Lamrim Meditation Course at Chenrezig Institute

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Eudlo, Australia (Archive #163)

These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a one-month meditation course held at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, in May 1975. This historic event, attended by 120 students, was the first meditation course at the center. The course was based on The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, Rinpoche’s first lamrim book, and includes many checking meditations led by Rinpoche. First edit by Ven. Thubten Labdron (Trisha Donnelly), second edit by Sandra Smith, August 2021.

Go to the Index page to view an outline of topics and click on the links to go directly to the lectures. You can also download a PDF of the entire course.

Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing puja with students at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, May 1975.
Lectures 19 and 20
Lecture 19

… which shows the Buddha is a worthwhile object to take for refuge. It explains how the Buddha has the power to guide the sentient beings from sufferings. The reason explains the knowledge and the power that he has.

The Buddha is a worthwhile object of refuge because Buddha himself is released from all suffering and fears. For instance, in the example we talked about in the morning, he fought thousands and thousands of maras only with his pure thought, love, the great Mahayana love. Just even thinking of this, it’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable. The highest person in the world, such as the king, no matter if their position is of the highest rank, it is nothing compared to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's knowledge. No matter how much material power, even the whole world, even the whole universe, all the material power of countries, all the weapons, all the different countries’ material power—there's nothing to compare with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's mind, the power of his pure thought, nothing to compare.

In the world, even those who are recognized as very knowledgeable and very powerful, who have a higher rank, instead of having pure thoughts and controlling others or subduing their enemies through the power of love, they have anger and pride and other negative minds arising, and then they harm others. So, it’s completely the opposite action.

There are so many other stories and examples from previous times. Ajatashatru always competed with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, all the time. He tried to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and to stop him in many different ways. When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did something, Ajatashatru was always competing. One day this Ajatashatru—who actually was a king who had murdered his own father—sent a mad elephant, a very crazy elephant, while Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and hundreds and thousands of his disciples, those who also had high psychic powers, many arhats, were coming to beg in the village. This king, who was recognized as the evil king Ajatashatru, sent a crazy elephant from the field onto the road. This crazy elephant ran and killed many people and made much damage.

As they were coming to beg in the town, carrying bowls, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's disciples, who were arhats, who had very high psychic powers, couldn't stand the crazy elephant, so they all flew into space! They all flew into space! Only Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was left on the road. The king aimed to destroy, to harm, to kill Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, something like this. However, the crazy elephant, the foolish animal couldn't give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha at all. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had no fear, not a single fear. All the rest, those arhats, the other followers who had very high powers, all flew away. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had not one single fear of the crazy animal.

Instead of the crazy elephant giving harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, when in the presence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha he could not do anything, his rage completely subsided and he gave respect to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who has such incredible powers and understanding to guide the sentient beings, subdued the crazy elephant and explained the teachings. Although this king tried to give harm Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in many ways he couldn’t harm him.

There was not one single fear. There was one person called Angulimala, he was the person in previous stories who killed 999 people, almost one thousand, except for one person. Except for one person it would have become one thousand! During the time of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, he was one person who was recognized as a very evil person. So, this person called Angulimala was trying to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going to make holy works for sentient beings, when he was begging. But even though Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going so slowly, so slowly, and Angulimala was trying to run so fast, however fast he tried to run, he never reached close enough to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. He was running so fast but somehow he didn’t reach even though Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was walking so slowly, not so fast, just there in front. So afterwards, he asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, “Why is it that I run to give harm, but no matter how much I try to run so fast, I never catch you? What caused it?” Afterwards he asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha this.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has incredible powers and cannot be given harm by evil sentient beings. Also one benefactor invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to his home, actually not with pure thought but in order to give harm, to destroy Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. The family arranged to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, so before inviting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha they made holes in front of their door. Where there was a path to enter the house, they dug many very deep holes. They filled the holes with hot coals and the big holes were covered with dust on the surface, so that when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha walked there he would fall down. This was what they were expecting.

