EMPTINESS: THE ROPE AND THE SNAKE ARE MERELY LABELED BY THE MIND
First I’ll finish what I started. There was a commercial break. [GL] There was commercial break advertising coca cola, advertising tea. [RL] As I was saying before, with the torch you see it’s not a snake. It’s a rope, but a real rope. Before it was a real snake, but now that’s gone. Now you discovered, now that you cannot find it. It doesn’t exist. Now you see the real rope. Before there was a real snake; now with the torch there is a real rope.
This real rope has nothing to do with your mind. It never came from your mind; it has nothing to do with your mind. The rope completely exists from its own side. The rope, the real rope, exists, having inherent existence, existing from its own side, not merely labeled by mind. It appears like that: a real rope in the sense of appearing not merely labeled by mind. So that is the subtlest, extremely subtle hallucination of the object to be refuted.
Of the four schools of Buddhist philosophy, the fourth one, the Madhyamaka school, the second subschool, Prasangika—that school’s object to be refuted is this extremely subtle one. You see the rope. The rope appears to you and you see the rope in that way, as a real rope, not merely labeled by mind. There’s the object to be refuted, the false object, according to each school of Buddhist philosophy, the Mind Only School, the Madhyamaka Svatantrika, then the Prasangika School. By believing in the hallucination, which the wrong view, the ignorance according to each of the points of view of these schools, everything is there in your view. While you’re looking at the rope all those hallucinations that are explained by each school are there in your view.
However, the extremely subtle one is the rope appearing to you not merely labeled by mind. For the Prasangika school’s view, that is the object to be refuted. This very subtle one is also there in your view. All these hallucinations piled up, the way the rope is appearing to you and how you believe what the rope is.
So with the torch, what you thought was the snake is revealed as a rope, but you see it as a real rope, not merely labeled by mind. It is a rope that is existing not merely labeled by mind. It is slightly more than what is merely imputed by mind. This appearance is not there, which is true; it is not there. You don’t see it. Even though that’s the way it exists, we don’t see it that way.
So, now, this real rope appearing not merely labeled by mind, even slightly more than what is merely labeled by mind, now we look for it. Where is it? Now you look where, you analyze whether it exists there or not. So where is it?
Let me put it this way. Every a single strand of the rope is not even the mere labeled rope, then whole bunch of rope strands together, even that whole bunch woven together, even that is not the merely labeled “rope.” What exists, the rope that exists, is the merely labeled “rope.” But every single strand is not the rope, the merely labeled “rope.” And altogether, even that is not the merely labeled rope.
You cannot even find the merely labeled rope, there is no way it exists on this. Wherever you point, you cannot find it. The merely labeled rope does exist but we cannot find it on that. You cannot find from top most tip down to the lowest most tip. You cannot find it. The merely labeled rope you cannot be found anywhere. Even that which exists you cannot find there. You not only cannot find it on every single hair but even on the whole together, you cannot find the merely labeled rope. Nowhere. If you look for it, where is it?
All that is just the base. All that is just the base, which can receive the label “rope.” It is the base, which can receive the label “rope’” and your mind, which sees the base, the collection of strands put together which has the function to tie things, and it makes up the label “rope,” merely imputing the label “rope” and believing in that.
So that’s the label. What you see first is the base. Second, the mind sees that base, then merely imputes “rope,” which is the label but is not there. The label is not on that base, it exists nowhere on that base.
When you analyze this, that real rope is gone—the real rope, the one not merely labeled by mind. When you shine a torch after the real snake is gone, you see it’s empty, it’s non-existent. Now this real rope, not merely labeled by mind, existing from its own side, is gone. That which you believed in so strongly at the beginning is totally non-existent. When you shine torch, after you realize it, this is not a snake. The real rope, not merely labeled by mind, which appeared so strongly, which you believed in 100 per cent without doubt, is now totally non-existent.
How are you going to find this on this base? How are you going to find this collection of hairs put together? You cannot even find what exists, the merely labeled rope, there. How can you find the rope that is not merely labeled by mind? How can you find this? This doesn’t exist anyway—neither on the base nor anywhere it exists; it is totally non-existent, a total hallucination.
So, you realize its absence, you realize that it is totally non-existent right there, that that which appears from its own side is totally empty. It appears to exist from its own side but it’s totally empty from its own side; it’s totally empty there, it’s completely non-existent there. This is seeing, realizing the emptiness of the rope.
When you shine the torch on the real rope—the one not merely labeled by mind—this is what appears and this is what you then believe in. It is exactly like this. Now you can get some idea of this hallucination. The second phenomena, the second object you have seen with the torch, is also revealed. By shining the torch, you discovered that it wasn’t a real snake but a rope, but you believed it was a real rope, “real” in the sense of not merely labeled by mind. You believed that this is what exists. The previous snake, that you really believed in and appeared as a real snake there, that’s totally non-existent, but this one exists. The mind thinks like that at the beginning. Later, after analysis, it’s totally non-existent. It exists nowhere, neither on the base nor anywhere.
In everyday life, I, action, object, enlightenment, hell, samsara, nirvana, happiness, problems, virtue, nonvirtue, friend, enemy, bad and good—we should recognize all the rest of the hallucinations that we have from this idea of the real rope. Just as there is no real snake, there is also not the second one, a real rope. By recognizing this as a hallucination, we should recognize all the rest of the hallucinations that we have on all the merely labeled phenomena.
Whatever exists there, the hallucinations cover everything. All these are empty: I, action, object, everything—all the phenomena. They all are totally empty of that which appears real from there.
This rope is empty of that real rope appearing from its side. Just as this rope, which is merely imputed one, which doesn’t have inherent existence, existing from its own nature, so it is the same with the rest of phenomena, including the I. Noting has inherent existence; nothing exists from its own side by nature.
