Kopan Course No. 20 (1987)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1987 (Archive #399)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 20th Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1987. Also included is a discourse on the bodhisattva vows by Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup, late abbot of Kopan Monastery. The edited transcript of these teachings is now available for download as PDF file.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings were edited by Namdrol Adams; second light edit by Sandra Smith. The teaching by Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup was edited by Sandra Smith.

Lecture Eighteen: How to Practice Dharma
The Heart Sutra

Thus did I hear at one time. The Bhagavan was dwelling on Mass of Vultures Mountain in Rajagriha together with a great community of monks and a great community of bodhisattvas. At that time, the Bhagavan was absorbed in the concentration on the categories of phenomena called “Profound Perception.”

Also, at that time, the bodhisattva mahasattva arya Avalokiteshvara looked upon the very practice of the profound perfection of wisdom and beheld those five aggregates also as empty of inherent nature.

Then, through the power of Buddha, the venerable Shariputra said this to the bodhisattva mahasattva arya Avalokiteshvara: “How should any son of the lineage train who wishes to practice the activity of the profound perfection of wisdom?”

He said that and the bodhisattva mahasattva arya Avalokiteshvara said this to the venerable Sharadvatiputra. “Shariputra, any son of the lineage or daughter of the lineage who wishes to practice the activity of the profound perfection of wisdom should look upon it like this, correctly and repeatedly beholding those five aggregates also as empty of inherent nature.

“Form is empty. Emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is also not other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors, and consciousness are empty.”

Normally emptiness is form, and form and emptiness of form are one essence, one in essence, maybe different in name. One in essence, different in name. Therefore, here it is saying that emptiness does not differ from form, emptiness is not other than form, which means in essence, emptiness is not something that exists separately from form. Do you understand? What makes form exist? What makes form, do you understand? Dependent arising. Dependent arising makes the form. Do you understand? So now, emptiness, the dependence, the emptiness of the form makes the form exist.

Like the example, bread. If you put the flour separately from the bread, separately from the cake, the flour exists separately from the cake, and then you have figured out how the cake exists. You have to think about what makes the cake. What makes the cake, do you understand? What makes the cake is the flour. If you separate the flour from the cake, only the cake exists, and you are going to make it out of egg and sugar. The cakes I have seen are made of flour, mostly. So same thing, form is made by emptiness. You can say, form is made of emptiness. Form where? Form came from emptiness. Like the cake, like the bread, made of flour. Same thing, form is made of emptiness. This form is emptiness. Putting the conventional truth, the nature of the bread as flour, putting the example, putting the conventional truth nature.

Because form is empty, it exists. If the form were not empty, there would be no way that form could exist. So therefore, you cannot separate emptiness from form, just as you cannot separate bread from flour. You cannot say that bread exists separately from flour, because there is no way for bread to exist without the flour.

Therefore, in some ways, form is merely imputed on the base by a thought, so you can see, form is empty. There’s no form that exists from its own side, so form is empty.

Same thing when you hear Kopan, when you talk about Kopan or when you see Kopan. What is called Kopan is name, that which is merely imputed on the base, the monastery, the mountain. This mountain, this particular location, Kopan, is what is merely imputed on this particular base, merely imputed by thought on this particular base. So therefore, Kopan is empty. When you think about Kopan, when you say Kopan, “I’m going to Kopan,” or “I’m at Kopan,” if you are talking about this, if you are thinking about Kopan as the subtle meaning of subtle dependent arising, that it is merely imputed by thought, in this way your experience tells you that Kopan is empty, that there is no Kopan from its own side.

So now, the same thing when you think of the I, it is empty. You are empty, in the same way. Everything we talk about, all the subjects, actions, objects, the whole thing, in reality, without trust, if we put ourselves in prison, without analyzing our perceptions, the appearance of the subject, the I, the action, and the object, without analyzing whatever is appearing now, if we just live life trusting the subject, action, object, I that is there, that is merely imputed on the base by thought, they appear to exist from their own side, unlabeled, independent. If you live life only like this, if you put yourself in prison, in this hallucination all the time, if you don’t think beyond this, beyond this appearance, beyond this hallucination, if you just live life in this hallucination, then that’s it. Then you cannot see emptiness—it blocks you from seeing the nature, the I as empty, the action as empty, the object as empty. As I mentioned yesterday, from the text, trusting the appearance, this hallucination, obscures you from seeing things—the I, the action, the object, their nature—that it’s empty.

Without trusting these things, practice awareness, when you see, when you talk, when you think, if you follow the reality without trusting the appearance, which is a hallucination, that which is merely imputed, the I in which you believe, the one that is merely imputed by the thought on the base. So when you are practicing awareness, or when you have the realization of emptiness or even if you don’t have a realization of emptiness but practice awareness in this reality, in this way you see everything as empty, as mentioned in the Essence of Wisdom.

According to reality, if you look, if you think, if you analyze, if you meditate, if you practice awareness of the way things exist, without trusting, without living life just on appearance, which is a hallucination, then you see what the Heart Sutra, the Essence of Wisdom says is completely true. So in this way, for the entire twenty-four hours you are meditating in the Essence of Wisdom, while you are working in the office, while you are cleaning house, while you are cooking, or while you are studying, or while you doing preliminary practices or while you are traveling.

