Kopan Course No. 41 (2008)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1746)

These teachings were given by Kyabje Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 41st Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 2008. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

Lecture 13 is a talk on the beginnings of the FPMT by Ven. Roger Kunsang, who is Rinpoche's assistant and CEO of FPMT Inc. See also the Basic Philosophy of Buddhism, to listen to the audio files and read along with the unedited transcript for Lecture 10.  You may also download the entire contents of these teachings as a pdf file

Lectures 18 & 19: Pilgrimage and the Power of Holy Objects

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Lecture 18

[Rinpoche and students chant Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra.]

When we see holy objects and make offerings, prostrations and circumambulations, we shouldn’t just be like tourists, like nonbelievers. What I’m saying is we must see, we should see them, but what I’m talking more about here is that there is the most unimaginable benefit from just even seeing the holy objects. Then, circumambulating, making prostrations, making offerings, something that we have come to do in this life, most human beings do not understand the importance and don’t engage in this. Therefore, it is the most precious thing, the rarest thing.

For us, at this time, we are not only born a human being, but somehow, somehow, somehow the life turned out to be that we have met the Buddhadharma and understood these things, that which has limitless skies of benefit, where it is unbelievably easy to collect happiness. I mean temporal happiness, I mean all the happiness—it’s so easy—and especially liberation from samsara and enlightenment, those everlasting happinesses, ultimate happiness.

That we have met the Buddhadharma this time and have the unbelievable opportunity to create the cause of happiness, especially to achieve liberation from samsara, to end the suffering of samsara and to achieve enlightenment, is so unbelievable. For common people in the world, if you look, it is so difficult to even to create the cause of ignorant samsaric happiness, not even liberation, or enlightenment, even just to create the cause of temporary happiness, success in business, wealth, comfort and so forth. Doing business and getting external objects of the senses, they are just conditions, they’re not the main cause, they’re just conditions. The main cause is our own mind, our good intention, the good karma we create.

What worldly people regard as the main causes of their happiness are only conditions. They’re just conditions and so obtaining them does not necessarily mean they have achieved happiness. They achieve happiness only if there is a cause. Without cause we can’t achieve happiness, even if all the conditions are there.

This is just a general introduction. What people believe in the world, the more common people, those who doesn’t have the Dharma, what they believe is that the cause of happiness is external: the five sense objects and external things together. But achieving that doesn’t mean they always achieve happiness, it doesn’t mean that. Only if the cause of happiness is there, then they will experience happiness. Therefore, they have a totally wrong belief, a totally wrong understanding of the cause of happiness. There are very few who actually know that the actual cause of happiness is our own mind, the positive mind and positive actions.

People who understand the cause of freedom have freedom in everyday life. For us, this time we have met the Buddhadharma and we understand, so we have freedom. By knowing karma and the mind, how happiness and suffering both have to come from the mind, we are able to stop creating suffering from the mind and to achieve the happiness from our mind, from our heart.

If we understand karma, we have freedom. We have freedom by understanding the four types of motivation. Remember, when I read the Tara prayer, what makes Dharma, how an action becomes either Dharma not Dharma, either virtue or nonvirtue. By understanding that, we have freedom every day. No matter what activities we do with our body, speech, and mind, they become the cause of enlightenment, they become the cause to achieve the happiness of future lives and then the cause to achieve liberation from samsara and the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings.

We have a choice at which level of happiness we create the cause for. The only other choice is to choose suffering, where our actions become only suffering. But we have total freedom for our actions to become happiness, and not only to become the cause of samsaric happiness or freedom from lower realms but right the way up to enlightenment. So, we have unbelievable freedom.

Once we have understood karma, we have full freedom in our life. Whatever happiness we want to achieve is in your hand. So, we are unbelievably fortunate. We must realize how fortunate we are, how unbelievably fortunate, how unimaginably fortunate, having this wisdom, this Dharma wisdom. We are unbelievably, unbelievably fortunate. For most human beings in the world, it’s not like that.

So that’s introduction. First I wanted to mention these two things, so then you understand.

After meeting the Buddhadharma, our life becomes so meaningful, most unbelievably meaningful, most productive. It’s just amazing how we can be of benefit. I mean, our liberation and enlightenment is one thing, ending the oceans of samsaric sufferings, that’s unbelievable, then to achieve enlightenment is unbelievable. But here, I’m talking about liberating numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bringing them to enlightenment, doing this for numberless beings from each realm: from the hell realms, from the hungry ghosts’, from the animals’, to bring to cessation of suffering and to bring them to enlightenment.
It’s just by meeting the Mahayana teachings that we come to understand this. This is most amazing, this is most amazing, that we know we can practice the Mahayana teachings to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. This is most amazing, most amazing. It gives us the happiest life, the most amazing, the most fortunate, the happiest life. Before, we didn’t have any idea what we could do with our life, no idea at all. Maybe we thought to help somebody, such as giving some money to somebody who doesn’t have any or some medicine to somebody who needs some medicine, but not this. This [level of help] is most amazing. We should realize that.

As the Buddha explained in the Sutra of the Mudra, Developing the Power of Devotion, to really understand the benefits of following the Mahayana, the first thing we should realize is—this is very important—that we don’t just become a tourist. We don’t just become a tourist, taking pictures so we can say that we’ve been there. We’ve been there, and so we have lot of stories we can tell our friends, telling them about all our life with and how we’ve been there and we’ve been there and we’ve been there, this and this and that.

In the sutra, the Buddha talks about somebody making offerings. What offerings? Every day making offerings of ten divine foods—meaning nectar—and ten divine dresses. Ten divine foods means nectar, something very, very precious. To give you an idea of ten divine dresses, one necklace or one ornament, one earring that a sura owns is worth more than all the human beings’ wealth put together. If you put together all the human beings’ wealth, one deva’s necklace is far more valuable. Even all the human beings’ wealth put together could not pay for it. It’s unbelievable.

So, this person offers all these things every day, the hundred divine dress and so on to whom? To the arhats, who completed the five paths to liberation, who ceased all the oceans of samsaric suffering and their causes, karma and delusion, the seed of delusion, all the arhats who have destroyed the enemy, the delusions. These offerings are not just to one arhat. How many arhats? Equaling the number of atoms of the universes.

There are unimaginable, unimaginable, unimaginable, uncountable atoms in all the universes, unimaginable. To that many arhats this person offer all those offerings every day. For how long? I think it might be eons equaling… I think it might be confused with the benefits another mantra brings. How long? Eons. How many eons? Eons, I think it might be according to the sand grains of the Ganga. I think I mentioned this before. But, how many eons? That many number of eons.
This time I’ll check particularly, but I thought it might be that. But even just for one eon is unimaginable and this is for many eons.

The sutra says that somebody merely seeing a statue of a buddha or a drawing of a buddha creates numberless times greater merit than that person having made that many offerings.

All those previous merits themselves are just unimaginable. Those many offerings, every day, hundreds and hundreds of offerings every day to an unimaginable number of arhats for not just one eon but many, many eons, so you can imagine the unbelievable merit itself there is. But compared to merely seeing a statue, a painting or a drawing of a buddha, all those merits become small. The merits collecting by seeing a holy object are far greater; they are most unimaginable.

It is mentioned that even if we look at a painting or drawing of a buddha with a disturbed mind, an angry mind—not with a virtuous mind—it causes us to gradually see tens of millions of buddhas. It is said that drawings done on a stone wall, even if they look at them with a disturbed mind, an angry mind, those people will gradually see tens of millions of buddhas.

What it’s saying is that the minute we see a statue or a drawing of a buddha, it immediately plants a seed of enlightenment. We should understand that, it immediately plants a seed of enlightenment in our mental continuum. That means from the beginning of the path, from the root, from guru devotion, the three principal of the path, the whole Mahayana path, the five paths, ten bhumis, all that, the whole tantric path, seeing pictures or statues of buddhas plants the seed of enlightenment, allowing us to achieve all these realizations. We’ve got to understand that.

When we achieve the Mahayana path of merit, that has three levels: small, middle, great. The minute we achieve that great Mahayana path of merit, at that time, when our mind reaches that level, we see numberless buddhas, even in this very first path, numberless buddhas but in the nirmanakaya aspect. Wherever you are, even in the toilet or bathroom, shopping or wherever it is, the minute our mind reaches that level, we see numberless buddhas right there, right there. It doesn’t have to only be in a gompa or something.

So, here, when it talks about the benefits of looking at a drawing of a buddha, even one drawn on a stone wall, even with disturbed angry mind, how by that we will gradually see tens of millions of buddhas, I think it’s referring to this path, the first of the five paths to achieve enlightenment.

That’s just giving an idea but it shows what unbelievable, unbelievable qualities we experience on all the other paths. When we achieve the third path, the Mahayana right-seeing path, we see the buddhas in the sambhogakaya aspect, then, of course, after we complete the path, when we cease all the subtle defilements, then we meet the buddhas in the dharmakaya state. It means that at that time our mind becomes one with all the buddhas’ holy minds, the dharmakaya, we become one with all the buddhas, our mind, our heart becomes one with all the buddhas’ holy minds. This happens through the seed planted through seeing a drawing or statue of a buddha.

Therefore, when we go on a pilgrimage or even at our own home, it becomes unbelievably important to have many holy objects—to have paintings or statues of buddhas—and of course to respect them. If we know how to respect them but don’t, if disrespect happens, because they are such powerful objects, we create heavy negative karma; it pollutes the mind. If we don’t respect statues, stupas and scriptures, if we disrespect them, it pollutes the mind, and then it is difficult to achieve realizations, to realize emptiness, to actualize bodhicitta and so forth. Those things become obstacles for that. So, we should have many holy objects but then we should know how to respect them. That’s very important.

Except in the bathroom. Maybe having holy objects in the bathroom is disrespectful. Otherwise in most rooms in our home, having many holy objects makes us look at them so many times every day, and each time we look at them, we collect unbelievable merit, much greater merit than all the virtues of offering the ten divine foods and dresses as in that story. In comparison, that becomes very small.

It brings us to enlightenment quickly. We achieve such unbelievable, unbelievable merit, so it brings us to enlightenment quickly. That means we can liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsara suffering and bring them to enlightenment. That’s the benefit we get.

In the lam-rim it mentions that there was a very poor person in India who had nothing else to offer four monks but a medicinal drink. It doesn’t say they were arhats or highly realized, who had achieved the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, just four ordinary monks. He offered them a medicine drink and then in his next life, he was born a very powerful king in India, the most powerful king, with unbelievable wealth.

That is why we have to understand karma, how for even a small negative karma the result is unbelievable suffering for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes and for even a small virtue, the result, wow! is so powerful, like that person who became that very powerful king with all that wealth. Therefore, we must collect even a small good karma and not abandon it. But even a small negative karma we must abandon because the result is great suffering. It’s unbelievable, so we must abandon it. This story illustrates this.

So, compared to somebody making unbelievable offerings of a hundred divine foods and a hundred divine dresses to as many arhats as the number of atoms of the universes, for as many eons as the sand grains in the Ganga, it’s much more precious to merely see a statue or painting of a buddha. It creates far more merit.

Now, now, on top of this, if we make offerings and prostrate to a holy object, even using one hand to prostrate like this, [Rinpoche demonstrates] even if we just bend our head like this to the holy object, immediately we create the cause of enlightenment, immediately we create the cause for the highest success. If we see a statue and just bend our head with respect, or if we prostrate like this, then make offerings of flowers and so forth, the merit is far greater, it’s double, it’s greater than the numberless merit we receive from merely seeing a statue or stupa.

When we actually make a prostration, even just putting our palms together, or we make offerings, we create much greater merit than before, numberless greater merit than just seeing a holy object. It’s just amazing, just amazing.

So like this, we are so fortunate. We are unbelievably, inexpressibly fortunate to have met the Buddhadharma. It’s so unbelievably easy how we can get out of suffering, out of samsara, and achieve enlightenment. It’s unbelievably easy.

That’s one thing—seeing statues, stupas and scriptures. That’s the foundation.

The next one I’ve mentioned many times in the past, of course. Anyway, it’s mentioned in The Sutra of Heaped Flowers, that when we offer a grain of rice or a tiny flower to a statue of a buddha or a picture of buddha, a drawing of buddha, the merit isn’t complete, it doesn’t finish until we achieve liberation. This is what it says; it’s quite simple.

