Kopan Course No. 43 (2010)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1854)

These teachings were given by Kyabje Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 43rd Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in Dec 2010. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

You may download the entire contents of these teachings in a pdf file.

Lecture Three, December 7, 2010

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[Refuge and bodhicitta]

Just a little thing to mention. Yesterday I talked about the emptiness. You understand there are two things if we look for but can’t find, in Tibetan what is called gag-cha. When we look for it, it can’t be found. That’s the very famous thing mentioned in the texts.

I think that has two things. It is not only the object of ignorance, not only that, the gag-cha, the object to be refuted. For example, the real I, the real I in the sense existing from its own side, which is believed by ignorance, if we look for it on the aggregates we can’t find. That’s one thing, it’s not only that.

Even the merely label I that exists, the I that exists, even that, if we look for it… [Students ask Rinpoche to speak up.] A lá. Now you can hear? You can’t hear? You said you can’t hear? This morning, you heard? [Students say yes.] Okay. Otherwise there may be some shops where we can buy extra ears. From body shops, maybe we can buy some extra ears that you can put behind. In the front, it doesn’t look right; it doesn’t fit. [Rinpoche laughs]

In Tibet, where I lived three years, in Pagri there’s a temple where I stayed with the monk from Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s monastery, who took care of me in Tibet, my teacher who took care of me. Outside one of the small temples, there was a Tibetan woman who had a very old tent where she lived. Pagri is a very, very cold place. Until I had lunch at twelve o’clock, around that time, my fingers could not come together, it was so cold, I can’t put them together. Only after I had lunch, around eleven or twelve o’clock, then I could put my fingers together. So, it was very cold.

So anyway, there was a Tibetan lady living in a tent next to the temple. Sometimes she came out where the garbage was and we saw her from behind. People said she had an eye in her back but we tried not to look when close to her, but from a distance we would look. I think there was some sort of infection, some mark, like an eye behind. I just remembered that while I was making joke about going to a body shop to buy ears. I was talking about buying an ear and putting it backside and it reminded me of the Tibetan lady with the eye behind. [Rinpoche laughs] Strange, I never thought of that before. I mean, I don’t remember that but this time remembered.

So, the object of ignorance is the I that has been appearing to our hallucinated mind and how we have been believing the I. The I we have believed in is not the I that exists. That false I that doesn’t exist in the slightest we have believed in not just for this life but from beginningless lives. That is the I that doesn’t exist and that is the false I, that’s the ordinary object of ignorance.

Of course, when we look here on the base, the aggregates, we can’t find, you can’t find, so as I mentioned yesterday, I went into some detail, from the tip of the hair down to the toes, nowhere can we find, nowhere in the chest can we find. Neither on these aggregates nor anywhere does it exist. It doesn’t exist anywhere; it’s totally non-existent.

It’s very good to have this awareness, the non-existence of this I is not there in the chest, inside the body or on these aggregates, it’s not there at all. With this awareness, we can do the walking meditation, not related particularly to the walking but this mindfulness, the mindfulness way, emptiness, so it gives some idea that this is according to reality.

The way we saw it before was not according to the reality, it was the opposite of reality, against to reality, the false I. Now here, here is the view according to the reality. With this mindfulness then, that there’s no real I there, we do the walking meditation. We do the walking with this mindfulness. For example, from here going to the Boudhanath Stupa, or coming back or circumambulating here, we keep the mindfulness in this.

So, who is walking? Who is walking is not that, it’s not that, it’s not the I that has been appearing as the real one, the one we’ve been believing in as true from beginningless rebirths, it’s not that one we’ve been believing all the time, it’s not that at all.

Now who’s walking here is what is merely imputed by our mind, who’s walking here now, going around, who’s walking, not that I but who’s walking is the merely imputed I, the I that is merely imputed by our mind, who’s walking with that awareness.

It’s the same while we’re eating food, we can do the awareness of emptiness of the I like that. While we’re talking, we can do it with this awareness, the mindfulness that the I is empty of true existence, there’s no real I, all this I that exists is merely imputed. With this mindfulness, when we go from our room to see our enemy, it’s very interesting, it’s very good. We go to see our enemy, and sit down next to him. Or we invite our enemy to our home and have a party, making the best food, the best tea, the best chocolate drink. Inviting him, sitting down next to him, we use this mindfulness meditation, that this I is a dependent arising, it’s a merely-imputed mind. There is an I but it’s merely imputed by mind.

With that mindfulness firm, when we talk to the person, the enemy, and we hear the complaints he makes to us—when he shouts at us or complains to us—it becomes very interesting, very interesting. We’re watching this movie and it’s great fun. We’re having great fun, it’s a great fun movie; it’s very interesting learning, discovering. Whatever way the person treats us—angry, unpleasant, telling us our mistakes and so forth—it doesn’t affect us. It’s nothing to us if we listen with this mindfulness, this discovery or this mindfulness.

You see, before we not only believed that there’s a real I, but because we let our mind believe it’s true, then there naturally arose a selfish mind, a self-cherishing thought, one that cherishes this real I as existing and not merely labeled by the mind, as existing from its own side. We then cherish this as something so precious, something very important. Its happiness is so important to us.

When we do that, of course it hurts. With that mind, whatever the person does hurts us. Even just seeing the person hurts us. Every single word the person says—even the way he says it—hurts our I, our real I; it hurts the self-cherishing thought, the real I that appears to us.

But with this second way of seeing things, with this mindfulness, we discover that there’s no such I there, there’s no real I there existing from its own side. The I not merely labeled by the mind is not there, that’s one thing. And then, the I that exists, that other I, is a dependent arising, even when we meditate on that, mindfulness of that, what is merely imputed by mind.

If we don’t have bodhicitta, then of course there can still be the thought of seeking happiness for ourselves, cherishing ourselves. But from my way of thinking, even if we don’t have the realization of bodhicitta, it becomes much lighter. The selfish mind has become so strong, but now here with this mindfulness, there may still be the thought of seeking happiness for ourselves, but there is a huge difference compared with the self-cherishing thought we had before, cherishing this real I.

When we cherish the real I, what is cherished is something that doesn’t exist, the false I that never existed before. Every single thing about that person, what he says, how he looks, hurts this real I that we believe in; it hurts the self-cherishing thought. Now, not cherishing the merely-labeled I, not cherishing the I that exists, that makes a huge difference.

Through mindfulness, with this discovery that not only is this real I not there buy also that the other one, the I that is merely imputed by mind, is a dependent arising, even though there’s no bodhicitta there, totally renouncing the I and cherishing others, even though there’s still the thought seeking the happiness for ourselves, it becomes so subtle, and so when the enemy talks badly about us it becomes great fun, it becomes a great joke, it becomes great fun to us.

So mindfulness, practicing this while we’re shopping, while we’re having a meeting, especially when there’s somebody who criticizes us, who goes against us or somebody who praises us so much, nothing affects us, the negative emotional effect doesn’t arise, and this causes our mind to continuously feel great tranquility, peace. This is a great realization in our heart; it’s a great holiday, a vacation, a vacation from that heavy selfish mind or from that ignorance, those disturbing thoughts, the obscuring, disturbing thoughts. We’re having a great realization holiday.

Otherwise, even we go with all this excitement, with backpacks and a tent and all the delicious food and all this, when we go for a vacation on the snow mountains, or under the ocean, or we go anywhere [Rinpoche laughs] anyway, someplace we like most, we go with a heavy mind.

We go to the beach and stay in a six-star or ten-star hotel. There is external comfort provided but there’s no holiday for our mind, for our actual life. There’s no holiday, there’s no vacation, there’s no rest. This strong selfish mind is there, full of expectations, full of worries about what will happen, always worries and fears about what’s going to happen. Something bad’s going to happen in the future, all those good things aren’t going to happen. The selfish mind full of expectations, worry, fear, all that, and then attachment. The mind is full of negative emotional thoughts, so there’s no real vacation, no real rest, there’s no real holiday in our life, even though all the comforts are provided externally, spending millions of dollars, billions of dollars or millions of dollars.

Recently when we came back from Mongolia, I went for a short retreat in Washington State, and then flew from Seattle to Los Angeles. Somewhere there I saw a newspaper where there was an article from Thailand. Where was that? Huh? What? [Rinpoche laughs] Thailand. The newspaper said there was a very wealthy Indian person, a billionaire, who built a billion-dollar house twenty-seven stories high. All the other houses around are very low but this one is twenty-seven stories, and there are swimming pools and a place where helicopters can land. He spent a billion dollars on it and it’s unbelievably huge.

I don’t know whether he is a bodhisattva or a buddha. But if he’s an ordinary being, can you imagine having a billion dollars? We could help so many sentient beings. There’s so much need of others. We could give unbelievable help, to the homeless, to sick people, and especially give the Dharma or just help those who have so much suffering.

So anyway, what I was saying is if we’re not practicing Dharma, if our mind is not in Dharma, not practicing meditation, then our inner life is filled with the suffering, no matter how much comfort we organize, no matter how much money we spend—billions of dollars—our heart is constantly suffering, especially the dissatisfied mind.