“Shariputra, likewise, all phenomena are emptiness; without characteristic; unproduced, unceased; stainless, not without stain; not deficient, not fulfilled.”

Just to make the conclusion that I started to talk about. So I think in the case of “differ,” as in “emptiness does not differ from form,” I think, as it is mentioned in Tibetan, the prayer, “emptiness is no other than form” means that emptiness is not separate from form and form is not separate from emptiness. The emptiness of form and emptiness, the emptiness of form and form, the two truths, the absolute truth of form, and the defective mind truth—these two are one in essence, different in name. What we are talking about here is not in essence, but what we are trying to say is that the essence is one—emptiness, form.

Perhaps you can say it like this, for example—the flour of the bread, the bread of the flour is one. Something like that.

“Shariputra, therefore, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factors, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no visual form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, and no phenomenon. There is no eye element and so on up to and including no mind element and no mental consciousness element. There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so on up to and including no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death. Similarly, there is no suffering, origination, cessation, and path; there is no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and also no non-attainment.

“Shariputra, therefore, because there is no attainment, bodhisattvas rely on and dwell in the perfection of wisdom, the mind without obscuration and without fear. Having completely passed beyond error, they reach the end-point of nirvana. All the buddhas who dwell in the three times also manifestly, completely awaken to unsurpassable, perfect, complete enlightenment in reliance on the perfection of wisdom.

“Therefore, the mantra of the perfection of wisdom, the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the mantra equal to the unequaled, the mantra that thoroughly pacifies all suffering, should be known as truth since it is not false. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is declared:


“Shariputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva should train in the profound perfection of wisdom like that.”

Then the Bhagavan arose from that concentration and commended the bodhisattva mahasattva arya Avalokiteshvara saying: “Well said, well said, son of the lineage, it is like that. It is like that; one should practice the profound perfection of wisdom just as you have indicated; even the tathagatas rejoice.”

The Bhagavan having thus spoken, the venerable Sharadvatiputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva arya Avalokiteshvara, those surrounding in their entirety along with the world of gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas were overjoyed and highly praised that spoken by the Bhagavan.

[Lion-face Dakini prayer, mandala offering and other preliminary prayers]

Please listen to the teaching well by generating at least the creative bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the sake of all the mother sentient beings who equal the infinite space, who have been kind to me from beginningless rebirth; therefore, I am going to listen to the teaching of the graduated path to enlightenment.” Also clarifying the righteous conduct of listening to the teachings according to the traditional practice of the lineage lamas.

Before going through the subject, maybe if there are one or two questions. [Question inaudible] Emptiness is permanent. [Comment inaudible] Yes, that’s right. [Comment inaudible] When the book is not there, emptiness is not there. When David is not there, the emptiness of David is not there. [Comment inaudible] Emptiness does not change by cause. It is, I don’t know the, emptiness can be stopped, I don’t know how to translate. When the subject is stopped, when the subject of book is stopped, the emptiness of the book stops, the emptiness of book is not there. Book changes by cause, but emptiness doesn’t change by cause, so therefore emptiness is permanent.

[Question inaudible]

How do you label emptiness? Is emptiness imputed or not? Does emptiness exist from its own side? Does emptiness exist? Isn’t what is called emptiness a name? Huh? What is called emptiness, is that name or not? [Reply inaudible] Why is it that what is called emptiness is not name and what is called nothing is name? Can you explain? [Reply inaudible] Yeah. You have no perception of emptiness, but emptiness is perceived by your consciousness. But emptiness is not perceived by you, right? Like that? Huh?

[Tape ends]

…you say “mug” is name, “mug” is word, “mug” is sound? Is mug a sound or not? [Comment inaudible] No, no, I’m not asking does it make a sound or not. [Comment inaudible] I think, I tell you, first one thing. I suggest one thing, I think it is better to explain how she explained it. It is inexpressible, life is inexpressible. When it comes to the unclear point, you have to say simply, it’s beyond words. No, I’m joking! [Comment inaudible]

Is everything dependent arising? Yes. [Comment inaudible]

Emptiness depends on emptiness. Emptiness has meaning. So the thing that exists in the meaning of, the thing that has that meaning, you call empty, you call emptiness.

In your pocket is the absence of a million dollars, OK? There is the absence of a million dollars because there is no million dollars in the pocket now. There could be later, but not now. So there is the absence of a million dollars in your pocket. Even when you have a million dollars in your pocket, still that million dollars is empty. Because a million dollars doesn’t exist from its own side without depending on the thought labeling and the base, the paper that has the figures, numbers. Without depending on those two, there is no million dollars existing from its own side. That nature is called emptiness. On that nature, your thought labels emptiness. So therefore, emptiness doesn’t exist from its own side. Is it a little bit clear? [Comment inaudible]

Yes, right. On the base which is the nature of that thing, which doesn’t exist from its own side. So that nature. [Comment inaudible]

It is labeled, again it is labeled. For example, the earth element absorbs, and it is labeled a change of the body. The body becomes skinny, then the person gets a vision of sinking into the earth. Therefore, before they die many patients want to get up—their body becomes quite heavy, kind of solid, so they stretch their hands and they ask the surrounding people to pull it up, and they try to grab things. I think during those times they get this vision, so on that it’s labeled, the earth element is absorbed. [Comment inaudible]

Oh, I see! The wind absorbing in the channel. [Comment inaudible] The subtle wind absorbing in the heart chakra, I don’t know. There is a wind absorbing, but I don’t think that’s a subtle wind, but a gross wind—what absorbs through the central channel, what enters in the central channel is called a subtle wind, abiding at the heart, in the central channel.

