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 Four

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[Do not engage in] any unwholesome action, any harmful action, harmful to oneself and towards other sentient beings.
Engage in the perfect wholesome action, perfect virtue.

Action which is beneficial to oneself as well as to other living beings. Perfect wholesome action, perfect virtue.

Subdue one’s own mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Taming the mind, subduing the mind is not only in Buddhism. It should be the essence of all the religions. If the practice is not there, then chanting prayers or rituals or whatever, no matter how much one does, does not subdue the mind that brings the problems in the life. Subduing the mind which brings problems, which gives problems to oneself and which gives problems to others, to the world, to other sentient beings.

This should be in any religion. It should be the essence of any religion, otherwise, how it can benefit, how it can bring peace and happiness in life—in the individual person’s life as well as to the world. If the essence of religion is not reducing anger, if it’s not subduing the mind, subduing the anger, the dissatisfied mind, the desire—all these things that make life unhappy—[it cannot work]. The simple way of expressing this is to say it is all these emotional thoughts that make life unhappy, your own life and others’ lives.

By practicing patience, anger is subdued. By practicing compassion, the thought cherishing others, the ego, the self-centered mind is subdued. Only caring for oneself, only cherishing oneself, only working for only oneself, not benefiting others—this is countered by practicing compassion, the good heart, by cherishing others, then subduing the ego, the self-centered mind. Practicing contentment, by renouncing the dissatisfied mind, desire, you achieve contentment. You achieve peace. You achieve inner peace. You give peace to yourself, peace in your heart by practicing renunciation, letting go the desire, the painful mind of grasping. Letting go of this you achieve contentment. You achieve inner peace, satisfaction, in your life, in your heart. The essence of religion should be these things. At least, at least, it should be these things—subduing the mind.

The lack of this is why there are a lot of wars between religions. For hundreds and hundreds of years, for an unbelievable length of time, so many people have been killed, and suffered for that.

So, therefore, it is very important to practice the essence of religion, which is compassion. It’s not only Buddhism. Any religion should be like that. You should practice compassion, kindness towards others. Often His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, ‘My religion is kindness towards others.’ That makes sense: my religion is kindness towards others. That has great meaning. If that is practiced then it is impossible to have all these wars between religions for years and years, where so many hundred thousand, millions of people get killed or suffer. I guess, maybe, they missed out what the real meaning of religion is. They missed out or didn’t get to practice the real essence of religion—compassion or kindness towards other living beings.

If the mind is devoid of compassion, if your heart is devoid of compassion, inner peace, contentment, if your heart is devoid of this, then no matter whatever extensive things, what external practices you perform, it is not real religion. It’s not spiritual. Your heart is empty of the spiritual.

Of course, there is no question that what is the teaching of the Buddha mean, what it means to “practicing the Dharma” is to subdue one’s mind, to tame the disturbing, obscuring, emotional thoughts that bring so much suffering to yourself and to others from life to life—that which has been giving suffering to yourself and others from beginningless time, not only from the time of birth in this life but from beginningless rebirth up to now.

If you continue like that, if you don’t change your mind, you will continue giving harm to yourself and others without end, so, therefore, it is very important. Everybody wants peace and happiness. Everybody wants peace. Everybody wants happiness. Numberless other living beings—any insect or human being, deva, or anybody, any other living being—everyone wants happiness just exactly as oneself wants it. Nobody wants suffering and everybody wants peace and happiness. Therefore, it is extremely important that the real essence of any spiritual practice, any real Dharma, is to tame one’s mind. To make the mind soft, not rough, not harmful, not vicious or violent. Not like that. A soft mind, a loving mind, being kind towards others.

This stanza: “Do not commit any unwholesome action; engage in perfect wholesome action; subdue one’s own mind; this is the teaching of the Buddha.” This contains four noble truths, the fundamental teaching of the Buddha. This is the basis, the essence, of the Hinayana teachings; this is the foundation of the Mahayana teachings; This is the foundation of Mahayana Sutra and Mahayana Tantra.

“Subdue one’s own mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha.”

What it contains is subdue, to pacify wrong concepts, from the mistakes towards the guru, from there up to subtle dualistic view, the ordinary impure wind, subtle wind and mind. The dualistic view, up to the very last mind, before you achieve enlightenment, the very last obstacle: the hallucination of inherently-existent appearance. That which is projected, that which is also subtle defilement. That which is projected by the subtle negative imprint left, such as the simultaneously-born wrong concept apprehending that I, while it is non-truly existent, while it doesn’t exist from its own side, apprehending, holding on to it as if it truly existent or if it exists from its own side. While it is non-inherently existent, holding on to, apprehending the I as inherently existent. The subtle negative imprint left by that wrong concept, that simultaneously-born concept of inherent existence, the inherently existent appearance, this hallucination that one has up to the time before one become enlightened, this subtle negative imprint which projects that.

