Kopan Course No. 50 (2017)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #2065)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 50th Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 2017. Transcribed and lightly edited by Ven. Joan Nicell. Second edit by Gordon McDougall.

The edited transcript is freely available for download as a PDF file. You can also visit FPMT Video Resources to watch video extracts of these teachings, or listen to MP3 audio files, available here.

Lecture 3: Understanding Karma
December 7, 2017
This Perfect Human Rebirth

[Rinpoche slowly chants the verse from the Vajra Cutter Sutra]

   A star, a defective view, a butter lamp flame,
   An illusion, a dew drop, a water bubble,
   A dream, lightning, a cloud:
   See all causative phenomena like this.

“The reason I have been born as a human being at this time is not just to not be reborn in the evil-gone realms, the lower realms, not just to receive a higher rebirth as a deva or human being. Even, at this time, just by having been born as a human being doesn’t mean I won’t get reborn in the lower realms.”

During the second pilgrimage to Tibet, the second or third pilgrimage, I don’t remember, there was a young Chinese boy driving our car. We had some Western Sangha in the car. At that time my attendant was John, I don’t remember his last name. [A student prompts] John Feuille. I asked him to ask the driver a question. One thing was, although the driver accepted rebirth, he accepted past and future lives, his ideas were strange, they were not correct. So I asked John to ask him what he thought about his next life, and he explained because he was a human being he was always going to be a human, forever. That is what he believed, so although he accepted reincarnation, he thought there would be no change. If somebody was a dog now they would be a dog all the time. That is what he accepted without any logical reason to prove that. If that being had been a dog from beginningless rebirths, then why? What is the cause for the dog to be born a dog? There is no explanation, simply because in the past lives they were a dog. So anyway, that was very interesting. We then talked about the mind. I don’t remember what happened. I just remembered about Tibet as I was talking.

That kind of answer is quite unusual. He accepted reincarnation but his ideas were totally wrong; there was no logic. He just used his own logic—because you are now human being, you are going to be a human being forever. Why a dog? Why a human being? He didn’t have a logical explanation.

You are human now but it’s like somebody about to be executed is let out of prison for a short while. They are given a little freedom to be outside in the city. For just a very short time they are given permission to go to their house to meet their family, to go around the city, but then they have to go back to the prison. It’s like that. You are a human being just for a short time.

It’s kind of like you are on a plateau on top of a mountain for a short time, but then you are going to fall down again. You are just there where there is some flat place for a very short while, then you are going to fall down, which means down to the lower realms—as a hell being, a hungry ghost or an animal. But of course it is all up to your mind.

You can either transform your mind into virtue, into a positive mind, with non-ignorance, non-anger and non-attachment, or you can make your mind one of ignorance, anger and attachment. Making the mind one of non-ignorance, non-anger and non-attachment you go up, you go to higher rebirths all the way up to enlightenment. The temporary result is the temporary happiness of higher rebirths and the ultimate result is ultimate happiness, the total freedom from the oceans of samsaric sufferings, not just for a few lifetimes or a few years, not like that, but forever, and then full enlightenment.

The reason is that you cease the cause of suffering, which is not outside, which is your negative mind, this unhealthy mind, this unclean, impure mind. Probably more people understand “unhealthy mind” so you can also say that. You then go to enlightenment, to peerless happiness, the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations.

But then if you make your mind ignorant, being attached, angry and all those things, then your mind is unhealthy, negative, and then whatever action that is done with that mind is all negative; it is an unhealthy action, bringing a negative result, a rebirth in the lower realms as a hell being, a hungry ghost or an animal.

So, at this time you have not only been born as a human being but by coming to Kopan, you have met the Buddha’s teachings. Therefore, you have incredible freedom in your hands. You have great freedom to choose where you want to go, lower or higher, even to total liberation from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and sang gye, the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations. You have total freedom. It depends on how you use your mind.

Nobody likes suffering; everybody like happiness, but whether you become free from suffering and get happiness depends on how you use your mind, how you use your life, every year, every month, every week, every day, every hour, every minute, every second. It is like that. You have total freedom in your hands to achieve all those happinesses up to enlightenment, or to be in the oceans of samsaric suffering forever, and especially to be in the lower realms.