There is no holiday, no real rest from all the negative emotions. Not practicing meditation, Dharma, our mind doesn’t become Dharma, there is no good heart. Then our life become meaningless, our life becomes meaningless, and all the wealth becomes meaningless. We don’t make it meaningful, so it’s wasted, especially not benefitting others.

With this, I’m going to mention what “taking care of ourselves” means. When we say we “look after ourselves” or we “take care of ourselves,” what does that mean? I also want to mention that.

In our daily life, whenever we’re practicing Dharma, at that time we’re taking care of ourselves. Whenever we’re practicing meditation, we’re taking care of ourselves. When I say “meditation” mean lam-rim meditation, not what people call meditation, not just what anybody calls meditation. But lam-rim meditation, from guru devotion to tantric meditation, with the two stages, all done with the renunciation, bodhicitta and right view.

Then, even practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, secret mantra Vajrayana, because we’re practicing it with the lam-rim, with renunciation, bodhicitta and right view, it becomes the cause to achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes, and practicing it with bodhicitta, it becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment. If we’re practicing it with the right view, it becomes the antidote to samsara and also the antidote to the root of samsara, by eliminating, cutting ignorance. It doesn’t become the cause of samsara, the cause of delusion, but instead becomes the antidote, that which eliminates ignorance, the delusions.

So, I’m talking about meditation like this, not just what anybody in the world calls “meditation.” I’m not including everything called meditation. There are meditations where we can destroy our mind; there are meditations where we can destroy our Dharma wisdom. There are practices people do that they call meditation but which actually cause us to be in samsara, cause us in particular to be reborn in the lower realms, by causing us to develop and increase delusions. That’s not really meditation, but those individual people call it “meditation.” I’m not counting those things.
Whenever we’re practicing Dharma in daily life, at that time we’re taking care of ourselves, we’re looking after ourselves. Whenever we’re practicing meditation, like I explained, the lam-rim meditations, then we’re looking after ourselves; we’re taking care of ourselves.

Whenever we’re practicing guru devotion, seeing the guru as a buddha, we’re taking care of ourselves, we’re looking after ourselves. Whenever we’re practicing renunciation, we taking care of ourselves. Whenever we practice right view, we’re looking after ourselves, we’re taking care of ourselves. We’re taking care of ourselves, we’re looking after ourselves, we’re protecting ourselves from suffering and its causes, from problems, and by protecting ourselves from the cause of the suffering, delusions, we’re protecting ourselves from anger, attachment, ignorance. That’s the real protection; that’s the real taking care of ourselves, looking after ourselves. Do you, understand?

So the definition of “taking care,” or “looking after” actually means practicing Dharma. When we’re not practicing Dharma, we’re following the delusions, we’re following anger, attachment, ignorance, we become their servant, we become their slave, we become a slave for the delusions, a slave for attachment, we become a slave for anger, then we try to harm our enemies, all the time making plans how to harm them, how to destroy them, how to no longer have any enemies in the world, making plans including wars. When it becomes very big, it becomes war. When our plan becomes to destroy all enemies and have power, then it becomes war and many millions of people get killed, many millions of people have to suffer for our happiness, so we don’t have enemies. So many millions of people have to suffer, have to be killed, can you imagine? This is without counting the animals who die in the oceans and on the ground from the bombs we drop.

When we’re following the three poisonous minds, when we become a slave to the three poisonous minds, then we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re not looking after ourselves. By becoming their slave, by following delusions, then the delusion harm us constantly, constantly torturing us, constantly forcing us to suffer. By creating karma motivated by the delusions, the result is suffering now and in the future, continuously. Following ignorance, anger, attachment, the delusions, is regarded as taking care of ourselves, but that’s the wrong understanding of taking care, it’s a wrong view, we’re harming ourselves, not taking care of ourselves.

When you follow the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment, that’s taking care of ourselves. Then, of course, on top of that there’s the tantric path.

The best way of taking care of our life is living our life with bodhicitta. That’s the best way of taking care, making our life most meaningful, most beneficial to us, most beneficial to others who are numberless. That is making our life most beneficial to numberless sentient beings. That’s the best way of taking care of our life, with bodhicitta, protecting our own life with bodhicitta. That’s the best protection.

What I was going to say is this. If we look for the real I we can’t find it. We can’t find this false I, the one not merely labeled by the mind, that exists from its own side. When we look, we can’t find it either on these aggregates or anywhere.

Then also, when we look, we can’t find the mere I which does exist, the I that is merely labeled by the mind. As I also explained yesterday, if we look for it on these aggregates from the tip of the hair down to the toes, we can’t find it, we can’t find it. As I asked yesterday, it is findable or not findable in this world? Yes? It’s findable. I mentioned this yesterday. It’s findable in the world. Where? In the East, at this time in the East, it is findable in Nepal, in Kopan; it’s findable in Kopan, at this moment, in this gompa, in Kopan’s gompa, in Kopan Monastery, on this cushion, on the chair, where the aggregates are. But if we look for it from the tip of the hair down to the toes, we can’t find even that, even that I which exists merely labeled I on the aggregates.

So, the question is, if we look for the I, the merely-labeled I, on these aggregates, whether you can find it or not. I said we can’t find it but what do you think? What do you think? Can we or can’t we find it?

Student: No, no, no, no.


Rinpoche: Oh, I see. Thank you very much. Can we find it? Can’t we find it? This merely-labeled I on the aggregates, can we find it or not? [No response.] Invisible. We can’t find it? Can we find it or not? [Rinpoche laughs] Steve?

Ven. Steve: Didn’t find it so far.

Rinpoche: So you can’t find it on the aggregates? It doesn’t exist on the aggregates?

Ven. Steve: No, I guess not.

Rinpoche: You should be able to find it. You should be able to find it because it is labeled on the aggregates, so it exists on the aggregates. It’s labeled on the aggregates. It is labeled on the aggregates.

Ven. Steve: If it’s labeled on the aggregates it can’t exist …

Rinpoche: So! [Rinpoche laughs] So you can’t find the I not merely labeled by mind. Not only can’t you find that on the aggregates, but you can’t even find the merely-labeled one on the aggregates?

Ven Steve: No, I don’t think so.

Rinpoche: So the merely-labeled I doesn’t exist on the aggregates? The merely-labeled I doesn’t exist on the aggregates? [Rinpoche laughs] You cannot find the merely-labeled I on the aggregates, it doesn’t exist on the aggregates. It doesn’t exist, nowhere, so it doesn’t exist anywhere.

Ven. Steve: The merely-labeled I?

Rinpoche: Yes, it doesn’t exist anywhere because you can’t find it on the aggregates. You labeled this “I” on the aggregates, but you can’t even find this merely-labeled I, the one you labeled on the aggregates. The merely-labeled I you can’t find there. You can’t find it there, then you can’t find it anywhere. Where can you find merely-labeled I? On the mouth or on the carpet? The aggregates are there, then you look for the merely-labeled I somewhere, you look for the merely-labeled in the bathroom or somewhere. 

Ven. Steve: It’s on the cushion.

Rinpoche: So it’s on the cushion! [Rinpoche laughs] So you can find merely-labeled I on the cushion?

Ven. Steve: Yeah. [Rinpoche laughs]

Rinpoche: So, but not on the aggregates? So you can find merely labeled I on the cushion, right?

Ven. Steve: Yes.

Rinpoche: So, another question is, does the merely labeled I exist on the cushion, right?

Ven. Steve: Yes.

Rinpoche: Your merely-labeled I, which part of the cushion can you find it? On the side of the bottom? Or the corner? The flat part? The side? This, or inside cushion? [Rinpoche laughs] Which part? Where can you find the merely-labeled cushion, sorry, the merely-labeled I? Can you find the merely-labeled I all over the cushion? So that’s the question?

Can you find the merely-labeled I all over the cushion? All over the cushion there’s a merely-labeled I? So that’s the question. That means you find the I all over the cushion? You can’t find the merely-labeled I in your chest or on the aggregates, but you find your I all over the cushion. So now the cushion becomes very important. [Rinpoche laughs]

So if somebody burns the cushion, the I doesn’t exist? When somebody burned the cushion, the I doesn’t exist.

Ven. Steve: No.

Rinpoche: What? There’s still an I? If somebody burned the cushion, the I which exists, you said there’s I on the cushion, or not?

Ven. Steve: The merely-labeled I is on the cushion. Yeah.

Rinpoche: There’s the I on the cushion?

Ven. Steve: Yes.

Rinpoche: So when somebody burned the cushion, then the I doesn’t exist?

Ven. Steve: If somebody burned the cushion, I would get hurt! [Rinpoche laughs]

Rinpoche: Because if, after the cushion is burned, are you hurt or not? After the cushion is burned, completely burned, become ashes

Ven. Steve: Rinpoche, you said that now at this time, the I can be found in Asia, in Kopan.

Rinpoche: Yes, yes, yes.

Ven. Steve: Now at this time if they burned the cushion, I would get burnt.

Rinpoche: So if the cushion is burned, you’re burned?

