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 Five

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“To not commit any unwholesome action, engage in perfect wholesome actions, subdue one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddha.”


Look at causative phenomena—one’s own body, possessions, surrounding people, friend, enemy, sense objects, forms, sounds, smells, taste, tangible objects—these causative phenomena are impermanent in nature.

They are not just changing day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, they’re changing even within every second. They are changing, decaying, they do not last. They do not last even within a second because they are under the control of cause and conditions. Concentrate on the fact that they’re decaying, that they’re changing, that they do not last even within second. Especially focus on this.

There are three levels of impermanence: extremely subtle, subtle and gross. Because of that extremely subtle change, that extremely subtle impermanence, all causative phenomena are changing, they do not last even within a second. The extremely subtle changes mean they’re changing within the second. And then, from those, gross change happens. Because they’re changing even within a second, they do not last, they decay. These phenomena can cease, they can be stopped any time. So just meditate on this.

It is so important to meditate on impermanence and death, so important. This is part of the nature of life. When we think of this we see these causative phenomena—your own life, body, possessions, surrounding people—as permanent, that they’re not changing day by day, minute by minute, hour by hour, second by second, not changing even within second. They are something permanent and then we try to look at them impermanent; something which are permanent and then we try to look at them impermanent. It’s not like that. So, of course, in that case, can be, anyway that’s not true. You’re meditating on something which is not true.

But this is the nature of life. We’re meditating, we’re trying to be mindful, trying to realize, discover that these causative phenomena are nature of impermanence. We try to discover that they’re impermanent in nature. We try to realize gross impermanence and subtle impermanence.

Impermanence is part of the realization of the four noble truths. Each Noble truth has four qualities. What’s the difference between attribute and quality? What’s the difference between qualities and attributes? [RL] Maybe it’s different in Switzerland. [GL, RL] Joking. I’m joking.

[Rinpoche discusses with someone (Losang Yeshe?) in Tibetan]

So each noble truth has four attributes or qualities. Impermanence is the first attribute of the truth suffering. Then emptiness, then selflessness.

So we’re trying to realize that one’s own life, the surrounding people, friend, enemy, family members and so forth are in the nature of impermanence. We’re trying to realize that they’re the nature of impermanence. In that way we stop the wrong concept of permanence, which is how it is apprehended, how things appear permanent to our hallucinated mind, like how I explained on one of the nights. I explained how, after our mind merely imputes the I, action, object, any phenomenon, then when it appears back, it appears back not merely labeled by mind. It should appear back merely labeled by mind but it doesn’t appear back to us in that way. It appears back to us totally wrong, totally false—not merely labeled by mind but existing from its own side. It doesn’t appear back according to reality.

So what appears to us, how things appear to us, is opposite – not harmonious with, not according to reality. So that’s the definition of false view. Truth and false – the definition of false is that which appears is not harmonious, not according to reality. The way things appear is not according to reality. That’s the definition of what is false.

It’s the same here. When we look at our body, we don’t see its impermanent nature. Even though in reality it’s changing day by day, becoming older hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, even within second, getting older and changing. It’s happening but appears as permanent.

It’s the same thing when you think of life, or the I. Although the I is impermanent it appears permanent. When you think of the I it doesn’t appear, it doesn’t appear to have an impermanent nature, even though it has. It appears as permanent. And it’s the same thing when you think of the enemy, or when you think of the friend, it doesn’t appear impermanent. Even though they’re impermanent, they don’t appear to you that way. You hold onto them as permanent. To your hallucinated mind they appear permanent.

Then because we haven’t realized emptiness, we not only can’t realize that they are in nature of impermanence, but we don’t meditate and our mind is not even aware their nature. We totally think the opposite. We totally look at them as the opposite, as something permanent, something long lasting.

So here, again another problem, another suffering that we have in our life, the concept of permanence. Then because of that again builds up attachment, anger, all these things based on that.

When your mind is so dissatisfied—for example, in the case of business—you want more and more and more. After you make $1000 profit, you want $100,000 profit. After you make that $100,000 profit you want a million dollar profit. After you made a million dollar profit you want to make billion dollar profit. After you made a billion dollar profit you want to make a zillion dollar profit. [GL] After a zillion dollar profit, then a trillion dollar profit, then maybe another million dollars. [GL] I’m joking on this one.

