Kopan Course No. 33 (2000)

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

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

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

Lecture Two

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Good afternoon everyone. The other day I meant to recite the meditation prayer that contains the essence of the whole path to enlightenment. Generating that in our heart, that’s the real transformation of the mind. Transforming our mind in this path, in lam-rim, the steps of path to enlightenment. This is what we can really call the spiritual path. Having the determination, the attitude that is fully determined to be free from samsara or the circling aggregates which are in the nature of suffering.

In relation to us, that is mind that experiences loneliness, depression, fear, all these problems, and the contaminated seed of disturbing thoughts; all these emotional thoughts. Because it is contaminated, our mental continuum—with all these seeds of disturbing thoughts—is contaminated. That’s why all these negative emotional thoughts continuously rise and torture us. They constantly torture our life, our own life.

Besides that, there’s the body, which is in the nature of suffering, which experiences so many problems, so many diseases—not only cancer, not only things that frighten us by hearing the name. After going to hospital, having x-rays, or whatever, when the doctor tells you that you have cancer or diabetes, you think “I have diabetes.” It’s good to bring it out. Diabetes or cancer or whatever, when you hear the name you get frightened. When you hear the label given by the doctor. When you hear the label you get frightened. Even if you don’t have the disease, you are afraid that you might get it if you don’t exercise—if you don’t do the billions of exercises that are advertised on the TV and you don’t buy the hundreds, the billions, of machines that you can pull you this way, that makes ups and downs, or putting the machine on your belly to tighten your belly, for a big belly hanging down to go back. Anyway, I’m joking. However, doing billions of exercises—walking, running, so many billions of things—to not get these diseases such as high cholesterol, heart attack, diabetes or cancer, all because of fear. Fear causes you to do all these billions of things, to learn many exercises, to do yoga, and take tablets.

Having a body, which is in the nature of suffering, is why beings has all these sicknesses; as well as all those other problems such as old age. The body, these aggregates, experiences so many problems, this body is the container of all the problems of this life and the foundation of the problems of future lives. This is what’s called samsara, this continuation. Even this gross body does not circle to next life. What circles to the next life is the mind, the aggregate of the mind. Then it is endless, even if it is reborn in the formless realm, where there’s no body, no form, only consciousness. The aggregates that the formless being has, on which the mind is labeled, on which the I is labeled, the aggregate is only the mind. There’s no substantial form body. Other than that, the continuation of this life’s consciousness goes to the next life and takes another form, which again is in the nature of suffering because that rebirth is caused by the contaminated aggregates of body and mind which are in the nature of suffering. Why is it in the nature of suffering? Because it is caused by the karma and delusions.

So, as I was talking about the other night, that particular ignorance of the I, that very specific ignorance that of the I that mentioned the other night, is the very root of the samsara, of the whole entire suffering—of the suffering of rebirth and death and all the problems that are experienced between those two.

It is this particular ignorance, not just any ignorance, this particular ignorance that I introduced that night, that is the one which creates death. This is where death comes from. It comes from this wrong concept, not knowing what the I is, not knowing what mind is, not knowing the ultimate nature of mind. This is where we reincarnate again and again from. This is the ignorance that creates old age. All these things, all these problems are its creation.

Why do these aggregates, why does our mind have to experience suffering? Why does our body have to experience suffering? Why is it that when we pinch our flesh we experience pain? Why do we have to experience pain, why not bliss? Why not great bliss? When you fall down, why not feel great bliss? When you knock your head on the door or on the floor, why not feel great bliss? Why suffering? Why pain? Normally, I say this is the proof that there’s reincarnation. When you pinch yourself and you feel pain that proves there’s reincarnation, that there’s a past life. You’re born with this suffering. The suffering that you experience at birth, in the mother’s womb, when the consciousness took place on the fertilized egg. Suffering didn’t only start after you came out of your mother’s womb. Suffering started inside. There’s the experience of suffering inside. Also, when the baby gets born, when the baby comes out of the mother’s womb—I don’t mean every time the baby cries. I’m not saying that. It’s not because the baby is experiencing such bliss, unbelievable bliss, and then crying! It’s not that. When the baby comes out of the mother’s womb, it cries, it makes a noise. Anyway, I’m not going to imitate the noise. It may not come out properly. So that doesn’t mean the baby is experiencing unbelievable bliss and can’t stand it and then cries. It’s because there’s something undesirable being experienced. Because of that, it cries.

Suffering doesn’t only start outside when the baby comes out. The suffering of this life started when the mind took place on the fertilized egg. That is the definition of conception; when the consciousness took place on the fertilized egg.

In Australia some years ago when I was travelling by car from Sydney to Queensland, or I don’t know now—I don’t remember exactly—we stopped on the road, at a hotel or motel. On the TV there was a show, a lot of debate among the doctors. There was disagreement about the definition of conception because in the West, I’m sure they are now getting more educated, but death, the beginning of the life and the end of the life is not clear in the Western culture. Rebirth is not clear. There is not clear education on that. And the education of death is not clear. There’s a big hole, there’s a dark hole, those two parts of education: beginning of the life and end of the life. Because those two are not clear, there’s a big, dark hole. Because of that, the life between is not clear and that’s why the education of the mind is not clear. Even the life between, what is mind is not clear. I found a psychology book, quite a number of years ago in America. I think it’s supposed to be a good book. I didn’t read from the beginning to the end. Like many Dharma texts I just opened here and there. However, my feeling is that it didn’t seem to come to any real conclusion to what is the mind. There were a lot of examples. It went on and on and on and even at the end didn’t seem to be concrete explanation of what is mind in that book. However, I think it’s progressing. Still, in the Western culture, in the science of mind, the understanding of mind is not complete yet. The full understanding of what is mind is not complete yet. It’s on the way.