Therefore, you have to realize that this life you have now, after discovering the Buddha’s teachings, is so important. Sorry, I should make twice as much noise, but some people might get angry so I didn’t! Some people get easily frustrated and angry if I make too much noise. But I make a lot of noise just so you may not forget, so it gets imprinted more on the brain or in the mind, for it to stay a little bit longer.

I was trying to remember a quotation from a great enlightened being who happened in Tibet, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. There is a verse in his Calling the Guru from Afar, but I don’t remember the exact words. I remember the essence. Did you find it? [Student: In the short one?] Not the short one.

Thinking of this excellent body, highly meaningful and difficult to obtain,
And wishing to take its essence with unerring choice between gain and loss, happiness and suffering—reminds me of you, Guru.10

Those are very powerful words. The essence is that this perfect human rebirth is so difficult to find again; it is only really found this once. In every second you have great freedom to choose. That is due to the kindness of the guru. Then the verse requests the guru to guide you.

Unless you know that, it’s like the expression about the donkey, how whether you put precious gold dust or dirt in a donkey’s ear it shakes both out equally, not knowing the value of the gold. That is the expression for somebody who has no idea of the preciousness of the teachings, so it is similar to this human rebirth; it is all kind of misused. When you have no idea how precious it is, then the way you use this life is no difference from the insects or the worms used in fishing.

Then totally—every second, every minute, every day, every week, every month, every year—purely by attachment and ignorance, you go to the lower realms. Ignorance is the root of samsara, the ignorance of not knowing the Dharma, what is right and wrong. Because of that, your life is totally used for ignorance and then anger and so forth, with no idea what you have been experiencing in the six realms, samsara, one after the other from beginningless rebirths. You have totally no idea at all.

The other thing is, how you live this life will continue in the future. It will be endless, again endlessly being reborn in samsara, endlessly suffering in samsara, again and again in the six realms one after the other. You have no idea of these things; you are not aware. It’s like you have your eyes closed completely. Then, because you cannot see anything, you never do anything to free yourself, to be free from that. You never do anything; you never search for how you yourself can fulfill the wish to be free. You never look for a method to be free. Leaving aside others, you never think how just you can be free from samsara. I’m just mentioning this as the motivation.

The Suffering Results of Killing

There are very few sentient beings who have met and who understand the Dharma, who can discriminate correctly what is right and what is wrong in life. There are hardly any human beings who have Dharma wisdom, who have met and understood the Dharma. For example, what do you call those people in Africa who don’t wear clothes much, only around here? [Student: Naked.] In Africa and in other places, maybe also America, especially in old places? [Student: Tribes.]

Their food is by hunting animals. Those people make sharp arrows and go hunting for gorillas or monkeys, carrying them to the house and burning them in the fire. That is their food. That’s very similar to those who live by fishing, every day catching maybe more than thousands, thousands, thousands, thousands of fish in a huge net. They do that every day, not only fishing with a net, what do you call this one? [Student: Fishing rod.] Fishing rod, they go to the beach or on a bridge. It’s not that they don’t have food to eat, but they take it as entertainment, as a pleasure in life. They think only of themselves, not thinking of others in the slightest.

What is her name? [Student: Kirsten.] Because Kirsten used to cook on a ship in England, I asked her how many times she had been fishing. She said she went twice or something like that. The second time she put the line in but it was caught in a tree, it didn’t go in the water, so she gave up fishing from that time. She is very mindful, very clever; she understood what it means to not fish. That is very thoughtful; that is very good. But most people wouldn’t think like that.

I’m just giving an example to you, those who hunt animals every day as food or go fishing. I haven’t physically seen it but I saw a video, at the beach in Thailand there are people who have small shops on the beach who are always busy cutting up shellfish. This is what they do all day long and they sell them. The shellfish can’t speak, they can’t express themselves, they can’t have demonstrations. It’s so pitiful, every day, every day like this.