But first we have to understand, if we even do this with ignorance, with anger or attachment, even if you look at the paintings with anger it purifies the mind and causes us to see tens of millions of buddhas. That’s what it says. It just gives a little bit idea but it contains the whole path, all the experiences we achieve, we attain on each path, including achieving enlightenment. So, first we should understand that when we do circumambulations or prostrations or make offerings to the statues, stupas and scriptures, even if our motivation is ignorance, anger, or attachment, we still gain unbelievable merit.

For example, when her parents make prostrations and offerings to the statues, stupas, scriptures of the Buddha, and the child merely imitates them, just does what the parents do, even though she doesn’t generate the bodhicitta motivation or even the motivation to achieve liberation from samsara or the happiness in future lives—even though there’s no virtuous motivation, the motivation is ignorance, anger or attachment—by imitating the parents and thinking of the statue, stupas or scriptures or making prostrations or offerings to them, what that child does becomes cause of enlightenment.

Normally, actions become the cause of happiness only if the motivation is virtue but here, with the holy objects, even if the motivation is nonvirtue, actions still become virtue, even the cause of enlightenment, because of the power of the holy object.

For us ordinary beings, it is so difficult for our mind to become virtuous. We need to put a lot of effort for it to become virtuous, by remembering impermanence or how samsaric pleasure is in the nature of suffering. These things are so difficult for us to see. And it’s so difficult to generate a bodhicitta motivation by thinking of the kindness of sentient beings and how precious they are, how they are suffering and so forth. For us ordinary beings, us beginners in Dharma practice, it’s very easy for attachment or something to arise—the kind of opposite nature of the Dharma—but it is extremely difficult for virtuous thoughts to arise, to generate bodhicitta, renunciation and all that.

So, therefore, therefore, therefore, these practices—circumambulation, making offerings, prostrations and so forth—doing these things towards the holy objects, towards statues, stupas and scriptures is very important. Of course we can’t see buddhas, but we can see these holy objects, so it’s very important to do these actions as much as possible, because even if our motivation is not pure our actions become the cause of enlightenment. That’s incredible! It is so easy to create the cause of happiness.

Therefore, it is so important for us sentient beings that these holy objects exist. It is unbelievably important, for liberation, for enlightenment, to not get reborn in the lower realms, for success. It is so important that these holy objects exist in this world, to help us make life so easy.

That shows why it is important to build holy objects in the world, not only for our benefit but to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Building stupas and things like that is of unbelievable, unbelievable benefit to the sentient beings.

I forgot one thing. What I was saying before, the action of doing circumambulations, prostrations, making offerings, all this, towards the holy objects, statues, stupas and scriptures, everything becomes the cause of enlightenment, even if the motivation is nonvirtuous.

On the basis of that understanding, when we offer one tiny grain of rice or one tiny flower to a statue, stupa or scripture, what it says in the texts is that the happiness we get from that action is equal to all the happiness we have experienced from beginningless rebirths up to now, that much will be experienced in the future, from now on. That is the benefit contained in one grain of rice or one tiny flower offered to a holy object.

On top of that, because all this is temporary happiness, we achieve liberation from samsara, liberation from the oceans of samsara’s suffering, including the cause. We get this benefit from this one grain of rice or one tiny flower offered to a statue, stupa or scripture.

On top of that, we attain great liberation, full enlightenment, cessation of all the gross and subtle mistakes of mind and the completion of all the qualities and realizations. We achieve all these benefits from offering this one grain of rice or this one tiny flower.

Even though the text says until we achieve liberation, it says “great liberation,” so the benefits don’t stop until we liberate numberless sentient beings from each realm from the oceans of samsaric suffering and not only that, we bring each sentient being from each realm to enlightenment. When we, this one person, have brought every single sentient being to enlightenment, at that time, the benefits of offering this one grain of rice or this tiny flower to a picture of buddha are completed. Only at that time are the benefits completed.

So you see, now, how much benefit offering this one grain of rice or one tiny flower to a statue or stupa or scripture has. It’s unimaginable, unimaginable! What we get from this is limitless skies.

These two things mentioned before, seeing holy objects and, here, but now here, offering to them, even tiny offerings, the benefit is limitless skies, so it’s very important. So, we can see how going on pilgrimage is important, or even having holy objects in our own home. Having as many as possible is unbelievably important.

You have been given this mantra now, so first you should generate the bodhicitta motivation before you circumambulate the holy objects. You can do that even before you go, before you leave here, you can generate the bodhicitta motivation from here. That’s very good when you are going on a pilgrimage. So you can do that, you should do that now.

So, think: “The purpose of my life is to benefit for other sentient beings, to free the numberless sentient beings—to free the numberless hell beings, the hungry ghosts, the animals, the human beings, the suras and asuras—to free them from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment. Therefore I need to purify defilements and collect extensive merits, in order to actualize the path. Therefore today I’m going on the pilgrimage.” Think like that.

First you’re going to Swayambunath. When you arrive at the stupa, generate the bodhicitta motivation again, and think, “Therefore I’m going to circumambulate and make offerings, and rejoice. I’m going to do this practice, making offerings and doing circumambulations.” So you’re going to make prostrations, then do offerings and rejoice.

Then you chant this mantra, but in your heart you need to think of sentient beings, not your own happiness. In your heart think of the numberless sentient beings: the hell realms, hungry ghosts, animals with the sufferings. Remember the hell beings with all their sufferings, the hungry ghosts with all their sufferings, the animals with all their sufferings, the human beings with all their sufferings, the suras and asuras, and in your heart think how they are so precious, how they are most precious, most kind to you, and how much they are suffering. That should be in your heart.

Instead of thinking of my happiness, instead of your heart overtaken by the selfish mind, my happiness, instead of that, you should think of the numberless beings’ happiness, by knowing their suffering. If you make your heart like that, then your circumambulations and making offerings, all this, becomes for them.

So, having generated the bodhicitta motivation, then you chant this mantra. I don’t remember a hundred percent, I have received the oral transmission of this mantra. I may have received it but I can’t remember exactly. In recent times, I have taken many, many oral transmissions. You’ve got the paper. It’s not the first one, the first one you know.


That’s oral transmission for you. Okay, seven times. Then you have received the oral transmission. I don’t remember specifically where, but I may have received it.


That’s the oral transmission. You recite this seven times, or you can already start walking, then you chant, beginning with this mantra.

During the circumambulation, the meditation is this. You can think you’re leading numberless sentient beings in circumambulating this stupa. Think that this holy object, this stupa, this is all the guru, this is all your guru. However many gurus you have—one thousand, one billion—this is all the guru. These statues are the guru, then the numberless buddhas, the numberless Dharma, the numberless Sangha, the numberless statues, the numberless stupas, the numberless scriptures.

Thinking this way, if you circumambulate the stupa, you are circumambulating every single holy object that exists, not only in this universe but in numberless other universes. By circumambulating like that you create the cause of enlightenment, the numberless causes of enlightenment, because of the numberless holy objects: the statues, stupas, scriptures, and numberless buddhas. Because you have thought of these numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, numberless Sangha, and made offering, you create cause of enlightenment numberless times—not only this one time but many times, then liberation from samsara and the happiness of future lives. That’s how to recognize the holy objects. Then you circumambulate any holy object, like any of the stupas here or even if you have a small stupa or something like that in your house. I’m just using this as an example. If your house has a small stupa, then when you circumambulate this is how to think. Even if you’re not in Nepal, you’re at your house in the West, by meditating this way, that this is all the gurus, all the numberless buddhas, the Dharma, the Sangha, the numberless statues, stupas, everything, then you are circumambulating all the holy objects that exist. It’s unbelievable! Can you imagine the merits, as I mentioned before?

That’s the meditation we can do while you are circumambulating. Don’t talk. Meditate during that time, meditate, don’t talk. Do not waste other people’s time, life, and your life, do meditation.

Here, there are many prayer wheels, many stupas around, so you can prostrate, if you want, but however, you keep your hands like this, prostrating, at least, as much as possible when you see statues, paintings of buddhas, prayer wheel or whatever.

Now you are seeing stupa there, so at least at this one, you can do this, prostration; that may be excellent. So, do three prostrations, then use this one mudra. [Rinpoche demonstrates the mudras]

This stupa is all the gurus, the numberless buddhas, the numberless Dharma, the numberless Sangha, the numberless statues, stupas, everything, that which exists in numberless universes, everything.

With that, this is what you think when you make offerings. With that meditation then you offer: flowers, khatags, scarfs. When you offer scarfs or grain you visualize wish-granting jewels. This way, you made offerings to every single holy object existing in numberless universes, not only this universe but numberless universes. Do you understand? Even if you are not in Tibet here you have already offered to all the holy objects in Tibet or India, China, wherever. So, you have already collected many times the numberless causes of enlightenment and all the other happinesses, liberation and enlightenment.

When you offer, also, if possible, think of sentient beings in your heart. Always, as much as possible, remember when you are offering, it is for sentient beings. So with that meditation, you offer the scarf. When you offer the scarf, normally what I advise is, first you make charity of the scarf, charity to numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras, numberless intermediate state beings—to everybody you make charity, so you make numberless causes of enlightenment already. Then, this belongs to them, this belongs to everybody. It comes by the way that this belongs to everybody, besides your parents and your family.

It belongs to everybody, then, with yourself as a representative of everybody, you offer. With that meditation, you offer. This way, numberless hell beings collect merit, creating the cause for enlightenment; numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, insects, ants, those small ants, those tiny, tiny, insects in moist wood—everybody collects merit. So, you are helping all sentient beings collect merit. Then your family and all your friends come by the way.

This is so unbelievable, so good. Then you offer, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. On behalf of all sentient beings just offering to holy objects, already becomes the cause of enlightenment.

After you’ve offered, then do this prayer from the offering bath practice: “I offer this soft, thin, divine scarf to the vajra holy body with my inseparable devotion. May I and all sentient beings achieve your vajra holy body.”

If it’s a scripture, then it’s same, “May I and all sentient beings achieve the vajra holy speech.” Think like that.

Then a stupa represents the buddha’s holy mind, so think, “May I and all sentient beings achieve the vajra holy mind.” At the end you can do that.

The next dedication is to Palden Lhamo. “Due to all the three time merits collected by me, collected by others, may I become like you, glorified guru, Palden Lhamo. May I become only like your glorified guru’s holy body. Then, the holy surrounding of the guru. Then, your lifespan. Then, your holy field, like a pure land or a holy field. Then, like your holy name, to become only Shakyamuni Buddha. Here, the idea is there is no separation between Shakyamuni Buddha and the guru, it’s one. You should pray like this.

If it’s Amitabha Buddha, it’s the same. Whichever deity, it’s oneness with the guru, there’s no separation. That one is the guru, guru is that one. [Rinpoche snaps his fingers] With that mind, with that heart, that devotional heart, you do this prayer.

Then the last one, ...[Tib] “Due to having praised to you, requested ...[Tib] myself and so forth”—that means your family members or people who have a connection to you. “Wherever we are,”—you shouldn’t only think like Kopan when you are there, or Swayambunath, not only the place you are, where you and others are, that means you should think the universe, world, country and then area, the place, your house, or wherever. ...[Tib] “To pacify all the sicknesses, poverty and spirit harm”—poverty has two levels, material poverty and poverty of the Dharma, so here it’s to pacify both poverties. ...[Tib] “May the Dharma and auspiciousness be increased.” This is the prayer.

In the heart what you should think that yourself and your family or people with connection to you, the beings in this universe, the world, the country, the place, the house, just merely being, then you are able to help the numberless sentient beings who are in this universe, this world, this country, this house, to purify all their negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths up to now. They completely get purified, they never get reborn in the lower realms, and they find faith in the karma, cause and effect, the results of their actions. Then they find devotion in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and actualize bodhicitta and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

Then also, war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, sicknesses, dangers of fire and water, earthquakes, all these things, wherever is happening, may it be stopped immediately. And may nobody in this world experience any of these problems. So this prayer is very important,.

After the last of these three dedications, you offer the scarf. This is what I normally advise, so you can do that.

Then the rice. Venerable Neil has already explained about the wish-granting jewel, the highest one, the most rare, how each one is a wish-granting jewel, so how many grains you have, they are all wish-granting jewels.

With that meditation you make this offering. Then in the mind, the whole sky is filled with wish-granting jewels. You make offerings to the holy objects like that, using the rice grains.

