Kopan Course No. 28 (1995): Audio and Transcripts

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal 1995 (Archive #1019)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Twenty-Eighth Kopan Meditation Course in November 1995. Included are oral transmissions of the Heart Sutra, the Thirty-five Buddhas Confession Prayer, and Pabongka Rinpoche's Heart-Spoon.

Download or listen online to the audio recordings of Lectures 1-3 and 6-9, and read along with the transcript. You may also download the entire transcript in a pdf file.

Lecture Six: Dharma in Daily Life

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In regards negative karma to be purified, just even from the ten non-virtuous actions, depending on the individual person but, in general, for example: speech. The negative karma of gossiping, that complete negative karma, which has a base, thought, action and goal—the completed negative karma of gossiping is a very common thing in our everyday life. Also ill will, for many that is also quite a common thing to happen, that complete negative karma of ill will.

Covetousness: I am not sure of the exact word, for example, when we go for shopping, if there is a motivation of bodhicitta, if there is a good heart, if the shopping is done with a good heart, even if you are buying food for yourself to eat or clothing or needs for prolonging your own life or health. If the motivation is there, even there is no actual good heart reflecting, thinking of all the sentient beings, even not like that, but just the motivation, “for my life to be useful for others. If I live long, then my life to become useful for others, to cause happiness to others, to do service to others, then I need long life and to be healthy, therefore I buy these things.”

Even if it is something you need, something you use for yourself, but if the attitude is the good heart, the motivation of shopping becomes benefit for others; the ultimate aim of doing shopping is for others, to serve others, to obtain happiness for others. That becomes the main aim, the main objective, the purpose of shopping, the motivation; when it is for the benefit for others, then it does not become negative karma, of the three types of negative karma, covetousness, it doesn’t happen.

Either bodhicitta or renunciation… maybe when the motivation becomes (Rinpoche laughs), when the motivation for shopping becomes renunciation the problem is there's nothing to buy! (Rinpoche laughs) (laughter) Buying a hundred things comes to just only five. Buying a hundred objects, when you question if you really need or not, it comes down to five or a very small number.

By thinking, by reflecting how the samsara pleasure, not Dharma happiness, here I'm talking about the samsara pleasure, how this is in the nature of suffering. With this understanding or awareness, mindfulness, then you just buy what you need and there is no covetousness. That way, negative karma doesn't happen, doesn't arise. Because with mindfulness as one does the meditation, as one reflects during lam-rim meditation, how the samsara pleasures are in the nature of suffering, and not only in the nature of suffering—they do not last. Two things—how that is only in the nature of suffering and because of that, that becomes the reason why the pleasure does not last, why it cannot be increased, why it cannot be developed.

Remember what one meditated in a lam-rim session and, if one goes shopping with that mindfulness, one is buying things with that motivation, with the lam.rim, renunciation of samsara, so then there is no danger of it becoming negative karma of covetousness.

Also mindfulness with the lam-rim, remembering emptiness, like you are doing shopping in the dream, you are doing shopping in the dream. In the dream you are going to a department store or market, you are doing shopping in the dream, buying so many things in the dream but at the same time recognizing, “I am dreaming.” At the same time you are aware that you are dreaming, that this is dream. So how do you feel, how is that: doing much shopping in the dream with the awareness that this is dream?

Of course, in the dream, not only that the thing that appears, the way it appears to you doesn't exist at all. Not only that, what you're buying doesn't exist at all. You, the buyer doesn't exist, what you're buying doesn't exist and the action of buying doesn't exist. No only the way the objects appear to you doesn't exist but here in the dream, you the buyer, the action of buying, the object, the shop, seller, everything does not exist. Applying this, you are shopping the dream. While you are aware, while you are mindful that it is a dream, apply that on the daily life while we are doing activities during the day.

<break in tape>

At home, walking in the road, when one enters the shop, shopping, seeing things, seeing many billions of things, everything appearing as something very real, very bright, something very true from its own side. So, apply what I mentioned, in the dream, apply that in the daily life.

It is not saying there's no oneself, there's no action of buying, there's no shop, there's no seller. It’s not saying these things do not exist. It’s not saying that. When you talk about the daytime, not the dream, when doing this, it’s not that these things do not exist. What is it that does not exist about these things? About these things, what doesn't exist? It is something extra. When things appear to us, they don’t appear to us that they are merely labeled by the mind, that they exist in mere name—they do not appear to us in that way. They appear to us as something more than that. There is “I” more than what is merely labeled by the mind. There is the action of buying, something additional, something more than what is merely labeled by the mind. There are objects, shop and seller, there is something extra; when it appears to you after your thought merely labeled, when it appears back to you, it appears as something extra, something additional than the way it exists, than how things exist. Something extra appearing, something additional to what is merely labeled by the mind.

