Kopan Course No. 33 (2000)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1257)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 33rd Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall. You can download the entire contents of these teachings as a PDF file.

You can also listen online to the teachings and read along with the unedited transcripts. Click on these links to access Days 1-5 and Days 6-10.

Lecture Ten

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[beginning of teaching unrecorded] …the Prajnaparamita teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom, “Gone Beyond Wisdom,” is the Buddha’s actual means to liberate us numberless sentient beings from the whole entire, unbearable oceans of samsaric suffering, and karma and delusion, which is the continuation of suffering and its cause, the continuation which has no beginning. The Buddha’s actual method, the way of liberating us sentient beings is this teaching Prajnaparamita.

The Buddha told his attendant Kungawo, Ananda, that it doesn’t even matter if all the rest of the other teachings of the Buddha are completely destroyed, it doesn’t matter; even if one little bit of these teachings of the Perfection of Wisdom is degenerated or destroyed, it is much more harmful; it is a much greater loss.

Buddha said, Wherever this teaching of Prajnaparamita is, I am.” There is Bum or Yum, there is about twelve volumes, then there is nyi-che three volumes, then there is Ge-tong-ba 8,000 stanzas, 20,000 stanzas then 100,000 stanzas.

I am now writing the 100,000 stanzas in gold, mainly Nepalese gold. I did use some New York gold which is much brighter, the Nepalese one is like the ones painted on the Buddha statues here; it’s calmer, less bright, anyway of a different nature. So, I am writing now with gold and writing also with silver. I am not doing the actual writing but a nun [Tsen-la] is, whom I asked to build a nunnery down there, who has also been a translator of many, many years for the organization.

She is the sister of Geshe Sopa Rinpoche’s attendant, [Yangsi Rinpoche] who was here when he was young. He studied here at Kopan for three years then went to Sera to study, completing his geshe degree to become Lharampa Geshe, which means a good quality of understanding the Dharma, so he studied extremely well. Last year, I asked him to lead the two month lam-rim course at Dharamsala. That was his first teaching after he finished studying. Actually besides the talks here and there that were the actual teachings, he gave a two-month lung of a text that gave teaching based on a Kopan-style course in Dharamsala. It is doing very well. I have been receiving letters from students that say how they want to continue again with courses from Rinpoche.

However, this nun is his sister. She is actually doing the writing, she almost finished Diamond Cutter Sutra in silver on black paper, then she is going to start the 8,000 stanza version. I want to have one whole set of Prajnaparamita in silver and gold. My one contribution is when I have time, when I am traveling, so I think it would take a long, long, time. My idea is maybe to hire somebody here, some of the monks here and from Sera monastery, to write the gold version or maybe the silver. They can get some offerings for their work. This way, I think we will finish quicker and then when the Maitreya Buddha statue is erected, it will be ready to offer, to put inside the statue at the heart, this, the Buddha’s most precious teaching.

So the Buddha said to Ananda, Kungawo, that even if the rest other teachings were completely destroyed, it doesn’t matter, whereas if a little bit of this teaching were destroyed, it would be a much greater loss. So, he gave the responsibility to Ananda, and said, “Wherever the teaching of the Prajnaparamita is, I am there.”

All the numberless past buddhas were born from this teaching, the Perfection of Wisdom, the teachings on emptiness, as were all the present buddhas born and all the future buddhas will be born from this, as well as all the numberless bodhisattvas, the numberless arhats who are liberated from samsara—there were all are born from this. This Perfection of Wisdom “Gone Beyond Wisdom” is the one that liberates numberless sentient beings, including us, from the oceans of samsaric suffering and the cause of the delusion and karma, this teaching, so this teaching, the teaching of Perfection of Wisdom, is most precious.

I am not only talking about the Diamond Cutter Sutra but also the Heart Sutra, the essence. The Prajnaparamita teaching, which I mentioned, is the heart of all the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha. And the very heart of all these teachings of Perfection of Wisdom is the Heart Sutra, Essence of Wisdom Heart Sutra, which is one or two pages.

Geshe Sopa Rinpoche said about these teachings, in the Heart Sutra there is Chom den den ma / sherab kyi parchin nyingbo(?) Mother, Bhagawan, chom Destroyer, qualified, gone beyond, mother. Then sherab kyi nyingbo at the heart of Perfection of Wisdom is the mother. Why is it called the mother? What I explained just before gives you an idea of the mother, in that it gives birth to all the three times buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats. As I said, these teachings directly contain the wisdom, but indirectly contain the method, the path, so these are called the mother. I will go into a specific explanation.

There are other teachings on emptiness besides Perfection of Wisdom, but they do not contain method. But these ones that I have gone through, the names that I mentioned, they are the teachings which contain method. The teachings within the Abhisamayakarika are directly method teachings but indirectly wisdom, there is also Prajnaparamita, like that.

Before what is called death, that happens in this life, while there are all the opportunities to practice Dharma, everything we have gathered miraculously, miraculously—it is kind of an impossible thing but it has happened this time—so, before death happens, it is not enough just to be free from lower realms or to just receive a human body. Even to be free from samsara is not sufficient. We must achieve enlightenment to liberate numberless sentient beings from all their sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. Think therefore, “I am going to listen to oral transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra.”

