Kopan Course No. 33 (2000)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1257)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 33rd Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall. You can download the entire contents of these teachings as a PDF file.

You can also listen online to the teachings and read along with the unedited transcripts. Click on these links to access Days 1-5 and Days 6-10.

Lecture Eight

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At this time, one has received a perfect human body which is extremely rare to find. Generally even getting any human rebirth is extremely rare and only happens from having practiced pure morality. Therefore, we know how that is not easy to practice, how usually there is a fear and a lack of interest to do it. Even when try to practice, we are unable to do it purely because there are so many obstacles and all the delusions from inside the mind, and so many obstacles from outside, from the environment, to practice pure morality.

Therefore, the perfect human body which is qualified with the eight richnesses and ten endowments is extremely difficult to find. But at this time we have found it. We have met the Buddhadharma even the Mahayana teachings that makes it possible to achieve full enlightenment by ceasing all the gross and subtle defilements and to be able to liberate numberless sentient beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to full enlightenment. And we have met a virtuous friend, not just a virtuous friend who can show us the path to liberation but Mahayana virtuous friend who can reveal the path to enlightenment, the complete path to enlightenment without missing a single thing.

At this time, having all the opportunities to practice Dharma is not enough. It is not sufficient. We don’t have this opportunity forever. It is for a very short time and this opportunity can be stopped at any time because not only is death definite, but the actual time of death can occur any time. As is mentioned in the lam-rim outline in the meditation on impermanence, in this world system, the southern continent, the sentient beings have no fixed lifespan. Now, in this period of degenerate times particularly, there is even more uncertainty about when we will die. It can happen any day, even today; it can happen at any moment.

So, before that, we need to be able to make preparations not to be reborn in the lower realms, but to receive another human body. Even if we are able to achieve liberation from samsara that is not sufficient. Even if we are able to do that, to achieve this goal and be totally free from the whole of samsara and all suffering, that is still not sufficient. That is not the ultimate goal of our own life, that is still not the purpose of our own life, just to achieve happiness for ourselves. That doesn’t fulfill the purpose of our life. We must achieve full enlightenment to liberate numberless sentient beings from their suffering and bring them to full enlightenment.

To make that happen, we have to change our own attitude, by letting go of the I, by cherishing others. Without that, it is not possible, we cannot achieve full enlightenment, we cannot complete the Mahayana path, we cannot liberate all the numberless beings from suffering and bring them to full enlightenment.

By cherishing the I, you experience all the shortcomings. It not only interferes with but actually harms any attempt to achieve ultimate happiness, liberation and enlightenment, especially enlightenment. Not only that, it even interferes with having the success of this life; it even creates obstacles to temporary happiness. As the great bodhisattva Shantideva mentions in A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,

What is the need is there to mention? The childish work only for their own end while the buddhas work solely for the benefit of other. Just look at the difference between the two.

The first two verses talk about the shortcomings of what happens if you cherish the I. The results are only suffering, only problems, opening the door for all the problems if your attitude is only seeking happiness for yourself. If, on the other hand, you seek the happiness of others, if your attitude is wishing happiness for others, cherishing others, then you achieve all the happiness up to enlightenment, including the day to day life’s peace and happiness.

In the previous one, your attitude is only seeking the happiness for oneself, by cherishing the I, and from there you open the door to all suffering. We can prove this by seeing that what has happened until now has only ever been through the self-cherishing thought and because of that has never been true happiness. From beginningless rebirths, we have only sought happiness for ourselves, cherishing the I, living that kind of life. This is why Shantideva calls such a person “childish.” That means the ordinary being who lives his life with an attitude seeking happiness only for himself, working only for himself. Such a person is called childish.

We have been doing just that, living our life with that attitude, from beginningless rebirths up to now, therefore we are still a child, still childish. We have so far done nothing at all to become enlightened.

Before I mention that the Buddha himself changed his attitude from self-cherishing to cherishing others. From seeking happiness only for himself, he changes his attitude to one of seeking happiness only for others, and as he changed his attitude, he changed his actions.

Therefore, because of this in Tibetan the Buddha is called the “Mighty One" (Tib: Thu-pa). This name denotes he was able to change his attitude from the self-cherishing thought to cherishing others, as well as the actions. Even at this very beginning of the Mahayana path, the Buddha was called Thu-pa—the Mighty One—because even though Shakyamuni Buddha had been the same as us, with all the delusions, sicknesses, problems, obstacles and so forth, he was able to change his attitude. He didn’t stay like that forever. By realizing the extensive shortcomings of self-cherishing and the extensive benefit of cherishing others, he changed his attitude and developed bodhicitta. Having generated bodhicitta, he was able to enter the Mahayana path and complete the two types of merits, the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue, the merit of wisdom is the cause of the dharmakaya, the holy mind of a buddha, and merit of virtue is cause of the rupakaya, the holy body of buddha.

He achieved full enlightenment and he has liberated numberless sentient beings already and is still enlightening them. In each minute, in each second, he liberates numberless living beings. This is what Buddha is doing, liberating unimaginable sentient beings, even with each beam that emits from Buddha’s holy body within each second. This is what is happening. This is why Buddha is called the Mighty One. Buddha has infinite qualities of holy body, speech and mind. He has inconceivable qualities. It is beyond our concept to know Buddha’s holy actions’ extensive benefit to other sentient beings, how Buddha is able to benefit sentient beings. It comes from cherishing others, from changing the attitude; it started from there.

If we haven’t changed up to now, if we haven’t achieve full enlightenment up to now, if we haven’t even achieved liberation from samsara, it’s because of following the ego, the self-cherishing thought. It hasn’t allowed us to have any realizations up to now. From beginningless rebirths up to now, our mind has been empty of realizations, we haven’t had any attainments up to now. This is due to the self-cherishing, which has caused all the other negative emotional thoughts to arise, such as anger and, attachment and all those things. And because of that, we have had to experience all the sufferings of samsara up to now again and again, without beginning.