This is an extremely important meditation to practice mindfulness in daily life, the mindfulness looking at the hallucination. Practicing the mindfulness of looking at all these objects as hallucinations, that one is extremely essential.
BODHICITTA: THE SEVEN POINTS CAUSE AND EFFECT
I’ll mention it here, although it may not happen at another time, I’m not sure. To integrate meditation into your daily life, there are two very important lam-rim meditations: bodhicitta and emptiness. These two very essential practices, bodhicitta and emptiness, are like two legs that take you to enlightenment, that make your daily life most meaningful. This is not just sitting meditation, but here I’m talking about during your busy life or at break-time. The term “break” doesn’t mean a break from Dharma. That’s wrong. A break from Dharma practice means your actions will be nonvirtuous. If you allow yourself a break from Dharma practice then you will be engaging in nonvirtue. That is the break from Dharma practice. Here I’m talking about a break from sitting meditation, not a break from Dharma, and especially at busy times or when you are working, whenever you’re not doing sitting meditation. This is how to make life, how to make your daily life most meaningful. By meditating on emptiness you are liberating yourself from samsara. All day long, whatever you do, you’re liberating yourself. With mindfulness of emptiness, all day long you’re liberating yourself from samsara. You’re liberating yourself from the prison of samsara that ignorance has put you in. Your ignorance put you in the prison of samsara. Now, by allowing yourself to generate wisdom within yourself, you liberate yourself from your prison of samsara.
I’m not sure whether you have heard these lam-rim teachings before, but there are two meditation techniques to develop bodhicitta. One is developing altruism to achieve enlightenment through what in Tibetan is called [Tibetan], the seven-point technique of Mahayana cause and effect. Based on the realization of equanimity, how all sentient beings are equal to you, on that basis, you reflect on how all sentient beings have been one’s mother, and then how kind they all have been. And then you determine to repay the kindness; and then you develop loving-kindness, affectionate loving kindness, the love that a mother feels for her beloved child. Like the love a mother feels for the beloved child that she’s cherished so much in her heart; you generate that kind of love towards every single sentient being without discrimination, exactly like that. That’s what affectionate loving-kindness means. The Tibetan term is yi-ong jam-pa—the feeling in your heart. It’s similar to saying “most dear.” You generate love exactly like that towards every single sentient being, even the person who abuses you, even those call enemy, it’s the same. You have to generate that even to that person, without discrimination, to everyone, top every six realms’ sentient being, not only human beings. This is affectionate loving-kindness, feeling every being is most dear.
BODHICITTA: THE KINDNESS OF THE MOTHER
You see the object of your meditation, that sentient being, as a beautiful one, you see that being’s beauty. This beauty is not physical beauty. Physically they can be totally ugly, most horrible, but you see that person as beautiful because you have meditated on kindness of that person before. That person has shown kindness to you from beginningless rebirths of being your mother and kind. Or if in this life the person who has been most kind to you is the father, then you can use the father. If that’s easier for you to meditate on kindness of the father then you can think that all sentient beings have been your father. You see that every sentient being person has been kind like this, exactly like this, numberless times from beginningless rebirths.
If your father is the one who has been most kind to you then you can try to get the same feeling towards all sentient beings. And then that helps you to repay kindness and to generate this. How you see your father’s beauty, you see all sentient beings. Or if you use the mother, or somebody else that you feel so kind, most kind, somebody who is the most kind. Then everybody did the same, everybody has shown you that kindness.
It’s not that you’re making it up. This is according to reality. It has been like that from countless rebirths for every sentient being. So then, you see the beauty in every sentient being. As I mentioned, even a person who is physically ugly, terrible ugly, when you think of the kindness of the person then you feel affectionate love and in view of that affection you see that person’s beauty. It’s nothing to do with the physical beauty.
So this is why the mother is used in the texts. It is because the mother gives you life, when your consciousness took place on the fertilized egg, taking care for nine months in the womb. It’s where your consciousness took place. And you were born from your mother, you came out from your mother’s body. That in itself is an unbelievable kindness. Just that in itself, even if that was the only thing she did, even if she did nothing after that but just that—that in itself is an unbelievable kindness. If she had had an abortion or something, if she’d though more of her own comfort, to make her own life easier, but she didn’t, she chose to take care of me, even though it made her life uncomfortable or uneasy. She gave up her freedom.
If she hadn’t taken care of me then, I wouldn’t have this precious human body. Not only that, I wouldn’t have these pleasures, these human being’s pleasures. Not only that, but the most precious thing is to meet Dharma and practice and learn Dharma, so I can be free from samsara. The Dharma, which is only the Buddha’s teaching, is the only thing that has the means, that has the complete path to liberate me from samsara and, not only that, to achieve enlightenment so I can liberate numberless sentient beings from all the sufferings and causes, and bring them to enlightenment. It allows me to bring infinite benefit to sentient beings.
You can think that all this came from the mother’s kindness. This came from the mother. This is the mother’s kindness where you have all these opportunities.
Even if all the mother ever did for you was to give birth to you and then gave you to somebody else to take care of you, even if somebody else raised you, and you think, “Oh, my mother’s abandoned me. My mother is terrible. Somebody else took care of me and that’s totally bad. Mother is totally bad.” You see the kindness of the person who’s raised you but you don’t see the kindness of mother. You don’t see that all these opportunities that you have now—not only temporal pleasure, human pleasure, comforts, but all these unbelievable chances to practice Dharma as I mentioned before—come from the mother. This would all be impossible if she hadn’t taken care of me in the womb.
By now, you could be in the hell realm. You could be fish in the water, caught in the fisherman’s net, or whatever. By now you could be a worm eaten by bird, cut in pieces. You could be in the mouth, in the beak of the birds, those big birds on the beach, in the ocean. They have these huge beaks.