By following desire, what you want is always more; always more, more than others. You always want to have more. There’s no end to it. As long as you follow desire there’s no end to it. There’s no limit. Wanting more has no limit. Even while you have enough, enough to live, enough to live for this life, even when you have more than enough, but still you want more, more, more.

While there’s so much stress, so much worry, fear, all this anxiety about not achieving more, all this worry, fear that what you have might become less, suddenly you think, “Oh I might die.” If you think of the nature of your life, suddenly, you bring your mind inside. From being distracted, thinking only of external objects, following desire, busy, busy following desire, you bring your attention back, and think of your life. You think of your inner life and that it is the nature of impermanence that this can be stopped anytime, any day, any hour, any moment, this can be stopped. This breath can be stopped any day, any hour, any moment—it can be stopped. This breath goes out, in; goes out, in. One day it goes out and doesn’t go in. It can happen any moment, any day, any hour, any minute.

By reflecting like that, you think of your inner life. You look at your nature of life, which is impermanence. When you think of that, that it can end anytime, then the petty worries make no sense. All the things that you worried about before—wanting more and more and more, better and better, things that had no end, no limit, things that brought all that worry, fear, stress. You made the stress yourself, with all the emotional thought you produced stress. Suddenly, none of this makes any sense, suddenly, none of this has any meaning, when you think that the nature of your life is impermanence, that death can happen anytime. None of this makes any sense. All the worry, the fear, all the expectations, all the desire, is completely cut, right there. What keeps you so busy day and night is cut by reflecting on the nature of life, impermanence and death.

When you think of death, all this is nothing. It doesn’t make any sense. Now you have to think something else totally different. Now you have to think something else. When you think of death, the nature of life, now you have to think of something else, not this one, not what you’ve been doing so far. You have to think of Dharma. Nothing else, only Dharma, can help at the time of death.

[Part of talk missing] When you don’t think carefully about karma, when you don’t examine it, then you blindly follow attachment. You think you can do so many things, and you have no rules, you can be easygoing, finding attraction like that. That’s because of not thinking about karma. Easygoing yes, you can do so many things, but not thinking about karma, not analyzing karma. But if you think of the karma then that brings you back to the practice, to living in the vows, the precepts. When you don’t think karma, when you look at it externally, you can do everything, you have no rules. You create hallucination, you give hallucination to yourself.

Generally speaking, it depends on how the person, the nun or the monk, on how that person lives their life. It depends on how that lay person lives their life. There are many yogis who achieved enlightenment in a lay body. By practicing tantra, by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, many yogis like Milarepa, Marpa achieved enlightenment by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra. It doesn’t matter what sort of person—lay, monk, nun, man, woman—they are able to practice, they are free to practice the Dharma in their life. Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone. It depends on how they live their life, even if they have a monk’s life. Of course, being a real monk or nun, there is so much freedom to practice the Dharma, generally speaking.

So anyway, I was using that as an example of how that meditator, that monk did not think of death. That’s how thoughts that are the opposite of renunciation come. So when I mentioned this, he was crying. As an education, it is very important for the mind to become familiar with this. To train in this meditation everyday life is so important, to remember it every day. When the day begins, you must to remember this.

The Kadampa geshes said that if you don’t remember impermanence and death in the morning, then all morning, whatever you do, nothing doesn’t become Dharma. That includes reciting mantra, chanting prayers, and so forth, and not just the mundane actions like walking, sitting, sleeping, doing a job. Even reciting prayers, doing meditation and so forth do not become Dharma if you don’t remember death in the morning when the day begins.

And then, if you don’t remember impermanence and death at noon then, all the afternoon whatever activity you do doesn’t become Dharma; they all become worldly dharma, nonvirtue. Then, in the evening time, if you don’t remember impermanence and death then, again, all night time the activities do not become Dharma. They all become worldly dharma, nonvirtue.

With desire and problems, for us beginners, there are two things. Without strong meditation on renunciation, impermanence and death, when we are physically separated from something it becomes suffering, it becomes so much pain because of the attachment. So much pain, unbelievable pain and then one commits suicide. All these things happen. Then we get angry. Because of anger, attachment arises. We kill other people. Just in a minute, we kill other people or kill ourselves.