So, it’s unimaginable! I’ve already mentioned the benefits. Only after you have brought everybody to enlightenment, only at that time, will the merit of each grain finish. But here you have visualized wish-granting jewels. Wow! So it’s the most merit, from each grain or from each wish-granting jewel, you get all this benefit which I’ve explained before. Then there’s so much result, happiness, now and in future lives.

So then at the stupa, if you have a khatag you can offer it. You can offer a khatag on behalf of everybody, or if each individual person has a scarf you can all offer like that.

The other thing I always say is, the next thing is you rejoice, you rejoice.

The person who had the idea of making these holy objects—the stupa, temple, the statue—who had the idea to build them, and all the benefactors who funded the money, who gave money for this, they all collect inconceivable, inconceivable merits, unbelievable merits. Then, thirdly, all the people who built them, who actually worked on them, collect inconceivable, inconceivable merits. So then you rejoice from the heart. The person who had the idea, the benefactors and then workers who built them collect inconceivable merits, unbelievable, so rejoice, feeling happiness.

When you do that, if your level of mind is higher than them you collect double merits. You collect more merit than all those people who built this unbelievably large stupa or statue or temple. If your level of mind is higher than them, you create double merits. You just came here and rejoiced, but they put unbelievable effort, months or years, into it, but you create double merit if your level of mind is higher.

If your level of mind is same as them you collect the same amount of merit. If your level of mind is lower than them, by rejoicing you get half of the merit they collected, so, it’s unimaginable.

So last thing is to rejoice. If you see a stupa, temple, whatever it is, the last thing is to rejoice.

If you rejoice, while you are in samsara you are still able to build a temple or stupa like this, hundreds, thousands of times. You are able to do that just from rejoicing in this. By rejoicing in this, you create the cause to be able to build hundreds of thousands, so many, like King Asoka built ten million stupas one day. Rejoicing is a very important practice you can do to collect extensive merits so easily. So same thing, when you go to temples, then rejoice. It’s unbelievable.

I think, as you walk around you should always chant the mantra. With that meditation, to purify the mind, you can always chant the mantra. Not only do you create physical virtue, creating cause of enlightenment, but also with speech, if you chant mantra, you create cause of enlightenment as well, the happiness in future life, all that. The Vajrasattva mantra or OM MANI PADME HUM, the Medicine Buddha mantra, whatever, you can chant those mantras.

After you’ve finished the circumambulation then you do the dedications. Individually you can dedicate or whatever, or as a group, to generate, to actualize bodhicitta, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Dedicate like this. “As the three times’ buddhas dedicated their merits, I dedicate all my merits.” Do the dedications in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition, and then the other dedications. It’s very important to do the Lama Tsongkhapa ones. “Due to all the three times’ merits collected by me, collected by others, may Lama Tsongkhapa be my direct Mahayana guru in all my lifetimes, to guide me and those who are connected to me”—then can think like this—“and all the students, the supporters, all those people working for the organization, may they never to be separated from the pure path that is admired by all the buddhas.”

So you see, if you’re doing one circumambulation, it not only purifies you. Beams emitted from the stupa or statues purify all six realms’ sentient beings. They not only purify you but purify six realms’ sentient beings, so that’s very good.

Then, at the end, you give away all your past, present and future merits, and the results, up to enlightenment—everything, the merits and results up to enlightenment, you give to every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every sura being, every asura being, every intermediate state being. You completely give all the merits up to enlightenment to them, completely, so they can attain a pure land and a perfect human rebirth, with perfect surroundings, wealth and so forth, then, actualize the complete path in their hearts, and be liberated from all the gross and subtle defilements. Then they all get enlightened: every hell being becomes enlightened, every hungry ghost becomes enlightened, every animal, sura and asura being—everyone becomes enlightened. This is what you do at the end of the circumambulation.

But if you are doing more circumambulations, for example seven times, the first circumambulation is for all sentient beings but particularly the hell beings. When you finish that, you give all the merits, including enlightenment, everything to others, but especially the hell beings, and they become enlightened.

Then you circumambulate for the preta beings, for all sentient beings, but especially the preta beings, and at the end you give everything, all the merits up to enlightenment, to the pretas, to all sentient beings but especially the preta, and they become enlightened.

Then you circumambulate to liberate sentient beings, but especially the animals, then at the end, you give everything, all the results, all the merits, up all the enlightenment, to all sentient beings but especially the animals. So do like that for the human beings, the suras and the asuras. After you finish that, for the seven intermediate state beings.

You can do also circumambulations to the long life of the guru. You can do that, and then for the Dharma to exist for a long time. Then, you can also circumambulate for the Sangha, dedicating for the Sangha to attain the path. And then also for the benefactors, the supporters, who help the teachings of the Buddha, the Sangha, for their long life, for their success.

Then, at the end, at the very end, when you finish the preliminaries, then you can multiply the merits one hundred thousand times, today’s merit, whatever you collected, increased one hundred thousand times by doing the multiplying mantra.

[Rinpoche chants the multiplying mantras as found in the FPMT texts.]

Recite the mantra seven times.

Then at the end. [Rinpoche chants the last mantra of the multiplying mantras.]

Medicine Buddha. [Rinpoche recites the Medicine Buddha mantra.]

By reciting these two, whatever prayer you do gets actualized.

That’s it, anyway. It’s part of the subject of the course.

Jang chub…

[The students offer a short mandala.]

So very important to do this one, prostration, when you see a holy object, always. Pray, and prostrate to all paintings. Do like that. Then, if there’s a billion images, you create a billion causes of enlightenment. Think in the mind, I’m prostrating to all of them.

Then, if possible, think guru, all these are guru—that’s guru yoga—and then you collect the most merit.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Lecture 19

In the different parts of Tibet, Padmasambhava subdued many spirits, the owners of the land. I don’t know the exact word, not owning the land. Padmasambhava advised to build a temple on the heart, and then on the important parts of the body, on the head, to control them.

Due to that, he was able to preserve the complete Buddhism, not just only Hinayana or only Paramitayana, Mahayana Paramitayana, without tantra, not only that but complete Buddhism. In some other countries, there is only Hinayana, in some countries there is only the Paramitayana, Mahayana sutras. But in Tibet, the entire teachings came from India.

After some time degeneration happened, so then Lama Atisha was invited and made it pure, by writing The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, which I did not finish the oral transmission, which I started.

So anyway, in Tibet the main goal of the government and the population was just to spread Dharma, to preserve it. There were the monasteries for learning. There were also nunneries, but maybe not so much developing philosophical education, and then caves, hermitages, full of hermits, unbelievable, unbelievable. Due to listening, reflecting and then meditating, numberless beings attained the path, becoming bodhisattvas and buddhas. It happened like that to so many in Tibet. Unbelievable.

They didn’t have influence over companies from the outside world, building business there and developing companies. That didn’t happen; they didn’t do that, they didn’t pay attention, spreading Dharma. [Rinpoche is laughing while he’s talking] It’s very interesting, it never came there.

The ambassador of the British people came. I don’t know what it was called—a son, a member—I’m not sure, but he came into Tibet, and things like that, but not much. So anyway, one time there a war was happening with British. They travelled to Tibet. The British army went there and the Ganden Tripa and his attendant went to see the army from Tibetan side.

Geshe Sopa Rinpoche’s guru was the Ganden Tripa. Geshe Sopa Rinpoche was Lama Yeshe’s and my teacher. He is an outstanding teacher, known in Tibet, learned in Sera, Ganden, Drepung, all the monasteries. He has lived in America for maybe thirty years, I’m not sure. That is due to his attendant, whom he met at the airport for the very first time, called John. John helped him receive a job at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin, to teach Buddhism and Tibetan letters. I think he worked for a long time, and then retired quite some time ago.

Geshe Sopa Rinpoche’s guru, the Ganden Tripa, was regent of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage. He completed everything, he was most expert, he had special way of teaching, a very clear way of teaching Dharma, the philosophy. There is a special lineage from there to Geshe Sopa Rinpoche, and I think to Lama Yeshe, a special lineage.

There were no Tibetan armies to meet the British, so Ganden Tripa, this regent of Lama Tsongkhapa, this great teacher, he and his attendant, went. There was no Tibetan army. Tibet didn’t have an army so he went alone to the British army. The attendant was carrying a big gong—you saw the gong here, in Kopan Monastery, the gong to call the monks for puja—so he had a big gong. The attendant was ringing the gong and the old Ganden Tripa went together, nobody, no armies. That’s how they went to see the British army. They went there, like this. [Rinpoche laughs] From far, they were ringing the gong, then Ganden Tripa talked to the British and it was resolved.

That may be explained by Geshe Sopa Rinpoche, I think.

So, it’s very wonderful, Buddhism was able to be purely preserved for a long time, becoming so strong, with so many actualized beings. Even the whole land was so blessed until recently, when there have been twenty years of so much destruction.

When I was going through the main road to Lhasa, you see the land, something, the essence is gone. Even the land is very sad, kind of like that. You feel it, the essence is gone. But then there’s some part of the land that doesn’t have that feeling.

We went from Takpa Shedup Ling, the monastery of the root guru Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, the great teacher of the lam-rim, up to the Palden Lhamo Lake. There’s a special lake where Palden Lhamo resides, situated in the area, capable of predictions. The lake itself is something like TV, like Tibetan TV. For those who can see very clear, it shows things, depending what question you have. It’s like TV, very clear for those who can see. I think there are two aspects, one a little bit unclear, one like TV, becoming clear.

Not only that, but in the area it’s a very holy place, an unbelievable holy place. There’s a Mahakala lake—a different Mahakala, this is the four-armed Mahakala lake. You see the mountain, but you don’t see the lake, but you have to go. There are many, many lakes there, with different protectors. There’s one called Rahula [Tib] a protector who you see in thangkas, with many, many eyes on the body, many, many eyes, and the bottom part is a snake, there is one lake for that protector. I didn’t see that protector. You see the mountain of that protector, where it’s situated, totally black, a totally different color. The protector is a sort of black color, and the mountain is like that. You cross the mountain and there’s a lake. Not so many people go there.

Then there’s a Twenty-one Taras Lake, with very low water, but a kind of green or blue color. Some of the water’s shallow, but some people receive also their predictions from there, so there are many people.

Every mountain has a name. There’s a huge mountain for Maitreya Buddha. I think that means the holy mind is habituated with that or something to do with that.

We were going through there, going up to see the Palden Lhamo Lake or the Hayagriva Lake. We were going up like this, we went to the nomads and had food, and then, going up like this, there’s the Maitreya Buddha mountain, then we were going up like that. There’s a mountain like this, filled with flowers, on top there’s a rock where dakinis dance, so we did tsog offering there on the stone. It’s filled with flowers.

There’s Dorje Palmo, a female enlightened being, at the peak, and on top of that is a cemetery, where people bring the bodies, when the people die. They bring the bodies there and offer charity for the birds, the vultures, who eat them.

When we were going up, then from the mountain, down below, water came. Of course, those who have pure karma, they see deities, there are protectors and things. There was Geshe Lama Konchog. He was someone who could see, a great yogi. Then there was Lama Yeshe’s brother, whose face is exactly the same, and a monk from Tantric College who did a Guhyasamaja three year retreat at Dharamsala, he was there. Then there was Gelek Gyatso, the young incarnate lama who built all these buildings here at Kopan. He’s now in the United States. He was there, and Tsen-la, a Tibetan nun who translates for many centers, who is from Kopan, the very first. There were three nuns at the very, very beginning, and she was one of them. Somebody like myself cannot see, but it shows signs that there are deities existing there, protectors. You see the signs.

At the Hayagriva Lake, we went there to do tsog. During the puja the water that was coming down from the mountain became very strong, but when the puja finished, the water becomes low again. And then very, very fine snowfalls came during the tsog.

Also the Palden Lhamo Lake, on the second day we did Palden Lhamo protector puja. This is the Tibetan government’s protector, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s protector. Palden Lhamo is the wrathful protector of the Yangchenma, the female enlightened wisdom being, the same as Tara.

There was snow, very fine snowflakes or something, in the shape sort of like a tent, like this, went around during the tsog, during the Palden Lhamo puja. The shape came and went around. You see the signs, whatever you see, even if you don’t see the actual deity, the protector or things like that.

So, it is a quite amazing place. There was a monastery before the destruction, before it was taken over by the Mainland China government. Gyalwa Thubten Gyatso, the second Dalai Lama, built this monastery. The first one built was Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the Panchen Lama’s monastery, Gyalwa Gedun Trukpa.