If we never changes our attitude and continue to be the same person, continuously following the ego, the self-cherishing thought, keeping the demon self-cherishing thought in our heart, then there won’t be any realizations—neither enlightenment or liberation, not any realization. We will endlessly experience the sufferings of samsara without end. That is how it has been in the past and it will be continue to be like this in the future. We will have to experience the sufferings of samsara endlessly.

Therefore, the ego, this self-cherishing thought, is much more harmful than all the atomic bombs there are in the world, because even if all the atomic bombs explode, if we have bodhicitta, they can’t cause us to be reborn in the hell realm, the lower realms. Even if the actual atomic bomb exploded, even though it caused the mind to split from the body, if we have bodhicitta, it doesn’t cause us to be born in the lower realms, but if we have the self-cherishing thought, if we die with the self-cherishing thought, then due to that negative emotional thought arising, that causes us to be reborn in the lower realms. So with ego, with the self-cherishing thought we are thrown into lower realms.

No matter how many atom bombs there are, they are nothing compared to the harm our own self-cherishing thought can do, how much it has done since beginningless rebirth up to now and it will continue to do. As long as we don’t change it, as long as we don’t eliminate it, it will torture us, it will make us suffer without end. And then we will give problems to other sentient beings, giving them so much suffering and harm, cause them to create negative karma from life to life—all due to this ego, this demon the self-cherishing. When we say “life to life harm to all the sentient beings” it is like that. The atomic bombs can’t do that, all this harm to all the sentient beings. This ego, this self-cherishing thought abiding in our heart is much more harmful than the atomic bomb. An atomic bomb is nothing compared to this.

Normally, people are terrified when they their doctor tells them they have cancer. Their mind gets so terrified. But, for example, many of my gurus have had cancer but they passed away in a state of meditation, and have reincarnated again in a monastery in order to benefit sentient beings. They have taken that aspect again to benefit other sentient beings, by showing this aspect of ordinary being, then they go to a monastery in their childhood to inspire others, in order to go through what ordinary people go through.

Buddha also did same thing. He was born a prince, then as a child, he played and took part in competitions. Then he got married. Even though Buddha became enlightened inconceivable eons ago but he showed the aspect of only in that life discovering suffering, old age, sickness and death, and then rebirth. Looking for a spiritual guru, he led an ascetic life for six years, then he showed the aspect of becoming enlightened and revealing the Dharma. At dawn time, just before become he became enlightened he was attacked by millions of maras, not wanting the Buddha to be enlightened at all but Buddha, without the slightest movement, in meditation state on loving kindness, subdued all those many millions of maras.

For example, many of my gurus took cancer, but just changed the body, just took another young, fresh, healthy body to benefit sentient beings. So, experiencing having cancer, the sickness alone doesn’t make you be born in the lower realms. Only if you have the self-cherishing thought, if you die with the self-cherishing thought will you be born in the lower realms. Even if you experience a sickness such as cancer, you can also go pure land of the buddhas, such as the Kalachakra pure land, Shambhala, the Amitabha pure land, the Vajrayogini pure land or the Heruka pure land—those pure lands where there are tantric teachings and you can become enlightened in that next life.

Therefore, what is really frightening is the ego, not the sicknesses, not the cancer. Of all the four hundred and twenty-four sicknesses, all of the harm they can do is nothing compared with your own ego, your self-cherishing thought. All those sicknesses are nothing; they do not even compare with the harm the ego does.

How many weapons there are in the world is nothing, their harm is nothing compared to your own self-cherishing thought, how it is harmful to yourself and all other sentient beings.

If there is a good heart, bodhicitta, no matter how many weapons you own, they are harmless. But even if you don’t have any weapons, but your attitude is the self-cherishing thought then there is danger to harm others with the body with the speech with the mind. There is great danger to harm others with the body, with the speech and with the mind.

How much pollution there is in the world, how much poison there is in the world, all those external harms are nothing compared to how much harm the ego, the self-cherishing thought does to you and other sentient beings from life to life. This self-cherishing thought is something that you must get rid of without delaying for even a second. Without delay of even a second you need to get rid of it, it needs to be abandoned.

This self-cherishing thought always interrupts with your ability to practice Dharma and even to meet the Dharma. Even when you finally, finally, met Buddhadharma, or when you finally try to meditate, to open the mind to meditate, to help yourself to have realizations—something that has never happened before from beginningless rebirths, this chance to have real change—when you finally do this, again this self-cherishing thought comes and doesn’t allow even for one minute to concentrate one pointedly. It causes attachment to arise which distracts the mind, moving it to other objects. Not only does it block perfect meditation even for one minute, it doesn’t even allow a full mala of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM to happen.

Even if you have a wish to practice Dharma, the self-cherishing thought not only interferes with that wish, it actually causes a fear of practicing Dharma, because it causes a fear of letting go of the I and of cherishing others, of offering the victory to others. It doesn’t allow this. Because of self-cherishing thought, desire arises which doesn’t allow you to practice the renunciation of samsara, the renunciation of this life. It doesn’t allow you to be able to practice pure Dharma. Even if you wish to practice, even if you know that to practice Dharma is a good thing for yourself and for others, still the ego doesn’t let you practice Dharma. It always finds excuses for you to do something else. There is always something else to do and the Dharma practice gets delayed.

Similarly, the self-cherishing thought doesn’t let you take vows, take precepts, not just the higher ordination of a monk or nun, but even the lay vows. The self-cherishing thought gives you a fear of taking precepts. Even if you have the opportunity to do so because you are in the right environment, the ego doesn’t allow that to happen, causing inferences, making attachment arise.

And even if you have taken vows, the lay or higher ordinations of a monk or nun, the self-cherishing thought again harms you by not allowing you to practice purely. Due to it, many other emotions and attachments arise which cause you to break the vows. The ego harms you even if you are trying to have a pure life. It ego doesn’t allow it. The ego doesn’t allow it, even if there is opportunity to collect merit, to create good karma, by practicing charity by making charity.

Having met your guru, even if you were to meet Shakyamuni Buddha himself, or Maitreya Buddha or Manjushri, there is nothing more you can learn from these buddhas, nothing more you can achieve from them than you can learn from your guru. I am not saying that I am one of them. I am not saying that, you shouldn’t think that way. But, for example to receive teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Geshe Sopa Rinpoche and then meet Manjushri, there is nothing else he could teach you.