What I’m saying, physically, that alone becomes suffering. Without effectively meditating on impermanence and death and meditating how samsara is in the nature of suffering, which gives inner strength and courage to you, life becomes so painful. Life becomes so painful, when you only physically separate from the objects of your attachment.

Even if you are meditating on these things—on impermanence and death and then how samsara is the nature of suffering—but because your mind is very weak you don’t have realizations, because attachment is so strong. When you are physically close to things, then there’s great risk.

So, therefore, for us beginners, we need both things: to physically separate ourselves from the objects of our attachment and also to strongly meditate on the renunciation of samsara, as well as on impermanence and death. How samsara is the nature of suffering is effective to meditate as well as impermanence and death. A strong meditation on this gives you inner strength, courage, it makes your mind really brave. With these two things together, life doesn’t become painful. Life doesn’t become painful and there are no obstacles. If you are living in the precepts, if you are able to continue to live purely, then you’re free from obstacles to actualizing realizations. By continuously meditating, you achieve the realization of the path to enlightenment.

Even for a layperson, doing it this way helps to create less negative karma in their life. Not only for the Sangha, not only for the ordained person, but even for the a layperson, by applying this technique to be able to keep, to practice lay vows—the lay five precepts such as abstaining from sexual misconduct which creates a lot of confusion, a lot of relationship problems, so much unhappiness in one’s own life and in other people’s life—being able to keep the vows helps you have more peace and happiness and have less negative karma. That means it is easier to achieve liberation and easier to achieve realizations of the path to liberation and enlightenment.

Yesterday, I went through the twelve links. Then I mentioned how all the appearances we have, the appearance to the five senses, the objects we enjoy, having contact, having pleasant feelings—how all this comes from consciousness. After that, consciousness comes from karma and karma comes from ignorance. I used the twelve links to meditate in that way—how everything came from one’s own mind: consciousness, karma, ignorance.

This meditation also becomes another technique to develop patience, by relating it to the enemy, the person who abuse you, the person who treats you badly, or if you hate your parents because they abused you or didn’t take care of you when you were young. This is very common. When you go to see psychologist, with the old Western psychology method, that’s because you were not taken care of by you mother when you were young, and now you have this problem, that problem, this problem. That is the old method that is taught in the West.

Before the daughter or son had a good relationship with the parents—happy, harmonious, peaceful, happiness, good—then, after going to see psychologist who used all the old Western methods, they begin to totally hate their parents! They don’t ever want to see them again. They generate hatred towards the parents who were extremely kind, who gave them this life, all the comfort and pleasure and especially, if they have met Dharma, the opportunity to practice Dharma. This all came from them. They are unbelievably kind. Unbelievably kind. And yet their child looks at them totally as the enemy and generates great hatred towards them, and this continues for years.

This all comes from karma, it all comes from ignorance. There’s nobody to blame, even if the parents gave you away for somebody else to take care of, or if they put you in a hospital, even if they did that. Here it is important to meditate like, that even if your parents treated you in that way, it all came from your mind, so there’s nobody to blame. There’s nobody for you to get angry with. There’s no one there for you to get angry with and nothing for you to do except to change your mind; except you purify the past negative karma that was already done and to create only good karma, to live in the vows, the precepts—the opposite of negative karma—to change your action, to change your attitude, and to realize emptiness, to eliminate ignorance.

This becomes the technique to practice patience. So you should meditate like this.

Before I mentioned the meditation technique of using the alphabet. Whatever appears to you—whatever you see, whatever you hear, whatever you smell, taste, something bad, good, everything—is something that your mind labeled. All these are something that your mind labeled, then it appears “bad.” As soon as your mind labels it, it appears as bad. I mentioned how important it is to meditate on this, especially at break times. To practice mindfulness like this is so unbelievably important. Actually, this is so good to do, even for one week, one month. To practice mindfulness is so good. This is very powerful. It makes the scenery great fun. In this way, the way you look at everything is different.

You see something and recognize that that one comes by labeling. In that minute, by your mind labeling something, then you see it that way. How everything comes from mind. I’m talking about meditating on how everything comes from mind in a long process.

Look at how you see temple, the people here, how we see each person, the effect you get by seeing each person. Then, when you go out, these trees, road, sky, clouds. When you’re going by car, when you’re travelling, you see many mountains. You see different towns, cities. So you have many different visions, many different appearances, passing through while you’re going by car. You have all these views. All these views, each time one comes, see that it is coming from your mind. It looks like it comes from “there” but, actually, it’s from here.