They totally destroyed this monastery right there, so they just built a few rooms, and then the mud is just dried mud, this is the very first time people gathered there and having some Dharma, very first time, after twenty years. This is the very, very first time.

So it happened, our going there, it happened that at the same time, there was a Palden Lhamo statue made in Lhasa. They made it quite high, and they were bringing it by truck. It was very, very nicely made, like the pearls, with the shell, teeth, very, very beautiful. It happened at the same time as we were at the monastery, they were doing the Palden Lhamo puja. It was very wonderful, the monastery, their own style, very wonderful, and then the people offered yaks for the protector, so outside the temple there were yaks, offered to the protector. They put them on the mountains. You can sometimes see the yaks they offer to the protector on the mountains; they become very big.

There was the abbot from the old time at that monastery. Geshe Lama Konchog said that this abbot had a blowing-shell shape [conch?] under his feet. I guess he was born with that or maybe it came later. He didn’t suffer much during those twenty years of total destruction in Tibet under the mainland government. He became a shepherd, looking after the sheep, during those years, so nothing really difficult happened to him and he was able to come back. Then a few monks returned. They were already disrobed and it was difficult during those times to be monk, but they came back to help.

While we were there, about five hundred Tibetan people came, mostly nomads in the area, to attend the long life initiation. The abbot was going to do it but then they asked me to do.

For more than twenty years, nothing had happened there, there was so much destruction, so much unbelievable killing. During the initiation, however, some light rain came, which was somehow a sign of the protectors being there, that they were happy. I think that it happened.

So, anyway, from Takpa Shedup Ling, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo’s guru’s monastery, from there up to this Palden Lhamo Lake, the power of the place had not degenerated. It’s very glorious, very green and very glorious area. I saw a letter explaining that in all the holy places, where all those beings there, when they die, they don’t get reborn in the lower realms because of the blessing of the holy place. It’s mentioned there.

I thought maybe it was because people who are born there have a good heart. I thought this because we met a boy when we were going up to the lake. He was helping us, explaining things, guiding us, so just from seeing him I thought maybe the people in that area might have good heart. That’s why, and also by the blessing received from the place, they are able to die with a virtuous thought. That’s what I thought, maybe they have a good heart and so they don’t get reborn in the lower realms.

When all the destruction happened for more than twenty years—unbelievable, unbelievable destruction—quite a number of monks and some high lamas came to India, but not all were able to come. Mainly because His Holiness was able to come out, those who did were able to establish monasteries there, to restore and revive the tradition again. I’m talking here about the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition: Sera, Ganden and Drepung, each with two divisions: Sera Je, Mey and Ganden has two monastic universities and Drepung has two monastic universities. Then there is Tashi Lungpo, the Panchen Lama’s monastery.

Then also the Kagyü, Nyingma and Shakya traditions were also able to rebuild many of their monasteries, and so they have been able to continue the education, to educate the young monks and also many lamas.

Because of that Tibetan Buddhism is now able to spread even in the West—I guess to most of the Western world—which has been dark and now is able to have the light of Dharma spread there. Every year, tens of thousands are able to make their lives meaningful by meeting the Buddhadharma, have the opportunity to follow the path to enlightenment. They are able to find answers in their lives, which they could not find from Western culture or the education. They are able to find it here by meeting the Buddhadharma. That includes us, it includes you yourself, it includes me myself. We are able to meet the Buddhadharma because of that stupa, it’s from the Boudhanath Stupa. You’ve heard the story.

The mother and her four children built it, but the mother passed away when they reached the vase of the stupa, so her four sons completed the stupa and each one made a prayer. The first one made prayer to be Dharma king in Tibet; and the next one made prayer to be a minister, to help; next one made prayer to be the abbot, to pass the lineage of ordination; next one made prayer to be a powerful yogi to pacify obstacles. There were also others.

So that’s what I’m saying. Then all that happened in Tibet and why you met Buddhadharma, including myself, is from that stupa. After building the stupa they made prayers to spread Dharma in Tibet. It’s very important to understand that.

You mentioned about Swayambhunath? [Rinpoche may be asking Ven. Neil.] Have you mentioned about Swayambhunath?

The Buddha came to this high mountain, not Swayambhunath but other side, and made a prediction. I think at that time, the whole Kathmandu valley was filled with water. You can see the mountains around. So, it was a lake, completely filled. The Buddha predicted that in the future, there would be crystal stupa, not made by hand, but a manifestation of all the buddhas’ holy mind, the dharmakaya, which would naturally appear on this lake, and this would be covered by earth.

That crystal stupa is the most amazing, the most precious, the holiest object. It’s inside the mountain, not on top. I thought before it was at the top, the stupa, but later I read the stories. It’s inside the mountain, and because of that most people circumambulate the mountain. Instead of circumambulating on top, most people get up and go there. Some people get up three o’clock in the morning, some get up four o’clock, lay people and those older mothers, they go there and circumambulate in the morning and they circumambulate in the evening time. Really, just that is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable powerful purification. It purifies so many eons. In the lifetime so many negative karmas and defilements get purified, and they collect inconceivable merits, amazing, unbelievable, most fortunate. Whether you have Dharma education or not, but just because of the existence of that holy object, if you take the opportunity to do this, to do circumambulation and prostrations, it is said it makes unbelievable preparation in your mind to quickly achieve enlightenment.

So many lay people go and do that in the morning, and while they are doing that, they do their prayers at the same time, collecting extensive merit of body, speech, and mind.

That’s something other countries don’t have, something like Swayambunath, where all the buddhas’ holy mind manifests in the stupa, inside the mountain. That mountain has got deity Heruka’s mandala, that’s also one thing. So, to circumambulate is very beneficial. I think the number of circumambulations to accomplish is supposed to be a hundred and thirteen or something like that.

Anyway, I started the oral transmission, so we should continue with that, as soon as possible.

Remember I told you yesterday that it’s very important when you see holy objects to keep your hands like this. [Rinpoche demonstrates the prostration mudra.] I emphasized this yesterday. It has eight very important benefits. The minute you see a stupa or a statue, a picture or a painting of a buddha, when you do this, you get the eight very important benefits immediately.

In your next life you receive a perfect body, a deva or a human body, with perfect senses, perfect limbs, which allows you to practice Dharma to benefit others.

The next result is to have perfect people surrounding you so that your Dharma wishes get fulfilled. Whatever wishes you have for practicing Dharma, for benefiting other sentient beings, for serving the teachings of the Buddha, you’re able to get done when you have perfect people surrounding you.

Then next one is to be able to live in pure morality. It becomes cause to live in pure morality. Without pure morality, you can’t achieve perfect meditation, samadhi or shamatha. Samadhi is the concentration, shamatha is calm abiding. You can’t achieve perfect meditation and without that you can’t achieve great insight, deriving the rapturous ecstasy of the body and mind, by analyzing, doing meditation on emptiness, unified with the calm abiding, shamatha. You can’t have that realization, great insight, the higher training of wisdom; you can’t have the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. Without that, you can’t cease the defilements, you can’t cease the disturbing thought obscurations directly.

Without the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, you cannot cease the subtle defilements, so that means you can’t achieve either liberation or enlightenment. So that means, of course, you can’t liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, when you prostrate like this to a statue or painting of a buddha you create the cause to live in pure morality. That’s unbelievably important.

Then, the next one is devotion, to create cause to achieve devotion. Again it’s the same thing. Without devotion, you can’t receive the blessings of the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Without that, you can’t achieve realizations of the path to liberation and enlightenment.

So, devotion is an extremely important foundation. Even if a person doesn’t have much understanding, doesn’t have the intellect, but has strong devotion, he or she is a very lucky person. Conversely, a person who has intellect but no devotion, is not a lucky person, is not a fortunate person. The person with so much devotion to the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, even without much intellect, is a lucky person, he or she can achieve realizations, even if there’s not much intellect.

It is said in the lam-rim teachings that somebody who has devotion, who correctly devotes to the Virtuous Friend, even if he is as foolish as a dog or a pig, there’s no hardships, no difficulties, to become like Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, and Chenrezig, the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion. Kadampa Geshe Chengawa mentioned that. One who correctly devotes to the Virtuous Friend, even if he is a fool—F.O.O.L.—like a dog and pig, has no difficulties to become like Manjushri.

Normally I think anybody who has great devotion is a very lucky person, a very lucky person. Somebody it’s very hard to generate this, to develop this is because there are many blockages in the mind. You can be very intellectual but have many blockages, many superstitious thoughts, and that blocks it. But some people of very high intelligence also have a lot of merit, a lot of good karma, and they are able to achieve realizations quickly. So this is devotion.

Then, the next result is to have courage, a brave heart. This is the courage to be a leader of the people, to lead them in having a kind, generous life, to lead in Dharma, to lead in the path to liberation and enlightenment, to lead people for good. So courage has two aspects: the courage to offer service, and to bring other sentient beings to courage.

The next one is you get reborn in deva or human realm. You create the cause to be born in deva or human realm.

The last two are very important ones. The next is to create the cause to achieve the arya path, the exalted path. You no longer create negative karma, the cause of samsara, by achieving this arya path, and then of course if it’s the bodhisattva’s arya path then you don’t get reborn into the suffering of rebirth, old age, sickness, and death. You don’t experience all that if you achieve the arya path of bodhisattva.

Number eight is enlightenment.

So you get these eight benefits the minute you put your palms together to a statue of a buddha, or picture or painting of a buddha, or a scripture, besides actually prostrating to the Triple Gem.

I thought to mention that. It’s very important to write this down and to actually know yourself.

Normally I say, when you go on pilgrimage or when you’re in a temple, as I mentioned, there are many paintings and statues of the Buddha, and paintings of the Buddha’s life stories, so in your mind you should think, “I’m prostrating.” Even though you don’t have time to look at every single buddha in the paintings, but in the heart you can think, “I’m going to prostrate to all these holy objects,” to all the statues, stupas, scriptures, paintings of buddhas, in your heart think, this is for the benefit of all sentient beings. You think that, then you put your palms together, and you think in mind, “I’m prostrating.” You turn around like this.

If you don’t have time to prostrate to each single one, think in the mind, “I’m prostrating to all,” and then just turn around. It doesn’t even take a minute, but if there are a billion holy objects there, then you have created a billion causes for enlightenment, and by the way, a billion causes for liberation from samsara and a billion causes for happiness in future lives. You create that if there are a billion holy objects there—statues, paintings of buddhas, Dharma scriptures, stupas. It doesn’t even take a minute to go like this, it doesn’t even take a minute.

It’s the same at your own house. If there are many Buddhist statues, many buddha pictures in your shrine room or in the house, but because you have so many it’s not possible every time you enter, to put your palms like this, each time you enter the room. If possible, let yourself become habituated like that, create the habit of good karma, create the habit of the cause of enlightenment, of liberation from samsara. Let yourself be habituated in that. Then every time that happens, it’s unbelievable. Every time you enter the room, you make your life unbelievably, unbelievably, most meaningful. However many holy objects are there, statues, stupas, scriptures, pictures of buddhas—even in one photo there can be so many—think, “I’m prostrating to all these holy objects,” so that gets done if you think that when you enter the room.

At least, even one time a day, you do this for all the house. It doesn’t even take a minute, just a few seconds, and it’s unbelievable, unbelievable, what you can do with your life. However many thousands or millions of holy objects there are, you create that many causes to achieve all those happinesses. It’s unbelievable.

Before you went to the holy place yesterday I explained the purpose of going for pilgrimage. Now you understand the importance, what a pilgrimage means, you understand from that, by knowing the benefits, even just the putting palms together, the benefits of that, very important eight benefits, by the way, unimaginable merits are collected, purified.

I think I maybe stopped at the third page.

Okay, I’ll start from this book. Geshe Sonam Rinchen, the very learned teacher from the Library in Dharamsala, his translator Ruth translated this text, Lama Atisha’s teaching, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. This is the root of all the lam-rim teachings.

I’m going to read from the back of the second page, the back side. I may have done that already, I’m not sure, but just to make sure.

So, think, “The purpose of my life is to benefit all sentient beings, to free them from all the suffering causes, and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment. Therefore, I’m going to take the oral transmission of The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in order to actualize the path.”

This is to benefit every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every insect, every mosquito, every cockroach, every tiger, every snake, and every human being, every sura being, every asura being, every intermediate state being—to benefit everyone, to bring them to enlightenment.

If possible think, feel in your heart, instead of me, my happiness, filling up the heart, you can feel more the sentient beings, their happiness, that’s very good.