In Buddhism, it is explained by omniscient one, not somebody who is still analyzing or somebody who is still studying, but somebody who finished studying. Somebody whose mind is fully awakened, and then he explains it. There’s not the slightest thing that mind doesn’t know. There’s not one single ignorance, not one single obstacle to directly see all phenomena. There’s not one phenomenon that the mind does not see, does not discover. So, there is a difference here in who explains about the mind. In Buddhism the mind is explained by the omniscient one, the one who has purified his mind completely of all the defilements, both gross and subtle defilements—all the obstacles that obstruct the mind from directly seeing all the phenomena. It’s like the dust that covers a mirror, but once it is completely cleaned they can get a full reflection. Clear. No obstruction to the mind. Everything—both gross and subtle—has been purified, he can see everything directly. This is the proof of the potential of the mind, that it can purify gross and subtle obstructions, all of them, that blocks the mind from directly seeing all the past, present and future, every single phenomena that exists.

Therefore, even the very basic texts are completely correct explanations that came from Buddha about science of the mind in Buddhism. All the definitions from very beginning, starting from what is mind, then going into details, are correct. Even in the monasteries, even young monks who are beginning to study philosophy, if even they don’t fully understand the real meaning, at least they have an intellectual understanding of the correct definition of what is the mind. It is clear from beginning what mind is, what body is, and how they are totally separate, totally different phenomena. However, in the West, there’s huge argument among the doctors, a huge debate about the definition of concept. That’s what I saw on TV.

As a mirror not obstructed by the dust becomes clear and able to give reflections, so the mind doesn’t have the obstruction of the substantial phenomena. It’s clear and, because of that, then it can know the object, which is formless. The mind, which is formless, colorless, shapeless and clear, which is not substantial has no obstruction of phenomena and, because of that, it can know the object.

However, the body, that which is a substantial phenomenon, is totally opposite. It has a different nature which doesn’t have those functions. I does not have the quality of knowing the object.

In the case of Buddha then that’s different, that’s exceptional. There’s no resistance. Every atom of Buddha’s holy body can do the function of mind. Even every single atom of the holy body can see directly all the past, present and future of all the existence. For Buddha it is exceptional. Every atom sees totally. For us, the body cannot do the function of the mind. And conversely, the mind cannot do the function of the body. They both have different functions. There are limitations in the actions of mind and limitations in what the body can do. For Buddha it’s not like that. It’s beyond the body and mind what we have. The nature of the qualities is beyond us.

However, I’m not sure, even before becoming a Buddha according to Tantra, Highest Yoga Tantra, even before becoming a Buddha whether there is something preliminary like that which has that quality. I don’t remember exactly.

Just going back, why this body and mind is in the nature of suffering, why they experience so many problems is because, as I mentioned before, when we sit down, if we’re not careful how we sit down, there is pain. Even when we lay down, if we’re not careful of the position of the body, it is easy to get pain. As I mentioned before, even when we pinch ourselves like that, there’s pain. The body is in the nature of suffering. That’s why the mind/body is in the nature of suffering like this, why it experiences suffering—because the cause of these aggregates is not pure.

This body/mind came from impure causes: from karma and delusions, from the very root, ignorance, the unknowing mind. We don’t know what this I is, even though twenty-four hours a day we talk about I, I, I. As I mentioned the other night, we continuously think of I and there is unbelievable concern about the I. There is so much fear something’s going to happen to this I. We live with the fear that something might happen to this I. Then somebody asks, “What is I? What is that I that you always think about twenty-four hours a day? What is that I? What is it that you’re so concerned about, so worried about. What is this I that you are so afraid something will happen to? What is that I? Where is it?” If somebody asks you, there is no reply. People like me, ordinary beings, cannot say. There’s no reply.

We believe in this I twenty-four hours a day, in our whole life, from birth to death, without examining what the I is that we believe in. Twenty-four hours a day, day and night, from birth to the death we believe there’s this I in this body. There’s this I in this body. It’s not in the toes, not in the fingers, not in the nose, not in the mouth, not in the brain, not in the stomach, not in the legs, but somewhere down below the neck and before the kaka [RL, GL], somewhere there above the kaka and below the neck. When it is not examined, we believe a hundred percent that there’s I, somewhere there. Twenty-four hours a day, day and night, from birth to death, for our whole life we believe this. Anyway, up to now, for us, up to now.

But the minute you analyze that thing that you normally believe to be there, to be a hundred percent real existing I—the minute you examine where it is exactly, when you examine whether it really exists or not, you cannot find it. When you analyze, you cannot find that I. When you look for it, you cannot find it anywhere from the tip of the hairs down to the toes. You cannot find it anywhere at all.

Through meditation, through analysis, through valid reasoning, what you discover, what you realize is this. The body is not I, the mind is not I, even the association of body and mind together is not I. It is not the I because that is the base to be labeled “I.” That’s the base to be labeled “I.” If that’s the I, why you should place a label on that? Why you should label “I” on the I? What is the purpose of labeling “I” on the I? If the base, the association of the body and mind is the I, if that is the I, then why you should label “I” on the I? That doesn’t make sense. Then as it is mentioned in the Madhyamaka teachings, it becomes an unceasing, unending regression. Then you have to label “I” on that I. Then on that I you have to label “I.” It becomes endless. There’s no meaning to that, no purpose.