Listening to this definitely leaves a positive imprint on the mental continuum and that definitely means in the near future—in this life or future lives—you will be to be able to understand the teachings on emptiness, the Perfection of Wisdom, to understand the meaning and to be able to actualize the path that they reveal and then that directly ceases all defilements. And also, with the method bodhicitta, the method path, to be able to cease even the subtle defilements, and so be able to achieve enlightenment. So, this definitely leads to enlightenment. Even listening the teaching, even just listening to the words, definitely leads oneself to achieve enlightenment.

The reason I am writing in gold is when I was receiving teachings from Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche in Dharamsala some years ago, when I was living there for a long time, after Lama passed away, I read a text by the bodhisattva, Tibetan lama bodhisattava Thogme Zangpo, who composed the Thirty-seven Practices of the Bodhisattva. There are two collections of his teachings. I received the oral transmission of one volume from Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche but I haven’t received the other one yet. The Tibetan Library has the text.

During that time, I saw there are references, there is a quotation from the Prajnaparamita where it says that the benefits of writing the sutra is that it creates far greater merit than worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the river Ganga—the huge, long river in India, very long, so you can understand how many sand grains there are—that many worlds, if all the sentient beings living in that many worlds build stupas—I’m not sure if it is Mount Meru or stupas—anyway built them not with bricks but with jewels, with seven different types of jewel—diamonds, gold and so on—like that all those sentient beings build stupas with seven types of jewel and covered all those world. How many worlds? Equaling the number of the sand grains of the river Ganga, all these worlds are entirely covered with stupas. You build one stupa, it is direct, unbelievable purification, just building one stupa. The merits you collect in this life are like the sky; it directs your life toward enlightenment if you build a stupa. So therefore, now, here, that many worlds covered with stupas with seven types of jewel create so much merit, and also making offerings every day to stupa the stupas make so much merit. But, writing the Prajnaparamita, not with the gold, but just with black ink, even just ordinary ink, this collects far greater merit than building that many stupas and making offering to them.

When I saw this benefit said by Buddha, that was the main inspiration to build this statue of the Buddha of Loving Kindness, to generate to cause for loving kindness in the world. It needs a lot of merit for that big project, so hopefully by doing these things now that might help the success of this project. The idea is it is possible to do it with different jewels. In Mongolia and Tibet, that has happened. One text, for each line you write with different precious jewels—pearls, silver, and I think different stones crushed and then used as ink to write each line to collect a lot of merit and for purification.

[Tibetan, oral transmission]

Pay attention to every single word without the mind being distracted. Then, think, “With each word that I listen to, may I able to actualize the meaning of that immediately in my mind. With each word that I listen to, may I be able to benefit all the sentient beings. When I explain, they immediately are able to actualize emptiness in their mind and then liberate from all sufferings and bring them to enlightenment.” So dedicate each word and then listen to the effect that way.

If you generate a strong wish like that, it will happen because everything is by the power of the mind. Hell is by the power of the negative mind; enlightenment is by the power of wisdom, by the power of the positive mind. Even having this human body is by the power of the virtuous thought, the positive mind. It’s the same with all enjoyment, such as being able to see the appearance of this temple, being able to see the statues, the holy objects—this is also from the power of the virtuous thought.

[Tibetan, oral transmission]

It says here that the Buddha told the disciple Rabjur (Subudi), if a man or woman who in the morning sacrifices their life, makes charity of their life, how many times in the morning you sacrifice your body, you give your body to other sentient beings equaling the number of the sand grains of the River Ganga. Then at noon, twelve o’clock, you sacrifice, you make charity of your body that many number, equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganga. In the afternoon you make charity of your body to others equaling the number of the sand grains of the River Ganga. You do that for so many eons like that—not just for one day, but for so many eons, ten million eons, how many times, maybe one hundred billion. I have forgotten the English name. Quite a few times I counted but I have forgotten. So ten hundred million is one terbum then ten terbum is terbum chenpo a “great terbum” which means ten great terbum is a hundred billion. So a hundred billion. I must remember that. One hundred billion, ten million how many times chewa one hundred billion, but that doesn’t stop there: a hundred, hundred billion, how many times a hundred thousand, a hundred billion like that—a hundred thousand times that many eons, you make your charity of your body to others, then the merit is so much less than somebody who hears the Diamond Cutter Sutra teachings and after hearing doesn’t give them up. Just mentally not giving up these teachings, having faith in this teaching, the merit after hearing and not giving up this teaching is an inconceivably numberless times greater than that many eons of every day making charity of your body in the morning, and again in the afternoon equaling the number of grains of the sands of the River Ganga.

So, you see externally it’s unbelievable. If you do that even for one day, how much merit you can collect is unbelievable. Even if you make charity of even one body in the morning and one body in the afternoon, it’s unbelievable. To even sacrifice one body, as charity to sentient beings, even one is unbelievable. But then if you compare the merit to this, just having heard the teachings of Diamond Cutter Sutra and then having faith in that, not giving up this merit numberless times far greater.