There are four schools of Buddhist philosophy: Vaibhashika (je dra ma ba ), Sautrantika (do de pa), Cittamatra or Mind-Only (sem tsam), then Madhyamaka, the Middle Way School (u ma). The middle way school has two divisions, Svatantrika and Prasangika.

The last one, the Prasangika School, it is their point of view of a refuting object, their point of view of an object, which we have to realize as empty, and only then we come to the point to realize the unmistaken emptiness, the right view. Only then; even though all those previous schools have talked about emptiness, their own point of view of emptiness or their own point of view of the refuting object.

I, action, object, all these things: the way they exist or what they are is nothing else, except only what is merely labeled by the mind. That is how things are, what the reality is. So, just a tiny bit… when it appears to you if it’s just a tiny bit, just slightly more than that, the slightest, just very subtle, slightly more than that; when things appear to you, to your mind, if things appear slightly extra than that, something very thin, subtly extra from that—that is the very subtle refuting object, according to the Madhyamika Prasangika School view of the reputing object.

What can cut the root of samsara, the root of the whole entire suffering, karma and delusion is this particular wisdom, specific wisdom, which sees that the slightest thing appearing from there, something from the object’s side, not only labeled by the mind but something from there—the slightest of that doesn't exist at all. Seeing that as hallucination, realizing that hallucination is hallucination and that it is completely non-objectifying, doesn't exist, empty. Only with this very specific wisdom, seeing this specific emptiness, only then can one cut the root of samsara. This particular ignorance, this concept that the "I" is not just merely labeled by the mind but thinking there is something there, something very subtle, something that's existing from there, something very subtle existing from there. Holding on to this concept, which is hallucination but holding to this as reality, as true.

The ignorance that is the root of samsara is not all ignorance. There is a very specific, very particular, specific ignorance. The root of samsara ignorance: what other previous schools talk about is in reality not the root of samsara. It is this specific ignorance. Even the wrong concept is subtle, in other words.

This just went off from that topic. So when we go shopping (Rinpoche laughs) coming back to the department store, supermarket.

The other thing, as I mentioned, about applying the dream while one is shopping. It helps to not become the negative karma of covetousness. It helps to not cling. For example, somebody created you the illusion of money, billions of dollars. When you are not aware of that, while you believe it is real money, there is clinging. But when you know that you are just being tricked by the person, that you are hallucinating this billion dollars or this one hundred dollar, (Rinpoche laughs), this is illusion, this is not really money. When you are aware that you are deluded by the person, then there is no clinging to that. Even though you are seeing a billion dollars, on your table, in your hand, if there is enough space, (laughter). When you are aware this is illusion, there is no clinging to that. So it is similar.

If you are standing there a long time meditating on emptiness, the shopkeepers might think you are crazy! (Rinpoche laughs) If you spend too much time standing, doing shopping, meditating a long time, then they might something is wrong with your mind. (laughter) They might become more suspicious.

Whatever experience one has or had through meditation that is effective to overcome the mind, to not let rise the disturbing thoughts, which can protect one’s own mind, which is same as protecting oneself, from negative karma—one can apply those experiences in the daily life during such activities as this and others.

Also by reflecting on the shortcomings of the objects, shortcomings of the samsaric perfections, their mistakes, how they are in the nature of impermanence, and how clinging to these can affect the mind, one’s own mental continuum, now and in future, this becomes a part of meditation on renunciation of samsara, so it helps not to create the negative karma of covetousness.

This is without applying tantra practice in the daily life, without applying the very skillful meditation practice of secret mantra, tantra, which becomes a most skillful means to accumulate the most extensive merit, greater purification, and becomes the quick path to enlightenment. This is talking about simply living the life, even during the break times, living the life with the lam.rim, with the three principles of the path to enlightenment. Without talking about those very profound means of tantra. So this is just one example.

The way to understand: without even the basic path, without living the life in the lam.rim, renunciation of samsara or the right view, emptiness, or bodhicitta—without any of these we can see that the attitude will be ignorance, anger and desire. Without these three, the attitude of the life, what we do in everyday life would be this. Particularly desire, attachment, clinging to this life, which makes the actions non-virtue, which transforms the actions into non-virtue. This motivation, attachment clinging to this life, is itself non-virtue. As soon as the attachment clinging to this life arises, the immediate effect of you get, what is present in the mental continuum, what kind of effect it gets from that motivation, from that attachment clinging to this life, is disturbance. It’s not a peaceful effect. It is a negative effect; it is disturbing. The immediate effect of that on our mental continuum, our mind, the negative effect is disturbing, not peace.