If you kill one insect, no matter what size—the size of a mountain or a small size—of course the motivation is a delusion: attachment, anger or ignorance, or all three. If you kill one insect, one sentient being, usually four things gather: the object, the intention, the action and the resolution. The object you kill is a sentient being, then there is the thought to kill, the action of killing and the resolution, that the being dies before you. So those four things are gathered. Because that action was done with the self-cherishing thought, then of course there is attachment and all that; because it was done with delusion, your wrong way of thinking makes that action of killing negative karma.

Those four things gathered have four suffering results. There is the ripened aspect result, which is suffering in lower realms. You get born and suffer in lower realms, and it could be for eons, depending on the strength of the negative karma. Then, you experience the other three suffering results in the human realm. Due to another karma—not the same karma but a good karma—you are born as human being but you experience the possessed result. The place you are born is not green and beautiful but very dusty and windy. Because the action is killing and therefore negative karma, the place has a lot of danger for your life, a lot of killing and many diseases; it is not a healthy environment.

You have to understand where that unhealthy, dangerous environment comes from. It comes from the mind. That is very important. So now, you have to change the mind. The point is to change the mind. The way to change that negative environment into a positive, healthy one is through the mind. That is the real way to do it. So, it is a very dusty, very uninteresting, boring place.

Rinpoche’s Early Life

For example, I have diabetes so I can’t eat sugar or potatoes, (although I do eat potatoes.) I was born in Solu Khumbu, in the Himalayan mountains, where potatoes are the main food. We make eleven or twelve types of potato food, as well as potato alcohol, which looks like very clean water, but it is unbelievably strong.

I know what it means to be drunk. Although I was in born Solu Khumbu, there was another place, Namche Bazaar, where the people were cleverer. I came from there because I escaped from the monastery when I was learning the alphabet—ka kha ga na—from my uncle who was a monk and who carved many, many rocks with mantras. Benefactors asked him and then he carved mantras in the rock on the road, which people went around. I escaped the monastery on the hillside back to my birthplace a few times. As a child you don’t look for reasons, you don’t analyze reasons; the only thing a child is interested in is going home and playing with friends, nothing else. You don’t analyze reasons much in childhood. I just thought of home and ran away from the monastery.

One or two days after [each escape] my mother would put me on somebody’s shoulder and they would take me back to the monastery where I would stay for a few days and then I would escape again. When I escaped I ran home so fast because I saw dark caves and got scared. So my mother sent me to Rolwaling. You have to cross dangerous snow mountains and sleep in dangerous places. There is no real road but the people who travel there know how to go across. Everybody is tied with ropes because sometimes you sink in the snow. There are a few places where there is a narrow ridge and deep blue water way down below, if you look. If a person drops, the ropes pull him up, except the first person. Two people are always tied together, walking along like that.

I lived there for some years and then came back to take an initiation at Thangme monastery. The lama of Thangme monastery was a married lama, not a monk. He was always in retreat but he gave initiations from time to time. He was very good-hearted, with a white beard. I remember when I was a child he gave a Ludoma initiation and there were many people. As part of the initiation, we all had to sit on the throne and blow a conch shell but when I blew the conch shell it didn’t make a sound!

For just a short time my mother invited my teacher, who was also my uncle, a monk. We went in my mother’s house, which was very dark and dirty. We were a poor family. My father had died and then so many people came to ask for the money we owed, but we didn’t have money to pay. She put a dirty table there for my uncle and me. I never had potato alcohol before when I lived in the house but I think five years after I had left and returned with my uncle, she served it. In Solu Khumbu there are monks who never drink in their life—it’s part of the monks’ vow—but I think in Himalayan mountains it is very common to drink chang [alcohol]. It seems it is very important to drink, just as in Tibet it is tea with butter. Tibetan tea is a liquid of tea with butter and salt shaken into it. Generally monks in Tibet don’t have anything so the butter in tea is very important for them. But in Solu Khumbu many monks drink chang; it is very common. My mother gave a glass of potato wine to my teacher and then the same to me.

I had two or three sips and I became drunk. I could not walk. It’s like when a mosquito is dead and all the long legs are stretched out. I was like that, with no control at all in my body, and kind of a little bit uncomfortably tight in my chest. My teacher held my belt at the back and just dragged me back along the road to the monastery. I went just like this, with mosquito legs out, with no ability to walk. So, I know what it means to be drunk.