Then, it says there is no question if somebody writes it. You can write this, but also you can print it. [Rinpoche confers, unclear] You can print it. One thing is, you can write it but you also can print it, and if you print it you finish it very fast! [GL] When you can write it by hand, of course, you have to bear more hardships so there is more purification, but I think also you can print it and printing creates unbelievable merit. Here, it says there is no question if somebody writes it.

And it says there is no question even keeping the text, if you keep this text at home with yourself and you read it and try to understand meaning and reveal to others. So, you can do this when you want to create a lot of merit, when it is most important for realization, for the success of a retreat or even business. If you have business difficulties, if it is not working, if you are unable to find a job, if things are not working out, not progressing well, you need a lot of merit. This shows you don’t have enough merit to be successful. Even for this life’s happiness, or for this life’s work, because of a shortage of merit, you are unable to success even for the work of this life. My advice is of course to read this text. It is unbelievable purification and, as I just mentioned now, it creates unbelievable merit; it is such an easy way to collect extensive merit. This is the atomic bomb to destroy the root of samsara, ignorance—when you read these teachings, when you listen to them, when you meditate on them.

You can even print making many, many copies of this and give them to other people or you can keep them at home at all time. You can give them to other people; you can put them in statues. If you make the text very small, but readable, you can put them in small statutes. There are many ways you can use them. You can carry them as a protection in the car or in an airplane, so they can help stop accidents. It becomes such powerful protection that even planes can’t crash. Many Chinese carry the Heart Sutra, printed very small, in the car or even carry it on their body because of the very high printing techniques developed. You can make it very small to put in statues. Normally we fill up statues with mantras so there are many ways you can use it. So, to print a lot collects unbelievable merit and more merit means your life become easier; more merit means your wishes are met. Whatever you wish comes easily. There are no hardships. You think of something and it happens effortlessly, it comes.

The purpose of filling statues. Chinese Mahayana and Theravadin Buddhists don’t have a tradition of filling statues with all those precious, precious mantras but it is there in the Mahayana, the Secret Mantra, the Vajrayana which came from India—from the Buddha—and went to Tibet. It was preserved in Tibetan Buddhism, which was also practiced in Nepal. Even now it is very common for Nepalese to do practices like Vajrayogini. This whole valley is an incredible holy place. In the view of the Western tourist, it may seem dirty and dusty, but in reality it is an unbelievable holy place. Everywhere there are holy places; everywhere there are different yogis’ or deities’ holy places. The Buddha came. There is one high mountain where Buddha gave [inaudible] and then Buddha Kashyapa, the past Buddha came. Anyway, there are many, many holy places, so it is an extremely blessed place, especially in Kathmandu and also many parts of Nepal.

I’m lost! My talk went on and on and I’m lost again. [RL] So, anyway, it doesn’t matter. That’s right.

In the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, the Vajrayana, secret Mantrayana or secret mantra vehicle, is not something made up by Tibetan lamas. People who haven’t done really good research, who didn’t really study well or maybe only learned some meditation or some rituals or something, they think this is something made by Tibetan lamas and they call it Lamaism. Lamaism is wrong. That’s wrong. That gives it a negative interpretation; it suggests that Tibetan Buddhism is just made up by lamas, that it didn’t come from the Buddha. It implies that it didn’t come from the Buddha. This is according to what I have heard. Recently a Nepalese man who is the head of a Theravadin organization came and I told him how some very early tourist books used the “Lamaism.”

The sutra and tantra practiced by the Tibetans—and with which they achieved realizations on the path and achieved enlightenment—came from the Buddha, from India, and the great pandit yogis who wrote commentaries on the basis of the Buddha’s teaching. Everything refers back to the Buddha’s teaching, the root, and the pandits and yogis who achieved realizations, who experimented. Everything refers back to them. We don’t practice anything contradictory to these teachings, anything that doesn’t lead to liberation and enlightenment. We only practice whatever is harmonious with the Buddha’s teachings, the root and commentaries by pandit yogis. Then after on the basis of that, the Tibetan lamas wrote commentaries.

In the East it is very important before a meditation practice that you show references, you quote the Buddha to show whether this is something taught by Buddha or not and whether the quotation refer to the quotations in the Indian pandit yogis’ commentaries. Then the lama explains the meditation, on the basis of that. That is how relying on source, that is how you can trust, that is how it is valid, otherwise you never know where it will lead to, instead of leading to liberation or enlightenment it will lead somewhere else.

But in the West it is totally different. For people’s minds in the West pure references are not important. In the West, immediately if you hear something that suits your mind, that makes you immediately happy, like music, then you stay. If it doesn’t make you happy, then immediately you leave. In the West it is like that. There is no checking whether it is pure or not, whether you can trust it or not, whether it is a valid teaching or not. People don’t see that as important. The main thing is right now, immediately, if it suits your mind or not, whether it makes you happy or not. It is like, when you first taste some food, then if it tastes good then you have it. [RL] But if the very first taste isn’t good, you reject it. It’s like that with teaching. You don’t analyze, you don’t check the teaching, and because of that there is danger, great risk, your whole life can be easily misled. There is great danger because there is no checking involved. It is only what makes you happy or not. As well as quality of teacher, all those things.

