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 3 & 4: Cherishing Others

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Lecture 3

The mirror which is covered by dust can’t give a clear reflection. We need to clean away the dust, and the more we clean, the more it is able to give a clear reflection. It becomes clearer, then afterwards, after the last covering of dust is removed it’s able to give a very clear, complete reflection. It’s the same thing with our mind

Also, when we grow the crops in a field, we need to plant the seed first, and then we need the right soil, and the land plowed to make the land soft. It can be hard, with rocks, difficult to plant, difficult to grow, so, in order to plant, it needs to be soft. Then we also need water.

So, having the seed alone is not enough, we also need the conditions: the water, the sun to heat, warmth, and so forth, depending on the plant.

There are many conditions that need to be organized, to be put together, along with the seed, then it can grow, then it can produce a stem. That is exactly the same for our inner growth, having attainments, realizations, on the path to liberation and enlightenment. The seed, the imprint left by the teachings, by meditating, by listening to the teachings, is planted on our mental continuum, which is like the field.

As I mentioned before, a plant needs many other conditions, so it’s similar here. For instance, devotion is like the water, guru devotion and devotion to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is like putting water on your mental continuum field, where there’s the seed planted. From there, understanding of the Dharma comes, the words and meanings as well as the realizations of the path.

Like that, it pacifies obstacles. We need to collect the necessary conditions, the merits, so altogether developing devotion is like putting water in our heart, in the mental continuum, which is like the field, to be able to produce, to develop, to actualize, to manifest, the realizations.

Lama Tsongkhapa asked the question of Manjushri, who is the embodiment of all the Buddha’s wisdom: what is the means for quick enlightenment? Manjushri gave this answer: collecting merit—which is the necessary condition—and purifying the obstacles, the defilements, the obstacles to achieve realizations on the path to enlightenment. Then, the next one is, with a one-pointed mind, devoting to the guru, making prayers, with that heart, doing the prayer to the guru. With a one-pointed mind, with that devotional mind, making prayers to the guru is to bless our heart. Then, we receive blessings from the guru, and that blesses our heart, and from that realizations come. So, devotion is the cause of realizations.

Then next is the actual body of the practice, that’s meditating on the path, the steps of the path to enlightenment. That’s the actual body.

So, Manjushri, who is the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ wisdom, gave this answer to Lama Tsongkhapa. In our daily life, we have to remember that.

Without the practice of purification, collecting merits and with a one-pointed devotional mind, making requests to the guru, sitting with crossed legs and closing our eyes doesn’t lead anywhere; it’s not sufficient. Only doing the meditation on the path, the realization cannot happen without blessing our heart with bodhicitta, with devotion, with the blessing of the guru, which comes from our own side, the disciple’s devotion.

It’s like the rock which is under the ocean. It’s been down below the ocean for so long, but it still doesn’t become soft. For so many years, thousands and thousands, millions of years but it is still hard. The mind becomes like that. It doesn’t get softened, it doesn’t get changed, it doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get transformed into the path. Then, many obstacles arise, obstacles from outside, under the control of others, as well as many obstacles from inside, delusions, ignorance, anger, attachment, jealousy, pride, doubts, so forth, those things, and the self-cherishing thought. Without going into tantra, these are the fundamental obstacles, the disturbing thoughts. No matter how many years we have been meditating on the actual path, nothing happens in our heart; it doesn’t go inside our heart. When we meditate it becomes outside, it doesn’t go in our heart, our heart doesn’t get transformed into that, so it becomes very difficult. The mind becomes very stubborn or very berserk.

We know the words by heart, intellectually, but it doesn’t go in our heart. We don’t feel it in our heart. What’s that expression? Our lips and our heart become contradictory, become the opposite. What you recite and what’s in the heart are opposite. Then, so many obstacles can arise.

Depending on which meditation, you sometimes get wind disease, lung. In Tibetan it’s lung. Probably those who came to the last course will be familiar with lung, the education of lung. But I think maybe those who are attending for the first time don’t know lung, the wind disease.

Depending on which meditation, because of mental disturbances, we experience sicknesses of the mind, additional sicknesses of the mind. Instead of the mind, the heart becoming softened, a warm heart, developing patience, compassion, loving-kindness, bodhicitta, understanding emptiness, able to see the truth, able to see the truth, our truth, our truth, the truth of our I, the truth of our mind, the truth of our aggregates—anyway, instead of that, there is a block. For example, with emptiness, no matter how many years we try to meditate nothing happens, we are blocked because of the obscurations. The mind becomes very hard like the stone under the ocean I explained, very hard, not becoming soft. No matter how long we try, no discovery happens, we experience nothing, it just becomes words. We recite the words, but our heart cannot see it, so these things happen.

When there’s not enough merit, when we didn’t do strong purification, we didn’t collect extensive merits, sometimes obstacles manifest, and the mind can become even less normal, it can lead to craziness. Many obstacles can arise with that because, what we’re doing, we are meditating on the lam-rim, the stages on the path to enlightenment, but that is something that we never achieved, we have never had this experience. The attainment of these realizations never happened in the past; they never happened from beginningless rebirths up to now. This is what we’re trying to achieve, to actualize, to experience. Can you imagine something that never happened, something that we never experienced from beginningless rebirths, the mind becoming that?

For example, by having the realization of guru devotion, by seeing the guru as a buddha from our own side, so that helps by bringing the blessing of the guru, entering into our heart, and from that, realizations come, from the beginning of the path, the graduated path of the lower capable being, starting with the realization of the perfect human rebirth. We have received this perfect human rebirth, and we realize how unbelievably precious this human body we have received, with its eighteen qualities. This body is really, really, unbelievably wish-fulfilling, which us gives unbelievable opportunities to practice Dharma, whatever we wish, the Lesser Vehicle teaching and the Great Vehicle, the Mahayana teaching, the Paramitayana, then, the Mahayana, secret mantra Vajrayana.

This perfect human rebirth gives us unbelievable, unbelievable opportunity to end this suffering of samsara, which continuation has no beginning, which continuation has no beginning. We have been experiencing it, tormented by it, from beginningless rebirths. This gives us the opportunity to practice the path, then you can end that. It’s amazing, it’s really amazing. We have gone through the general suffering of samsara: the three types, the six types and so forth—all those unimaginable sufferings of each realm. You went through the meditation, so you’ve got some idea.

We can cease this completely by ceasing the cause, never have to experience it in the future. We never have to experience in the future, forever, because there is no cause of suffering in our mental continuum; it has totally ceased by actualizing the path, by completing the remedy, the path, even the cause of delusion, the negative imprint, the seed, has been totally ceased. So, there’s no reason, no cause to return again. It’s impossible to happen again, impossible to suffer again.

It’s unbelievable we can attain that, without talking enlightenment or the bodhisattva paths. Just attaining the Lesser Vehicle path, it’s just amazing, it’s just unbelievable; it’s most amazing that you can do this.

The Buddha has explained the five paths to achieve liberation, all the details of each, and within that then there are categories, those realizations. This has all been clearly explained.

By practicing the Mahayana Paramitayana path, we can achieve enlightenment to help all sentient beings, to free them from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment, so that’s the most amazing opportunity. That’s what this body, this perfect human rebirth gives us. We can achieve the complete qualities of the cessation of the gross and subtle defilements, all the mistakes of the mind, and the completion of all the realizations of the path, and then, we’re able to do perfect work, without the slightest mistakes, understanding the mind of every single sentient being, every single human being, who are in numberless universes, and every single sura, asura being’s mind, every single hell being, hungry ghosts, animals, intermediate state beings—every single sentient being’s mind, as well as those arhats, the higher bodhisattvas who are free from samsara. We can read everyone’s mind, the numberless beings in each realm, at the same time.