Pelican. This huge beak! [RL] This long beak and kind of like that, very terrifying. [GL] It somehow swallows the fish whole and keep it down. Somebody goes down. So, anyway, you could be there by now, you could be in that mouth.
Anyway, you never know. You could be a mosquito, [Rinpoche makes mosquito sound] disturbing people. [GL] You could be annoying people [RL] so you never know. You could be a crocodile, with this long mouth, like this, this very long mouth. [GL] With teeth hanging here, such an unbelievable body. So could be like that in the mud. Or you could be this big animal that lives in the mud, a rhinoceros. Huh?
Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus. [GL RL] Or hiponomas [RL GL] or happyinomas. So you could be anything. You wouldn’t have this chance.
When you think like that, even if all she did was just keep you for nine months in the womb, taking care and giving birth, that is unbelievable. Just that is unbelievable. Due to that, all these things happen. It’s the cause of all thus unbelievable, incredible opportunity we have now. It’s all came from her unbelievable kindness, especially to practice Dharma, to have the opportunity to practice Dharma, because she took care of you in the womb and gave birth to you. Now having opportunity to practice Dharma came from her, from her kindness. It’s dependent on her. Like the fruit that you enjoy depends on the seed that was planted, this is the same. All these incredible comforts, pleasures, that we have and the most fascinating thing that is a miracle: having opportunity to practice Dharma to achieve all the happiness of future life and liberation from samsara and enlightenment—it all depends on her taking care and giving birth to you, giving you a human body.
Just to repay this life’s kindness, without questioning, without thinking about all the past lives that she has been your mother, giving you not only temporary happiness but the opportunity to practice Dharma—not just in this life but also in numberless past lives. Without thinking that, just her kindness in this life, even if you sacrifice your all your lives to her, you give up your lives to her, equaling the number of atoms on this earth, that many lives you sacrifice for her, still is nothing. It’s nothing. You cannot repay her kindness, who gave you this incredible opportunity. That much you sacrifice your own life to her is nothing, you cannot repay the kindness.
So, then, there is no question of other things. There’s four ways of meditating on kindness. First is the numberless kindnesses that gave you this body and, especially, this human body, and especially which gave you the opportunity to practice Dharma. That cat is saying yes, yes. [GL]
The first way the mother has been kind is that she gave you this body. Then, she has given her life throughout countless lives and in this life she has protected you numberless times. The mother has protected your life from hundreds of dangers each day from the time you are born. There is that kindness. You cannot count from the time of the birth, from the time of conception, for that many years, how many times she has protected you. She has done this numberless times.
She has given her body numberless times from beginningless past lives. That is a main kindness. As well as that, when you were born to her, she protected your own life from hundreds of dangers each day. Like that, she did this numberless times from beginningless rebirth up to now.
Then she led you on the “path to the world” which means she gave you education, either she taught you within the household or she helped you to get an education, and especially a Dharma education. She has done that numberless times from beginningless rebirths.
Then the fourth kindness is that she has born great hardships for me, and not only this life. At that time when you meditate on this it’s good to remember whenever you yourself have had experience of taking care of children. Especially, if you have found it difficult to take care of children, if it has caused you hardships, then this is a very useful experience for you because then you can use that as an example how your parents suffered so much for yourself for so many years. If you have your own experiences of having a hard and difficult life, day and night, then that is very good for realization of bodhicitta, to realize the kindness of your parents—how they suffered so much, how they sacrificed their lives so much while you were in the womb and after your birth. That’s very effective because it’s something that you have seen, you have experienced.
Even if you don’t have experience, you should look at the other people who have children, who have many children, how the parents have so many difficulties, how they have to bear so many hardships, how much life they have to sacrifice, day and night, to give everything to the child. Even the simple example of the hard work the parents in the West have to do to pay for their child’s university education.
What I see among the students, what I hear, is that they’re waiting until the children get their degree or finish university or college. They really work so hard; there is no time for retreat. They want to do many things. They want to do retreat; their own wish is to retreat. They know how the Dharma is so precious and how life is so short. They’re aware that this is the most precious life and very short—that all the opportunities they now have can soon be lost—but they have no choice because they are taking care of their children. They try to find many jobs to earn a living, not only for themselves but for the children, and there are all the expenses, for living and for the education. They work so hard and when they come home they are so tired, from working so many hours. Even though they are so exhausted, they still have to work at home to look after the children.
Watch other parents if you yourself don’t have yourself any experience. If a mother did not watch her children even for five minutes, there are so many things that can harm the child. If she can’t watch them she has to pay somebody else to watch them. If the child is not watched even for five minutes the child is in risk to fall down from the steps or some cliffs or to put sharp things—things that harm life—into the mouth. The baby has no knowledge what is harmful and what is beneficial, no idea. Even if it is not watched for one minute, the baby’s life is in danger. You have been in a similar situation like this when you were a baby, where all that time you were looked after by your parents or by somebody hired to take care of you while the parents were working. And you repaid them by never giving them a minute’s peace to have a good sleep, by crying all the time, day and night, crying right through the night, endlessly making pipi and kaka, always making things dirty that they would have to clean up.
In Solu Khumbu, in the Himalayas, the place where I was born, a mother would even clean the child’s nose by mouth, by sucking the snot out with the mouth. And especially she would feed by giving the food mouth to mouth. I don’t remember, particularly, myself being fed by my mother mouth to mouth but I enjoyed baby food very much. [GL] I don’t remember being fed by mouth but I know the food they give to babies is so delicious. I think it’s mainly because of the butter. I think the milk they put in tsampa had lots of butter so it’s so delicious, maybe a little salt probably. It may not have been my own food but maybe another child’s, maybe my brother’s food, one of my brothers when he was baby or something. Maybe I ate his food. Anyway, the mother takes the food in her own mouth and then feeds it to the baby from her own mouth, in exactly the same way that a mother bird feeds her young. Maybe the same method is used in Tibet. And of course she feeds the child with her own breast milk. That’s very common.