Then think that the lama who is giving the lung as the deity. From your side, normally when you receive teachings, it’s good to think something like “Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is giving me lung through this form, to me. Manjushri is giving me lung, Maitreya Buddha is giving me lung, Tara is giving me lung, giving me teachings, all the numberless buddhas, in this form, are giving me this teaching, this oral transmission.” It is very good to remember this when you do this meditation, so that you feel guided by all the buddhas. That’s the reality, that you are guided by all the buddhas. It’s good to think like that.

And it’s good to think, “Each word I listen to liberates me from the oceans of samsaric suffering and brings me to enlightenment.” So, each word is like a light, the Dharma light, in that it illuminates and it eliminates ignorance. When you turn the light on in a dark room, the darkness is gone. Each word does this to your heart, to your mind.

And then dedicate each word then this way. You know that each word is so precious, so unbelievably precious for your life, to benefit you. That helps you to pay attention to every single word as much as possible, and to not miss any.

Then also, pray, “May each word I listen to be most beneficial for all the sentient beings. When I reveal this word to sentient beings, may they achieve all the realizations immediately.” You must pray, dedicate like that, so that gradually it can happen that. And also to receive realizations within you while you are listening. That’s good.

[Rinpoche gives the lung of the text.]

According to the ritual described in
The chapter on discipline in the Bodhisattva Stages,
Take the vow from a good
And well-qualified spiritual teacher.

Understand that a good spiritual teacher
Is one skilled in the vow ceremony,
Who lives by the vow and has
The confidence and compassion to bestow it.

However, in case you try but cannot
Find such a spiritual teacher,
I shall explain another
Correct procedure for taking the vow.

I shall write here very clearly, as explained
In the Ornament of Manjushri’s Buddha Land Sutra,
How, long ago, when Manjushri was Ambaraja,
He aroused the intention to become enlightened.

“In the presence of the protectors,
I arouse the intention to gain full enlightenment.
I invite all beings as my guests
And shall free them from cyclic existence.

“From this moment onwards
Until I attain enlightenment,
I shall not harbor harmful thoughts,
Anger, avarice or envy.

“I shall cultivate pure conduct,
Give up wrong-doing and desire
And with joy in the vow of discipline
Train myself to follow the buddhas.

“I shall not be eager to reach
Enlightenment in the quickest way,
But shall stay behind till the very end,
For the sake of a single being.

“I shall purify limitless
Inconceivable lands
And remain in the ten directions
For all those who call my name.

“I shall purify all my bodily
And verbal forms of activity.
My mental activities, too, I shall purify
And do nothing that is non-virtuous.”

When those observing the vow
Of the active altruistic intention have trained well
In the three forms of discipline, their respect
For these three forms of discipline grows,
Which causes purity of body, speech and mind.

Therefore, through effort in the vow made by
Bodhisattvas for pure, full enlightenment,
The collections for complete enlightenment
Will be thoroughly accomplished.

All buddhas say the cause for the completion
Of the collections, whose nature is
Merit and exalted wisdom,
Is the development of higher perception.

Just as a bird with undeveloped
Wings cannot fly in the sky,
Those without the power of higher perception
Cannot work for the good of living beings.

The merit gained in a single day
By one who possesses higher perception
Cannot be gained even in a hundred lifetimes
By one without such higher perception.

Those who want swiftly to complete
The collections for full enlightenment
Will accomplish higher perception
Through effort, not through laziness.

Without the attainment of calm abiding,
Higher perception will not occur.
Therefore make repeated effort
To accomplish calm abiding.

While the conditions for calm abiding
Are incomplete, meditative stabilization
Will not be accomplished, even if one meditates
Strenuously for thousands of years.

Thus maintaining well the conditions mentioned
In the Collection for Meditative Stabilization Chapter,
Place the mind on any one
Virtuous focal object.

When the practitioner has gained calm abiding,
Higher perception will also be gained,
But without practice of the perfection of wisdom,
The obstructions will not come to an end.

Thus, to eliminate all obstructions
To liberation and omniscience,
The practitioner should continually cultivate
The perfection of wisdom with skillful means.

Wisdom without skillful means
And skillful means, too, without wisdom
Are referred to as bondage.
Therefore do not give up either.

To eliminate doubts concerning
What is called wisdom and what skillful means,
I shall make clear the difference
Between skillful means and wisdom.

Apart from the perfection of wisdom,
All virtuous practices such as
The perfection of giving are described
As skillful means by the Victorious Ones.

Whoever, under the influence of familiarity
With skillful means, cultivates wisdom
Will quickly attain enlightenment—
Not just by meditating on selflessness.

Understanding emptiness of inherent existence
Through realizing that the aggregates, constituents
And sources are not produced
Is described as wisdom.

Something existent cannot be produced,
Nor something non-existent, like a sky flower.
These errors are both absurd and thus
Both of the two will not occur either.

A thing is not produced from itself,
Nor from another, also not from both,
Nor causelessly either, thus it does not
Exist inherently by way of its own entity.

Moreover, when all phenomena are examined
As to whether they are one or many,
They are not seen to exist by way of their own entity,
And thus are ascertained as not inherently existent.

The reasoning of the Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness,
The Treatise on the Middle Way and so forth
Explain that the nature of all things
Is established as emptiness.

Since there are a great many passages,
I have not cited them here,
But have explained just their conclusions
For the purpose of meditation.

Thus, whatever is meditation
On selflessness, in that it does not observe
An inherent nature in phenomena,
Is the cultivation of wisdom.10

Rinpoche: I’m not sure what it’s saying. I don’t remember the Tibetan, it sounds like the inherent nature in phenomena is the cultivation of wisdom. [Rinpoche laughs]

Just as wisdom does not see
An inherent nature in phenomena,
Having analyzed wisdom itself by reasoning,
Non-conceptually meditate on that.

The nature of this worldly existence,
Which has come from conceptualization,
Is conceptuality. Thus the elimination of
Conceptuality is the highest state of nirvana.11

Rinpoche: Even on the perfume, that’s called nirvana. On the perfume?

The great ignorance of conceptuality
Makes us fall into the ocean of cyclic existence.
Resting in non-conceptual stabilization,
Space-like non-conceptuality manifests clearly.

When bodhisattvas non-conceptually contemplate
This excellent teaching, they will transcend
Conceptuality, so hard to overcome,
And eventually reach the non-conceptual state.12

Rinpoche: Oh, we’re finishing. I thought it would take a long time. When it came to emptiness I thought it was near the end.

Having ascertained through scripture
And through reasoning that phenomena
Are not produced nor inherently existent,
Meditate without conceptuality.

Having thus meditated on suchness,
Eventually, after reaching “heat” and so forth.
The “very joyful” and the others are attained
And, before long, the enlightened state of buddhahood.

If you wish to create with ease
The collections for enlightenment
Through activities of pacification,
Increase and so forth, gained by the power of mantra,

And also through the force of the eight
And other great attainments like the “good pot”—
If you want to practice secret mantra,
As explained in the action and performance tantras,

Then, to receive the preceptor initiation,
You must please an excellent spiritual teacher
Through service, valuable gifts and the like
As well as through obedience.13

Rinpoche: Through valuable gifts, like ice cream! [Rinpoche laughs] Steaks, ice cream, American steaks! I’m joking! Milkshakes, chocolate drinks.

Through the full bestowing of the preceptor initiation,
By a spiritual teacher who is pleased,
You are purified of all wrong-doing
And become fit to gain powerful attainments.14

Rinpoche: There’s a story, I don’t remember, exactly, but just gives you an idea, rough, I think the Thirteenth Dalai Lama or the Seventh Dalai Lama, I’m not sure. This one geshe from Drepung, I think, the geshe has one nickname, he was kind of a friend to the Dalai Lama, he was somebody who talks straight and that His Holiness meets. I don’t remember his name, I think some nickname, I think.

There’s a very useful, very inspiring story for our daily life, for our practice. Panchen Palden Yeshe is the Panchen Lama’s very, very early incarnation. It happened early, I don’t know, maybe the fourth or fifth, I’m not sure, maybe the seventh or some beginning path of the incarnations of Panchen Lama, and his disciple, Avi Geshe Chenmo.

They have a direct disciple, Shenzhan Pandita, Lobsing Targyey Gyatso. He did a commentary on the Interpretive and Definitive Meaning: The Good Explanations of Lama Tsongkhapa’s Teachings, a very important teaching. During the teaching, it sort mentions a disciple of the seventh Dalai Lama, the Omniscient One, Kelsang Gyatso. The geshe’s name is Sam-lo Mi-tung-wa. I think maybe it’s a nick name because tung-wa means “short” and so mi-tung-wa means “non-short,” therefore his is “Geshe whose mind is non-short.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama was extremely happy with him normally. He once went to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso and asked, “In the next life, where will I be reborn?” He asked for a prediction. His Holiness the Dalai Lama replied, “Oh, the minute you die you will be born as an ox with blue horns.” Geshe Mi-tung-wa just laughed when he heard this. He didn’t get upset at all; he only laughed. So the Omniscient One, the seventh Dalai Lama asked, “What do you think? What made you just laugh?”

Geshe Mi-tung-wa replied, “Oh lekso, oh yes, I’m a debater, I’m the Tsen-nyi-ba who analyzes the nature of phenomena in debate. “ I think a tsen-nyi-ba debater is like a scientist, a teacher. “Oh, yes, according to tsen-nyi-pa, even if you get born as an ox in the next life, first you have to be born in the intermediate state. You don’t get born immediately as an ox, first you have to be in the intermediate state.”

Unless you’re going to be born in the formless realm, you have to be born in the intermediate stage, then you are born into either the desire realm or the form realm, in any of those six realms.

The geshe said, “In the intermediate state, before you get born you have to meet the female ox, then you have to enter the womb, then gradually you have to develop. You get hairs on the body, then the horns come out.” So, he said, “The minute the consciousness transfers from this life, there is no chance to do all these things, to immediately become an ox with blue horns coming out. The thought that this could happen in such a short time is what makes me laugh.” He said this to His Holiness.

When he heard what the geshe had said, the Victorious One, the Omniscient One, His Holiness laughed and laughed. It made him laugh and laugh.

Then His Holiness said, “Oh, now, you’ll be born as a gelong, you will be born as a fully ordained monk in the next life, then you become my disciple and be part of my entourage.”

To that the geshe replied, “Your explanation especially doesn’t fit my superstitious mind, my reasoning mind. Because you just mentioned that I was going to be reborn as an ox, and now I’m going to be born as a fully ordained monk, a gelong. I haven’t done confession.”

You see, between being told that he was going to be reborn as an ox and that he was going to reborn as a monk, he hadn’t done any confession, so he was asking His Holiness how this was possible. He hadn’t changed; he hadn’t made confession in between that, the practice to purify negative karma.

So the geshe said, “I didn’t collect the merit so how is it possible to become a gelong, a fully ordained monk?” His Holiness explained why his future life changed from an ox to a fully ordained monk. He said, “Because I’m a special object, in this life I have the blessings of Chenrezig. Therefore, you did a good play with me and you made me happy and made me laugh. Therefore, your karma to be born as an ox was purified just by that. And you have already made preparations to be born as a gelong, a fully ordained monk.”

So, you understand, what it is saying here is that he was not joking, he was not telling a lie. You might be thinking he was joking, but it was not joking.

His Holiness predicted that he was going to be born as an ox, but then what happened was because the way the geshe debated back that it cannot happen immediately, that it takes time, entering the intermediate stage, finding the female ox and entering into the womb for however many months and then developing hairs and horns, that made His Holiness laugh so much, it made him happy. Then he told the geshe he would be reborn as a monk, because of course His Holiness is the embodiment of Chenrezig, enlightened Buddha of Compassion, because he is a holy object. The monk made His Holiness very happy, made him laugh, so that purified his negative karma, it purified his negative karma to be born as ox. And it created the karma to become a monk in the next life. Just the way he said that, that made His Holiness very, very happy, and that purified the negative karma to be born an ox and created the karma to become a monk. This is by the blessings of Chenrezig. What he means is that he’s Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha.

The reason I’m bringing up this story is that the Guru, the Virtuous Friend, is the most powerful object, the fastest method to collect merit. The parents are more powerful objects than outside people. More powerful than them is the Sangha, the monks and nuns. Then, even more powerful, is of course the aryan beings, the arhats. One bodhisattva is more powerful object to collect merit than all the countless arhats. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable.