Then what I am saying? The Vajrayana within Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism came from India, from the buddhas, so there is a tradition that you not supposed to leave the statue empty. You should fill it with mantras and should fill the throne with precious things, as you would with a wealth vase. That’s the same as making a wealth vase for success and harmony. Then, from the top of the throne up to the head different mantra goes. The throne is mainly for wealth, to increase wealth so that you can practice Dharma by receiving all the needs for your practice as well as to benefit others.

There are different mantras. Why you make a lot of expense printing the mantras and those different teachings and filling the statue, is because, for example, if you print the long life Buddha Amitayus text, which has mantras repeated again and again and followed by the benefits of the mantra, this text is unbelievable merit. You collect incredible merit by just printing or writing this text. Like that, there are many other mantras that you collect unbelievable merits if you print them. So, this is another easy way to purify the negative karma and collect extensive merit.

It did mention in the text that if you leave the statue empty then the obstacles arise due to that, not because the Buddha has made those obstacles, but dependently arising obstacles can happen. The main reason why we fill statues with different mantras, however, is to collect merit. Then, when you do prostrations to the statue there are all these holy objects inside, so you collect unbelievable merit. When you make offerings, when you circumambulate it, it’s not just the statue, there are so many holy objects inside, so when you circumambulate you circumambulate all these. The sentient beings collect so much more merit; it becomes unbelievable powerful purification when they circumambulate it.

For example, there is one mantra that you write on the life-tree that goes inside the statues and stupas called the “Secret Dharmakaya Relic.” If you have that mantra inside the statue or stupa then anybody who circumambulates it just once, purifies the karma that causes you to reincarnate in all the eight hot hells. There are eight major hot hells, so your negative karma which causes you to reincarnate and experience all the eight hot hells get completely purified by going just around it one time. This is due to the power of that mantra.

There is another mantra, the Stainless Beam Deity’s mantra. If you have that mantra inside, then when you offer a bell to the stupa, then any birds or dogs, or any people in that area who hear the sound of the bell that is offered to the stupa, all their negative karma is completely purified. Even the five uninterrupted negativities—killing your father or mother or an arhat, causing blood to flow from a buddha and causing disunity among the Sangha— get completely purified. This is true of even the birds and animals in the area, whoever hears the sound of the bell offered to a stupa which contains this mantra.

There are many powerful mantras that are of such unbelievable benefit for sentient beings who see, who circumambulate, who touch, make offering to the holy objects they are in. They are incredible benefit to sentient beings, to their minds, bringing them to enlightenment. The holy objects, the stupas and statues, these things have the power to liberate sentient beings, without words, without the need to talk, to explain the Dharma, in silence. By actualizing these holy objects in silence, without any talk, you liberate so many sentient beings by purifying their negative karma, saving so many sentient beings from the lower realms every day. Then you liberate them from samsara by actualizing the path, and you bring them to enlightenment. So, every day you are able to benefit so many sentient beings through these holy objects, without words. Even if they come as a tourist, as an animal, and they touch stupa or go around it, whoever receives the shadow of the stupa on their body gets purified.

So, I was talking about even printing this. If, because of a shortage of merit you have a lot of difficulties in your life, even printing this text helps make your life easier by collecting a lot of merit. So, this is an essential method.

[Tibetan chanting]

Wherever this Diamond Cutter Sutra text is in your house, all the devas, the suras, come to worship. Your place, your house becomes a holy place for those beings to worship; it becomes a holy place where those other beings come to prostrate, to circumambulate, it becomes like a stupa, due to the power the blessing of this text.

[Tibetan chanting]

It says that son or daughter, anybody, who reads even one verse collects a hundred times more merit that how many Mount Merus—the largest mountain—there is in the three great, thousand great universes. This universe, this one thousand universes you count as one, then you make another thousand of those thousand universes. Then the second thousand, with that you make one thousand, so then three lots of thousands.1 So, how many Mount Merus there are in a three great thousand great universes, that many piles of seven types of jewels—gold, silver and so forth—then you make offerings to the buddhas—that amount of merit; if you memorize just one verse, which is four lines, from this Prajnaparamita text and then reveal it to others, the merit is a hundred times more than you collect from the previous one, making that many offerings.

[Tibetan chanting]

This is the mantra of the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

I don’t remember a hundred percent, but I have received the oral transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra from Geshe Sengye Rinpoche, a Mongolian Lama Lharampa Geshe from Tibet. He was the abbot of the Sera Monastery in Tibet, Sera Me and Je. Usually, they are separate but after Mao Zedong died there was some freedom given to have a monastery, to have some monks, not like the total freedom of before, but still to have some monks and to do some activity. At that time, because there were so many monks, under threat of danger to their life, they were forced to kill animals, goats. They were forced to do many things to do. So all the monks have great respect for the Mongolian Geshe Sengye. He became the abbot for a number of years in Tibet. He came twice to Dharamsala and here. I took teachings for about two months at Sera Je College on the deity the Most Secret Hayagriva, all the different practice of teachings, and took three volumes by Khalka. Khalka is one lama of Mongolia who is like the Dalai Lama for them. There were three volumes, then two volumes by Fifth Dalai Lama. I received the initiation here a few times and in Dharamsala, so at Tushita I received the oral transmission of this from Geshe Sengye Rinpoche.

I am not a hundred percent sure whether I have lineage for the mantra or not, but anyway I’ll just read for positive imprints. By reciting this mantra, it is the same as if you have recited the mantra 90,000 times.