Ven. Steve: Yes, while I’m sitting here.

Rinpoche: If the cushion is burned, then you’re burned?

Ven. Steve: I think so, yeah. [Rinpoche laughs]

Rinpoche: You’re burned, so that means there’s I on the cushion, so if the cushion become non-existent, then the I become non-existent, right?

Ven. Steve: [not answering] [Rinpoche laughs]

Rinpoche: Anyway, you can check like that. If there’s an I on the cushion, yes, I said there’s merely-labeled I on the cushion, then if you check, you can do further, further research, checking whether merely-labeled I is all over the cushion or on one part of the cushion, or what? Where it exists.

I’m not talking about the real I, I’m talking about the merely-labeled I, so we need to do further analysis, okay?

Kyabje Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche said some learned ones say you can’t find the merely-labeled I on the aggregates whereas some learned ones say there is a merely-labeled I on the aggregates. There are two different ways of saying this according to the learned ones. Anyway, continue to meditate, to do analytical meditation; it’s very useful. To do further more analysis is good.

What I want to say at the end here is this. If we look for the merely-labeled I, from the tip of the hair down to the toes, that is not a meditation on emptiness. What I want to say is this. The second one, looking for the merely-labeled I, the general I, on these aggregates, on the base, that’s not meditation on emptiness. The first one, searching the real I, the inherently-existent I, is a meditation on emptiness. But the second one, looking the merely-labeled I on the aggregates, is not a meditation on emptiness.

In the Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment [Tib: Lam-rim Chen-mo] as well as the Middle Graduated Stage of the Path to Enlightenment, the middle lam-rim, Lama Tsongkhapa mentioned this, using the example of the vase.

In the debating text, the vase is used a lot as an example, as there are a few examples commonly used, so they use a vase. So if we look for the vase, where is the vase is from the top [to the bottom], where is the vase?

Here we’re looking for the inherently-existent vase, the real vase not merely labeled by the mind. When we’re searching for that, that is meditating on emptiness. When we don’t find that, when we realize that it’s totally non-existent, completely non-existent, that that one do not exist from its own side, we have realized the emptiness, the ultimate nature of the vase and we’re seeing the middle view.

The inherently-existent vase, which is the extreme of eternalism, we realize is totally non-existent at all there, not even an atom of that exists.

The result of seeing that the inherently-existing I doesn’t exist, that it’s empty of existing in that way, is not to see that the vase doesn’t exist at all. This real vase, the one not merely labeled by the mind, does not exist, that is totally non-existent. Seeing that, we see that the vase exists, that definitely happens, but we realize that the real vase existing its own side is completely non-existent, it is completely empty. That is the absolute truth and that causes the realization of the truth for the all-obscuring mind. As a result, the realization comes of the truth for the all-obscuring mind, (Tib: kun-dzob den-pa) or conventional truth, the vase as it appears to the all-obscuring mind, truth. That vase definitely exists, the realization comes that it exists but in mere name. It exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. The vase definitely exists, okay? It definitely exists but it’s merely imputed by the mind.

Here, we’re not talking about the real vase. The vase exists, but it’s something most unbelievable subtle, most unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable subtle, merely imputed by mind. That’s the realization of the truth for the all-obscuring mind.

Here, we realize how the vase exists; it exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. Because of that, the vase does not exist, the vase is totally empty, the vase is totally empty of existing from its own side.

While it’s totally empty of existing from its own side, it’s a dependent arising, existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind. So seeing the vase existing in mere name, emptiness and dependent arising, these two, are unified; dependent arising and emptiness are unified.

Here, what Lama Tsongkhapa explains is that the merely-labeled vase is not connected to the object of ignorance. We leave the object of ignorance, the real vase not merely labeled by the mind. We leave that, we don’t question that. What we call “vase,” where is it? We look here, there, is this the vase, is this the vase, is this a vase? Nothing of that is the vase, nothing of that is the vase—altogether there is not the vase, so where is it? We can’t find the merely-labeled vase anywhere, the vase what you call “vase” we can’t find it anywhere. We can’t find it anywhere, we can’t find it anywhere.

Then what happens, at the end what happens, it’s not clear, it becomes very unclear, coming to the conclusion. The one before helps, by realizing it’s empty it helps to bring the conclusion that the vase exists, it exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind.

But why I say searching in this way is not a meditation on emptiness is because of this. When we look for the merely-labeled vase and we can’t find it, it harms the conclusion that the vase exists, it doesn’t make it clearer. So then that becomes nihilism, thinking that there is no vase. That becomes nihilism. So Lama Tsongkhapa says if at the end of the search for the vase we can’t find anything then nothing is clear, there is nothing to recognize as “vase,” and this is falling into nihilism.

Falling into nihilism destroys dependent arising. That’s what Lama Tsongkhapa mentions but I will look to make sure it’s clear. That’s the essence of what it’s saying but I will read and then mention again how Lama Tsongkhapa describes how when we fall in nihilism we destroying dependent arising.

With that way of searching, we think we’re meditating on emptiness but it’s like the enemy, the thief who harms us is right there with us, next to us, but we didn’t recognize him and we believe our enemy is somewhere outside. Actually our enemy is with us in the room, but we think the enemy is outside somewhere, then we shoot a gun outside. The enemy that’s in our room, however, we think of as our friend. He’s our enemy but we think, “This is my friend” and so we shoot the gun outside.

The texts mention giving an offering to a spirit to ward off the harm such as sickness, but even though the spirit is in the west, we make the offering to the spirit, the Lu, of a dough figure or something to the east. We make the offering in the west, asking the spirit to not harm us, and we make our present there in the west, but the spirit is not there. It’s there in the east where it can’t receive the offering. Actually, if you harm others you will receive harm.

If we plant chili, then a hot result comes. If we plant something sweet, like a raisin or something, then a sweet result comes. Like that, if we harm others, then as a result we will receive harm from others. And if we help, if we benefit others, we will receive the result of benefit, we will receive benefit from others. If we benefit others, then as a result, we will receive benefit, happiness, from others. If we send this Lu, this present, to the east but the spirit’s in the west, there will be no benefit.

Similarly, if we never touch the object of ignorance, the real I, not merely labeled by the mind, if we never touch that but just this, the I, what we called “I,” the merely-labeled I, then when we search for it we can’t find it. Doing that, I don’t think this causes fear to arise. This way of analyzing doesn’t cause fear to arise. Why doesn’t fear arise? Because this kind of analysis doesn’t touch this real I, that which has always been appearing and we have believed to be true all the time. We didn’t try to do it on that. That’s left out, untouched. It’s like keeping our enemy there but we believe it’s a friend. It’s like that. We shoot outside there, as it’s mentioned, similar, we’re look for the merely-labeled I, and can’t find it. I don’t think that causes fear to arise when we don’t find it.

But this also makes difference I think, if we search for where this real I is, we see it’s nothing in all the collection of aggregates, this real I we can’t find anywhere from tip of the head down to the toes, then this, this will cause for very high intelligence, who has a lot of merit, who has very high intelligence, when we don’t find that I, when we realize that it’s totally completely emptiness, this will cause unbelievable joy, happiness. Tears will pour from the eyes, the hairs will stand up. It brings incredible joy, happiness for the highly intelligent ones.

But the lower intelligent ones have fear. So if we do get fear, that’s a very good sign. The minute we get fear when we are doing this analytical meditation, that’s a very, very good sign. That means our meditation is working, our meditation is working, our meditation is hitting the object of ignorance. That’s why there’s fear.

So because you have been believing this real true exist from beginningless rebirth, so can imagine? So of course you get fear. So now, now, only now, so now you think that which you have been believing existing from beginningless rebirth, now you think it doesn’t exist. So when you start thinking that, then the fear arises, so fear arises, so that.

When you hit the object of ignorance, when you hit the ignorance, harm the ignorance, then the fear arises. Fear rises. You must realize you’re so fortunate when the fear arises. So that means if you go through the fear, if you go through the fear then you’re able to realize emptiness, you’re able to go through the fear, go through the fear, then you’re able to realize emptiness, the ultimate truth, that you’re seeing the truth.

What the Buddha mentions is that the way Buddha liberates us sentient beings is not by washing our negative karma away with water. And not with his hands, like taking the thorn out from the body, not in that way, and not by transplanting the Buddha’s realizations, transplantation, not that way. How the Buddha guides us sentient beings is by revealing the truth. So in Tibetan it says,

By revealing the ultimate nature, the truth, the Mighty One, the Buddha liberate us sentient beings.

Now here, what Buddha shows is the truth, “Oh, now you’re seeing the truth.” Then through that, by developing this, by actualizing this, then we can liberate all sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes, karma and delusion.

Please have tea.

I must free sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering, the sentient beings from whom I have received all the happiness from beginningless rebirths, the present and all the future lives’ happiness, including liberation and enlightenment. I have received all my past, present and future happiness from numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras, numberless intermediate stage beings. I have received all the past, present and future happiness from each of them, from every single sentient being, all the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras, therefore I must free them from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I’m going to make the tea offering to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. So, the tea offering. Also if you want to elaborate like I mentioned during the food offering, during lunchtime, then you make charity to all sentient beings, then eating yoga, drinking yoga, tantric practice, yourself the guru deity, and like that making offerings. That’s the tantric samaya’s eating yoga.