As I mentioned, the negative roll for a movie camera. Many things are printed on the negative roll, but then when they are put in the machine and projected onto the movie screen, then it appears. Or on a TV screen. So it is like that here. For example, when you’re going by car you have many views—mountains, different cities, towns, whatever—some are beautiful, some are rocky, some are very nice green, some snowy, some ugly, some are beautiful. You see many things. All these views passing through come from you own karma, from the imprint left on the consciousness, being experienced. That’s what you’re seeing. That’s what you’re seeing. Your consciousness comes from your karma, which comes from ignorance. This is the process, the long-term process, how things come from the mind. It’s a deeper way to meditate on how things come from the mind.

So it’s a very important meditation. It’s fundamental Buddhist philosophy and reality. Not only Buddhist philosophy - but is reality. It’s universal. It’s reality.

It’s very good to meditate on this when you go to the shop, when you go sightseeing. Meditate on the lam-rim when you go sightseeing, when you go city, whatever you see, even if it is garbage. [RL] Whatever you see. When you go sightseeing, when you’re trekking, meditate on the lam-rim. Practice awareness on how all these things come from the mind. This way it’s very good. This way it’s very interesting. This way it becomes a very interesting tour; it becomes very interesting scenery—the scenery of your mind. In other words, you are watching your karma. The movie of your karma, movie of your mind.

That’s what’s happening. Maybe you don’t recognize it but you’re looking at, you’re watching the movie of your karma. If your mind is pure, you see everything as pure. What appears to you is pure. If your mind is impure, what appears to you is impure. That’s another logic. That’s another logic showing how everything comes from mind.

With the devotional mind, the pure mind, you see the guru as a buddha. Even if from the guru’s side, he is not a buddha, but when your mind is pure you see the guru as a buddha from his side. This is like the great yogis, even the practitioners of the generation stage of the Highest Yoga Tantra, who trained the mind to look at everything as pure: the body is the deity, the place is the mandala. Somebody who has trained the mind in that way, whenever that person wants to see it that way, it happens. Then, of course, by completing the path, by ceasing all defilements, the dualistic mind, when you achieve enlightenment, for your senses, everything appears pure.

Any enjoyment depends on the mind. A bowl filled with liquid for human beings is water, it appears as water. The same bowl, the same liquid appears as pus and blood to hungry ghosts, for pretas, who don’t have the merit to see water, to see something nice and clean. If somebody doesn’t have the merit then that liquid in the bowl appear as pus and blood. For human beings, it appears as water. For devas it appears as nectar. Then, especially, for buddhas it appears as the most pure, the best quality nectar.

This is another line of reasoning to show how things come from the mind. Those who have higher merit see nectar; those have merit only to see water but no merit to see nectar, see only water. Those who don’t have all that merit just see pus and blood.

Another example is when different people look at that one person. Somebody sees that person as nice; somebody sees that person as ugly, even though it’s the same person. That same person appears as somebody nice, very beautiful, extremely beautiful to one person but very ugly, and for somebody else. [RL] Maybe not so beautiful, not so ugly. Anyway. [RL] So, how this one person appears depends on the karma of the people who look at her. This is another example how things come from the mind due to different karma. Life’s full of examples like that, which proves that everything comes from the mind.

If something exists from its own side without depending on mind, only from object’s side, then it should be same for everybody. It should appear the same. The water should appear water to everybody, to a buddha, to a hungry ghost, to anybody; it should appear as water but is not like that. This is just one example; one example like that.

This is a very essential philosophy of Buddhism. This is very important understanding, extremely important education of the mind and is extremely important technique to control the mind, to overcome delusions. You can’t see anybody to blame. So there’s no point for anger to arise. So this stops anger. When you think of this, anger stops. Anger doesn’t arise.

It is very good to practice these two things when you go trekking or sightseeing, or when you walk around: that whatever you see, whatever object the sense contacts, it comes from the mind by being merely labeled by the mind. The other one is what I explained the twelve dependent related limbs, how it comes from the imprint left on the consciousness due to karma, which is created by ignorance. It is very good to meditate on this when you’re walking around every day. In your daily life when you go for walk, this is a very good meditation. You can practice the awareness of this—whatever is happening to you, the views you have, the view of your senses. So, this is very good.