So they invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who accepted the invitation. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples were coming on that day and beforehand Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had told his disciples he would go first. The families who invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha were thinking that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha didn't know anything, because that was the way they saw Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, their mind projection. They didn't see Guru Shakyamuni Buddha as enlightened, as he has complete power of the knowledge of omniscient mind. They saw him as an ordinary person who didn't know, so they invited him with the projection that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha would fall in the hole with the fire. Of course there was no problem for Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, he clearly sees, he's a holy being who sees all past, present and future. He has no problem seeing any existence.

So they were coming and when they were near the house, before walking on this road, underneath which there was a hole and fire, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha told his disciples that he would go first. As Guru Shakyamuni walked on this path, on each step, instead of falling in this hole on the path covered by dust, on that road, there were lotuses appearing as he was taking steps. He took steps on the lotuses. Just as there are lotuses on the water, like this, lotuses appeared and he walked on the lotuses instead of experiencing the suffering of falling down in the fire. Then all his disciples came and walked on the lotuses. They also walked on lotuses. So that family couldn't give harm, anything.

The family also planned to offer food to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, so they put poison in the food. They thought Guru Shakyamuni Buddha wouldn't know, wouldn't discover the food contained poison, because they believed exactly as they saw Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. They offered the food that had the poison in it. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha told his disciples that he would start eating food first. Before he ate, he told his disciples not to eat the food. Then he started to eat the food and he took the food. Of course, as he took the food, nothing happened. There was no danger like ordinary people experience when they take poisonous food or poisonous liquid or something, and all of a sudden they get sick and it causes danger of life. But it is never like this for Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, there are no such problems. There is nothing, and even giving poison cannot harm Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.

For Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, because of the power of his holy mind the poison becomes medicine. He doesn't become poisoned. For him it's not poison, it is medicine. It is medicine that only increases the great bliss, which he has received by purifying dualistic wrong conceptions. For Guru Shakyamuni Buddha there's no such thing as impurities. Even if someone offers kaka or any dirty things, for him it is not dirty. For his senses, for his holy mind, it’s not dirty. There's no such thing as “dirty” existing for his senses. Ugly things, there's no such thing existing. Even people offering presents, even kaka or however dirty it is, from the side of Shakyamuni Buddha it is absolute nature, which only increases the transcendental bliss, instead of causing danger in a physical sense. There are no such problems, they’re never existing. Because of these reasons, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is released from all sufferings, from all these fears and sufferings.

After Guru Shakyamuni Buddha took that person's food, then all his disciples took it also, but nothing happened. Nothing happened because of his powers, and also because of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s blessings. Due to his powers, nothing happened even to his followers. So, after nothing happened, no problem, nothing, the family got a big surprise. First of all, they tried to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha by making a fireplace in the road and they couldn't do anything, and secondly, they offered poisonous food. They didn't give him any danger, nothing happened, so they got a big surprise. Then they really felt upset after doing such negative actions. They really got a big shock. Then they explained to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha that they were poor people. They felt great repentance after doing the negative actions, so they confessed to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who also gave them teachings.

There are many life stories of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha like this. However other sentient beings tried to give harm, nothing happened. The whole reason why no weapons, nothing, no other sentient beings could give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy body is because his holy body, as I described before, is indestructible, the vajra holy body. The main thing is there's not one single delusion, not one single illusion, nothing existing, no impurities, they’re completely finished. Because of the achievement of complete cessation of all the delusions, nothing can give harm, no one can destroy him.

Also, there was this Ajatashutra, the one who tried to send the crazy elephant to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who always competed with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha whenever he did something. One time Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was taking medicines, very, very powerful medicines that no one else could take. If other people took this medicine, the pills, they would die or get sick. Such powerful medicine, very, very powerful medicine; no one could take it. So sometimes Guru Shakyamuni Buddha [shows the aspect of sickness], to show to other sentient beings, for the benefit of other sentient beings, even though he's free from samsara, free from the cause of sickness, he doesn't have to experience any sickness, not even one single pain, nothing, there's no problem.