Those who have taken an initiation, that’s the part of samaya, so three things, this making offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

This is a “mug of tea.” This is something, tea from its own side, mug from its own side, so it’s real tea and real mug, however that’s a total hallucination. There’s no such thing there; it’s total non-existent, total non-existent, empty.

You label “jeweled container,” you label it, or you do the same as I explained many times, from the appearance of the jeweled container, OM appears inside, then it becomes nectar. So like that. Then there is the tantric way, which is a more specific visualization but you can’t do that as you need an initiation for that. So anyway, visualize numberless oceans of nectar.

So think of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Then you can also think of the statues, stupas, scriptures, everything, all the holy objects, you can think that. Then offer numberless oceans of tea, drinks, whose nature is infinite bliss, and generated infinite bliss within their holy minds. Meditate like that.

Then, due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by numberless sentient beings, by the buddhas and by oneself, one’s own family members, friends, enemies, strangers—all the sentient beings—may they never be separated from the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and may they always collect merit by making offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, then receive the blessings of Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, those realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta. May the clear light be actualized within oneself, one’s own family members, friends, enemies, strangers and then all the sentient beings, in the hearts of all the sentient beings, without delaying even a second.

Lama Sangye, Lama Chö…[blessing]

[Extended break in taping]

This time the Tara prayer took a longer time. Sometimes I jump from the refuge and go over. [Rinpoche laughs]

So just to finish this part.

When we are reciting the Heart Sutra, it says “there is no nose, no ear, no eye” and no all these things, sometimes fear can arise. When we are reciting the Heart Sutra, some small fear can start to arise. That’s very good sign. It means our thought, our meditation, the way you think it’s hitting, it is harming our ignorance. It’s a good sign because it’s harming to our ignorance, our enemy, the king of our enemies, ignorance. It’s harming the object that believes what is non-existent to exist. So that’s a good sign.

For the less intelligent, we who have less merit or less intelligence, if fear arises when we do a meditation on emptiness, then that’s a very good sign. We must go through it; we mustn’t stop there immediately. We don’t need to be afraid. We might think, “Oh, I’m falling in nihilism” because in the teachings it talks so much how things exist and the danger to fall in nihilism. Then we get the fear, “Oh, maybe I’m falling in nihilism” because we feel we’re feeling losing the I. What we feel is the I exists, we believe that appearance, and we believe in the I that has been existing from beginningless rebirths, this I, this real I, and for our mind, because we believe there’s no other I. We haven’t realized emptiness, so this I that exists is only this real I; there is no other I. This is what we believe. There’s no idea there is the merely-labeled I, so the only I that exists is this real I.

When we do the meditation on emptiness, however, we feel we are losing this real I. This I that we have believed to exist in this way since beginningless rebirths we now feel we are losing. We feel we are becoming nonexistence, so for the lower intelligent practitioner of course fear arises.

Very deep fear arises, fear that is maybe bigger than meeting a tiger in the road. While walking the road, suddenly we meet tiger in front of us—of course we are going to be terrified—but this is maybe bigger fear than examples like this.

A deep fear arises from bottom of the heart, an unbelievable fear, a huge fear arises. Because we don’t understand what’s happening, what we’re experiencing, so we think we’re falling in nihilism and so there’s unbelievable fear because in our mind there’s no other I. We don’t understand the merely-labeled I that exists; there’s no idea. For us this real I is the only one that exists; it’s not merely labeled by the mind, so actually that’s the false I which is totally empty. It never came into existence; it’s never been in existence from beginningless rebirths.

We fear we’re losing that. We haven’t heard the teachings, explaining that when this experience happens this is what will happen to you. Maybe we haven’t heard teachings from these experienced teachers. We have some understanding of emptiness, but it’s not complete about the experience, so due to that. Then unbelievable, deep fear arises, then we’re so scared. We’re so scared that we don’t want to meditate on emptiness. Maybe we don’t want to meditate on emptiness even for years because we’re so scared.

Say, we’re just about to realize emptiness. This is incredibly, unbelievably fortunate, seeing the truth, seeing the truth. We’re just about to see the truth, to realize the truth. The main method, the Buddha’s way of liberating us is by showing us this truth. The Buddha shows the truth and we realize the truth, and then we develop that wisdom, ultimate wisdom. It’s so unbelievable; it’s most fortunate, we are about to realize emptiness.

Then this obstacle happens. So we stop. Then it doesn’t happen; we’re so scared we can’t even meditate on emptiness for years.

The bodhisattva Jetsun Monlam mentions in his teaching on the mahamudra, the experience of losing the I means losing the real I, the truly-existent I, not the I merely labeled by the mind. I don’t know, I may not mention every specific word, but the general idea is this. This real I is that which is projected onto the merely-labeled I by the ignorance, by leaving negative imprint on the mind. That truly-existent I is an additional thing, something totally non-existent, something projected, decorated onto the merely-labeled I.

So losing that I means losing that additional thing, that hallucination which is projected onto the merely-labeled I; it means it doesn’t exist. We’re coming to realize that, we’re coming to realize that which doesn’t exist, coming to realize that it doesn’t exist as it doesn’t exist, as it doesn’t exist.

So in that case it’s not that we’re falling in nihilism. That’s totally wrong, that’s totally wrong; we’re not falling in nihilism. We’re on the correct journey, we’re on the correct journey to, we’re in the correct process to realize emptiness, in just a second.

That is happening because we have an imprint from past lives, having studied the teachings or heard the teachings or meditated on them, so the imprint is left from the past. Then, in this life we have also heard the teachings, and during that time we also have guru devotion. We’re doing that meditation, developing guru devotion to the gurus from whom we have received the teachings, we have made the Dharma connection. Being able to do this is a sign of receiving blessings of the guru in our heart.

Along with that, we’re doing strong purification like prostrations by reciting Thirty-five Buddhas’ names. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable strong. Then there’s the strong practice of collecting necessary conditions, the merits through mandala offerings, all that, and obtaining the guru’s advice, the service to the guru, things like that, especially those that are the most powerful means to collect extensive merits in the shortest time.

We must go through the fear, we must go through the fear, we must let the fear be completed, knowing we’re not falling in nihilism. As I already mentioned to you, why this is happening is like that. It is not that the I ceases, that the continuity of the I stops, is ceased; it’s not that. That’s impossible, impossible. Even after we achieve nirvana, even after we achieve enlightenment, there’s always the continuation of the consciousness. Because there’s always the continuation of the consciousness, it never ceases, never stops. Therefore, there’s always the continuation of the I, the self. There’s always the continuation of the I that is merely labeled by mind. There’s always the continuation of that I. That never gets lost; it’s impossible. That never ceases. That never ceases, because there’s always the continuation of consciousness.

If the consciousness were to cease, if there were no more consciousness, no more continuity of the mind, then the continuity of the I would cease, but there’s no continuity of mind ceasing. The delusions cease but not the mind itself. By completing the path, the remedy of the path, what obscures the mind, the delusions, that one, ceases. The delusions cease but the mind does not cease. We have to have all these understandings.

Then we can completely let go of the fear. We go through the fear, we go beyond the fear. Then we’re able to realize emptiness completely.

As I mentioned before, by realizing the ultimate truth first, don-dam den-pa, the truth of emptiness, perfect wisdom, the truth of wisdom, absolute wisdom, by realizing that then we’re able to realize the kün-dzob den-pa, how the I appears to the all-obscuring mind, the truth of that. As it appears to the all-obscuring mind, which in Tibetan is kün-dzob den-pa, although I don’t know about the exact English word, which is usually called “conventional truth.” I’m not sure about that. It has been used but I’m not sure, whether it’s making it clearer or more confusing, I’m not sure.

The existence of the I, how the I exists, is that it is a dependent arising, existing merely labeled by the mind. We’re realizing that.

When we weigh something, what do you call this thing? When we weight, like gold or something, huh?

Student: Scales.

Rinpoche: Scales. So when we weigh, if there’s something heavier on one side, then the light side goes like this—this goes up and this goes down. It’s like that when we realize the ultimate truth first. As a result we realize the kün-dzog den-pa, the truth for the all-obscuring mind, the existence of the I.

So, instead of falling in nihilism, that there’s no I at all, by realizing the correct view, correct emptiness, correct right view, correct Prasangika’s school view—the correct view of emptiness means the Prasangika school’s view—as a result of realizing that, we realize kün-dzob den-pa, the truth for the all-obscuring mind, how the I’s a dependent arising, existing in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. And so we realize the two truths.

It’s explained in the Madhyamaka teaching, realizing the two truths is like developing the two wings to be able to fly away like the swans. Like the swans develop the two wings, the king of the swans flies away by flapping them. By the power of the wind of the virtue, we go beyond, the ocean, we go beyond the ocean of samsaric suffering, we go beyond from that, we are free from that. We go to the other side, buddhahood, enlightenment; we become a buddha with limitless skies of qualities. We go there. We go to enlightenment.