[Comments inaudible] That I didn’t hear. I haven’t heard that.

They stopped. [Comment inaudible] The elements? The subtle wind continues to the next life. The subtle wind continues to the next life, why? Because that is the base of the subtle consciousness. So like this, at death time, when the person has the vision of clear light, at that time there’s only the subtle mind. All the gross thoughts have stopped, consciousness has stopped. And in this, did you do the meditation? As you did the meditation anyway, the indestructible seed, which is half white and half red, in the central channel, by counting from the two breasts, straight.

Now I have one question. In the West the mind is in the head, right? In the brain. It means like wearing a dress—your body is inside the clothes—like this the mind is in the brain, like a box. Now, I have one question: the mind doesn’t exist in the rest of the body, right? And when you are sitting for a long time during my discourse, the leg pain sends a message to the brain.

There must be many unemployed ones in the brain. Now, if the mind is not in the rest of the body, when people get angry, do they get angry in the head? Because the mind is only in the head? Do the people get angry in the head? [Comment inaudible] Why not there? Because there’s no mind. [Comment inaudible] There is no mind to support it—if it’s in the brain, anger should be in the brain. When you get attached to something so much, it should be from the head. [Comment inaudible]

That is your understanding or according to society’s understanding? [Comment inaudible]

The heart rate, the speed of the heart is increasing? Yeah. The body makes the rest of the anger arise? [Comment inaudible] So the anger is in the brain? Is anger thought or not?

Student: Anger’s a thought.

Rinpoche: Yeah, what you’re saying is, anger is only in the brain. [Comment inaudible] Is that your experience? [Comment inaudible] No, no, is that your experience or not? [Comment inaudible] You mean by taking sleeping pills? [Comment inaudible] So no matter how much you give harm—is that person’s mind clear?

Student: No, not at all!

Rinpoche: Zombie?

[Comment inaudible]

Rinpoche: No matter how much harm is given to the person, there is no anger at all? [Comment inaudible] Does that make the person’s mind slower to think? Does it take much time to think? [Comment inaudible] What about if you tell them to get angry? [Comment inaudible] That makes them very slow to think, very, very slow to think, no? The energy of the mind is very slow. [Comment inaudible]

It’s possible to get angry very slowly, remembering the person whom you dislike. When you think of that, you get angry very slowly. [Comment inaudible] Are they capable of thinking better? [Comment inaudible] If everybody who got angry had this one, most people would be patient.

So that’s good to think about. When we feel jealous of somebody, we don’t feel it in the head, we feel it from the heart. When we get angry we feel it from the heart, when strong attachment arises we feel it from the heart—not from inside the skull, in the head. So that’s the experience, whatever the philosophy is.

But also you can numb the body by chemicals—isn’t that what is given during an operation? [Comment inaudible] Certain nerves in the body that are very important, that the mind is dependent on, by endangering them, it can cause us to have an unclear mind, to slow things, many things.

But also when compassion arises it is from the heart, when devotion arises it is from the heart—not from the head. This is our daily life experience and what is explained in tantra, not talking about meditation tantra but the basic evolution of how the body is, the heart, where the subtle consciousness is abiding. So there is a relation.

This half red, half white is the indestructible seed, so during the vision of the clear light, there is the subtle mind, all the gross thoughts stop and the subtle mind is all that is left, and that is physical. After that, there is the subtle mind of death. The red seed from the navel that is received from the mother comes up, the white seed from the father comes down from the crown chakra, and they meet at the indestructible seed, and the person gets the dark vision. Before that, as the white one comes up there is the white vision; as the red one comes up there is the red vision; and then when they meet at the indestructible seed, there is the dark vision, and when they split, there is the clear light vision. When the clear light vision stops, the indestructible seed opens and the consciousness goes away.

The subtle mind becomes the direct cause of the intermediate state being’s mind and the subtle wind becomes the cooperative condition for the intermediate state being’s mind. The subtle wind becomes the direct cause for the intermediate state being’s body and the mind becomes the cooperative condition for the intermediate state being’s body. Then again the vision happens backwards—after the clear light, there is the dark vision, so right after the clear light is stopped, the consciousness goes away from the indestructible seed and immediately becomes that being. As soon as it went out of the indestructible seed, it became the intermediate state being, even though for a few seconds inside the body it is an intermediate state being.

So this how you go, and it becomes more and more gross, and the continuation of the subtle mind and wind goes from one life to another life. Otherwise, if the gross doesn’t continue, it is the same thing to enlightenment.

The disturbing thought that makes the nature of the “I” unclear, the nature is ignorance.

This is similar to when at dusk time we see the rope there on the road curled like a snake. The darkness makes it unclear, on the road at dusk. The wrong conception, the wrong view, believes that is a snake. Like that, the view of the changeable aggregates—that this I exists from its own side. This ignorance, this view of the changeable group, is the root of all the disturbing thoughts—anger, attachment, all those other disturbing thoughts, pride, doubt—and then we create various negative karmas and experience various problems in this life and future lives.

