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 Thirty-third 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 Three

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EMPTINESS: HOW THE MIND LABELS
So what I mentioned last night, did you do some meditation on this?

The sense objects, that which appears to us, every one of them is something that we labeled. Something which appears to us is something which our own mind labeled. Your mind labels it and it appears back to you. For example, you met a person a long time ago, and you have seen that person many times since then but you don’t recognize him. Even though you have met before, you knew that person before, but you have forgotten. Then somebody introduces you, and reminds you that this is Robert, and he has such and such a story and you met him in such and such a place and you two did such and such together. You met somewhere, had lunch together, met in party or something like that. Before you didn’t recognize him but as soon as somebody tells you, or as soon as you remember—as soon as you put that label “Robert” on him, you see the person that way. You didn’t see that person as Robert before but now you see him as Robert. You saw the person’s body, you saw that person’s aggregates before, but you didn’t see that person as Robert. You didn’t see that person as Robert.

As soon as somebody reminds you, or as soon as you remember—which means as soon as you label those aggregates “Robert” then that person is Robert. So now this is another example. This example also helps you to realize emptiness by seeing how this inherently-existing Robert that not merely labeled by mind that appears to you is the false view of Robert. The inherently-existing Robert doesn’t exist at all ever, but appears to you like that and you believe it. You have that appearance of an inherently-existing Robert and you believe but, in the reality, it doesn’t exist. So that helps to recognize this false Robert or this false view of Robert.

First you see the person’s association of body and mind. At that time you’re seeing the base. You did not recognize that as Robert and therefore you haven’t labeled “Robert” and you don’t see the label “Robert.” You only see the base at that time. After you remember Robert, which means you’ve labeled “Robert”—after your mind imputed the label—then you see the label.

So that helps you see how the base to be labeled “Robert” and the label “Robert” are two different phenomena. They’re not one. Normally, according to our wrong view, our view of ignorance, we might think they’re one. But they’re not one. That helps to realize that what you normally believe, what normally appears to you, is wrong. That is false. The aggregates—the association of body and mind, which is the base—seem un-differentiable from Robert. Normally, we have that appearance and we believe in it that way.

So you need to analyze like that, first what you see is the aggregates, which is the base, then next after you remembered Robert and your mind has labeled those aggregates “Robert” then you see Robert. You’re seeing the base. So that is the normal evolution. That is normally how you see things in our daily life. Every single phenomenon—that’s how we see things. First you see the base, then you see the label. That’s the evolution.

So, anyway, what I’m saying, before you don’t see Robert. Why? Because your mind hasn’t labeled “Robert.” You haven’t recognized him. Your mind hasn’t labeled those aggregates. After you remember, your mind labels them, and then you see Robert.

So I’m relating this to last night’s explanation. I gave the example of A, B, C, D, how we see A, B, C, D. How we see the alphabet. Then, I mentioned evolution, so here I’m using Robert as another example of what appears to us as our mind labeled, another example in our life.

When somebody is angry to you, or when somebody dislikes you, when you help that person, you give a cup of tea to that person or whatever and that person doesn’t say ‘thank you’. That person walks in front of you with their “nose up,” [GL] with their nose in the sky [RL]. Anyway, what is it that upsets you? What is it that upsets you? Does it upset you or not? [GL] Very much?

[Student: inaudible.] [RL, GL]

Rinpoche:
What is it that upsets you? Why it makes you upset?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Yeah. So why it should make upset you, even they don’t like you? Why should upset you?

[Student: inaudible.] [GL, RL]

Rinpoche:
You want to hear?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
A le! [GL] But why should you be upset? Why should it upset you?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
It offends you. Yeah.

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Mmm. Why? [GL] But why should it upset the ego?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Price? You put your price on the person? [RL, GL] You mean you bid for the person? How much price? How much does the person cost? [RL, GL] No I’m joking. I just didn’t hear properly. I didn’t hear properly what you said.

Student:
Pride.

Rinpoche:
Oh, I see, because you have pride. Yeah. Pride. I thought you mentioned something more. I thought you mentioned more than that before—pride and something else?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Oh, I see. [RL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
You label pride on that person?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Oh, you [student] oh, I see, you interpreted that person as doing something wrong. Yeah? Is that what you’re saying?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
I think that is there. But why should that upset you? [GL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Why should it upset the ego?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
That person is telling you that the label is not like that.