So subdue one’s mind; this is the teaching of the Buddha. From the very beginning the wrong concept, the thought of mistakes towards the virtuous friend who reveal the path to liberation and enlightenment to you—from there, up to the subtle dual view and the subtle defilement. Subduing all these wrong concepts, all these obstacles, which are obstacles to having realizations of the path to enlightenment. So attaining all these is the teaching of the Buddha.

Next we do just a little meditation. The very meaning of this verse [Tibetan] is Buddha’s teaching advice: how to look at the phenomena.

One’s own body, possessions, life, surrounding people, family members, friends, enemies, sense objects, all these causative phenomena—not only do they change due to causes and conditions day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, not only that these things are changing, but they are decaying, they do not last even within every second. Even within second they do not last. They decay. They change. Like when you click the camera, [the film is exposed] for many hundredths of a second, they are changing, decaying. We can use this here, bring this into the meditation. All these conditioned phenomena change, decay, do not last even each second, even within each second.

These are causative phenomena, therefore they are changing, decaying, not only second by second but even within a second, changing, decaying. They do not last. Being under the control of cause and conditions, so because of this, these causative phenomena can be stopped anytime.

Not only these causative phenomena which are in the nature of impermanence, transitory, not only that, this includes causative phenomena and even uncaused phenomena, the permanent phenomena. All the phenomena—permanent and impermanent—all the phenomena, what they are, is merely labeled by the mind. What they are is what is merely labeled by the mind. No phenomenon has inherent existence. No phenomenon exists from its own side. All phenomena are totally empty of existing from their own side.

In the view of our ignorance, our concept of inherent existence, all these appear as inherently existent, as something real. All these appear as “real,” as something real appearing from there. All these phenomena are real—I, action, object—all these phenomena are real; real in the sense our definition of real for us, especially, if we haven’t realized emptiness. Our definition of real is something appearing from there. That’s real: something appearing from there, something existing from its own side.

All the phenomena appear like this—I, action, object, enlightenment, hell, samsara, nirvana, happiness, unhappiness, suffering, virtue, nonvirtue, everything—all these appear existing from its own side; something real existing from its own side. But, in reality, all that appears to our hallucinated mind, is not in the mind. All these are hallucinations. All these are totally empty. All these phenomena are totally empty of this inherent existence. All these are empty of existing from their own side. So concentrate on this. Concentrate by looking into this emptiness, focusing into this emptiness.



So we visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the one who reveals this unmistaken path to liberation, to full enlightenment; the graduated path to enlightenment that we’re studying, that our mind is going to be transformed in that. That which gives us the possibility to liberate numberless sentient beings from all the sufferings and their causes and bring them to full enlightenment. To be able to do perfect work towards other sentient beings; to be able to purify the mental continuum and receive blessings, all those qualities.


From the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all the gurus, buddhas and all the lineage lamas, replicas absorb to oneself then one achieves all the qualities, all the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment, including the dharmakaya and rupakaya.

So to plant seed for the whole path to enlightenment; to read, by reading English, maybe, get some understanding of the meaning. So everybody read together in English.

[Foundation of all Good Qualities]

Thought transformation: Turning problems into happiness.

[Recitation of Foundation of all Good Qualities continued]

[Short mandala offering]

[Refuge and bodhicitta]


As I mentioned yesterday and the other day, the meditation on what is called ‘thought transformation’, what in Tibetan is lo-jong is a very important practice. This is a particular lo-jong, but generally, the whole lam-rim is lo-jong. From guru devotion up to enlightenment is lo-jong, thought transformation. But lam-rim and lo-jong, when you say it like that, the particular one that, even the obstacles you experience when you practice Dharma, when you meditate, you can transform those obstacles if you practice by doing the lo-jong, thought transformation, into the path to enlightenment. Even the problems or unfavorable circumstances or situations that you encounter while you are practicing Dharma, studying, meditating, doing retreat, interfering with your Dharma practice, by doing this special thought transformation, lo-jong, you are able to transform them into the path to enlightenment.

Something that is normally regarded as the opposite to happiness, as a problem, you are able to transform into happiness. When you encounter obstacles when you practice Dharma, even that, with the special practice of thought transformation, even those obstacles you transform. They become the path. They get transformed into the path to enlightenment. With this special practice, thought transformation, you’re using the obstacle as a path, as a means to achieve enlightenment. So it becomes a path to achieve enlightenment.

This way you have no obstacles. And this way you have no problems in life. What is regarded as a problem, with this special practice, thought transformation, with this special psychology taught by Buddha, you transform it. Like happiness, you need happiness—it’s the same. You use the problem to purify your mind, to purify those heavy negative karmas collected over many lifetimes, many thousands, billions how many lifetimes—eons of negative karmas. And you use the problem to collect skies of merit as I mentioned yesterday. One example I used for abuse, what you label abuse. From that one you use to achieve enlightenment. What you think is a problem you use as a path to achieve enlightenment and to liberate numberless sentient beings form all the suffering, causes, and bring them in to full enlightenment by yourself.