He is completely out of samsara, therefore, even just because of this reason, there's no such thing as pain, sickness or disease, any kind of sickness, but if it benefits other sentient beings he sometimes take the aspect, he takes the form of having sickness. In other words, sort of pretending, in the ordinary way of talking, sort of pretending! Just as a person who is not really sick pretends that he's sick. Sort of like this. Sometimes, for the benefit of the sentient beings, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha takes the form, shows actions such as having sickness.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha took this very, very powerful medicine, which was also very expensive. It was so powerful that no one could take it. This Ajatashutra, who always tried to compete, who always tried to think he had the same power as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, tried to take this medicine.

[Break in transcript]

[Story of the king who was very proud of his musical talent] … then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha came to the king’s palace while he was playing the violin in his room. The king was sort of intoxicated, his mind was so concentrated, intoxicated by the sound of music, thinking that he was the expert. However, while he was playing the music all of a sudden from outside he heard a fantastic sound of violin. He thought, “Oh, there's a person who can play better than me.” He was kind of shocked to discover this and he came out to see who the person was. He came to check up.

When he came down there was a beggar, a very simple person, playing the violin—such a fantastic melody, with all different kinds of tunes, but when the king came out to get that beggar’s violin, it had only one string! There were no other strings—usually there are many strings but it did not have them, it had only one string and the beggar could produce every kind of tune. And that was more fantastic, sweeter than what the king was playing before, sweeter than his playing. So, the king’s ego pride was smashed! He got a big surprise and then his pride was subdued; such heavy pride was subdued, controlled by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha doing this action, the holy deed. He manifested as a beggar and then played the violin in such a beautiful way.

After the king’s mind was subdued, he invited the Buddha to come to [his room], then as the time was ready, afterwards he became Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciple. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings to him.

Like this, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is not only highly skillful in method, understanding the different methods that suit the different sentient beings, who have different personalities and different problems of mind. Also Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is very skillful in knowing the right time—the right times to control the mind, to give teachings, to show the different methods, the right times.

If the time is not right, for instance, if a person is not ready and it’s not the right time, then there are many problems. No matter how much you try, the method doesn't work for the other person. The method doesn't benefit, it doesn't work for that person. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has such incredible understanding of different methods and the right time; not only knowing different methods and the right time for one sentient being, but for infinite sentient beings.

I think the meditation, what should be done next time, is the meditation on the refuge. Do the same visualization as before of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. After you have visualized Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, first of all you do the checking meditation on refuge, going through the outline. After you have visualized Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then you can think … I think it's better to repeat it afterwards, this mind of motivation, but it is very useful to think in this way. Whenever we do meditation on refuge, doing purification with the refuge meditation, with the refuge objects, it is useful to remember the general samsaric sufferings. Generally, remember how samsara is in the nature of suffering, how it is, and then particularly the three suffering lower realms and how we have experienced that in beginningless lifetimes. We have experienced that numberless times in beginningless lifetimes. Try to understand, try to feel this.

Think: “This time, while I have received the perfect human rebirth and have met the precious teachings of the Buddha, if I don't try to be released from all these sufferings, if I don't try this time, definitely I will be born again in the suffering realms and continuously, endlessly suffer in samsara. Therefore, to be able to do like this, who has the perfect power?”

[Break in transcript]

Generally, negative karma is created either by depending on the sentient beings or by depending on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We create negative karma like this, either by depending on other sentient beings or by depending on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. So, making purification through refuge is very powerful, very, very powerful. It’s very, very helpful to purify all the negative karmas that have been created from beginningless previous lifetimes. It is very, very helpful for the mind, so healthy.

When you recite La ma la kyab su chi o that means taking refuge in the guru. This subject is very deep, very deep, something that can be explained for a long time, it’s very deep.

So, the manifestation we should visualize is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Think the essence of all the buddhas is manifesting in Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then take refuge in the guru, La ma la kyab su chi o. Then it's repeated—first of all visualize white light purifying and secondly the yellow light, which is the wisdom light, the light of knowledge. The yellow light is coming and you receive the knowledge of the gurus. Visualize the white light as usual, purifying white light, purifying all the negativities that have been created by depending on the Buddha, then second time, you receive the knowledge light, the yellow light, the knowledge of the Buddha.