We can read, we can see the hearts or minds of the numberless the animals living in the ocean—we can read, we can see everyone’s mind at the same time, without the slightest mistake. We can read, we can see the hearts or minds of the numberless ants, who are on this Earth, this world, this continent at the same time. There is no question, even animals, ants, who are in numberless universes, we can clearly read their minds at the same time.

Right now, numberless buddhas are looking, they’re seeing every one of us, reading what we think in our heart, every moment, every moment, every moment they see what we think. The numberless buddhas directly see with their omniscience what is needed. There’s not one second that they cannot see our mind, our thoughts, our heart. There’s not even one split second that they cannot see. This is the same with all the phenomena, past, present and future.

They are able to do perfect work without the slightest mistake. Whenever the karma of a sentient being ripens, there’s no delay even a second, there’s no delay of even a second, immediately, the second when the karma ripens to receive help, the buddha is there, in whatever form is needed, in order to benefit that sentient being, guiding, revealing the methods, whether in pure, or impure form. That’s the special quality, the special thing about the buddhas. The minute when the karma of a sentient being ripens to receive help, whatever it is, a buddha is there, and reveals the methods, and guides that sentient being, exactly as is needed. That way, they are able to this bring them to the cessation of the suffering, liberation, and bring them to full enlightenment, by revealing the various methods, the unconceivable, the unimaginable, the numberless methods, even to guide one sentient being from happiness to happiness, to enlightenment.

Not only that, without practicing tantra, the Mahayana Secret Mantra Vajrayana, only be practicing the sutra, the Mahayana Paramitayana teaching, we have to collect merits for three countless eons. Only then can we achieve full enlightenment. We can do achieve enlightenment in this way with this perfect human body. By practicing the Paramita path, we have to collect merits for three countless great eons, and unbelievable length of time.

That means that the sentient beings who have a karmic connection with us have to suffer in samsara until they meet us and we reveal Dharma to them. Until they meet us and they receive teachings from us, we reveal path to them, until they achieve the exalted path, the arya path, until we liberate them from oceans of samsaric suffering, they have to suffer in samsara, continuously dying and being reborn, and experiencing sufferings, the hell realms, hungry ghosts, animals, human realms, all this—on and on, like that.

Practicing only the Paramitayana path, we have to collect merits for three countless great eons. Therefore, because of that, sentient beings have to spent an unbelievable, unbelievable time suffering. The longer it takes for us to achieve enlightenment, the longer they have to suffer, an unbelievable length of time. To complete the path sooner, we need to practice tantra.

Here comes the reason why you have to practice tantra. By practicing even the lower tantra, we can achieve enlightenment even within one life, so there is an unbelievable, huge difference. Only practicing the Paramitayana path takes an unbelievable, unbelievable time to achieve enlightenment, and we have to collect merits for three countless great eons. But even practicing lower tantra, we are able to achieve enlightenment within one life, and that means we are able to liberate the sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering much quicker. It is so much quicker to enlighten them, so much quicker.

There are four classes of tantra: Kriya Tantra, Charya Tantra, Yoga Tantra and Maha-anuttara Tantra.1 Now, by practicing the fourth one, Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra, we’re able to achieve full enlightenment in one brief lifetime of these degenerated times, so it is unbelievably quicker.

In the lower tantras, we do long life practice, and can prolong the life for hundreds, even hundreds of thousands of years, then we achieve enlightenment within that one life, but that’s by prolonging our life to hundreds of thousands years. With the Highest Yoga Tantra, without needing to do that, we are able to achieve enlightenment in a brief lifetime of these degenerate times. It is so much shorter. Even shorter than that, in a very brief lifetime.

This perfect human body gives us all that opportunity to be able to practice tantra. This is because we have been born as a human being in this southern continent, where the tantra teachings exist at the moment. They haven’t stopped; they haven’t yet degenerated. There’s still Buddhadharma existing; it has not degenerated yet, although it’s about to. It’s like the sun about to set.

Like that, the teachings of the Buddha in this world now are just like sun setting. Just before it’s degenerated, just before it stopped, we have met the tantric teaching. It’s really amazing, really amazing, that it has happened, amazing, unbelievable! It’s like we made it, we made it! Just before it has degenerated.

Therefore, we have this unbelievable opportunity to achieve enlightenment in the quickest time, and then to be able to liberate numberless sentient beings from whom we have received all the past, present and future happiness, those beings who are the most precious ones, most kind ones—to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, much quicker, much quicker.

So, I don’t know, I lost my journey. What I was talking about? Oh, I see.

What I was emphasizing was that we are receiving all this because of the blessings of the guru, right from the beginning of the path, perfect human rebirth, up to enlightenment, we are able to experience it all. What I was saying before, the graduated path to enlightenment is something which we never experienced in the past, from beginningless rebirths. We have completely never experienced it. So, what I was saying is that this is something totally new, this is a realization we have never achieved before.

Our mind has been habituated to delusion, our mind has been habituated to delusion from beginningless rebirth. Can you imagine? Our mind has been habituated, under the control of that, from beginningless rebirth—can you imagine?—from beginningless rebirths. Can you imagine? We have been unable to overcome that, being under the control of that, our mind has been under the control of that.

We’ve been living with ignorance, anger, attachment, and all these delusions from beginningless rebirths. The example used in the teachings is that when we plant chili, chili—hot pepper, not paper, the page, chili—if we put honey in order to make it sweet, from hot into sweet, it doesn’t transform immediately into sweet.

Using that as an example, from beginningless rebirths, the mind has been under the control of karma and delusions, habituated like that, from beginningless rebirths, so habituated. So, practicing for a few weeks, a few months, a few years, like putting some honey can’t make the chili into sweet, we can’t transform the mind into the path, our heart into the path to enlightenment so easily.

It needs practice, it needs practice, many lifetimes. Like His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says to Western students, after finishing a few weeks teachings to the Tibetans, very extensive teachings, a whole entire text of many hundreds of pages—at the end, His Holiness quite often says to Western students that you shouldn’t expect to achieve enlightenment in a short time; you must plan to practice more—I don’t remember exactly—but something like for many hundreds of lifetimes, thousands, so many lifetimes. I remember His Holiness said eons. We must think, we must plan, we must have the courage to practice for a long time, to bear hardships. We should think a very long time, not to achieve enlightenment within a month, or year, a very short time.

His Holiness says, if we think, “I’m going to practice for a long time, for many hundreds and thousands of lifetimes, or eons, I’m going to practice.” If we have the courage that we can to do it, it can happen, we can achieve enlightenment. But if we’re expecting too much, if we have no plans to practice for a long time, thinking we can achieve enlightenment within a month or a year, something so soon, then we’ll be disappointed and lose courage, we’ll be unable to continue, unable to continue to practice Dharma. Then, we can’t achieve realizations. So often His Holiness gives this advice to Western students. Sometimes, in the past, he has said a few words like that at the very end of the teachings.

If we have the courage, if we plan to practice for many eons, then it’s possible to achieve enlightenment within a few lifetimes, within brief lifetime of these degenerate times, or within a few lifetimes, within seven lifetimes, within sixteen lifetimes.