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Yes. Yes.

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Mmm, a le. You mean the label that you believe. You mean the reputation that you have or that you believe? The good things what you want to believe, what you believe for yourself?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Because the other person didn’t put the label that you want, so then you get upset, yeah? Is that what you’re saying? That’s what you mean? The other person put a different label than your own label. Mmm, Like what? [GL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
If somebody calls you ‘ice cream’, do you get upset? [GL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
[RL] You want to be ice cream? [RL GL] Then somebody’s going to enjoy you. [GL, RL] I’m joking. Sorry, I didn’t let you speak. What did you say? What example you’re going to give?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
You want a good reputation but the person didn’t give you good reputation—that’s why? Like that? You want to have a good reputation and person didn’t give you a good reputation. Something like that? [RL] So why does it upset the ego? [GL] Why should it upset the ego?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
I see. [RL] Oh, it has meaning. Everything you’re saying has meaning. All your answers have meaning. You said why the ego get upset is because it is a false image of oneself [student: inaudible.] Mmm. [student: inaudible.] The other person is attacking to that projection.

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
I see, connect to that. Mmm. That other person is not connecting. Because the ego gets upset that person is only connecting to your false self; your self which is false. The other person is only connecting to that. That person is not connecting to your self which exists. That person is not connecting to that. That person not talking to that—the self which exists, the self which is not false. The other person is not talking to that. The other person is talking to only your self who do not exist, yeah? That’s why the ego gets upset. Huh? [RL]You made it much more profound than I expected. [RL GL]

If you get beaten by somebody do you also get upset? [GL] If you get beaten by somebody, do you get also upset? Beaten. Not bitten. [GL, RL] Beaten, with ropes; with leather or ropes, beaten. Do you get upset? Huh? Yeah? And if you ask to be beaten, do you get upset? [GL] It’s the same beating; the beating is the same, if you asked for it. [GL] If it is something you asked for then if you get beaten you get pleasure, right? Right? [GL]

But if it’s not, but if it’s something you haven’t asked then you’re beaten, you get upset, right? If you asked for it then you don’t get upset, you get pleasure, huh? Is it like that?

[RL] So here it becomes very interesting. If you asked for it, even though the beating is the same—if you asked for it you don’t get upset, you even get happy!

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
No, your English is good, yeah.

Student:
When things go the way we want. But we just get upset when [they don’t.]

[Student: inaudible.] [RL GL]

Rinpoche:
Thank you very much. [RL GL] You’re right. You’re right. [GL] Perfectly right. So, being beaten is same but whether you get upset or not depends on the person who beats you, right? If it is a person whom you want to beat you then it’s no problem at all But if it’s a person [RL] that you don’t like to be beaten, if it’s a person whom you don’t like to beat you, then that become problem. Right?

Huh? If it’s a person whom you like to beat you there’s no problem. The beating’s exactly the same. Maybe the amount of beating, how heavy it is, is same. If person who beats you is somebody whom you like to beat you, whom you wish to beat you [RL] then it’s no problem. You enjoy it. But if it’s a person that you don’t like, then it becomes a problem for you. With the other one it doesn’t become a problem for you. Same beating: same amount, just as heavy.

I heard that in the West people pay money to beat you. [RL, GL] You pay money to beat you. I’m talking about that. You pay money to beat you! Business people go there to that place [GL] – pay money to beat you. [RL, GL] I’m talking about that. In that place, they don’t get angry. They don’t get upset. If you pay money to be beaten, that person labels that beating “good.” Here the point is that why he is not upset, the person labeled “good” on the beating done by those particular persons at that place, so that same business person come out of that place where he had to pay money to be beaten. [RL, GL] He comes to the place, then somebody beats him. [GL, RL] But if just as he is getting into his car somebody beats him up, the he gets upset. Then he will terribly upset and angry. He will sue that person; immediately hand them over to the police. So there’s a big difference, you see. When he was in that place, that beating could be even heavier beating, for him is not a problem. It’s a pleasure. And then, right after he came out of that place, somebody in the street comes along and beats him. It could be even lighter than how he was beaten inside, in that place where he pays money, but he gets incredibly angry, he sues that person. Or, maybe, he beats that person back, he takes revenge on that person. So, here, this person is labeled “bad,” right after he came out of the house. With that one, this person is labeled “bad.” At the place being beaten by those girls then this person called it “good,” he labels it “good.”