So, you should remember all the hardships. If you yourself didn’t have that experience then look at others and use that for the meditation. Look at how your parents suffered in this life. They suffered so much, they exhausted themselves so much, they bore so many hardships, they had so much worry, so much fear, and all of that; trying to earn a living for the shelter, food and clothing, all these thing. They protected your life from hundreds of dangers every day. That includes giving medicines when you were sick, giving food when you were hungry, giving you drinks when you were thirsty, giving you clothing and shelter—that includes all those things, protecting your life from hundreds of dangers each day.
Then think this is not the only life. They have done so much for you in this life but this is not the first time. They have done this numberless times, from beginningless rebirths. Then, try to see how their kindness is deathless, beginningless; each kindness is beginningless. They have exhausted themselves life after life to provide you with shelter, comfort, food, they have created so much negative karma for you, by cheating others, telling lies to others, harming others, killing others—they have collected so much negative karma—all for your wellbeing. Who will have to experience the suffering result of all that negative karma done for your wellbeing, for your happiness? Only themselves. They have done things like that numberless times. It’s not the first time they have done this. And as a result, they have suffered so much, from time without beginning, for me. Because of the negative karma created for me, for my wellbeing, they have had to suffer all the results, from beginningless rebirths. This is not the first time.
And they will have to experience the suffering results of all the negative karma they are collecting in this life for my wellbeing in their future lives. They have to experience all that. So remember all those things.
On top of that, from you own side, you cause them to get angry, and cause them to create negative karma because of that. Then, again, they have to experience all the suffering results. Besides the kindness of bearing such hardships for you, on top of this, you cause them to create more negative karma and they have to experience all the suffering results. From beginningless rebirths this has happened. They have shown great kindness by bearing hardship for you.
To think this way is also very good. Even the buddhas are unable to see the beginning of the kindness of this life’s mother, even just the kindness of giving her body. Even the buddhas cannot see the beginning. She did like this numberless times, from beginningless rebirths and the buddhas cannot see the beginning of the kindness of her giving her body.
BODHICITTA: REPAYING THE KINDNESS
Think, “To repay this kindness, even I sacrifice my life for her, even if I sacrificed countless lives, equal to the number of the atoms of this earth, it’s still nothing.” I mentioned before that even for just this life, because she gave birth and therefore you have all these opportunities now, especially to practice Dharma, so sacrificing your lives equaling the number of atoms of earth to her is nothing.
The second kindness, protecting you from hundreds of life dangers each day—this is not first time she has done this. There have been numberless times, from beginningless rebirths. The buddhas’ omniscient minds cannot see the beginning of this kindness.
So think, “Even if I sacrifice my life equaling the number of atoms of all this earth to repay that kindness, I cannot. I cannot finish repaying her kindness. Her kindness gave me an education, it led me in the path of the world. She has done this numberless times; this is not the first time. She has done this numberless times from beginningless rebirths. Even the buddhas’ omniscient minds cannot see beginning of this kindness. Even if I sacrifice my life equaling the number of atoms of this earth to her, I cannot finish repaying her kindness.”
Then the fourth kindness is that she has suffered so many hardships for you. Think, “This is not the first time she has suffered great hardships for me, she has done this numberless times from beginningless rebirths. Even the buddha’s omniscient minds cannot see the beginning of this kindness of bearing hardships for me. So even if I sacrifice my life number of atoms of this earth to repay the kindness, it’s nothing. I cannot repay this kindness. At this time, I must repay her kindness. Especially, as now I have this opportunity to do it. This time is my turn to help.”
In regards to how to repay kindness to your parents, giving food and shelter and so forth, giving external means are good, but they do not solve their problems. That alone doesn’t solve their problems.
In their past lives, they themselves have been wheel turning kings, or kings in deva realm, kings in human realm. They have had all the power and wealth numberless times. They have been born a king numberless times and had all this wealth and power numberless times but that didn’t help them. That didn’t help them to be free from samsara, free from delusion and karma. So that’s why they’re still suffering.
Therefore, the best way to repay kindness is by giving them the Dharma. To reveal Dharma to them, first you yourself should practice Dharma. The only means to liberate sentient beings from samsara, from delusion and karma, is only by Dharma. And to that, first you yourself should practice in order to realize the path to liberation and enlightenment, the lam-rim, by listening, reflecting, meditating and practicing the lam-rim. The source of all the happiness is trying to achieve lam-rim realizations based on living in ordination or living in lay vows, which is protecting karma, which is the fundamental practice of Dharma. This is the best way to repay the kindness.
In Hong Kong, a famous producer of CDs, a Chinese person, told me he didn’t have child yet and asked me whether he should have a child. His mother died, I think, this year. Is that right? He loved her so much and he did his best to help her rebirth. So he asked me whether to have a child.
Some students suggested that I make a CD of prayers and various prayer practices, so I did that. And a famous Chinese singer there made a CD of some short prayers and mantras to help Maitreya Project, the 500-foot Maitreya statue.
However, this person asked me that question that time. So I said you must have a very clear goal before you have a child. You must have clear direction with the child’s life. You must aim for the child to be source of happiness, peace, for all, for the whole world. If you’re going to have a child, you should have that aim—to bring the child up with a good heart, with loving kindness, compassion, with universal responsibility, feeling responsible for all sentient beings happiness. You should try to help the child grow up that way. That should be your main aim, for your child to become a source of peace and happiness, so he or she can give so much peace and happiness to the world. You should be like that, with a clear direction for the life of your child.