It’s the same here: using problems use like that. With this special thought transformation, with the bodhicitta practice, you experience problems for the benefit for sentient beings, on behalf of numberless other sentient beings. Rather than making yourself so sad—“Oh I have this problem. I have this problem. I have this problem,” on and on. You make yourself depressed, mind depressed, discouraged. This way, there is only courage; the problem doesn’t get you down. It lifts you up.

By using this special practice, the bodhicitta practice, giving up yourself for other sentient beings. Letting go of the I and cherishing other sentient beings. In other words, you give yourself up for all sentient beings. You experience suffering on behalf of all the sentient beings with this bodhicitta practice. The problem makes you to achieve enlightenment quicker. Using the problem in this way, that unfavorable circumstance makes you to achieve enlightenment quicker. It encourages your mind. It makes you strong; it gives you courage.

Because of that, here, it becomes very useful. The problem becomes so useful, so beneficial. So it’s something that you need. Here, now, in this way, by using it to develop this special bodhicitta, a problem becomes something needed. The problem becomes something needed rather than not needed. Rather than something you don’t want, it becomes wanted. Because it is so beneficial, it brings infinite, unbelievable benefit: it makes you achieve enlightenment quicker. To develop bodhicitta, compassion for other sentient beings, as well, you collect so much merit.

To realize the wisdom realizing emptiness you need so much merit. Like if you want to do big project you need a million dollars, without that you can’t accomplish that big project. In business life it is like that, and it is similar here. You need so much merit in order to have the realization of wisdom realizing emptiness, that which cuts the root of all the sufferings, which you have been experiencing time without beginning, from beginning-less past lives. This is something which can cut this, the very root of all this sufferings. To realize that which is incredible benefit like this, to be able to cease not only all the gross defilements, but to be able to cut the cause of suffering, even the subtle defilements. That which makes this mental continuum to be fully awakened, fully enlightened, this wisdom realizing emptiness. Even that can be achieved by developing the good heart. Developing bodhicitta makes it easy to achieve, to realize emptiness. Because having bodhicitta is the most powerful means to collect extensive merit.

For example, if you have an enemy, if you regard a person who has anger towards you or who dislikes or doesn’t love you as an enemy, by practicing patience towards that person, your anger, month by month, year by year, becomes less and less. And then, after some time, it is very difficult to get angry, the more the mind is trained in patience. Even if it arises, it arises for a very short time. [Rinpoche snaps his fingers.] It doesn’t last long. It just rises for the duration like that. [Rinpoche snaps his fingers.] It stops after having practiced patience for some time, for some months or years. Then, even after that, by developing the mind in patience, no anger arises at all. Whatever happens to you, whatever harm others give you, you never get angry. No anger rises.

Here is the point. Here is the point. By practicing patience, anger does not arise. You’re able to control it. So that means you don’t give harm with anger. You don’t give harm to others. Giving harm to others with anger is stopped. You no longer give harm to numberless other sentient beings, from life to life, and so many people in this life, causing them to get angry and making them create negative karma with body, speech, and mind, which causes them to be reborn in the hell realms, the lower realms. Even if we don’t talk about reincarnation, about past and future lives, by making so many people unhappy and angry, you destroy their peace and happiness. You destroy so many people’s peace and happiness—even in this one life, in the family, in the office, wherever you are, in the East, in the West, in the countryside, in the city, wherever you live, wherever you are.

Without practicing patience, then from life to life anger harms numberless other sentient beings. When you think from life to life, it harms numberless other sentient beings. Thinking from life to life, if you don’t tame the mind, if you don’t practice patience by training the mind to make it possible to stop anger, then this is what happens.

However, if by practicing patience from life to life—or even just this life—if you can stop even just this one disturbing emotional thought, anger, so many people, so many animals, don’t receive harm from you with that anger. They receive so much peace and happiness from you. If we think from life to life, numberless sentient beings they don’t receive harm from you with your anger. All that absence of harm is peace and happiness that other numberless sentient beings are receiving from you.

By your controlling anger, by practicing patience, by making it possible to not let anger arise, you are giving incredible skies of peace and happiness to numberless sentient beings from life to life. And all this peace and happiness you’re able to give to numberless other sentient beings is by the kindness of this person who has anger towards you. By practicing patience on that person, you are able to offer all this peace and happiness to numberless other sentient beings. All this happens due to the kindness of the person who has anger towards you.

[GL] [RL GL] I thought the microphone is tired. [GL] Tired and bored. [RL GL] The microphone or the machine, tired and bored, maybe getting upset because of my coughing. [RL GL] Anyway, what I was trying to say before, all this peace and happiness that one is able to give numberless of other sentient beings through the practice of patience making it impossible to rise anger through that training, this is completely due to the kindness of this person. Because of this person, I can benefit numberless other sentient beings so much, I can give them all this peace and happiness.

If this person didn’t have anger towards me then I would have no opportunity to practice patience. If this person has no anger towards me I have no opportunity to practice patience then no opportunity to control and to gradually destroy my anger. By developing my mind in patience then [GL] I make it impossible for anger to ever arise. That wouldn’t happen if this person didn’t have anger towards me. Therefore, developing my mind in patience, making it impossible for anger to arise after some time, being able to give so much peace and happiness to all the sentient beings—which is the absence of harm—all this is completely due to the kindness of this person who has anger towards me.