[Rinpoche chants the mantra]

There was a businessman from Indonesia who totally lost his business; he was in a very heavy state. I met him at the airport when I was going to Singapore the previous time. So, I checked and it came out very good to recite this to pick up his business, to develop it. One way is you read the whole Prajnaparamita text but another way you can recite the mantra of those texts. Like here, there is mantra of Diamond Cutter Sutra. You can recite it and it is unbelievable merit, unbelievable purification. You need to purify your negative karma even for success in business, even for the success of this life. Whatever, whenever you have difficulties—even for that you need to purify negative karma. That is the best solution—the only way you can have success—is to collect merit like that.

If you don’t have merit, then no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you have studied economics, it doesn’t work. No matter how much you try, it doesn’t work. Nothing will happen, no matter how high the degree you have from university, it doesn’t work. You have to have merit. So, therefore you need this for the success of any project.

So, I gave him the mantra. There is mantra of all the Prajnaparamita teachings. There is quite a good mantra to recite, so I gave it to him to recite, and it was up to him whether he accepted it or not. I just gave it to him. I think he actually did it, he actually recited the mantra and his business picked up. I heard his business improved. You need purification and you need quite a lot of merit, and reciting this text, this mantra does that.

[Tibetan transmission]

So, this oral transmission of the mantra of the dependent arising.

I did the oral transmission of the Vajrasattava mantra also last night. I was supposed to give the initiation last night. I think I was supposed to do many things last night [GL, RL] including enlightenment. [GL, RL] Billions of things, anyway. Even though it didn’t happen, I’m still quite happy. I was able to give refuge precepts and also talk on the very important subject for the foundation, otherwise it is not stable.

Those who intend to take Vajrasattva initiation and want to do the retreat can still do it, even though I didn’t give the initiation. I did the lung which you need, so those who intend to retreat are most welcome, extremely, most welcome, those who plan to retreat.

Purification is one thing we should do immediately. The most important thing is purification. If you die today you need to purify negative karma. That is the immediate solution, a Vajrasattva retreat. At one time, you do a big number of mantras and purify so much—all the past negative karma. That’s very important, then you can continue every day with some practice.

Coming here for this one-month meditation course is good. I am not sure whether you will get another chance like this. You can’t say in your life, in our life, whether there will be another chance like this. You can’t really say, so definitely this one now is so good, and therefore it is good to follow all the programs; it is good to follow the schedule, to do everything, try to be here for all the program, the meditation and talks.

People put a lot of effort into climbing Mount Everest, which is nothing. They spend millions of dollars to climb Mount Everest just to get a reputation, just to get some dry name. They put so many millions of dollars into the project, many hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is totally meaningless. People spend so much money and effort and so many years, their whole life they put effort into things which are totally meaningless, things which only create negative karma because the motivation is just attachment. It is nothing; they totally waste all their money, they totally waste all their life. They put so much effort for so many years into nothing.

There are so many people in the world like that, human beings who have received a precious human body but are totally wasting it by doing meaningless actions. So, it is very important here, following the path to enlightenment. Even if you die for it, even if you die doing prostrations to the Buddha, you are still practicing Dharma, so if you die it is worthwhile. So far, we have died countless times, died by creating negative karma for meaningless work. We died for meaningless work so many times. If we die by practicing Dharma, by doing things like nyung-näs, the two-day intensive retreat of the Compassion Buddhas’ retreat, it is worthwhile. The retreat is very powerful purification; we collect unbelievable merit. Until we reach the level of path where we overcome death, where we never experience death again, until then we have to die anyway, so even if we die by doing that practice, we die by practicing Dharma, we die for sentient beings rather dying for ourselves. We die to spread Dharma, to liberate sentient beings, to bring them to enlightenment. If through practicing Dharma we die, that is extremely worthwhile, because anyway we have to die. If we die bearing hardships to meditate on lam-rim, that is an extremely worthwhile way to die. Even if it causes danger to our life it is very worthwhile.

Therefore, it is very important to try hard for this one month. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not, just learn it. You have to learn it. If you learn, if you have the understanding, then you can analyze. That’s my point. Therefore you should listen to teachings. Last night, night before I was talking about karma, I think there are more men, less women in the dining room, there are more men there, talking. When I went there after teaching I saw more men, I didn’t see many women there. I think the teaching on karma is very important, it changes the mind, it changes the action.

Even with this one chance you have here, if you waste your life hanging around outside, instead of attending the teachings, if you do that then when are you going to change your life? When are you going to change your mind, when are you going to have real spiritual progress, when are you going to develop your mind on the path to enlightenment?

At the moment we don’t know how precious it is. We don’t know it takes time to realize, to discover. It needs a lot of merit, so much merit. Here there is a lot of logic. Somebody who knows about reincarnation, there is so much logical proof, but for some people still that alone is not enough. From that person’s side, they need to purify the mind, until you don’t purify the mind it’s like a mirror covered by dust, like dirt on the cloth, like a beautiful painting on the wall covered by so much dust that you can’t see it. You need clean it. No matter how sharp the logic is to prove things, for some people that is not enough. From that person’s side, they need to purify the defilements. If there is no purification, no matter how sharp the logic is, it won’t affect that person’s mind. So, you need to practice purification. Then you can get inside things to make the real discoveries, then things can happen. You can see beyond, otherwise you will be blocked, like wearing dark glasses that you can’t see out of. [RL] So, anyway, it’s like this.