If you attempt it that way, then it’s worthwhile. I don’t remember the other part I mentioned. Otherwise you sacrifice so much, you suffer so much, you put so much effort and you work so hard for the child then child, but with all that sacrifice and dedication, the child is not beneficial for the world. I don’t remember exactly what I mentioned but, anyway, it means he or she means doesn’t even bring peace and happiness in the family. All he or she brings is harm, harm to others. There is no education of the good heart, then, of course, the family suffers, the children suffer, life ends in suffering. Life becomes continuous suffering and ends with suffering. But this is only accounting for this life.
BODHICITTA: GENERATING LOVING KINDNESS
In our daily life when somebody gets angry at you or mistreats you, when they harm you, even for a whole month or a year, the aim is to practice patience, to not get angry and practice patience. That’s what gives meaning to life.
Even practicing patience just once makes your life worthwhile. That makes your parent’s life worthwhile, who sacrificed their life for so many years, from the time you were in your mother’s womb until now, for so many years. It gives meaning to their life. All the suffering they have gone through, the worry and fears, all the exhaustion, all the troubles they have taken, it gives meaning to their effort, to their life. It gives meaning to everything they did for you. Whenever you practice not harming others, it gives meaning to your parents, to all the sacrifices in their life, as well as the material considerations. All the worry and fears, how many they suffered—it gives meaning to their life.
Whenever you help others, whenever you benefit others with a sincere heart, with compassion, with loving-kindness, it makes your life meaningful and gives meaning to your parents, for all the suffering they experienced for you.
Therefore, there is no question that meditating on the lam-rim—meditating on renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness—is the best thing in the life; meditating. There’s no question. In the daily life, trying to live life as much as possible in the lam-rim, in bodhicitta, emptiness and renunciation, and especially the best one, guru devotion, this makes every twenty-four hours of your life most practical and meaningful, not no harming others but only benefiting them.
So, every minute, every second you are coming closer to liberation, to enlightenment. By living your life with mindfulness in these things, even if you don’t have actual realizations, at least with this attitude, with the lam-rim, every day, every hour, every second, you’re coming closer and closer to liberation and enlightenment. That means every day, hour, minute, second, you are coming closer to bringing numberless sentient beings, including your parents, to enlightenment. You are coming closer to that aim, the main goal of the life.
Otherwise, you are just born to cause suffering to others. You are just born to cause problems to your parents, to torture your parents and harm other sentient beings with anger, with the self-cherishing thought, the dissatisfied mind, with desire and the jealous mind, with all these negative emotional thoughts.
Every day, whenever you practice virtue, whenever you’re able to practice one virtue, the unmistaken cause of happiness, whenever you’re able to practice that virtue, that gives meaning to your parent’s life. All the sufferings they experienced, all the difficulties they experienced for you, are made worthwhile.
Therefore, with your body, speech and mind, every day, every hour, every minute, every second, you should to practice virtue as much as possible. For example, even when you do prayers, when you recite mantras, when there’s a mental recitation. [break in taping]
Your mind is completely in virtue but if you verbally, if you recite OM MANI PADME HUM, OM VAJRASATTVA SAMAYA... the Vajrasattva mantra, your speech is also collecting merit, double merit, so that makes your life more worthwhile and gives more meaning and makes your parents’ life more worthwhile because they are connected to you. That is an example.
Being kind to others in your daily life, being kind to everybody is very basic. Not only to friends, not only to the person who likes you or helps you, even to the person who criticizes you, who mistreats you, as well as strangers who do neither, you should be kind to everyone. Even to animals. Like that, I think that is really the most wonderful life. To practice that, including the animals, insects, to all the living beings to treat everyone well, that is the most wonderful life. You should use that way as the foundation for your lam-rim practice. It is the foundation for a lam-rim meditator, for a practitioner of the Mahayana teaching. That is what should be done to repay kindness of your parents. Being kind and respecting everyone should be the fundamental practice, that should be the fundamental practice.
I think I also told that man, that producer, about all the problems in Columbia. There has been so much violence for so many years, with so many people getting killed every week, every day in Columbia. I’ve been there once. The students told me that family members can be killed anytime. They said there is so much violence and so much stealing or confiscating their property. So much violence has happened. I mentioned that there is a need for a special education in the schools, for a good heart, especially an education to develop the good heart, loving kindness compassion and universal responsibility. The children in school need this special education, not only this education on school, but it should be the education they receive at home by the parents. They should get this education at both places. At home they should be educated by the parents, which means they themselves have to become examples, not just saying words. They themselves have to be inspiring examples to the children and that is how, by giving them special education, special training, the children can transform their minds. Maybe not all children will be able to practice this but from a hundred, maybe fifty or a quarter can do it.
The problems of the country may not be solved right away, but gradually through this education of a good heart at school and at home, by the parents, gradually this will bring the country peace, with less violence. Having peace and happiness depends on the present children. The more children being trained in a good heart, the less violence there will be in the country.
So, I thought to mention that. This is true for the United States as well, with very young boys shooting and killing many people in schools and other places. The Government is puzzled because it doesn’t know whether to allow people to have guns. They talked for months and months. I watched TV one night, and a Senator and very important people talked about these matters about guns. I don’t remember but I think that in all the hours of talk, nobody at all mentioned the need to have a good heart, how everything depends on the mind, how we need to control the mind with a good heart. In those hours nobody mentioned that at all in all the talk about whether to allow people to have guns or not.
When Geshe-la gave teachings he quoted the great bodhisattva Shantideva on the many benefits of bodhicitta. I don’t remember word for word but Shantideva says:
Once your inner enemy, delusion, is subdued, is tamed,
Once it is destroyed, it’s like you have destroyed all your external enemies.
Once your inner enemy, delusion, is destroyed, it’s the same as destroying all the external enemies. Once you have destroyed your inner enemy, anger, you have no enemies outside. Once you don’t have anger you have no enemy outside, you cannot find any enemy outside. The minute anger comes, you see the enemy outside, you find the enemy. Once you allow to anger arise, then you are creating, you are making the enemy. Then you see enemy outside, because you allow anger to arise. Then you anger projects “enemy” onto that person and that’s how you see them.