But if we don’t have much patience, much courage or patience, but instead have much expectation to achieve full enlightenment in a very short time, within a few years or within some months, the mind becomes disappointed after some time, and then we lose courage, we are unable to continue to practice the Dharma, and then it can take many eons to achieve realizations. Then, we take many lifetimes, many eons [Rinpoche laughs] to achieve realizations, if we think this way.

So, as Kadampa Geshe Tarawa said, if we practice correctly, training the mind in the path, meditating on the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, as Manjushri said, we can purify defilements—the obstacles to realizations—and collect extensive merits, which means developing the necessary conditions by a one-pointed devotional mind requesting the guru, to receive blessings from the guru. And then, thirdly, the actual body of meditating on the path, if we continuously put effort into it, correctly practicing, according to the state of our mind, it only looks very difficult to the totally selfish mind, the self-cherishing thought, day and night, all the time, every moment.

By having actualized bodhicitta, where we let go of the I, never cherishing the I even for one second, we only cherish others. From beginningless rebirths, we have cherished the I, but now, after we actualize bodhicitta, for not even a second we cherish the I. Instead of cherishing sentient beings, from beginningless rebirths, we have been renouncing them. This is what has happened; this state of mind; this is how nature of the mind has been. From beginningless rebirths, the goal of our life has been only for ourselves, for our own happiness; everything has been done for that. Now, after having actualized bodhicitta, we only cherish the numberless sentient beings, every single sentient being. There are numberless in each realm, and we cherish every single sentient being. With that heart, cherishing each and every single sentient being, nobody is left out.

But now, by actualizing bodhicitta, whatever action we do with body, speech and mind, the goal is others, the goal of every single action of body, speech, and mind we do— besides the listening, reflecting meditation practice, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing work, whatever, even just normal activities—every single thing we do is for others. From beginningless rebirth until now, it’s all been done for us, for our own happiness, but now we do it for others, who are numberless. We are totally focused, whatever we do, everything is for numberless sentient beings, to free them from the suffering, to achieve happiness for them.

This is most amazing, most amazing! Every single one of our actions is for others, done with a heart cherishing others. All our actions are dedicated, done for others, who are numberless. This is bodhicitta. I’m using this as an example. At the moment, day and night, all the time, we have the self-cherishing thought. When we eat, sleep, when we go to bed, it is all the self-cherishing thought, done with a selfish motivation, whatever we do.

Therefore, all this not possible for me, the mind takes so many lifetimes, eons, so how is it possible? It’s not possible. In past courses, I remember discussing with somebody, not so much in the East but mainly in the West, because of the mental state, people can’t believe how it’s possible to change, to change from this person’s state of mind into that, which is unbelievable.

Anyway, Kadampa Geshe Tarawa said, if we think like that, if we believe it’s not possible but if we practice anyway—something which we believe will never happen—it will happen within seven years, which means that even in a short time it can happen. The realization can happen even in a short time, like seven years. I think Kadampa Geshe Tarawa was using his own experience. So, even if at the moment we think it’s not possible, if we really practice, really engage, then will happen in a few years.

So, I’ll stop there.

Sorry, again I didn’t get to finish the prayer, so I think maybe to finish the prayer the next time, maybe, next year, anyway.

So, what I was saying, according to what Manjushri explained to Lama Tsongkhapa, it is not enough to only meditate, just thinking we are on the actual path, forcing ourselves to only meditate, sitting cross legged and closing our eyes. Just doing that alone, see, it’s extremely difficult, we can’t make it with just that. We need all these other practices, what is contained in this preliminary prayer, that we are going to do. [Rinpoche laughs] That’s what it contains. So anyway, so that’s the idea.

The purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment, therefore I must achieve enlightenment, therefore, I’m going to make the food offering.

I’m going to mention three things here.

For the people who have received tantric initiations, you need to practice like this: “Therefore I’m going to make food offering,” that’s one thing; “Therefore I’m going to practice the yoga of eating,” that’s the particular thing, who those who have received the great, who has received the tantric initiations, you need to practice while eating.

Then, the other one is charity, charity to the sentient beings, including the sentient beings who are living in my body, all the creatures, all the sentient beings living in my body—the texts mention 22,000 and a thousand creatures. The number is not important but scientifically it’s shown there are so many beings living in our body. I saw a movie in an airplane, how machines have scanned and shown all the sentient beings inside, living inside the body. It’s like highways, so many of those tiny beings, they’re going down, so many coming up, it’s something like this [shows them] anyway, I’m just showing.

So, make charity to them, including the sentient beings living in the body. “I will bring them to enlightenment, revealing the Dharma to them when they become a human being.” How we can do that is through the connection, by making a connection to them, by making the charity of the food to them when we are eating. That’s the bodhisattva’s attitude of eating.

So then, transform the food in the kitchen into nectar, then offer to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the numberless buddhas, the Dharmas. That’s the guru. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and everything the root guru, that means all the gurus.

That’s the guru yoga meditation. To the numberless buddhas, the numberless Dharmas, the numberless Sangha, the numberless statues, stupas, scriptures—everything—we offer to them all oceans of nectar food, which is in the nature of great bliss, generating great bliss in the holy mind. You put your palms together and prostrate.

Now dedicate, “La ma sang gyä…”

The meaning of the offering prayer is extremely deep.

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, may the bodhicitta be actualized in my own heart and the hearts of all sentient beings without delay of even a second.

May the bodhicitta that has been generated be increased. Think like that.

What I’m saying, you think that, then it’s done.

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, that which exists, but which is empty from its own side, may the I who exists, but which is empty from its own side, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but which is empty from its own side, and lead all the sentient beings, who exist, but who are empty from their own side, to that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but which is empty from its own side, by myself alone, who exists but who is empty from its own side.

That’s it! So, the quick way, the quick way. [Rinpoche laughs] The quick way of going through it—that’s for quick enlightenment.

So, thank you very much. Enjoy the nectar.

Lecture 4

I think a great thing to do is to do tong-len for somebody who is sick. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it can immediately heal everybody’s sicknesses, but it definitely can happen to some people.

I think it has great benefit to us and to the other person as well. I would say there is no question of we who take the sufferings of others, there is no question the benefit to us is just unimaginable, like limitless skies of benefit. We collect limitless skies of merits, or we can say good luck—that’s another term used that common people use, people who don’t use the term “merit” use “good luck.” Even nonbelievers use good luck.

But I think the good luck may have some sense of independence, or inherent existence. Luck, merit, people might think of it as independent, not dependent arising, inherently existent, existing from its own side. It’s possible people might take it that way.

I think this practice is amazing; we collect limitless skies of benefit. That’s one thing. The other thing is it purifies. Not just years of negative karma, but many lifetimes of negative karma get purified, many lifetimes, depending how strong the compassion is that we generate to that person, to that sentient being. The stronger the compassion we generate to that sentient being, so many eons of negative karma get purified, defilements get purified. That’s unbelievable, that’s unbelievable practice.

We collect merit, limitless skies of merit taking on one person’s sicknesses, right? We can do that but taking not only sicknesses but the whole entire sufferings, but the whole entire sufferings of sentient beings. Sickness is just one small thing, but there’s many other problems, many other sufferings, all the mental and physical sufferings of numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, suras, asuras, intermediate state beings. We collect numberless merits, numberless merits, six times or seven times, because in each realm, there’s numberless sentient beings, including intermediate state beings, we collect six times’ numberless merits. It’s just unimaginable. What we gain from that is unimaginable.