This is very important in your daily life so that we don’t create heavy negative karma but instead collect extensive merits by knowing this. If you peer with your eyes, like this. [Rinpoche demonstrates] How do you say, peer? Peer, when you get angry, when you’re jealous of somebody, how you look, peer, anyway, peer with the eyes.

If you look at a bodhisattva like that, the negative karma is the same as take out the eyes of all the beings in the three realms: the desire realm, the form realm and the formless realm. I think it mentioned the three realms. If you take the eyes of everybody, if you take the eyeballs out, the negative karma of looking at a bodhisattva like this is much heavier, by showing the whites of the eyes, by peering. The negative karma is heavier than taking out the eyeballs of all the desire realm beings, the form realm beings. If you disrespect a bodhisattva, the negative karma is much heavier than that.

Now, if you look at a bodhisattva with devotion, if you look at a bodhisattva correctly, you create unbelievable good karma. It’s like putting the eyeballs back in all the desire realm beings and the form realm beings. You collect greater merit than putting the eyeballs back of that number of sentient beings, all the desire and form realm beings. You create greater merit if you look at a bodhisattva correctly with a devotional mind.

So, bodhicitta is unbelievably powerful, because bodhisattvas renounce the I and cherish all sentient beings and they are totally dedicated, only doing work for sentient beings. It’s very important to get the idea from lam-rim subjects. This is all about karma, it’s very, very important.

There are numberless bodhisattvas, but one buddha is more powerful than the numberless bodhisattvas. So, even a small service, whatever it is, showing respect, is unbelievably powerful good karma; and a small disrespect is unbelievably negative karma.

This one guru is a more powerful object than all the numberless buddhas. With the guru you would not have heard the teachings, received the Dharma connection. You would not have received even a few words of teachings, even two or three words of teachings, even the oral transmission of OM AH HUM or OM MANI PADME HUM or whatever. You’ve received the Dharma connection, with the recognition that you are the disciple and that one is the guru. With that recognition, you have received the Dharma connection, even OM MANI PADME HUM, even a few words, an oral transmission or commentary.

So, the guru is the most powerful object of merit, and even a small disrespect becomes the most powerful negative karma among all those.

So that’s one thing contained in the story. By making the holy mind happy, like this, by telling something that pleases the guru. I’m just using an example, that’s not the only one but I’m just using this as an example.

Pleasing the guru totally changes your life. You’re going to be born as an animal, a hungry ghost or a hell being, but just saying something pleasing to him, having done some action with the body, speech, and mind, making the guru’s holy mind happy, you purify the past negative karma that meant you were going to be born in the lower realms. You get a higher rebirth, within that minute. That’s because the guru is the most powerful object.

The reason I put effort into explaining this story is that gives an idea what the quickest way to purify negative karma is in our life, what is the quickest way to have success in the life is, not only a good rebirth next life but to achieve enlightenment. We should get the whole idea, not just rebirth.

In The Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion, it says,

Whatever pleases the guru should be done.
Whatever displeases the guru, should be abandoned.
If we do that, common and sublime siddhis
Will be achieved in this life.

Why we do that? Basically, because we want happiness, we don’t want suffering, we don’t want loss, we want only profit, so, from here, the eight types of realizations come.

Then, there’s the sublime realization, the mahamudra, enlightenment, the clear light. With Highest Yoga Tantra in this life we can achieve the clear light realization, which is cause of the dharmakaya, the mahamudra realization, enlightenment. So, this is the most important advice in our daily life. This is what we should keep in mind all the time. This is basically, for ourselves to be quickly liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering, and to benefit others, to liberate others.

I got lost.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission]

Having ascertained through scripture
And through reasoning that phenomena
Are not produced nor inherently existent,
Meditate without conceptuality.

Having thus meditated on suchness,
Eventually, after reaching “heat” and so forth.
The “very joyful” and the others are attained
And, before long, the enlightened state of buddhahood.

If you wish to create with ease
The collections for enlightenment
Through activities of pacification,
Increase and so forth, gained by the power of mantra,

And also through the force of the eight
And other great attainments like the “good pot”—
If you want to practice secret mantra,
As explained in the action and performance tantras,

Then, to receive the preceptor initiation,
You must please an excellent spiritual teacher
Through service, valuable gifts and the like
As well as through obedience.15

Rinpoche: So, with less obedience, it’s most difficult to attain the realizations and enlightenment. That becomes an obstacle.

If there’s an opportunity to do service, then of course that’s unbelievable. Every minute, every second, every second we purify negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths, and every minute, every second, we get closer to enlightenment, collecting extensive merits, and we have the opportunity to practice most extensive merits every minute, every second we are doing service to the guru.

Then the last one, if one has gifts, if one has possessions, by making offering, we collect most extensive merits.

Through the full bestowing of the preceptor initiation
By a spiritual teacher who is pleased,
You are purified of all wrong-doing
And become fit to gain powerful attainments.

Because the Great Tantra of the Primordial Buddha
Forbids it emphatically,
Those observing pure conduct should not
Take the secret and wisdom initiations.16

Rinpoche repeats: “Those observing pure conduct should not take the secret and wisdom initiation.”

What is emphatically? [Rinpoche asks the students. A student explains.]

[Rinpoche re-reads this last passage] I don’t understand. I do not understand.

If those observing the austere practice of pure conduct
Were to hold these initiations,
Their vow of austerity would be impaired
Through doing that which is proscribed.

This creates transgressions that are a defeat
For those observing discipline.
Since they are certain to fall to a bad rebirth,
They will never gain accomplishments.

There is no fault if one who has received
The preceptor initiation and has knowledge
Of suchness listens to or explains the tantras
And performs burnt offering rituals,
Or makes offering of gifts and so forth.

I, the Elder Dipamkarashri, having seen it
Explained in sutra and in other teachings,
Have made this concise explanation
At the request of Jangchub Ö.

This concludes The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment by the Great Master Dipamkarashrijnana. It was translated, revised and finalized by the eminent Indian abbot, himself, and by the great reviser, translator, and fully ordained monk, Gaway Lodrö. This teaching was written in the temple of Thöling in Zhang Zhung.17

I’m very happy to have done this. I could have read it in Tibetan, quicker, but in English you get some understanding also, by the way. So I’m very happy to complete this Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment.

The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment leaves imprint of the complete lam-rim. This is the root of all the other lam-rims, so it leaves something like that, makes preparation in the mind to have realizations and this definitely brings to enlightenment. It makes it easier to meet the Buddhadharma in future lives, and much easier in future lives to understand the words and meanings and to have the practice, to have realizations, to gradually cease the defilements and achieve enlightenment.

There must be some of you leaving today. So the conclusion is that it is very, very important every day, to put effort, to continue the practice.

Here is one very important thing, one basic practice, to do every day, if you can. This is the advice you should try, your everyday practice, at home. You can do it like this here in the morning, at home or even on the airplane, in a vehicle, wherever.

Begin with the preliminaries, like we do in the morning in the course here. Begin with refuge, La ma sang gyä. All that, you can do that, then the Thirty-five Buddhas and those things. They are most unbelievably powerful purification, and when you actually do prostrations, they are an unbelievable means of collecting extensive merits, unbelievable, unbelievable. So it’s good to do all that.

Then what I advise is the guru yoga practice. You should have one guru yoga practice, in order to meditate on lam-rim. You should begin with the guru yoga, and not just go straight to meditating on the lam-rim without any guru yoga, nothing, straight, just meditation.

Without guru yoga, without the preliminary practice, purification, collecting merits, receiving the blessings of guru, through guru yoga, without those things, you won’t have much result in development. Then, after some time, the mind becomes harder and harder, and then you even get wrong views, heresy, and so you lose interest. The mind becomes, how to say, your practice fades away like clouds disappearing in the sky. Or the devotion, the inspiration, fades away like clouds disappear in the sky. It happens. Then nothing happens for a long time and it is very difficult for the mind to come back.

And also, “I know this, I know that, I know this,” and then there is no interest at all. The mind becomes especially very thick-skulled, with no interest, and so there is no attainment, no change, and so no benefit to other sentient beings, no benefit even to yourself. Life becomes like that. Then all the negative karma.

So you must practice one guru yoga every day. One is Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga. That’s one thing. That has the complete practice, with the lam-rim prayer inside.

Each day when you do Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga there’s a lam-rim prayer, there’s a prayer of the whole path to enlightenment. Each day when you do that, you plant the seed of enlightenment, you make preparations to achieve the realizations, the path to enlightenment. Each time you read this lam-rim prayer, you become closer to liberation and enlightenment. Whether you read one time, whether you read two or three times or you read different lam-rim prayers, how many times you do that, you become that much closer to enlightenment; it’s that much easier to make preparation to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment.

So, each day when you do guru yoga, the lam-rim prayer, each time the lam-rim prayer gets done you become closer to enlightenment, each day. That means each day you become closer to liberating numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bringing them to enlightenment, so you become closer to fulfilling that unbelievable, most important aim—the purpose of your life—to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment. Each day you become closer to that goal by reading the meditation prayer, the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, that one.

To do this and to meditate on lam-rim, you must do it on the basis of the field or the ground, the guru yoga, so that you develop devotion, you receive blessings of the guru, and then realizations come.

Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, that’s one thing. The other one is the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha daily meditation that I have put together. That’s one thing. That book was made for people who complete the course and want to practice every day, who want to know what to do. This daily meditation book is the answer.

That has also a lam-rim prayer inside, with the preliminaries, a mandala offering and so forth and a little bit explanation why this practice is done.

There’s also the Tara practice. That should have a lam-rim prayer. I’m not sure.

Anyway, basically these two. You want to do some meditation every day, so the daily meditation, guru yoga, is made for people who complete the course and want to do a practice every day. This is the one.

For people who didn’t do the course, but who are really serious, who want to meditate every day, this is also for that.

On the basis of that, you meditate on the lam-rim, either Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, or the daily meditation of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. On the basis of that, there’s a complete lam-rim prayer there, The Foundation of All Good Qualities. You can also change it; there are different lam-rim prayers, so you can do one one day and another then next. Lama Tsongkhapa’s Hymns of the Experience of the Path to Enlightenment, Lam-rim Nyam-gur it’s called in Tibetan.18 Or there are other different lam-rim prayers, like The Three Principal Aspects of the Path, that have the essence of the whole path of sutra and tantra. So, you can change, can also do that.

When you do the lam-rim prayer, the important thing is to make sure your mind is not distracted; it’s very important to keep concentration while you are going through the prayer. Even if you don’t understand the meaning, but it’s still incredible benefit, if you keep the mind in it, then it leaves a positive imprint on the mind and that brings you to enlightenment. If you don’t concentrate, even if you are chanting loudly but you don’t hear, it’s difficult to leave a positive imprint on the mind.

These prayers cause you to achieve enlightenment by leaving imprints on the mind, planting seeds, that’s the thing. That becomes the direct meditation, going over it straight, right through the path, doing that meditation. That one is extremely important; it is one thing you must do.

If you wish to achieve enlightenment, if you want to benefit all sentient beings, if you want to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, if you want to do that, then you must do this lam-rim prayer, this direct meditation, going over it straight, without mind being distracted. You must do that, and that plants the seed to the whole path of enlightenment.

Then in the future, sooner or later, you will achieve realizations, and then cease defilements and achieve enlightenment, so you can benefit others. So, if you want to achieve enlightenment, do that. If you want to free from suffering, do that.

The direct meditation is the first. That’s the one you must do, if possible, with guru yoga.

Then, after you finish the lam-rim prayer, before the guru absorbs, those who have received a great initiation of the Highest Yoga Tantra are allowed to do the guru entering into the heart. Lama Tsongkhapa, the guru, enters into the heart. There is a special meditation those with a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation can do.

If you haven’t received a great initiation, you cannot receive that commentary and you cannot do that meditation. But what you do is this. The merit field descends to your crown, melts into light, and then light absorbs here, at the center of the two eyebrows, then absorbs in and blesses your body, speech and mind. That’s it. So if you haven’t received a great initiation, that’s the absorption you do.

This is where to do the elaborate meditation, where you can expand the actual meditation and do analytical and fixed meditation. You can do that after finishing the lam-rim prayer, before the guru absorbs, then you do the lam-rim meditation. You can do like that, doing analytical and fixed meditation. Every lam-rim meditation is like this except shamatha. Every meditation is an analytical meditation.