However, due to the self-cherishing thought, having met a virtuous friend like that, you are still unable to follow his or her advice, you are unable to surrender to the guru who reveals the path to enlightenment. Again, this is all caused by the bad ego, the self-cherishing thought. This why, even though you have met a virtuous friend, the most qualified you can find in the world, still nothing happens in your mind. Even if you have received all the most profound and most secret sutra and tantra teachings, containing the whole path to enlightenment, even if you have heard it many times, still nothing happens, there is no change in your mind. That is completely, totally because you follow the ego, the self-cherishing thought instead of following the guru. Instead of surrendering to the guru, you surrender to the ego, you follow the ego, you become a disciple of the ego, follow it day and night, listening to what it says all the time. This is why there is no change, no realization, even after having met the Dharma and hearing so many teachings, for years and years. That is completely the shortcoming of following the ego, of surrendering to the ego. Even if all the buddhas come in front of you and give you teachings, as long as you don’t give up this ego, this self-cherishing thought, you won’t be able to achieve realizations because as long as you don’t change the mind, as long as you follows the ego, there is no way to achieve enlightenment.

Whenever you experience unhappiness or depression in daily life, this is caused by the ego, the self-cherishing thought. Any obstacle you experience, to practicing Dharma or even to achieving the happiness and success of this life, this is caused by the ego. How many times you have suffered due to relationship problems, one after another, on and on, all this totally is due to the ego. Because of the self-cherishing thought, attachment, desire arises and this creates all this suffering and confusion and all these relationship problems. Others’ unhappiness, anger, jealousy and so forth, all these problems are also caused by the ego.

So many times the thought comes that life is totally overwhelmed by suffering, you are totally suffocating. Because there are so many problems such as relationship problems, you experience life as suffocating. Then when there is no other solution the thought arises to commit suicide. You can’t think of anything else so the thought arises to kill yourself by jumping from a roof or from a bridge like the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or like the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are many bridges like that for people, when life becomes suffocating like that. They can jump from the roof or sometimes sit in a bathtub with some electricity or something. I’m not sure. Anyway, the thought comes many times to commit suicide. All this is definitely related to the self-cherishing thought. You can definitely see the connection to it.

When a businessperson fails in business, losing, say, thousands of millions of dollars, then has a nervous breakdown and commits suicide, all these unhappy life’s problems are definitely related to the ego, because in the past, out of ego, he did actions of stealing, covetousness and such things, and created negative karma which resulted in all these things, such as lack of success. Because he wishes are not fulfilled he takes his life. From success, suddenly one day he is plunged into loss and his business fails and there is so much difficulty in his life.

Why we have been so unhappy in the past can all be related to the self-cherishing thought, but also they come from negative karma. As I have mentioned, how that negative karma happened, first there is the self-cherishing thought then due to those actions that’s how they become negative karma, stealing and telling lies, covetousness and so forth. First there is the thought, but the resulting actions of speech and body become negative karma because the motivation behind them is the self-cherishing thought. That is how they are transformed into negative karma. Then, because of this, these problems arise and you are unable to succeed in business. When you have problems in your job—other people are jealous and they try to kick you out, to sack you—all these things are shortcomings of self-cherishing. They are caused by the self-cherishing thought. This is basically the same explanation as I explained before.

So many relationship problems come not only because you are unable to control desire, unable to control the self-cherishing thought, but also your companion or friend you rely on, who you trust, lets you down. You want to live with them, you want to live together harmoniously, but they change their mind and leave you, they abandon you. As I mentioned already the other day, these are the results of slandering, the past negative karma done out of self-cherishing. The other person leaving you, giving you up, splitting from you, is due to your own negative karma of slandering in the past out of self-cherishing. As well as sexual misconduct in past lives, done out of self-cherishing, became negative karma, all this unhappiness is related to the present self-cherishing thought and related to past lives’ self-cherishing who committed that negative karma. Therefore all those problems you normally experience came from the self-cherishing thought. Those normal problems you always see on TV, that you always hear and you yourself have also experienced are shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought, caused by the self-cherishing thought.

Even in one day, what makes life empty is the self-cherishing thought. Why every action you do in each twenty-four hours doesn’t become cause to achieve enlightenment is because of the ego. Because ego is abiding there, there is no place for bodhicitta, no place for the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment, no thought of cherishing others. So in that twenty-four hours your activity did not become the cause to achieve enlightenment and your life is wasted; it did not become meaningful, because it did not become the cause to achieve enlightenment.

Then not only did that twenty-four hours of your activity not become the cause to achieve even liberation from samsara, but because of the self-cherishing thought—the attachment to samsaric perfection, to samsaric pleasure—with those activities during the twenty-four hours there is no attitude of renunciation of samsara. Your attitude is only the desire clinging to samsaric happiness.

Due to the self-cherishing thought, desire arises, attachment, clinging to this life, seeking the happiness of this life and so due to that, in the twenty-four hours activities, even if you try to meditate, or even if you manage to meditate or chant mantras, those things do not become Dharma. What appear to be Dharma such as making charity, giving things to others, since the attitude comes from attachment, clinging to this life, it does not even become the cause to achieve the happiness of future lives because it does not become Dharma. Each activity of the twenty-four hours is the worldly dharma, it is nonvirtuous due to the attachment clinging to this life. Therefore, the twenty-four hours’ life becomes totally empty, totally meaningless—not only not Dharma but nonvirtue. Everything becomes nonvirtue. Therefore the ego makes your life during each twenty-four hours totally meaningless, empty, and not only that but every action is nonvirtue, the cause of suffering, the cause of the lower realms.
Therefore, this self-cherishing thought is to be abandoned, to be renounced without delay for even a second. What is called the I, this is to be let go of forever because cherishing this is opening the door for all problems, all obstacles.