Another example is when a child is born there is the base. The aggregates, the association of the body and mind, are there. Because of that, because this base is there, the parents made up the label “Peter.” Before the parents made up the label “Peter,” if that aggregate were already “Peter” then what’s the meaning there? There’s no purpose, doesn’t make sense for the parents to label “Peter” onto Peter. It doesn’t make sense. Then, again, they would have to label “Peter” onto that. The aggregates are Peter already, then the parents label “Peter”, then they can label “Peter” on that Peter. Then again they have to label “Peter” onto that Peter. So it’s endless.

“Peter” is labeled on the base, which is not the label “Peter”. “Peter” is a label on the base of the aggregates, which is not the label “Peter.” So there’s a big difference. The aggregates are the base to be labeled “Peter” and “Peter” is the label imputed relating to that aggregates, that child’s aggregates. So they are two different phenomena.

Exactly the same, the association of body and mind is the base to be labeled “I.” I is the imputed phenomenon. The I is the label and the aggregates of the association of body and mind are the base to be labeled.

They are two different phenomena. The aggregates—the association of body and mind—and the label “I are not one. But they do not exist separately. The aggregates—the base—and “I”—the label—don’t exist separately but they exist differently. This is what we have to understand. The base aggregates, the association of body and mind which is to be labeled “I” and the label “I” itself are not one, but that doesn’t mean that they exist separately. They don’t exist separately. They exist differently. That’s extremely important to understand.

This gives you a totally different view. It’s a kind of release, like a knot released. It gives a total different view. When you see that the label “I” and the base to be labeled, the aggregates, exist differently then, just from this understanding, it is clear that there is no I besides the body or the mind or the body and mind together, but those combinations are not I. There’s no I on the aggregates but that doesn’t mean that there’s no I. That doesn’t mean that there’s no I. I exists. There is I. That understanding comes. You’re able to differentiate the I, the self, the label and base—you’re able to differentiate.

Like the table. You’re able to differentiate the table and the base of the table. In your view you see the base. The base is what? This side, that side, all the different sides, all the pieces of the table that are put together and the function to put things on top. So that’s the base. That is the base to be labeled “table”. After seeing that—these pieces put together, their function to put something on top—after seeing that, that causes your mind to make up the label “table.” So now you can see the differences – the base and the label “table”, they’re different, they are two different phenomena. They don’t exist separately but they exist differently. So you’re able to differentiate label and the base—the label “table” and the base of it.

Even with this example you get the idea. It becomes clear. This is not “table,” this is not “table.” Any part of this is not the label “table.” Nothing of this is “table.” Even all together it’s not the table. It’s the base to be labeled “table.” By seeing that, then you label “table.” It’s the base. It’s what causes you to make up the particular label “table.” So that’s the base. You see the base first. After that then by seeing that, then your mind makes up the label “table” then you see table.

Firstly, you see the base. Secondly, after your mind has labeled it, then you see the table. You don’t see them together. You don’t see table first and then see the base. Not that. That’s totally wrong. Not even together. There’s no way to see together. You see the base first. By seeing the base first—that which functions to put things on top—then causes your mind to make up, to choose this particular label “table.” Then you believe it. After your mind imputed and you believe in that, then there’s appearance. There’s the table. Then with appearance of table, you see table.

Even here it is clear. In reality, the label “table,” the table that your mind imputed, is not any part of the table. This side is not table, that side is not table, this is not table, any part is not table. You can even understand it from the ordinary language, “part of the table”. We say “part of the table” meaning it’s not the table. This is not table. Any part is not table. So even all together, the group, the whole collection of parts that function to put things on top, even that is not table.

So when you see the base and the label “table” are different, you’re able to differentiate. When you’re able to differentiate then you get idea there’s nothing—even all together is not table. The “table” exists nowhere. There’s no “table” on this. Now, here, I’m talking on. Before I was talking whether this is table. Now, here, I’m talking on. There’s no “table” on this. There’s no “table” on this. Anywhere. On any part there’s no “table.” On any part there’s no “table.” Here I’m talking about the label “table.” The label “table” doesn’t exist here, not here, not anywhere.

So, therefore, the table which exists is what is merely labeled by your mind. That’s how it exists but, even that, you cannot find on this, on anywhere. You see? You cannot find anywhere. So, therefore, how is an inherently-existing table possible? A truly-existing table, a table existing from its own side, a table not labeled by your mind? A table not labeled by mind, which means, existing from its side. That is totally wrong. That is totally false. That exists nowhere. Not only on this, it exists nowhere. Therefore, that appearance, that belief, is wrong. That kind of appearance of “table” is totally false and that belief is a totally wrong conception because when you look for it, what you discover is it’s totally non-existent. But the merely labeled “table” exists even though you don’t see on this base. Here, there, anywhere, you can’t find it, you don’t see it, but it exists. There’s no other reason. There’s no other reason. Only because there’s a base, that’s it. Only because there’s a base, that which functions to put things on top, which can receive the label, which can receive the label “table” is there. So that’s it. That’s the only reason there’s “table”. So, the merely-labeled “table” exists. There’s no other reason why it exists. It’s only because there’s a base. That’s it.

So, now, we can do exactly the same analysis here as with the I. Ever since I brought up this subject… I didn’t mean to talk on this again. My topic become like the mad elephant running everywhere! So now, since I brought up this issue, I ran into this subject, what I want to say is important. When you look at the table, in our view, the two are undifferentiable. The label “table” and the base are undifferentiable in our view; we cannot see these two as different. When we look at the table there’s a table there. There is a table on the base.

When the label “table” and the base which is labeled are undifferentiable by the mind, then this is what needs to be seen as false, this is the object of refutation, gag-cha. For somebody who is able to see the gag-cha, who is able to see the object of refutation, this explanation fits. You can see there’s “table” on the base. You see that. It appears to you like that.