Other sentient beings not receiving harm from my anger has come from my mind training in the patience. How can I practice patience if no one gets angry at me? If nobody has anger towards me then how I can get the opportunity, how can I develop my mind in patience? There’s no opportunity to practice patience, no opportunity to develop patience. In order to achieve enlightenment, I need to develop my mind in patience, this very precious quality of human mind, that which is one the six paramitas on the path to enlightenment: the paramita of charity, the paramita of morality, the paramita of patience, the paramita of joyous perseverance, the paramita of concentration and the paramita of wisdom. You need to complete all these, to cease all the mistakes of the mind and to complete all the qualities of realization which is full enlightenment. Only then you can do perfect work toward all the sentient beings without the slightest mistake.

To achieve enlightenment so that you can enlighten numberless other sentient beings, you need to practice the paramita of patience, which is the path to enlightenment, the bodhisattva’s conduct. For that, to train the mind in that, without depending on someone having anger towards you, it is impossible. There is no opportunity to practice this path, to achieve this path. Therefore, you need anger, you need somebody having anger towards you. Maybe it’s not good for that person to have anger, but for you there’s an incredible need. For you there’s an incredible need. There’s a great need for development of your mind.
The Buddha give teachings to practice patience, but you have no opportunity to practice patience with Buddha. The Buddha doesn’t have anger. Numberless sentient beings can be divided into three: friend, enemy and stranger. Friends, [RL] while they are friends, they don’t have anger. While they are your friends, they don’t have anger towards you. So with friend, there is no opportunity to practice patience, to develop this special quality of mind—tolerance, patience—this very fundamental quality which is the basis for peace and happiness in the life, yours and others.

Strangers, too, don’t have anger towards you, so there is no opportunity to practice patience. The only person among these numberless sentient beings, the only person with whom one can practice patience, who gives you this precious opportunity to practice patience, is the person who has anger towards you. Only this person is left. Only this one’s left.

If you don’t practice patience with this person, who else gives you the opportunity? Who persuades you to follow the path; to practice patience? Otherwise you have no opportunity to achieve the path, then cannot achieve enlightenment, then cannot do perfect work towards the sentient beings without slightest mistake to bring them in full enlightenment. You cannot. And that is the main goal of your life. That’s the main goal of your life: to liberate sentient beings from the suffering, to lead them to enlightenment.

If that’s your main goal of the life, why we’re surviving day-to-day life, why we survive, why we put so much effort to live, is to develop the mind on the path; to benefit sentient beings. So this one is the main goal of our life to liberate sentient beings from the suffering and bring them in full enlightenment. That’s the main goal of life – your ultimate goal: ultimate benefit towards others.

Therefore, this person is unbelievable, so unbelievably kind. The kindness is like limitless skies because of the benefit you receive from it. What you achieve from that person is like limitless skies. The kindness of that person having anger towards you, like limitless sky of kindness, is unbelievable. He is the most precious kind one in your life, the most precious kind one in your life.

Each time that person show you the kindness of having anger towards you, it gives you the opportunity to practice patience. You benefit each time, you benefit by practicing patience each time, and that leads to enlightenment, it brings you to enlightenment and then you’re able to bring all the numberless sentient beings every happiness, all the temporal happiness and ultimate happiness, liberation and enlightenment.

Even if you were to give that person however many possessions, however much wealth there is on this Earth, it’s not enough to repay the kindness. It’s nothing. Offering this person all the wealth of this Earth to repay the kindness is not enough. It is nothing to repay the kindness of that person, to repay for all this benefit you have received from that person. Even if you offer billions of dollars, it’s nothing. It’s nothing. With a billion dollars you don’t have that opportunity to practice patience, to develop patience, this precious thing this person has given you. Comparing the billion dollars and the value of this sentient being, the billion dollars is nothing; it is lost when you think of the value of this person, from how much benefit you get from that person giving you opportunity to practice patience by anger. A billion dollars doesn’t have anger.

Actually, this person is the most precious, the most kind one, in your life. By making it impossible for anger to arise by developing the mind in patience, then numberless sentient beings don’t receive harm from you and therefore they get so much peace and happiness. You’re able to offer all this due to kindness of this person, this opportunity given to you by this person.

The other advantage is that by developing mind in patience you are able to achieve enlightenment. Then by developing patience you’re able to cause, temporary happiness, ultimate happiness, liberation and enlightenment for all sentient beings. Again, this is completely due to the kindness of this person who had anger towards you. He gave you this opportunity. He gave you the opportunity to develop your mind and therefore you are able to offer all this happiness to others, all the temporal and ultimate happiness.

I’m just trying to conclude this meditation on the kindness to the person who has anger towards you, how to meditate on the kindness of the person extensively, one who has anger towards you, whom you call “enemy,” or who doesn’t love you.

