Kopan Course No. 20 (1987)

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

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

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

Lecture Seventeen: The Five Views

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

The nature of attachment is like oil in the paper, like the flies that got caught in the spider web. The problem is very difficult to separate away from. Like the fly or the ant that sank in the honey, very difficult to separate—the wings, everything got stuck, very difficult to wash, very fragile, very difficult to separate. If you analyze the nature of that thought, it’s difficult—the mind is stuck on the object, difficult to separate away from the object, so that is the pain and that is the suffering. That is the suffering, that is the problem.

The nature of anger is that when we see the enemy or the undesirable object, there is an unpeaceful mind, there is a thought to hurt. What is the other label? Violent. For the object, there’s coarse and rough, so same thing for the mind, coarse or harsh. That’s right, harsh. Coarse or harsh, same? Harsh, harsh mind to hurt. Harsh mind, thinking, “With what means will I give harm?” When the anger is very intense, very strong, it is like a coal fire burned by the wind, in the heart. That disturbing thought is anger. The essence of that is the harsh mind to hurt others.

Because of the grasping at the I, the ignorance of the truly existent I, there is the disturbing thought that I’m better—by race, by wealth, by qualities, by beauty, by the flexibility of the body, such as yoga, tai chi, the Japanese—anyway, all those. Acting, the circus, all that. The aspect of thought is kind of lifting up and it is difficult to separate from the object—anger is to hurt, but the aspect of this thought is feeling up, filled up.

Then, ignorance—that is like the example of a house that doesn’t have light. In that house there are no windows, no doors, and no light comes. In that house, even though there are many materials, different colors, shapes, so many things, because of darkness, there are no windows, doors, nothing, you cannot discriminate what is there, the different colors, white and black, all those different colors—you cannot discriminate in that room. You don’t know. Like that, the disturbing thought of ignorance has the function of obscuring karma and the four noble truths, absolute truth and so forth—all this reality, all the nature, as it is, chi ta wa, the object of the omniscient mind—chi ta wa, chi nye pa—how do you translate? One is absolute truth, the other one is conventional truth. These two truths include all existence. The disturbing thought whose function is obscuring the action and result, the four noble truths, absolute truth, and so forth, the nature of the absolute truth, conventional truth—in that way the disturbing thought makes it unclear—and that is ignorance, unknowing mind.

In the house that doesn’t have any windows or doors, and no light comes, it is unclear and you are unable to see all the objects in the house—the different colors, different shapes. It makes it unclear for you to see things. Same now, the disturbing thought that obscures action and result, the four noble truths, ultimate truth, the two truths, and the objects of all the two truths, is ignorance, the unknowing mind.

Then, doubt. Doubt in the Triple Gem, action and result, and so forth, which are explained from the teaching of the Buddha—are these true or not? Doubt interferes and is the disturbing thought that thinks the Triple Gem, action and result, and so forth, which are explained in the teaching of the Buddha, are true or not? It has two points of mind, and interferes with having a definite understanding of the object. This is doubt.

Now pride. There are seven different types of pride, and they are in many translated books, so you can study from that.

The five—pride, ignorance, doubt, attachment, and anger are called the five non-views.

Now, there are also five views. The first one is the view of changeable objects. That’s the clearest. You can understand from the meaning that this refers to the view of the changeable aggregates, the view of the changeable group.

Anyway, you can this from the definition. There are five aggregates, the base of the I, the base on which the I is imputed. The changeable group is the group of the five aggregates. The five aggregates are impermanent. What came into existence in the first second does not last in the second second, and what came in the first second doesn’t continue, doesn’t exist any more in the second second. The continuation is there, the continuation of that exists in the second second, but the first one doesn’t exist in the second. The aggregates of the first time don’t exist in the second, but their continuation do exist. What am I saying? The continuation of the first time exists within the second. Otherwise, there is no second second of the aggregates. If there is no continuation of that, if there is no continuation of the first second of the aggregates in the second second, then there is no second second aggregates. There are no aggregates in the second, third, fourth, fifth.

If there were no continuation of the past life there would be no present life. If today there was no continuation of yesterday’s I, there wouldn’t be today’s I. Today’s I is the continuation of yesterday’s I, but that doesn’t mean today’s I is yesterday’s I. If that were so, then if we kept the eight precepts today, then the I that killed in the past life would be today’s I, the killing one, who does the opposite.

Same thing—today’s I would also be the I that exists by depending on the fertilized egg in the mother’s womb, before taking the shape of a human being. And that means you would have a liquid body. The continuation of the blood and sperm.