Shantideva gave this example. If you are wearing shoes made of leather on your feet, it’s like covering the whole ground, the whole earth with leather. Wherever you walk, wherever you go, on the ground, in the mountains, no thorns can get into your feet. Your feet are very small compared to the Earth. [RL] Your feet are very small but, if you have leather, wherever you go no thorns can get into your feet. It’s the same as covering the entire earth with leather. Shantideva gives this example. So like that no matter how many weapons you have, even atomic bombs, they cannot harm others, once you no longer have anger. However many weapons you have don’t become dangerous to others.
ADDING DHARMA TO ROGER’S CAR
When I started living in United States I needed a car to travel, so Roger very excitedly bought one. What was the name of the car? A Dodge. I think a student whose parent was in the business, his friend helped with the price or something.
I was staying at a student’s house near Vajrapani in California, not in the center itself, but in Santa Cruz, in the bush. [GL] I was staying there because is easier to travel with an American passport than a Nepalese passport. Roger was so excited when he bought the car. He wanted to show it to me, but I didn’t go down to look until late the next morning. I went out and saw the car.
Anyway, I tried to think this car belongs to all sentient beings but of course did not continue, it didn’t last. It is very helpful to try to think this belongs to them, this is their car, at time when you think something like that. But it didn’t last. So, I have advertisements on the car. Just as people have advertisement cars and buses, so I advertised on this car: “No Anger No Enemy.” That is the best sign on the side of a car “No Anger No Enemy.”
There is a big spare wheel on the side of car, so I wrote OM MANI PADME HUM in Tibetan. Also in English? Just Tibetan. It should have been in English also, but maybe that next time. Anyway, I wrote OM MANI PADME HUM in Tibetan with prayer: “Anyone who see this car, who touches it or remember it, who think about or talk about this car, may everyone be free from all the problems and develop compassion and achieve enlightenment.” Then on one side there is message [RL] that His Holiness usually says: “My Religion Is Kindness.” Then I added the word “others.” Then on the other side the message says: “Cherishing Others Is the Source of All Happiness.” So that car is an advertisement for bodhicitta.
Because we drove from Vajrapani to Geshe Sopa’s place, where there were farms or certain areas, so many insects banged into the car and died. So we stopped and I did a lot of light offerings for them and made prayers for all those insects and flies.
So, anyway, I was wondering how to stop this from happening and I thought it might help to put something around on the front of the car, like a plastic shield that pushes the air up so the insects won’t bang onto the windshield. So anyway in front there is a Medicine Buddha mantra as well as being full of very powerful mantras, such the Medicine Buddha mantra and OM MANI PADME HUM. By seeing that, it purifies one hundred thousand eons of negative karma. There are many other powerful mantras. The benefits are that any wind that touches those mantras, when insects land on it and touch the mantras, or if they are touched by any wind or dust or rain, that has touched the mantras, their negative karma is purified and they receive a higher rebirth. So these mantra have power; they have so many benefits. They should be written on the glass where the insects bang into it, where they crash, but of course that can be difficult.
So, anyway, the main point of the car is advertising, with Chenrezig in the center and on the other side “No Anger No Enemy” so that people not only get the message in their mind, but it also leaves a positive imprint by seeing the Compassion Buddha.
Many people driving behind who see the messages on the back of the car try to overtake so that they can see who is driving the car. I think one or two person might have been upset. I think there might have been a problem with a more extremist person thinking. I suppose they know it’s a Buddhist car, [RL GL] not only because of the messages but also because there are many buddhas around the car. [RL GL] There are the Thirty-five Buddhas for prostrations. [GL RL] Then there is White Tara, Shakyamuni Buddha, a big one, and I think maybe Lama Tsongkhapa. I’m not sure. Anyway, there are many buddhas around. So, I am sure there are some people who know that this is a Buddhist car. [RL GL]
BODHICITTA: GENERATING LOVING KINDNESS
Anyway, now going back to the subject. The next point is generate loving kindness (yi-wong kyi jam-pa). Affectionate loving kindness is, feeling other sentient beings are most dear, by that definition. All our own most kind mother sentient beings, what they want is happiness but they don’t know what is the cause of happiness. They mistake the cause of happiness as the actions done for this life, this life’s works, the actions done with anger, attachment, and particularly clinging to this life—all the actions done with the three poisonous minds. They think these actions are the real cause of happiness, but this is totally wrong. Actions done with anger, actions done with attachment clinging to this life, ignorance, are only the cause of suffering.
As Nagarjuna says: [Tibetan]
Actions born from anger, ignorance or attachment are nonvirtue;
From them all the suffering transmigratory beings arise.
That means that actions done with such an attitude are nonvirtue. People believe these are the cause of happiness whereas they are actually the cause of all suffering, therefore the result can never be happiness in these situations. They are suffering due to not understanding karma, due to ignorant in understanding karma, reincarnation and these things.
Being totally ignorant of the unmistaken cause of happiness the unmistaken cause of happiness, virtue, they run away from it. They run away from the actual cause of happiness, and even if they manage to create some virtue, they destroy the merit with anger or heresy. They destroy virtue like that.
Lower realm beings especially, hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals are devoid of even temporary happiness, and even those who have temporary happiness, the upper realm beings, humans and devas, are devoid of the ultimate happiness liberation from samsara. So there is no question that all the sentient beings, including the arhats who are free from samsara, are devoid of the peerless happiness, full enlightenment.
So think, “How wonderful it would be if all my kind mothers sentient beings could have happiness and cause of happiness. How wonderful it would be.” So, you see, already by meditating on kindness you have the realization that all the sentient beings are your mother, kind since beginningless rebirths. This realization that every sentient being, all these numberless sentient beings are so precious for you in your life is built on this base.