Then, after you finish the analytical meditation, your mind is transformed, seeing the guru as buddha, this life is impermanence, in the nature of death and impermanence. After you think of all the reasons how sentient beings are kind, you generate the loving kindness to all sentient beings, wishing them to have happiness. You want to cause them to have happiness. When you generate that thought, seeing sentient beings are so precious, so kind, then, with great compassion, you see how they are suffering, then you generate the thought wishing all sentient beings to be free from the cause of suffering, and you want to do that, you want to do that.

Through analysis, at the end, your mind is transformed into the path, then you do a fixed meditation. You keep your mind in that experience for a while, for some time. That’s a fixed meditation. You need to do that. You do an analytical meditation, and then, when your mind is transformed into that, you do a fixed meditation, keeping the mind on that experience.

You can do these things: the analytical meditation, the guru devotion, you can expand from the section of guru devotion, or meditate on the perfect human rebirth—its usefulness, how it is difficult to find—and on impermanence, on the lower realms’ sufferings. Whatever point is reached, from there you can expand the meditation that is explained in the lam-rim teachings.

Or, you can finish the whole prayer, then you do the meditation on lam-rim. You can do that.

It is so important doing the direct meditation of the lam-rim, even just going straight through with the awareness. That’s unbelievably, most unbelievably important, as Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentioned.

Before mentioning that, a Kadampa geshe, I think Pulchungna or Chengawa mentioned how he preferred even wondering about the lam-rim to having all five clairvoyant powers. Just to keep it short, having five clairvoyances, being able to read others’ minds and understand past and future, the karma, the lives of countless sentient beings, then firm contemplation, so that even if a big drum is beaten by your the ear, it cannot disturb the concentration, and the concentration can last for many years or eons. Even though you have accomplished those attainments and those psychic powers, flying and so forth—I don’t mean with hands tied with the wings, then you run. In the West, people jump from the cliffs, what’s it called? Huh? Glider.

Anyway, I’m not talking about that. [Group laughs] Don’t misunderstand me.

There are a few more, I don’t remember them all. But even if you are able to concentrate like that, and have all those attainments, even if you have psychic powers and you can fly—all that—Kadampa Geshe Chengawa said that even just wondering what the lam-rim is, just questioning what the lam-rim is, is preferable, is much more meaningful than having achieved all those attainments, those five types of clairvoyance and so forth, and then all the psychic powers. He preferred even just questioning what the lam-rim is, because it is more meaningful than all that clairvoyance.

He said that we achieved those types of clairvoyance numberless times in the past, but we haven’t achieve the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, the three principal aspects of the path, these things. Even the foundation of tantra that we need, we didn’t achieve before, so this is new experience. All those other things, those mundane siddhis, we achieved before. That’s what he said.

Then, Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentions that just doing a direct meditation on lam-rim is more meaningful than reciting many hundreds of millions of mantras and all those preliminary practices. Pabongka Rinpoche said it is more meaningful than chanting hundreds of millions of mantra, collecting many numbers of preliminary practices, spending our whole life doing it, but not doing even the direct meditation on the lam-rim.

I think it’s mentioned that a direct meditation on the lam-rim is more meaningful than even seeing a buddha. Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo said that all those direct meditations on the lam-rim, even where you recite the prayer mindfully, that is like the trunk of the tree. Then all the other practices, the many hundreds of millions of mantra and the preliminaries are like branches. So Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo is saying that even just the direct meditation on the lam-rim, without counting the elaborate lam-rim meditations, the expansions on this, this is much more meaningful than many hundreds of millions of mantras or the preliminary practices, or even seeing a buddha.

Just by seeing a buddha we don’t become enlightened. It doesn’t happen that the minute you see a buddha you become enlightened. To achieve enlightenment you have to actualize the gradual path of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and the higher capable being. You have to actualize the whole path to enlightenment, even if you see a buddha.

Even amongst students, it’s happened that some people saw Maitreya Buddha or Chenrezig. It has happened, but by seeing a buddha you don’t become enlightened like that. [Rinpoche snaps his fingers.] You have to actualize the whole path. Therefore it is said that a direct meditation on the lam-rim is more meaningful than many hundreds of millions of those other preliminary practices.

That’s from Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo who completed the path to enlightenment and from his own experience knows what is important in the life, and not to waste life.

If you don’t meditate on the lam-rim, if you miss even direct meditation on the lam-rim, then no matter how many other preliminary practices you do all day long, you actually still didn’t make your life really meaningful. It doesn’t happen.

The correct way to make life meaningful is, on the basis of the preliminary practices which purify the defilements and collect extensive merits, and with receiving the blessings of the guru, along with this you then do the lam-rim meditation. Then you can achieve realizations with this support. Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained it like this, showing how important the lam-rim is.
For the direct meditation, there are two types: the direct meditation on the lam-rim and the direct meditation tantra, on your own deity. There is a short prayer that explains the whole path to enlightenment, of tantra, so you should recite these two prayers every day to plant the seed. This is the very, very essential thing. Then on the basis of that, you meditate on the lam-rim to have realizations of guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, right view, and then there’s also tantra. If you can do all that, that’s the best.

I mentioned the very essence of practice in daily life, what’s the most important thing, what really makes life most meaningful. Then on the basis of that then you meditate on the lam-rim. The essence is like this. I’ll mention this and then I’ll finish.

The advice is this. Every day, do a guru devotion meditation for ten or fifteen minutes, whatever—or more—by following the outline of the guru devotion meditation. You can do one week on the benefits of devoting to the guru, one week on the shortcomings of making mistakes in devoting to the guru, then the four basic outlines of how to see the guru as a buddha. Then you can spend one week on the kindness of the guru, and then come back again and do it like that, continuing until you see the one guru as all the buddhas and one buddha as all the gurus, you feel the inseparability in your mind. In your mind it is one. When you call the guru or when you think of or see the guru, you see the buddhas; when you see the buddhas, it’s the guru. So, it’s all oneness.

Like that you have stable realization, not just for a few hours or a few days, but stable. It doesn’t only last a few hours or a few days and then disappears; it’s not that one. That’s what is called “the guru blessing your mind,” or “blessing your heart,” and this is an experience that only lasts a short time. But this is very stable, it lasts forever. It should be like that.

Once you have completed the realization of guru devotion, at that time, you still need continuity for stabilizing, that’s something to be done every day but you don’t need to spend that much time.

And the other advice is that you should keep your project to have a realization of bodhicitta in this life. That is a very important project. Then for this you put all your effort into collecting merits and purifying. There are five powers, all the Dharma practice can be integrated in the five powers, and this is the first one. You dedicate the merits at the end in future to actualize bodhicitta.

To have that realization, you need the realization of the renunciation of samsara. For that, first you need to generate renunciation to this life and then the renunciation to future lives’ samsara. Therefore, then you need to have the realization of the perfect human rebirth—its usefulness, how difficult it is to find—as well as of impermanence and death, the suffering of the lower realms, and then refuge and karma. You need those realizations.

So, the next meditation is training the mind in this. First, you need to read the lam-rim maybe two to three times if possible, to make yourself familiar with it. Then, after you do that, meditate on it and try to have realizations, especially on impermanence and death. If you have more of this experience, then the other realizations come more easily. This has been explained by the meditators, the great lamas who have lived their life experiencing the path to enlightenment. No matter how long it takes, how many months or years, try to achieve this realization first.

Then you achieve realization of the general sufferings of samsara, all those sufferings of deva and human realms, all that, shortcomings of delusions, and the twelve limbs of dependent origination. After you have achieved the renunciation of future lives, of samsara, only then you can train in the mind in bodhicitta, the extensive meditation on bodhicitta, either Asanga’s technique, the seven techniques of Mahayana cause and effect, which came from Arya Shantideva, from the one from Nagarjuna, equalizing and exchanging oneself for others. This bodhicitta is a very brave attitude. So as far as bodhicitta, it’s like that.

Then you should do a little bit of meditation in emptiness. Every day you should do some meditation on emptiness if you can, and also at break time, between sitting meditations, you also practice mindfulness, as I mentioned before. However, you should do some meditation on emptiness. You can use different techniques, different quotations.

Because, for those who have many imprints from past lives, if you meditate on emptiness, if you collect merit and purify many defilements, you can have realization on emptiness even before realizing bodhicitta. For some people it’s easier to realize emptiness. It depends on the merits.

Then you need to continue the familiarity, to develop the wisdom realizing emptiness. Then, later you take the great initiation of Highest Yoga Tantra, and then you can do some practice of tantra.

But you should put the main effort in the lam-rim, to have realizations of the three principal aspects of the path. This helps, this takes care of your life, this helps unbelievably to protect you from delusion and negative karma. It makes life so meaningful.

Then, secondly, after you’ve taken a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, you put your main effort in tantra. But if you haven’t put your main effort in the lam-rim beforehand, if you don’t complete the tantric path, you have nothing. That danger can happen, so there is not much you can do without the lam-rim realization.

What makes life most meaningful is to train your mind in bodhicitta.

Then the other thing is, one year you train the mind in the gradual path of the lower capable being; the next year you train the mind in the middle capable being; the next year you train the mind in the higher capable being, bodhicitta. Then, whichever realizations you haven’t achieved, you go back again, and again you train the mind. So goes on like that. That’s also a very good way.

Maybe for some people, later on you can put effort to learn about shamatha and to practice it. For some people to attempt to actualize shamatha is also good.

I think, this is the most important in the life.

The break time between sessions, when you’re walking or whatever, it’s not break time from Dharma but break time from sitting meditation. How you should live your life, with meditation and break time, in meditation you do bodhicitta, and then in break time, whatever activity you do—working, life, whatever, everything—as much as possible is with a bodhicitta motivation. That is how to live life.

This way, the sitting meditation session, break time, your busy life, everything is harmonized with Dharma, everything becomes Dharma, and not only Dharma, but it is done with bodhicitta so everything becomes the cause of enlightenment. Your many hours of very hard work might be very tiring, but if it’s done with bodhicitta, then everything becomes purification, no matter how hard it is, because you’re doing the work for sentient beings. No matter how hard the work is, it all becomes purification, because you are doing it for sentient beings. It all becomes great purification and collects extensive merits. Without bodhicitta, of course, the work can be very hard and very boring, very tiring, if done with a selfish mind.

When you do your work with bodhicitta, doing many hours, working very hard, it all becomes great purification, purifying all the negative karma and collecting extensive merits, numberless merits, because you’re doing this work for the benefit of all sentient beings.

To begin the work, when you leave home you generate bodhicitta: “The purpose of my life is to free sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, therefore I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I’m going to work for others.” You generate this bodhicitta, then you leave home, wearing shoes and a jacket. What I’m saying is ties, jacket, shoes… Anyway, I’m joking!

If you generate this bodhicitta from home, before you get in the car, it’s so good. Then, the mind is so happy, you benefit all sentient beings, you purify all defilements, all negative karmas, and collect extensive merits. Your world becomes another happy world. Otherwise, it’s very depressing, very tiring.

Anyway, that’s it, I think. Whatever you do, do with the motivation of bodhicitta as much as possible. You do it like that. That’s how to live in the break time. I thought of “breaking news,” you know, breaking news, when there’s war, sometimes, like in Iraq, breaking news.

So, try to live life like this. What you did in the morning during meditation and in the break time, you continue to get the experience. If for example you do your activities with guru devotion or compassion, with loving kindness, bodhicitta or impermanence—whatever the morning meditation, then you do the work with that continual experience, with what you generated in the morning. That’s very helpful. That helps generate realizations, and for sitting meditation it helps. Sitting meditation helps break time and break time helps sitting meditation; each helps the other.

What Lama Tsongkhapa says, taking the essence day and night like this is making life most meaningful, more beneficial.

So, that’s it.

I do the lung, the oral transmission of the Eight Verses. Where is it? The beginning or end? Where is the paper mark? Thank you.

Who translated? Then I think this might be good translation.

The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation is something that should be kept with you all the time. This is what to apply in daily life, when you encounter problems. This is the same for Nagarjuna’s thought transformation. This is the short one, and the shortest one is tong-len, the richest heart. With tong-len, when you encounter problems, you take other sentient beings’ sufferings and the causes on yourself, and you give your own happiness and merit to other sentient beings, and then you enlighten all sentient beings.

There were some mistakes in the Eight Verses translation commonly used in the past, but I think this may be better. I’m not sure.

Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit
From all sentient beings, who are more precious
Than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
I shall hold them most dear at all times.