It purifies our defilements, our negative; it’s unimaginable. Depending on how strong the compassion we generate is, even to one sentient being, many lifetimes, eons of negative karma get purified, when we generate compassion to even one sentient being We collect inconceivable merits, become closer to enlightenment each time we do that, when we take on the suffering of one sentient being. And especially when we take on as many as possible, we become closer to enlightenment.

It seems you have heard about Lama Atisha. The teachings we are receiving and meditation we’re doing is what was advised by Lama Atisha, his Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. Many others who attained the path, including Lama Tsongkhapa, revealed the commentary, so there are many teachings on lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, from Lama Atisha, Lama Atisha’s followers, and the Kadampa geshes, those great practitioners, highly attained great scholars.

Kadampa Geshe Chekawa did this meditation, taking other sentient beings’ sufferings on oneself, and giving all of one’s own happiness, all the merits to all sentient beings, taking and giving. He prayed to be born in the hells for all sentient beings.

What happened was, even though he always done this tong-len practice, praying all his life to be born in the hell realm to benefit for sentient being, the day he was passing away he had a vision of a buddha’s pure land, and so he said he hadn’t succeeded in his prayer. He actually wanted to be born in the hells to benefit others, but he said he didn’t succeed because of the vision of pure land. He asked his attendant to immediately make offerings, something like that.

From his vision, he saw he would be born in the pure land of a buddha, where there’s no suffering, at all, and in some of the buddhas’ pure lands, like Heruka, Vajrayogini, these enlightened beings, you can be enlightened. If you happen to be born there, you definitely become enlightened.

If you are reborn in Amitabha Buddha’s pure land, many lamas say there’s no opportunity to practice tantra there, but once you’re born there, it is definite that you never get reborn in the hells, hungry ghosts or animals, again. That’s definite.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s younger tutor, Trijang Rinpoche, so, from here I wrote a letter about this to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who was the Dalai Lama’s younger tutor and my root guru. He replied that, yes, you can practice tantra in Amitabha’s pure land.Rinpoche answered that. So, that means you can achieve enlightenment there. So, anyway, that’s just to give you some idea.

So, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa prayed to be born in the hells to benefit other sentient beings, but then when he passed away [Rinpoche laughs] the appearance of the buddha’s pure land happened wherever he was, at the hermitage or whatever. It is the power of the good heart. Why this is happening is because of the power of the good heart, cherishing others.

It’s very important to understand the power of the good heart, cherishing others. Giving up ourselves to the other sentient beings, sacrificing ourselves to benefit, to cherish even one sentient being, has unimaginable benefit, unimaginable benefit.

In Western Bengal or it might be that direction, there was a river and there was a lady, on one side, waiting for somebody to carry her across. She was totally filthy with pus, with leprosy disease, pus coming out and unbelievable, totally black and pus coming out, and something like that, covered by leprosy sores.

Usually, of course, that sickness is very contagious. If you touch it you get it, so nobody dares to touch somebody with leprosy. While she was waiting, a great yogi called Ngagpa Chöpawa, came through and she asked him to help, to carry her to the other side of the river, but Ngagpa Chöpawa didn’t help. He just passed straight to the river, and didn’t carry her. He was going to a place called Ogi [?] to do the last practice of tantric conduct.

Later, his disciple, a monk called Getsul Tsimbulwa, came. He was a yogi but also a monk. He saw this lady, and when she asked if he can carry her to the other side of the river, he felt unbearable compassion, unbearable compassion. Even though a monk cannot touch a woman, he felt unbearable compassion, and so, without any hesitation, without any thought of leprosy and all the sicknesses, he immediately carried her on his back.

Then, without needing to cross the river, just middle of the river, that monk’s negative karma was purified by carrying her with unbearable compassion. When he reached middle of the river his negative karma was purified. The impure mind, seeing her ordinary, as very dirty and sick, that impure mind was purified, the negative karma that projects that being as ordinary, which makes you to see that ordinary being with all the sicknesses was purified.

This lady was actually the enlightened being, the deity, Dorje Pag-mo or Vajravarahi. Dorje Pag-mo is not that old, sick woman, filled with leprosy, with sickness, not that; she is a deity, an enlightened being, in female aspect. Then, she took him to the pure land.

That means, in that life, so even though here you are very old, with lots of wrinkles, when you are born in a pure land, you become very young, sixteen years old, very youthful, very beautiful, very young. So, Dorje Pag-mo, the deity, the female enlightened being, took him to the pure land, with that same body, meaning he became enlightened there.

This is one story that makes it very clear. If we cherish one sentient being, if we generate compassion, unbelievable negative karma gets purified. Before that, seeing just an ordinary lady, totally covered in leprosy disease, kind of disgusting, but the monk felt unbearable compassion and sacrificed his life, totally dedicated himself by carrying her on his back. Without even crossing the whole river, just in the middle, all the negative karma was purified, and he saw the deity, and then the deity took him to the pure land.

Normally, when we die, through powerful meditation, our consciousness can be transfer the body to the pure land of the deity. But here, the other thing is, if we have unbelievable merit, unbelievable merit, and correctly devote to the guru, with no mistakes made with the relationship of the guru, such as with this practice, instead of cherishing the I, cherishing others; instead of giving away others, cherishing others, we don’t need a pure land.

It needs this total change of the mind, doing this practice of tong-len—tong is giving, len is taking, giving all our own merits, our happiness, body, possessions, even our surrounding people, who are helping us, we make charity of everything to others. Then we take other sentient beings’ suffering, and its cause, karma and delusion.

Those who have correctly devoted to the virtuous friend, and have made no mistakes, along with the bodhicitta practice, then, without going to a pure land, without the need to die, without the need to leave this body, then consciousness goes with same body to a pure land, or the deity takes us to the pure land, and then we become enlightened there. So that happens. There have been many stories like that of great practitioners in the past.

What I’m saying is, that is enlightened being, but he could not see her as an enlightened being because his mind was obscured. What he saw was ordinary, she appeared to him as an ordinary sentient being, and then he had strong compassion towards that sentient being, and sacrificed himself to her, then even while he was carrying her, while he was in the middle of the river, he purified all that. So many lifetimes, eons of negative karma was purified which projected the concept of that’s being as ordinary, including being dirty and diseased. All that was purified and he saw an enlightened being.

This is similar, in our life. The same thing has happened many times to us. There is a buddha, but what we see, what we meet, seems ordinary. We don’t recognize that being as a buddha. This has happened many times to us; we cannot recognize it because the mind is not purified. Therefore, there’s a projection of impurity. There’s a projection, the ordinary view, the mistaken view, like the disease. We see beings, having delusion, having mistakes, sufferings, we have the projection of that, and the strong belief, the strong belief that it’s true, the strong belief holding on that, that it’s true, that this is reality. But it’s not reality. That strong belief, that unbelievably fixed idea, becomes an obstacle to seeing a being as a buddha.

Like that, Getsul Tsimbulwa, Ngagpa Chöpawa, that has happened many, many times to us, this, holding this projection, this ordinary view, and then believing what we have seen, thinking it is a hundred percent like this. We have such a strong belief, that we cannot recognize the being as a buddha, and then it becomes an obstacle.