In the same way that a mother wants her only child to be happy, you can understand this and have the strong, intense wish for all these numberless sentient beings to be happy. You feel how wonderful it would be if they had all this happiness, including the most important peerless happiness of full enlightenment. Then think, “I will cause this to happen.” When you take the responsibility on yourself to cause that, then that becomes great loving kindness.
You want them to have all this happiness, in the same way that a mother wishes her child not just happiness, but the highest happiness. Whatever knowledge or education she has, whatever she sees as the highest happiness, she wishes that child to have right now, so strongly. In the same way, you wish all sentient being to have all happiness, right up to enlightenment. Then, you yourself want to make that happen.
Just as all sentient beings want happiness but are incapable of getting it, so they do not want any suffering at all but, as I mentioned before, they are constantly creating the cause of suffering. They are ignorant of the cause of suffering and constantly create the cause of suffering. They keep busy running towards suffering, creating the cause of suffering in everyday life. That is what they do all the time.
This is how a mother feels when her child is sick. She can think of nothing else except how to free her child from that sickness. Or if the child had fallen into a fire, there would be nothing else in her heart but saving the child from being burned in the fire. This is the same as the compassion you feel towards all the numberless sentient beings, feeling so unbearable that they are suffering. Then think, “How wonderful it would be if all the sentient beings, all my kind mothers, are free from all suffering and its causes. How wonderful it would be.” Then, “I will cause this to happen by myself.” You take responsibility on yourself. “I will do it. I will cause them to be free from the suffering.” Whenever you take responsibility on yourself, then that compassion becomes great compassion.
BODHICITTA: SPECIAL ATTITUDE
After those realizations, you develop the special attitude, which is called in Tibetan lhag-sam. It is the attitude of taking the responsibility for all sentient beings completely on yourself.
In daily life, if there is hard work to do, then you tell the other person that you yourself will do it, you take on the responsibility yourself to do the hard work, rather than them doing it, that attitude is lhag-sam. Rather than letting the other person suffer with such a hardship, you take it on yourself and you let the other person have happiness. So, here it is the same.
The converse of this is for you, the son or daughter, to stand by a tree or on roof and sing a song idly while your mother is being attacked by a tiger. She is in mortal danger and you climb a tree and sing a song. Maybe not to dance! How selfish and cruel that is! Your mother, who did everything for you now desperately needs help, her life is in danger by being attacked by the tiger. She needs help, but because you yourself are not in danger you carelessly sing a song. You are happy because you yourself are not in danger, you don’t help your mother, you don’t try to save your mother from danger. How cruel that is, how selfish that is.
Just as the blind need somebody to guide them so they don’t fall over a cliff when they are walking, your mother is blind with ignorance, and needs a virtuous friend who possesses the wisdom eye knowing the Dharma, karma, the lam-rim and who can lead all mother sentient beings to safety, showing them the path to liberation.
Think, “They are inflicted with the three types of suffering: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change and pervasive compounded suffering. They are constantly attacked by three types of sickness. They do not have opportunity to help themselves, while I myself, because I have received the perfect human rebirth and have met the leader of the blind, the virtuous friend who has the wisdom eye, the Dharma eye, therefore I have all the opportunities to develop my mind in on the path to enlightenment and to help all sentient beings, to help all my mother sentient beings to free them from all the suffering causes and bring them to enlightenment. I have this opportunity to help them, so if I don’t do this, while my kind mother sentient beings are suffering so much and while I have the opportunity to do so, there is nothing more selfish and cruel, nothing more ungenerous and shameless. So, now it is my turn to help. I have all the opportunities and I am responsible because I have all the opportunities to do it. Therefore I must free them from all the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment by myself alone.”
Before, with great compassion and loving kindness the thought was, “I will do it.” Now, with the special intention, the thought is: “Alone. I will do it by myself alone.” The extra word—“alone”—remember that.
ONLY ENLIGHTENED BEINGS CAN HELP ALL SENTIENT BEINGS
Geshe Sopa Rinpoche also mentioned that, at the moment you cannot guide even one sentient being to enlightenment. Even arhats, who are free from samsara, cannot do perfect work towards sentient beings as they do not have omniscient mind. They still have the four unknowing things: they cannot see the secret actions of a buddha and they cannot see subtle karma. I think there are two others, which I think are they cannot see places at an unbelievable distance or unbelievable lengths of time. I hope it’s those last two. It should be checked whether these four unknowing things the arhats have is correct.
Even though they are totally free from samsara, from all the suffering and its causes—delusions and karma—arhats cannot see the subtle karma of the sentient beings. Therefore, it is still possibility for them to make mistakes, which means they cannot do perfect work towards sentient beings. The tenth bhumi bodhisattvas who are close to enlightenment still do not have an omniscient mind, so for them it is the same, they cannot do perfect work towards sentient beings. The only one who can do perfect work towards sentient beings is a buddha, an omniscient mind, who knows every single being’s mind, every level of mind, every intelligence, the karma and characteristics and every single method to bring them from happiness to happiness to enlightenment.
Think, “Therefore, I must achieve buddhahood.” This special mind, which is really bodhicitta, is a principal consciousness. It is not a mental factor, but a principal consciousness which is harmonious with the mental wish to achieve enlightenment. First, you determine to only work for others, when you generate the special attitude, then you determine to achieve enlightenment yourself.
When you have actualized this bodhicitta then you mind will be like Lama Atisha’s. When Lama Atisha saw a cow tied to a stake, he felt so uncomfortable. He called out “mother,” Lama Yeshe used to call all beings “mother.” “My mother is suffering,” when he saw an animal tied to a stake Lama Yeshe used to call animals mother, realizing all sentient beings are our mother.