This un-differentiated label and base is how we normal people see the table, and that is what needs to be refuted, that is the object of refutation. What is refuting object? We see the base and the table as undifferentiable in our view. It looks undifferentiable. So that’s gag-cha, the object of refutation. Because we don’t see the difference, and because that un-differentiated nature is false, we need to analyze this and overcome this misapprehension. The base and label “table” as undifferentiable is the object of refutation. That is a false table. Anyway, in your perception you’re seeing that but it is false. That table doesn’t exist. The “table” that you see as undifferentiable from the base doesn’t exist. That’s false.

When he taught the Seven Points of Thought Transformation in Drepung Monastery, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Guru, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, explained the object to be refuted, what is called in Tibetan, gag-cha , like this. I think, this explanation is according to the people who are unable to recognize the object of refutation, who don’t recognize it. His explanation was about those who are unable to recognize what object of refutation is, for those who see the two as undifferentiable.

That’s false. It’s not undifferentiable. It’s differentiable. They exist differently. In reality they exist differently. Therefore, our perception of them being undifferentiable is false. That doesn’t exist. Seeing a “table” on the base is also false. This is the object to be refuted.

What I was going to say is this. It’s the same thing. In your perception there is the I on these aggregates. Besides the belief or the appearance that there’s an I inside this body, besides that, there’s I on these aggregates, the association of body and mind, the base. That is the object to be refuted, what in the Tibetan language is called gag-cha. There’s the I on these aggregates. The I appears like that. That is the false I. That is totally non-existent.

That is the same as His Holiness Ling Rinpoche explained. In your view the aggregates—the association of the body and mind—and the label are undifferentiable. That’s the false view. That’s totally non-existent . That’s totally empty. That’s totally non-existent and that’s totally empty.

So as I mentioned, the table which exists, it’s the same here. Because there are the aggregates, the association of body and mind, then mind merely imputes the I. That is the I that exists.

I think maybe at this stage I’ll stop there. I think it’s better to talk more about karma than emptiness at the moment. It’s just some introduction, to get some idea what is false in our life, and what is truth. What is false and what is truth in our life? In our view what is false, what is the truth? What’s reality? What exists? What doesn’t exist? Actually, this is the most important subject to learn, to study, to meditate, to realize. The reason why we are suffering, why we have to die and be reborn is because of being ignorant in this subject: what is false and what is truth. Not knowing this.

What is the fault that we have in the perception, in the view of our mind, in the reality, the truth that exists. The I which doesn’t exist is the false I. Not knowing the I that exists, I that doesn’t exist. Not knowing this; being unable to realize this. This becomes the root of all our suffering. When you’re unable to realize the false and truth of phenomena, when you’re unable to discover this, when you’re unable to differentiate this, to differentiate between the false and the truth, that becomes the basis for attachment to arise for that object. Because you’re unable to differentiate false and truth of that phenomena, on that basis, that hallucination, then attachment, anger and all these emotional thoughts arise. You already have this huge ignorance, and again you build up this huge hallucination, where you are unable to differentiate the false and truth of object. You believe the false—the real “table” on the base. In your perception there’s a table on the base appearing to you; a table undifferentiable from base.

There is the I on the aggregates, there’s the I in this body. This hallucination covers the reality, as I mentioned the first night. By the mind seeing the I as the aggregates, if somebody asks, “What are you doing here?” you reply, “I’m meditating” or “I’m listening to Dharma.” The mind thinks the body sitting in the meditation position or the mind reflecting on the path to liberation and enlightenment, is practicing the antidote to overcome delusion.

However, seeing the body sitting in meditation position or the mind doing meditation or listening to the teachings, seeing the aggregates doing these functions, the thought makes up the label. That thought which sees the aggregates doing these activities, makes up the label, “I’m listening to Dharma.” “I’m meditating.” “I’m doing this and that.” So the mind merely imputes the I. Then there’s a projection, a hallucination decorated on that, of an inherently-existent I, a truly-existent I that never came from your mind, was never labeled by the mind. This comes from ignorance, the negative imprint left on the mental continuum.

The merely-imputed beautiful body is an example. This projection, this hallucination is decorated on that. Immediately, a projected ‘real one’ appears from there. This merely imputed ‘beautiful body’ comes from your mind Your mind imputes this by seeing the hair done like this way and nose this way, ears this way, then one’s own mind merely imputes “beautiful.” The idea of having muscles on the body makes it good, beautiful. I thought the monks had muscles. The arms having big—what do you call? —big muscles. Big muscles around the body—here and there, here, here. All these big muscles, anyway. Due to culture, what a society believes to be, beauty, you follow to that and you believe that.

You’re told what beautiful means: blonde hair, this shaped this way, this shaped that way. You’re told this by other people in the culture, by society. Then your mind merely imputes “beautiful” onto a body like this and then, immediately after that, that negative imprint left by the ignorance makes this hallucination of real beauty appear to come from its own side. It appears to be never made up, to never be created by your mind. So this hallucination came from your mind, negative imprint. Then, on top of that, after you put the reason, then attachment comes. After you have merely imputed “beautiful” and believed in that label, seeing it as beautiful from its own side immediately attachment arises. As I mentioned the other night, it’s the same: immediately after you have merely imputed this inherently existent beauty, real beauty, real in the sense existing from its own side, never labeled by the mind, this is there.