Why are the six root delusions called “root”? Each of them is a separate root, but on the basis of each one, many other disturbing thoughts arise, therefore, they are called the six root delusions.

It is explained in the Pramanarvarttika—if there is an I, then there is a discrimination of others, and by discriminating oneself and others, anger and attachment arise. Relating to this, all the problems, all the negative karma arises—this means not just the I and others but the truly existent I and truly existent others. On the basis of these wrong conceptions, believing in the truly existent I and others, anger and attachment arises, and all the negative karma, all the problems arise.

Also ignorance, the wrong conception of the truly existent I, this is the view of the changeable group, this is the very root of all the delusions. If this is not completely eliminated, even without the seed of the disturbing thought, the imprint left on the mental continuum by the delusions, then when we meet the object, delusion arises—the object of anger, object of attachment, ignorance, or indifferent object. When we meet these objects, delusion arises. This is one cause of delusion. How is that translated, the first one, the first cause of delusions? Dependent? Dependent or basis—that is the first—by depending on that, delusion comes. Because it is due to the desirable object, by depending on that, by seeing that, attachment in the form of an imprint comes up. It is the same thing with that object. There are six causes of delusion and this is the first one.

Because the anger is in the form of imprints there, attachment is there, jealous mind is there, all the disturbing thoughts are in the form of imprints there, and depending on the imprint, the delusion arises. So the first cause is the imprint.

The second one is the object. In dependence upon the enemy, friend, indifferent being and so forth, anger, attachment, and those other disturbing thoughts arises.

The third one is distraction. For example, in order for strong desire to arise, you may get attached to talk that causes strong desire to arise—talk about sex, things like that. The mind is attached to these things. Looking at it as if it is suffering is the practice, but looking at it as a practice, as attraction, this is distraction.

Then also the conduct. Interest in worldly things, worldly actions, reputation, power, many things. The mind is attracted to the happiness of this life, and the body is busy. So here in the text it talks about the bad friend who has extremely great delusions and also bad conduct, and depending on this distraction, delusion arises. The conclusion is this—in short, whichever way we are trying to get the happiness of this life, the mind is attracted to that, and when we work for this, the mind is distracted from Dharma. During this time, we are unable to practice Dharma. In other words, du zi is maybe what we might interpret as enjoyment of such talks, conduct, although they are actually distraction. These things actually increase delusions. The Tibetan word is du zi. It is interpreted as enjoyment, but it is distraction. That is number three.

For example, this is simple—there is time to meditate, there is a lot of time to meditate, even though there is work in the daytime, there is a lot of time to meditate. Now, if we have the pleasure of sleeping, the comfort of sleeping, if we have too much attachment to that, then there is no time to do meditation in the morning. The mind is attracted by that comfort, that enjoyment, so it doesn’t leave time to do our meditation. So that is a du zi.

There is time to meditate, time to do practice, preliminaries, lamrim, mind training in the graduated path to enlightenment, but because the mind is attracted to gossip, as I mentioned before, or the happiness of this life, the time goes in that enjoyment, which we are interpreting as enjoyment. Whether the happiness of this life is gossiping or doing something at the house, if there is no TV, or no other people—there is always something, all the time.

Even on Sunday or Saturday, when there’s no work, when we don’t have to go to the office, wherever it is, we think there is something to do for the happiness of this life. The main aim is the happiness of this life, there is something to do. That mind, that life got distracted by these things—so like this, one week goes, one month goes, one year goes. Then when we are like this, there is no time to practice. One month went like this, one year went like this. Then three years go like this, and the whole life finishes in that—there is a danger like this.

Actually, there is a lot of time. If we do not follow the worldly concerns, there’s plenty of time to do practice—even if we have to work in the daytime, there is a lot of time to do the practice.

When we think of the perfect human rebirth, how each freedom, each richness, how with each one we can achieve the three great purposes, the three great meanings, in each second—just the first freedom, not being born in the naraks, having this precious human rebirth, having the freedom to practice Dharma—by having this freedom, in one second, we can achieve great meaning, the happiness of future lives, by creating the cause. Then, morality, doing those preliminary practices, making offerings to the Triple Gem. With this freedom even if we wished to achieve liberation in that second, we could create the cause. Even if we wished to achieve enlightenment we could create the cause by generating bodhicitta. Even with this one freedom, we can achieve and make it possible to achieve and attempt to achieve the three great meanings.

On one side, compare like this—if we did not have this freedom of not being born in the naraks, having the freedom to practice Dharma, having this precious human body, even if we owned dollars and diamonds equal to the number of atoms on the earth, this alone could not stop rebirth in the lower realms. This alone cannot cause us to receive the happiness of future lives or liberation or enlightenment. Even if we did not own even one diamond or dollar, if we had the freedom to practice Dharma by not being born in the narak realms, we could achieve the three great meanings even in one second.

If you compare the value of this many diamonds, this many dollars, according to the number of the atoms of this earth, and this one freedom—it is incomparable, those possessions are completely lost. Those possessions are completely nothing compared to this one freedom to practice Dharma by not being born in the naraks. So you see now how unbelievably precious this precious human body is. Each freedom is like this, unbelievable, so precious. Each freedom, each richness, is unbelievably precious. Nothing on this earth, in the material, nothing in this world, nothing is more precious among the possessions in this world— nothing is more precious than this precious human rebirth.