Here is some general advice for life. After doing the course, those of you who want to continue meditation in everyday life, usually the question is what to do, now you are going back to the West. My advice is that it is extremely important to continue. The main practice is to study and meditate on the lam-rim—that is the main goal of the life. Generally, in the text, after you have found a spiritual master, a guru, the first step is to correctly devote yourself to the virtuous friend with thought and actions. On the basis of that, then you study and meditate on the lam-rim, you practice the lam-rim until you have realizations of the lam-rim, the three principal aspects of the path, and then after that, the two stages [of Vajrayana]. That is the main goal of the life. It is the best way, the deepest, most profound way to serve other sentient beings.

Even though there are many other ways to do social service, giving food and clothing so forth, this and that, but the deepest one is to train yourself in the path, so that you can liberate others from the suffering of samsara and bring them to enlightenment. Based on the practice of the good heart, you determine not to harm other sentient beings, and on top of that to benefit them. On the basis of that, then you study and meditate, especially the lam-rim. To make your realization successful—the listening, reflecting, and meditating—to have a realization of the lam-rim, to be able to complete that depends on collecting much merit and purifying the obstacles and receiving blessings of the Guru in your own heart. That depends on the practice of guru devotion, guru yoga. So, therefore you need these other practices.

This is not possible by just reading texts and just meditating on what you can do all those others, because for the seed to grow and produce a plant and food, you need water, soil—you need many things. This is exactly the same. To develop the realization in the mind up to enlightenment you need all these conditions, to receive blessings, like water, the blessing of the Guru in heart by doing guru yoga, guru devotion practices, then those practices of purification and practices of collecting merit. You need those things. From refuge, bodhicitta, the six preparatory practices, including the seven-limb prayer, also mandala offerings, requesting, all those things.

I have written a book for daily meditation, using Guru Shakyamuni Buddha practice. It is simple, but it explains the meaning of each practice, why we do it, so it doesn’t appear as ritual. What people think of rituals, without knowing what it is for and without knowing how to practice and without knowing why, so this is some explanation for somebody who wants to do meditation every day, a beginner, and also having done a course, such as a weekend course.

Karen has also made a book. Karen, has led the meditation courses here for so many years; she hasn’t traveled much outside to give teachings like some other nuns but she has stayed here for so many years. She has collected many, many experiences and she herself has done the practice. So she made a book. I think everybody probably knows it. It is extremely good on actually how to meditate on the lam-rim. It is quite short but yet very effective. It is very good for both beginners and also those who have heard the lam-rim teachings before and are doing everyday meditation. So, that’s very good. This book has daily meditations and the preliminary practices that you need.

If possible, the first thing in the morning you should do when you wake up is think of emptiness. There are different verses, different quotations like that. Usually in the tantra practice, you go to bed by meditating on emptiness, and if possible with a clear light meditation, but also when you wake up, you arise up out of emptiness. This is generally same for all tantra practice, whether you practice lower tantra or higher tantra same. So, the first thing you think of is emptiness. There are verses recited by dakinis to you that persuades you to wake up. They are persuading you to practice lam-rim, free from samsara, to achieve enlightenment, then by practicing Vajrayana to achieve full enlightenment. Practitioners of tantra, those of you who practice Vajrayana, what you are supposed to do in daily life is according to the commentary.

The first thing, you can use the different quotations, different verses—there are very effective quotations from different teachings. One day you can do the meditation on dependent arising, meditating on emptiness by using the logic how everything is dependent arising. Because there are aggregates therefore the I exists, merely imputed by the mind. When you think of that then you know that there is no I on the aggregates, that the aggregates are not I, it is clear. Then like that, starting from the aggregates, as I mentioned, down to the particles, as well as the split seconds of consciousness, everything like that is mere name. Nothing has the slightest inherent existence from its own side. Everything is totally empty. Starting with the I, then the aggregates, each of the aggregates, and so meditate in dependent arising in that way. You can do that, depending on your time.

Then think, “For the rest of day, I am going to practice mindfulness in that way, on form, sound, smell, taste, and so forth.” When you think of dependent arising, everything you see, hear, smell and so forth is merely labeled by the mind because of the base, so, it is not there. That is not the label and it is not there. In the same way, all the rest of the phenomena—whatever you see, hear, everything—is just like that. So everything is merely labeled by mind. In that way, practice mindfulness. When you think of that, in your heart you get the idea that things are empty, not like this, not something solid appearing from there, everything is empty. Try to get the idea in your heart that everything is empty. Then, think it is merely labeled by mind, it is not like this—how it appears and how it is empty is totally the opposite. So, mountains, things—everything— when you look outside, everything is empty.

Then, the next day you can do similar to that, but more meditating on the form, sound, smell—how they are subtle dependent arising, merely labeled by mind. Then for the rest of the day you also be mindfulness, as much as you can.

