetan eighth they do the Medicine Buddha puja, the long version or short version. I mean, the long version is not possible now but the middle version is there. If the centers could do the Medicine Buddha in the morning, and then do the Tara puja later in the evening, something like that. I thought this, after finding out what the Fifth Dalai Lama emphasized so much, how it brings great prosperity and so much peace and happiness and fulfills all the wishes. All the wishes come true, especially spreading the Dharma.

Reading that, I thought to do the same in the FPMT centers, to make life much easier, without so much worry and fear, so much struggle. You start the work at the beginning with a good heart but with so much financial burden and so many problems, then after some time you don’t have time to meditate, to continuously meditate on lamrim, which is like recharging a battery. You are unable to recharge your mental battery by meditating on the lamrim, because that continuation didn’t happen with all the hard work you have to do for the center, all that pressure. I don’t mean reciting the words, the prayers, I am not talking about that. You can do that very fast, but the meditation on the lamrim doesn’t get done, transforming the mind doesn’t get done, then emotions such as anger and the selfish mind, all these arise more and more, because there is no protection, there is no lamrim meditation. Then, it is very easy to become upset, emotional, it’s easy to get angry, to become kind of egoistic. Then, people clash; there is disharmony and community problems—the problems of two egos clashing. I have seen this in some of the centers in the past.

Therefore, Medicine Buddha is very important, to make everything easy, so you can work with less pressure, so you can meditate on the lamrim, and you have more time to have an easy-going life.

With giving torma—the preparation—from the lama’s side, there is the sadhana and front generation, and the blessing vase. The next one is giving torma to the interferers.

[Chanting]

“Subdue the mind” verse contains all four noble truths

Do not commit any unwholesome action,
Engage in perfect wholesome action,
Subdue your own mind.
This is the teaching of Buddha.

It is said by Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche that this verse, this stanza, contains the four noble truths, the essence of the foundation of the Mahayana Paramitayana teaching as well as Mahayana secret mantra, the Vajrayana.

“Do not commit any unwholesome action” could contain both true suffering and the true cause of suffering, showing how to be free from suffering, to abandon the cause of the suffering, delusion and karma. “Engage in perfect wholesome action” could contain the true path. “Subdue your own mind,” shows cessation. Subdue your own mind is the cessation of the obscuring disturbing thoughts, delusions and karma, including the negative imprints, the seed of delusion. Subduing your own mind means totally ceasing the mistakes of the mind.

In the lesser vehicle path, that means ceasing the gross mistakes of mind. Actualizing the Mahayana path means ceasing all the subtle defilements, the subtle negative imprints—not the one which gives rise to delusions, not that imprint, that’s the seed of delusion. It is not that which has that function, which results in delusions, ignorance and attachment and so forth. This one, this subtle negative imprint you have within your continuum, even if you have totally actualized the path, the exalted right-seeing path and the exalted path of meditation. So by actualizing these two paths, you completely cease the seed of delusion, that which is in the nature of imprint. But then there is still the subtle negative imprint left on the mental continuum by the concept of holding I, object and so forth as inherently, truly existent.

Everything is a projection of the mind

That doesn’t give rise to delusion, but it projects the hallucination, as if you are wearing red-tinted glasses, and even though what you are looking at is white, you see it as red. But if you wear blue-tinted glasses then you see everything as blue. It doesn’t mean that white cloth is red or blue, it doesn’t mean that, but that’s your view because you are wearing those tinted glasses. So it is like that. This is similar to that. The subtle imprint left on the mental continuum by the concept of true existence is like wearing different colored glasses, it projects that onto everything. Or like the negative roll, like a reel of a movie. The pictures are taken, of people fighting or enjoying entertainment, all those sorts of things. Then they are projected onto a movie screen or TV screen through a machine. I don’t remember, maybe in Germany once, I don’t remember the subject but I saw a movie on a huge screen. Yeah, huh? [Student explains.] It was round like this, so huge, so big that things look kind of real, you look very close to everything. I think it must have been made in Germany. Anyway, it was so huge, it looked like you could shake hands or something, you were that close.

The film is just projected from a projector, from a negative roll, but when we are not aware it is a mere projection, we start to believe that it is real, we start to believe that it is real, and the effect from that is that we feel fear or terror or whatever. It brings our emotions up and down, believing that it is real, when we forget it is mere projection from the negative roll.

Conversely, when we know it is just made up, just projected from a negative roll, it doesn’t bring our emotions up and down; it doesn’t affect us much. It is similar when we recognize a dream as dream. In the dream, we have a lot of difficulties or we experience relationship problems, separating from our friend who follows another companion. We dream things like that, others harming us or something very sad happening or something very exciting or very sensual happening in our dream. When we recognize the dream is a dream it doesn’t affect us in any way. It doesn’t bring our emotions up and down. It doesn’t affect our mind because we know it’s not true. We know it’s not true. We have this appearance but it is not true, like with a mirage we have the vision of water, coming from the effect of the heat on the sand. Even though we have the vision of water, we know it is not water at all, and so we don’t run to it, thinking it will stop our thirst.

Or if in the field there is a scarecrow at some distance. We see the shape of a person in the distance, but we have been told by somebody it is a scarecrow. So, even though we have the vision of a person, we know it isn’t a person.

There are many of these examples that are very helpful to examine or to recognize our hallucination, the truly existing appearance that we have, showing us how our view is completely covered by this, how our entire view is just hallucination. All our views are just hallucination, just this, all of these hallucinations. Until we become enlightened we have this hallucination of true existence, true appearance. Whatever appears, the view that we have until we become enlightened is all hallucination, truly existent, existing by its nature, existing from its own side, not merely labeled by mind. It’s all the same meaning, it’s all the same meaning but each word has its own taste, its own flavor.

Everything is merely labeled by the mind. Everything—hell, enlightenment, samsara, nirvana, happiness, problems, true suffering, true cause of suffering, true cessation of suffering, true path—all these, even our daily life’s problems and happiness, everything that exists is merely labeled by the mind. That’s how things are and that’s how things exist, merely labeled by the mind, existing in mere name; that’s the reality. That’s how things are and how things exist, but that’s not what we see. Unless we are a buddha, then that is a different case. Somebody who is a buddha, if somebody here in this gompa is a buddha, they are different. Somebody who is a buddha is totally different, but otherwise not.

All these phenomena that I mentioned before, all these phenomena are covered by our hallucinated view, projected by this negative imprint, made by the concept apprehending phenomena as truly existent.

What I was saying before was, even after you have removed the negative imprint, which is a seed, which gives rise to delusion, there is still a subtle one, there is still a subtle one. The other seed, which gives rise to delusion, even that is completely removed but there is a subtle negative imprint which projects or decorates this truly existent appearance or hallucinated appearance, the hallucinated view. Everything is covered by the projected hallucinated view; it covers reality. It covers the I, which exists in mere name, which is merely imputed by mind, which does not exist at all from its own side, which is totally empty, as well as the aggregates, mind, body, everything and all the rest of the phenomena, those phenomena which I mentioned. It’s not that they don’t exist; they exist, but they exist in mere name, merely imputed by mind. They are empty—that’s the way they exist—and because of that they are totally empty of existing from their own side. Anything that exists is totally empty. That’s the nature of all phenomena. Anything that exists is merely labeled, and right after the mind merely imputes the thing, in the next second, the next second it appears real. First, the mind merely imputed, then in the next second, this negative imprint decorates onto that mere imputation, decorates the hallucination, the truly existent appearance. Right after the mere imputation then that negative imprint decorates the hallucination, the truly existent appearance.