This especially happens with any place, especially holy places, like the twenty-four holy places of Nepal, the holy places of Vajrayogini or Heruka, the holy places that are in Nepal, Tibet and India. These are so special; they are very special holy places, and definitely in those places, but, the problem we encounter is because of our superstition. What we see is ordinary and we believe this is true, that everything in reality is like this. We have very fixed ideas that become obstacles, very heavy obstacles. We cannot see enlightened beings, we cannot see dakinis, the deities, and because of that we don’t follow that. We don’t see the signs, those holy places, the dakinis—there are different levels of dakinis—and the enlightened beings.

Superstition believes this, thinking “What I see is ordinary, so it’s definitely ordinary.” We believe that, we trust that. We hold on to our own projection so strongly, and then that becomes an obstacle.

So anyway, the conclusion is, with the bodhicitta practice, cherishing others, it’s unimaginable how it becomes a quick path, how it brings us to enlightenment quicker—even cherishing one sentient being, even cherishing one living being, like this example of Getsul Tsimbulwa. That’s same, whether it’s a person or an animal, an insect—it’s the same, any type of living being, it doesn’t have to be only human being.

Since I’m talking about this, there is another story, about Asanga, one of the Six Ornaments, who wrote many basic Buddha’s teachings, explaining the path to enlightenment, one of those six great scholars or pandits, highly attained beings. Asanga tried to achieve Maitreya Buddha, the future coming Buddha.

He tried for twelve years to achieve Maitreya Buddha, tried to see Maitreya Buddha. In the hermitage, the cave, he tried for three years but nothing happened. Then he left, he came down and there was a sign. I don’t know which one was first of the signs, I’m not sure which one was first, anyway, to get a general idea.

In the road, one time he saw somebody cutting the rock with thread. Cutting rock is very hard, but to do it with a thread, the rock had got a mark, worn out by a thread passing back and forth.

He had given up doing the retreat because nothing had happened, nothing, but on the road he watched this thread, even though the rock so hard, but by doing this [Rinpoche shows] the man was able to cut, able to wear out the rock, so, he thought, "If he can do that, why not, why can’t I achieve Maitreya Buddha?" That energized him, so he went back to do retreat again. He did another three years, but still nothing happened, and again he gave up and came down.

Then he saw in the road, birds going to their nest inside a cave or a hole. Every time it flew out, its wing touched the rock, and he saw how even though the wing was so soft and the rock was hard, it could be worn out by the wing. He thought, "Why not, why can’t I achieve Maitreya Buddha?"

Then, he went back to the retreat place for another three years, but again nothing happened, so he left, he gave up, then he come down.

This time he saw water dripping on the rock, one drop, two drops, three drops, making a hole. The water was very wet, but by continuity the drops made a hole in the rock. When he saw this, he thought, "Why can’t I see Maitreya Buddha?" By seeing that, he became inspired, and he went back to the cave to continue the retreat.

So, anyway, he was there a total of twelve years, but still nothing happened, so he left. He gave up.

Then on the road, the final thing he saw was a wounded dog, its body totally filled with infection in the wound, and totally filled with maggots, part of the body, completely filled with maggots. He felt unbelievable compassion, unbelievable compassion. Then, he cut his flesh, I don’t know what it’s called, from his thigh. [Rinpoche laughs] Anyway, he cut his flesh. He spread it out on the ground for the worms to live on, for the maggots to eat, to live on.

He thought if he picked the maggots up with the finger he might crush them, so, he went to pick them up with the tip of his tongue. He went to pick them up with the tip of his tongue, by closing his eyes, to pick them up.

Closing his eyes, he found he could not touch them, so he opened the eyes and he saw Maitreya Buddha. [Rinpoche laughs] So, only now was he able to see Maitreya Buddha, only after he generated this unbearable compassion to this wounded dog.

So, you see, it’s the same. This being was Maitreya Buddha, but before, due to his obscured mind, his impure karma or impure mind, the deep karmic defilements, he couldn’t see Maitreya Buddha. It was Maitreya Buddha but he didn’t see it, he only saw a dog, suffering so much, very poor.

But he generated unbearable compassion, he sacrificed his life to help the dog, cutting the thigh. What do you call it? I don’t remember exactly from the text, I think it might have been his calf. [Rinpoche laughs] It can’t have been from the toes. Anyway, he generated this unbelievable compassion, so that all that negative karma, all the impure karma, the obscuration that interfered with him seeing Maitreya Buddha, blocking him from seeing Maitreya Buddha, were purified. Because of his projections he didn’t even see Maitreya as a human being, but as a dog, with unbelievable suffering, with infected wounds, filled with maggots.

Can you imagine? It’s completely purified in that time, just there. He did twelve years retreat; he lived in a cave for twelve years, he tried so hard, but nothing happened, nothing happened. Only now, after he generated this unbearable compassion for that sentient being, purifying all his defilements, was he able to see Maitreya Buddha.

Immediately he grabbed Maitreya Buddha, and he kind of complained a little bit, saying, "Why didn’t I see you earlier? I tried so hard.”

Maitreya Buddha said, “I was there. I was there with you all the time.” Maitreya Buddha proved this. When he was in the hermitage, doing retreat, Asanga would spit on the ground. So what happened, on the Maitreya Buddha’s robe, there was a mark of spit. He showed that to Asanga, saying “I was there with you, see.”

When Maitreya Buddha asked him what he needed, he asked Maitreya to please give him teachings. Maitreya Buddha took him to Tushita pure land, Maitreya Buddha’s pure land. Fifty years for a human being is one morning there, one morning there but for human beings, fifty years, so gave teachings, Jang chub deng na.

The teachings Maitreya Buddha gave have five divisions. The Abhisamayalamkara explains the whole path to enlightenment, the extensive qualities of the Buddha, the four kayas. That’s very common. Then Do de gyen. I don’t remember the whole, but there are five divisions of teachings of Maitreya Buddha. There is also Uttaratantra, talking about nature of the mind, which proves that with tantra we can become a buddha, that your mind can be enlightened.

So, Asanga received all those teachings from Maitreya Buddha, and then after Asanga came back to the world, he wrote the five commentaries, Tsa den nga, to the teachings. Because of that, since Asanga brought Maitreya Buddha’s teachings into this world, these teachings have been studied, and Abhisamayalamkara and so forth have been the main subject to study in the great monastic universities in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition, like Sera, Ganden, Drepung, the Panchen Rinpoche Monastery, Tashi Lhunpo and so forth. These are the main monasteries, then there are other smaller monasteries.

It’s a very important subject that’s studied for many years, memorizing root text and the many commentaries by Indians and also by the great Tibetans, those holy beings, those great scholars, including Lama Tsongkhapa and so forth. It’s been an important main subject to study, like the Prajnaparamita teachings. Up to now, these root texts and commentaries have been studied.

So many sentient beings who have studied this and put it into practice, have attained the path, the stages of the path to enlightenment. This has happened so often, since Asanga brought these teachings of Maitreya Buddha into this world. There have been an unimaginable number, numberless beings who have become enlightened by studying the Abhisamayalamkara and so forth, those Maitreya Buddha teachings. It’s unimaginable how many there have been up to now who attained the path to enlightenment.

And the whole entire benefit is due to Asanga sacrificing himself to this wounded dog, generated inconceivable compassion. That is the benefit of Asanga cherishing that dog. Inconceivable numbers of beings have become bodhisattvas and become buddhas; sentient beings of this world up to now have received unimaginable, unimaginable benefit. Even now, in those monastic universities this is the main subject studied; it is very important.

