Lamrim Meditation Course at Chenrezig Institute

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Eudlo, Australia (Archive #163)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a one-month meditation course held at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, in May 1975. This historic event, attended by 120 students, was the first meditation course at the center. The course was based on The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, Rinpoche’s first lamrim book, and includes many checking meditations led by Rinpoche. First edit by Ven. Thubten Labdron (Trisha Donnelly), second edit by Sandra Smith, August 2021.

Go to the Index page to view an outline of topics and click on the links to go directly to the lectures. You can also download a PDF of the entire course.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe at dawn on Saka Dawa, Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1975. Photo by Nick Ribush.
Lecture 23
Motivation for Tara initiation

To receive the blessings of Mother Tara, the mother of all the buddhas, the noble Arya Tara, to receive the blessings of the most venerable Arya Tara’s holy speech, body and mind, for your speech, body and mind to become oneness, totally to achieve a higher enlightened stage, think, “As I am purifying the hindrances, all the hindrances to achieving this are completely dispelled.”

Try to think and feel, as I repeat:

“From beginningless samsaric lifetimes until now, I've been circling around and experiencing the suffering in samsara. At present I have received perfect human rebirth and met the teachings leading me on the path to enlightenment. However, just not having been born in suffering lower realms is not sufficient. I must be released from the samsara, because wherever I will be born in these samsaric realms, the upper realms, wherever I will be born, it's all in suffering nature. It's all suffering nature. All samsaric pleasures are in the nature of suffering. There is nothing created that can last.

No matter where, in any samsaric realm, wherever I am reborn, it's just like walking around on red-hot iron ground; wherever I walk feels hot, burning. No matter if I walk or try to go away, it's always on the hottest part of the iron ground, always burning, feeling hot. Just like this, same thing, in the samsaric realms, wherever I am born, whatever body I take, it always has a suffering nature. Nothing of this body is interesting. There is nothing to get attached to.”

Try to feel all the different bodies of the samsaric realms; feel that all these different samsaric bodies are just like red-hot iron ground. Visualize this.

“The whole of samsara is in the nature of suffering, therefore I must be released from samsara, even in this life. Only releasing myself from samsara is not sufficient. This is a selfish motivation; it is very poor in nature. This self-cherishing thought is the cause of all suffering. From this self-cherishing thought all the hot narak sufferings come, and experiencing all the cold sufferings is also the fault of the self-cherishing thought. All those common narak sufferings and those also on this earth, all these are due to the self-cherishing thought. All the preta sufferings, all these are also the fault of the self-cherishing thought. All the animal sufferings, all these are also fault of the self-cherishing thought; experiencing these is also due to the self-cherishing thought.

“The eight sufferings are also the fault of the self-cherishing thought. The six general samsaric sufferings are also the fault of the self-cherishing thought. The three samsaric sufferings—the suffering of suffering, changeable suffering and pervading suffering—all these are also the fault of the self-cherishing thought. However, even in the human realm, all these different life complications—becoming unhappy, always getting sick, all the different diseases, the suffering of food, the suffering of problems, the suffering of receiving a bad reputation—all these are the fault of the self-cherishing thought. They all come from the self-cherishing thought.

“Same thing with fighting, which many people find difficult—that also is the fault of the self-cherishing thought. If there is no self-cherishing thought, it would not happen. Two countries fighting is also fault of the self-cherishing thought, not having peace in both countries. All sorts of fighting are also the fault of the self-cherishing thought; between teacher and student; between families; parents and children all fighting each other. Or between one couple fighting each other, becoming unhappy, complicated, divorcing, running away or running after another one. One after another, after another, one after another—all because of the self-cherishing thought.

“All the past beginningless samsaric sufferings that we have been experiencing are also due to the self-cherishing thought. Not receiving enlightenment, not receiving the cessation of samsara, not receiving any realization in the past is also the fault of the self-cherishing thought.

“As long as there is the self-cherishing thought it will continuously bring all these problems, all these different types, billions and billions and billions and billions of different types of samsaric sufferings of the animal, preta, narak, sura, asura and human realms. And as long as there is self-cherishing thought, it will continuously hinder me from receiving enlightenment, being released from samsara and receiving any realizations. It will continuously oblige me to suffer, never giving peace. Therefore, since the self-cherishing thought is my worst enemy, which brings all the sufferings, why should I care about it? I must dispel it right away, as quickly as possible.