For some people, these things can happen, so it’s good to know beforehand what to do. Then we can make our fear most useful to liberate ourselves from oceans of samsaric suffering and the causes, karma and delusions. We can cease that, we can cease the cause of suffering, then we can cease the oceans of samsaric suffering.

It happened that a Western, sorry a Westerner, [Rinpoche laughs] a monk, has now become liberated; he’s now become an arhat.

Anyway, he’s not a monk now, he changed his mind. During the retreat he changed his mind. I think some karma from the past ripened, then he changed his mind during retreat. Anyway, he’s a very nice person, he was a very good monk, but then the past karma ripened and he changed his mind.

He was at Nalanda, the Western Sangha’s monastery. I think having a monastery for Western Sangha is very rare, very, very, very, very rare, because the Sangha are scattered, so having a monastery is extremely rare. But we have had this Nalanda monastery for many, many years.

It happened is because Vajrayogini Center, the lay center, caught fire, I think one wing of the building caught fire and because the fire destroyed one wing of the building, they got insurance money, so then they got Nalanda, this land with a building. I think maybe it’s a hundred years old?

Ven Steve: Oh yeah, I should think so, easily.

Rinpoche: A hundred years old. Before that there were Christian nuns, a healing center or something?

Ven. Steve: It belonged to a Christian family, then they had a confession room upstairs for the family. And the priest came for the family.

Rinpoche: Oh, I see. So upstairs there’s a confession room, then when the priest comes, they confess there. Not retreat! So the priest comes, and they confess upstairs, not downstairs. Downstairs if you confess, you go to hell! [Rinpoche laughs]

So anyway, so it’s very, very fortunate, extremely fortunate, unbelievably fortunate having a monastery. It’s so fortunate. Otherwise people become monks for a few months, then disrobe after a few months, a few weeks.

His Holiness the Karmapa, in his past life, came to the West, to the United States, and so many people got so inspired by seeing the Karmapa, that past-life Karmapa. In the United States, maybe a hundred people became monks during his tour. Then the next year when he came back, they had all disrobed because they didn’t have a monastery, they did not have an example.

That’s what I heard. So it’s so fortunate having a monastery. I don’t know other places. I mean the Western Sangha have different places, but not a real monastery that follows the Vinaya practice, the abiding summer retreat, then the confession practices twice a month, then Ganye after this abiding summer retreat.

For many years Nalanda has done that, starting with Geshe Jampa Tegchok. Steve was there for so many years. You were the leader, you were the prayer leader, I think after Pende.

Ven. Steve: Yes, after Pende.

Rinpoche: After big Pende. [Rinpoche laughs]

So anyway, what am I saying now? I should go back. Huh?

Ven. Steve: About the monk, the ex-monk.

Rinpoche: Oh, yes, that’s right. He total lost the I, and then he was unbelievably happy, unbelievably happy. Tears of joy came, like I explained in Madhyamaka text. It happened to him, joy, no fear at all, the hairs from pores stood up, there was incredible joy, and then I think every time he went to meditate, it made him laugh. He was alone in the room, but it made him laugh. I haven’t heard laughing in the text.

I think, after realizing emptiness then your view are different about life; things are kind of like childish, all funny, it makes you laugh at your own life. It might be like that. Then you don’t stop. Then every day you must meditate on emptiness, you must develop that experience.

One of my teachers was Gen Jampa Wangdu, one of the most successful meditators at Dharamsala, so who achieved shamatha, calm abiding, at Dalhousie. There’s a group of meditators there; some are very learned, having finished studying all the five major sutra texts, all those things, in the monastery. He then realized emptiness in a cave down below where Tushita, our retreat center, is. You go to the other side, where’s His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru, Ling Rinpoche, lived in his past life, then you go down and there’s a rock so dark inside that then becomes a cave. He lifted there for seven years and then realized emptiness there.

In another house up on the mountain, not on the mountain but on the surface, he actualized bodhicitta. I was told he realized emptiness by Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, who was my first Dharma teacher at Buxa, which was a concentration camp where Mahatma Gandhi-ji and Prime Minister Nehru were imprisoned when India was under British. So many people were put in prison and killed. I was there eight years as well as the abbot of Kopan, Lama Lhundrup. Monks lived there for ten years or more but I was there for eight years.

All four traditions were there, Gelug, Kagyü, Sakya and Nyingma, as well as other traditions but they are a very little group, not much because they all went different parts of India and Nepal. They built monasteries, so they were little groups. The majority at Buxa were from Sera, Ganden and Drepung, Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition.

What was I saying? Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, my first teacher when I came to India, introduced me to the debating subject like A,B,C,D, du-ra, the very beginning text. He was a great scholar and a great yogi who achieved very high tantra realizations, generation stage and completion stage, and had many, many disciples.

Lama Yeshe, who was kinder than all the three time buddhas, was a disciple of Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, so that’s how I met Lama. When I went to see Geshe Rabten Rinpoche that very first day, Lama was there, sitting down below, looking very devoted, extremely devoted to his guru. There were big piles of texts on the table, not in the house, but outside the house, on the balcony. That side there was barbed wire, then there was a wall, so it was a tiny place. There was a bed [on the balcony?] and then a tiny path. Then there was a very high bed for Geshe Rabten.

Gen Jampa Wangdu was Geshe Rabten’s disciple. When I was receiving the first teaching, the mahamudra from Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, he said that if I had any questions, I should ask Gen Jampa Wangdu, who had a very fresh realization of emptiness. He said that one or two times. At that time Gen Jampa Wangdu was staying in that cave down below.

Gen Jampa Wangdu himself told Lama Yeshe and me about bodhicitta. When we were at Dharamsala, he sometimes came, and that would be the best time for us, for both Lama and myself when he came. We heard very inspiring stories of people who had achieved realization, meditators who were living on the mountain, of who had what realizations, and then all the people in other places who had achieved what realization.

Those who take His Holiness the Dalai Lama as their root guru, they make offerings of their realizations to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Then who are disciples of, whose root guru is His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, the young tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, they offer their realizations to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. So Gen Jampa Wangdu heard many inspiring stories, especially from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who explained to him all the time anybody who offered any success of realizations, and then we heard this from him. It’s was very, very inspiring, very, very inspiring.

One time he told us that he never went to other people’s house for his own purpose. He said he had never been to anybody’s house for seven years ago, he never went for his own purpose to other people’s house. He said that.

That did not mean he didn’t go to other people’s house. He’s not saying that, he’s not saying that. He meant once you have the realization of bodhicitta, there’s no thought of cherishing the I; there’s no thought of seeking happiness for oneself. There’s no thought of cherishing the I, there’s no thought of seeking happiness for oneself at all, at all. Then the heart, the mind has completely changed, totally changed into cherishing other sentient beings who are numberless: numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, asuras, intermediate state beings, cherishing others who are numberless, everyone. Not one single sentient being is left out, cherishing and seeking happiness for everyone, seeking happiness for numberless hell beings, seeking happiness for numberless hungry ghosts, seeking happiness for numberless animals, who are numberless, those small fish, big fish and sharks in the ocean, every single one. There are numberless, numberless shell beings at the beach; there are so many shell beings on the stones, there are so many shell beings. They are there in the dust, like sand, shell beings, so small, so many big piles stay on the beach, and then, of course, in the water.

There are numberless ants, even in one mountain on the ground, in one large field, can you imagine? So unbelievable! So there’s no question in city or in one country, there’s no question how many ants there are in this world. Then how many in other worlds, then numberless universes, so how many ants in other universes, can you imagine? There is not just one universe; there are numberless universes scientifically mentioned and also in Buddhism.

Cherishing every single insect, big or small, all the animals, seeking happiness for them, seeking happiness for every single being, seeking happiness for every single hell being, seeking happiness for, cherishing every single human being. There are numberless human beings in the numberless universes, not only this, so cherishing every single human being, seeking happiness for every single human being. Like that, similar, numberless suras, asuras, then cherishing everyone, seeking happiness for everyone, so nobody is left out, no one is left, no matter how small they are, no matter how big, no one is left out. The realization is like that, most amazing, a totally changed mind. There is no thought of cherishing the I, no thought of seeking happiness for oneself at all, at all. So the mind is totally changed.

When Gen Jampa Wangdu said that, he didn’t mean he’d never gone to other people’s houses for seven years ago, he wasn’t saying that. But he never went for his own purpose, for his own happiness, never for seven years ago. He wasn’t the type of meditator who tells people, “Oh, I have this realization, I have that realization, I have this experience,” he’s not that kind of meditator. There are some meditators who if you ask tell you everything, but not him.

Some American scientists came to check the meditators in Dharamsala. They mainly wanted to check the heat, not the mind, not the realizations, mainly the heat the meditators achieved through tum-mo meditation. Those who practice the realizations of Six Yogas of Naropa, through their meditation are able to generate so much heat. I think the Western scientists discovered something unusual, so unbelievable the heat that can be generated. They checked that through the machines.