Ignorance creates a sense of true existence

The ignorance and this negative imprint makes everything appear real in the sense of existing from its own side. According to the fourth of the philosophical schools, the Madhyamaka school, the second [subschool], Prasangika, according to that, that extremely subtle hallucination is the object to be refuted. In the first [sub]school of the Madhyamaka, the rang gyü pa or Svatantrika school, they think the I and phenomena are labeled by mind but they exist. They are labeled by mind but they exist from their own side. This is what they believe. This is their doctrine, their philosophy.

Normally, it is easy for us to think that way. We can accept that things are labeled by mind. Of course, things can’t exist without being labeling by mind, but there has to be something from its own side. There has to be something existing from its own side otherwise how is it possible that thing exists? If there isn’t something from its own side how can it exist? For something to exist, there should be something from its own side. This kind of thinking is easy for us to accept if we don’t know the Prasangika school’s viewpoint.

We need to get some clear idea of the extremely subtle dependent arising, the meaning of that, that everything exists merely imputed by mind, that there is no other way of existing. It is merely imputed by the mind. How things exist in mere name, that is extremely subtle dependent arising. When we get a clear idea of the way things exist, we see how extremely subtle it is.

This definition of the way phenomena exist is not because there is omniscient mind, there is a valid thought that realizes this, that is not the definition of it. What I mean is the definition of the way things exist is extremely, most subtle, extremely fine, most subtle. When we come to that point, the way things exist, such as the I and so forth, it is not that it doesn’t exist—it exists but it is unbelievably subtle. What it is or how it exists, is extremely, unbelievably subtle phenomena, extremely fine. It is not that it doesn’t exist, it exists but it’s like it doesn’t exist. It’s not that it doesn’t exist at all, it exists but it’s like it doesn’t exist, it’s so subtle, so fine. For example, what’s the I, how does it exist? Every single phenomena is like that, it’s the same, not just I. Anything that exists is in the same nature, so fine, extremely subtle, what it is and how it exists.

It exists, but it’s like it doesn’t exist. It is merely labeled by mind. Of course, that is not the only reason that it exists. There are many other things, such as things we see in a dream that are also merely labeled, but that does not mean they exist. As I mentioned before, wearing different colored glasses, we see a white-colored thing as yellow, red, green, all different colors, whereas in reality it’s not there, that thing. What exists is white; it is not a red mountain or blue mountain. Or our mind might be hallucinated due to fever or spirit possession, and we see all sorts of things. Like, where there is no road, we see a road under us and the spirit is urging us to jump. Actually we are going over a cliff but to us it is big, wide road. Like that, we have total hallucination. Also, there are other hallucinations that don’t exist.

This is not the same as those imagined things. All these phenomena I mentioned before, they exist. The reason they exist is because they are merely labeled but that’s not the only reason. The main reason why this label exists, why this phenomenon exists is because there is a base. The main reason is the base; the main refuge is the base. The main refuge of existence, what makes things exist, is because there is a base, there is a valid base that can receive that label.

But of course our mind has made up that label. Of course we can’t find the label on that base. So that’s very important, that’s extremely important to research and understand. We cannot find the label on the base. We can’t find the I on form, feeling, cognition, compounding aggregates, consciousness. Even altogether we can’t find it on that.

Emptiness: The false I and the merely labeled I

Even altogether we can’t find the I. When I say “we can’t find the I,” there are two things: the false I and the merely labeled I. There’s a merely labeled I, the I that is merely imputed by our own mind, and then after the projection, then there is a real I, the one created by the negative imprint. This real I is the I that we talk about all the time. When we use the term “I” we are not talking about the merely labeled I, that one is like it’s unknown. The I that exists, this merely labeled I, is unknown, except to those who have studied Buddhadharma and the two truths, the teachings on emptiness, those who have studied and meditated and come to know and differentiate what exists and what doesn’t exist. There is the I that exists and the I that doesn’t exist, and they are able to recognize this. Otherwise, we can only judge from our view, and that recognition is a hallucination. Still, it helps knowing our view of what exists and what is false is not correct, is the hallucination of true existence.

That truly existent I, which is projected by our ignorance, by our negative imprint, of course we cannot find that; there is nowhere we can find it. We can’t find it on these aggregates, on this collection of five aggregates, from the tip of the head down to the toes, we can’t find it anywhere, neither on this body nor anywhere. Not only is each of these aggregates not that I, altogether they are not that I, so with the rest of the analysis, we cannot find it on any of these. The whole collection of aggregates is not that I, so when it comes to the point that the whole collection is not that I, then it becomes quite clear. It’s very easy to understand this doesn’t exist at all on these aggregates, on this base, on the collection of aggregates. We cannot find it anywhere, so that’s the definition. Through meditation, through analysis, we can’t find it anywhere and therefore we discover it doesn’t exist anywhere. Its essence is it’s totally empty, it’s totally nonexistent.

What exists is an I that is merely labeled by mind—that’s what exists—but even when we look for it, where is it? Even the merely labeled one, we can’t find on this base. We can find it in this world, we can find it at Kopan, at this moment, in this world, in Nepal, at Kopan, in this gompa, on this cushion. It is now on this cushion but it is not on this base, we can’t find it on these aggregates; we can’t find anywhere. Therefore you can see now what it is. It is nothing except what is merely imputed by the mind. Now here, with this analysis, we can see how what this I is, is the most subtle phenomenon. I am not saying this only refers to the I. I am saying, once you get the idea of the I, how it is subtle, how unbelievably subtle it is, that’s the same with anything. It’s not that it totally doesn’t exist. It exists, a kind of inner existing. It exists but if we compare it to the previous, the other appearance, the one we have been believing since birth, since this morning, from beginningless rebirths, that doesn’t exist.

As I gave you the example, ice cream. I told you that ice cream appears to us and we believe in that real ice cream, and we eat it. We’ve eaten so many ice creams in this life, you know, “I bought an ice cream from this shop, from that shop. I enjoy this flavor, that flavor, blah blah blah.” Actually, in reality, we have never had one ice cream. Such a thing, such an action has never existed from beginningless samsara, it has never existed. It doesn’t exist at all now and also it won’t exist in the future. There’s no such thing. That thing we have been believing in is all a hallucination, whatever has been appearing and we have been believing in.

What has appeared to us and what we have been believing in doesn’t exist at all, but when we compared that to this I which does exist, it’s like the existing I doesn’t exist, it’s so subtle. You can’t say that it doesn’t exist. It exists because there is a base, the aggregates. There are the aggregates, then the labeling mind merely imputed “I”, then it comes in existence, just for that.

You see, these aggregates are a valid base which can receive the label I. There’s something on that which can receive the name, which can be imputed, so the mind just made it up, the mind thinks “I.” That’s it. There is a valid base and the mind just thinks “I.” Just thinks the label, and that’s why it came into existence, because there is valid base, relating to that.