For potato wine we use small potatoes that people don’t eat. My mother made it from time to time when I was small child. You fill a whole big pot with small potatoes, then another smaller pot, another smaller pot, and another smaller pot, like building a stupa, so the vapor cannot go outside; it is all sealed around. What happens is the vapor from the potatoes goes high up and the drops are collected in the containers, one, two, three, four. You have to burn the fire for several hours, then you get a small container of chang, called arak, which is unbelievably strong. It was maybe four hours’ work. My mother did this from time to time when I was at home.

Even though I don’t know any Dharma, just a few words, but I teach in the world, I try to help people with those few words, to inspire them to be a meaningful human being, not harming others and bringing peace up to enlightenment, not only themselves but also for others who are numberless. That is due to my mother’s kindness. Because of that, even now I am able to teach these few words to you to be able to understand the reality of life. That I can be just a tiny bit helpful to you, who need it, that came from my mother’s kindness, by sending me to the monastery to learn when I was a small child.

[Tea offering and break to drink tea]

I remember one story. After my father died, when I was a small child, many people came to ask for money that we owed them. The leader of the country came to the house to ask for money. My mother offered chang and then he spoke and left. The house had two stories, and before he even got out of the door downstairs, my mother was picking up the dirt from between the planks on the second floor and throwing it after him. Then, she was complaining—not complaining but what do you call it? [Ven. Ailsa: Cursing.] She was cursing, picking up the dirt and throwing it and cursing, maybe saying, “May he die soon,” things like that. I remember when I was a small child my mother did that when he came to collect money and we didn’t have it to pay him.

When I was born many animals died, many obstacles happened to the family. I was telling you that the majority of people in the world haven’t met the Dharma, don’t know the Dharma. Like that example of the people with the shellfish in Thailand near the beach. I’m just giving you an example but you know many more.

The Four Results of Killing (continued)

Killing one sentient being, one insect, with the self-cherishing thought, with attachment, becomes negative karma. It becomes negative karma because of the motivation. So, killing even a tiny insect has a result. The four suffering results I was talking about before, this is very important subject. I’m sure you went through that.

The possessed result is to do with the place. I have diabetes, so the food you normally eat has side effects for me. This is the result of the negative karma of killing in a past life. Medicine has side effects. Even if it works for others, even if it is the correct medicine, for you there are side effects. It’s not poison but you can’t eat it; it harms you, like with diabetes.

I was talking about potatoes, then I went on to the mountain story. Potatoes and white rice. There is a general one but according to my experience, with diabetes, the experience of food changes as time goes. One time it harms. Like before, two pieces of orange increased the diabetes, or what do you call the small fruit? [Student: Grapes.] Two grapes and water, many years ago brought on the diabetes but now not.

It is a general explanation but it depends on your experience. Certain food harms you sometimes, but certain food cures you. Khadro-la’s attendant, Sangpo, recovered from his diabetes by eating tsampa, barley flour. There have been people like that. You have to understand karma; so much depends on karma. There was a Tibetan or Nepali whose face looked like the young Nepalese king who was killed. I went to see him once to ask his help to build a university in Kathmandu and in Lumbini but it didn’t happen. Tibetan monks came to get Nepalese citizenship but it didn’t happen. It was very easy to talk to the young king. So I offered him a big carpet, a peacock feather and a prayer wheel. This was the first prayer wheel made by a student from Guhyasamaja Center, Washington. Lorne and his wife at that time bought a small prayer wheel in Boudha, and when I saw him and mentioned the benefits of prayer wheels, they started to make prayer wheels. They were very primitive, made with wood. I gave one to the king, and he asked what to do with it. So I told him there were skies of benefit. When I was leaving I mentioned that if you have a prayer wheel when you die and you put it on your head, it was the same as doing powa, the transference of consciousness to a pure land. When I talked about death, he was physically there but mentally he went far away. He asked, “Guru, should I keep this?” so I said he should. He was trying to follow the truth but his wife was Hindu and she took it away. I heard the story. OK. I don’t know why that story came.