When in the company of others,
I shall always consider myself the lowest of all,
And from the depths of my heart,
Hold others dear and supreme.19

Rinpoche: Gang du su dang drog pai tshe. I thought gang gu was “where” and so su dang drog pai tshe would mean “with whom” but here it is related to time, so it’s “when in the company of others.” But where, where and with whom, of course, that can include time as well. So, gang du su dang drog pai tshe “where and with whom, you are in company with.”

When in the company of others,
I shall always consider myself the lowest of all,
And from the depths of my heart,
Hold others dear and supreme

Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears in my mind,
Endangering myself and others,
I shall confront
And avert it without delay.20

Rinpoche: The practices of the first two verses help the third practice. The first one becomes the basis for all the practice. The second one, as well, helps delusion to not arise, so that helps with the third.

Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature
And overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering,
I shall hold such rare ones dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.

When, out of envy,
Others mistreat me with abuse, insults or the like,
I shall accept defeat
And offer the victory to others.

When someone whom I have benefited
And in whom I have great hopes
Gives me terrible harm,
I shall regard that person as my holy guru.

In short, both directly and indirectly,
Do I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers.
I shall secretly take upon myself
All their harmful actions and sufferings.

Undefiled by the stains of superstitions
Of the eight worldly concerns
May I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
Be released from the bondage of attachment.21

Rinpoche: Of course, that’s a very important one, but also from the bondage, from like an iron cage—the term Lama Tsongkhapa uses—of ignorance, grasping at true existence, holding true existence. By perceiving all phenomena as illusory, you can be released from that.

So that’s it, that’s it. We’ve finished the Eight Verses. When you encounter problems in daily life, that is how to deal with them, using that in the path to enlightenment.

As I mentioned before, the very key is the tong-len. So that’s about it.

At the end of the day, if you can do whatever you can, that’s very good. In the morning, you can do prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas. There are some people who do a hundred in the morning. If you can do that in the early morning, that’s unbelievable, that’s so good. And then, if not a hundred, then whatever you can do, by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas, it purifies, even by doing it once, by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas prayer, by prostrating, it purifies the very heavy negative karma of having killed your father and mother in this life, and then killed an arhat, or even harmed the Buddha, causing blood of the Buddha to flow, and caused disharmony among the Sangha—all that gets purified, if you do one Thirty-five Buddhas correctly, with the remedy of the four powers. If you meditate well, then it has that power to purify.

This negative karma is very heavy so right after death you get reborn in the lowest hot hell, the inexhaustible hot hell realm, where you experience the heaviest suffering in samsara, and for longest time, for one intermediate eon. This gets purified, even if you did not collect it in this life, but collected in the past lives. That means there is no question about the ten nonvirtuous actions that have been done, those get purified. So it’s just an unimaginably powerful practice.

In Lama Tsongkhapa’s life story, you don’t see much about big numbers of Vajrasattva, many hundreds of thousands, but you do see how he did so many Thirty-five Buddhas. He did many hundreds of thousands of prostrations, seven hundred thousand prostrations or something, by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas, then he got so much realizations after that.

Then at night time, before going to bed, if you can do just one Thirty-five Buddhas prostrations, then twenty-one of the long Vajrasattva mantra or twenty-eight of the short one: OM VAJRASATTVA HUM. Of course, the more you make, the better.

If you do that, it stops that day’s negative karma increasing the next day and becoming double and that doubling the day after and so forth. For example, if you don’t purify with Vajrasattva, the negative karma of killing one tiny insect today becomes double tomorrow, and increase fourfold the next day and then eightfold and sixteenfold and so forth. By the time you die, that one small negative karma, killing one insect or whatever, becomes like the size of this Earth. One negative karma multiplying like that, without purification, becomes the size of this Earth by the time you die.

When there are so many other negative karmas and every negative karma becomes like that, can you imagine it? It’s unbelievably heavy.

It is said in the teachings,

To the wise man, even a great negativity becomes small;
To the fool, even a small negativity becomes huge.

For wise ones, even though their negative karma is heavy, because they know the Vajrasattva practice and they know they can purify, using skillful means, they purify their negative karma, and so even though it was heavy when they created it, it becomes small. But the foolish ones, on the other hand, do not know such practices as Vajrasattva, they do not know the skillful means and so, even though their negative karma is very small but by multiplying day by day, it becomes heavy. It’s mentioned there.

Therefore, practicing Vajrasattva is so important, not only for those who receive the initiation but even those who don’t receive the initiation.

So, at nighttime, do that and then do the dedications. If you can do the King of Prayers, the bodhisattva’s excellent prayer, that’s unbelievable, that’s so good to train the mind. By doing the King of Prayers you again collect extensive merits and purify defilements.

It’s another powerful way to decrease whatever negative karma you have, making it much less; purifying and making the negative karma very small. That allows you to be born in a pure land when you die, such as Amitabha’s pure land, where you never get reborn in lower realms and quickly achieve enlightenment.

Then, dedicate the merits to actualize bodhicitta in the hearts of all sentient beings, who have same potential to be developed, and then do the prayer to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. Then dedicate to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings by sealing it with emptiness.

That is the dedication which contains the King of Prayers. The King of Prayers contains ten times of numberless great prayers of bodhisattvas, the excellent prayer, including the King of Prayers. It is contained in this stanza [Rinpoche reads the Tibetan: Jampal pa wo…] “As the three times’ buddhas dedicated the merits, I too dedicate all my merits.’

Then the last one is for Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings to be completely to actualize in your own heart, and in the hearts of your own family and of all the students, all the benefactors, those who sacrifice their lives for the organization—there are so many people in the world—in their hearts and in the hearts of everybody in this world.

So, that’s about it.

We need to recite the King of Prayers but I think maybe it’s the lunch time, the stomach will suffer. The mind will suffer and the stomach will suffer, so we’ll do short dedication.

Maybe tonight, Vajrasattva, then those who are there, then an extensive dedication, for all the extensive merits collected during the course.

Due to all the three times’ merits collected by me, collected by others, may I and my own family members, and all the people who have connection to me, and all the students, all the benefactors of the organization, and so many people in different parts of the world who bear so much hardships offering service to the organization, to benefit sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, and those who rely upon me, whom I promised to pray for, whose names were given to me, and here, at Kopan Monastery, all the staff who organized, who put effort into, who work for the monastery, generally, all those who did work, who offered service to make this course happen, including the cooks and everybody who did work for this course, and then everybody who attended the course here, and even those who left, who didn’t complete the course, everybody. So, all the friends, enemies and parents, everybody, may we be directly guided by Lama Tsongkhapa and the Mahayana gurus in all the lifetimes, and never be separated from the pure path which is admired by all the buddhas. That’s very important, it means completely actualize Lama Tsongkhapa’s path within ourselves.

[Rinpoche chants the prayers.]

[The students recite the long life prayer for Lama Zopa Rinpoche.]

You have the prayer to actualize the lam-rim within yourself and to benefit for all sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, that contains that. That’s always recited at the end of the lam-rim teachings, so do that today. You can read the English translation, and then you can do that prayer.

Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, and dedicate.

[Rinpoche chants the lam-rim prayer.]

Also, we dedicated for His Holiness, but it didn’t get done. This unbelievable, precious opportunity that we have. We have met the Buddhadharma and the opportunity to practice all this: renunciation, bodhicitta. Renunciation, that which causes us to achieve liberation, and then bodhicitta, that which causes us to achieve enlightenment. Then right view, to be liberated from samsara, to eliminate the root of samsara, all that, then on top of that, the two stages of tantra. Reciting the lam-rim prayer becomes the cause for all this unbelievable, unbelievable opportunity we have to collect merits, to purify defilements, to become enlightened, all that is first by His Holiness’s kindness, and second by Lama Yeshe’s, who is kinder than all the three times’ buddhas, by Lama Yeshe’s kindness.

Even though we don’t see Lama Yeshe, even those who haven’t met Lama Yeshe, we are receiving his kindness all the time, coming to Kopan Monastery. The existence of Kopan Monastery is by Lama Yeshe’s kindness, so all the people who come to Kopan are able to learn Dharma, able to practice, to collect merit, to purify defilements, obstacles, every single opportunity is by Lama Yeshe’s kindness. That’s very clear.

And so we pray, we dedicate our merits, that whatever holy wishes Lama had be actualized, everything, then all the organization, all the centers, all the students, are able to do whatever Lama wished, that it happens to all the students.

Then for Lama Ösel, his incarnation, to have a long life, to be healthy, then to become like the sun rising in this world, to be able to eliminate the suffering of sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment. I forgot the English word. In this world to become like the sun shining, to benefit sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha.

So we pray like this.

Then, I want to thank Ven. Neil. You’ve led the course how many times?

Ven. Neil: Six times.

Rinpoche: Oh, six times. Six times, he led the one-month Kopan course. This is the sixth time. So, we hope he can lead many more. [Students laugh and applaud for a long time]. So, long life.

So, please dedicate: Due to all the three times’ merits collected by myself, the three times’ merits collected by others, may Ven. Neil have a long life and be healthy, and actualize the lam-rim, as well as the foundation, the lam-rim, then the common and uncommon, the two stages of tantra in this lifetime, and to be most beneficial for sentient beings. So pray like that.

The abbot here, Lama Lhundrup, told me when I arrived, when I was coming from the airport and asked about the course, that there were more than two hundred people here. Because Lama Lhundrup came here to do the question and answer a few times, he said that the people are very, very serious in Dharma and they are all very humble, that they always ask questions, which came from their heart, really thinking of practice, really thinking Dharma. It was a very joyful thing to hear that.

I heard that for everybody, there was no half-meditating, half-following the session, half-hanging around Kopan it didn’t happen like that. What I heard a few times was that everybody followed the sessions, the meditation sessions, so I think it’s great. You can see the result in your heart, now, you can rejoice all the time that you put effort in this. The unbelievable merits, the skies of merits you’ve done, so many times in one day, then unbelievable purification is done, no matter how cold or hot you felt or whatever, bearing hardships, being hungry, taking the Mahayana precepts.

Sorry, one more thing. To make the life very meaningful in your life, since you have already received the lineage, the eight Mahayana precepts, in your life, on buddhas’ days, if you take the eight Mahayana precepts, whatever practice you do, it increases one hundred million times. If you chant one mantra, it increases one hundred million; if you do one prostration, it increases one hundred million; if you make one light offering, it increases one hundred million. If you can take the Eight Mahayana Precepts every day, if you’re able to do that, it’s of unbelievable benefit for sentient beings, and it benefits world peace, and the peace of your country, like that story of the four harmonious brothers.

Even at other times, on the eighth and the fifteenth [of the Tibetan calendar], the full moon and half-moon nights, and what’s the other one—there are three? The one at the end of the Tibetan month, on the thirtieth. On those days or any other time, whenever you feel it’s convenient, depending on your job, you can take the eight Mahayana precepts, wherever you are, even while you are traveling or wherever, when you are in the West and doing job. This is another one that makes life so meaningful and benefits all sentient beings and this world. You must realize that.

The Buddha has mentioned making extensive offerings to the billions of buddhas of the universe filled with jewels, according to number of sand grains in the Ganga—but this is the Pacific Ocean—you fill up with jewels and offer to billions of buddhas. The merit of keeping one precept for one day is far greater that offering all these things, unbelievable, unbelievable—far greater merit then that many offerings, the universe filled with jewels, equaling the number of sand grains in River Ganga—I mean the Pacific Ocean, not the River Ganga in India—offering to billions of buddhas. In these degenerate times, these very difficult times of war, famine and so many difficulties, all that merit is small compared to keeping one precept for one day. This creates more merit. So remember this, and enjoy your life.

This is all I have said about how to enjoy life, how to achieve happiness, how to create happiness in life. So that’s it. Thank you very much.

[Students applaud]

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10 Vv. 22–53. [Return to text]

11 Vv. 54 & 55. [Return to text]

12 Vv. 56 & 57. [Return to text]

13 Vv. 58–62. [Return to text]

14 V. 63. [Return to text]

15 Vv. 58–62. [Return to text]

16 Vv. 63 and 64. [Return to text]

17 Vv. 65–68 and colophon. [Return to text]

18 Also called Lines of Experience, Songs of Experience, or Hymns of Spiritual Experience. [Return to text]

19 Vv. 1 and 2.  [Return to text]

20 Vv. 2 & 3.  [Return to text]

21 Vv. 4–8.  [Return to text]