EMPTINESS: GOOD AND BAD DEPEND ON THE LABEL
So due to different label, due to what label you put to it – other one you put good label, you labeled ‘good’. Then, outside, when a stranger come by and beat, put negative label, ‘bad’. So, in that particular place where you ask to be beaten by that girl, the person, the business-person, doesn’t get upset. He wants to be more beaten. He doesn’t get upset because he labeled ‘good’ so he doesn’t get upset. Outside he get upset because he labeled ‘bad’ even though beating could be much smaller, like that.

Can you see the point? What upsets you, what doesn’t upset you, is dependent on what kind of label you put it. One beating could be called “good” and one beating could be called “bad,” even if is a much smaller beating and you get hurt much less. But the person’s mind labels the other one “bad” and he has a huge problem. When you pay money to be beaten, even though it’s much harder, you think it’s a pleasure rather than a problem. Even if the beating is the same, it depends what label you put on it whether it become problem or not problem. It is totally dependent on what your mind puts on it—negative or positive, good or bad. Then, depending on what label you put on it, one appears bad to you, one appears good.

In Tibet, a teacher had two disciples. The two disciples went very far to their homes, and when they returned to the monastery, the teacher gave them cold tea. One disciple thought the teacher was so kind, even though they had come so far and were so tired, the teacher still had kept some tea for them, even though he had kept it so long it had gone cold. The other disciple thought how terrible the teacher was because they had come so far and were so tired, and the teacher didn’t even bother to give them warm tea. [GL] You understand?

It’s the same cold tea, but one disciple is so happy getting it and the other is so upset. This is the same idea. One disciple puts a positive label on the situation, thinking it’s good and he’s so happy, while because the other disciple thinks he deserves warm tea, he puts and negative label on the situation and thinks it’s very bad and he is unhappy and angry.

Now you understand. The point here is, what upsets you, what makes you happy is by your label. What upsets you is all by your own label. And what makes you happy is also by your own label—the label “good” or the label “bad.”

The first disciple’s happiness at receiving cold tea came from his own mind. The other disciples unhappiness and anger at receiving cold tea came from his own mind. You can see now how the other person’s happiness is production of his mind, the mind that looks at the situation as positive, as good. And other person’s problem comes from his own mind, the mind that labels the situation as bad.
Both come from the mind. In our daily life, what brings our life down is by our mind putting a negative label on things. What brings us up, is when our mind puts a positive label on things, thinking things are good. That lifts us up, that makes us happy. The other one, by putting negative label on things, brings us down. It makes us unhappy, depressed.

In our daily life, our life situation, whatever is happening, if it appears good, this comes from our own mind putting positive label, “good,” and it is appears bad, if we see problems in our life, that is our own mind putting negative label onto that situation.

Until our mind made up the label, until our mind imputes “bad,” until our mind imputes the problem, we don’t see the problem. Before our mind labels “problem” on the situation in our life, we don’t see the problem. After our mind imputes “problem” on the situation of in our life, then we see problem. Generally, it’s like that in our life. The problem that we see comes from our mind, by putting the label that is a problem. That’s one way.

Your problem is coming from your own mind. That’s one way. The problem is coming from this moment’s mind, your mind of today, of this hour, of this moment’s concept—the kind of concept you have at this moment. This moment’s problem is production of, the creation of this moment’s concept, this moment’s way of thinking. You see problem in the life by thinking in a negative way. By thinking in a positive way you don’t see a problem in your life. Depending on which way you think, like tuning to a different channel. This way is one channel, that way is another channel. Which way you turn—what is this one called?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Huh?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Knob, yeah, like a knob. So this way, by turning the knob to another channel. So whether you see a problem in life or not depends on which way you think. It’s totally up to which way you think.

If the label “cancer” is not imputed, cancer doesn’t exist. If the label “AIDS” is not imputed, AIDS doesn’t exist, as well as all of the problems.

THE KINDNESS OF THE ENEMY
One time at Dharamsala, the main teacher in the monastery called the Dialectics School walked past me as I was coming down to the palace with “the nose up” as you say, [RL] looking down.