Bodhicitta is the source of all the success, of all happiness, yours and all other sentient beings. Your bodhicitta brings all the happiness up to enlightenment to you, it completes all your work, ceases all the gross, subtle defilements such as anger, and completes the works for others, completes all the realizations up to enlightenment. Your bodhicitta, one person’s bodhicitta— if you have it—gives happiness to all sentient beings, causing them happiness in all future lives, causing them ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, and full enlightenment. One person’s bodhicitta causes all this happiness to numberless other sentient beings. The numberless hell beings are liberated from all their oceans of samsaric suffering and are brought to enlightenment. Your bodhicitta causes all the numberless hungry ghosts to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and brings them to enlightenment, besides all the other happiness. Your bodhicitta liberates numberless animals from the oceans of samsaric suffering and brings them to enlightenment, and causes all the other happiness. Your bodhicitta causes numberless human beings to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment and all other happiness. Your bodhicitta causes all the numberless suras and asuras to be free from all the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Your bodhicitta causes the numberless intermediate state beings to be free from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment.

Normally I recommend to even just think about the animals, the number of fish in the ocean or even in just one lake. Just thinking of one spot where there is a lake or river, without talking about the ocean, how many fish are there? Without talking about other animals, just the fish there is an uncountable number. If we think just one place, if you have bodhicitta then you liberate those numberless beings from that one lake— you liberate so many fish from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. That is fantastic; it is unbelievable! Then think of all the fish in the ocean, all the fish in any universe, you liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Even without thinking of any other sentient beings, without thinking of any other animals, just looking at the fish you liberate, how fantastic it is! If you think of just the ants you liberate, there are numberless ants, even in just those living one mountain or one field. It is unbelievable how many ants there in one field, even under a rock there can be a whole nest with thousands and thousands and thousands of workers that your bodhicitta is liberating from those oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to enlightenment. How wonderful is that! How incredible is that! This is what you do with your bodhicitta if you have bodhicitta.

Now think of all the ants living in all the universes—not only on this continent but in all the universes. You are able to liberate them all from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. How wonderful is that! How incredible is that! Similarly, we can talk about the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, the numberless animals, the numberless suras, the numberless asuras, the numberless human beings, all the numberless sentient beings are liberated from the oceans of suffering and brought to enlightenment. When we think about one type of worm, there is an unaccountable number, and to be able to liberate them and bring them to enlightenment is incredible. Therefore, they get all the happiness up to enlightenment from you, from your bodhicitta. It is up to you. It is your responsibility. All their happiness up to enlightenment comes from your bodhicitta, so you are responsible.

How crucial, how urgent it is to generate bodhicitta, the good heart. This is an emergency. You can’t wait, you can’t delay for even one second to have this bodhicitta realization. All the numberless sentient beings, their happiness up to enlightenment comes from your bodhicitta. They all depend on you, so you can’t wait. Your bodhicitta is crucial. It is so unbearable that sentient beings are suffering, that they are suffering is unbearable so you can’t delay for even a second.

All happiness comes from bodhicitta. All your happiness, all other sentient beings’ happiness comes from bodhicitta. All your past, present and future happiness comes from your good karma. Your good karma is the action of a buddha working within a sentient beings’ mind, within your mind. There are two types of action of a buddha: there is one where a buddha possesses his own mind, a buddha’s mind, and there is one within us sentient beings’ mental continuum. So this is the action of a buddha, our own good karma is the action of a buddha. And a buddha came from a bodhisattva, a bodhisattva came from bodhicitta and bodhicitta came from the root, great compassion.

From this you can understand. You can see that a bodhisattva came from bodhicitta. From this explanation, you can understand how all your happiness and all sentient beings’ happiness came from bodhicitta. Now it’s clear, it came from bodhicitta. All the happiness every single comfort that you experience, past, present and future, all happiness came from bodhicitta.

Bodhicitta came from great compassion and great compassion is generated by depending on the existence of suffering of sentient beings. Great compassion is generated dependent on the existence of suffering of sentient beings. It happens by the kindness of the suffering obscurations of sentient beings.

This is where all your past, present and future happiness came from, from other sentient beings. That means every sentient being. You can’t only include the friend and leave out the enemy; it is not like that. All your past, present and future happiness—including enlightenment and all realizations—everything you have received by the kindness of every single obscured suffering sentient being. So that also includes the enemy, the person who abused you, the person who criticized you, the person who doesn’t love you. All the past, present and future happiness you have received is also from this person that you call enemy, because compassion, from where bodhicitta arises, is generated by depending on the existence of that suffering sentient being. Great compassion has to cover all sentient beings. The compassion that feels how unbearable is the suffering of all sentient beings who are obscured by suffering, that compassion covers all sentient beings, and wants to free them all from suffering and its causes by oneself. That is great compassion—without leaving out any sentient beings, without exception, without leaving out any sentient being.

All your three times’ happiness came from this person who also abused you, who got angry at you, therefore this person is the kindest, most precious person in your life. It is like that with all other sentient beings. Every human being, every animal, every hell being, every sentient being is the kindest, the most precious one in your own life. Everybody, including the person next to you. Look around here, starting from here, there is the kindest, most precious one in your life.

Therefore think, “In my life, there is nobody for me to cherish except only the other sentient beings, there is nobody to work for except only the other sentient beings. I have no purpose to work except only for others. Any work other than this is meaningless, senseless. What sentient beings want is happiness, what they do not want is suffering. Therefore, I must free them from all suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment by myself alone—alone. There is no other means to do that except first myself achieving enlightenment.”

Dinner time. It looks like beyond dinner time. [RL] I think the motivation is for dinner. [Rinpoche confers] Oh, okay, I think not only for dinner, I thought motivation was only for dinner, but maybe not quite.

“For that reason then I am going to listen to the teaching on the lam-rim and the oral transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra for the benefit of all my kind mother sentient beings.”

The negative karma of stealing is a completed one when there is the base, thought, action and goal, when there is all four aspects. As I mentioned before, at the present whenever you think that something you have taken from somebody without their permission is actually yours, then that is the goal. The action of stealing is complete. For example, if you borrowed a book from somebody a long time ago, and the other person hasn’t given it up—they still think of it as their book—but because you’ve had it so long you consider it yours. You think, “Now this is mine, I’ve got it.” At that time it becomes stealing, even though before it was borrowed.