And then the other thing is this. Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation, in karma, even if you’re not seeking enlightenment or liberation from samsara, even if one is not interested in these things, if you don’t believe in these things, you still you need to practice patience.

If you don’t practice patience, what happens is that the person you want to be your friend, even if that person becomes your friend, you’ll turn into your enemy. This is even if we’re just talking about one life, this life’s happiness. If you don’t practice patience then, every time something happens, your mind becomes impatient and anger rises. Then when you get angry with your friend, with your beloved friend, that anger makes you become an enemy to your beloved friend. And your anger makes your beloved friend become your enemy, to change his or her mind towards you, to get angry at you, upset with you. Your anger breaks your relationship. Your anger makes the person separate from you, makes the other person to get tired, bored, to leave you, to drop you.

Even for somebody who only thinks of the happiness of this life, who is concerned only with the happiness of this life, if you need happiness, it becomes so essential, so crucial to practice patience. You want a harmonious relationship but because you don’t practice patience, your anger makes disharmony in the relationship. It breaks that relationship. It doesn’t last.

To have peace and happiness, harmony, good relationships between employee and employer depends on patience. Between teacher and students, parents and children, to have a good relationship, harmony, the practice of patience is needed everywhere. In every life there’s a need.

The person who never thinks of patience, never practices patience, has a very self-centered mind. Whenever even some very small thing goes wrong—something that isn’t exactly how that person likes it, that suits that’s person’s ego—immediately, anger arises. Then that destroys that person’s happiness and it makes others angry or unhappy. It transforms the environment negatively. When that person is angry, the environment in the room is very negative, kind of terrifying. When you see that person’s body, it is very terrifying that time. Even though it is normally beautiful, when anger manifests even the body becomes very terrifying.

Wherever that person goes, East or West, instead of making friends, everybody becomes their enemy. Behind their back, everybody complains about them, they create a bad reputation explaining to people how that person has a cruel personality in action, in behavior, in attitude, how they are self-centered, impatient. Then, it is so difficult to have a friend. Even those who are friends at the beginning become enemies later. Maybe they are a friend in the morning, but by the evening time they become an enemy.

In this world, just one person who has much influence and power but who does not practice patience, can cause many millions of people to be killed or tortured. Even one person in this world who has so much influence but does not practice patience, who doesn’t have that precious quality of mind, the good heart this can happen. But if that person who has so much influence did practice patience and have a good heart, then the opposite happens. That person could give so much unbelievable peace and happiness to so many millions and millions of people in this world. That covers, also, the animals.

The other way leads to war, where so many millions of people are killed and so many countries are destroyed. And then, by the way, uncountable numbers of animals are killed and suffer due to weapons, to violence, to the atomic bomb. You can see how even one person either practicing patience or not practicing patience can make an incredible difference to the world. Therefore, it becomes so essential in our daily life to practice patience.

Sometimes silence is much more beneficial than talking. Try to communicate without the addition of anger, without the negative emotional mind. Communicate without this extra thing, the unnecessary external thing, the emotional negative thought. That part is unnecessary. It’s only harmful. There’s no benefit to that extra thing. If, while you’re communicating, that negative emotional thought, anger, arises, there’s only ever harm; there is never any benefit.

If you don’t get to practice patience just once and you get angry, that leaves a negative imprint on the mental continuum. Then that means you are creating more cause to get angry in the future. Already there are a lot of negative imprints left by the past anger. Already there’s a lot. So then, again, you’re planting another seed on the mental continuum. You’re leaving another negative imprint of anger on your mental continuum, which makes it more likely to happen in the future, and you become more impatient in the future.

I’m talking about anger but it the same with all the dissatisfied minds, with desire, attachment, or any other negative emotional thoughts. The more one allows them to arise, the more negative imprints are left on the mental continuum, which makes your future life more difficult. Then you have to experience the hell suffering until the karma finishes. When the karma finishes then the hell suffering stops. There’s certain length of time. It’s not like Christianity mentions, where once you’re born in hell then you are in the hell forever. It’s not like that. What causes you to be born in hell is karma. The duration of the experience of the hell suffering depends on the karma and when that karma finishes, the experience of the suffering of hell finishes.

Normally I say that in our daily life leaving negative imprints on the mental continuum each time anger or desire arises is much more terrifying than hell. It is much more terrifying than the suffering of hell because if you don’t have any negative imprints there can be no hell. There’s no hell. There’s no suffering of the lower realms, you can never experience it. It doesn’t exist for you. If you don’t have negative imprints, if delusion doesn’t arise, that means there’s nothing there that can cause delusions such as anger and desire to arise. There’s nothing there. Nothing there that makes these negative emotional thoughts arise, and these are what make it possible to experience the unbearable suffering of the lower realms, such as hell.

So, normally, I say that by analyzing the negative imprints on our mental continuum, it is much more terrifying, much more fearful, than the suffering of the hell. So, therefore, it is very important in our daily life, rather every time letting anger arise, every time being controlled by anger, every time giving the victory to anger—instead of that, you yourself take the victory, you take control. Rather than giving the control, the victory to your anger and losing while anger wins, anger controls you, [you control anger and you win].