So there is immediate proof. If you analyze the nature of that thought, this motivation, you can recognize the negative effect: no peace. Disturbing, not giving fulfillment, not giving satisfaction; it doesn't give peace, it’s disturbing. That is the immediate effect. Then actions done out of this are non-virtue then, as a result, only suffering. There is no question about anger and those other delusions.

Now you can see, without lam.rim, without living the life in lam.rim, if you deeply check like this, life is total suffering, suffering life with all these wrong concepts, the negative thought, how the life is totally suffering without lam.rim. Without protection of lam.rim, without the medicine of lam.rim, without this meditation practice, without the attitude, without this positive, healthy, happy, peaceful attitude of bodhicitta, renunciation and right view, even the person believes that…

While living the life without lam-rim, renunciation, bodhicitta or emptiness, without any of these, without Dharma mind, with motivation that is only ignorance, particularly ignorance of karma, then anger, desire and attachment clinging to this life, even if the person believes, "I'm happy," with these negative thoughts, with these thoughts, with these wrong concepts, even the person believes "I'm happy." Person is excited, happy, even the person believes "I'm happy," in reality the person is totally hallucinated. (laughter) It's like eating honey that is poison. (Rinpoche laughs) I think that’s ok. Which is poison, tastes sweet, being caught in that and being unaware that it’s poison and has a great effect, destroying one’s life, having no idea of that. So even the person believes, so excited, "I'm enjoying and I'm happy" and this and that, with these wrong concepts, without lam.rim, it is hallucinated life..

Therefore, thinking in this way, we know how to generate compassion and loving kindness towards those people, towards those sentient beings who have no understanding of Dharma at all, no understanding of the reality of life at all, then believing, enjoying the happy, but in reality life is totally suffering. Totally in hallucination and, because of hallucination, what the person is creating is not the cause of happiness but the cause of samsara and the cause of suffering in this life and the life after this.

So, Dharma practice is needed in every aspect of life. Meditation is needed in every aspect of life. The lam-rim practice is needed everywhere, no question about doing public service, no question about doing service to benefit for others, no question. Even if one is a doctor, or has a job such as teaching in a school and so forth, it does not matter. Whatever the job is, there is a need for lam.rim. One needs to do the job with the lam.rim; one needs to do the job with renunciation, right view or bodhicitta, with this positive, pure mind, positive free mind or healthy mind. Whatever one is doing, in any aspect of life, there is need. There is need of Dharma everywhere, there’s need of Dharma, there’s need of lam.rim, there is need. The mind, during the various activities, has to be lam.rim. It has to have this positive mind.

For example, even in business there is need of bodhicitta. Even in business there is need of good heart. This is one example. Even in business you need bodhicitta. First of all like this, even in business, without lam-rim your action doing business does not become virtue. Without renunciation, right view of emptiness, or bodhicitta, without lam.rim, the action of doing business doesn't become a virtue. It becomes non-virtue, only a cause of suffering. So even in business you need Dharma. Even when doing business, you have to have Dharma mind.

Even in politics you need Dharma. Without bodhicitta, without Dharma, especially bodhicitta, the politics that you are doing become harmful. Because without bodhicitta the politics that you are doing are done out of ego, done out of impure mind, the self-centered mind. Without bodhicitta, without good heart, the thought to benefit others, the method of politics comes out of ego, self-centered mind, the aim of which is to benefit yourself, no matter what you say, no matter how you act outside, the ultimate goal is to benefit your own happiness. Therefore, without question, your action of politics becomes non-virtue.

Without having the Dharma mind, because it is done out of ego it is done out of evil, so therefore that person's method or skill of politics is harmful because the person's motivation, the ultimate goal is to benefit yourself, to benefit your own happiness. Even that person’s politics become like poison, poison. It is not necessarily if done out of ego then it is non virtue, that reason doesn’t cover. But if it is not Dharma mind, if the attitude is not Dharma, then the action becomes, the action of doing politics, if it is not lam-rim, if it is not renunciation, bodhicitta or emptiness, if it is not Dharma, the person's action becomes non-virtue. This is in order to clarify.

Without bodhicitta even the politics become harmful to you. Sooner or later, it brings a lot of problems, sooner or later because the main aim is your own happiness, so you meet a lot of obstacles, a lot of disharmony and a lot of problems with others. So that person’s method did not become path to peace. So you need Dharma even in politics. Without Dharma the politics become a danger, harmful to yourself; harmful to other sentient beings, harmful to even yourself.

Like that, Dharma and especially bodhicitta is needed everywhere, in every aspect of life. As a way to protect your own mind, a way to protect yourself from suffering, from the confusion, there is only Dharma, nothing else. Dharma, which is only your own mind. Even when we do service for others, if there is no Dharma, if the motivation is not Dharma, when we do the service for others, whether it is working at the meditation center, whether working in the public service, when the mind is not Dharma, when the mind is not living in Dharma, when the attitude of the work is not Dharma, then…

<end of tape>

You see, especially if there’s no bodhicitta practice, if the continuation of the best Dharma, bodhicitta practice, is not there, then a lot of emotional minds rise and a lot of personal conflicts; lots of personal conflicts and difficulties in communications and all these problems arise.