I think I bowed down or something like that and the teacher he did like this. This one. [RL] Because I didn’t apply meditation immediately, didn’t practice mindfulness, so it upset me. So when I went up to Tushita Retreat Center and sat down my room, I thought about that teacher. As I sat down on my bed, the thought came, as soon as I sat down I was thinking very strong of him. The thought came in my mind that I’m only become a friend of my ego, I’m only developing my ego. But this person is helping me to destroy my ego. He’s helping me to destroy my ego. Myself alone, I have always been a friend of my ego. Everything I do has been to develop my ego, to make it bigger. But, here, he’s helping me to destroy my ego. So how kind he is. How kind.

This is so precious because, if you don’t have an ego, then you have bodhicitta. If you don’t have the self-cherishing thought then you have bodhicitta. And with bodhicitta you can become enlightened. It also makes it possible to collect so much merit that you can realize emptiness and you can cease the gross and subtle defilements and achieve full enlightenment to be able to liberate numberless other sentient beings. Those who are obscured and suffering, you’re able to bring to full enlightenment. So this person is making it possible to happen to you.

So this I’m just explaining. What I thought that time is this. I myself am like that, but this person is helping me destroy my ego. My enemy: the ego, my real enemy, the enemy, who’s abiding in my heart—he’s helping me destroy it. So this person is unbelievably precious, so kind. That is not just the kindness of somebody giving you a few hundred dollars or some food, the mother’s kindness, the parent’s kindness. That kind of kindness is something very deep: somebody who helps you to destroy your ego, the main obstacle to achieve enlightenment. It’s an unbelievable kindness; it’s so precious. That kindness is something very deep; it’s a kindness that you feel from bottom of your heart.

So, here, now you see a person who does that as unbelievably kind, so precious in your life. You see that person as so precious in your life.

Before, when I was in front of him, because I put negative label on the situation, that upset me. After I came to my room and sat down and thought about it, I realized that what he did benefited me and was a great kindness. He did not harm me but benefited me by helping me to destroy my ego, which means, that person helps me to achieve enlightenment. So, here, by putting a positive label on what the person did, it not only you stopped the upsetness, I felt appreciation for the kindness of that person. The thought even came to repay the kindness, to thank him. The thought even came to give him a present to thank him. I thought about a present to thank him but unfortunately the present didn’t happen. [RL] Unfortunately, I physically didn’t actually manage to offer a present.

RINPOCHE’S TWO ALPHABET TEACHERS AND HIS EARLY LIFE
I have about twenty-seven gurus from whom I received different initiations, different teachings since from the childhood time, including my uncles who taught me Tibetan alphabet. When you learn the Tibetan alphabet, the main aim is to practice Dharma, not just for a job or school. I guess, if it’s in school maybe there is a different attitude, but the purpose of learning the alphabet in a monastery is to practice Dharma. It’s totally different. To live the life in that way and for that purpose to learn the alphabet, normally, the attitude is that. So the person who teaches you the alphabet is regarded as a guru, a spiritual master. I have two uncles who taught me the Tibetan alphabet.

I had two teachers because I was very naughty. [GL] I was very naughty. I was always running away from the monastery to my home, my family place, my mother’s house. Maybe it takes, I’m not sure, half an hour or twenty-five minutes from the monastery. It’s on the side of the mountain. You go on the hill, then go down in the village. I was very little so when I escaped from the monastery, non-stop I would run down to the village. There are dark caves by the side of the road. You get scared so you just run down non-stop. So, anyway, I did it few times like that. Then my mother or somebody carried me on their shoulders and brought me back to the monastery. I stayed few days and I was taught outside in a courtyard surrounded by piles of firewood. There’s a door. When our teacher went inside the room to cook lunch—we have three or four meals, something like that—I just [RL GL] took the opportunity to run down. [RL GL]…. [RL]

There is another Solo Khumbu area called Lotsawa Ling, a much more primitive place, much more hidden. But all those areas are regarded as holy places, a place of Padmasambhava, the great yogi who purified the land of Tibet. When they were building the first monastery in Tibet, Samye, spirits came in the night and tore it down. Many problems happened. So the King invited the great yogi Padmasambhava from India, who hooked those spirits by arising in the form of a wrathful deity, a buddha in the form of a wrathful deity. By doing this he was able to hook those spirits and subdue them. He tamed them and ordered them to become protectors rather than harming the monastery, to become Dharma protectors and subdue beings around the Himalayan snow mountains, the border to Tibet.