The aggregates that exist in the first second do not last in the second second—they change, and that’s why this is the changeable group. By depending on these aggregates, the changeable group, the aggregates, the thought, the I, is imputed. But the I doesn’t appear in that way. It appears to exist from above the base, from above the aggregates. If you relate to the experience, “from” in English may not be correct, but the experience is that it is “from above the aggregates,” not “on the aggregates.” On the aggregates is correct, but from above, the “I” appears, the “my” appears, which means that it is existing from its own side. That appears and then the disturbing thought, the deluded wisdom, grasps this as true. So that is a view.

Here it seems if you relate it to the action, it makes more sense. Here in this case, this is my own interpretation, my view, so with deluded wisdom, grasping, this “I,” this “my,” appears to exist from above the aggregates as true. This view is the deluded wisdom believing that this is true. This is the view of the changeable group.

The changeable group is just simply the base. When we say “view,” it is to do with the I, how the I appears, the wrong way it appears, the I that doesn’t exist, which is a hallucination. The view relates to that and also the deluded wisdom believes and holds onto that. Short way, jig ta, or “view of change” in English, because it doesn’t have this “group” there.

The second view is the view holding extremes. It is very important to understand that this is wrong, that it is a wrong conception. The deluded wisdom holds the I that appears from above the aggregates to be truly existent, and believes that this I is permanent, and that there is no continuation from this life to the next life. It believes that when death happens it stops. This is what is called the view holding extremes. Is the I permanent or not? No. Why? [Reply inaudible]

What makes it impermanent? [Reply inaudible] Who changes? What changes? [Reply inaudible] It’s created by delusions? It’s impermanent because? Created by delusions, right? [Reply inaudible] Which one? [Reply inaudible] That alone is permanent? [Reply inaudible] Dependent arising. [Reply inaudible] Dependent arising is permanent. It could be said, that could be said, but that doesn’t mean everything that is dependent arising is permanent. But generally dependent arisings are permanent, that could be said.

OK, now, is the emptiness you meditate on impermanent? [Reply inaudible] When you realize emptiness, is that emptiness permanent? What am I saying! Is that impermanent? [Reply inaudible] No, is that emptiness impermanent? Is that emptiness created by delusion? Anyway, you check, OK.

Now what she was saying, that is the very good answer. For example, that is what I was going to say—in the mind, space is permanent. Now like this, for example, put it this way. If the I exists separately from the aggregates, if it does not have a base on which it is imputed, then that I would be truly existent.

The other thing is, on the basis that I is imputed, even if the I exists separately from the aggregates, on the basis of the idea that the I is imputed on this base, that there is a name given to something, if the base were not a causative phenomenon, it must be an uncausative phenomenon. In that case, the I becomes permanent. The experience of the I, the actions of the I are referred according to the actions of the base, and the base is unchangeable, uncausative. It is uncausative—there is no cause that makes it change—so it is permanent. So therefore, the I imputed upon that is permanent.

What Alison said is also very interesting, a very good thought, very well thought out. Something to discuss, to debate.

The other thing is that if the I existed separately from the aggregates, it wouldn’t have a base, and that means the I doesn’t exist, you understand? If the I existed separately from the aggregates, that is not a base. This is the same as—if I had a million dollars I would buy one very good apartment, one very good car, a big television, what else? Showers, what’s this, china. Then, have marriage, have children, you gave a lot of names but they don’t exist, and also they marry, gave so many names, but none of this exists now, none of this exists today. Do you understand? None of this exists today. So it’s like this. If the I existed separately from the aggregates, without a base, it would become like this, non-existent. The definition of existence is because of the base.

The view holding extremes is important. The deluded wisdom looks at the I that appears from above the aggregates as permanent, thinking that it does not continue from this life to the next life.

No, what am I saying! No, I made a mistake. The way I described the I, the truly existent I, that is what, what’s your name? What he said is true. The truly existent I doesn’t exist, so therefore there is nothing to join from this life to the next life. There is nothing to join, because it doesn’t exist. Because it doesn’t exist, there is nothing to talk about. In reality there is nothing to talk about, saying it is permanent, because it doesn’t exist. There is nothing to talk about in terms of this joining to the next life, because it doesn’t exist.

But this view perceives that the I that exists on these aggregates, the I that is imputed on these aggregates, that it is permanent and that it does not join from this life to the next life, that when death happens the I ceases. It perceives that the I, which exists on these aggregates, that this is permanent, and that this does not continue to the next life, from this life. It perceives the mere I, the general I, without describing the aspect. That is completely wrong, because the consciousness continues to the next life, so the I continues, that which is imputed on that. The base is impermanent, so the I is impermanent. These beliefs, these views thinking that the I is permanent, that the I does not continue to the next life, are the opposite of reality.