They requested the His Holiness’ Private Office, and the Private Office sent a message to Gen Jampa Wangdu for the American scientists to check him. Some meditators accepted and they did the experiment. They were very good meditators, very successful meditators. They lived in mud huts, in the caves, and they had tubes, plastic, rubber, what do you call, what? Wires, here and there, and another one here, and then there, all over their naked bodies while the scientists checked. [Rinpoche laughs]

Some did this, but Gen Jampa Wangdu didn’t accept. Even though the Private Office asked him do this, he didn’t accept. He sent a message down to the Private Office saying, “If you don’t let me to stay here in peace and quiet, I’ll leave from Dharamsala.” He’s not the kind of a meditator who advertises his realizations, not like that

He lived in a monastery as a dob-dob. Dob-dob, in the book it’s called the “monk police,” but anyway he was a dob-dob. Generally, what dob-dobs do is they don’t study. They live in the monastery, but don’t study and don’t go for classes. Probably they do service, like offering tea or food to the monks. Maybe they have to do that, but not follow the twenty-four hour monastic program.

Of course, among the dob-dobs there can be some other holy beings; there can be bodhisattvas, but generally they do jumping competitions and carrying stones or something, and they fight to see who is the most powerful and all those things. They live in the monastery but they don’t study. That’s what he told us.

For example, one time there was an old monk outside debating place. Gen Jampa Wangdu said he picked up a stick and hit the old monk’s knee and kept on hitting both knees with the stick. One time he said he did that. Then, in Dharamsala—I think this was one or two years before passing away—he took the external aspect of a kind of knee pain for I think maybe a few months. Gen Jampa Wangdu told us during those months with the knee pain, the knee pain reminded him of the old monk in Tibet who he beat with a stick continuously like this, on the knee, for a long time. He said that came very, very strongly in his mind.

One time, he was standing at the gate of the monastery holding snot or spit, his hand full of it, like this. [Rinpoche demonstrates]. And if somebody came through the gate, he hit them on the head. Sorry, to hit that person’s head, not on his head, that person’s head. Somebody comes through the door, then he hits.

An old monk came. So he was waiting like this, waiting I guess with excitement or something, so an old man, a monk came who had a bald head came, so he hit him on that. This old monk didn’t complain. He very peacefully went on with no reaction, nothing; he peacefully went on. When Gen Jampa Wangdu looked at that old monk he saw he was actually Geshe Rabten’s guru. That was his guru’s guru! [Rinpoche laughs]

He didn’t react at all; he very peacefully went on. And then after some time, after some steps, he slowly went like this with his zen. So he was watching Geshe Rabten’s guru do that. [Rinpoche laughs] He was so great; his name was Jampa something, a great teacher.

Anyway, that’s the story Gen Wangdu told us of how he lived the monastery as a dob-dob. Then later, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s younger tutor, gave a commentary of the Guru Puja, Lama Chöpa, this most extensive highest tantra guru yoga practice. He gave a commentary on that at the monastery of the lama from whom they received this commentary. I don’t remember. At that time, there were probably thousands of monks, thousands of learned monks from different monasteries. Lama Yeshe and Gen Jampa Wangdu went to attend that teaching.

Lama Yeshe said when he heard the teachings on impermanence, he didn’t think that was the main teaching. There were different subjects. When he came to bodhicitta, not also emptiness, but when he came to bodhicitta, then Lama Yeshe told us that when he heard that, he thought that was the real teaching.

Lama Yeshe also mentioned that he realized emptiness in Tibet while he was debating in Sera Je Monastery. While he was debating, he realized emptiness there. Similarly, he had realizations of bodhicitta, all the lam-rim and then tantra realizations, the generation stage and the completion stage, the Six Yogas of Naropa, and he had those realizations, tum-mo and all this, the clear light, illusory body, those realizations of the completion stage. This is talking of the outward, the aspect. Of course, an enlightened being but outwardly this is what was shown.

So Gen Jampa Wangdu attended that teaching. The story is that outside he looked totally changed from that. He got renunciation, the renunciation of samsara. Then he left the monastery and he went to see the Kyabje Dorje Chang Rinpoche, a great lama who taught all the four traditions teachings, initiations, who was recognized as White Tara. He looked for guidance from Kyabje Dorje Chang who advised him to go to Pembo, to the Kadampa geshes’ caves, to meditate on lam-rim.

Then he gave oral transmission of the teaching, taking the essence. This is where you don’t need to eat food, you don’t need to cook and you can live by taking blessed pills. So he gave those teachings, and then gave advice. So Gen-la went to Pembo, where Kadampa geshes’ caves were and all day long did meditations, practiced the lam-rim all day long and jor-chö, preparatory practice. You know, you practice six preparatory practices and then meditate on lam-rim. He did this all day long.

Then he did a twenty-one day pill retreat, taking the pill, taking the essence where you don’t need to make food and cook. He had great success, achieving the Six Yogas of Naropa, clear light, all these, in Dharamsala. What am I saying? So he said, after he realized emptiness, after fifteen days, how everything is like an illusion. That’s according to his experience.

He realized emptiness and then meditated on that, then after some time, maybe after fifteen days, in the sleep while you’re dreaming, you recognize the dream is a dream. While you’re dreaming, you recognize this is dream. When you recognize this is dream, so many things appear to you, merely imputed by mind. So many things appear to you as something real existing from their own side but you know it’s not true. You know all this is not true, it’s empty. So it’s exactly like that. You see everything as an illusion.

So anyway, sorry. I was just mentioning this but then it became his life story. So what was I saying?

I took the lineage of this teaching, Taking the Essence, in case it becomes rare in the future, but it’s not rare. I took that lineage of teachings from Gen Jampa Wangdu, so that’s how our relationship has become guru-disciple. Then after that I asked to him what the quickest way to achieve lam-rim realizations was. What is the quick way to achieve the realization of lam-rim? I asked him that.

His answer is very important to write down in your notebook or in your diary book, or in your diary book or notebook. He said, the quick way to have the realization of the lam-rim is to practice the antidote to the self-cherishing thought. Practice the antidote to the self-cherishing thought, that’s what he said. It means bodhicitta, bodhicitta, cherishing others, cherishing other sentient beings, seeking happiness for other sentient beings. That is what we must practice, the antidote to the selfish mind.

These two or three words, they are perfect advice. This is the quick way to achieve the realization of the lam-rim, do you understand? That’s very, very true. And similarly, it’s the quick way to achieve enlightenment. The answer to that is same. You understand?

What I’m saying, what I’m going to mention is that we must meditate every day, after we have the experience. We must meditate every day to develop the experience.

In Tibetan it’s called “seeking meditation from right view.” Here, if we didn’t have a realization of shamatha before, now we need to practice shamatha. Otherwise we cannot develop the experience of the wisdom realizing emptiness. Now, on the emptiness, what we have realized, then we practice shamatha, calm abiding. That’s what’s called “seeking meditation from right view.” If we have the realization of the shamatha before, then we meditate on emptiness, then seeking right view from the meditation.

We need to learn about calm abiding, shi-nä; we need to practice it, we need to practice it. By doing that, as a result, we later achieve great insight, we are able to derive—derive, not drive a car [Rinpoche laughs]—derive the rapturous ecstasy of the body and the mind by meditating on emptiness unified with the shamatha, calm abiding. We experience this during the second path, the preparatory path. Then from that we achieve the right seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning. When we achieve the right seeing path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, from there we start to directly cease the delusions, cause of suffering, delusion and karma.

If somebody had this experience then this is what you have to do, to develop, to go to enlightenment, in order to benefit sentient beings, to be able to do perfect work for sentient beings.

Sorry, I started this yesterday, but then I got stuck with emptiness again.

I was talking about the prayer, Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha1:

[Lama] tön pa chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä
To the founder, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the one gone beyond, the foe destroyer, the completely perfected,

rig pa dang zhab su dän pa / de war sheg pa / jig ten khyen pa
Fully awakened being, perfect in knowledge and in good conduct, Sugata, knower of the world,

kye bu dül wäi kha lo gyur wa la na me pa / lha dang mi nam kyi tön pa
Supreme guide of human beings to be tamed, teacher of gods and human beings;

sang gyä chom dän dä päl gyäl wa sha kya thub pa la
To you, the completely and fully awakened one, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the glorious conqueror,

chhag tshäl lo / chhö do kyab su chhi wo
The subduer from the Shakya clan, I prostrate, make offerings, and go for refuge.

There is some understanding of this “Lama,” the peerless one by quality. Lama means heavy by qualities, one who is heavy by qualities. Maybe here it means one who is dharmakaya, who has completed the path and achieved dharmakaya, whose holy mind has become dharmakaya. That’s the meaning of “Lama” here.

I mentioned this great enlightened being, Pabongka Rinpoche, in the first stanza of Calling the Guru From Afar, mentions that’s the real meaning, the very meaning of “guru,” what the guru is.

The wisdom of the great bliss of all buddhas, one taste with the dharmakaya,
Is itself the ultimate nature of all kind lamas.
I beseech you, Lama, dharmakaya,
Please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the bardo.