This precious human rebirth is qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, and is even much more precious. It is much more difficult, so much more difficult, much more rare, much more difficult to receive this than even the freedom of having the opportunity to practice Dharma by not being born in the naraks. This precious human rebirth, qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, this is so much more rare, much more difficult, much more precious.

So, this we have.

Even thinking of this one freedom, such as this highly meaningful freedom, having the opportunity to practice Dharma by not being born in the naraks, this is difficult to find again. This freedom is difficult to find again, and it does not last forever, it is very easy to decay and can be stopped any minute, lost any minute. Death can happen at any minute.

If you think, if you look at, if you follow the worldly concern, there is no time to do practice. You can never find time to practice. But if you follow Dharma wisdom—understanding that the perfect human rebirth is meaningful and can be stopped any minute, because death can happen any moment—with this Dharma wisdom, if you look at your life with this Dharma wisdom, with the thought of the uncertainty of death, there is plenty of time to meditate. There is plenty of time to practice, to do retreat, to do practice at home.

Whether you have time or not is dependent on which mind you follow—whether you follow the worldly concerns or whether you follow Dharma wisdom, especially the thought of impermanence and death, the uncertainty of death. When you think this way there is plenty of time, and you see so many things that are unnecessary, that there is no need, and there is plenty of time to do practice. You see the need for Dharma and for other things you see no need.

With worldly concern, even if we feel that there’s the need for Dharma, we always put it off. Even if we think Dharma is good, we always put it off— “Maybe first I’ll go to Rajasthan, or first I’ll go to Goa”—we are always finding excuses, always finding something to do. Then we always put off the Dharma practice, what we have the opportunity to do now, we put off for later and again later and again later.

The fourth one, the explanation. The nonvirtuous friends have not abandoned delusions but talk as if they have achieved liberation. This makes delusion increase. So that’s the explanation of the fourth one.

Then the fifth one, habit. Because of habit, we are so habituated with either anger or mostly attachment—the nonvirtuous actions, that we have been so much habituated to—and then because of the habit, delusion arises.

Then the sixth, inappropriate attention. Thinking that this person gave us harm, this person is benefiting us, and then attachment arises if it’s a friend, and anger arises if it is an enemy, so it is discriminating. By discriminating this is friend, this is enemy, attachment arises again with a friend and anger arises with the enemy.

The other thing is, a person has done very heavy negative karmas but still they are happy, still their life is successful, things are going well. This person did many bad things but still things are going well. Thinking, “Maybe karma is not true. Maybe action and result are not true.” For example, people who lived much of their lives as butchers and are now very rich, very successful, they have very good cars, a very rich apartment, this and that, no worries of not finding job, and so on. In terms of karma, something should happen for them, but nothing is happening, even though they killed many thousands of animals every day. So we think, “Maybe karma is not true.” This is unrighteous attention. This makes the delusions increase.

However, today, having a long life and being comfortable now is not a good sign. The Dharma practitioner who has a lot of problems, who is experiencing a lot of problems, a lot of sickness, that is a good sign. Those people who never practiced, who never changed their attitude, who never do purification, who have a long life and are very comfortable, with a relaxed life—that’s not a good sign. They have no sickness, are healthy every day, like that; they are relaxed because they don’t know the karma, they don’t see the future. But actually, if they could see the karma, if they could see the result, their future lives, they could not eat food at all, they could not sleep for even a minute. However, it is bad sign.

[Tape ends]

…now having a lot of problems is good. That is good because all the past heavy karmas we experience now in the form of small problems don’t need to be experienced for so many eons in the lower realms. That is purification. Some people who are very wealthy, who are creating a lot of negative karma, who have a long life and are healthy and look like they are having a lot of success. They are like the dirty cloth that is not put in water. The Dharma practitioner who experiences a lot of trouble once he starts to practice Dharma is the same as the dirty clothes that are being washed in the water. The other one is not washed, so therefore dirt doesn’t come out, but this one is being washed. When it is put in the water, with water and soap, the dirt comes out. Same thing, when you practice, the harder you practice, the more intensively you practice, you purify more—so that’s a good sign. You should realize that. By doing Dharma activities, working for other sentient beings, doing retreat, whatever you do, whichever Dharma practice you do.

Then, the six causes of delusions. So just to finish.

Those who have taken birth under the control of the karma and disturbing thoughts are not beyond death transference, joining the next life.

Death has nine conditions, summarizing. We finish the length of life that is our karma, due to past karma. There is also untimely death—when there is still life left to live but then due to diet and conduct, death happens. So there are about nine death conditions.

After death, will there be suffering or happiness? After death, what benefits, what harms? That is karma, virtuous and nonvirtuous karma, the actions of the mind, the actions of the principal consciousness and the actions of the thought, which accompany the actions of the body and speech. Virtuous actions of the principal consciousness are the ones that benefit. Nonvirtuous actions harm. Because the sufferings that we experience after this death came from them, they harm. The happiness that we experience after death is benefited by our virtuous actions.