If you only put a positive label in the daily life, then that makes your life happy all the time. It keeps you happy all the time. But what makes your mind to make up, to impute a negative label “bad,” what makes it? What causes that? That’s one thing. What causes the mind to put negative label “bad?” When our mind makes the negative label instead of putting positive label: “this is bad,” “this is bad,” what causes that?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche: Huh?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche: Everybody’s karma.

[Student: inaudible.]

Yes, that’s right. So your past negative karma which leaves an imprint on your mental continuum, that makes you put negative label. And your past good karma makes your mind put a positive label. Then you’re happy. Your past negative karma makes your mind to put negative label, and that’s what makes you unhappy, that’s what gives you an unpleasant feeling.

So now, there are more reasons. Now, there are other reasons why everything comes from your mind, besides mind labeling. Karma. There’s karma there you see. Everything comes from karma, which means from the mind.

Meditate on the twelve links, how appearances come from karma which comes from ignorance. While you are walking, all that you see comes from the mind. It comes from karma. And karma is motivated by ignorance.

From the completed negative karma of killing what kind of appearance do you get? What kind of appearance, what kind of life experience do you get from that?

So now more details, more specific details on that. The completed karma of killing is this. There’s a base, a living being, a sentient being having a mind—not necessarily a human mind, but having mind. The mind doesn’t have to be only a human mind. So the base is a sentient being. Then there is the action and the thought. There is the base, the thought, the action and the goal. In this case, the goal is, you did action of killing, but, if you died before the other living being, then it’s not completed.

These are the four things that make it a complete action of killing. If the killing is done out of ego, self-cherishing thought, attachment or anger or whatever, that’s what makes the killing a nonvirtue. That makes action of killing come from nonvirtue. By having these four things gathered, action of killing is completed. This negative karma is a completed negative karma, and then it has the four suffering results. The ripened result is rebirth in the lower realm: hell, hungry ghost or animal and you have to experience those very heavy sufferings until the negative karma finishes. If the karma is to be experienced for eons, for many billions of years, one has to experience that. If the karma is heavy like that, you must experience for that length of time. The ripening result is rebirth in the lower realm.

Then, a lesser suffering, when you are born in the human world you experience the three other sufferings. The place where you live, or where you get born—the food, drink, medicines, crops, fruit, all these things have very little protein. Due to you karma they don’t have much power, very little protein, very difficult to digest. Even if you eat these things, you are unable to digest it. So you have digestion problems, according to the sutra explained by Buddha, The Sutra of the Ten Bhumis. I think this explanation comes from there. It is explained in lam-rim by Lama Tsongkhapa. Here, it talks about digestion problem. Even when you eat something, you are unable to digest it. These things are the result of the past negative karma of killing. Even you eat these things, you get disease. It causes bad health.

Even if there’s nothing wrong with the food itself, but for some people it becomes a problem. I think like this. I have diabetes so I cannot eat sweet things. It increases diabetes. People like me with diabetes cannot eat food that contains sugar. So this is the same. The food itself is okay and it doesn’t harm most people, but some people can’t eat it. It harms them.

A person might have karma to live longer but an untimely death happened. These things are the result of past negative karma of killing. Death can happen in the mother’s womb, before even coming out, and so forth; a shortness of life, like that, is from the past negative karma of killing.

Then, there are two other types of sufferings. This one is to do with the place. In Tibetan it’s called de-wo, the possessed result. Two other problems result of the negative karma, comes from the negative karma of killing. The other one is experiencing the result similar to the cause you’ve done in the past, giving harm to others. Even if you’re born as a human being, you experience a shortness of life and you experience many sicknesses. You experience a shortness of life and many sicknesses one after another, or many sicknesses at the same time. This is experiencing the result similar to the cause.

Then the other one: [Tibetan] is creating the result similar to the cause. [Tibetan] Creating the result similar to the cause. When you’re born human being you engage in killing again because of the previous habit, or imprint, the negative imprint left on the mind by the negative karma of killing. Then, in next life, after some time when you’re born human being, then again you do killing. That is creating the result similar to the cause.

With creating the result similar the cause, by killing again, you again produce the four suffering results. When you’re born human being the next time, you then do the action of killing again.