The possessed result is like this, you understand? Where does the side effect of medicine and food come from? It comes from you, from your negative mind. That is very important to understand. To change that you have to change your mind, you have to purify your mind into a positive one, creating only good karma with morality. Now you understand.

Practicing morality—as a lay person, a monk or a nun—there is a relationship with the environment, a relationship with the world you live in. Your positive mind affects the world giving you a happy life; your negative mind affects the world giving you a suffering life. That is how you should understand it.

Living in morality as a lay person, there are five, four, three, two or one precepts besides refuge, but the basic thing is to not harm others. That is most unbelievably important in life—to not harm others and, on the basis of that, to benefit others. If you harm then of course you can’t benefit them.

That is the possessed result of killing an insect, one sentient being. Now experiencing a result similar to the cause, whatever the past negative karma you have created, however you harmed the other sentient beings, you now receive that harm from others as a result. For how long? Not just once, not just for one life, but you receive harm from others for five hundred lifetimes.

I think that might be in general. It depends on how much harm you gave, how harmful it was, but generally for the result of one negative action of killing, you will be killed for five hundred lifetimes. Keep that in mind. For one action of killing one sentient being, the result is you get killed by others for five hundred lifetimes. I want to emphasize this. You have to understand it. You experience the result similar to the cause.

The fourth one is creating a result similar to the cause. You repeat the same action again because of the habit, the imprint left from the past action. Again you harm sentient beings, killing them again in next life. You do this again and again, not just once but again and again, because of the habit. Having done it often before, the negative imprint is left to do it again. For example, in one family with five children, one child doesn’t like to kill insects and animals at all. When the child sees other people killing they cry, whereas somebody else in the family will see an insect and immediately want to kill it. Like that, two children are born in same family, but their life is totally different.

So, you can see that their minds didn’t come from the parents. Because their minds came from their own past lives, the continuity of their own past lives’ minds, they are different. One likes so much to kill, the other one cries even seeing somebody else killing.

I saw in a video showing how every year in the past there were two days when the Nepalese government killed ten thousand buffaloes. I don’t know if they do it now11 but, before, the officials cut their necks with a long knife. They competed, watching who was better at cutting the necks of the buffaloes. I heard there was a competition, and the government officials killed ten thousand buffaloes in two days. But in some places, such as Pharping, most of the animals sacrificed are chickens. They believe the god drinks the blood or something like that. I don’t know if India has this. I don’t think India has that many sacrificial animals. There are maybe other countries but Nepal is the worst.

I saw a picture of a small child who didn’t know his father had brought a goat to their place to sacrifice it. The video didn’t show it but after another goat was sacrificed, their own goat was about to be killed. Seeing that, the boy got a shock and he had his arm around the goat calling out to his father not to kill it. He pointed his finger at the father, telling him to stop but the father didn’t want to, so the child cried. Then the father made a promise that he would never kill another goat in his life.

He saved his father from negative karma and the four suffering results. By killing one time you get killed five hundred lifetimes. The father had sacrificed on those special days and even on other days, so, by crying, the boy saved his father from the most unbelievably heavy negative karma. And he saved so many goats from being sacrificed. I don’t know where the child lives, but I thought to go to him to offer him a khatag, a scarf, to thank him, but it didn’t happen.

I heard that nowadays in Nepal the sadhus, the priests and students talk about not sacrificing. They say if you want to sacrifice, sacrifice your own blood, sacrifice yourself. They say that it is not the way to worship, that it does not please the gods, that it is the wrong way. That is a very effective way to talk. I heard many sadhus, many lamas are talking like that now in Nepal. When I heard the first one, I thought to offer a scarf to thank him very much. Buddhists don’t sacrifice like that. Killing even one being, as a result you get killed for five hundred lifetimes by others, by the sentient beings you killed.

This is just one being but there are people killing every day. Even in one hour they kill so many conch shell animals to sell. There are also so many people in the world hunting animals to kill. They have never heard the Dharma; they have never got the wisdom of the Dharma to understand what is right and what is wrong in the life. No way. For their whole life they haven’t heard, and even if somebody told them they would think that person was crazy.

My talk went on and on, sorry.