I rehearsed that yesterday. I was describing the other day gyäl-wa kun gyi. I think yesterday I was reciting the gyäl-wa kun gyi, the transcendental wisdom of all the victorious ones. That means the Buddha, one essence in dharmakaya, one essence in great bliss, in dharmakaya, that itself is the guru. That’s the great bliss in dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of all the victorious ones is the one taste in the great bliss, dharmakaya.

That dharmakaya, that is the kind guru, one’s own the kind guru, that is one essence of all the buddhas, that is one essence of all the buddhas. That is the kind guru, that kind guru is the essence of all the buddhas, which means all the numberless buddhas.

The lama, who has embodied all the buddhas, from the bottom of my heart, not just from the lips, but from the bottom of my heart, I request. What the request is, please guide me without separation in all my life, in this life and next life, and even between that, in the intermediate stage—so all the time, all the time, guide me without separation.

Here, the meaning of “guide” is, “Please bring me to the enlightenment that you have achieved, please bring me there to your stage, enlightenment.” By guiding us in this life and the intermediate stage and in all future lives, without break, to never give up on us for even one second, continuously guide without separation, which means the guru is the final guide bringing us to our enlightenment.

Yesterday, I was saying that gyäl-wa describes the victory over the four maras. There are four gross maras: the mara of the delusions, the mara of the aggregates, the mara of the lord of death and mara of the deva’s son. That’s deva’s son, not s-u-n but s-o-n.

The deva’s son is the garab,2 who shoots the arrows of five delusions, interfering with people who are trying to practice Dharma, people who are trying to do good. He shoots five arrows of delusions, causes pride, attachment and the other delusions to arise.

So for example when we try to practice charity, when we’re about to make charity by practicing giving, then he shoots the arrow of delusions, attachment, miserliness, and we stop. We’re not aware, we haven’t recognized there was this influence miserliness arising, influenced by the garab, the evil doer shooting the arrow of miserliness. Generally we don’t realize this, we’re not aware of it, and then we follow our miserliness and stop making charity.

Or if we’re trying to live a pure life, in morality, the garab shoots the arrow of attachment which makes us develop attachment and our morality degenerates. Or we’re about to take a vow of morality, but suddenly attachment arises and we follow that. We’re not aware we’ve got garab wongchu harm, so we change our mind and don’t take a vow, or things like that. That’s just an example. All these negative emotional thoughts, anger, ignorance so forth and like that arise like that.

It is very useful to know these things. Usually what we do is, when the attachment arises, we don’t want to live in pure morality or we don’t want to take any vows. When attachment arises, we think ‘this is me, this is me, this is how I feel, this is me’, but we don’t know that this is influenced by the evil doers, influencing our mind, we don’t recognize that. We think, “This is what I feel, this is me,” and then we totally change your mind, we totally change our life from living in the pure vows, pure morality. Our life becomes something else. This is just one example.

This is very useful. When we’re doing our practice and delusion arises, if we recognize this, if you remember this and we know it is influenced by the evil doer, it’s not our mind, we don’t fall into that. Otherwise we normally feel, “Oh, now I feel this and I don’t want this. We think this is our mind and so you fall into that. Then the realization doesn’t happen; we stop the practice. So this understanding is quite helpful.

So there are four maras. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s right hand, his right palm is like this, touching the sun disc. This signifies controlling the deva’s son, being free from delusion, completely free from delusion. The seed of delusion has been completely removed, purified. So then there is totally victory over the four maras, this means victory over the deva’s son. The deva’s son can no longer harm. The Buddha’s hand with the palm on the knee like this [Rinpoche shows] has the meaning of total victory over the deva’s son.

There are gross four maras and four subtle maras. So this victory is not only over the gross maras but even over the subtle four maras. I have seen the teachings but I don’t remember now about the four subtle maras. They are the subtle defilements, the subtle imprints. We can think of their essence as what mainly interferes with the achievement of a state of omniscience.

The transcendental wisdom being of all the victorious ones is one essence in the great bliss in dharmakaya. That is like the ocean. You know, water goes in the ocean from all the rivers of the different countries and they come from the snow mountains, in many different forms, in rain and many different forms and it all goes to the ocean and becomes one taste. Similarly, numberless sentient beings become enlightened and their minds become one taste. When they become enlightened, their wisdom becomes one taste in great bliss in dharmakaya. It is all oneness in great bliss dharmakaya. The essence of all the buddhas, that which is the kind guru and the essence of all the buddhas.

The example I just explained, of the ocean, shows that. All the water come from different ways and then goes to ocean, becoming one taste. That is the great bliss of dharmakaya, the kind guru, the essence of all the buddhas.

That covers all the paths. When we practice Tara’s path we achieve Tara’s enlightenment. Or the same with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. If we practice Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, when we achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, at that time we also achieve Tara’s enlightenment, we also achieve Maitreya Buddha’s enlightenment, we also achieve Manjushri’s enlightenment, we achieve also Chenrezig’s, the Compassion Buddha’s, enlightenment. We achieve all the numberless buddhas’ enlightenment so we become one with all the buddhas. We become one with all the buddhas at that time.

We achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment but we didn’t achieve Maitreya Buddha’s enlightenment or we didn’t achieve Tara’s enlightenment—there’s no such thing as that. Whenever we achieved one deity’s enlightenment, one buddha’s enlightenment, we achieve all the buddhas’ enlightenment, we become one with all the buddhas. Our mind becomes oneness with all the buddhas’ holy mind. We are all the buddhas, we become all the buddhas, and every buddha is also us. We become one like that.

Otherwise, it would be like this. There’s one Tara guiding us but then there are numberless other Taras who are not guiding us. It becomes like that. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha guides us but then the numberless buddhas have no connection to us and so are not guiding us. Even while we’re following the path, even while we’re practicing Dharma, only Guru Shakyamuni Buddha guides us but no other buddha—Manjushri or the other numberless buddhas—guides us.

And because there are different sentient beings who achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, one Guru Shakyamuni Buddha guides us but the numberless other Guru Shakyamuni Buddhas who are achieved by other sentient beings, they don’t guide us. So it becomes very strange, very strange. That means there would be numberless Guru Shakyamuni Buddhas who have separate minds.

So anyway, I’m not going to spend more time on this, but it would become very funny. There wouldn’t be one aspect who is the manifestation of all the buddhas, one aspect but the essence of all the buddha working for us, this wouldn’t happen. Then we couldn’t accept that. There’s one aspect embodying the essence of all the buddhas, which is their holy mind. The holy mind of this one aspect is all the buddhas’ holy mind. Then we couldn’t accept that, working for us. So this wouldn’t happen. It becomes quite separate from reality.

So anyway, the kind guru, the great bliss dharmakaya, this kind guru pervades all the phenomena. Now this pervades all the phenomena. There’s no place where there’s no buddha. In the same way, there’s no place where there’s no guru, where there’s no the kind guru, the great bliss dharmakaya. This is all the buddhas; it covers all the phenomena.

This has no beginning and no end. We can’t say it started from there; it has no beginning. This great bliss, dharmakaya, the ultimate guru, the kind guru, this primordial mind has no beginning and no end; it pervades all the phenomena and has no beginning and no end.

As it is mentioned in the Guru Puja during the Invocation, phenomena are free the real—I use the same word, “real,” the truly-existent—free from coming and going. All phenomena are free from all the activities, the real, the truly-existent coming and going, and so forth. There’s no such thing in the nature of phenomena.

It’s totally empty, their nature is totally empty. There is no such thing as real coming and going, all the actions that appear, truly existent, exactly according to mind of the sentient beings who are objects to be subdued; the various sentient beings who are objects to be subdued.

This dharmakaya, the ultimate guru, the great bliss dharmakaya pervades all phenomena, this then manifests in all kinds of forms. For sentient beings, for living beings who have pure minds, it manifests purely in the aspect of the buddhas, with the thirty-two holy signs and exemplifications, in the nirmanakaya aspect or the sambhogakaya aspect.

And then for those who have impure minds, whose minds are obscured, it manifests in ordinary form. For ordinary beings whose minds are impure, whose minds are obscured, who cannot see the pure form aspect of a buddha, who can see only an ordinary form, an ordinary aspect, it appears in all kinds of unbelievable, numberless ways, in all kinds of ordinary forms without any effort to guide sentient beings.

Although pure, it appears as an ordinary human being having delusions, having suffering, having mistakes in actions. The definition of an ordinary form is having mistakes, having delusions, so even though there is no delusion the dharmakaya, the ultimate guru, shows the aspect of having delusion. Even though there’s no sickness but the dharmakaya, the ultimate guru, shows the aspect of having sickness, of making mistakes in the actions.

The ultimate guru, the great bliss, the dharmakaya appears in human form like that, as an ordinary human being, a child, a male, a female, a king, a beggar, a prostitute, a butcher, but whatever form it is, it’s exactly what is needed to guide that being. It manifests in the form of all kinds of animals to benefit them. It manifest as all kinds of pretas, there can be also hell beings, then there’s spirits. It is not evil being at all but even though it’s an enlightened being, it manifests as evil to those sentient beings who need that the method to guide them.