Then, the next day, in the morning you can begin a mindfulness practice on hallucination, looking at that which is a hallucination. When you think of the I, the I appears as a real one from there. This is up to your mind, this merely imputed I, then when it appears back, it appears back as not merely labeled by mind, so this is a projection from the negative imprint from ignorance. It is a total hallucination.

So, on the third day, your practice of mindfulness is how all this is a hallucination. When you think of all this as a hallucination, with this mindfulness, keep the mind on this a little while, as much as you can, looking at that which is a hallucination. When you think of that, the understanding that comes into the mind is “empty,” the mind is empty, the I is empty, the aggregates are empty, the body is empty, everything is empty. That feeling, that understanding should come—you know they are hallucinations.

Then, the next day you do more on the external form, sound, smell, looking at them, then meditate a little bit on that, as hallucinations, appearing that way, after your mind has merely imputed. Stay for the rest of the day on that as much as you can, practicing like that. In the morning you begin and continue like that for the rest of the day. When you meet a friend, while you are talking to her, you meditate like that; when you are talking to an enemy, when you meet an enemy, you practice mindfulness like this. When you go shopping, when you go to market you meditate like that. When you go shopping in a department store, in a supermarket, you meditate like that. When you leave your house, when you go in your car, you meditate like that. When you enter a shop, when you are going up the escalator, you think like that. When you see so many bright objects in the shop—billions of things, make-up things, cosmetics—meditate on this. Walk around meditating this, looking at your false view of hallucination, by meditating, practicing mindfulness, looking at the hallucinations of yourself, of people, of the shop and all these things, like that. This is a really fantastic meditation. It doesn’t have to be only sitting on a cushion, sitting like this, you can do a very effective meditation in the market or when you go sightseeing.

For example, since you are in Nepal, when you go to India, in the train stations, there are people fighting, quarrelling, all things happening on the train. All this is like a dream. Meditate on mindfulness, looking at the hallucination as a hallucination, projected from your imprint on the merely labeled phenomenon.

It is good, while you are eating food, to practice mindfulness on all this as a hallucination of the real I, the real action, the real eating real food—real in the sense of appearing from its own side. By analyzing, you see it’s not there, it exists nowhere. The eater, the action of eating and the food exist, but what appears as something real from its own side you cannot find anywhere. This other one can be found, not on the base, but it exists, it can be found—but this real eater, this real I, this real action of eating, this real food that appears to exist from there, this real TV appearing from there—if you analyze, in reality it cannot be found anywhere, so it is empty, it doesn’t exist. This is how to practice mindfulness while eating.

It is the same while you are doing a job, you can also practice mindfulness on this like that, that everything is a hallucination. While you are talking to people, clients, all this that appears real, from its own side, is totally nonexistent from its own side. Practice the mindfulness that they are all hallucinations. Whether you are in hospital, whether you are in school, in a factory, do this as much as possible.

When you do this it helps so much to stop ignorant thoughts arising. When you think like this, it slowly cuts down and makes your life more stable, more peaceful, happier, more contented. It brings so much benefit, so much benefit. It doesn’t also allow strong ego to arise because everything you look at is empty, so the strong selfish mind, full of pride or these things, doesn’t happen.

You can even practice mindfulness like this with your family. That you have a family is the same as a dream—you are seeing the whole family in a dream. Like that, it’s exactly the same. You are not sleeping but these things are appearing to you as inherently existent, like in a dream [whereas they are]not there. In a dream, everything appears real—friends, having babies, having cars, having all this is something real—but in fact it is not there, it is not true. Seeing this is very good; it helps you very much in your life to deal with painful minds like attachment and anger. It helps everything. So, you see, this is a very good, a fantastic, a really powerful meditation.

If you can do that, it is so enjoyable. Constantly, you are watching your own TV, the TV of your mind, watching your own hallucination. It’s very, very interesting and even if other people criticize you, if you are meditating, in state of meditation, if there is anger it doesn’t affect you. If people criticize you, if they say bad things about you, of even if somebody praises you so much, your mind has stability. There are no not ups and down, getting so excited and then getting so depressed. Your mind remains so peaceful, whether somebody criticizes you or praises you. In this way, this is how to integrate the lam-rim meditations with life, especially emptiness, how to integrate with your working life is like that.

Then, the next one. Now, I’ll make it short. [GL] The third one, what the numberless buddhas see, is this real I that appears from there is totally nonexistence. The numberless buddhas, the higher bodhisattvas see it is totally nonexistent. I believe it is there, but the numberless buddhas, the omniscient ones, the numberless bodhisattvas see this is totally nonexistent. I believe these aggregates, in my view, are real, appearing from there, but all the numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas see they are totally nonexistent. This is what you can meditate on. Then, the next day you can do the same with external phenomena.

Whatever problem happens to you—having cancer, any disaster that happens to you—you can think this way. It is like a dream. When you encounter some problems, it becomes like a dream, you encounter the problems in the dream. When you do this constantly in everyday life, what is happening is that you are destroying the root of samsara, your enemy, the root of samsara. That is the main purpose, to cut the root of your suffering, liberating yourself from samsara. When you do this mindfulness meditation, continuously, in everyday life, you are making preparations for yourself to liberate other sentient beings. That is the purpose.