So it goes on and on like that. It goes on and on like that and there is no end to the negative karma and suffering, unless you purify the negative karma.

The result goes on unless you purify the past negative karma of killing, but the solution is not only to purify. Purifying is one thing, so that you don’t experience the result again, but purifying is not the only solution. The very important solution is to live in the vows, the precepts, to abstain from killing. To abstain from killing, that’s very important. Changing of your actions is so important.

These two things are vital: purifying past negative karma that we’ve done, and then not killing again. To do that, the best thing is to live in the vow, to live in the vow abstaining from killing. These two, purifying and living in the vow to not kill, are the solution to not experiencing on-going, unending suffering. Being killed and killing again and again and experience the suffering result again and again.

I’ll do the next one and then I’ll stop.

I’m going to mention completed negative karma of sexual misconduct. I’ll leave that second one [stealing]. With the completed negative karma of sexual misconduct, the ripened result is birth in the lower realm. And then for the three other suffering results one experiences in the human realm, the possessed result is to do with the place where you’re born, or the city where you live. It is a very filthy, dirty place; filled with excrement or a lot of dirt, a very muddy place. There is a lot of garbage; it is unhygienic, with so many bad smells. It’s a very sad, very unhappy place, a very unpleasant place. Even if normally we don’t live in such a place, but sometimes we have to pass through, even that, even that short time of passing through such a smelly, dirty place, even that is the possessed result of the past negative karma of sexual misconduct.

Then, experiencing the result similar to the cause. That one is, when you’re born as a human being, the people around you disturb you. They’re not harmonious with you. Your family or companion, the other people that you live with and the neighbors and surrounding people are not harmonious. They create a lot of disturbance and they are always bothering you. And you can’t trust them.

The wife or husband, other companion, the other person, the mind is comparative, against to your wishes. What the husband or wife or other person, the way he or she thinks, the other person’s way of thinking is against your wishes. So that brings problem like disharmony, bad relationship.

These things are not harmonious to your mind. The way of thinking of the person you live with is against your wishes and that brings disharmony and so much unhappiness and problems, so much quarreling and fighting. This is experiencing the result similar to the cause of the sexual misconduct done in the past.

In other words, everybody—even the family members—become your enemy. Your husband or wife becomes your enemy; the other family members become your enemies. The people around you become your enemy. They never listen to you; they disobey you. This is the result of the past negative karma of sexual misconduct.

Then creating the result similar to the cause is doing the action again. When you are born as a human being in another lifetime, then you do the action again, you commit that action of sexual misconduct again. Then, again, that produces the four suffering results. You engage in sexual misconduct again and that produces another four suffering results. So it goes on. If you just leave it, if you don’t do anything, if you don’t practice purification, if you don’t live in the vow abstaining from that, then one negative karma of killing or sexual misconduct today goes on and on. It affects in all future lives, numberless lifetimes; it becomes unending suffering. So this one karma today, this one negative karma today, if you don’t purify it, if you don’t live in the vow, if you don’t change your actions, abstaining from negative karma, then these sufferings become unending, leading to more and more suffering through numberless future lives.

Even if I just explain one or two of these, you can see how it the same thing for the others. If you’re live in the vow, the precepts, this virtue, morality, then also it should be same. There are four happy results of: good rebirth as a deva or a human rebirth. Then, in the future lives you are also able to live in the vow, the precepts.

In the case abstaining from killing, living this morality, the place where you live, where you get born, everything is so good, the food, the crops and so forth. It is completely the opposite to the four sufferings of the negative karma of killing; you receive four happy results by living in the vow abstaining from killing,

You will have a long life in the future lives, with no disease, no sicknesses; much of the life is healthy. Maybe there’s some sickness but much of the life is healthy, or no sickness. It’s not just one lifetime, the effect goes on life to life. By living in the morality abstaining from killing, the four happy results go from life to life. You enjoy the result from life to life.

Then, it is the same thing with practicing the morality of abstaining from sexual misconduct. There is not only peace and happiness this life, but harmonious relationships, and not only in this life but in future lives. Everybody listens to you. Everybody’s mind is harmonious with you, in the family, in the office, wherever. Your companion’s wishes always accord with yours, you obey each other there’s much peace and happiness in the life.