Here you can see just how unbelievable it is, how the I really exists. This I that exists has never been discovered, it’s totally unknown. The I which exists is unknown, totally unknown, it has never been thought that way because it is impossible to appear that way, so until you become enlightened, that merely labeled appearance is not there. This is because all the time this negative imprint made by ignorance always projects, always cover the hallucination, all the time. The minute our mind merely labels this valid base, the next moment, right at that time [Rinpoche snaps fingers], right after our mind merely imputes, it appears back to us. That second it appears back to us. It should appear back to us as merely labeled by mind, but at the moment it does not, and that won’t happen until we become enlightened. Immediately there is a hallucination projected on it that it is not merely labeled by mind. It is merely labeled by mind but due to the negative imprint it appears to us to be not merely labeled by mind—not in reality but in our view. This is like wearing red-tinted glasses that make everything appear red in our view. It is not red but we see things as red.

So, first mind merely labels, then second it appears back. It is supposed to appear merely labeled by mind, but it appears not merely labeled by mind, not merely labeled by mind. So you see, when it appears back it’s a hallucination.

That is not the real problem. The real problem starts where the suffering starts, where all the sufferings start, all the delusions, karma, and all the suffering, the oceans of samsaric suffering that we investigate in our meditation, the oceans of [suffering of] hell beings, hungry ghosts, human beings, all these problems, world problems, all these. This is due to ignorance, lack of understanding about the two truths, either conventional truth or ultimate truth, the object to be refuted, the false view and reality, emptiness, the way things exist, existing in mere name. So it is due to ignorance, not having discovered this even if we know it intellectually, even if we have studied all these extensive philosophical subjects but actually we don’t apply any of these reasonings, these meditations that are explained in the simplified lamrim. We don’t apply them in the daily life, we don’t practice mindfulness to protect the mind, to not create the root of samsara, to be liberated from all the delusions and karma. We do not apply the meditation, we do not practice mindfulness continuously, we are not continuously mindful of our view, seeing that which is hallucinated, hallucination, is hallucination.

As I mentioned about dreams and movies, as I gave those examples before, we do not practice mindfulness, and emptiness, dependent arising, even if we know intellectually but we do not practice, we do not use it to cut the root of samsara or to not create again continuously the root of samsara, ignorance, producing all the delusions and suffering.

This is how it appears to us all the time until we achieve enlightenment, except when we are an arya being in equipoise meditation. At that time, we don’t have that appearance. Therefore, even if we have an understanding but we don’t meditate, we don’t apply the meditation, there’s no protection. We’ve made our own mind believe, and the minute we allow our mind to believe, to hold onto that concept of true existence, when we believe that this is true, that’s ignorance. That way of apprehending the object is totally against the wisdom realizing emptiness.

So at that time—the minute when we let our mind believe that’s true—at that time we create ignorance. That concept, believing this is true—that’s the ignorance. Every minute, every twenty-four hours of our life, every time the mind merely imputes I, the next second it appears as truly existent, not merely labeled by mind. Appearing not merely labeled by mind, then we allow our mind to hold on to it as true. We hold on to it as true. It appears as not merely labeled by mind but true. The minute when we believe [Rinpoche snaps his fingers] it is not merely labeled, the minute [Rinpoche snaps his fingers again] when we believe in that, that’s the root of samsara, that is the ignorance.

There are many types of ignorance, I don’t remember, but there are many types of ignorance according to the different schools’ view of the root of samsara but the reality is only one, as I said before. There is only one, only this—believing that the I exists not merely labeled by mind. Being merely labeled by mind, that’s the reality. Realizing that is realizing the extremely subtle dependent arising, what the I is. Therefore, ignorance is what is totally opposite to that way, totally opposite to realizing the extremely subtle dependent arising; it is the mind that believes the I is not merely labeled by mind. It is so slight, it is just slightly beyond what is merely labeled by mind. So slightly beyond that. That’s the extremely subtle object to be refuted according to the Prasangika School. That’s the root of samsara. This ignorance, and only this one, is root of samsara.

Emptiness: Ignorance can be cut with emptiness

Therefore, in order to cut this ignorance, it has to be the wisdom realizing the extremely subtle dependent arising, not just any emptiness that the four different philosophical schools explain. The less subtle forms of realizing emptiness cannot cut this particular ignorance. Only the wisdom realizing the extremely subtle object, the Prasangika school view of emptiness, which is extremely subtle, only that wisdom can cut the root of samsara. This is the wisdom that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha realized, that everything is totally empty, existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind, and therefore it’s totally empty of existing from its own side. Everything functions in this way, karma and everything, in mere name. Cause exists in mere name, functioning in this way; the resultant suffering and happiness also exists in mere name.

Using this wisdom, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha totally liberated himself from this ignorance, including the imprint of this ignorance and all the delusions and karma and all the oceans of samsaric suffering. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha himself revealed this truth to us and liberated numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and brought them to enlightenment. And so did Lama Tsongkhapa, Nagarjuna, Milarepa and so forth, all those great Tibetan yogis, by having the same realization. Numberless of them have had the same realization as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained, as Nagarjuna explained, as the great propagator of Buddha’s teachings, Lama Tsongkhapa, made in the clearest explanation.

Because it’s so subtle, many learned meditators have made mistakes in the past. It gets left out, because the way things exist is so subtle. It’s very easy to slip into nihilism. It’s difficult to stay in the Middle Way, devoid of eternalism—true existence—and devoid of nihilism. It is difficult to stay, to realize the Middle Way view. To realize that we need so much merit, unbelievable merit.

Also, we need to have chai! We need to have chai; we need to drink chai, not only merit.

[Chanting]

Benefits of holy objects: Animals circumambulating stupas

I thought to have the animals, all the goats—not the goats I bought coming from the airport—but there are quite a number of goats here and I wanted them during the morning to be around outside, in the courtyard, and by opening the door, maybe it’s cold but they can hear. But I think maybe the caretaker has gone, the man who takes care of them has gone back home.

Two or three years ago, I told a Nepalese man to bring all the animals to where we built the eight buddha stupas so they could circumambulate the stupas. I said I will pay him twenty-five rupees each time he did it. He was told at that time to bring all the animals, even the buffaloes, but I am sure it’s not easy to do. I think maybe he did it twice, but then I left so I didn’t continue and I don’t know how long he also continued making the animals circumambulate the stupas.

There is a story, but I don’t know where it happened, whether it is Tibet, India or Nepal. It sounds like it’s maybe in Nepal. I am not sure, but maybe Nepal. A dog chased a pig, and because they went around a stupa, it became a circumambulation. When the pig died, it went to the deva realm, I think the Realm of the Thirty-three or something, the Tushita deva realm or the Realm of the Thirty-three. Just one time, the pig was chased by the dog and of course it ran, with its short tail hanging down, and because it went around a stupa it became a circumambulation.

The being doesn’t have to have a particular virtuous motivation, knowing that this action will become the cause of enlightenment or liberation from samsara, or the happiness in the future life and all the future lives. The pig didn’t have any education and understanding of that. There was no virtuous motivation; it just ran away from the dog. Being attacked by the dog, it ran away with fear but it became a circumambulation. It did not become good karma from the side of the motivation. Here, it became good karma because of the power of the holy object, the stupa. So, in this case, the statue, the stupa, the scripture, in this case—not in every case but in this case, particularly in this case—in the case of statues, stupas, scriptures and of course, no question, of buddhas or bodhisattvas.

Therefore, even if children are chasing a dog, if it is near a stupa and it goes around that, then it benefits, it becomes virtue, good karma for them and, like this story, they will achieve a higher rebirth in the next life.