Just missing the chance to practice patience even not every time, but, at least, one day or one week, even if you miss many times, anger can overpower you, control you, but at least even one time in a day or in a week, trying to practice patience, trying to be able to use meditation techniques is very important. Even being able to control anger by practicing patience one time, for one day or one week, that makes huge differences. That way, there’s no opportunity for anger to leave a negative imprint on your mental continuum which gives rise, again, to anger—again and again, so many times in the future.

So, this subject I started was how the other person having anger towards you becomes very positive for you, it becomes a great need in your life. Normally I say it like this: just as you need a friend, you need an enemy. Just as you need a friend in daily life, in exactly the same way, you also need an enemy. In other words, just as you need happiness, in the same way, you need someone having anger towards you. If you don’t practice patience right now, right now, while the other person has anger towards you, if you don’t take the opportunity right now, the minute the other person’s anger is gone then you don’t have that precious opportunity. You have lost the opportunity to practice patience. So you must practice patience right now, while the other person has anger towards you.

So, now, going back to the subject, going back. In this case, it is positive. You label it “positive.” With these reasons, you label “positive” and you see it as positive.

What I was saying before, with this special practice, with thought transformation and the bodhicitta practice, you make the best use of the problems in your life; you make them most meaningful, most beneficial for you and for all sentient beings. You use the problem to cause happiness to all the sentient beings. By using this problem for you to achieve enlightenment.
You have less suffering, less problems—even no problems and only happiness—in your daily life, if you train your mind to always look at life’s situations as positive, to always put the positive label “good” on things. I gave quite a number of reasons during these few days. The more your mind is trained in this way the less problem there are in your daily life. The less problems and the fewer negative emotions in your daily life. If you’re able to that twenty-four hours a day, then there’s no problem at all in that day.

Conversely, the more we are under the control of the ego, the self-centered mind, the more we are trained to look at things negatively, to put a negative label on life’s situations. If the mind becomes more trained that way, then more and more problems happen in your daily life. Then, after some time, by the mind becoming habituated to it, getting used to it, there’s nothing positive in your life. Everything becomes bad. Whatever you see, whatever happens around, everything is unpleasant, bad. Everybody becomes the enemy—even the dog barking outside, even the bird making noise outside—everything becomes harmful to you. Everything becomes distracting to you, annoying you, because your mind is so habituated by ego, the self-centered mind to put a negative label on everything, “This is bad,” “This is bad,” “This is bad.” Then whatever appears in your life, to you, becomes harmful, becomes a kind of enemy.

So, as such, this thought transformation practice is the best psychology. It is the most practical meditation and the best psychology to stop the suffering of life and to achieve happiness from within your mind. The next thing I’ll mention and then I’ll stop there.

What was the purpose of the Buddha descending in this world? To benefit sentient beings, to liberate us sentient beings from the suffering that we have been experiencing from beginningless rebirth. As the Buddha mentioned, the Buddha’s way of liberating us sentient beings is not by washing with water, the Buddha’s way of liberating us from the suffering, or removing the cause of the suffering, is not by washing with the water. Also, it is not like removing a thorn that went inside the body, with the hand. That is not the way that the Buddha liberates us sentient beings. The way Buddha liberates us sentient beings is not by transplanting his realizations within us, like transplanting a monkey’s brain or heart into human beings. Anyway, it is not in that way.

The only way the Buddha liberates us sentient beings is by revealing the truth. That is the reason why. Sorry, it didn’t happen last night [RL]. Anyway, that is like these teachings, the teachings of the Prajnaparamita. The way they liberate us sentient beings is by revealing the truth, by revealing the teachings, the Perfection of Wisdom, Prajnaparamita teachings. Now here the basic teaching is the four noble truths; as I mentioned before, the base, the Mahayana Sutra, the Mahayana Tantra.

The first noble truth the Buddha revealed was the truth of suffering and the second was the truth of the origin of suffering. Nothing occurs without cause and conditions. Nothing has inherent existence. Suffering doesn’t have any inherent existence. Suffering exists because there are the causes and conditions, and the Buddha revealed that the origin of suffering is karma and delusions.

Then the Buddha discussed whether karma and delusion can be ceased or not, and showed that they can be ceased, and by doing so you get liberated from suffering. That is the third noble truth, the truth of the cessation of suffering. By revealing the cause of the suffering, delusion and karma, you come to know how to be free from suffering, that you have to be liberated from the delusion and karma, the cause of suffering. You can achieve this cessation of whole entire suffering, the causes, delusions and karma. You can definitely achieve it. To show how you can achieve it, the Buddha revealed the true path, that there is a method to achieve the cessation of the suffering.

As mentioned by Buddha, the truth of suffering is to be known, the cause of the suffering is to be abandoned, the cessation of the suffering is to be actualized and the true path is to be practiced. This is like a doctor who explains the sickness and how it happened. Normally he gives some explanation how this happened and then, how it can be cured. The doctor gives you medicine, treatment, whatever, in order to heal the sickness.