For somebody who has done much virtuous practice, very powerful virtuous practice in this life, it is possible at the time of death to have very heavy experiences. For the person who created very heavy negative karma, having a comfortable life, the comfort that the person is experiencing now is not the result of these negative karmas of the past, but the result of another good karma that they accumulated in the past. They are experiencing that result now. So the Dharma practitioner, at the time of death, can experience heavy karma, the result of the past negative karma, but after death, after the mind leaves the body, there is happiness, which is the result of the past good karma. After death there is heavy suffering, and that is the result of past negative karmas. Therefore, very foolish people might think that maybe karma is not true by seeing these things, but that is wrong.

Then there is a question, among so many karmas accumulated from beginningless rebirth, what karma will be experienced at the time of death? How is it decided which one is going to be experienced? There is also an explanation of that. I will leave out that one.

In our everyday life however we train our mind more, either in virtue or nonvirtue, at the time of death that thought comes. Before the breath stops, when it’s about to stop, at that time the mind is the gross dying mind. The breathing out is stronger and the breathing in is weaker. Then at that time, the way we trained more, in virtue or nonvirtue, our thoughts transform. Therefore in our everyday life we need to put every single effort and all of our attention to training in virtue, to transforming our actions into virtue. That is very important.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that if you want to wear make-up, if you want to dress up, you should dress up for birth and death. In other words, where we should be good-looking, where we should be better-looking, where we should be nice, where we should wear make-up, is at death and birth. It is very important to keep this in the heart.

After the outer breath is stopped, until the inner breath stops, the subtle dying mind, the subtle mind of death, is present. At the time of the gross death mind, there is discriminating enemy, friend, anger, attachment, remembering the Triple Gem, gurus, and so forth, remembering the meditations. Then, if we do not remember the meditations, the practices, because of disease, our Dharma friends—those with whom we have good relationships, faithful, good relationships—can remind us of the practice and also say mantras.

Even for a very evil being, reciting Buddha’s mantras at the time of death, hearing this, that person never gets born in the lower realms. So things like that—Medicine Buddha’s mantra, Milarepa, Chenrezig, many things—by the person hearing the mantras, even if the person has a very evil mind, a very evil life, and much negative karma, hearing those mantras can change the person’s birth from the lower realms to the upper realms. Again, that is to do with their good karma, having somebody reciting mantras at death time. Maybe this person never heard Dharma but at death time the person met some high lamas or a very good meditator, and then there is the transference of consciousness to a pure realm, things like that. Again, that is to do with individual karma. Same thing with animals.

The subtle death mind at that time is nothing—virtue or nonvirtue, nothing appears. That is the indifferent mind, how is it translated? Unprejudiced mind, I don’t know what it means. Maybe because it is not prejudiced by virtue or nonvirtue.

For the person who practiced virtue, generally speaking, at death time there is much less harm, no fear, or much less fear. This depends on how much virtue the person practiced. Then the person sees beautiful objects, beautiful things—going from the darkness to the light. The person gets the appearance like this. Whenever a virtuous or nonvirtuous person dies, at the time of death there is strong attachment to the body. Then by that cause, the consciousness leaves the body. As the consciousness leaves the body, immediately, as I mentioned before, one is born as an intermediate state being. One takes the complete form of the intermediate state being according to the next life. If the being is going to be a narak being then the body is like a tree, the log of a tree that is burnt. If the person is going to be animal, then the intermediate state being’s body is like smoke. If it is going to be a preta, the body is like water. If it is a desire realm god or a human being, the body is like gold. If it is going to be born in the form realm, it is a white color. And then if the intermediate state being is going to be a deva it goes up, if it is going to be a human being it goes straight, and if it is going to the lower realm, then it goes down.

Within the forty-nine days, the being sees the parents having sex, copulating. Then if it is going to be a man, I think they are angry at the man, I’m not quite sure. They are angry at the man and attached to the female. Then the consciousness takes place on the fertilized egg. If it is going to be a woman then they are angry at the female and attached to the male. If it is going to be born as a narak, probably by the cause of having done the action of killing, it sees the being there as the object of killing, and by seeing that then it gets born in the narak.

So I’ll stop here.

Like this, there is a pig in the center of the Wheel of Life, which signifies ignorance, the view of changeable groups, the ignorance of true existence. From the pig’s mouth comes a pigeon—the pig’s mouth is holding the pigeon’s tail and also a snake’s tail. That means ignorance is the base, the originator of anger and attachment. Attachment is signified by the pigeon and anger, hatred, is signified by the snake.

Now this side is black and this side is white. Describe the disturbing thoughts here. Remember that I went through the five non-views and the five wrong views, but I didn’t go over the twenty secondary delusions—there are many books you can go through, OK?

Now, disturbing thoughts. The black and white are karma, motivated out of the wrong conception of true existence. Negative karma comes from there, of course, and there is also good karma accumulated from there, out of the wrong conception of the truly existent I. Now for us who have no realization of shunyata, no bodhicitta, whether all the good karma is out of ignorance we should check, we should analyze.

For example, this black one is negative karma, and the white one is good karma. The disturbing thoughts are karma and all arise from the true cause of suffering.

There is the naked one kind of chained and coming down, which is the intermediate state being, who goes to the lower realms by creating negative karma. There are people going up on the white path, those who have created good karma, virtue, and go to the realm of the happy migratory beings or the pure realm. Among the realms to be born in, the five or six, sura, asura, all the devas, human beings, narak, preta and animal—the narak, the animal and the preta show the suffering of samsara, the suffering of suffering.