Precious human rebirth: The benefits

By actualizing a holy object, such as a stupa, statue and so forth, it makes it unbelievably easy, even for the animals, not only humans. Human beings can learn so much, can do much better; there is so much that human being can do, vast, like limitless skies, with a bodhicitta motivation and wisdom. Not only that, it makes it so easy for human beings, but even for the animals who cannot think, who cannot meditate. There is no way for them to learn the meaning of virtue, the cause of happiness, and how the cause of suffering is nonvirtue—even if it is explained for billions of eons there is no way they can learn until they receive a human body, especially a human body like we have, that gives all the opportunity to learn the words and meanings, and on top of that to practice—not just intellectual learning but to practice and have realization.

What this human body offers, the opportunity it gives us is much more than skies filled with billions of dollars or limitless skies filled with gold, diamonds or even wish-fulfilling jewels. Even if we own that much, limitless skies filled with wish-fulfilling jewels cannot stop our rebirth in the lower realms.

Therefore, this human body that we have now is more precious than all the wealth in the world, more precious than all the wealth in the deva realm. It is said that in the deva realm even one earring is worth more than all the wealth in this world. I don’t remember exactly where I heard that. All the money in this world is not even the value of just one earring of the deva realm. But all the wealth in the deva realm is nothing if we compare it to the value of this human body. It is so precious, even more precious than whole skies filled with wish-granting jewels, with numberless wish-granting jewels.

Wish-granting means that in the past, bodhisattvas or wheel-turning kings or those who have a lot of merit find wish-granting jewels from the ocean and then they clean them in three ways, in three stages, first getting the mud off, then the smell or something else, very subtle. They clean them in three different ways. Then they put the wish-fulfilling jewels on top of a banner, which is on top of the roof of the house. Then, whatever people pray for, all the material things, all the sense objects, the material enjoyments, whatever they wish for, they get. That’s why it’s called “wish-fulfilling” but of course to have that power, you also have to have merit. It is similar to the person who has a billion dollars. With a billion dollars you can buy many things, but to get a billion dollars you first have to have the merit. Therefore, it can’t stop a lower rebirth; it cannot save us from the lower realms.

Therefore, this precious human body we have now is unbelievable; it is more precious than anything. Having this precious human body, we can achieve any happiness, the four levels of happiness: the happiness of this life, of future lives, of liberation, and enlightenment, as well as bringing happiness to all sentient beings. We can do that by developing the mind in the path, from life to life, and we can cause others, all sentient beings, to create the causes of happiness, so this can even cover all sentient beings.

We can’t be sure how long we will have this human body. We won’t have this forever and there are only a certain number of breaths from now on. With every breath that finishes, that’s one less. Every time it becomes less. There is only a certain number and they are finishing continuously, becoming less and less. So the duration we have this precious human body for is continuously getting shorter and shorter. There are only a certain number of seconds, from now on, from this moment, there are only a certain number of seconds. Constantly, so quickly, it is finishing. How long we will have this precious human body, there are only a certain number of seconds and they are running out, finishing so fast.

And there is so much negative karma—not only from one day, not only from birth, but from beginningless rebirths—that we haven’t purified and we haven’t finished experiencing. There are so many negative karmas; they’re uncountable.

Generally speaking, we don’t get really strong purification or really pure practice done. Then if death happens suddenly, there is no way to purify all that karma, not only from today. It is not easy to purify even one karma, and there are so many, from this one day, from birth and then from beginningless rebirths. Therefore, if death happens we must be thrown back into the lower realms, where we came from. We came from there before and we will go back to the same place, to the lower realms again. Once we are born there, it’s not sure when we can come back.

The great bodhisattva Shantideva mentions in a verse of the Bodhicaryavatara,

If when I have the chance to live a wholesome life
My actions are not wholesome,
Then what should I be able to do
When confused by the misery of the lower realms?10

Using this perfect human rebirth, all the different levels of happiness can be obtained, but if we fail to take advantage of this, when we die and we are thrown into the lower realms, what can we do? If we are born as a worm or a turtle, as an alligator or a crocodile or as those worms given to the fish, put on the hook to catch fish—if we are born like that, if the result of our negative karma has ripened already—there is nothing we can do.

Shantideva continues,

So if, when I have leisure such as this,
I do not attune myself to what is wholesome,
There could be no greater deception,
And there could be no greater folly.11

By opportunity, by luck, having found this perfect human body, without training the mind in virtue, say, if we get reborn in the lower realms, there is nothing more ignorant than this. There is no greater way to cheat ourselves than this.

The conclusion is that death can happen any time, on any day. At any moment it can happen. Therefore, without wasting even one second we must dedicate our life to living in the lamrim, to practicing the lamrim. Since I brought this issue up of how we should practice, we need to know this—how human life is so precious and how the time we have is very short, very short, like the duration of lightning. It comes, it happens, it’s gone. It’s like last night’s dream.

Therefore, we must make a decision about our life. Making a decision about our own life, we need to be most careful. By using our wisdom, by analyzing, our decision should be the most beneficial one. Whatever decision we make in our own life, it should first of all be to only create good karma, to become the cause of happiness.

Even that is not enough. Even for ourselves, the happiness we want is the highest, peerless happiness. The profit we want in life is the highest profit, Normally, when we are in business, in our normal life, we want the best, the highest happiness or profit. This is no different than what animals want to achieve. Even the tiniest insect that we can only see through a microscope wants to achieve happiness in this life, so that is nothing special. That doesn’t qualify us, that doesn’t become the special purpose for having a human body or being human. It doesn’t fulfill the purpose of being human, because any other animal, even the insects can do that. Even chickens or pigs, they can do that.

A perfect human rebirth transcends the meaning of life. The activities that we do with this human body, if it is working to achieve long-run happiness, the happiness of all the coming future lives, then it is special. We can only achieve that through good karma, not through bad karma, negative karma. So, all our actions, whatever we do, have to be good karma, Dharma, in order to achieve all this.

Only with a perfect human rebirth can we achieve enlightenment

As I mentioned before, what we call our desire, the greatest, positive, highest happiness needs to take responsibility for all sentient beings, to have responsibility to free all sentient beings from suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. Without bringing up that reason, just working for our own happiness is not sufficient. Even if we should achieve everlasting happiness, liberation from samsara, still our realizations are not complete; there are still defilements that need to be ceased. That’s not the completion of our realizations; that’s not completion of the bliss, to achieve full enlightenment.

When our attitude, the actions we do, is because we desire full enlightenment, for peerless happiness, especially the biggest reason, the limitless skies of reasons, then we ourselves have responsibility to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment. At this time we have received the perfect human rebirth, which gives us all the opportunities to develop our own mind in the path, to be able to help sentient beings, to able to achieve this goal, to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. We have all these opportunities, we can do that, because we have met the teachings, we have met the virtuous friend, we have met Buddhadharma, and so we have all these opportunities. Therefore, we have the full responsibility. These are the limitless skies of reasons why we need to complete the path and achieve full enlightenment.

Therefore, whatever we do, we need to put effort into it to ensure we achieve enlightenment for sentient beings in our daily meditation and most importantly, in our daily life. We might be doing something that is called meditation but that alone is not sufficient. It depends on what kind of meditation we are spending our life doing. Just doing what’s called meditation is not enough; we have to analyze our motivation before we put our own life into that, and see if with that meditation practice we can achieve our goal or not. As I already explained, normally our desire is to achieve the greatest profit, the highest happiness, the longest happiness, the most pleasure. When we analyze that, we see that is enlightenment. To do that, we need to complete all realizations, to cease all obscurations. That’s enlightenment.