What I’m saying is here, from his compassion there has been the extensive benefit, not only for himself but for so many other sentient beings. So many have become bodhisattvas; so many have become enlightened beings. It’s unimaginable how this has happened because one person generated compassion to that worldly dog. It’s so powerful, unbelievable. So as I said before, this is how it brings us to enlightenment quickly.

THE BENEFITING OF CHERISHING OTHERS: THE BUDDHA PULLS THE CHARIOT IN HELL It is said that the first time the Buddha generated compassion was in a past life in the hell realm. That’s what’s said. He has been born in the hell and had to pull like a horse carriage on the red-hot iron ground, where the iron was oneness with the fire, with the karmic guardians sitting on it. He and another hell being had to pull this carriage.

I guess carrying this heavy load like the carriage or things like that could be the karma of the causing suffering to the animals, of torturing them, letting them to suffer. I think the result of that could be birth in the hell realm where you have to carry this heavy carriage.

Then he thought, “Since I have to pull this myself, why not let him free, and I can pull it by myself.” He thought that.

The minute he thought that, to take the other’s suffering on himself, to let him go free, when he generated that thought, immediately the karmic guardian who was sitting on the carriage hit him on his head with a hammer. Probably this acted as a kind of condition, and his consciousness transferred into the Thirty-three Realm, the deva realm. I think it might be the Thirty-three Realm or Tushita, I’m not sure, maybe Thirty-three Realm. Otherwise, if he didn’t generate this compassion for the other hell being, to take that suffering on himself and let him go free, if he didn’t do that, he would have had to suffer for what could be an unimaginable length, I don’t know how many eons, maybe many billions and billions of years, he would have to suffer, pulling that carriage on the ground which is oneness with fire. But because he generated compassion for the other being, wishing to let him go free, he purified the negative karma that caused him to have to pull that carriage for however many billions of years. All that negative karma was purified, doing that, just from that. Then the karma to be in the hell finished and his consciousness transferred into the deva realm.

There are so many stories about the benefits that happened to those who practiced compassion, those who practiced cherishing others.

Cherishing even one sentient being brings unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable benefit. Whether it’s a human being, whether it’s an insect, even just one sentient being, it’s so unbelievable, it brings to enlightenment quicker.

What I was saying before, a geshe who has the same as me, Thubten Zopa [Rinpoche laughs], who recently returned from United States told me somebody who has diabetes did tong-len practice and recovered This geshe told me, so he knew this person or something. Anyway, he did tong-len practice for the person he knew who had diabetes, and that person recovered. I have diabetes but I have been a very lazy person , an extremely lazy person [Rinpoche laughs] so I didn’t do tong-len.

Then, in Colorado, there was a lady who joined the Dharma center there, who had cancer in the blood, very dangerous. The doctors were unable to operate because they were very scared, because it was very dangerous. So, she did tong-len practice, the bodhicitta practice, taking other sentient beings’ sufferings on oneself and giving one’s own happiness and merits to others, she did this meditation very much. Then, she went to the hospital, they could not find cancer. This is some years ago. She completely recovered, completely recovered, for about a year, then again the cancer came back, I think because of her karma. She has very strong karma, so she was completely recovered for one year, then it came back again and she passed away.

I don’t recollect but there are many stories about tong-len practice, about somebody who has cancer or other sicknesses and recovers. There are many stories but I don’t recollect them now. However, this has happened to many people.

Then, AIDS. There was a Chinese student, he was in Dharamsala, and I think it was probably the first time he met Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, from a great Lama, Kyabje Rato Rinpoche. He spent some time there, studying, receiving teachings, then went back to Singapore, and when he went to the hospital, he found he had AIDS. He wrote to his guru in Dharamsala and then his guru, Rato Rinpoche, took some sickness. What do you call the shaking one? [Student: Parkinson’s.] Parkinson’s, yeah. He took this sickness. When he was doing that, he dictated to his secretary, the tong-len meditation sending light from the heart, going to everything, taking their sufferings and the cause, the cause, karma and delusion, on yourself, you see, on your self-cherishing thought, and destroying the self-cherishing thought.

He got the meditation, so he did the meditation. When he was doing this meditation, thinking of others’ sufferings, and taking other sentient beings’ sufferings on himself, he couldn’t stand it. Unbelievable tears were coming out. Unbearable compassion arose, unbelievable. He did this practice for four days and then went to the hospital. They could not find the AIDS.

I thought he must have meditated for many hours, but he said for four minutes, only four minutes every day. He did tong-len practice just for four minutes. [Rinpoche laughs] I was shocked, I was very surprised. I thought he did it for many, many hours, but he only did it for four minutes each day. Each time he did it, he got unbelievable compassion, so many tears flowed, there was no worry, nothing, no thought of his own AIDS, only other sentient beings’ suffering. He couldn’t bear it. Because of the power of that compassion, it purified so many lifetimes, unimaginable lifetimes, so much past negative karma was purified. The cause of the cancer, the negative karma, was purified. It affects the cause, causes it to be purified. You cannot do that in the hospital. Hospitals cannot take it away. [Rinpoche laughs] Hospitals cannot operate with the machines and take the negative karma out. It affected the AIDS because it affected the negative karma. It purified the negative karma, so he recovered from that disease.

I think I’ve also heard of other people with AIDS who recovered by doing this meditation.

What I’m going to say is that if a doctor says we have cancer, we’re a most fortunate person. Any other time we are too lazy to practice tong-len, with not enough renunciation for our suffering, unable to see how our own samsara is in nature of suffering, not having compassion for others, seeing how they are suffering. We are so lazy we don’t do practice, or if we do, we so it very little.

Now the doctor says we have cancer, and we suddenly realize what it means to have a life-threatening disease. That reminds us of death, that we have to die. Without talking much, it really gives us an incredible opportunity to think it’s not only us in this world who have cancer, it’s not only us in this world; there are numberless other beings, sentient beings, not only this universe, there are numberless universes, there are human beings in other universes who have these sicknesses.

It’s amazing. It makes us understand our situation, when we think of the numberless other human beings who have cancer, how they have to suffer. It’s not only us who suffers, not only us who have this disease. It makes us think of others who have this suffering, this disease.

That inspires us to do the practice, the tong-len, bodhicitta practice, the brave-hearted practice, giving up ourselves for other sentient beings, giving up ourselves for numberless sentient beings, to experience their sufferings, and for them to have all the happiness up to enlightenment, all the temporary happiness, liberation from oceans of samsaric suffering and full enlightenment. To let them to have that, to take all their sufferings, that’s the best practice, the most beneficial practice. It collects the most extensive merit and purifies many lifetimes, many eons of negative karma, and we become closer to enlightenment each time.

I want to say this. When we give away our body to sentient beings, we’re giving it away to numberless sentient beings. We give it to numberless hell beings, creating numberless merit. Then, we give it to numberless hungry ghosts, creating numberless merit. Then we give it to numberless animals, creating numberless merit. Then, we give it to numberless human beings, creating numberless merit. Then the same with suras, asuras and intermediate state beings. So we collect seven times numberless merits.

Then all the past merits we collected from beginningless rebirth, the present merits and all the future merits, and all the result happiness, up to enlightenment—we give away everything to numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras, suras, so everyone. Again, when we give all merit like this, with all this merit, we collect so many times, so many times numberless merit, unbelievable times numberless merit. Then the result is happiness.

When we give our wealth away to those numberless sentient beings and the surrounding people also, it’s unbelievable, we collect so many times numberless merit. That’s a most amazing practice.