All this depends on following a wise doctor. All the success depends on finding and following a wise doctor. So it’s the same here. For the success of all this, the cessation of the suffering depends on actualizing true path, and that depends on a qualified spiritual master or virtuous friend revealing the path.

The Buddha explained the evolution of the suffering—how we circle in samsara—in the Sutra of Rice Planting. In Tibetan it is called [Tibetan]. He explained the twelve interdependent links by relating to the external plant. Like a farmer cultivates the field, so ignorance is the very first link and so forth. There are twelve dependently related limbs which describe the evolution of samsara; how we circle in the samsara.

The first link is ignorance, not knowing what the I is, ultimate nature of I, the aggregates such as the mind; so that is like the farmer, the cultivator.

The second link is karmic formation or compounding action called du-che kyi-le in Tibetan. That’s like the field from where various crops grow. From the karma, compounded action, the various lives, the various rebirths come, a suffering life or a happy life—all these.

Compounding action is motivated by the ignorance, and the consciousness (the third link) on which the compounding action leaves or plants the seed, the imprint—that which produces future samsara, the future rebirth—the consciousness is like the seed.

The consciousness carries the imprint, the seed, left by the karma. The various imprints or seeds, which result rebirth in the lower realm, which continue from one life to another life are not the consciousness of eye, ear and so forth—not those five. They are carried on the sixth one, the consciousness of the mind.

Generally speaking, it is considered the sixth consciousness, the consciousness of the mind. But in details there maybe, different schools have different way of explaining, especially Cittamatra, the Mind Only School. However, the Cittamatra School says there is a seventh consciousness or even an eighth consciousness.

However, so the compounding action leaves imprint or seed on the consciousness of the mind, that which continues from life to life. This consciousness of the mind is like the seed. One small seed like the Bodhi tree seed carries the power, the potential to produce a huge trunk and many thousands of branches and leaves—such a huge tree. That small seed carries all the potential of that huge tree. It carries the potential to grow like that.

Then after that, the sprout comes from having planted the seed. The sprout comes. Then there is name and form, the fourth link. After consciousness takes place in the fertilized egg in mother’s womb, there is name and form.

The name refers to all the body and mind; all the mind part is name and the physical part is the form. So that’s like sprout coming from the seed. Generally, this is name and form.

There are two ways of defining consciousness in the twelve links. One way you count where the compounded action leaves an imprint, and the other you count the consciousness as a result, as that which takes place on the fertilized egg. It depends on which college’s text you refer to whether the result consciousness is counted; the previous consciousness on which the past life compounding action left imprint, that’s counted. So depending on which college’s text, which monastery’s text, there are different way of explaining.

I don’t remember but I think at Sera Je we were counting one way and at Drepung Monastery and Loseling, there are different ways. They count the consciousness on which the compounding action leaves the imprint. And Sera Je college’s texts count the consciousness which takes place on the fertilized egg, something like that. I have some vague memories regarding that.

After name and form there is the six sense bases, the six sources or six sense bases and then contact and feeling.

Then, birth happens and—what’s related to us—old age and death. So, actually, in reality, getting older starts from the mother’s womb. In reality, getting old, decaying, starts from the mother’s womb; from the time after the consciousness takes place on the fertilized egg. In reality, from there it is getting older. In the ordinary people’s definition of old age, it is when we see wrinkles and all these signs of the physical body’s old age. However, death can happen even before that, so old age and death comes together like that. Now what’s left for us to experience is death.

One thing that I didn’t say, I left out. I left out in the cause. Ignorance is like cultivator, then the compounding action, which motivates that, is like the field that you cultivate and grows various crops; then on which the imprint left by the compounding action, the consciousness, this is the seed you sow.

Then, to grow that you need soil and water. That’s like craving and grasping. Before this life, before we were born, whatever life we had—whether a human life or animal, whatever that previous life was, at the death time, when life is about to end, then craving and grasping arise, like the conditions of soil and water that makes the seed grow and produce a stem. Craving and grasping arise and that makes the imprint seed left by the compounding action ready to produce its future result—samsara. Then in this life, there are name and the form, the six sense bases, contact, feeling, ageing and death.

Now, in conclusion, there are two things. When you have a movie, you record many people, countries, mountains, beautiful flowers, you have people fighting, having entertainment, parties, enjoyment—all kinds of things. You make a film and have it printed. Then, you put this into a machine, with electricity and you project it onto a movie screen. Whatever is on the film, then project on the movie screen.

So, this life, including this body, these aggregates, then form, sound, taste, smell, tangible objects—all these appearances, all these sense objects, whatever we experience—all this is a production of karma. All this came from the mind. All this came from the consciousness. How? With the imprints left on that mind, both the negative and positive imprints. It all depends on that, whether the object you see is beautiful or ugly, bad or good, all these things.

