Kopan Course No. 14 (1981) Audio and Unedited Transcripts

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal (Archive #119)

The following are excerpts from the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Fourteenth Kopan Meditation Course, 1981. The teachings include a commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara [A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.] Unfortunately, one of the tapes from Lecture Six was lost, and the remaining recordings were not good enough to publish online. So we have posted only those which are most clear. The entire lightly edited transcript of Rinpoche's teachings from this course can be read or downloaded here.

Lecture 3: Nature of Mind, continued; Labeling I

...the knowing phenomena contains all these, the fifty-one secondary minds, different types of thought. It can be many branches of thoughts like this, the negative side and the positive side. All this goes in the part of the knowing phenomena. However, knowing phenomena, the meaning, the definition of that is clarity and perceiving.

The delusion, the anger, attachment, ignorance, doesn't go to omniscient mind, but this consciousness, even though it is obscured by these veils, but by depending on, by generating the remedy of the path then this consciousness, the continuity of this mind goes to omniscient mind. So this consciousness, this mind which is clear and perceiving, this is the type of GYE GYUR GYI RIG, the type which becomes the cause of enlightenment. Literally the type which becomes development. But by saying enlightenment it makes it much more easy. However, the causative phenomena which becomes, which can become enlightenment, GYE GYUR GYI RIG, the second one.

What I am saying is, that's right. I am lost in my point. Like the Indian train station. So, you see the point of what I am saying so far is as consciousness, the continuity of consciousness has no beginning, the continuity of consciousness has no end. So the continuity of the "I", the "I" which exists on that, on that aggregates - the point is this, what I am trying to clarify is that even the body, even this present body, after it becomes ashes, it becomes ashes, then it is strewn in the flowers, in the parks, in the gardens, in the rivers, then after some time can't see, can't find anything, not even the ashes. However, there is continuity of consciousness and the aggregates, whether it has entered another body or not. Since there is aggregates and consciousness existing, so there is self, there is the continuity of the "I" existing on that. How? By merely labeling on that - and that is difficult to understand at the moment, but it is like this.

You see, when somebody dies, when somebody is dead, the body is in the grave, in the tomb, or in the grave, and the flowers around, the nice flowers around the tomb, or what you call? Tomb, tomb, heh? Tomb? - Tombstone, nice flowers are planted around, especially on Sundays. However, you don't point out "my mother is still here", people don't say "my mother is here". Even at the house, if your mother died, if somebody, your mother, your father or whoever died last night, even if the body is on the bed this morning, on that comfortable bed, then if somebody comes along and bangs the door, "Is your father at home?" then you slowly say, you slowly tell, what you call it, maybe you tell very secretly - how do you call that - by whispering, I have forgotten - by whispering you tell "My father he died last night". When he does not breathe, when the people in the family discover that his senses don't do any function any more.

You see, normally in the world, even though there is the body, in general people even though they don't know exactly what it means, they don't know exactly the process of the death, the evolution of the death, even they don't know exactly that the gross consciousness absorbs, then the subtle mind becomes visible, comes out, becomes visible, then that leaves from the heart, from the indestructible seed, it comes out from that and then comes out either from the lower doors or from the upper doors of the body, however, although even the person doesn't know exactly those processes, doesn't know clearly, but generally in the world even though there is the body but when there is no mind, when the mind is separated from the body, when the body doesn't do any functions, they believe or they call it dead. "Such and such is dead". [pause]

Then that father's consciousness, if you know, by clairvoyance, so then you know that the consciousness migrated in the calf. The cow-baby, calf. The father's consciousness migrated, has taken the body of a calf, cow-body. Then somebody who has clairvoyance, either born with that knowledge, or the clairvoyance that is generated through meditation, however, somebody who is able to see, to recognize these things would say: "This family's father, this cave"- not cave how to say, calf - "this calf". No, I choose the American, not the English. Then the one who has clairvoyance, who can see the past and future life, then he would tell "This calf is this family's father". "This family's father was born as a calf" or fish. In their swimming-pools. Anyway, the body is changed, different body, but the continuity of that consciousness entered in this body, the continuity of consciousness joined with this, migrated into this body. So because of that the father was born as a calf, because of the continuity of the consciousness migrated into that particular body.

So, you see, the point of what I'm saying is this: wherever the consciousness is, there is the self, there is the "I". Wherever the consciousness exists, wherever the consciousness goes, the self, the "I" which is labeled on that, which exists on that, also goes. So it is interesting to find out, to check, on the body that is left in the grave, on that there is no self, but on the consciousness, wherever the consciousness is, on that there is the self. This you can check why, why it is. Why the self doesn't exist on the body. When the mind and body are separated the "I", the self doesn't exist on the body but it exists on the consciousness, on the aggregates of consciousness, why this is. [pause]

I would say similar, my understanding, I think similar with this flower. At present, now, my I, self, doesn't exist on this flower, because my consciousness has not entered in this flower, not migrated in this flower. Let's say a hair, let's put it also this way, the hair which is in the water, somebody's hair thrown in the water. When my consciousness, is not migrated into that hair, on that I wouldn't think "I" on that, I don't label "I" on that as long as my consciousness is not there, not migrated into that.