With the completed negative karma of stealing, of the four suffering results you have to experience, the ripening aspect result is rebirth in the lower realms, as a hell being, a hungry ghost or an animal, one of those.

Then of three suffering results you have to experience later, sometime, when you get reborn in the human realm, the possessed result is the place where you are born. Where you live, the crops, the fruit, your enjoyments are all very little, very scarce. Crops or food, enjoyments are very scarce, very few. Even if before they were plentiful, now they have changed and they are very scarce. That is the possessed result of the negative karma of stealing. Or you plant something it won’t grow, and even if it grows, like a fruit tree bearing fruit, the fruit rots and becomes inedible. Then there are lots of obstacles experienced, like in those countries such as Africa, where there are weather problems, heat or cold, or violent storms where crops are destroyed. This happens in Solu Khumbu, the place where I was born, where the main crop is potatoes. When it is too cold it destroys the crop, when it is too wet it destroys the crop. Or the crop becomes dry. The fruit becomes dry, or eaten by insects of animals. It becomes nonexistent and can’t be enjoyed by humans.

One time when I was in New Zealand, there were so many rabbits, an unbelievable number of rabbits, covering whole mountains. This is due to the karma of the people. The government’s idea was to kill all these rabbits, but it didn’t do anything to change their past negative karma. Their karma was for their crops to be eaten by the rabbits and because they didn’t purify it, killing the rabbits didn’t eliminate the problem. All it did was create the karma of killing, the extra negative karma, which suffering result they will have to experience later, either in this life or in future lives. If they don’t want rabbits to eat the crops they have to deal with the past karma, they have to purify that. That is the solution. To not experience problems they have to purify the karma, but instead of purifying the karma they create extra negative karma to experience different, other sufferings, later.

This is due to a lack of understanding, a lack of education of karma, a lack of the correct understanding of the cause of happiness and the cause of suffering, how all these problems come from the mind. Therefore, their solution only created another problem. The karma was not purified and so more rabbits came continuously to eat the crops and they kept on killing them, thinking that will solve the problem. But as long as karma is not purified, there will continue to be rabbits, no matter how many they kill.

Then you may think of this question: when did the rabbits start in this world? Rabbits coming to eat crops, that kind of connection to the people, so when did the rabbits start? You see, they had the karma for that to happen, there is the karma to have the rabbits. The people who want to kill the rabbits think this is a solution to protect the crops, to have their enjoyment—they need to ask how the rabbit happened in the first place. What makes the rabbit happen? That could be interesting question to the people who think killing the rabbits is the solution.

If there is the karma for a rabbit to happen, it will happen. Because there was karma for such animals, with such-and-such a body shape, to be born, because that karma was created so therefore that rabbit was born. Therefore killing is not the solution.

So with the possessed result, the seeds you plant get eaten by worms or are burned by fire; they cannot grow and things like that.

Then with experiencing the result similar to the cause of stealing, you experience poverty when you are born as a human being. You have no means of living or very little; it is very difficult to earn a living. Even if you can, you have to share it with other people. You don’t have complete freedom like that.

Also, you lose your things all the time or your things get stolen by other people. When your things get stolen by others, you have to remember immediately at that time that what you are experiencing is the result similar to the cause, it is an experience which is similar to a cause you have created in past times. It doesn’t have to only be a past life; it can also be caused by something you have done in this life, in your childhood time or even the last year or even the last few days. Sometimes it can even be the same day.

So when your things get stolen by others remember this is one of the results of the karma of stealing, the experience which is similar to the previous cause, which is called nor-wa in Tibetan. Anyway, this is my own translation.

Then creating the result similar to the cause is after some time, even when you born as a human being, you do the same thing again, stealing. Even after some people are punished—even if they are put in prison—they still steal. Even if that person has suffered so much in prison, having been severely punished, the person does it again and again, because of such heavy karma from past lives, creating the habituation, creating the result similar to the cause.

The ripening aspect result means you will be reborn in the lower realms. The possessed result means that, if you are a farmer, you can’t develop your work, can’t improve the work. Or if you are doing business, such as sailing ships, transportation, carrying things or people, you are unable to have success, you unable to develop. It might be same thing, you open a shop but you don’t receive any buyers, clients or customers. If you open a hospital there are not any patients, even though there are many at other hospitals. Or if you open a restaurant, you don’t receive any diners, all the chairs are empty. So anyway, you are unable to progress.

Nothing happens according to your wishes, nothing is according to how you want. People cheat you, so many people cheat you. Whichever country you go, so many people cheat you and there are so many causes of fear. The places where you live are filled with so many dangers, so many fears. Life is dangerous. This is possessed result of negative karma of telling lies.

The three other suffering results you experience in human realm later, for some time, when you get born as a human being. Experiencing the result similar to the cause, you have so many people who criticize you, who put down you, who cheat you, who deceive you. Then creating the result similar to the cause, you do it again—cheating others, telling others lies.

Then for the negative karma of slandering, the possessed result that is when you are born as a human being after some time, the place where you live has so many hills or mountains, which makes life very difficult because you have to go up and down, up and down. It is not planned, not beautiful, traveling is very difficult, which makes life very difficult. The place where you live also has so many external dangers; there are so many fears and so many causes of fear.

Then for experiencing the result similar to the cause, there is no unity in the family, other people are not harmonious with you. There is disharmony; there is no unity and so the surrounding people don’t really like you. They have bad thoughts towards you; they are mean to you. This is because in the past you slandered others, you expressed uninteresting words to others, therefore in this life you hear this from others—words that disturb your mind, other people talking badly about you, or badly about another person, your companion or friend, which creates disunity with that person. Even the words your speech becomes the cause of fighting. You try to talk but your words become the cause of quarrels with other people and they get angry. So this is experiencing the result similar to the cause.