In conclusion, what I want to say is that this purification and the merits that I have explained are always this. For example, in business, with the stock market, gold goes up and down, up and down. The value of the money is always going up and down; it’s uncertain. But these benefits, the unbelievable purification and inconceivable merits, are nothing like the stock market, the value of gold—this month it goes down, the next month it will be higher—there’s no such thing; it’s always the same, it’s always like this.

This is the most wonderful practice, whenever, not only when we find out we have cancer. This is the best thing to do, the greatest. Doctor tells us we have cancer, but when we do this meditation, it brings us to enlightenment, it makes us quickly reach the end of samsara, the cessation of the oceans of samsaric suffering, all the diseases, all the sicknesses, and not only sicknesses, the cessation of all the sufferings. We quickly reach that end, the end of suffering, not only cessation of the sicknesses, but all the sicknesses and sufferings of samsara. This is unbelievable; this is what causes us to quickly achieve enlightenment. Our life becomes most meaningful, most wonderful, the happiest, happiest life, with inner happiness, with great peace in our heart.

As I mentioned the other day, when we have the goal, the purpose of our life, to free the numberless sentient beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to full enlightenment, when we have this attitude, when we’re living our life with this attitude, we just don’t have the unbelievable problems in the life. I’ve mentioned that.

Before was because of self-cherishing thought, cherishing the I. Because we have the unbelievable thought of cherishing the I, this self-cherishing thought, this selfish mind, then there’s those delusions like attachment, anger, jealousy, pride and so forth, and with these emotional thoughts, so many unbelievable problems arise in our life.

Suffering doesn’t come from outside, suffering comes from our mind. With these negative emotional thoughts, we torture ourselves, constantly bringing all these problems and torturing ourselves. Because of that, we find so many problems in life.

With the good heart, cherishing others, thinking of others, seeking happiness for others, working for them, dedicating what we do for them, with this motivation, everything we do might be the same as we were doing before, but now everything we do—everything we do with the body, everything we do with the speech, everything we do with the mind—everything is for others, for the numberless sentient beings, to free them from the oceans of samsaric suffering, and for them to achieve happiness, not only temporary, but ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.

Because of that, there’s so much inner satisfaction. We, immediately, immediately achieve satisfaction. We find satisfaction. It’s what the Rolling Stones said. The Rolling Stones? Rolling Stones?

Student: Mick Jagger?

Rinpoche: What did you say? Mick Jagger? So, the Rolling Stones, he made a song with his guitar, saying, “I can’t get no satisfaction, and I tried and I tried, I tried and I tried.” [Rinpoche laughs] I cannot get no satisfaction. [Group laughs]

I think that’s a great teaching, you know. [Group laughs] That’s a great teaching. I think it’s great advice, a great teaching in the West. West, East—it’s a great, it’s true, it’s exactly true, it’s exactly like that.

If we’re not practicing Dharma, whatever we try we never get. If we’re not practicing Dharma, we try to get pleasure, we try and try, we try and try, and we try and try, but we never get satisfaction. Then, due to attachment, many problems arise in life, and due to attachment, anger arises. If there were no attachment, there would be no reason for anger to arise. Many negative emotional thoughts arise like that.

There are many hundreds of problems, and it goes on and on. One finishes and then we start another one. We finish another one, one package of life problems, of relationship problems finishes, then we start another one. The next one finishes so we start another one. For example, in relationships, as soon as we give up one, we start another, we start a new one. Whatever we have tried and tried, we never get satisfaction, there are always many other problems in life.

If we don’t practice Dharma, this is how life is, constantly suffering. Then when life suddenly ends, ended by death, life becomes totally, totally empty, totally empty, totally meaningless. Life becomes totally meaningless, totally empty.

Not only that, because our whole life we didn’t practice Dharma, our motivation has always been because of attachment, sometimes anger, jealousy, pride, and all those things are due to ignorance, the ignorance of not knowing Dharma, not knowing what’s right and wrong.

We experience so many problems in the life as result of past negative karma, such as the ten nonvirtuous actions. Those are basic, the suffering result of those negative karmas, such as the possessed result, the suffering to do with the place. There are so much problems with the place, many contagious disease or many types of harm—wars, fighting, so many problems—and there are so many insects or other things that harm us. Not even just animals, even the elements, cause health problems.

That’s the possessed result, and then experiencing the result similar to the cause. How we harmed others, in this life we receive similar harm from others. Then, creating the result similar to the cause, then we do the same negative action in this life we did in the past. We engage again in negative karmas, such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, if we did it in that life, then we do it again, because of the imprint left on the mental continuum by the past, our negative karma.

These are the three major types of sufferings we experience in the human realm, as a result of past negative karma. That’s why, even if we are born as a human being, there are so many problems, problems we see others experiencing, and also we ourselves experience. We need to understand the root. If we don’t practice Dharma, this is what happens. If we don’t practice Dharma, what happens is exactly like the Rolling Stones said.

So, maybe, we’ll have a break. Maybe you have to go pipi?

We stopped the prayer this morning, so maybe we’ll continue with that. I interfered with this morning prayer. We started the requesting prayer to the lineage lamas, then I started to explain so we didn’t continue with the prayer.

So, we continue with the requesting prayer to the lineage lamas. To pacify obstacles, to attain the path to enlightenment, to make our lives most meaningful, to achieve the realizations, I am requesting to the lineage lamas, the stages of the path to enlightenment.

You have the translation there in English, so, the first request is to the root guru. From the merit field a replica of the guru sits on your crown, with the first request. [Rinpoche chants the Tibetan] The translation is there in your prayer book. It should be there in English. Then, nectar beams are emitted, white nectar beams are emitted purifying all the defilements, all the obstacles to achieving the realization from guru devotion, root of the path to enlightenment, up to enlightenment.

Then, the second request. [Rinpoche chants the Tibetan] The replica of the root guru absorbs into you. Think you have achieved all the attainments on the whole path to enlightenment, all the blessings, all the qualities of the guru’s holy body, holy speech, holy mind, you have received that.

Then, the first request to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then Maitreya Buddha, Asanga and so forth, all of this section. The next prayer is the requesting prayer to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then Manjushri, Nagarjuna and so forth, until that comes, then, the lineage lamas of the path of extensiveness, the method. To achieve enlightenment there’s the path of method and wisdom, and this is the method.

The last request is done twice. The first one is purifying all the obstacles to achieve the path of extensiveness, to actualize it within your heart, from the root, guru devotion, up to enlightenment, to actualize the extensive path, the method. From the sutras, the common path, loving kindness, compassion, bodhicitta, and then the tantric path, such as the illusory body, and achieving the result, rupakaya.

You repeat twice. With the first request you purify, with the second request, you receive those attainments within yourself. So, everyone think like that, okay.

The purpose of my life is to purify the sentient beings, to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore, I’m going to make the tea offering. Okay, think like that.

And then the tea is not ordinary. You collect unbelievable merit if you visualize it as nectar, by purifying it in emptiness, by looking at it as empty. In reality, what appears to us is a hallucination, in the sense of real tea existing from its own side, the way it appears there and how we believe that appearance is true, that’s a total hallucination; it’s false. That is the object to be refuted. That’s totally non-existent there, totally non-existent there, not even an atom of that exists.

So, then you label, jeweled container, and then the nectar. What you label, it appears as nectar, and what the Buddha tastes, what appears to Buddha, is that nectar, the most pure, highest quality, the purest nectar. But that is like oceans, even that’s numberless. It’s a way to collect the most extensive merit, unbelievably extensive merit. By visualizing bigger and numberless is a way to collect extensive merit.