Having the drawing of the human world with all the four continents, east, west, north, and the suras and asuras fighting, and all the human beings’ enjoyments, that shows the suffering of change, the suffering of samsara, the temporary pleasures.

Now, there is the world of form. By being bored with the sense pleasures we seek the inner pleasure, but without having the renunciation of all of samsara, without having renunciation of karma and disturbing thoughts, the pervasive compounding suffering, and without having the wisdom of shunyata or bodhicitta. We just seek inner pleasure through concentration, shamatha—from this attainment then we get born in the world of form, like those Hindus. Then we get bored with the inner pleasures and seek equanimity. With this wish, but no renunciation of the whole entire samsara, and without shunyata or bodhicitta, we are born in the formless realm, still in samsara. This shows the whole entire form and formless realm where there is no suffering of suffering, or even no suffering of change. So, equanimity. This shows the whole idea of samsara.

This is very important. According to our qualities, just simply seeking peace, wanting to have peace, wanting to have mental peace, simply wishing for inner peace, tranquility, but having no renunciation, no bodhicitta, no shunyata; even if there is no interest or attraction to sense pleasures, but if there is the wish for inner peace alone, having this wish only causes rebirth in samsara, in the form and formless realms.

There are more details on how this happens from karma and disturbing thoughts through the twelve links. You can study that, and those who do retreat may receive teachings on that.

The whole Wheel of Life is held in the mouth of the Lord of Death, and this shows how sentient beings, who are in samsara, are not beyond impermanence-death. We are in the mouth of impermanence-death. The Wheel of Life being held by the two hands of the Lord of Death shows that as long as we are not liberated from samsara, we are bound to samsara by karma and disturbing thoughts, the two hands of karma and disturbing thoughts.

So now, here is Buddha. On this side there is a verse written. “Attempt and renounce. Like the elephant sank in the quagmire of worldly life, stop the host of the Lord of Death. Anybody who practices this holy Dharma, Vinaya, with great carefulness, will abandon the birth of samsara, will end the suffering.” That signifies the true path.

And here there is Buddha, in bhikshu aspect, holding the white moon in his hand—so that signifies the cessation of suffering. Like this, by practicing the true path, which is wisdom, the very essence of the wisdom, the real essence of Buddhadharma, the very essence of Buddhadharma, the wisdom realizing emptiness, and especially the nature of our own mind. Why it is called the Heart Sutra, the Essence of Wisdom—there are so many phenomena outside and inside, and they have absolute truth, but especially the absolute truth of the inner phenomena, our own mind, the essence of that—so the wisdom realizing that is the essence of wisdom. The wisdom realizing the nature of our own mind is the Heart Sutra, the Essence of Wisdom. This is the very essential true path. Directly perceiving this is the true path.

By realizing the true path we cease ignorance, signified by the old man, the blind man, and that ceases karma, shown by the person who is making many clay pots.

Then, craving and grasping, touching, drinking wine or something like that, or sometimes eating fruit—so craving and grasping is fifth. These three delusions are fifth. The three delusions are ignorance, craving and grasping.

Then, two actions—the compounding action, signified by the person making many plates, then becoming, signified by the lady who is pregnant, that’s sixth. By ceasing that one, the result of rebirth, from rebirth up to death, and all the problems between that relating to human beings—separating from desirable objects, meeting undesirable objects, sicknesses, old age and death—all that completely ends. The cessation of suffering is signified by Buddha holding the moon.

This is a brief introduction of the Wheel of Life.

Now I will do the lung of the Eight Verses. The Eight Verses contain the basic practice of the two bodhicittas. Absolute bodhicitta, then the all-obscuring thought truth—the two bodhicittas, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for other sentient beings. The main body of this practice of the Eight Verses is—even if we become liberated from all of samsara, that’s not sufficient. Seeking happiness for self, the self-cherishing thought, is the source of all suffering and cherishing others is the source of all the happiness, all the success, all the good things. Therefore, all the happiness, everything comes from bodhicitta, as I explained the other day. All the happiness, every good thing comes from bodhicitta. Therefore, every single happiness, every success, all the good things came from sentient beings’ kindness. Therefore, we are responsible—all our comfort and happiness completely come from the kindness of each sentient being, so therefore we are completely responsible to repay them. They are dependent on us, their happiness is dependent on us; we are completely responsible for eliminating their suffering and leading them to the highest happiness, enlightenment.

Therefore we need to achieve enlightenment, to be able to perfectly guide them, and for that reason we need to practice bodhicitta. Without bodhicitta, no enlightenment. Therefore, we need to practice what is contained in the Eight Verses.

[Lung of Eight Verses in Tibetan]

I would like to thank everybody for all your sincerity, all your effort, trying to understand Buddhism. Even though it is difficult to understand, difficult to feel, you are trying hard, which is very skillful, unbelievably worthwhile, to make effort and time for yourself and especially for other sentient beings. All your patience sitting here during my talks for many hours. Then doing the meditations—for all your effort I would like to thank everybody from my heart.