Down below the mountain there is a Nepalese man who used to buy goats that came from India. When I saw them I bought them, even though they were twelve or thirteen thousand rupees, something like that. I left them at the nunnery because one or two might have some disease, and then they would come here. I did that a few times. Then, his wife died. She suffered so much for a year, then I think what happened she said the heavy karma she experienced was due to this. I’m not talking about past lives, just this life. We didn’t get to talk but after he saw his wife die, he stopped killing. He sold the goats to a restaurant down there, so they depended on him to make money. They received meat from him.

Before his wife died, the driver for the nunnery, a Nepalese man, told me that because he was dealing with the goats, he told him to not kill, but he said, “By killing goats I am able to build a new house.” Because the nunnery driver hadn’t learned Dharma, when the man told him the benefits the driver couldn’t say anything.

The last time, I sat down with the man and gave him a crystal mala and recited mantras. I told him to go around the Boudha stupa and recite them, and I talked a little bit about the negative karma of killing. This time when I went to the celebration of a lama who built a monastery, on the car road, not this side, he was there at his house. He stood up when I was coming up. I think he saw me, but I didn’t get to acknowledge him.

When people have no karma to hear the Dharma their whole life, even if you tell them, they will think you are crazy. It doesn’t fit their mind. So you can see, so much unbelievable suffering is due to ignorance, not knowing the Dharma. All these are objects of compassion for you. Due to ignorance, life after life they have to suffer, for hundreds of thousands, millions of lives, on and on, they have to suffer. This is without talking about the lower realms.

You are just here as a human being temporarily, for a very short time. It’s like lightning at night; it’s like a water bubble that can be popped anytime; it’s like water dew on the plants, it can drop off anytime.

Even to be free from samsara forever, to achieve liberation, is not enough. The main purpose is to benefit others, to free sentient beings from oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to buddhahood, total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations. To do that perfectly without mistake, you must achieve the state of omniscience, and to do that you must know the Dharma. You need to know the Dharma. I emphasize that as the motivation.

Recognize You Are Harmed Because You Harmed OThers in the Past

Last night, I said that it is so important to meditate on Kadampa Geshe Chekawa’s Seven-Point Mind Transformation teaching on the basis of the Buddha’s teachings,

Blame all the shortcomings on one.
Toward others meditate on kindness.

Dharmarakshita was Lama Atisha’s guru. Lama Atisha made Buddhism in Tibet—both sutra and tantra—correct, pure. At one time it had degenerated but because of the purity of his teachings, it has continued up to now, and so many beings have become enlightened, or have become free from samsara as bodhisattvas. Lama Atisha’s guru, Dharmarakshita, said in Wheel of Sharp Weapons,

When our bodies are aching and racked with great torment
Of dreadful diseases we cannot endure,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have injured the bodies of others;
Hereafter let’s take on what sickness is theirs.12

When your body has the most unbearable pain, with many sicknesses, you should recognize that in the past you have harmed another transmigratory being’s body, so that wheel of sharp weapons, your own negative karma, has turned back on you. Because of the karma of harming another being’s body in the past, the wheel of sharp weapons of the negative karma, has turned on you this time. So now, what you should do is to take all the sentient beings’ disease on yourself. It mentions the evolution of where your disease comes from. It comes from the mind.

[The electricity cuts out] This darkness also comes from the mind!

Not only one sentient being’s sickness, you should take all the numberless sentient beings’ sickness on yourself, so it makes whatever sickness you have most worthwhile. Not only one sentient being, but your experience of pain should be for numberless sentient beings, for every single sentient being. It talks of the evolution, where your heavy pain comes from, not from others but from your mind.

That is related to sickness. It is similar with any relationship problem you are going through. I mean not just one but one after the other, even two or three together, you have relationship problems with different people. That is because you have caused something like that before. Slandering, sexual misconduct, you did these in the past to others, so now you are experiencing that back. The wheel of that karma of harming others is now turning back on you; you are experiencing the result of the harm you did to others

So now what you should do to make the experience of relationship problems most beneficial, is to take all the sentient beings’ relationship problems on yourself, to experience it for them. By taking all the relationship problems, all the suffering upon yourself, you experience it for them so they can achieve the dharmakaya. This is the bodhicitta practice that Lama Atisha’s guru, Dharmarakshita, advised.