The next one, creating the result similar to the cause, means that again you commit the negative karma of slandering. As I mentioned before that completed negative karma has four suffering results. The negative karma of slandering produces four suffering results, so one of them is to again slander, and this goes on as long as you don’t change your mind and actions, as long as you don’t abstain from that negative karma, don’t purify the past negative karma, then the suffering result goes on and on, without end. It is the same with stealing and telling lies.

The next one is the completed negative karma of gossiping. The ripened aspect result is rebirth in one of the lower realms. Then the possessed result to do with the place where you live. The trees don’t bear fruit, or it doesn’t happen at the right time, when you need it. Then although the fruit appears ripe, it isn’t. And not having stable roots, the trees don’t last long time. The place where you live is very ugly and unpleasant. If there is a forest or a pond, it is a very unpleasant pond. The place is filled with so many causes of fear for your life.

Then experiencing the result similar to the cause is that, after some time when you are born as human being, your speech doesn’t have power. Therefore, when you give a talk or when you request somebody to do something important, your words doesn’t have power so other person doesn’t aspire to help you. Others do not pay attention to your words. Then, creating the result similar to the cause is doing the action again, creating the negative karma of gossiping—having conversations or talking without meaning, without purpose, to develop delusions.

Then, harsh speech. However nice your words might sound, their purpose is to hurt another person or people’s mind. Sometimes the way the person says it, it kind of sounds nice, but it hurts the other person. The completed negative karma has four suffering results. The ripened aspect result is birth in the lower realms. The possessed result, is where you are born or where you live there are lots of thorn bushes, lot of thorns that are very unpleasant. And it is a very rocky place, kind of rough. I don’t know how to say it, there are many details. I don’t know the name in English, but it is very rough like a thorn, a very rough bush that grows on logs, like that kind of bush. However, the main thing is it is a very rough place, it is not very pleasant and it doesn’t have many glorious, magnificent, green places. In fact it is the very opposite. It’s a very unpleasant, unhappy place. The sutra texts go into quite a number of details; there are many things mentioned, many unpleasant things. The place holds many fears for your life; there are many cause of fear. There are places where there is a lot of negative karma of killing, where lots of negative actions are done.

Experiencing the result similar to the cause of harsh speech is that your words hurting other people’s mind. Sorry, I’ve got mixed up. Some part that I mentioned was the slandering so that is the result of this one. So, experiencing the result similar to the cause of slandering, is being surrounded by people who are not harmonious with you, they don’t unite to you and they are bad to you, mean to you. There is also separation, where your friend or companion or husband or wife separates from you, leaves you, because, by slandering, you caused disunity with them in the past, causing people who were harmonious to split. So, the same thing happens to you.

So for harsh speech, with experiencing the result similar to the cause, you hear unpleasant words from other people, in exactly the same way that you said unpleasant words to other people in the past. Even your own talk becomes the cause of quarrels. You try to speak truthfully but it still becomes the cause of quarrelling. Creating the result similar to the cause of harsh speech is that you do it again, so then that action itself has the four suffering results. So it goes on and on like that, until you purify the past negative karma and change your attitude and action.

Then, covetousness. The three negativities of the mind are covetousness, ill will and heresy. Doing this negative karma will have ripening aspect of birth in lower realms. Then possessed result is things decrease, such as the crops or any worldly perfection. For example, where there was once a lot of oil production or gold—any perfection like that including crops—now year by year it decreases, year by year, month by month, day by day it becomes scarcer and scarcer. Experiencing the result similar to the cause of covetousness is that your wishes don’t succeed. What you hope for doesn’t succeed. You always have a dissatisfied mind with so much desire, and so you are unable to satisfy yourself. You desire is so strong you are unable to be satisfied, unable to be content. This is experiencing the result similar to the cause.

Then, creating result similar to the cause means you do the same thing again. Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentioned in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand that when you go to the market shopping, you come back with so much negative karma of covetousness. You come back with your shopping bags full of the negative karma of covetousness. First, there is the attachment wanting to have those objects, then there is the action where you decide to get them, then the action is completed. So, first there is attachment wanting to have them. Therefore, I often say you need lam-rim in daily life. There is no choice; your mind has to abide in lam-rim. When you go shopping if you do the shopping with the renunciation of samsara, the renunciation of this life, with detachment to this life and detachment to samsara, then you don’t any create negative karma of covertness. If you go shopping with a bodhicitta motivation to benefit other sentient beings, when you buy things to benefit other sentient beings, whether it is food or clothing or whatever, the aim is to benefit the sentient beings, not for your happiness—in that way it does not become covetousness, a negative karma of mind.

The same is also true of right view. When you go shopping with right view, with a meditation on emptiness… I was going to mention today how to meditate on emptiness in the busy life, but I did not get to finish. Anyway, while you are busy, if you do the shopping with right view, with a meditation on emptiness, then you don’t create the negative karma of covetousness, in Tibetan, nak-sem.

The next one is the negative karma of ill will. With the completed negative karma, the ripened aspect result is rebirth in one of the lower realms. Then later, when you get born as a human being in human realm, you experience the possessed result to do with the place. There is a lot of disease. There are many, contagious diseases that do great harm to life. You get so many contagious diseases from other people. I think there are many wars, fighting, attacks by others. And you are bitten by poisonous snakes or mosquitoes, or scorpions. [RL] Anyway, and all those insects harm you. Some people get bitten a lot by ants.

His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, one of the gurus from whom I have received many initiations and teachings, the great pandit, the great scholar and highly attained being, the deity Heruka in reality, His Holiness Zong Rinpoche—wherever he is in hot countries such as India where there are a lot of mosquitoes, they never bite him because his karma to be bitten was gone.

Anytime ants bite you, or all those biting insects like fleas—whenever that happens, you should remember at that time that you are experiencing the possessed result of the past negative karma, you past evil. When you remember this, you won’t get angry. There is nothing to blame to those animals, insects for because it’s your karma that caused them to bite you. Also the place where there is a lot of robbery, a lot of thieves, the place where there is a lot of fear—that is the possessed result. Experiencing the result similar to the cause means that you receive harm from other people. Even though all you wish for is whatever is beneficial, all you seem to receive is harm.

