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 4: Three Types of Valid Knowledge; How the I Exists

...negates, can give harm, then in that case Thubten Zopa would be truly existent. So, the absolute wisdom doesn't find mistake, cannot negate, so Thubten Zopa is not truly existent. It exists by being merely labeled by thought and name.

And, example, Thubten Zopa, the one who is sitting on this throne having one mile of tail, that much long, even if somebody sees that, if somebody sees Thubten Zopa sitting on this throne having one mile tail, length of tail one mile, even if one person sees that but many other valid minds, the true minds, they don't, they see Thubten Zopa who is sitting on this throne not having one mile tail. So you see in regards having the one mile tail many other valid minds can refute. Many other valid minds see that Thubten Zopa sitting on this throne is not having tail, so they discover it's a mistake. They don't see it, so the other person's view, that person's view who sees Thubten Zopa having one mile tail, that is the wrong view, it is a mistake. It is not agreeable with others, with most of others' valid knowledge, valid mind.

Example relating to yourself: From a distance you see mannequin. From far you see there is somebody standing there talking, there is somebody making phone-call. You see one young girl making phone-call there. You see it from far, but when you come near to that you don't find the human being that you believed before, that young girl making phone-call, that becomes empty. It disappears, it becomes empty. When you come close it is plastic, it is figure made of plastic and holding telephone, holding the machine, the phone.

So now the previous one that he used to see from a distance as a person, that young girl, even though this person himself labeled "Oh, that is a young girl making phone-call there outside of the shop", even though he labeled like that, however, that young girl doesn't exist. Doesn't exist as this person come nearby, the previous one becomes empty, that previous young girl becomes empty, the person sees it doesn't exist, that young girl doesn't exist on this figure. Himself and other people agree, it is agreeable, other valid minds they see that this is not living being, that this figure is a mannequin made of plastic. So that mannequin exists but that young girl doesn't exist. Even though it is labeled on that it doesn't exist, but the mannequin which is agreeable for others, which other valid minds see that it is a mannequin, that exists. It is common, it is known to other valid minds, it doesn't receive any harm from other valid minds. Even when this person himself saw his mistake, when he reached near, when he sees it is a mannequin his valid mind finds mistake in his previous view that it is a young girl. His valid mind finds mistake there, is able to harm, able to harm the previous view that it is a woman, a young girl. So also others valid mind can give harm to that view that it is a young girl, that view of seeing the mannequin as a young girl, also other valid minds can negate, can find mistake in that view. Because other valid minds see that mannequin is not a living being, is not actual a human being.

So like this similar, similar to the "I". On the perfect labeling base, the labeling base which is the worthwhile perfect base, then the "I" that is merely labeled on that is known to other valid minds and other valid minds cannot negate, cannot find mistake, cannot find that it is not I. And the absolute wisdom cannot negate it, cannot find mistake or cannot negate it.

So things to exist, just by labeling, simply just by labeling things cannot exist. So for things to exist it should be anything which is qualified, anything that has these three qualities, then it exists.

I think pee-pee break? [Break]

You collect, you buy much brass, many pieces of brass you collect, then you go to sell as gold. You go to sell by labeling it gold, you call it gold, you tell everybody this is gold. This is gold, then you sell. Then you realize, then you realize whether it needs these three qualities or not, these three qualities that I have just mentioned. Known to other valid mind, other valid mind doesn't find mistake, and absolute wisdom doesn't find mistake. Because that brass that you have collected and that you sell by labeling it gold, if it has gathered all these three qualities then you won't get the problem that you become a criminal. You won't get the problem that you are selling brass, because actually what you sold is gold, what you sold is gold, so you won't get the blame, you won't become a criminal, you won't get into trouble such as punishment for selling things which are not gold as gold, cheating others by calling them gold, by calling this brass as gold. If the material that you are selling has these three qualities you won't be in those problem.

So if you think in this way, if you use this example than you can understand about the need of these three qualities, how things need these three to exist, how they should be perfected in regards of these three qualities. If you think of such an example, if you relate to an example such as this than you can understand, than it is easy to understand. However, without mentioning much, the powerful it exists, the "I" exists on these aggregates. What I am saying is this. When you weight in the shops, when you buy something, in the West in the supermarket, you buy things in packet. Very easy. Things in packet already. Already cleaned. Here you buy by kilos, if you go do buy food in the shops they weigh it. So you see, the main thing that I want to express is when they weigh it, whenever one side is heavier, the other side goes up. Automatically, when this side is heavier, the other one, the other side, the other point of the stick goes up. Why the other side of the stick go up when the person is holding like this, why the other side of the stick goes up? One would simply say, anybody would simply say because the other side is heavier, so it goes down and the other one goes up. So similar, when this is lighter, when that is heavier, automatically when this goes down the other one goes up. Because it is dependent, dependent on each other. Dependent. Other one is lighter than this, so this one is heavier, so then this one goes down other one goes up. Dependent, it works by dependence, it is not because there is no connection between these two, it is because there is a connection, a link, they are dependent on each other so this one the heavier one goes down, the other one, the lighter one, that top of the stick goes up. So, like that, it works by dependence, being under the control of dependence. One side goes down, the other side goes up when it is unbalanced, it happens by being under the control of dependence. Because it is dependent so it works in that way.