So these places are regarded as great yogi Padmasambhava’s holy places. There are many caves of this great yogi Padmasambhava. Footprints or handprints are left—many things to do with Padmasambhava: holy water, long-life water, long-life nectar water, long-life vases. There are many things to see. There are many, many—so many caves. In the past it happened that many yogis achieved very high realizations there. Now, they are for the yaks to meditate. [RL GL] The yaks go there and they have good time in the caves, they go to sleep. [RL]

So my mother sent me up to that place. By crossing over snow mountains, the slow way, we took three days. It only takes Sherpas, those who go fast, maybe one or two days, something like that. There are some very heavy, very dangerous places. While you are walking over the snow there are cliffs with blue water way below, with the surface covered by snow. So everybody was tied together by ropes so if one person sinks, the others can pull him up. The first person who guides has an axe to unblock the road.

I was carried. I didn’t have to walk. I didn’t have to walk. The person who carried me, when he falls down then, of course… I was carried on his back. He had his own luggage and then I was put on top of that and carried.

One time I was carried my second alphabet teacher. When I returned from that country to see my mother, my second teacher carried me. He was maybe seventy years old. So I was sitting. He carried blankets to sleep at night, food and grass and all those things and. When you sleep in a cave you put grass down and you put grass inside the shoes. The shoes were of animal skin then woolen things around and when you walk in snow it is very cold so you put grass, dry grass inside the shoes to keep you warm, tight and warm. [RL] This is how the Sherpas who are crossing the snow mountain manage. When the old grass is wet, you take it out and put new grass in. It keeps the feet very warm. [RL]

So, anyway, I was sitting on top of all that. After the food and blanket and many things, I was put on that. I was sitting there, and while my teacher was carrying me with all the luggage, he fed me, passing food up like this while we were walking. There was cooked meat from the house, passed up like this. So I was eating, sitting on the back of my teacher. [RL]

Anyway, the road was very dangerous. There were snow mountains you have to cross and down below a dark blue lake. Avalanches can happen any time. If an avalanche happens then the person totally disappears in snow, in that minute. You don’t even know where that person is. All the snow is like that so the person completely disappears.

One time, a small avalanche happened while we were crossing down. The person who was carrying me fell down quite a few steps. I made huge noise, I screamed. Some people, their luggage went all over the snow. If they had fallen down very heavily then would have fallen in the very deep lake, but before the edge there were some rocks. The people’s luggage was scattered all over the snow. But this person stood up and sang! He sang a song then he went to pick up his things after falling down.

At one place there’s huge mountain, and the rocks fell down, first small then big. [Rinpoche makes the sound of rocks falling.] Like that. The small ones fell [Rinpoche makes the sound of small rocks] like that. [RL] There’s also water. So then you have to cross this mountain, you have to go up and come down and go up. It’s not straight like this.

It’s very interesting that I only remember going up. Going down I don’t remember. Four times I went but all the time I was carried on somebody’s back. What the Sherpas do, before you cross a place where there’s great danger and you may die, everybody stops and drinks very, very strong alcohol made from small potatoes. It’s very, very strong. They drink chang, potato alcohol—whatever they have—then they generate heat. They make their hands warm. Then everybody carries their very heavy luggage for trading or to sell things. They carry huge load. Sometimes they pull the yaks on those rocks. It’s an unbelievable hard life.

Once they start to walk until they reach the top everybody does their prayers, whatever prayers they know. Mostly they recite the Padmasambhava mantra. Some recite OM MANI PADME HUM. From here to here you hear the sound of the prayer; everybody reciting something, nonstop, because it’s very dangerous. So I think at that time people are taking real serious refuge to Buddha and to the deities but as soon as they arrive and the danger is finished, all the prayers stopped. [GL] The refuge is stopped.

The surprising thing is that as soon as the last person got through, the stones came down. As soon as the last person crossed this, then the stones came down. You hear the noise of the stones falling down. [Rinpoche makes the noise of falling stones.] I thought some of them must have been killed but always it only happens after the last person has crossed the mountain.

So very interesting because they all did strong prayers, strong refuge to Padmasambhava and to Compassion Buddha and during that time nothing happened, but as soon as the people arrived at the other side, when they have crossed the danger, then the stones fell down. I find that interesting. That means that somebody is protecting and guiding them.