The place is so beautiful, so clean. There is no dirty smell, no filth; it’s not like that. It’s the opposite result of committing sexual misconduct. In this life, when we enjoy those kind of places, very clean places with beautiful gardens, that’s the result of past good karma of living in the morality abstaining from sexual misconduct.

We should recognize like this in our daily life: these enjoyments came from such and such a good karma, and these unpleasant things came such and such a negative karma. And by understanding lam-rim, about karma, in our daily life we should recognize this is the result of negative karma, this is the result of positive karma. That is very good. It inspires you to abandon negative karma and practice virtue.

The conclusion is that you never improve if you allow yourself to live without morality. Some people say, “I want to be myself. I don’t want to be something else. I want to be myself.” If you continue to become “yourself” which is all self, there is no change. Then, what happens is you do nothing. You don’t purify negative karma. You don’t practice morality. You don’t change your mind and action, so then there is no change. So, being yourself: the old one, the old self—“I want to be myself”—it’s that same old self and then the suffering is endless. There is no end, even from one negative karma.

But by living in morality, the happiness goes on and on in all the numberless lives. Therefore, the four happy results come from complete good karma. Now you can understand the importance of morality. Even for lay people there are lay vows; it doesn’t mean everybody becomes a monk or nun. For the lay people there are lay vows.

Even if you cannot practice all the five lay vows: abstaining from killing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, stealing, and alcohol, which makes the mind unconscious or uncontrolled and then engage in much negative karma—even if you cannot take and keep all the five lay vows, you should try to take at least one. At least one. It becomes so important, so essential. If you want happiness, this is living in the morality, and so try to take at least one.

You can understand from this explanation that it’s so essential. It’s the basis of your happiness from now on. It’s so important. It is what makes life meaningful, from now up to death, for how many years, how many months, days, weeks, hours, minutes, seconds you have from this second until death. If you want to make meaningful, one of the most important practices is this. One of the most important practices to make life meaningful is this one: morality. So today there are many subjects on that.

Geshe Sopa Rinpoche was Lama Yeshe’s teacher from Tibet. Now in Sera Je College, the present abbot, the ex-abbot before, many of the great teachers there who have been educating the young monks, educating many hundreds, thousands of young monks to become a geshe, receiving an excellent education as you saw with Geshe Tashi. There are many young geshes like that down there receiving excellent education. These monasteries, Sera, Ganden and Drepung, are the main places to learn the most extensive Buddhist education in the world. These are the only places to learn that extensively through the form of debate—not Tibet, debate! [RL]—in the world. Many of those great teachers have been educating those young monks, like Geshe Tashi, like Lama Lhundrup and so forth. Their teacher is those great learned ones down there. Their teacher is Geshe Sopa Rinpoche, He is Lama’s teacher and my teacher.

Geshe la will be here few days, so I will request Dharma teaching according to the present development of our mind, [GL, RL] something that is really needed, that fits so that later it is easy to develop bodhicitta and so forth. Then we have basis to practice tantra. Geshe Sopa Rinpoche will be teaching. This time we are very fortunate that Geshe-la happens to be here on his way to India for a pilgrimage and Dharamsala to attend religious meetings.

I thought maybe tomorrow to give the oral transmission of the Thirty-Five Buddha practice, the compassion purification, the oral transmission of the prayer, the Thirty-Five Buddha. The name of the prayer is The Confession of Downfalls. It is extremely powerful. So I’ll give the oral transmission of that and then you can recite wherever you are, in a car, an airplane, wherever, just by putting your palms together like this. It’s unbelievably powerful.

Even reciting the first name of the [Thirty-five Buddhas], Shakyamuni Buddha’s name, even reciting that first name, just one time, it has the power to purify 80,000 eons of negative karma—not just years or months or days but eons of negative karma it has the power to purify. So these Buddha’s names are like an atomic bomb to purify negative karma, [GL] to destroy negative karma. Each Buddha’s name can purify so many eons of different negative karma. Even without the prostrations, just reciting the names is unbelievably powerful. This is a very essential practice in the daily life; it is very, very important. Then when there is a place to do prostrations, or an opportunity to do prostrations, then you can do it with prostration. Prostrations are extremely important to collect extensive merit. So, maybe, I’ll do some elaboration on that, on the prayer, as a solution to purify all these negative karmas. So I’ll stop here, I’ll really stop! (GL, RL)

[Mandala offering]

[Dedication prayers]


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