“Also, there’s no reason why I should cherish myself more than others. I care about myself more than others but there is no reason. We are exactly equal and just as I desire happiness and do not desire suffering, other beings also desire happiness and do not desire suffering. We have exactly equal feelings, exactly equal. There’s no reason, not one tiny reason, not one reason why I am more important than others, or why I should take care of myself more than others. There’s no reason at all; we are completely equal.

“Since the self-cherishing thought is my worst enemy, which brings all suffering, and bodhicitta, cherishing others more than myself, only brings benefits and happiness, why don't I change? Why don't I change? If this is the source of all happiness, why don't I change instead of having the self-cherishing thought?

“I've received all my past happiness, perfections, all the pleasures, tiny pleasures—even when I am feeling hot, wind blowing, feeling a little bit cool—any pleasures that I have been experiencing in these six samsara realms, any pleasure that I have been experiencing from beginningless previous lifetimes, all these beginningless pleasures that I have been experiencing are received from the thought cherishing others more than myself, from bodhicitta. All the present perfections and happiness and all the future happiness and perfections, everything—all the pleasures in samsara, even the great everlasting happiness of nirvana, enlightenment—all this is received from the pure thought of bodhicitta, cherishing others more than myself.”

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and numberless other sentient beings have received enlightenment before us. That is also due to having received bodhicitta, cherishing others more than themselves. Because they have received this pure thought of bodhicitta before we received it, therefore they received enlightenment first. That is also how Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has received enlightenment first, even though he was a sentient being before.

Asanga, one of the philosophers, was meditating on Maitreya for twelve years to try and achieve Maitreya. After three years of meditation, he had not received that, and then again for another three years he meditated, but still did not receive that realization. Then again he meditated for three years, and did not receive the realization. Finally, the last time he came into the town, as he was coming along the path he saw a badly wounded dog with maggots inside its wound, in the flesh. By seeing that dog he received incredible compassion, bodhicitta—cherishing others more than himself.

When he saw this badly wounded suffering dog, incredible bodhicitta, compassion, cherishing others more than himself, arose in his mind. Because he received such incredibly strong bodhicitta, cherishing more others than himself, that became such great purification. As this strong thought came, it became great purification. Then, all of a sudden, he saw the dog transformed into Maitreya. He saw Maitreya. Instead of seeing a wounded dog full of worms, he saw the actual Maitreya, on which he had been meditating for many years. Until then he did not see Maitreya. At that time he has received incredible bodhicitta, strong compassion and due to this it became great purification, so he saw Maitreya. Right away like that, right away, right away.

Then he requested Maitreya to give teachings. He was taken to the pure realm of Tushita by the psychic power of Maitreya, and he received many teachings which explained the whole path, such as the four noble truths and many things. Then Asanga asked Maitreya, “I have been meditating on you for many years. Why didn't you come to see me?” Maitreya told him, “I was in your cave all the time; the proof is you spat around the meditation place, so I have got your spit here on my body!” He proved, he showed where he had spit. All that, such as seeing Buddha Maitreya by Asanga, is due to the power of bodhicitta, cherishing others more than oneself.

Another example is, in a previous time, there was a great pandit yogi called Ngagpa Chöpawa. This great yogi Ngagpa Chöpawa, when he went from one place to another he never walked, he flew, he always flew in space surrounded by many dakinis. He went in space, in the sky, sitting cross-legged, surrounded by many dakinis, the female aspect, dakinis, many goddesses. When he went from one place to another, when he flew, he always went with them and was always surrounded by them. It was always like this, with beautiful music, the sound of dakini music, he always he went like this. That's why he was called the great yogi Ngagpa Chöpawa.

Ngagpa Chöpawa was supposed to have received enlightenment in one lifetime, but his disciple received enlightenment and went to the pure realm before him. His disciple was called Getsul Tsimbulwa. Ngagpa Chöpawa had incredible power but his disciple went to the pure realm before him.

How it happened, the disciple and teacher, when they were going to one holy place, on the way there is a big river. And at the river, one lady who was full of disease, leprosy, full of wounds, an extremely ugly lady at the river, was waiting there to be taken across to the other side of the river. So, this teacher, Ngagpa Chöpawa, the great yogi would not take her, he left the lady there and crossed the river by himself.

His disciple, Getsul Tsimbulwa, at the time saw this lady who was full of leprosy disease, and he had incredibly strong bodhicitta, cherishing others more than himself. So, without caring how dirty or how ugly she was, even though he was a monk, he put this lady on his back, then he carried her across the river. While he was carrying her across the river—this was actually not an ordinary lady, this was a transformation—as this disciple, this simple monk, carried her across the river, before they reached the other side, this lady transformed into the deity called Vajrayogini. She transformed and appeared in the aspect of the deity. Then, while holding her, without even the need to leave this body, he was taken to the pure realm. All these are the beneficial power of bodhicitta.