But also, this makes sense. The I that appears from above the aggregates, existing from its own side, that which is held and believed by deluded wisdom, and which deluded wisdom looks at as permanent and as not joining with the next life. Even though the deluded wisdom looks at this I, even though the I does not join from this life to the next, it perceives that the I exists in this life, but then after death, it no longer exists. However, that is wrong. This I that is held by the deluded wisdom does not exist at all. And the deluded wisdom that looks at that I as permanent and just existing in this life is wrong.

When you think straight, not joining from this life to the next life is true, but the way of understanding, implying that this I exists in this life is wrong. I think you have to think on that point.

Isn’t there something talking about a soul as permanent? Consciousness is permanent, soul is permanent—soul in the sense of consciousness, the mind. In Christianity or Hinduism, don’t they talk about the soul going to heaven? [Reply inaudible] Anyway, it’s very nice to hear that. It seems to make it clearer. It seems when you talk about heaven and hell, and the soul going, even if the person doesn’t know what he is saying, it seems that the person is talking about the consciousness, the mind, the one that joins from one life to another life. So that is basically talking about the same thing, even using the terms “heaven” and “hell” and “soul.” It seems the soul is permanent, so the I is permanent. I mention this so that you can analyze this.

[Inaudible comment from audience]

Permanent, changing? What do you mean by permanent? Oh, I see, it doesn’t have an end. But that does not mean—you called it permanent because it doesn’t have an end. [Inaudible comment] What is that? What? Who told you about buddha nature?

So, what about the elements? Are the elements permanent? No, in that case. [Reply inaudible] No, are the elements permanent? Huh. Eternal, they are eternal? No, because it’s eternal, it should be permanent. [Reply inaudible] No, no, I’m questioning the elements. [Reply inaudible] So, they are permanent, the elements are permanent? [Reply inaudible] Elements are eternal. The elements are eternal, so they are permanent. They should be permanent according to that view. The elements are eternal or not? They are not? Have they got beginning? The element has a beginning, the element has an end. [Reply inaudible] OK, nothingness. No? It doesn’t go anywhere. The wind doesn’t go anywhere. [Reply inaudible] So, it’s absorbing. [Reply inaudible] The wind completely stops? The air completely stops? Doesn’t go anywhere? [Reply inaudible] Then it’s not sure whether the element is eternal or not. It’s not sure whether it’s permanent or not.

Where did the air come from? [Reply inaudible] The very first time. [Reply inaudible] OK, so it didn’t have a beginning, the continuation of air did not have a beginning. [Reply inaudible] It came from the sea. [Reply inaudible] The continuation of air. [Reply inaudible] The air that started this earth continued from space—that is the continuation of the air that was in space, right? That came from another space, right? So then that air in that space came from another space originally. So the continuation of air did not have a beginning. [Reply inaudible] No, no, I’m just checking whether it has continuation or not. [Reply inaudible] So wind did not come from wind, the air did not come from the air?

[Tape ends]

…the next one, holding the view of the best—this is the deluded wisdom looking at the person’s aggregates and holding that any of these wrong views is the best, pure view.

The next one is holding moral conduct as best. The Hindus can remember past lives but they cannot see future lives, so they may see that in their past life they were a dog and then because they are human in this life, they make the conclusion that to be born as a human being again they have to act like a dog. There is no question of virtue or nonvirtue. So they take on the moral conduct of acting like a dog—walking on all four limbs and barking, eating like a dog and so forth, in order to be born human in the next life. They think this is the best moral conduct.

Then they shave their hair, keep skeletons, or they fast and live in the fire, put the body in the fire. Then looking at the sun with one leg. Not cutting it off, just standing with one leg. Then naked, putting ashes on the body. Not hashish, ashes. Then living in silence, thinking that these things are the best conduct to achieve liberation.

Also, by looking at people who practice this, the deluded wisdom looking at the aggregates—it could be your own aggregates, not only others’—looking at the aggregates from where this conduct of morality comes, you wish to achieve liberation. The deluded wisdom thinks that this morality, this conduct, is the best way to achieve liberation. You have to understand, these things are not involved with bodhicitta, these things are not involved with shunyata, with emptiness. These practices are not involved with the mind renouncing the whole entire samsara, so you have to understand what is missing there.

If these three things are missing, none of this is the cause for liberation. Of course, behaving like a dog, there is no way to become a human being; no way for this to become a cause for a human being. Even those others, shaving the hair, fasting, all these things—the attitude that does these things doesn’t have the mind renouncing all of samsara, doesn’t have bodhicitta or shunyata, emptiness. Therefore this does not become the cause of liberation. This alone does not become the cause of liberation.