Then Chö la kyab su chi o, “I take refuge in the Dharma.” Chö la kyab su chi o means taking refuge to the Dharma. Chö means Dharma; kyab su chi o means taking refuge, or going for refuge. “I go for refuge to the Dharma.”

At that time, maybe you can visualize texts at the side and in the front of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. When you say, “I go for refuge to Dharma” all his realizations manifest in the letters, in the form of texts. All the letters are formation of light. All the letters are radiating and making their own sound, which can be heard. Each letter makes its own sound. So all Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s realizations become manifest in the form of letters, in the form of texts, holy literature, and light is coming. Again visualize light. First of all visualize white light purifying all the karma that has been created by depending on Dharma; second time, you are receiving the knowledge of Dharma with the yellow light. You can visualize light coming from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and from the texts.

Then, Gen dün la kyab su chi o, “I go to refuge to Sangha.” This time you visualize the same thing, first of all the purifying white light, purifying the negative karma that has been created by depending on the Sangha, then the yellow light, the light of knowledge.

You can repeat this refuge prayer:

La ma la kyab su chi o
Sang gyä la kyab su chi o
Chö la kyab su chi o
Gen dün la kyab su chi o


Yes, maybe repeat just one time.


Besides the action of taking ordination becoming Dharma, we need the pure thought, a similar thought to bodhicitta, for this action to become the cause of receiving enlightenment.

“From beginningless time I have been suffering in samsara and I have been circling around in the samsaric realms numberless times, particularly in the suffering lower realms. I have always been suffering by being bound in samsara. What caused all my past samsaric suffering? All these sufferings were caused by the wrong conception, the evil thought of the worldly dharmas, the wrong conception of self, I, and the wrong conception of the self-cherishing thought. If I continue to follow these wrong conceptions, I will suffer endlessly in samsara.

“Only releasing myself from samsara is not sufficient, there are also numberless other beings who are extremely suffering. At the moment their suffering is greater than mine. They are the field from where I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all perfections, including the ultimate happiness, enlightenment. They are of the utmost need at the beginning of Dharma practice, even in the middle and even at the end. They are extremely kind. Therefore, I should help all the mother sentient beings attain the causes of happiness, for them to have all the happiness and to be devoid of all the suffering and its causes, as quickly as possible.

“Actually I feel their suffering is unbearable, therefore I must quickly free all sentient beings from suffering and lead them to enlightenment. To do this, I must achieve enlightenment first, so therefore, I'm going to take the ordination until tomorrow sunrise.”

Visualize the person granting the ordination as the manifestation of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, surrounded by numberless other buddhas and bodhisattvas, and repeat the prayer.


Besides the action of taking the ordination becoming Dharma, it is necessary for it to become the cause of receiving enlightenment. Therefore, it is necessary to do even a short motivation, like this:

“The evil thought of the worldly dharmas, the wrong conception of the self, the self-cherishing thought, has obliged me to create the cause to experience the general samsaric suffering and particularly the sufferings of the three lower realms numberless times from beginningless lifetimes.”

As these wrong conceptions have been obliging us to create negative karma numberless times, it is definite that we will have to experience the suffering result in the lower realms again and again, a great number of times. As long as we follow these wrong conceptions, we will have to endlessly suffer in samsara. If we think of these situations, these hard experiences, what will happen in the future, it is something that makes tears come out, which really makes us terrified. 

There is not even one small pleasure left in samsara that we have never experienced. It has been experienced by us numberless times. Just like this, there is not even a small suffering left in samsara that has never been experienced by us numberless times. Same thing, there is not even the greatest samsaric pleasure left that we have never experienced before. It has been experienced by us numberless times. Even the greatest samsaric sufferings—there's not one single, great samsaric suffering that we have not experienced. It has been experienced by us numberless times. So, there's no interest in any samsaric existence or experience, and there’s nothing to be attached to.

Releasing ourselves from samsaric suffering is not sufficient. If we’re always concerned with our own peace we’re just the same as animals, the foolish sentient beings.