This bodhicitta, cherishing others more than oneself, is the source of all happiness. Where is this thought coming from? This is only coming from the sentient beings. If there were no sentient beings, then that thought could not be received. All the happiness, all the perfections are coming from the sentient beings. In daily life, from morning until night, tea, breakfast and lunch, everything—each type of food, vegetables, rice, everything—has to be received by the kindness of sentient beings. So many sentient beings are killed when working in the field, when people are walking and planting crops, the insects get killed. All these crops are received by the kindness of other sentient beings.

Even just drinking water, even the water to make tea, so many sentient beings get killed, many tiny worms. Without them suffering, there’s no way to get water, no way to get food at all. So, all this is due to the kindness of the sentient beings; receiving all these pleasures is due to the kindness of sentient beings. For even just one cup of tea, even just one plate of rice, incredible numbers of sentient beings are killed or suffer. Without depending on them suffering, there is no way to receive even one plate of food. There is no way to receive even one grain of rice. Rice has its own seed and incredible number of sentient beings suffered for that seed, just eating one grain of rice. So it's not easy.

Having comfort and pleasure, living in a house, is also due to the kindness of the mother sentient beings. Without the sentient beings suffering, killing insects, without sentient beings working, building, there is no way to enjoy this pleasure. Same thing with cloth—without depending on other sentient beings’ kindness, working, suffering, there’s no way to get the cloth. Same thing with beautiful clothes, animal skins and medicine. Everything is received by depending on the kindness of mother sentient beings.

“The one enemy who cuts my body into pieces, for instance. All the past, present, future happiness is received from Dharma. Where did Dharma come from? Buddha. Where did Buddha come from? Bodhicitta. The bodhicitta, where did it come from? By depending on sentient beings. So, if this enemy who cut my body into pieces, if this sentient being did not exist, there would not be bodhicitta, which is received from that person. There would not be that Buddha. If there is not that Buddha, there is no Dharma. If there's no Dharma, there would not be all my past, present and future happiness.

“Where does all my past, present and future happiness come from? I'm receiving it all by depending on each of the sentient beings, including this enemy. All my past, present and future happiness, all perfections I am receiving from this enemy. Even receiving enlightenment, all the realizations, everything I am receiving by depending on this enemy. Therefore, they are extremely kind, extremely kind. In thinking this, even to gain this little pleasure, it is something that I can dedicate my body, possessions and merit numberless times for them.

“All the mother sentient beings, however much there is happiness, they don't recognize the cause of happiness. As they have been my mother numberless times, who is responsible to help them? That is me, from whom they should expect to receive help, it's me. Therefore I must lead them to sublime happiness, enlightenment. It’s not enough just to let them have temporal pleasures. They have experienced temporal pleasures numberless times in samsara. The mother sentient beings are extremely suffering because of always creating the causes of suffering by not knowing what the cause of suffering is. They have no method leading to the path of enlightenment, they don’t have that perfection, and each movement of body speech and mind is always a negative action.

“Numberless times they have been creating good karma for me, and they have also created so much negative karma for me, in order to help me. I am not only letting them create negative karma in order to take care of me in the present time, but they will also do it in the future. I've been letting them suffer so much in the past time, also in present time and also in the future time. They've been suffering so much for me in the past, present and future times.

“One sentient being suffering, even one sentient being suffering, is unbearable to me. So all the sentient beings who are suffering in the lower realms—it's unbearable for me. If I had to experience all this, it would be unbearable. All the sentient beings who are in the samsaric suffering, all this, if I have to experience that, it's incredible. Therefore I must make the determination, right at this time, to release them from all the causes of suffering, by myself.

“As in the ordinary world, among ordinary people, anyone who suffers for another person by working, then the other person is responsible to help that person, to get them out of suffering, out of the problem. Therefore, I'm responsible. They're extremely kind and they're suffering for me, and I let them suffer. I let them create bad karma. So I'm responsible to release them from suffering and all the causes of suffering right at this time, right at this moment. Therefore I must receive enlightenment.

“I must lead all sentient beings into Guru Tara's enlightened stage. To do this, I must achieve Guru Tara's enlightenment, therefore I'm going to take the profound blessings of Guru Tara.”

Think that receiving Guru Tara's enlightenment is only for the sake of sentient beings.

[End of course]