Then, we need to help limitless skies of sentient beings. There are numberless sentient beings, and we have the responsibility to free them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. So, our meditation practice has to be something that can lead us to that goal. It has to be like that, something that has that goal. Something that doesn’t lead us to that goal is wasting our life. Even if we believe, if we have been doing other meditations for many years, doing this and that, it is wasting our life—wasting so many years, maybe even our whole life—until we discover what the most practical thing in life is. And that is to meditate, to practice, to make life most beneficial for ourselves and for other sentient beings. To be able to understand that we have to understand the lamrim. As long as we don’t know the lamrim, we are totally ignorant of the lamrim, there is no way to judge, there is no way to understand how to make life meaningful, what the purpose of life is.

We may have our own interpretation of the meaning of life, but that’s not necessarily what’s meaningful in reality if we don’t have wisdom, if we don’t have an education in the lamrim. And without understanding the lamrim, we have no idea at all where to begin this practice, where to begin the path to enlightenment, no idea how to go about becoming enlightened. No idea at all. Even though we are doing meditations for our whole life, even if our meditation is correct meditation, it’s a small part of the path, it’s a very basic part of the path. It is correct but it is not the whole path. Without understanding the stages of the graduated path, that meditation alone doesn’t help our development on the whole path to enlightenment.

The need to follow the entire path

To conclude, Vipassana is good; it is something simple and helpful to start with. Normally the attention is outside, the mind is always occupied by sense pleasures, sense objects, but by meditating, by watching our mind, we bring the mind in and see things we don’t normally see about ourselves; we discover things.

To give you another example, a meditation on impermanence. If we are only doing that meditation, of course it is good, it cuts strong desire clinging to this life, it brings peace in the heart. By realizing how this life is very short, we see all the activities clinging to this life’s comforts and pleasures are nonsense. All the activities working just for this life, obtaining the comfort and pleasure of this life are totally nonsense, childish nonsense. We come to realize that. But if we spend our whole life just meditating on impermanence, that is not sufficient. This is just to give another example. If we spend our whole life just only on this, there is so much to learn, so much to realize, even without talking about liberation from samsara and enlightenment; there is so much on the path we need to make progress on. Spending our whole life just meditating on impermanence, that meditation itself is very beneficial, but we need to go through to the next stage of the path. If we stay only on that our whole life, there is no development; we can’t realize emptiness. Without merit, without meditating, we can’t realize emptiness, then we can’t remove the root of samsara, we can’t be free from all the delusions and karma, all those sufferings of samsara.

There is all this procedure of the whole path to liberation that we need to realize. Even though impermanence is a foundation, a very important foundation, an important meditation, it is not only that we have to realize. What I am saying is that even though this meditation is correct, it is not correct to spend our whole life just on that, with no idea of the path and no idea how to go on to achieve liberation from samsara. I’m talking in that sense.

We need to be introduced to the motivations of the three scopes, of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and the higher capable being—the different Dharma motivations that result in different levels of happiness, that transform our actions, resulting in different levels of happiness. If we are never introduced to that motivation, to what is Dharma and what is not Dharma, if it is never explained, we can never differentiate between what is Dharma, what isn’t Dharma. Then there is no way, there is no way to know how to meditate. Even if we are instructed to focus on an object of meditation, that doesn’t explain how to meditate. We are totally blind, dark, ignorant; we don’t know how to meditate if the motivation is not explained.

Then there is the danger that we meditate our whole life and nothing becomes the cause of enlightenment—not only eating, sleeping, walking or doing our job, even meditation itself, the actual meditation, nothing becomes the cause of enlightenment. This is a great loss of our life, a great waste of life.

Even if it becomes the cause of liberation from samsara for ourselves, if it doesn’t become the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, it becomes great loss of profit in life, of skies of merit. Every time we generate bodhicitta, every action of meditation becomes the cause of enlightenment, but this didn’t happen, so it’s a loss. That’s the greatest loss in life.

And if there is not even the motivation to achieve liberation from samsara, then that is worse than before. Our action of meditation is only the cause of samsara. Our whole life’s actions of meditation only become the cause of samsara. If there is no Dharma, if our action of meditation is not Dharma, it does not become even the cause of happiness of future lives, it becomes only the cause of suffering, only nonvirtue.

It is mentioned in the teachings by the Kadampa geshes, Lama Atisha’s disciples, Chengawa asked Potawa, “What would you prefer, meditating on the lamrim, or having realizations of eight common siddhis and the five types of clairvoyance?” The eight common siddhis are those psychic powers, such as being able to see treasure underground or to be able to fly with the power of meditation, psychic powers, by meditating on wind, where instead of taking many months of walking you can reach [the destination] within a few hours or days. The five types of clairvoyance are things like seeing past and future things but I don’t think it’s seeing all the numberless past and future lives or seeing the numberless sentient beings’ minds. You achieve one-pointed concentration that can last for years, so that even if a big drum is beaten in front of your ear, it can’t disturb your concentration. However long you want to concentrate you can.

So Chengawa asked Potawa whether he would prefer all this or just being able to meditate on the lamrim. He replied he would prefer even questioning what the lamrim is, rather than having all these powers, the eight siddhis, the five types of clairvoyance and one-pointed concentration that lasts for years. He said this makes life more meaningful, even if you just question lamrim. By questioning, he means studying, learning about the lamrim, finding out about the lamrim. He would prefer this because we’ve had all those powers numberless times. But by finding out about the lamrim and discovering what the three principal aspects of the path—all the stages to enlightenment— are, we can develop on the path.

Without renunciation of samsara we can never be liberated, we can never achieve liberation from samsara, without that lamrim realization. Without realization of emptiness, we cannot cut the root of samsara, the root of the oceans of samsaric suffering. Without bodhicitta, we cannot achieve enlightenment, we can’t liberate and enlighten all sentient beings. That is the reason why this Kadampa geshe said he prefers even just questioning what the lamrim is to all these powers, all these realizations, because by questioning, we come to learn, then we practice, and by practicing we gain realizations.

And especially Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, the great Tibetan enlightened being who completed the path, who did incredible skies of benefit to sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha, said that compared with doing the preliminary practices or reciting many hundreds of millions of mantras, and many prostrations—I am not sure— and having visions of the Buddha, compared with that, just going over a lamrim meditation prayer, even a short prayer that has the essence of the path to enlightenment, is more meaningful. To go over the lamrim prayer, the direct meditation, is going straight over the path to enlightenment, mindfully reading the prayer is going straight over the path. This makes life more meaningful than all those other practices. We have to understand that those other practices without lamrim, without the mind living in lamrim, doing all that many number, even seeing the Buddha, compared to even a short lamrim prayer, what makes life more beneficial is that prayer that contains the essence of the whole path to enlightenment, just going through it, mindfully reading it, one time. This makes life more meaningful than all those other things.

It makes sense. Of course, if we can see the Buddha it’s very exciting, but then we still cannot achieve enlightenment. Seeing the Buddha doesn’t mean we can become enlightened, that doesn’t happen. Even if we see the Buddha, we still have to realize renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness, the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment, the foundation. On the basis of that, we actualize all the rest of the Mahayana path and the highest tantric path. Then we gradually cease the defilements, gross and then subtle ones. Even if we see the Buddha, that doesn’t mean we become enlightened at that time, we have to go through the realizations.