Shaving the hair, Buddhist monks and nuns [do this], there’s also fasting in nyung näs, but it involves a very profound attitude, the three principal paths. You have to understand what causes fasting, shaving the head or similar things, to become a cause to achieve liberation or not. It is dependent on having these realizations, the mind renouncing samsara, the realization of shunyata, the emptiness of the I. Without these two there is no way to achieve realizations, without bodhicitta there is no way to achieve enlightenment. There is no way for these things to become the cause of liberation, no way for them to become the cause of enlightenment.

Now the next one, wrong view—there is no cause, action. Before talking about that, even washing, purifying with water, doing purification with water. Even though there is a similarity in purifying with water, like when there’s disease, pollution, things like that, and the initiation material. But the basic thing, why that is wrong—the negative karma is not washed away by water, but in Hinduism there is washing with water, there is something, drinking water and purifying, all this, taking initiation, or if the person is sick or mute, cannot speak or has paralysis or a disease, by purifying with water, their disease is healed. That is different.

The other one is believing in the water from a worldly being, such as Brahma, Indra, Krishna—who could be buddhas manifesting for some people, but generally are worldly beings, not beyond samsara, not free themselves from all fears, from all the suffering of samsara, not having achieved all the qualities of realization or cessation. That water does not have that power, and that object of refuge does not have that power, because of not having ceased all the mental stains, all the realizations. Therefore, it doesn’t have the power to lead us to refuge. It can bring some power in this life, some wealth in this life, some success in this life, or it can make us recover from disease, but it cannot guide us to liberation, to enlightenment.

But Buddha has ceased all the mental stains and completed all the realizations, therefore, this object of refuge has power. Because of the attainment, enlightenment, the object of refuge has power. So therefore, blessing the water with that object of refuge, who has all the qualities, infinite compassion, perfect power, omniscient mind, depending on the person’s understanding and level of mind, and how much devotion and qualities the person has, there are much greater blessings and purification with that water. Then also, again, these things are done with bodhicitta, again with all those preliminaries. So it is very different—even if it looks the same on the outside, there is so much to understand behind it.

Now wrong view is that which criticizes, saying that there is no action and result, no karma, no past and future lives, and that this world is created by Brahma, Krishna, and Vishnu. As I mentioned, this world exists and is actualized due to the collective karma of the sentient beings who enjoy this earth and live on it. As I explained, everything came from our own mind labeling. Second thing, I explained the twelve links, which came from ignorance, karma, consciousness, everything, subject, action, object—everything came from there, so it all came from our own mind.

All these days we talked about and meditated on how we see things being dependent on how we look at things—how we look at the object, how we interpret that. We talked about the enemy, all those many days, so that’s the reality—our mind is creating it, it is not somebody else creating our world, we create our own world. Our world is created by our own mind, therefore, this is the reality, and therefore we have freedom. We have incredible freedom. If we always guard our own mind, if we subdue our own mind, then all the happiness and good things happen—if we do not subdue our own mind, if we do not practice the good heart, then everything turns out as the enemy, suffering, distraction.

The conclusion comes, as I talked about the decision the other day—it is completely in our own hands, what we want, all the future lives, the coming years—now and up to enlightenment, our happiness or suffering, the endless suffering of samsara—it’s completely in our hands, what we do with our mind, what we do in every minute with our mind, whether we protect our mind in virtue or not. In Buddhism the whole emphasis is on the mind, our own mind. The whole practice is on the mind. So that answer is correct according to our experience.

[Dedication prayers in Tibetan]

Now we will take Medicine Buddha’s initiation, the lung of the mantra. We do Medicine Buddha, then Tara mantra.

Generate the motivation of bodhicitta, the Medicine Buddha’s mantra. Now Tara, OM TARA TUTTARE TURE SVAHA. [3x]

Geshe-la will explain the benefits of the practice of the Medicine Buddha, so I don’t need to explain. It is very, very worthwhile. If somebody practices healing, this is very, very good. I think that’s all.

For success this is very, very powerful, especially the more the time gets degenerated. And then Tara is the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ actions, therefore, it is a very common experience that when there is success, and wishes to fulfill the success, temporary happiness or ultimate happiness, by praying to Tara, offering to Tara, taking refuge in Tara, doing meditation-recitation, there is success, and all obstacles are pacified.

So then Samayavajra, do you have a book? This is different, this is an old one, the very first one. This is the lung, the oral transmission of the Samayavajra meditation and mantra. If you want to purify the particular negative karma accumulated, if you have degenerated samayas in the relationship to the virtuous teacher, your own guru, then this is the particular practice to purify.

[Oral transmission in Tibetan]