Then creating the result similar to the cause, you commit that negative karma, ill will, again in the next life where you are born as a human being. Then again, if you don’t change your mind by purifying it, that negative karma goes on and on, like that.

Then next, the last one—miraculously we’ve got to the last one. [GL] It’s a miracle. Anyway, so it doesn’t matter. The last one, the last of the last, is heresy, the negative karma of heresy.

Just before that, I forgot something about ill will. In recent years there have been many new diseases happening, in Japan and places like that, including AIDS and not quite recently many other disease that started that have started to spread that are very harmful. In India it happened and people dies so fast, just with one disease. Also, there was one place in Mongolia where this disease happened but it was already gone. There was one place where there were many, many stupas. It’s quite far, you spend a day getting there, stay one night there, then come back the next day. That’s a good way to do it. I was going to visit that place, but there was news that it was blocked because there is still doubt about this disease that was in the area. I think after some days the road was reopened. Anyway, I don’t know name of the disease but people were dying much faster than AIDS.

One time in Dharamsala there was a new, very life threatening disease coming and there was a lot of danger to spread, so His Holiness advised everyone in Dharamsala that after they finished work, after four o’clock the lay people go to McLeod Ganj Stupa and the prayer wheels and chant the Lochama mantra. There is a healing deity, Lochama, with a few different aspects. So this is a healing deity and His Holiness advised the people to chant this mantra. Everybody went there after they had finished work in the carpet factory, or wherever they worked and they chanted this mantra for some time. That way they didn’t get that new life threatening disease. So anyway, the place where you have these diseases is the result of the past negative karma of ill will.

So now, heresy. The ripened aspect result of the completed negative karma is rebirth in the lower realms. The possessed result, where you are born and where you live is also at a place that was rich is now poor. Where before it might have been a main production area for gold or oil, now it is all dried up and nothing happens there anymore. The place has become very dirty and unhygienic. It can be that it appears clean to you, but in fact it is very dirty, and in the same way it can seem like a pleasurable place to you but it is really great suffering. You live in a place where you have no guide, you have no refuge, you cannot find a guide, a person to help you.

Then, with experiencing the result similar to the cause; after some time when you are born as a human being, you have wrong views and you associate with evil friends, friends who give you wrong conceptions or who engage you in evil deeds. You don’t like spiritual friends, you like evil friends’ minds, and you start to become like them. Conversely, you hate friends who give you good advice, Dharma friends who give you Dharma advice, who guide you. You only like the opposite—evil friends who give you wrong advice and oblige you to engage in evil deeds. Instead of liking virtue, you like nonvirtuous activities. You take an interest in wrong philosophies. You lose your wisdom, you degenerate your wisdom, and your mind becomes unclear, imprecise. I’m not sure of the translation; it might be like that; in Tibetan it’s she-rab cho-wa.

Creating the result similar to the cause
means that again you engage in heresy when you are born a human being. You do it again and again, and so on, like that.

There are four outlines of karma. I am going to use it like that, after going through these examples. Karma is definite. Once the karma has been created, as long as you don’t purify, no matter how many eons it takes, it doesn’t gets lost, you definitely experience the result. If you have created nonvirtuous actions then you definitely experience suffering results, so karma is definite. You must experience the result of that karma, no matter how many eons it takes, once that negative karma has been created. It never gets lost and you definitely experience its result when the causes and conditions come together. Therefore, because karma is definite, you must, you must abandon negative karma. And similarly, if you have created good karma, you will definitely experience the positive result so therefore you must only create good karma.

[Then, karma is expandable.] From one negative karma you experience the suffering result for many life times, for so many times, for many years again and again in one lifetime, and you experience it for many lifetimes, for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes.

For example, it is said in the Shi-gya-pa, the Four Hundred Verses by Aryadeva, if you cheat one sentient being then you will be cheated by other sentient beings for one thousand lifetimes. If you cheat one sentient being you will be cheated by other sentient beings in future lives for one thousand lifetimes.

Like that, karma is expandable. You must experience the result for many lifetimes. This is so much more than natural cause and effect in the external world. When you plant a grain of rice then many grains of rice come; you plant a tiny sapling of a bodhi tree in the ground then a big tree comes with many thousands of branches and many seeds come. A huge tree grows from a small seed. In India there are many trees that are so big that horse carriages are kept under their shade. But in the case of karma it is much, much more expandable than those outside phenomena.

So therefore, if one good karmic action is done, you experience many lifetimes, you will enjoy the happiness for so many lifetimes, for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes. If one negative karmic action is done, you experience the suffering result for many lifetimes, either so many times in one life, or over many hundreds of thousands of lifetimes.

Therefore, you must abandon even a very small negative karma, and you must nurture even a very small virtue. Even if you see an insect in the water having difficulty, if you take it out of the water, or if you do a person the smallest service. Even a small virtue, even a tiny offering of one stick of incense, one grain of rice or one tiny flower offered to the Buddha. Whatever you have you should first offer to the Buddha. Even if you have a little candy or you see a glass of water, first offer it to Buddha. Anyway, the conclusion is that even if it’s just a small virtue you must do it because karma is expandable and even the smallest nonvirtue you must abandon.

Then, without having created the cause you don’t experience the result. In Tibetan this is lai-ma che-pa(?) Without having created the karma you don’t meet the result.

Then, that which is done never gets lost. This is the same. Because of these things you must abandon nonvirtue, whether big or small, and you must practice virtue. It is mentioned in the Vinaya,

Don’t think that a nonvirtue is so small that it won’t harm me. Never underestimate the harm negative karma can bring.

For example, even if small fire spark can burn huge pile of hay—not hashish! [RL GL] Dry grass, husks. [RL GL] It is not hashish, it is hay. One tiny fire spark can burn a whole big pile of hay and one small candle flame can burn a whole mountain, a whole forest. Similarly, you can see how harmful one small nonvirtuous action can be. It is like that example.

Also never underestimate even a small virtue. Don’t not do it because it is so small. You must practice it, because it is like dripping water can fill a huge container one drop at a time. Like that, the whole pot can be filled. So, the Buddha advises us that we must practice even small virtues.