Therefore, what Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo says makes great sense, that even seeing the Buddha, we still need the direct meditation on the lamrim. Of course, this makes it more meaningful. In order to have a realization of the whole path to enlightenment, it depends on leaving an imprint on our mental continuum, it depends on how much imprint the lamrim is able to leave on our mental continuum. Each time we go over the lamrim prayer of the whole path to enlightenment we leave an imprint, and each time we leave an extra imprint that means we get closer and closer to actualizing, to having a lamrim realization, a realization of the graduated path to enlightenment. Each time we go over the lamrim prayer, the lineage prayer, it leaves an imprint, it plants a seed of the steps of the path. That means each time we are getting closer to enlightenment. That means each time we become closer to enlightening all the sentient beings. That’s the goal of our life.

So what Pabongka Rinpoche advises makes great sense. This is the very heart, what makes life so rich, what makes it possible to achieve enlightenment quickly, to be able to offer extensive benefit to sentient beings, to liberate them quickly from suffering, from samsara. So there is no question if we actually live our life, dedicate our life to actually realizing the path, not just leaving imprints, reading meditation prayers and on top of that actually meditating on the path, on the lamrim and training the mind stage by stage—of course then no question that is the best essence of life, taking the best essence of our life, having the most meaningful life. In this way, we are progressing our mind on the path in the correct way, to able to progress, then to be able to achieve enlightenment, which means to be able to enlighten other sentient beings.

The purpose of life is to free all beings

The other thing is that the purpose of life is to benefit sentient beings, to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, and for that we need to be enlightened. That depends on creating the cause; achieving enlightenment depends on the cause. Without the causes and conditions, actualizing enlightenment cannot be achieved and even that cause has to be the unmistaken cause—the path to achieve enlightenment has to unmistaken. And, as I mentioned, even if it is unmistaken but your practice is only one meditation in your whole life, not learning anything more, not reaching anywhere, just one part of the path or one meditation, even if it is correct, you cannot achieve enlightenment.

And even if it’s the whole path, but the practice of the teaching is not in order, I think you can’t achieve enlightenment, if it is not in order. Maybe, I’ll put it this way. If you only practice what you like and you leave out the ones you don’t like, you can’t achieve enlightenment. You can’t have the realization of bodhicitta without the renunciation of samsara, without meditating on samsara, how samsara is in the nature of suffering. Without realizing the sufferings of the lower realms you can’t generate compassion for the beings of the lower realms. Your compassion will be limited, so you cannot achieve enlightenment that way. To achieve the practice, it has to be graduated, step by step, as it’s arranged and simplified, made very easy by Lama Atisha, the composer of Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, which makes it extremely easy for sentient beings to go about enlightenment. Then Lama Tsongkhapa and many of the great lamas came to experience it and made commentaries on how to go about achieving enlightenment. So, you need to actualize it step by step. Only in that way can you achieve full enlightenment.

You can see from this talk what the very essence of life is, what’s best, the truest, the ultimate life. It’s most skillful that whatever lifestyle you live, whether you spend life in retreat or working in the city, the essence is to meditate on the lamrim every day. First, you make yourself familiar with the whole thing and then after that you start with one meditation every day, starting with guru devotion, until you achieve a stable realization of that. Not just seeing the Buddha, but seeing how the guru is the Buddha in your own heart, doing this for a few hours or a few days, mainly that, but understanding in a very stable way how the guru and the Buddha are oneness. Doing it until that realization is very stable. Then, even after the realization still you do a little bit of meditation every day, for whatever length of time, even ten minutes or fifteen minutes on guru devotion, even for a short time like that for no matter how long it takes. You try to make your life most productive, most beneficial for sentient beings. The goal is to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, so of course, this is the root of the path to enlightenment.

Then you can do another meditation on the same day, if you can train the mind in the beginning of the path, on the perfect human rebirth. However many weeks, months, years it takes, try to have the realizations, step by step, of those stages of the graduated path of the lower capable being. Or you train the mind from perfect human rebirth up to karma, each day, you go through karma then come back, so train within that until you achieve all those realizations. Train in that part of the realization, until you achieve up to karma, especially impermanence and death. No matter how many years it takes, just carry on every day. Every day do some, then when you finish karma again come down to the beginning. The whole point is to continue until you achieve realization of all those meditations, especially impermanence and death. Meditating on that helps to have quick realization of all those things. So it becomes a very important key, some meditators advise.

Then after that, train the mind in the graduated path of middle capable being, on the particular sufferings of the deva and human realms and the general sufferings—the three types, the six types and the four types. Then on the evolution, the twelve links, on delusions and the shortcomings of delusions, on all those things, on delusion and karma, the cause of the samsara. Do this until you have the realization of the renunciation of samsara, your own samsara, like being in the center of the fire or like a poisonous snake’s nest, so that you are so frightened you don’t want to be there even for one second. Or, as I mentioned, feel like you are a naked body sitting on a thorn bush, or like a prisoner, where there is no attachment to being in prison even for one second.

Maybe there are some prisoners who like to be in prison; it’s possible. Generally, however, there is not even one second where a prisoner is attached to the prison. Every second, day and night, you want to be free from that, you have total aversion. This should be like that for your own samsara, to help you seek liberation and to have a very stable realization. So, you do that until you achieve it, no matter how long, how many years it takes. Only after that can you have the realization of great compassion, of loving kindness, and then, based on those, you achieve the realization of bodhicitta. You should train like that until you attain bodhicitta. Do the same thing every day, no matter how many years it takes, no matter how many lifetimes it takes. Plan like this, to have these realizations.

For emptiness, however, you don’t need anything else. It’s not like bodhicitta, which you can only realize after you have realized renunciation. So, every day do some meditation on emptiness, either by reciting the Heart Sutra or any other quotations, on the basis of that, or just using different meditation techniques. Do some meditation on emptiness every day to plant the seed, and read teachings on emptiness. Even if you don’t understand them now it leaves such a strong imprint on your mind and that helps sooner or later. Sooner or later you will be able to understand the words, the meanings and then be able to have the realization.

Especially, the more you are able to leave the imprint, even if you cannot achieve the realization in this life but the more you listen to teachings on those different texts on emptiness, the more you listen, study, read, even if you don’t understand them—even if you unable to realize emptiness this life—it leaves imprints all the time and in future lives it makes it so easy, unbelievably easy in the next life to understand the meaning immediately of whatever you read, or even, as soon as you hear it, to be able to have a realization of emptiness. It makes it unbelievably easy in the next life.

That’s the same with Dharma in general. Even if you don’t understand, you can’t comprehend the teachings you are given, especially the philosophical teachings, when you study the Dharma, because the subject is faultless—it’s the teaching of the Buddha where there are no mistakes, there is no cheating, no misleading—every time you listen and study, it leaves so many imprints, even just reading. That becomes a preparation, and sooner or later you are able to remove the cause of suffering, delusion and karma, and be forever free from the oceans of samsaric suffering. So that is true not only of emptiness, but of all the other subjects.

By working on the three principal aspects of the paths, by putting the main effort into working on that along with the practices of purification and collecting the remedies of the four powers and collecting extensive merit–these are the necessary conditions to have realizations. And what makes you receive the realizations is the blessing of the guru, which you receive in your own heart. That is the cause of quick realizations on the path to enlightenment. So, along with these three practices, that makes it possible to have realizations. Meditate on the actual path, along with purifying, collecting merit, then guru devotion.

Make a one-pointed request, with that devotion to the guru, to be granted blessings, to have realizations.