However, what I’m saying, I forget why I brought this story. Huh? Oh, I see, see. Don’t remember why I brought this story, two teachers [GL] Huh? What? [GL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Oh, label. [RL GL] I think I forgot even the label. [GL]

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Huh? What did you say?

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
Two uncles.

[Student: inaudible.]

Rinpoche:
That’s right. [RL] That’s right. How the two uncles came from before that. [RL] It doesn’t matter. [RL GL]

So, that’s right. I was talking about giving presents to the person who disrespects you or criticizes you. Even appreciating and give present to that person, talking about that. I thought about that. I really felt to do something like that but it didn’t happen that I went down and offered a present to the person. So I remembered one of my teachers. That’s how it started.

GESHE RABTEN
Geshe Rabten Rinpoche is my first teacher, the first to teach me debating, philosophy, this form of study in India, at Buxor. This is the place where the monks escaped from Lhasa, from great monasteries—Sera, Ganden, Drepung. Actually, they are monks from the four traditions: Sakya, Kagyü, Nyingma and Gelug. Those who wanted to continue their study they were put in this place by the Indian Government. They thought the monks needed a very secluded, very isolated place, some place very far from everything.

After they escaped from Tibet, many monks went to work, building roads in many parts of India where the military made roads. Those who wanted to study were put in this place called Buxor which was a concentration camp when India was under British control. Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned there. That building became nunnery. The nuns stayed in that building and it became a nunnery. The monks lived there in that prison camp. But, of course, people lived there before in prison. Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned there. That became our sort of monastery, prayer hall, monks’ room. Sixty or seventy or eighty monks lived in that long house and it became our puja hall and monks room.

My first teacher who began teaching philosophy was Geshe Rabten Rinpoche. When Geshe Rabten Rinpoche was living in Dharamsala, some other geshe criticized to him. It was Geshe Rabten’s practice to invite those who criticized him home and make special Tibetan food, momos. So if a geshe criticized Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, he would invited that Geshe home and make delicious food and offer it to him. This is in appreciation of his help, to thank the person who criticized him. In other words, Geshe-la used that person who criticized him for his practice, to develop his mind—to develop his mind in bodhicitta; to develop his mind on the path to enlightenment, to achieve enlightenment to be able to bring sentient beings to enlightenment.

Many real practitioners like Geshe Rabten Rinpoche do like this, practicing thought transformation. You appreciate the enemy who criticizes you, who puts you down. You actually feel this from your heart—it’s not politics. [RL] It’s not playing politics. From the heart you feel the kindness of that person, then you want really to offer something.

GOOD AND BAD ARE LABELED BY THE MIND
So, coming back to what I was saying, whether you see the person as negative or positive is up to your way of thinking, no matter what person does. Whether it’s bad or whether it’s good, whether it’s harmful or beneficial, it’s up to what your mind labels. That’s what I’m saying.

Naropa, the Indian great yogi Naropa was the guru of the great Tibetan yogi Marpa, who in turn was an enlightened being and the guru of Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi who became enlightened within a few number of years. There are two books on Milarepa. One is his story and one is all the hymns that he sings with his realizations, expressing his attainment; his extremely inspiring life story and his teachings.

Milarepa’s life story is one text to read. That’s one to read, to study, especially for his realization of guru devotion, the root of the path to enlightenment. The root of the path of enlightenment is to have this realization of guru devotion. It is very inspiring, very helpful in developing the realization of guru devotion to read Milarepa’s life story. How the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa practiced guru devotion with his guru Marpa is incomparable. It made him achieve enlightenment. It made him achieve enlightenment within a few years.

I think it was, maybe, thirty years ago when LSD was discovered, these things came out. When many young people by taking these things break their fixed idea, fixed concept, solid concept according to Western culture. Somehow due to their karma these things happened. Then by taking these broke the fixed idea or concept according to culture. Then saw Milarepa’s life story which book was available that time, maybe not so long ago. Then after some people took drugs and saw this book, it inspired them. Then they came to Nepal and India, to look for gurus. They wanted to be the same as Milarepa. They were so inspired.

Among the students there are some students who started like that. Then there are others who were inspired by different books at that time like Lama Govinda’s book, The Way of the White Clouds. Many of them were inspired by that. Those who took drugs talked about tantra, all the visions happening in the mind, traveling without the body and things like that. With the experiences they had, they saw something similar in what they read in the books and they came to look for a spiritual path. They come to the East. According to their karma, they tries different Dharma books, such as Tibetan Book of the Dead and like that.