Most can’t imagine the numberless forms. You can’t imagine, can’t imagine, can’t imagine, to guide us, the ultimate guru, the great bliss, the dharmakaya manifests like that.

I’ll just mention some part and I’ll stop there. It takes time.

We’ve only talked about Lama tön pa, the first word. It’s just most amazing. Can you imagine? How the guru manifests in ordinary form. There are so many stories of the different yogis; that happened to different practitioners.

I’ll give just one story so you get the idea. There was a monk in Tibet whose teacher died one day. The disciple looked in the teacher’s house for some money to make offerings to the monastery to pray for the teacher but he couldn’t find any money anywhere in the house.

Then he remembered the teacher usually went outside to a spot on the ground. He thought that maybe this is where the teacher may have buried the money so he went there and dug. He uncovered a frog and maybe a skull bone. There was also a bag of money and the frog was grasping onto it.

When he told his guru this, his guru [told him the frog was his teacher reborn as a frog because of his attachment to the money] and he advised him to take the frog to a butcher near the Potala in Lhasa. He did this, finding the butcher behind the Potala. The butcher took the frog and put it on the chopping block, then cut it in two, throwing half of it into the sky and eating the other half.

When the disciple reported this to his guru, a very high lama, he was delighted, saying, “Oh, that’s very good, that’s very good.” He explained that the butcher behind the Potala was a buddha, an enlightened being, the deity, Red Yamantaka. Red Yamantaka is a wrathful aspect of the enlightened being Manjushri and Manjushri is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ wisdom. So the lama said that this is Red Yamantaka, the deity, manifesting as a butcher. When he threw the half in the sky that meant the old teacher’s consciousness was transferred into a pure land. That’s why the lama said, “This is very good.”

That means he’s liberating all these sentient beings. He actually looked like an ordinary being, a butcher killing, but he wasn’t that. In reality not, he was liberating their consciousness, liberating from the suffering and sending them to a pure land, where they can become enlightened, free from lower realms.

Anyway, that’s just one example. There are so many other stories that explain about buddhas in the form of ordinary being, benefiting sentient beings.

The guru manifests for ordinary being like us, whose ordinary mind is totally obscured. He manifests in ordinary forms, in all kinds of numberless ordinary forms, then he guides us.

For example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama manifests for us and then gives advice, sutra teachings, tantric initiations, and brings us to enlightenment in that way. There have been many others like that in the past, such as Lama Yeshe, Kyabje Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and Kyabje Denma Lochö Rinpoche. Some of you elder students met those great teachers. Besides His Holiness, there have been many others who have given us teachings and guided us, bringing us to enlightenment.

The guru not only guides us this time. Normally we just think of this life, but it’s not only that. The guru, great bliss and dharmakaya, the kind guru, has been guiding you and guiding me, from beginningless rebirths. From beginningless rebirths, he has been guiding us.

This perfect human rebirth has been obtained by having practiced the cause, pure morality and charity and dedicated to receive this, all this is completely by the kindness of guru creating the cause and achieving this result, everything. Then this time, the opportunity to practice not only the Hinayana Buddhadharma but also the Mahayana Paramitayana and Mahayana tantric teachings—including the four classes of tantric teachings, and especially the fourth one, the quickest means to achieve enlightenment—the opportunity to practice all this is from the guru’s kindness.

All happiness comes from the guru, this great bliss dharmakaya. The kind guru has guided us, this guru, great bliss dharmakaya bound with infinite compassion, bound with infinite compassion embraces us, embraces all the numberless sentient beings, and has guided us from beginningless rebirths. All the happiness we have experienced from beginningless rebirths up to now, all has come from the guru, from this kind guru, great bliss dharmakaya bound with infinite compassion to us and all sentient beings. All the present happiness has been received from the kindness of the guru. And all the future lives’ happiness, liberation from samsara and ultimate happiness, full enlightenment, all this comes from the guru, from the kindness of guru. It’s all guided by the guru.

When Shakyamuni Buddha manifested in this world he showed the twelve deeds, showing us and sentient beings how to practice Dharma. And why we practice Dharma, because we don’t like suffering. Suffering comes from cause of suffering, so therefore we need to abandon the cause and then we can be free from suffering. The cessation of suffering, therefore, is achieved by practicing the true path, which the Buddha revealed.

There are more than a hundred volumes of teachings of the Kangyur, the Buddha’s teachings, left in this world, teaching us how to achieve liberation and enlightenment, about suffering and the cause of suffering, its cessation of even the subtle defilements and the path. The Buddha left all these teachings in the world so we can learn, to guide us to enlightenment.

So, I think I’ll stop there.

So, what the word, “guru” or “lama” really means, we have to realize from our own side.

[Lama] tön pa chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä
To the founder, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the one gone beyond, the foe destroyer, the completely perfected,

rig pa dang zhab su dän pa / de war sheg pa / jig ten khyen pa
Fully awakened being, perfect in knowledge and in good conduct, Sugata, knower of the world,

kye bu dül wäi kha lo gyur wa la na me pa / lha dang mi nam kyi tön pa
Supreme guide of human beings to be tamed, teacher of gods and human beings;

sang gyä chom dän dä päl gyäl wa sha kya thub pa la
To you, the completely and fully awakened one, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the glorious conqueror,

chhag tshäl lo / chhö do kyab su chhi wo
The subduer from the Shakya clan, I prostrate, make offerings, and go for refuge.

Tön pa refers to the founder of present Buddhadharma in this world, Shakyamuni, manifesting as the lama. Chom is destroyed, the destroyer of the four maras, the four gross and four subtle maras, and then all the two obscurations, disturbing-thought obscurations and subtle obscurations the obscurations to knowledge.

Dän, there’s six ordinary qualities and sixteen transcended qualities, and the five transcendental wisdoms of the Buddha. Dän means having, possessing the five wisdoms: mirror like wisdom, the discerning wisdom, accomplishing wisdom, wisdom of accomplishment, wisdom of equanimity. It means possessing the four kayas and five wisdoms.

There’s also another explanation of dän. In chom dän dä, dä is gone beyond, gone beyond samsara. Gone beyond samsara and gone beyond lower nirvana, so that means achieve enlightenment. So means gone beyond to enlightenment, beyond all this, then de zhin sheg pa means “gone as it is,” emptiness of all phenomena like sky, the dharmakaya, the holy mind directly seeing emptiness, directly seeing the emptiness of all the phenomena by being non-dual with emptiness—having totally cut dual view, being non-dual with the emptiness of all the phenomena forever, immovable from the emptiness forever.

So in de zhin sheg pa, “gone” refers to all phenomena being empty and “gone as it is” refers to directly seeing the emptiness and being immovable from that forever. In equipoise meditation, it means forever.

Then dra chom pa means having destroyed the enemy, the delusions, chom pa. That includes the subtle negative imprints. For example, Shakyamuni Buddha, having not only destroyed his own delusion but also destroyed or is the destroyer of the delusions of us sentient beings.

Then yang dag par dzog päi sang gye. Sang gye and yang dag par dzog have the same meaning, yang dag par means “all the gross and subtle defilements of the mind,” all the stains, and yang means “completely purified.” And dzog means that ‘because of that, all the qualities and realizations have been completed. Sang gye translates as “buddha” and consists of the two syllables, sang meaning “eliminated all the gross and subtle defilements” and gye meaning “developed all the qualities.”

Then päi is glorification, so having dharmakaya, that’s what the glorification is; sang gye, because sang eliminated all the gross and subtle stains of mind and gye is completing all the qualities. So there’s a pal, pal is glorified.

Then gyäl wa is victorious, the same as I mentioned before. Shak ya thub pa la. When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was in this world showing twelve deeds, Shakya was his caste. So Shak ya thub pa la refers to the Mighty One, thub pa la destroying all delusions, ceasing even the subtle delusions.

Not only that, the Mighty One is able to liberate us sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and causes, the gross, subtle defilements. Chak tshäl lo means I prostrate with the body, speech and mind, my mind with the devotion, my speech with praising, my body with the prostration, in the manner of prostration.

Before reciting this, it’s good to think of the meaning of “guru.” Just think of the essence I explained so you understand the meaning of “guru” before chanting. Once you have the meaning of guru, meditate on it, and then the rest tön pa chom dän dä de. Think of all these qualities. From very bottom of your heart, totally rely on the guru, then prostrate to him. Then, you yourself become able to destroy all the gross and subtle defilements, to complete all the qualities of realizations to that state.

Then you are be able to do perfect work for numberless sentient beings, liberating them from oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to enlightenment. You’re doing this prayer for that.

So that’s, okay. That’s it.


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1 Or Chenrezig’s Request to Shakyamuni Buddha; it’s not clear by the context. See the oral transmission below. [Return to text]

2Garab (Tib; Skt: prahe) literally means “joy”, but I have not found further reference to this name in connection with the maras. Alex Berzin cites the deva’s son as Kama, son of Krishna. [Return to text]