Now, to repeat again: due to culture, society, what they believe—such as the color of the hair or the shape of this body—in some cultures having muscles is beautiful, in others it’s being skinny—due to society, culture the mind merely imputes “beautiful.” Then you believe in your label of that desirable appearance. The appearance comes the second after being merely imputed, then there’s this projection of inherently-existent beauty which appears you to have nothing to do with your mind—it never came from your mind, it was never labeled by your mind.

Then after that projection or hallucination mind get attached. Then it becomes painful. Suffering, which is the nature of attachment, is difficult to separate from. Grasping. So that’s extra suffering. Already the suffering of that hallucination, that hallucination of inherently existent beauty and believing on that that’s true—that’s already the biggest suffering. That’s the biggest suffering. That’s the foundation, then, on top of that, attachment.

We can do the same analysis with anger. First there is the merely-labeled “bad.” The way the person acts towards you or thinks about you, your mind imputes that as “bad.” It’s merely imputed. Right after that, you believe in that, you believe in your label. Then there’s the projection of inherently-existent “bad.” Put on that “bad” merely-labeled by mind, a “real bad” appears from its own side. It looks like it never came from your own mind, it was not merely labeled by your mind. It appears like that. Then, on that, you get angry. Anger, which means to harm, arises. So there’s a whole evolution. Before the anger rises there’s a whole foundation you created there: first, the merely-labeled, then projection of an inherently existent “bad,” then anger arises.

There are so many hallucinations. There are so many hallucinations piled up. Now, you can see totally that it doesn’t make sense. After all this analysis, you can see now that our life is like this, totally caught up all this hallucination. Then on top this hallucination, all these emotional thoughts like anger and attachment arise. They are totally childish. They have no meaning. All this is total nonsense. It is not only nonsense, but it tortures you. It makes you suffer. All these wrong concepts, all these projections—you’re overwhelmed by them, trapped in these hallucinations. So this is the fundamental suffering. That’s how we’re suffering in samsara like this.

So we need to wake up. We need to wake up by realizing emptiness, by meditating on emptiness, by studying all the teachings on emptiness. We need to study the whole path. We need to study all the five paths to liberation – called the five paths to enlightenment. As I mentioned the other night, to be free forever from all this hallucinatory minds, all these delusions. To be free forever, we need to cease totally not only the gross negative imprints, that gives birth to the delusions, not only that, but even the subtle negative imprint by studying the whole path to liberation and enlightenment. By listening, reflecting and meditating. By doing these three, the whole path to enlightenment, which comes in two: method and wisdom, which ceases all the gross and subtle defilements. As I mentioned before, the gross and subtle negative imprints which give rise to delusions and subtle negative imprints, that which obstructs our mind to directly see all past, present, and future phenomena.

So this way of meditating, of analysis, is extremely important. You see it’s baseless. All the, in our daily life, what makes our mind unhappy, what makes us to suffer with these wrong concepts, with all these hallucinations and believing that they’re real. So based on all this, it’s baseless. Our problem, you can say that our problem has no base. Here, I’m not talking that there’s no root of suffering. I’m not talking that. Here I’m saying our problem is baseless. All the phenomena is empty. It is not like the way it appears to us. In reality it is empty, baseless.

I think I will read a few pages again. Only a few.

Going back to what I started to say, this body and mind is the nature of suffering because it is created by karma and delusion. One thing I started but left out is at the birth there’s suffering. At conception, the mind takes place on the fertilized egg. Whether there’s happiness, whether there’s suffering, however, that first experience is the result, that is the causative phenomena. After mind takes place on the fertilized egg, suffering happens, whatever that you experience. Let’s say suffering. I think it depends on the level, depends on who is reincarnating. For that being in the womb I’m talking about, whether there’s suffering rebirth or whether there’s bliss depends on the level of the mind of the person who is reincarnated: how pure or impure that mind is.

That first experience of suffering or happiness—whatever it is—is the result. That is a causative phenomenon. That is a result. So it should have a cause. That happiness, that suffering, the very first experience in the womb, that should have cause. The cause should exist before the result. The cause of that happiness or cause of that suffering should exist before the result, they cannot exist together. It should exist before. A specific result and the specific cause of that cannot exist together. That particular result and that cause of that, those two cannot exist together. So, before there’s that suffering or happiness, when the mind first took place on the fertilized egg, since that is a result it should have cause. Since that’s causative phenomena it should have cause.

So because the cause must have existed before that, that means, by that sense, there was a past life. The cause of that happiness is virtue; the cause of that suffering is nonvirtue. However, if it is not an aryan being—one who has completely removed delusion and karma—if it is an ordinary being born under the control of delusion and karma, then that’s suffering. The feeling, the very first feeling when the consciousness takes place on the fertilized egg, that is a suffering feeling. The person’s mind must have existed before that to create that product, that feeling in the first moment of conception.

It was the past life’s delusion, karma that resulted in that. That’s why I’m saying by pinching our skin, when we feel pain, that proves, that shows reincarnation. That’s why I’m saying that. That shows reincarnation, that there is past life.

If we don’t get liberated from samsara in this life, if we don’t get liberated from the cause of samsara—delusion and karma—in this life then, again, we have to reincarnate, to die and be reborn. Therefore, this feeling of suffering also shows future life. It not only shows past lives, it also proves future lives.

So what I was saying before, there’s real spiritual practice, spiritual development. What we should understand is the real one, the mind total determined to be free from this samsara which is the nature of suffering, and determined to develop bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings which is based on great compassion. It is the mind that feels unbearable, seeing how other sentient beings are suffering. Just as you suffer, numberless other sentient beings are also suffering in samsara. Seeing this, then feeling unbearable compassion towards them. Then transforming the mind to having these realizations and also realizing emptiness. This is real spiritual development or practice, transforming the mind like this, having these realizations. Then, based on that, you follow the tantric path.