The great yogi Naropa said that when one gets sick, the concept is sick. When one is born, the concept is born. When one dies, the concept dies. When one receives harm, the concept is harmed. What Naropa is saying is that actually all these things are all concepts. It’s a way of thinking. It’s all due to concepts. Where the problem comes from is the concept, so if one is able to cut root of this concept, then there’s no obstacle. This is what Naropa is saying. All these things in our life are due to concepts, the way of thinking. Whether there’s a problem or not a problem, an obstacle or not an obstacle, is according to the concept.

PROBLEMS COME FROM OUR OWN KARMA, NOT OTHER PEOPLE
I met a lady in New Zealand at the Mahamudra retreat center, Coromandel. We have a retreat center there called Mahamudra Center. I met a lady who was doing retreat there. She had so much suffering. She suffered so much for last few years being abused. She was unable to overcome it, unable to deal with it. She suffered so much, being abused. She explained this when we discussed it.

I don’t remember, exactly, everything that I mentioned. But I mentioned why this has happened to you is because, in the past, you have treated the other person in that way. You have, in the past, abused the other person in the past lives. So this is the result why you experience abuse, treated like that by the other person. I think that had to do with the family. It was a family problem, the father or something like that. This is the result of your past karma, that you did the same thing to the other person. It’s one’s own karma. Something you have to accept is your own karma.

I don’t remember exactly but I probably mentioned the advice that the great bodhisattva Shantideva explained in Bodhicaryavatara, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. This quotation is very effective. It’s very powerful. It is very effective to remember advice that talks about karma.

“In the past I gave harm to the person” I don’t remember the last verse exactly. It’s gone. I don’t know how many miles it’s gone—it’s gone! But, anyway—that’s right. Now I remember. Now it came back.

“In the past I gave such harm to sentient beings. Because of that, I receive this harm from the sentient beings. [Tibetan quote.] Therefore, I deserve to receive harm from other sentient beings.”

I deserve. What’s happening to me—this abuse or whatever—is not something undeserved. It’s not something that’s happened to me without reason. It’s not undeserved. Because in the past I did such harm, so now, by giving harm to other sentient beings, I am receiving harm. I deserve it.

In other words, by thinking of this quotation, by thinking this advice, you’re accepting the situation and when you accept it, it doesn’t make a problem for you. How the person treated you doesn’t become a problem for you when you accept it. I deserve to receive this harm. So when you accept it, the minute when you accept it, it cuts down the problem. You have no problem.

There’s a reason why this is happening to you. The reason exists before it happens. That reason is the cause, that’s the karma. That reason exists before it happens. That’s the cause. That’s the karma. Then, also, the other thing is to use this situation to develop compassion. What you labeled as “that person abused me,” what you labeled that way, you use to develop compassion for the other person. That is a way of developing compassion, a way of training your mind in compassion towards all sentient beings. So, it’s unbelievable. You are using that situation to develop your mind in the path to enlightenment. You are creating unbelievable achievement out of that, skies of benefit out of that.

[Tibetan] “My karma persuaded” [Tibetan] “therefore, I received this harm.”

What he’s saying is I did the same to that person in the past so my karma obliges that person to harm back to me. My karma obliges that person to harm back to me.

[Tibetan] “Because of that, didn’t I cause that person to be lost in the hole of hell?”

“Therefore, didn’t I cause that person to be lost in the hole of hell?” The meaning is that, because I treated the person in that way, harming him like that in the past, so my karma obliged that person to harm me back. And, that action, that person by giving harm to me, caused that person to be born in the hell realm. That’s what it means.

To be lost in the hole of the hell, means to lost from where? To lost from the human realm, he’s now human being. Because my karma persuaded him, because I harmed that person in the past, my karma persuaded him to harm me back and that caused, that make him who is now in the human realm to be born in the hell realm when he dies. So, actually, I threw him from the human realm into the hell realm. So this is where you generate compassion to that person, the person you think abused you, whose action your mind interpreted as abuse, labeled “abuse.”

Here, besides being no way to get angry at that person, no way, that person is purely object for compassion to arise. He’s only an object of compassion. That person is only an object of your compassion.