Similar, just exactly like that, the "I" which appears to us now on these aggregates, whenever we realize this "I" which appears to us now empty, on these aggregates there is an "I" which appears as if it exists from its own side, the "I" which is merely labeled on these aggregates appearing as not merely labeled but as if it exists from its own side, whenever you realize this I completely, from all sides completely empty, not half and half, not like that. The I that appears as truly existent, complete, not as part, hts, [pause] this might be easier. When you realize [pause] on this rope, on this piece of rope either in the early morning or in the evening time, in the shimmering time, in such a condition, and also the position of the rope, what you used to believe before there is a snake, when you see that there is no snake, with the light, with the torch and everything when you come near with a torch, when you search where is that snake on that piece of rope, when you find there is no snake, when you realize this, then it is not like this: half of the body of the snake doesn't exist but half exists on that rope. It is not like that, a piece of that snake exists on that rope but the most of the part of the body doesn't exist on that rope, it is not like that. When you see the emptiness of the snake on that rope, when you see the snake is empty on that rope, you see the whole part of the snake's body, the whole part of the snake is empty. It is empty on that rope, nothing left, nothing left there. Similar, like that, on these aggregates the "I" which appears as truly existent is completely empty, the whole part, the whole thing completely empty from its own side.

So whenever you see this, right that minute whenever you see this, as a result, that becomes the cause [pause], realizing the truly existent I on these aggregates, realizing the truly existent I is completely, all the part are completely empty, that being as a cause, then by that power immediately, like how that stick works, the unbalanced stick, you experience the "I" exists on these aggregates so powerfully under the control of name. That I exists under the control of name, so powerfully it comes, so powerfully it comes on these aggregates. So powerfully it comes, powerfully without choice, without freedom. Like when this part of the stick, when it is heavier, other side is lighter, without freedom the other one comes up, the other side of the stick comes up, like that. Like that, when you realize it is empty, without choice, even if you don't accept with words, even if you don't accept, even if you say the "I" doesn't exist, even you say with words, even if your theory, your philosophy is that, even with words, verbally, even that is normally what you say, but if or when you realize on these aggregates the "I" is empty, that I which exists from its own side is empty of existing from its own side, empty, then without freedom, without choice the experience comes, even though verbally, intellectually you say that, however the experience comes. When you realize the "I" which is really empty, which doesn't exist, when you realize that, no choice, no freedom, you realize the I exists, you seize it. And then how it exists is under the control of name, and that so powerfully, that so strongly comes on these aggregates. Then that time you don't see I from the side of the aggregates, you don't see, but definitely you see I on these aggregates, I exists on these aggregates, definitely that you see, under the control of name. This "under the control of name" is exact, like taking a picture of a person, like that, under the control of name.

So that time you don't see the "I" from the side of the aggregates, from there you don't see the "I" the way you used to believe before, but you see the "I" there on these aggregates. From there you don't see, on there you see the I. Normally where you believe the "I" to be, normally where you believe there is I, when you realize shunyata, when you finish analyzing on shunyata, when you realize shunyata, you don't find from there where you used to believe before, you don't find there. Somewhere where you do not expect, somewhere where you do not expect that it exists, from there it exists, the "I". That you did not expect before, that you did not think about, that you didn't have idea before, from there somewhere, the place where it is, it doesn't exist, but the place where it is not, it exists from there. It is like that, you see like this in that time. So however, when you see like this, when we actually realize shunyata, the infallible right view, the absolute nature, when we realize, that time we will discover the "I" that we used to believe now, where it is now, what appears now, what we used to believe now, this is completely non-existent. That time we will discover. What we used to believe, what we used to cling now, how it appears now and what we used to believe now, cling now, that time, then we discover this is completely empty, non-existent. That time you recognize the "I" how it appears new and what we use to cling now, the "I", the me or the "I", this is completely hallucination.

However this time when you see like this, the "I" exists under the control of name, that time while the "I" is appearing on these aggregates, while the "I" is appearing to you, at the same time you see the "I" is empty, I is empty of existing from its own side. You see empty.

While you see the "I" is dependent, while you see the "I" is existing under the control of name, while you see the "I" is dependent on these aggregates, at the same time you see I is empty of existing from its own side. While you see on these aggregates, while you see the "I" is empty, empty of existing from its own side, you see clearly that it exists. While you see the "I" is empty, the "I" appears. You see the "I" existing depending on the aggregates. Even though the "I" appears as truly existent but you see it empty of truly existent. While you are seeing the "I" as empty of truly existent, the "I" appears as truly existent, like while you are seeing the mirage in the distance, on the condition, the hot sun touches on the sandy ground, while you are seeing the mirage at the same time, while there is appearance of water there, at the same time you see it's empty of water, at the same time you know there's not slightest drop of water, while there's appearance of water in the mirage at the same time you see that is empty, like this. While you are seeing there's no water, there's not even a drop of water, while you are seeing it is not water, there's the appearance of water, being mirage. Like that, similar, like this house, how it comes, how it appears to the mind or how it comes, it might come like this in the experience, I think it is like that.

So that time, when you have such experience like that, then you have incredible faith, you get incredible faith from the depths of the heart for the teachings, which explains about, which talks about subject, such as Lama Tsong Khapa's teachings, the way he emphasized so much about unification of the emptiness and appearance, the dependent arising and emptiness, such as the teachings of the three principles of the path, many people here might have received teachings on that, have seen, have read, the word which says that...