Then think, “The purpose of my life is to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings; the oceans of humans’ sufferings, the oceans of suras’ and asuras’ sufferings, the oceans of hell beings’ sufferings, the oceans of hungry ghosts’ sufferings, the oceans of animals’ sufferings—to completely liberate them from all these sufferings of samsara, including the cause, karma and delusion, and bring them to full enlightenment. That is the real goal of my life. That is why I am born this time as human being, why I have taken this precious human body this time—to benefit others, to offer this service. For the success of that, I must first myself achieve the omniscient mind. That, depends on ceasing gross and subtle defilements. And that depends on actualizing the wisdom realizing emptiness. That is the only thing that can directly cease the delusions, the defilements, including the negative imprints.

“With the support of bodhicitta, the method, then this wisdom can directly cease even the subtle defilements, the subtle negative imprints.”

“So, therefore, I’m going to take the oral transmission of the Diamond Cutter Sutra, Buddha’s teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom from where all the numberless past buddhas were born, all the present buddhas have been born and all the future buddhas will be born. From where all the bodhisattvas have been born, from where all the arhats have been born, that which releases all the numberless sentient beings, including myself, from all the oceans of samsaric suffering whose continuation has no beginning.

[Short mandala offering]

[Request to turn the Wheel of Dharma]

[Rinpoche confers lung: Dorje Chupa]

So here it is talking about how powerful this teaching is. So Ganga means, one meaning is the River Ganges. There are four famous rivers in India. My understanding from the texts is that all four rivers came from Mt Kailash. The River Ganges is a huge river, very long, flowing near Varanasi. Another meaning of Ganga is “ocean.” So here it says ‘world’; in a “world equaling number of sand grains of the River Ganges” means uncountable number of sand grains, because this river is so huge, so long.

So, worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges. So, if the men and women living in all those worlds, that many number of worlds completely fill up that many worlds with the seven types of jewels—diamonds, gold, silver and so forth—then make offering to the buddhas—not just one buddha but all the buddhas—they create that much merit. However, if you memorize or say just four words of this text, one verse which is four words, and then you explain it to others, you create merit, good karma, good luck, that is unbelievable, it is much greater than the previous one, far greater. The merit of a man and women in those worlds, filling up all those worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the River Ganges with seven precious jewels and offering to all the buddhas is small compared to this one. Memorizing one verse of this text, which is four words, and explaining it to others, the merit is uncountable; it is much greater than the other one.

[Rinpoche continues with oral transmission]

Then it says, if you recite even just one verse, which is four words, from this text, the place where you recite this becomes a holy place. That place becomes a holy object. So that means now we’re reading here, this text that we’re reading here, this place is transformed into a holy object, it becomes the same as a stupa, a statue; even the place becomes a holy object.

All the devas, human beings, suras and asuras all respect the place and make offering to it. It is like the places where we go for pilgrimage, such as where the Buddha became enlightened in Bodhgaya, or where great yogis had high realizations and achieved enlightenment. We go to those holy places or caves and make offerings and say prayers. The place where you read this text becomes a holy place to all the devas, human beings, suras and asuras. So there is no question if somebody receives this text, writes this text, memorizes this text, reads this text, keeps this text—even just keeping this text and trying to understand meaning of this text, there is no question that in that place, there’s a buddha or guru there.

[Rinpoche continues with oral transmission]

This time twenty pages, starting from the tenth page then up to thirty.

[Mandala offering]

This meditation can especially be done, in the break time, after sitting meditation. If you practice mindfulness in this, this will be extremely powerful and good. It’s real science. It’s learning about one’s own mind, learning about your life.

It’s basically what I mentioned before. Maybe just this way, maybe it’s just a simpler way to start, to process to see emptiness, to process to see the truth. One example that I normally give, to understand how what we see comes from our mind, is when you learn the alphabet in kindergarten. At the beginning the teacher who introduces you to alphabet, for example, writes it on the blackboard. First there is one line like this. Then he draws a second line, and then a third, so it becomes a design. At that time, you’re not told it is an “A.” You’re not introduced that this is an “A.” It is just like this—some lines like this that you see there. That’s all that you see. At that time you don’t see that this is an “A.” You don’t have that perception that this is an “A.” You just see the lines like this.

After that, the teacher or whoever, instructs you that this is an “A.” Then you believe what the person tells you. You believe in that. Then your mind makes up the label. The mind that sees this makes up the label “A” and then you believe in that label. You believe in your label. After that then there’s appearance. Only after that, then there’s appearance of A, but you no longer see it as an appearance of “A” but as a real A.

If you don’t believe in your label I don’t think that you will have appearance “A.” But, anyway, you can analyze. You can check. You put a lot of labels then you check with your appearance. You check your label is “gold” when you have appearance of gold. [RL, GL] You have ten dollars that you label “a billion dollars.” “I have billion dollars!” Then you check! So it’s easy; in just one minute, just one second, you become a billionaire.

Anyway, after you believe in your label then you have appearance of “A” like that. After the appearance then you see “A,” then you see this is “A.” Until you see that this is an “A” there’s a whole evolution there that takes time, starting from your mind seeing this line then making up the label “A”—starting from there. And, before that, you were told by somebody and then you believed in that. Therefore, you can now see where the appearance of “A” came from; it’s a creation of you mind.

All appearances are like this, up to a “Z.” All those appearance that you have, that you see, all came from your mind. From morning after we wake up, that one day, whatever we see is all the appearance, coming from your mind. All these forms here—whatever appears: the temple, the statues, the ceiling, the pillars, all these flowers, these colors—whatever appearances we have, whatever we see, all came from our mind.