For example, I’ll mention a story. We bought land in Tibet for a million dollars to build a Padmasambhava statue for the success of His Holiness’ wishes for Tibet. Some students gave and some students loaned some money, so we raised a million dollars. We got the land but then we had to build a hospital or school or something but because we were building the statue it didn’t happen. The Tibetan man who was helping us didn’t go to the Chinese office, so we lost it to the Chinese government. Later I realized it is a holy place where Padmasambhava met King Trisong Detsen, the Dharma king of Tibet. It is a very holy place, with Padmasambhava’s footprint. I went to see it after we bought it. It is very beautiful place.

What happened was, it didn’t cost that much, only half a million dollars, but the man who helped took over five hundred thousand more. He also bought land for himself with that same money. This is what happened. I asked the person who produced the most famous feng shui book in the world, Lillian Too, who knows a Buddhist businessman in Malaysia. I asked him to build a Padmasambhava statue for the second time. He accepted and he sent his manager to Tibet. He went in to the office and saw many false letters. The big businessman from Malaysia got very angry and wanted to put the Tibetan man and his wife in prison. I said we can’t do that; we can’t put them in prison. It’s not simply a family matter so it’s a disgrace. If you are practicing Buddhism you can’t put them in prison. He got very angry, he thought they cheated me, a Buddhist, and he was very angry.

In reality, they are most precious, most kind. They have allowed us to finish the karma we created in a past life that we did to other people. In the past we did like that to other people, we cheated them. Because they have helped us finish the past heavy negative karma, they are extremely kind. Instead of being born in the lower realms, in hell, we experience the karma of what we did to other sentient beings, cheating them, in this life. Then we finish that negative karma. So those who did that are extremely kind, they are most extremely kind. I didn’t tell the man that, but that is the reality.

Did Marcel serve on the Maitreya Project for one year or two years? Three years? There is another story I want to tell you. I know some of you have these problems, which is why I want to tell you the story. We are trying to build a five-hundred-foot Maitreya Buddha statue in India. This is the first time I have told you this story. Again, it is the same kindness. I met a couple in Singapore. I don’t think the wife knew very well what the husband wanted to do. She was taking care of their two small children. The husband explained to us that they could build the five-hundred-foot Maitreya Buddha statue four or five times; they had the money. I don’t think the wife knew anything about this. We believed him.

Then, there was a story. Her brother got angry or negative, and he took away her money. She had to escape to Malaysia and then to France and Nepal, to several countries. We tried to help. Kunsang spent money for the traveling and food, and then Marcel helped. We helped doing pujas. They didn’t stay anywhere, just going here and there for two years. We requested other lamas to do mo. Drubtob Rinpoche, who lives near Swayambunath, did a mo, and many pujas came out, which Sera Mey and Lama Ösel Rinpoche did for two years. He said it would be very difficult to get money from her for the project.

When we are experiencing in this life the karma of having cheated others in the past, when we get cheated, most observations, maybe not all, indicate it is according to our karma. I think so. We did that for two years, doing many pujas, then in the end we sent her a message in China, “You did that to us, but don’t do that to others.”

All that is actually totally the same. It was so kind that she did that to us, so kind. Instead of being born in the lower realms and experiencing heavy negative karma for eons, she made us finish that karma in this life. We experience the result of having cheated in the past, and, by experiencing that, the past karma is finished. So, she is extremely kind, helping us to finish past negative karma.

Thinking like that helps you generate compassion and frees you from samsara more quickly. You achieve enlightenment more quickly if you generate compassion for a person like that. Some of you have to experience problems, so I’m telling you the story of how we dealt with it. It is not only you who experiences problems, we do too.

When people think you are telling a lie when you speak to them, even if it is true, when they don’t believe what you say, all that is the result of the past negative karma of telling lies to others. Things like that are difficult. If many people tell you lies, that is the result of the past negative karma of telling lies to others; the wheel of sharp weapons has turned on you and now you have to suffer. Then you tell lies again to others because of your past habit, the imprint.