Then, how to live daily life, how to integrate daily life with bodhicitta. I have explained this already before. One day, you can do exchanging oneself for others, one day you can do the sevenfold technique of Mahayana cause and effect. After a short meditation on emptiness, depending on your time, you can meditate on bodhicitta like that. You meditate on emptiness, then you plan how you are going to practice today, then some bodhicitta, and you chant, OM MANI PADME HUM and then you plan this how you are going to live your life from now on. Practicing like that you are using the two legs to go to enlightenment.

Then, you must study Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. That is most elaborate one now. You do the short meditation like Guru Yoga, like the Buddha Shakyamuni Buddha or you do Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, one of the guru yogas that has preliminary practices. Then, if you are not familiar with the lam-rim teachings, with something like Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand read a little bit today relating to your life and that becomes a meditation. Anytime you relate it to yourself it becomes a meditation. Then, whatever is not finished, you can do tomorrow, whatever is not finished then day after tomorrow. Generally it is like that—after you have finished the direct meditation, you do the lam-rim prayer.

Between the bodhicitta attitude to life and before you begin the actual practice, it is very good to do prostrations by reciting the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas. If you haven’t memorized them, you can make a tape and as you play it, you stand, meditating at the same time, and do the prostration, because reciting and prostrating collects unbelievable skies of merits. Reciting each Buddha’s name purifies many, many eons of different types of negative karma. Therefore, if you don’t recite, you lose an unbelievable opportunity to purify. It’s very important you yourself recite; it is not enough to have somebody else recite, you should recite verbally.

If possible, keep on reciting, “I go for refuge to Guru” until you put your head on the ground then you change to the next, “I go for refuge to Dharma,” and like that. Do the prostrations like that until you finish the last name of the Buddha, then you come back again and do another round, and when you have finished, you come back again and do another one, so you end up doing about a hundred and fifteen prostrations. You don’t need to count the prostrations themselves. Combined, the total comes to hundred and fifteen prostrations.

If can do that sort of daily practice each day it is unbelievable, it is excellent. I am not saying everybody should do this, but if you can, if you able to do it at least sometimes, it is extremely good for realizations. That’s the main thing. Then, by the way, it takes care of a good rebirth and whatever success is needed in this life.

If possible, read a lam-rim text like this two or three times. It makes everything very clear, it brings your feeling of the lam-rim very close, and that is very good. Along with that you can do a daily practice of guru devotion for fifteen minutes or twenty minutes or half an hour or whatever. You can do something on guru devotion every day until you have realizations, until you see all the buddhas are guru, and every guru is all the buddhas, until you have a very stable realization that lasts long time, not just few days or a few hours, but lasts a long time and is very stable.

No matter how many years it takes, you should continue on the basis of that the first part of the lam-rim, the gradual path of the lower capable being, from perfect human rebirth up to karma, but mostly on impermanence and death because when you have that realization it helps to have good realization of all others. That is the key, that is the most important among those. That is quick way to have realizations of first lam-rim path. Here, you have to go step by step.

Then, if you can on, you can also meditate on emptiness. Then, on top of that, it is good to do some meditation on shamatha, calm abiding. If you able to make time for it, try to do it for six months or one year. Rene meditated in this way, so he can discuss this with you, he can share his experiences. He tried for some time, and so has the experience how to do it.

On top of that, there is tantra, the generation stage. If you are practicing tantra, then put your main effort in the lam-rim, because you have to have realizations of the three principal aspects of the paths and guru devotion as a base. You first put your main effort into the lam-rim then as a second effort, tantra. Otherwise, if you make your main effort tantra and no lam-rim, then you cannot achieve complete tantra realizations. This is what makes tantra very tasty, very rich. The lam-rim is like the cream in the ice cream. Anyway, that’s the tantra path to achieve enlightenment quickly so you can liberate bring sentient beings quickly.

Then, another very important thing to make your life so meaningful is the eight Mahayana precepts. You can take these on the special days in each month—the fifteen and eighth and thirtieth of the Tibetan calendar. There are many calendars you can use, but you collect more merit on those days, especially the day of the Buddha, or when there is a sun or moon eclipse. Then also, at any other times, whenever you think you can do it , good to take the eight Mahayana precepts at your own house, in front of the altar, or even if you don’t have an altar, by visualizing you can take them. This is for one day, so it makes it very easy. Of course, if you have lay vows for life, that is good. Here I am talking about how to practice in order to make life most beneficial.

The very basic thing is a kind heart. The most important, very basic thing, is to live your life with a kind heart. Whether you are able to do all those practices or not, whether you are able to meditate on the lam-rim every day or not, even though you can’t do that, to live your life with a kind heart, and as much as possible to stop giving harm to others and to benefit others as much as possible—that is the very basic practice of Dharma. I think that is it.

Then, each year, try to do some retreat, either preliminary with the lam-rim or a deity retreat with the lam-rim. Do some retreat each year.

[Tibetan chanting]

So, thank you very much. [RL, GL] So, anyway, that is the advice, even if I don’t see you.


1 This is a “trichilicosm” or “three great, thousand great world systems,” so called because a thousand world systems makes a great world system and a thousand of those makes a second-order thousand-fold world system, and a thousand of those makes a third-order thousand-fold world system or three great thousand great universes. [Return to text]

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