Whatever we see, whatever appears to us, all came from our mind labeling. “This is a pillar.” “This is a ceiling.” “This is a flower.” “This is yellow.” “This is red.” “This is a clock.” “This is a mug.” Everything came from our mind labeling—everything. Trees, sky, clouds, grass, road, car, people, everything you see, all these appearances came from the mind. Friend, enemy, stranger, bad, good, beautiful, ugly—it’s the same; they originate by mind labeling them as such.

Whatever you hear with the ear sense, the object of the ear sense, is the base. And, because this is there, then your mind label “sound.” The object of the ear sense is the base. The mind perceiving that makes up the label “sound.” “Sound” is the label and that one is the base, so, again, there are two different phenomena. They’re in a different shape but when we don’t analyze it looks like they’re one. That is the false view, the wrong view.

That’s the way to meditate on the emptiness of the sound—how the sound doesn’t exist from its own side. It’s merely imputed by mind. So, again, your mind makes up label “sound,” “bad” and “good,” whatever, and believes in that. However it appears, the mind sees it that way. After labeling, it believes in that, then you hear a bad or good sound, like that. So, it came from the mind.

It’s the same with smell, taste or tangible objects. It’s the same. Everything that appears to you, what you smell, taste or touch came from your own mind originally by imputing. The very start is your mind labeling. It started with that. So, therefore, within each twenty-four hours, whatever there is in your world, your six senses, the views—what you see, what you hear, what you taste, what you smell—everything came from one’s mind. The logic is that. The root is that everything starts from your mind, first your mind labeling. By seeing the base, your mind labels and that’s how things start.

So, the first thing is to meditate like this. When you do a sitting meditation, do it like this; when you’re walking around, practice awareness like this. See how everything comes to the same thing—how you see the person as beautiful, this one as ugly—how it all depends on what kind of label your mind puts on it, including enemy or friend. It’s the same, it all comes from your mind.

All these appearance and how you see them, it’s the same. How you see them depends on what kind of label you put on them. What kind of label you put on it, then that’s how you see it. So, while you’re walking around practice the awareness of seeing, hearing, touching and smelling in this way. This is a very important meditation.

This also helps to understand karma. Whatever happens in the life came from karma. It especially helps to show the process, how things do not exist from their own side; how things are empty. To go into emptiness, to see the truth of the phenomena—it become process for that. So this is very important. Even to do meditation like this even for one week like that is so good, so powerful, so good. And then you know that your twenty-four hours of life experience – like this: depending on what kind of label you put you see things that way.

If you put a negative label you see negative, then you have unpleasant feeling. You put negative label by your mind you see negative. When you see negative then, when it appears negative you see negative, then you have unpleasant feeling. For example, your mind puts this label “enemy” what a person harms you and you see it as bad. Then it appears that way. You see it that way. Then, when your sense contacts the “enemy” you get an unpleasant feeling, unhappiness. You get unhappiness.

Your mind puts label “enemy” and you see the enemy. When you see enemy then you get a negative effect, an unpleasant feeling, unhappiness. This person is not making you upset. Now you see the analysis, this person is not making you upset. Who is making you upset is your mind. Your mind is making you upset. Your mind, your concept, is making you upset. Your concept is making you depressed. That’s the whole point. With this way of meditating, you come to realize, actually, that object is not what is disturbing you. It’s your mind. It’s your impure concept. Your mind is disturbing you. Your impure mind is making you unhappy. That makes you depressed, unhappy. The negative, impure mind is that one that gives you suffering, that gives you problems.

If your mind was pure, correct, with pure thoughts and positive labels, then you would see things as positive, as good, and you would have pleasant feelings that would makes you happy. So being happy also comes from your mind. So here’s the key of your happiness. Your mind becomes your key for your suffering. Your mind becomes the key for your happiness.

It depends on what kind of label you put on things—whether you put a negative label on your life situation, on the objects, or a positive. Your mind becomes like TV channel, showing a bad movie or a good movie. Your mind is like that. So that’s how in the daily life, happiness, unhappiness, ups and downs, it all comes from your mind. It’s your mind. Your mind is doing that.

Your mind is bringing your life’s ups and downs. So if your mind is always positive, only putting positive labels, everything is “good,” then everything that appears is good. Everything that you see is good and you have always pleasant, always happiness. Whatever happens to your life, you always have happiness. Even if you have cancer you have happiness. Even if you have AIDS you have happiness. Even if you are dying you have happiness.

Through meditation, your mind becomes the path. As you put a positive label on everything, you see everything positively—death, cancer, whatever problems you have. Through meditation, not just emptiness, but especially bodhicitta—compassion toward other sentient beings, thought transformation—makes everything positive, so you see everything as positive. You have happiness. No matter whatever problem you encounter you have happiness.

So this is how you transform your problem into happiness, including death. Especially with bodhicitta you use your death to achieve enlightenment. You use your death to purify your mind. You use your death as a path to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. With bodhicitta, everything is like that. Death does not become suffering, the cause of unhappiness. Taking a positive way, using bodhicitta, experiencing death with bodhicitta it only positive. You use the death experience to achieve the path to enlightenment, to cease all the defilements, to achieve all the perfected qualities, to liberate numberless sentient beings to bring them to enlightenment.

I think this meditation is very important. Maybe can try one of those sitting meditation but most important when you’re out, when you’re not doing sitting meditation, at that time, practice this. Especially during these weeks, put much effort in practicing this mindfulness—in your room, outside; to practice mindfulness as much as possible like this. It is extremely useful. This way you can see, even with this meditation you can see, as Buddha said, that you are the enemy to yourself, you are the liberator to yourself. It depends on what you do with your mind. You can create a hell realm, also, you can create enlightenment. It all depends on what you do with your mind.