That doesn't happen, to label "I" on that while my consciousness is not in that, not with that. But whenever my consciousness entered in that hair, due to my karma, the condition is there, due my karma that I have to have such a body in the shape of a hair, then just like this, on these aggregates of body and mind "I" is labeled, on the action of these aggregates "I" is labeled, each time, "I want to talk, drive people crazy, make more confused", then just like this, however, "Now I want to eat," "Now I want to sleep". So you see, labeling "I" on this, on these aggregates, on the actions of the aggregates. Now as we label on these aggregates, the body and mind now, on these aggregates we label "I". "I, I, I, I label on the aggregates, "I am going to do this and that," or "I did this and that". I past, present and future. Like this [pause] we cling that there is I existing now on these aggregates, while the consciousness is not migrated in that hair like this body has not migrated, in the same way on this hair, we don't label I on that, I don't think there is I on that, there is me on that, I don't think. But whenever my consciousness migrated into that hair then, in the same way as we feel now, as we think on these aggregates now, same thing, same way we cling that there is I on that, that there is I on these aggregates: the hair, the body, hair, and the consciousness. Like that.

So it is not so much what other people label, it is actually your own experience, it is to do with your own mind. So you see, what I am saying is: similar, when the consciousness has left from the hair, then one doesn't think on this hair there is an "I", there is me existing. I don't label I on that and I don't think, I don't cling there is an "I" which exists from its own side on that hair. Similar with the dead body, similar, same thing after the consciousness has left, after the consciousness has separated from the body.

Also one thing, similar with the flower. Again, now I don't - anyway no need to repeat, you might have got enough clear idea, but this is just to make it clear, some new people might have doubt, so just to make it clear. If my consciousness has entered in this flower like my consciousness entered this body, migrated into this body, like this, I die, my body is here but my consciousness entered in this flower. This example is just to benefit some other doubts. At that time I am not a plant. What can "I" saying, yes, that's right, at that time I am not a plant. Now it is a plant. Now this is plant, but when by my karma, when my consciousness enters into this flower, migrates into this flower like it did into this body, then I have my body shaped as a flower. Having the shape of a flower. But I am not a plant, I am a living being, not a plant. Like this. But when my consciousness has left from that body then that time it can be a plant. So, however, it is like this. As the consciousness migrates into the flower, hair or the flower or whatever the material is, like this body, like the consciousness is abiding is this body, then at that time even though before there was no clinging on that material, on this flower, on that hair, on that piece of leather, that piece of leather which is in the water, before there was no thought clinging "I" on that, labeling "I" on that, but whenever the labeling base the consciousness is with that, then automatically there is this thought labeling on that I and also there is the "I" which appears, the labeled I which appears as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side. Then the mind, the ignorance clings that this is completely true.

So you see, wherever the consciousness goes there is, on that, wherever the consciousness is on that there is the thought that the "I" exists, the self exists. How? By merely labeling on that it exists. It exists by merely labeling on that. And the "I" which is merely labeled on that consciousness appears as if it exists from its own side without being merely labeled, and the ignorance clings that this is true.

As I mentioned yesterday, as consciousness has been continuing so far without beginning, the same thing this ignorance which clings the "I" even though it is merely labeled on the consciousness but appearing as it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side, then clinging, completely clinging that this is true. So this ignorance also has been continuing, the continuity of that has also been existing without beginning. But the interesting thing of what I am saying is this, the very interesting thing is this: it doesn't matter whatever aggregates, the aggregates, group of body and mind, or just even the consciousness, either way, it is with the body or without the body, the interesting thing is this. The "I" which exists on this consciousness, it is unchangeable. Unchangeable is not clear, but what I am saying is it is something which cannot be stopped, the "I" existing on the consciousness, on the aggregate, the consciousness. Why it exists on the consciousness, the "I", the self, why it exists on the consciousness, on these aggregates, why it exists, why it is there, [pause] that is the most interesting part, that subject. Especially if you realize it. When we realize this then it is most interesting part, most interesting subject, when you see it really clearly, how it exists, how the "I" exists on the consciousness.

At the moment, the way that we believe now, the way that we cling that the "I" exists when we talk about it, the way that our mind clings, the way when we talk about I, "I do this and I do that", "I am doing this and that", "I am going to do this and that", the way that we believe now, the way that we cling now is something which doesn't exist at all, something which is not there at all. At all. Actually, when we are talking about I do this and that, actually according to the way we perceive, the way we view, according to that we are always talking about the I that doesn't exist, we are always talking about the life story, the suffering or the happiness of I which doesn't exist. Lama Zopa or George, or or the Peter who does not exist at all. [pause]

It is inexpressible, it is inexpressible the way, how the "I" exists on these aggregates. Why the I exists, the way the "I" exists on these aggregates. I mean you can simply say it exists by labeling with thought, motive, and with words, name, you can simply talk about it in that way, you can simply say as it is explained in the scriptures, you can say that that is how it exists on the aggregates. But when you really discover, when you really see the way it exists, the way the "I" exists on these aggregates, when you really see it, clearly, by realizing the non-existent I, by realizing the "I" that we cling now on these aggregates is empty, is in fact empty. I which appears as if it exists, the "I" which is merely labeled on these aggregates appearing as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side, by realizing this "I" which looks as if it exists from its own side as empty, empty on these aggregates, completely empty, it doesn't exist at all, when you see this completely empty, the I which we are clinging now on these aggregates, completely empty...