If you are able to practice, on the basis of that you should take a great initiation, then practice the generation stage of the tantric path based on that. While you are training the mind in the generation stage, you can study the teachings of the completion stage, to have knowledge about it, even though you haven’t yet reached the level to actually do the main meditation practice. You can prepare by reading at least, by reading the direct meditation on the tantric path, like that lamrim prayer, the direct meditation of your own personal deity, the one you have a karmic connection with, and that deity’s whole graduated path, which comes normally after the long version of the deity’s sadhana. The three principal aspects of the path are at the beginning, in short form, then it describes the tantric path, the generation stage and completion stage of the deity. Going over that is a very important thing, to plant the seed of the tantric path every day, otherwise you might have the foundation of the lamrim now but no imprint of the tantric path. So, mindfully go over one tantric graduated path of your own deity, the direct meditation on that. Each time you do that it leaves an imprint of the whole tantric path. Doing that every day becomes the preparation, and sooner or later it becomes very easy to achieve the realization of the completion stage. This is how to make preparation every day for the whole path to enlightenment. These two prayers are the basis, the foundation that leaves an imprint. Then on top of that do the meditation and have realization of that.

So, I’ll read one or two pages then we stop here.

[Rinpoche reads in Tibetan]

No matter how busy life is, it is so important to be able to get this done even for a few minutes, even for ten or fifteen minutes, to do this direct meditation on the prayer, then to do the lamrim meditation. If you continue like this, like a river flowing, then definitely with so many positive imprints, definitely there will be progress. If you are actually correctly practicing lamrim and know how to go about it, by continuing every day, for sure—definitely!—you will achieve realizations, you will make real progress on the path in the mind. As the years go, you will be able to feel the definite difference to your mental state. Of course, it’s all based on paying all the attention to correctly devoting to the virtuous friend with thought and action. All the answers lie there, how well it is done.

Making progress quickly depends on how much you, the disciple, are able to follow every single piece of advice of the guru. As I mentioned the other day, whoever is expert in devoting to the virtuous friend, whoever follows every single piece of advice, whoever’s expert in devoting to the virtuous friend, that person finds it so much easier to succeed in gaining realizations. Everything depends on that, therefore you need to pay all your attention there. In everyday life, that needs to be taken care of, that is the one you need to pay the most attention to.

Otherwise, if you don’t know that part of the subject and don’t practice—devoting yourself only to the virtuous friend you like and not to the virtuous friend you don’t like—by not seeing all virtuous friends as buddhas, you can never achieve realizations. Your mind gets stuck and you can’t achieve realizations.

Je Drubkhang counts his gurus

There is the story about Drubkhang Gelek Gyatso, a great lamrim lineage lama who wrote extensive scriptures on sutra and tantra. When Je Drubkhang began to meditate on lamrim he spent many years meditating, but nothing happened. There was no change in his mind, no realizations. He went to consult his root guru—I think it might be Pulchog Jamgon Rinpoche, I am not sure. The guru said, “When you visualize the merit field, have you forgotten anybody you have made a Dharma connection with? Go back and check whether you have left out any of your gurus.”

When Je Drubkhang checked, he found he had left out the teacher who had taught him the alphabet when he was a child living at home. He saw this monk, who later broke his vows, as bad-tempered and cruel. Because he didn’t like this teacher, Je Drubkhang found it difficult to develop devotion toward him and didn’t visualize him among the other teachers he visualized in the merit field. When he went back and explained this to his guru, his guru explained, “This is the problem. This is why you haven’t been able to have any realizations during all these years. You must completely change your attitude and meditate on this guru as your root guru in the center of the whole merit field. Until you develop devotion, look at him as the essence of the entire merit field.”

In the center of the merit field is usually Lama Losang Thubwang Dorje Chang. So lama means “root guru.” In Nepal, we not only call monks “lamas” but also the police, the “lama police.” There are many people called “lama,” it’s so common. It’s not like that in the merit field. Here, the lama is Losang Thubwang Dorje Chang and lama means guru, manifesting as Lama Tsongkhapa. The guru also manifests as Shakyamuni Buddha, and that guru also manifests as Vajradhara. Then there is HUM, the concentration being.

There are the Anuttara Yoga Tantra deities, the Charya tantra deities, the Kriya Tantra deities, and the One Thousand Buddhas of the fortunate eon, including the seven Medicine Buddhas and the Thirty-five Buddhas. Then, there are the sixteen arhats and after that the bodhisattvas, the dakas and dakinis, and the Dharma protectors.

But all of these, no matter how many there are, are all embodied into one, the virtuous friend, the root virtuous friend, which is one manifesting into many. It’s like when you make tea, you use water and milk, but it’s all mixed as one. So here, it looks like there are many but it’s one. There is so many but it’s one. With this understanding of guru yoga, you do the meditation, the practice of refuge and all that, the seven-limb practice, the four immeasurable thoughts, and all those things. The seven-limb prayer is for purifying obstacles to realizations, collecting extensive merit and dedicating the merit. Also offer a mandala, do the requesting prayer to receive realizations and so forth.

In the Guru Puja there are outer, inner and secret offerings, which are very subtle if you do those Highest Yoga Tantra practices. You do the requesting prayer to the lineage lamas, then requesting for realizations on the path to enlightenment.

What I am going to say is that for us ordinary beings, the guru appears normally to our impure karma and we believe that an ordinary being cannot manifest into the actual Buddha with all the qualities. We believe he cannot do that, because the guru seems ordinary. In our meditation, if it is ordinary, as it appears and we believe it, then we cannot do all this, with all the qualities. So, while recognizing this from our own side, from the disciple’s side, we meditate on the guru’s holy mind, that is the dharmakaya. This is what we have to realize from our side—it is dharmakaya, the holy mind of all the buddhas. The holy mind of all the buddhas is the dharmakaya, and that is the dharmakaya of all the buddhas, their holy mind. With this recognition, with this discovery from our own side, through this meditation then we see numberless buddhas are the guru, and the guru is all the buddhas; they are one. And all this merit field, even though they appear as different deities and all the fortunate eons’ buddhas, arhats, bodhisattvas, dakas, dakinis, Dharma protectors, they are not ordinary protectors, ordinary bodhisattvas, ordinary arhats, you know, they are all this one, this one creator or this one doer; they are the essence of the guru.

So, that’s the meditation, Lama Losang Thubwang Dorje Chang. Lama is root guru. Losang is Tsongkhapa, then the guru manifests as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, at the heart is also the guru, Vajradhara, at the heart of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Then there is the concentration being HUM—that signifies the dharmakaya, all the buddhas’ holy minds.

As soon as Je Drubkhang did this meditation, everything changed. He started to have devotion toward this teacher and realizations came very easily, one after the other, like falling rain. This is a great teaching for us, showing us the importance of ensuring no guru is left out of our visualization of the merit field so that we develop devotion to all our gurus.

Golden Light Sutra: Oral transmission

So, I’ll read one page.

[Rinpoche reads]

This time, I can remember it easier because the third chapter is finished.

[Rinpoche reads]

So, page 174, the front page.

Here it is said, in this section, the fourth chapter, confession, this particular Chapter on Confession, the Chapter on Confession of the Golden Light Sutra. This is regarded also as very powerful for purifying. Lama Tsongkhapa or maybe Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentions when you talk about confession what to do, so it mentions also this. If possible recite this, because of this name. Here it says if there is extremely heavy negative karma done for one thousand years, by doing one time this Golden Light Sutra, this Chapter on Confession, all that gets purified. It talks about the benefits of dedication.