When you reach the stage of the special intention, you already have this attitude already. With every sentient being that you see, you have this spontaneously-arising thought, that yourself will achieve enlightenment, in order to bring that sentient being to enlightenment. You naturally, spontaneously feel that with any sentient being that you see in daily life. Very intensely, from bottom of your heart, you feel that, just as a prisoner living in prison every day has aversion to prison twenty-four hours a day, always spontaneously wishing to be free from the prison intensely, day and night, like that, you feel this strong desire to liberate every single sentient being you see from samsara and bring them to enlightenment, to free them from the prison of samsara and bring them to enlightenment. You feel that every day spontaneously and then, to do that, you feel the great wish to achieve enlightenment.
If that wish happens effortlessly from the heart, not only intensely but also with great stability, lasting not just for a few days but stable for a very long time, that is a realization of bodhicitta. When you have that, you have entered the door of the Mahayana path to enlightenment, then you are a bodhisattva, the heart son of all the buddhas. This son is nothing to do with the physical body, the shape of the physical body, this extra thing hanging down, it has nothing to do with that. This is the spiritual son, the son of all the buddhas. Geshe-la mentioned many quotations from A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life showing the benefits of bodhicitta. When you have this realization, all those benefits happen.
I think, maybe I read just two pages. [GL] [RL] And only two pages. [R reads in Tibetan] Maybe just half a page, or two pages. [RL] [Rinpoche reads in Tibetan] [RL] I think I’ll just finish this one [RL]. I’ve almost finished this part, so I’ll stop here. [Rinpoche reads in Tibetan]
Even the past and future merits collected by oneself, the three times’ merits collected by others, all the merits collected today, all the particular merits collected today, the unconceivable merits, by taking precepts and so forth, by listening to the teachings, by meditating and explaining, by listening to the Dharma, may the bodhicitta, which is source of all the happiness and success in the world for me and for all sentient being, may it be achieved without delay for a second in one’s own mind as well as all the family members and in the mind of all those sentient beings and then which may it be increased.
Dedicate to wisdom in same way. Due to all the three times’ merits collected by myself and others, may all the father and mother sentient beings have happiness and may the three lower realms be empty forever. May all the bodhisattvas’ prayers succeed immediately. May I cause all this to happen by myself alone.
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me in the three times, collected by the buddhas, bodhisattvas and sentient beings, from now on whatever action I do in life, whatever I experience—eating, working, sleeping, doing jobs—whatever in life I experience, the ups and downs, being healthy or unhealthy, happy or unhappy, whether I have sicknesses or whether I don’t have sicknesses—whatever happens, even including cancer or anything, whether one has or doesn’t have so any sicknesses, happy or unhappy, rich or poor, gain or loss, living or dying, whether I am receiving praise or receiving criticism from other people, even if I am born in the hell realm—whatever happens to me in my life experience, from now on the most important thing is to become beneficial, to become useful for other sentient beings in my life.
To be useful for others, that is the most important thing, that is the meaning of my life, the purpose of my life. Having long life alone is not the meaning of my life, being healthy, without one single sickness, even for thousand years or eons, that alone is not the purpose of my life. Being wealthy alone is not the purpose of my life. Being famous is not the purpose of my life. Having power in this world alone is not the purpose of my life. The purpose of my life is to become useful for others. At that time I am fulfilling my life.
Therefore, whatever action I do, whatever I experience in life, even to be reborn in the hell realm, may all my experiences from now be most useful for all sentient beings and the cause of all sentient being achieving enlightenment as quickly as possible.
Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and others, that which is like a dream, like a mirage, like an illusion, may I—who am like a dream, like an illusion, like a mirage—achieve Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, which is also like a dream, like an illusion, like a mirage. By using the example try to get idea that it doesn’t exist from its own side, that it is empty of what is appearing real from its own side. The example is to break, to see as empty, to feel the false or empty object of ignorance and lead sentient beings who are like a dream, like an illusion, like a mirage and so forth to that enlightenment which is like a dream, like an illusion and like a mirage by myself alone who is like a dream, like an illusion, like a mirage, and so forth.
I dedicate all the merits in the way that three times’ buddhas and bodhisattvas dedicated, the way they dedicate I will dedicate my merits in the same way.
Due to all the three times’ merits collected by others may the purest teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa unified Sutra and Tantra be actualized completely in my mental continuum as well as in the mind of all my family members and in the minds of all the students in this organization, as well as all the benefactors in this organization, especially those who sacrifice their lives doing service for others through this organization.
May those whom I promised to pray for, whose names I have and those doing service for me actualize all this in this way in their lifetime without delaying even a second.
May all the virtuous friends, including the great compassionate one, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, have stable lives and all their holy wishes succeed immediately.
Due to all the three times’ merits collected by me and others may all the Sangha in this organization complete their scriptural understandings and realizations of the path to enlightenment in this very lifetime by receiving all the needs and all protection.
May all the meditation centers and social service centers pacify immediately the suffering of the bodies and the minds of all sentient beings, and actualize the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa in the minds of all those sentient beings by suitable needs. May all the projects and all the organizations succeed immediately for His Holiness, as well as all the projects, building temples, statues and stupas and scriptures including the five hundred-foot Maitreya project, may they succeed immediately by receiving the necessary needs. May all these projects and centers cause bodhicitta to arise in the minds of all sentient beings. Due to that may everybody have perfect peace and happiness. May nobody experience war, pain, diseases, torture, poverty, sicknesses, dangers from fire, water or, air, from people dying by planes, cars and so forth. May they never experience all those undesirable problems and may all these centers’ statues and all the projects cause all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible, and may Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings spread all over the world and be glorious forever. May I be able to cause all these things by myself alone.
So, thank you very much. I’ll complete it maybe tomorrow.