[Dedication prayers]

Thank you very much. Thank you.

We’ll recite the Foundation of All Good Qualities.

The Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism meditation that we’re trying to learn, to practice, is taught by kind compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. This method, this path, is revealed by kind, compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. This is the medicine given to you; it is prescribed by a doctor and you’re taking it. You rely on the medicine that means also you rely on the doctor. It’s the same here: this method, this meditation practice that we are taking an interest in learning and trying to practice, is for a better life. So, even without talking about the big aims like liberation or enlightenment, a better life is just a simple way. To have a better life, this is revealed by Buddha so, naturally, we rely upon Buddha. Naturally we take refuge in Buddha. As we take refuge in the meditation, the meditation practice, this path that is revealed by Buddha. As we rely on this, naturally, we rely on the Buddha. Naturally we already have taken refuge in Buddha as we rely on the methods revealed by Buddha, the path to liberation and enlightenment.

This is the path to the happiness, liberation and enlightenment that we want to learn, we want to discover, to actualize. As we rely on this, naturally, we rely on Buddha. Naturally we’re taking refuge in Buddha, so, therefore, as well as all the lineage lamas. From Buddha this teaching has been handed down all those who have actualized the path. From Buddha handed down to our root gurus. So, naturally, we’re relying upon all them who passed the teaching from one lama to another lineage lama, passed down to our root guru. So, actually, we rely on all of them, the founder, the present Buddhadharma Buddha, then all other lineage lamas.

So, therefore, here it involves asking them to grant blessings for oneself and in the mind of all the sentient beings to purify the obstacles.

The main obstacle to purify is ignorance, the mind which is unknowing of the ultimate nature of the I, the ultimate nature of the aggregates and all phenomena. And then, also, purifying the wrong conception, which is the obstacle that blocks bodhicitta, which interferes with us actualizing bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. To purify these very basic wrong concepts, the main ones are these two. From Tantra, what is to be purified is ordinary impure thought; ordinary impure concepts and appearances [pause] and gross mind—the impure subtle wind and mind. Then to actualize the wisdom realizing emptiness, the fundamental path of Sutra: the wisdom realizing emptiness and bodhicitta. Those two are main ones. From Tantra, the method and wisdom path, such as the clear light illusory body, then to achieve the result, the buddha’s holy body—the rupakaya—and the holy mind—the dharmakaya. That is the goal to be achieved.

When we ask to receive blessings, the blessings contain all this. The meaning of blessing is this: one’s own mind to be transformed so mind becomes the dharmakaya and body become the rupakaya. That transforms the mind into the whole path to enlightenment, the path of method and wisdom, and then the goal, the dharmakaya and rupakaya. The meaning of blessing contains all that. From the root of the path to enlightenment - what Geshe Tashi explained yesterday and today, about the guru, and the shortcomings of not devoting to the guru and making mistakes. After having found the guru then not correctly devoting, and making mistakes—those shortcomings.

And the benefits, the advantage, the skies of advantages of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend, with thought and action, which is the root and that which brings success to all the rest of the path. The beginning of the graduated path of the lower capable being, which starts from realizing how precious this perfect human body is. qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses or ten endowments. It’s what brings success to from the very beginning of lam-rim, beginning of the path from there up to enlightenment, and then the graduated path of the lower, or middle, higher capability beings, that is mentioned in Sutra, which is foundation, and Tantra the result, the Tantra path.

What makes all that successful up to enlightenment is by the root, by after one has found the virtuous friend, correctly devoting to the virtuous friend. When you ask for blessings, it contains everything from the beginning of the path, guru devotion, up to enlightenment.

In Tibetan the term, if you want to learn Tibetan language, chin-lap; chin is ‘glorious’, ‘magnificent’, lap means ‘transformation’. Your mind is transformed into compassion, into loving-kindness, into wisdom, into bodhicitta, into patience, into lam-rim. From guru devotion, your thought toward the guru, which is ordinary, transforms that into pure thought, devotional thought. That is the blessing.

Samsaric happiness is only in the nature of suffering, and is not real happiness, not pure happiness, which is only nature of suffering. By discovering this, that samsara is only nature of suffering, then the mind becomes totally detached to this and develops the total determination to be free from this samsara. So that’s the real blessing.

Then, when the mind is transformed to bodhicitta, that’s an incredible blessing. When one realizes emptiness, the ultimate nature of the ‘I’, the aggregates, that’s another great blessing. Then the tantra path: the generation and completion path. Then last one is the dharmakaya and rupakaya, it becomes that.

There is a requesting prayer to all the lineage lamas. Maybe I remember or maybe don’t remember, not sure, all the prayers. However, we do just the requesting prayer to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. That one aspect is all the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, all the lineage lamas—direct and indirect—in that one aspect; we make a total one-pointed request. Nectar beams are emitted to purify all these obstacles, all the wrong concepts just mentioned. And then we receive all the realizations, all the blessings from guru devotion, up to enlightenment, the dharmakaya and rupakaya including the path of method and wisdom to be actualized right now with one’s mind. So make strong requests. One visualizes nectar beams emitted from Buddha, enter into one’s own body, mind, and enter the body, mind of all of us here, all sentient beings.

So now I will lead, recite, the lam-rim meditation prayer that contains essence of the whole path to enlightenment.

[The Foundation of All Good Qualities]

[Short mandala offering]

[Refuge and bodhicitta]


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