The wrong conception, the self-cherishing thought, is the base from where all our suffering rises. Cherishing others more than ourselves is the base from where all the perfections and all happiness arises. The pure thought bodhicitta, from where it has to be received, from where it's coming is by depending on the sentient beings. Sentient beings are the field from where we have been receiving all the past perfections and happiness, as well as the present and future perfections—all happiness, including enlightenment. We have always been discriminating the mother sentient beings as friend, as stranger or as enemy, with ignorance, anger and attachment. In that way, we are creating so much negative karma.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were to abide in equanimity, free from attachment and anger which discriminates some as close and others distant.
May they abide in equanimity.
I shall cause them to abide in this equanimity.
Guru Buddha, please grant me blessings to be able to do so.

However much the mother sentient beings desire happiness, because they are completely ignorant in recognizing the causes of happiness, they always destroy the causes of happiness. Think, “How pitiful it is.” At the same time, think:

How wonderful it would be if all the mother sentient beings had happiness and its causes.
May they have these.
I shall cause them to have these.
Guru Buddha, please grant me blessings to be able to do so.

Dedicate, at the same time thinking that we dedicate our body, possessions and materials completely to each sentient being. This becomes the cause of all their happiness. Think that now all the mother sentient beings have received all the happiness.

Also think: “No matter how much the mother sentient beings do not desire suffering, because they are deeply ignorant and do not recognize the cause of suffering, they often run to create the cause of suffering. How pitiful it is.”

How wonderful it would be if all the mother sentient beings were free from suffering and its causes.
May they be free.
I shall cause them to be free.
Guru Buddha, please grant me blessings to be able to do so.

At the same time, while visualizing all the sentient beings’ suffering, think that you are taking all their sufferings in your heart and they hit at the self-cherishing thought. Think that they become free from all the sufferings.

How wonderful would be if all the mother sentient beings were never parted from all the happiness, having received enlightenment.
May they never be parted from this happiness.
I shall cause them never to be parted.
Guru Buddha, please grant me blessings to be able to do so.

Think: “Just wishing like this is not sufficient. As the mother sentient beings have been extremely kind, I must take the whole responsibility to release each of the sentient beings from suffering. I must actually work to do this, therefore I must achieve enlightenment. Receiving enlightenment depends on discipline of the body, speech and mind, therefore I'm going to take the ordination until tomorrow morning.”

Visualize the person granting the ordination as in the meditation of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, surrounded by infinite buddhas and bodhisattvas, and repeat the prayer.

[Ordination ceremony]

Lecture 20

Besides the action of listening to Dharma becoming Dharma, it should also become the cause of receiving enlightenment. Therefore, it is necessary to at least have a short motivation like this.

“I must achieve enlightenment for the sake of all the infinite mother sentient beings who are equal to infinite space. Therefore, I'm going to listen to the teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment.”

The listening subject is the Mahayana teaching, which leads the fortunate ones to enlightenment. It is well-expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is the profound teaching and it’s as if the essence of the unequaled magnificent pandit Atisha and the knowledge of the Dharma king of the three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa, was extracted. It includes the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. All this is arranged for our practice of the graduated path and for our achievement of enlightenment.

This commentary on the graduated path has four outlines. The last one is how to lead the fortunate ones to enlightenment. That has two outlines: the last one is how to train the mind in the path to enlightenment by following the guru. And that has two outlines: the last one is how to take the essence of the perfect human rebirth, which is divided into three. The first one is the graduated path of the lower capable beings and the general path. That has two outlines: the last one is following the method that brings happiness of future lives. That has two outlines: the first is going for refuge and the second one is karma.

It is fortunate that we can take the vows of the refuge ordination. Taking refuge through repetition of prayers is making it more precise, trying to be more careful, making it more precise. Even though there is refuge received in our mind through understanding of the meditation—the meditation practice makes it kind of clear—but this way, taking the ordination, taking the vows, becomes more precise. That means we have to observe the precepts of the practice of refuge more carefully. Then for our whole life until death time, we don’t take refuge in other wrong founders, we only take refuge in the perfect being, the enlightened being—the perfected being who is qualified for all the four reasons and who has all the infinite knowledge of body, speech and mind. We only take refuge in such a perfect guide.

[Transcript ends here]

Next Chapter:

Lectures 21 and 22 »