Since I came here, I mumbled, during these few weeks, but I hope there is some benefit in your life. I hope there is some benefit. So you analyze and if it’s worthwhile, practice. The other thing the Kadampa geshes advise is that you have hundreds of thoughts, hundreds of things you have thought, but the mistake is never once having the thought of impermanence-death. That one thing is missing—impermanence-death, which we are going toward every minute, every second.

Even if there are so many things which are done, we’re overwhelmed by one thing—the self-cherishing thought. Our life is not getting better, not having development in the mind; if we do not meditate on impermanence-death, if we do not keep this in the heart, then the perfect human rebirth that we have received has no meaning, doesn’t become meaningful, and having met a virtuous teacher isn’t made meaningful. It wastes having received a perfect human body, having met the teachings, and the virtuous teacher.

By not practicing Dharma, even if the breath is not stopped, even if the life is not stopped, the body is like a corpse. When you do not practice Dharma, you are like a zombie, that you mentioned. Even if the breath is not stopped you are like a corpse, like zombies.

When there is the boat, you should take the boat to cross the ocean. When there is a host of many powerful people, you should use them to defeat the enemy. When you have a field, minerals, and everything, you should plant the seed. So same thing—while you have this perfect human rebirth, the virtuous teacher, many holy beings that you can meet, who are qualified, and the complete teaching of the Buddha, from beginning to the end, to enlightenment, you should take the opportunity, you should practice, you should attempt to practice the graduated path to enlightenment. So by taking this boat of the human body, you can cross samsara and go to enlightenment. It is important to take the opportunity.

Then if you can, do the Vajrasattva mantra at the end of the day, before going to bed, that is an extremely wise thing to do. Even if you do retreat, or don’t do retreat, recite the short one twenty-eight times or the long one twenty-one times. If you can do this it’s very wise, it makes the negative karma much lighter.

If you have time to meditate, if you are planning to meditate on the graduated path to enlightenment, you can use the Essence of Nectar, with commentary, which is a complete lamrim, a pocket lamrim, the graduated path to enlightenment. At the moment if you are not clear on the whole path to enlightenment, read a little bit every day and meditate a little bit. Try to get the whole idea. Then after doing this for a few months or a year, you can train the mind in guru devotion, mind training, perfect human rebirth related with impermanence-death—do that meditation one day. Then the third one, whichever bodhicitta technique you practice, start to train the mind in that, and then there is also shunyata. You can start one day, doing four or three or two meditations, if you want to train the mind. On top of this, if you have refuge you can take tantra initiation and also train the mind in the tantric path and do meditation on shunyata with the tantric path.

In this way, before death you have the whole realization of lamrim and tantra, and become enlightened in this life—or if you do not have lamrim realization and tantra, at least bodhicitta, and if not, renunciation, shunyata. You can make some progress and the life becomes highly meaningful. You can make that much development, so then in the next life you can do the rest of the path. Like this, you are able to become enlightened quickly for the sake of all sentient beings.

It is very good, even if your life is very busy, with many things to do, many obligations, to do some retreat, on lamrim and associated with the deity, together. If not, just do lamrim, that’s very good. Or do the preliminary practices associated with lamrim. Also, deity meditation, but associated with lamrim, and then you have lamrim realizations and all that. Take the eight Mahayana precepts as many times as possible; this makes the life highly meaningful and makes much preparation for the happiness of future lives.

I think I’ll stop here.

[Mandala offering]

Dedicate all the merit from listening, explaining, all the merit that we have accumulated during this time, to generate bodhicitta within our mind and others, and for those who have to be developed.

Also, in this very brief lifetime, without delaying for even a minute or a second, to become like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Lama Atisha, Lama Tsongkhapa, Milarepa, to have all the realizations and to be able to benefit all sentient beings. To make it short, it’s very important to dedicate like this. We should be able to do correct practice, like them.

The root of the path is devotion to the virtuous friend. Dedicate to be able to find a qualified virtuous friend, now and in all the future lives—like the Buddha, Lama Atisha, Lama Tsongkhapa, all those being the actual guru—and then to be able to do correct practice without rising the slightest heresy, wrong views, always to see in purity.

Then for the teachings of Buddha to exist, particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, that which you have been hearing, which you have been practicing, the whole entire teaching of sutra and tantra of Lama Tsongkhapa, to spread and to last a long time until samsara ends.

Then all the holy beings, the one savior of all the sentient beings, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and all the rest of the holy beings who live for other sentient beings to have a stable life until samsara ends and for all their wishes to succeed immediately.

Also pray that our guru, Lama’s reincarnation, is able to benefit all sentient beings, like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, like Lama Tsongkhapa.

Having this opportunity to do the course is principally by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and particularly by Lama Yeshe’s kindness. To continue the course each year is particularly due to Lama’s infinite kindness. By realizing this, please dedicate the merits for the incarnation and for other holy beings.

Also, for all the father and mother sentient beings to have happiness, to cause this by oneself alone, and for the three lower realm beings to be empty forever, and to cause this by oneself alone—and wherever there are bodhisattvas, for all their wishes to succeed immediately and to cause this by oneself alone.

As the three-time buddhas have dedicated their merits, I will dedicate my merits to achieve enlightenment.

I will do the short lamrim prayer in Tibetan.


[Jang chub sem chog..., ge wa di yi...; long-life prayers]

[End of discourse]

[End of entire teaching]