As explained in the lam-rim, there are six ways of purifying negative karma, such as reciting the names of the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas. By depending on and reciting the Buddha’s holy name, you purify negative karma in the same way as the Thirty-five Buddhas practice. Then by reciting mantras you purify negative karma. By making statues or tsa-tsas of the Buddha you purify negative karma. By making thangkas or holy objects is another method of purification, of purifying negative karma. Then reciting a Prajnaparamita text, such as the Heart Sutra or the Diamond Cutter Sutra. There are other sutras like the Sutra of Liberation that are very powerful. There are texts that are very powerful for purification, for purifying the negative karma to be born in the lower realms. You can also meditate on emptiness as well as bodhicitta, and things like that, and you can make offering to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Those are also counted as a means of purification.

Generating strong compassion for other sentient beings with a sincere heart, and working hard for others, is a very powerful purification. That is something to be kept in mind. No matter how hard it is when you benefit others, when you generate strong compassion for others, you purify many eons of negative karma. Combining this with guru devotion, obtaining advice, doing service, this is the most powerful purification.

I just mentioned some example of negative karma and the unbelievably heavy suffering results, therefore you can now see how it is so essential it is in your own daily life to live morally. Even for a lay person to live in the lay precepts, this is so important. As I mentioned the other day, this is one of the crucial means to make your daily life extremely meaningful. It is the basis for realizations, for protecting you from negative karma, from obstacles to realization, as well as stopping giving you harm and harming others, so it involves many things.

From this you can understand that everything is to do with the attitude. It is all to do with your mind. Therefore, it becomes so essential to keep your daily life attitude in the lam-rim. When we talk about karma, here comes the practice of lam-rim in daily life, not only lam-rim when you do sitting meditation in the morning but the whole twenty-four hours. While you are doing your job, you are mindful of living in the lam-rim, to practice lam-rim all the time, to protect yourself from the negative karma immediately. Then eventually to achieve enlightenment and to be able to liberate sentient beings from all suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

If you really want to practice, you begin the day with bodhicitta. The very first thing when you wake up, you begin by generating the bodhicitta attitude in your life. You can do this meditation while you chant OM MANI PADME HUM, creating merit with the good karma, purifying the speech by reciting the mantra, you purify so much negative karma and collect so much merit and the mind meditates on bodhicitta. In one day, you can do the seven techniques cause and effect, as I explained, as I gave some idea last night.

So, in the morning you begin the day when you wake up with the bodhicitta attitude of this life, how you are going to spend your life from now on until death, especially this year, especially today. Never allow yourself to be under the control of the self-cherishing thought, but always practice and never be separate from bodhicitta.

In other words, you determine to separate from the ego but never be separate from bodhicitta. Anyway what it means, what it contains is “I am going to live my life for others,” that’s all it contains, “From now on, I am going to live my life for others.”

You begin the day with that bodhicitta motivation, then the rest of the day while you are working, whatever you do, you continue with that thought. When you meet people, you think, “This is my most precious kind mother sentient being who has been kind from beginningless rebirths.” You continue your bodhicitta motivation that you generated in the morning for the rest of the day like that. When you meet people, you think of their kindness that is so precious, then respect comes naturally, the wish not to harm all those comes, to help, to offer service, the practice of loving kindness, of compassion all comes. By keeping the mind in that continuously you take the opportunity, you create merit with every sentient being, with every person you meet, you generate loving kindness and compassion for others, and you offer service. You create the cause of enlightenment with every sentient being for the rest of the day with this attitude.

Then the next day, you can begin that day with the other technique of bodhicitta, exchanging oneself with others. I think today I explained that way, I just gave you some idea of the very powerful bodhicitta practice, exchanging oneself with others. Actually in the lam-rim outline there is equalizing, then meditating on shortcomings of self-cherishing, benefit of cherishing others, then training in the attitude, then actual exchange. They are outlines.

So, on the second day you begin with a meditation on bodhicitta. You begin the day with a meditation on bodhicitta, exchanging oneself for others, and chanting the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM at the same time. Then you get done your practice of also chanting OM MANI PADME HUM. If you have a commitment, you do your commitment like that. Then, for the rest of the day you try to continue to hold your mind in that bodhicitta, that “every sentient being is source of all my peace and happiness.” Anybody you meet—animals, insects, your enemy or your friend—each one is the source of all you past and future happiness, and is most kind and most precious. Try to feel that with all people. And again here you respect them and offer service to them and everything comes naturally. You collect so much merit for the rest of the day with the other sentient beings, the cause of enlightenment.

[Rinpoche confers] Already? Okay. So I think anyway maybe I’ll finish the oral transmission in a dream. So, that is the bodhicitta, in the morning meditate, and then for the rest of the day that is how you live your life with that. Then, of course there is emptiness which I started but it didn’t happen.

The mandala offering.


I do the same every day, but I change the subject division just to give you an idea how to dedicate the merits in the most productive way, the most productive way to make your life most beneficial to other sentient beings. Now in the future so you know how to dedicate the merits, that is the purpose.

Due to the past, present, future merits collected by all the buddhas and sentient beings, that which appears something real from its own side but which is totally hallucination, empty, nonexistent, not there. May the I, who appears something real from there, which is a total hallucination, nonexistent right there, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which again appears something real from there, which is a hallucination, nonexistent. And lead all the sentient beings, who appear real from there which is total hallucination, nonexistent right there, to that enlightenment, which appears a real one but which is total nonexistent, a hallucination there. By myself alone, who also appears a real one from there but which is a total hallucination and nonexistent there.

I dedicate all the merits in the same way as the three times bodhisattvas dedicate their merits and admire the most. May the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa which is unified sutra and tantra, may it be completely actualized with one’s own mind without delay for a second, as well as may it be completely actualized in the minds of all of us here and all the rest of the students and benefactors of this organization, those who sacrifice their life to the service of others through this organization. May it be actualized, both sutra and tantra completely without delay for even a second. May the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa flourish forever and spread in all the directions.

[Chanting in Tibetan]

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