So it also says in the prayer:

To these sentient beings I shall reveal
This sutra called Sublime Golden Light,
Which rids one of every harmful misdeed
And expounds upon the profound.

Those who for a thousand eons
Committed deadly unwholesome deeds,
By confessing them earnestly once
Through this sutra, all will be purified.

So, in regards to another method, using this Chapter on Confession is a very powerful way to purify.

[Rinpoche reads.]

Dedication

[Chanting]

Due to the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merit collected by others, may bodhicitta be generated within my own heart, all the family members, in the hearts of all of us here and in the hearts of all the students, benefactors of this organization and those who devote their lives to the organization, doing service for sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, in all their hearts. And may it be generated in the hearts of all the sentient beings without delay of even a second.

[Chanting]

May bodhicitta be generated in the hearts of myself, my own family members, all of us here and everyone in this world.

[Chanting]

And may bodhicitta be generated within my own heart, my own family members, all of us here and in the hearts of all the leaders of this world, of all the countries. May they all develop bodhicitta. Then, all the millions of people who are suppressed, may they have so much peace and happiness and may they be led to the correct path to happiness. May this world be filled with so much peace and happiness, with so much prosperity, external prosperity and inner prosperity.

Now, may bodhicitta be generated within my own heart, the hearts of everyone here and in the hearts of all the terrorists, in the hearts of the Maoists and those people who are harming others in this world. May bodhicitta be generated in all their hearts without delaying even a second. I dedicate the merits, all the three times’ merits collected by me and by others.

[Chanting]

Due to the three times’ merits collected by me, collected by others, may the father, mother sentient beings have happiness, and may the three lower realms be empty forever. May all the bodhisattvas’ prayers succeed immediately. May I be able cause all these to happen by myself alone.

[Chanting]

That we have all these incredible opportunities to make our life meaningful, to be able to discover the lamrim and the opportunity to practice every day, to purify our own negative karma, whether it’s by prostration or by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas, to collect extensive merit and also to make our mind closer to the realization of the path to enlightenment, by meditating on lamrim every day, by reciting the prayers—all these are opportunities are so incredible we can’t believe how we got these opportunities, but they are all by the kindness of the Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. So, pray for His Holiness to have a stable life and for all his holy wishes to succeed immediately.

Like that, and then for Lama Yeshe who is kinder than all the three times’ buddhas, even though you haven’t met him, however, establishing Kopan, this monastery here, and opening the teachings to you, the Western people. So, Lama Yeshe established this, and even though you haven’t met him, you haven’t received teachings directly from him, you are receiving his guidance, you are receiving the help and guidance from Lama Yeshe. So, therefore again in the same way, as I mentioned before, all these incredible opportunities we have received, we have these by the kindness of particularly Lama Yeshe, so therefore pray that Lama Ösel, his reincarnation, has a stable life and is able to complete his study in the monastery, to show the aspect of Lama Tsongkhapa, having all the qualities and also bringing skies of benefits to sentient beings.

[Chanting]

Due to the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merit collected by others, myself, my own family members, all the students, benefactors of this organization, those who gave up their life for this organization, doing service for sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, and all the rest of the sentient beings, may we be able to meet only the perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend in all the lifetimes. That means not only in this life, but in all coming future lives.

And from the sentient beings’ side, from my own side, to be able to see the virtuous friend only as an enlightened being, in this and all the future lifetimes.

And from each sentient being’s side, from my own side, to be able to do only actions most pleasing to the holy mind of the virtuous friend, not only in this life but in all the future lifetimes.

And may each sentient being and myself be able to fulfill the wishes of the virtuous friend immediately, not only in this life but in all the future lifetimes.

This dedication prayer is the most important dedication to do at least once a day or a few times, at least at the end of one session, especially after a guru yoga practice. It is very important. All the success comes for your own self or other sentient beings, all wishes can succeed.

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merit collected by me and the three times’ merit collected by others, may I be able to offer skies of benefit to all sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha, just like Lama Tsongkhapa, by having the same qualities within me as Lama Tsongkhapa, from now on and in all my future lifetimes.

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merit collected by me and collected by others, which are like a dream, may the I, who is like dream, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which also is like dream, and lead all sentient beings, who are also like a dream, to that enlightenment, which is also like dream, by myself alone, who is also like dream—which means all these things, nothing exists from its own side, all is empty.

I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the holy extensive deeds of the buddhas Samantabhadra and Manjugosha as they realized it. I dedicate all the merits in the same way as the three times’ buddhas dedicate their merits.

May the general teachings of the Buddha and particularly the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa spread in all the directions and flourish forever in this world, by completely actualizing in my own heart and in the hearts of all the family members, all of us here and in the hearts of all the students and benefactors of this organization and those who devote their lives doing service for sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, in all their hearts.

And please pray, everybody make this request, now is the most emergency time to get all the funding to start the project, the five-hundred-foot Maitreya statue, to get funding in this time of great emergency. So, everyone, please, everyone pray. Again I’ve said “Play!” Everyone pray that we are able to construct the statue as quickly as possible and complete it to abide in this world until Maitreya Buddha comes in this world, descends in this world, and to be the most beneficial for all sentient beings, to be able to open their hearts, the cause to rise faith in refuge and karma and the cause to generate loving kindness, the compassionate thought, bodhicitta, in the hearts of everyone, in every sentient being, especially in this world.

May it benefit everyone who see the statue or circumambulates it, besides the people who actually build it or donate to it, the companies, the coolies, all those who are actually building. People who are supporting, donating, the lifetime finances, besides those then anyone who sees the statue, circumambulates, make prostrations to the statue, and anyone who even sees a picture of the statue, anyone who hears of the Maitreya project, who dreams about it or talks about it, even who criticizes the project—that it is so big or wasting money—even who praises it—anyone at all—due to the existence of this statue may they never get reborn in the lower realms since that time, not create negative karma and may all their negative karmas get purified. May they collect extensive merit so that all of them plant the seed of enlightenment and through that their hearts become softer and opened until realization, loving kindness, compassion and bodhicitta comes from within. In that way, may they live their life, and may everybody only create good karma, only benefiting each other, never giving harm. May there be much external prosperity, perfect enjoyment, as well as the inner prosperity, the realizations of the path to enlightenment. May there be perfect peace and happiness in this world, and may the statue cause them to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible. And may all the funding for this statue be received without delaying even a second.

[Chanting]

I talked for a long time. As I mentioned in the conclusion, I emphasized lamrim practice, how you can spend your life on that. Therefore, please continue even after the course. First of all, to be able to do a lamrim course, you are extremely fortunate, unbelievably fortunate. It’s unbelievable, it’s really a miracle, it’s amazing that it happened and even after the course, please do retreat again on lamrim. That’s unbelievable, that’s extremely, most fortunate. So, what I want to say is that.

Thank you.


Notes

8 Here, Rinpoche is most likely referring to either Maitreya (Tib: Jamgon), one of the sixteen bodhisattvas who are part of the Medicine Buddha mandala. However, another possibility is Manjushri (Tib: Jampel). [Return to text]

9 Kyab Dröl  (Wyl: skyabs grol; Skt: Tranamukta). [Return to text]

10 Ch. 4, v. 18. [Return to text]

11 Ch. 4, v. 23. [Return to text]