It depends on what kind of imprint, positive or negative imprint, is left on the consciousness. That is projected in this life. Whatever we see in this life, include these ideas, all came from what is the imprint the consciousness, the imprints left on that manifest. So it is like the roll of negative film that is process and then projected onto the screen, which comes from that being filmed in that way. How it was filmed, how it was printed, that’s how it is projected. So, this is the same. All these appearances came from one’s own mind, the consciousness, from the imprints left on the mind that manifest. So that’s the first thing about how everything came from the mind.

Now the second thing about how everything came from mind is this. All this, your own aggregates, all the views you have, sense objects, form, sound, smell, taste, everything you see, pleasant sounds, uninteresting sounds, bad sounds, beautiful sounds, bad smells, good smells, good taste, bad taste, whatever—all the sense objects, all this is a projection. The consciousness comes from the imprint. All this comes from the karma, the compounding action.

The second reason that I’m saying that everything comes from the mind is because of karma, the compounding action. All this comes from the mind, from the compounding action of karma.

Now the third reason is that all this comes from ignorance, including this body, this samsaric body we have, which comes from the ignorance. Even this human body comes from ignorance so that’s the mind. That’s not body, that’s the mind.

So I’m introducing that. First came from consciousness; second came from karma; third from ignorance. So using the twelve dependently related limbs, using that, is how everything comes from the mind.

So, now, I usually say that the enemy, the person who is negative towards you, who has anger towards you, who harms you, who abuses you, where does all that come from?

You see somebody abusing you—your mind labels that “abuse” and “bad.” The person who is angry you label “enemy.” All this comes from the consciousness, from karma, from ignorance. Therefore, by discovering this process, where all this came from, by seeing all this is a creation of your own mind, there is nobody out there to blame. There’s nobody there to blame. There’s nothing external to blame. The creator is your own mind. If somebody abuses you, if somebody harms you or criticizes you, it comes from your mind. The very root is ignorance. So there’s nobody there to blame. It is extremely beneficial, useful, to remember this in your daily life when somebody criticizes you, when somebody badly treats you, when something unpleasant happens. It is very useful to remember all the sources that this harm came from.

That’s why the basic philosophy of Buddhism is that there’s no external creator. There’s no outside creator who creates your life. It’s your mind. There’s no god or something outside that creates your life. Whether there’s suffering, whether there’s happiness, the creator of your life is your mind, your self. That means that in Buddhism you have incredible freedom because you are—your mind is—the creator of all your happiness and all your suffering. Ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, enlightenment, everything, all this happiness—the creator is your mind, not somebody outside. Therefore, you have incredible freedom. It’s up to you. If you want freedom from suffering, if you want to achieve liberation, it’s up to you. It depends on what you do with your mind, how you use your mind. From your mind you can stop the suffering. For example, by realizing emptiness, by developing wisdom, you can stop all suffering.

You can explain the twelve links the other way around. You can cease ignorance. By ceasing ignorance you cease compounded action. Then you cease craving, grasping, all those things. You cease becoming. Then you cease rebirth. You can cease old age, death. You can cease all these links. You can cease all those suffering results by ceasing the cause, as described through the twelve links. By realizing ultimate nature. With this wisdom you can cease ignorance. By ceasing ignorance, then you can cease all the sufferings result in between, including rebirth and death.

So, it’s up to you what you do with your mind. In Buddhist philosophy, you are the creator. Your mind is the creator. This gives you incredible freedom.

Many people think everything is up to karma, and you have no choice. There’s no free will. There’s no free will. Everything is up to karma. You have no freedom (all in singsong voice). [RL GL] (Rinpoche clears throat) No, the coughing is not answer. [RL]

Anyway, because what I think, because of karma, because everything depends on karma, because of that, same answer. Therefore, you have so much freedom what you can do. Because everything depends on karma, it’s up to your mind.

The main thing: your mind has the potential to be completely free from suffering, to cease all the defilements. Your mind has the potential to cease all your defilements, delusion, karma, and to achieve liberation, even to achieve full enlightenment. Your mind has all this potential.
Your clear light, the nature of the mind, is the buddha nature. That’s buddha nature. Because of that, your mind has all this potential. Because of that, you can remove the cause of all suffering including negative karma, you can practice virtue and achieve liberation and enlightenment.

So, I’ll stop here.


We have just finished the section on guru devotion, so we’ll do the dedication this way. It is a very important dedication if you want to have success in Dharma practice, realizations.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by myself and others, the three times’ merits collected by buddhas, bodhisattvas and all the sentient beings, oneself, one’s own family members, all the students and benefactors in this organization, and all the rest of the sentient beings, may we always find a perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend guru in all the future lifetimes.

“May oneself and all the sentient beings able to see the virtuous friend as a buddha in all the lifetimes, be able to see only the buddha, and oneself and all sentient beings able to do actions only pleasing the holy mind of the virtuous friend.

“Oneself and all sentient beings able to fulfill the holy wishes of the virtuous friend immediately in all the future lifetimes.”

This dedication is extremely important.

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