Without the motivation of bodhicitta, even if your actions are very beneficial for others, even if the good service you’re doing, work you’re doing is very beneficial for others, even though it is a very practical thing and very beneficial for others, you don’t get any fulfillment in your heart, you don’t get any satisfaction in your heart. Even though your actions are of great need for the happiness of others, beneficial, you are not happy, your own heart is not happy, mind is not happy.

We have to analyze that. That is a lack of practice of bodhicitta. The attitude of doing the work is self-centered mind, ego, self-centered mind, ego, and because of that seeking happiness for oneself: that’s the motivation. Your actions are very beneficial for others, very needed for others, very practical, but you’re not happy, you don’t have fulfillment in you heart or peace in your heart. What appears to you, that person’s, life, is doing those jobs and not getting fulfillment or peace in the heart.

It’s very beneficial but life is not happy, the person’s, his or her own life is not happy, looking for something else. What blocked to have fulfillment in the heart or peace or satisfaction is not the job, it’s the person’s attitude. It’s a mistake of the person’s attitude. The attitude is not bodhicitta motivation, not continual motivation of bodhicitta, not strong practice of that. With the self-centered mind, ego, even though the actions are very beneficial for others, but the ego makes the person unable to enjoy, it blocks to have fulfillment, satisfaction, peace in the heart.

There are similar situations even if you are living an ordained life, even if one is living ordained life, has led an ordained life since so many years. Even one has studied Dharma for so many years, twenty years, more than twenty years, even one has studied very extensively, studied lam-rim philosophy, sutra and tantra, studied extensively, understanding, but there’s something missing, there’s still something missing in your heart. There’s no fulfillment in one’s heart, there’s no fulfillment in the heart, there’s something empty in the heart: not fulfilled, no fulfillment in the heart. Not being happy, no fulfillment in the heart—not happy.

Why? Again it comes back to the motivation; the mistake comes from the motivation. If there’s a mistake in the attitude of the life then no matter how much external change, how much one learns and how much one studies even Buddhism—because of the wrong attitude of life it blocks. As I mentioned, the person who is doing a service or the person who is doing work that is very beneficial but person is unhappy in the mind, unable to enjoy. There’s a block by the person’s wrong attitude, the ego’s self-centered mind, not having the bodhicitta motivation. Similar here, again similar, what makes the person unable to enjoy the life, even a person who has Dharma education, even received so many teachings from many top most qualified gurus in the world.

Unable to enjoy the life and not having any fulfillment in the heart: the mistake, the root mistake is the attitude of life. What you’re looking for, your goal of the life it is not liberation from samsara, it is not liberation from samsara. If it is not ultimate happiness or liberation from samsara, and your goal of the life is samsara pleasure then this is what happens, this is what happens. No matter how much one learns Dharma, makes external changes, if there is no change of the motivation, then there is no happiness in the life, there’s no enjoyment, there’s no fulfillment in the heart. Fulfillment, satisfaction in the heart is blocked by the motivation, rather than seeking liberation from samsara, seeking more the samsara pleasure, the samsara happiness which is in the nature of suffering. The same thing, because the motivation, rather than seeking enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, the main motivation of life becomes seeking samsara pleasure, not just happiness for self, but even samsara pleasure.

What blocked fulfillment, happiness in the heart, the satisfaction and peace is by this wrong motivation, wrong attitude of life. Many people, not having analyzed well this point, the mind, the attitude, put the blame on the external: being nun or monk doesn’t give satisfaction or learning Dharma doesn’t give satisfaction and so forth. The basic answer to that is because didn’t really practice Dharma, the mind didn’t really become Dharma. So that’s why there’s no fulfillment in the heart, no peace, even though one is doing so many things, studying, learning a lot, so many things. The mind does not become Dharma, the mind does not become lam.rim, renunciation of samsara—this free mind, the detached mind or free mind.

It is not because something is wrong, not because something is missing in Buddha’s teaching, it is not because something is missing in Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, in sutra and tantra, it is not because something is missing there but it is something missing in your way of thinking. Even the very simple thing, which in the practice always comes, begins with the motivation, always the practice begins with the motivation, bodhicitta. The very beginning practice, what the text says from the very beginning, is missing, that’s missing from one’s own heart, so the problem comes from there.

This all came by the way, how Dharma, lam-rim, especially bodhicitta, is needed in every life, in every, every aspect of life. Now I stop there.

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