Then, with sexual misconduct, the possessed result is you are born or you live in a place that is very dirty, smelly, unhealthy. For example, even if you normally live in a clean place but sometimes, even for five or ten minutes, you have to cross such a place, filthy, dirty, with lots of kaka, it is the possessed result of past sexual misconduct. You have to remember that.

Experiencing the result, if you are married, your husband or wife is always competitive with you; they are never harmonious. That becomes a cause of divorce or separation. All that is the result of your negative karma of sexual misconduct with others who are not your husband or wife. Even with your husband or wife, there are certain things that are sexual misconduct, such as having sex after having taken the eight Mahayana precepts or at holy places, such as the guru’s place or stupas or monasteries. There are certain places where it becomes sexual misconduct. By committing sexual misconduct the wheel of karma turns on you and you never get along, you always fight. These things happen.

Creating a result similar to the cause, you do again in this life what you did in the past to others, again and again. Even if you want to control it, it happens; you have no choice, you kind of fall into that. That is because the imprint of so much past negative karma is very strong, so it happens again and again. That is creating a result similar to the cause.

Related to stealing, which has gathered four actions, due to another good karma ripening, after acquiring another human life, you suffer so much. Where you are born, where you live, there is no rain. There is a drought and nothing grows. Or even if it grows, because of the wind—I don’t know what it is called—the crops grow a little bit but then are completely destroyed. Or there is too much rain and there are floods, destroying the crops.

In Africa there was a place without water where millions of people died, including children. Then, somebody brought water in from another country by airplane, but the minute the airplane arrived in this place, all of a sudden the water in the airplane became very dirty. It became filthy in the airplane, completely undrinkable. You have to know why the water became filthy. It is all from the mind, from the past negative karma of stealing. The possessed result is so harmful to life.

Experiencing the result similar to the cause means that things get stolen. Some people seem to always have their things stolen, money and other possessions. That is experiencing the result similar to the cause. Then, creating the result similar to the cause, you do the stealing again, even though you know it’s not good. That problem can arise—you can’t abstain from it, you can’t control it, even though you know it is not good. That is the past negative karma creating the habitual attitude.

The shortcomings of slandering, gossiping, covetousness, ill will and heresy are explained. You should relate this to what Lama Atisha’s guru explained in the Wheel of Sharp Weapons, how doing negative things returns to you now. That explains what to do in the taking and giving bodhicitta practice, taking all the suffering of others on yourself and wishing that they achieve the dharmakaya. It is a great practice.

I’ll stop here.

Whatever problem you are experiencing now, relate it to past negative karma, to the ten nonvirtues you have done. That is a simple example. All that is done with the self-cherishing thought, and then you experience the different results. Then, you do the practice, as Dharmarakshita mentioned, taking the suffering of sentient beings on yourself. If you do that sincerely it makes you to achieve enlightenment quickly.


[Mandala offering]

Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me, all the three-time merits collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, may bodhicitta, the source of all happiness up to enlightenment for yourself and every sentient being, may it be generated in the hearts of every single sentient being, in particular the sentient beings in this world, in particular in the hearts of sentient beings in Nepal, all the students in FPMT and so forth, all those who rely on me, who I promised to pray for, whose name was given to me. May bodhicitta to be generated in all our hearts, including our family members who have died and those who are still living, and in any sentient being who sees me, hears me, remembers me, who touches me, sees photos of me, dreams of me—in all those sentient beings, not only people, even insects, may bodhicitta be generated in my own heart and in the hearts of all others. In whose heart bodhicitta has been generated, may it increase.

Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me, all the three-time merits collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, which exist in mere name, may the I, who exists in mere name, achieve buddhahood, which exists in mere name, and lead all the sentient beings, who exist in mere name, to that buddhahood, which exists in mere name, by myself alone, who exists in mere name.

Thank you very much.


10 See FPMT Essential Prayer Book, pp. 91–98. [Return to text]

11 Rinpoche is probably referring to the Gadhimai Festival which, after huge petitions and protests, was stopped after the 2018 festival by the Gadhimai Temple Trust. [Return to text]

12 V. 10. [Return to text]