So then, here there is no angry mind; not sense of upset or anger, no dislike or hatred. Now, there is only compassion and now all you want to do it to help that person. You want to purify that person. You want to save, to protect that person from falling down in the hell realms. You want only help that person.

So, anyway, I mentioned these few techniques, the psychology from Buddha’s teachings and she was able to resolve her problem. She felt better, after four or five years, after quite a number of years suffering so much. It had become huge problem to her. After those few techniques mentioned, why this has happened to you, and then to use for compassion so forth, then the problem decreased in her. Then she felt happiness. Here she is thinking in a positive way. Now she puts a positive label on the situation and therefore, now she has happiness. So in essence that is the conclusion.

SEEING PROBLEMS AS OPPORTUNITIES
I’ll mention one thing then I’ll stop there. Just one thing. [RL GL] Just one thing. [RL GL] Not two things, just one thing!

We should remember this in our daily life. I remember saying this before. [RL] We should remember this in our daily life. When things become a problem to you, when you encounter problems, immediately, you should remember “this is because I put the negative label on it. This is because I interpreted it negatively. I put the negative label on it, so that’s why I suffer. That’s why I see it as a problem.” So by recognizing that you change. You then put a positive label on it, saying it is good.

It depends on the situation. You can look at it positively in many different ways. For example, if one has a bad reputation and the whole country, the whole world talks badly about you, for example, on TV or in newspapers, everyone talks bad about you. How fantastic this is! This is so good. I can destroy my ego. I can use this like an atomic bomb to destroy my ego, this thing that has never allowed me to achieve enlightenment from beginningless rebirth up to now. My ego, who never allowed me to achieve liberation from samsara, from the whole entire suffering from beginningless rebirth up to now; who never allowed me to have any realizations. This enemy who made me to suffer up to now in samsara, to die and be reborn, reincarnating all the time, and who is going to harm me continuously without end. It will never allow me to achieve enlightenment, liberation, and any realization in the future, so this bad reputation is so good for my ego. I’m going to give all this bad reputation and what people say is bad to the ego and destroy the ego, the enemy ego, the enemy, the demon, the enemy ego and destroy it.

This becomes very effective. Once a bad reputation has already happened, then you use it like this for your practice, you use the bad reputation to destroy the ego and to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, as a weapon to destroy the ego and to achieve enlightenment.

Or you can think that there are numberless other sentient beings who have the karma to receive a bad reputation, who are experiencing a bad reputation, so may I take all those on myself, may I receive all those bad reputations of other sentient beings on myself and I experience them by myself. Let them have all the good reputation. Let them have all the happiness up to enlightenment.

So doing this meditation, thinking this way, each time you experience a bad reputation for the benefit of all the sentient beings, to cause happiness to all sentient beings, for the numberless sentient beings, each time you collect merit, good karma, good luck like limitless skies. Like limitless skies you collect each time you think “I’m experiencing this bad reputation on behalf of all sentient beings.” To benefit all sentient beings. The motivation behind all this is for them to have all happiness up to enlightenment.

You take their sufferings on yourself and you experience, yourself—this one living being, yourself—you experience all like that. You let all the numberless others have all the happiness up to enlightenment. Each time you do this, you collect merit, good luck, and good karma. the cause of happiness like limitless skies. Each time you do this, you become closer to enlightenment. Each time you do this you come closer to enlightenment and it purifies inconceivable negative karma.

Each time you sacrifice your life for other sentient beings by experiencing the suffering for them, it is unbelievable purification; you collect unbelievable skies of merit. And that’s how you become closer to enlightenment each time. The bad reputation has already happened so that’s how you can make the bad reputation worthwhile, meaningful, beneficial for all sentient beings. Not only benefit for you but beneficial for all sentient beings.

In this way, having a bad reputation brings good. With Dharma practice, using it for Dharma practice, using it to practice bodhicitta, the bad reputation become positive. It becomes the path to enlightenment, the path to liberate numberless sentient beings from suffering, to bring them to enlightenment. So, now one point is finished. Maybe, I’ll stop here. I think it’s better to rest here, otherwise, it might get longer and longer. [GL] It might continue up to the dawn time, until tomorrow’s sunrise. So maybe I’ll stop here.

[Prayers: short mandala, dedication, longlife prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, further dedications]

Goodnight.

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