Then, the simple way. Those who are familiar with the Guru Puja merit field, you can do that, and those who aren’t familiar, then visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, or if you are practicing Chenrezig, Tara, or Medicine Buddha, whichever deity, you can think that, but that’s everything. It’s one aspect, but it’s all into one, the root guru, whose holy mind—this is the guru yoga meditation—whose holy mind is all the buddhas’ holy mind, the dharmakaya, in the aspect of Shakyamuni Buddha or whichever deity you use. This one aspect is numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, this is all the buddhas, this is all the Dharma, Sangha, this is all the statues, stupas, scriptures. Then you make offerings.


La ma sang gyä…

In Manjushri’s reply to Lama Tsongkhapa, the second one, one-pointedly devoting to the guru, the one-pointed mind requesting the guru, that’s what this is.

So there’s a whole lineage. Starting with Shakyamuni Buddha, there are all the lineage lamas of the path of extensiveness, and path of profundity, up to the present guru and then, behind, the lineage lamas of blessings. In front, around the Buddha there are all the direct gurus, with whom you have made a relationship, a Dharma connection, and then there are the other lineage lamas. On the petals, in the center, is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and then there are the direct gurus around, then there are the deities of the four classes of tantra, the thousand buddhas of this fortunate eon, those who have already descended, up to Shakyamuni Buddha, who is number four, but there’s still the rest, from the thousand, who will descend to this world to show the holy deeds of achieving enlightenment in Bodhgaya, the same place.

Then, the Thirty-five Buddhas and the Seven Medicine Master Buddhas, and then, after that, the Eight Bodhisattvas, and the arhats, then the dakas, dakinis and Dharma protectors.

Of the numberless buddhas, there are so many, in different aspects, doing different activities, doing those particular activities, manifesting in those aspects, such as protectors, the dakas and dakinis, the deities. However, the reality is, there is just one. There are so many but it’s actually just one, just one, it is just the guru. These is just one. Who is that? That’s the guru.

The guru has absolute guru and conventional guru, and the absolute guru is the dharmakaya, non-dual bliss and voidness, that pervades all the phenomena. There’s no place where there’s no guru. It pervades all phenomena and is bound with infinite compassion that embraces us, every single sentient being.

That absolute guru manifests into forms, into various impure forms, various pure forms, to suit all the needs of sentient beings. There are all kinds of pure forms, manifesting as nirmanakaya, and sambhogakaya and dharmakaya.

When we achieve the dharmakaya, when our mind becomes the dharmakaya, at that time we have achieved the guru, we have become the guru. At that time, we have achieved numberless buddhas as well. That manifests in all kinds of, all sorts of ordinary forms, to guide ordinary beings who have ordinary minds, impure minds with impure karma.

While our mind is ordinary and obscured, we do not have pure appearance; we only have mistaken ordinary appearance, and so the only way they can guide us directly is by manifesting in an ordinary form, which means showing the aspect of having delusions, and showing the aspect of making mistakes in actions, having sufferings, old age, sicknesses, death and so forth, showing samsaric suffering.

Only with this aspect, only then can they directly guide us, by revealing the Dharma, the commentaries, the oral transmissions and the initiations, and giving tantric commentaries—all that—then granting the vows: the pratimoksha vows, the bodhisattva vows and the tantric vows. In this ordinary form, which is the only one that we can see, they can guide us by granting this directly, revealing the teachings on the graduated path of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and the higher capable being, thus bringing us to liberation, the cessation of the suffering of samsara, and its cause, and then to enlightenment.

So, anyway, what I’m saying is that this dharmakaya, which I mentioned before, there are so many aspects, but actually it’s just one, one manifesting into many. You can also say there are many manifest into one, but here I’m saying one manifesting into many.

The conventional root guru is only that which I described just now, taking an ordinary form suitable for our ordinary mind, manifesting as ordinary, then guiding us to liberation and to enlightenment.

When you do this practice, requesting to the lineage lamas, in your heart, the key understanding is that all this is the guru. There are so many, but all these, you should have the deep understanding in your heart that all this is just one, it’s the guru. It’s all the same, the root guru, the holy mind, the absolute guru, the transcendental wisdom, voidness. Then it becomes perfect if you do this practice, the requesting prayer to the lineage lamas, with this understanding to receive blessings, to receive their qualities.

There’s no guru other than the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. What I’m saying, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is all an embodiment of the guru. The guru is manifested in all, and all are embodied into one.

You do this request for yourself, but also for all sentient beings, not only praying for yourself, to purify obstacles, but also for all sentient beings, then with the second recitation, to achieve all the qualities. You can receive the replica within yourself, you receive all the qualities of the lineage lama, who is the guru. Then, you can do that as well for all sentient beings.

Those who like to read in English, you can do it in English. It’s your choice. You have total freedom. [Rinpoche laughs]

[Rinpoche chants the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Lamas in Tibetan]

So from here we are making requests to the lineage lamas, from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Manjushri, Nagarjuna and so forth, the lineage lamas of the path of profundity and the path of wisdom.

With the first request, nectar beams are emitted, purified all defilements to actualizing the path of wisdom. What is purified is the self-cherishing thought. The opposite of wisdom, the obstacles to the wisdom is ignorance, grasping, holding onto inherent existence, independent existence. Holding onto that which is not there, which doesn’t exist. If you look for it, you can’t find it. When you’re not examining it, it looks like it’s there, but if you look for it, you can’t find that real thing anywhere. How ordinary people relate to the world, the terms they use in conversation, it seems to exist, but in reality, the object, or gag-cha, the object to be reputed doesn’t exist at all—the inherently existent object or the independent object or the object existing from its own side, existing by nature, all the different ways of expressing the same thing. Ignorance is the mind holding onto that, believing that this is true and holding onto that. So, with this first request, you purify this.

In tantra, before the generation stage was the impure appearance, ordinary thought. Now, purified, what is needed is to actualize the clear light, the extremely subtle mind, which is the only one that goes to enlightenment. The gross mind doesn’t go to enlightenment.

You purify the impure mind, the gross mind, and achieve the result, the dharmakaya. What I am saying is purifying that is achieved is from sutra, the wisdom realizing emptiness, and then from the tantra, the clear light and the result, the dharmakaya, is achieved. That happens for yourself and then for other sentient beings.

Until it comes to Lama Atisha, then that’s the meditation.

[Rinpoche continues chanting the requesting prayer in Tibetan]

So, from Lama Atisha, then, it’s the same, so purified both obstacles, actualized the path of wisdom [Rinpoche corrects himself] say, Path of Extensive Means/Deeds and the Profundity, so, purified the obstacles, and then, with the second request, achieved both paths, method and wisdom, the Path of the Extensive Means/Deeds, Path of the Profundity. So, the common one, and the uncommon, the tantra, so, the result, dharmakaya, rupakaya, within your heart, as well as all sentient beings, so as much as possible.

[Rinpoche continues chanting the requesting prayer in Tibetan]

The last one can be just one, the last requesting.

Then, you can recite the Foundation of All Good Qualities in English.

[Students recite in English, Rinpoche chants in Tibetan]

When you recite the meditation prayer on the stages of the path to enlightenment, at the time you make the request, that realization is achieved within you. Whichever verse, you have that realization on the path, that path is actualized within you, as well as actualized in the hearts of all sentient beings. That’s the meditation, to do that.

Then, the root guru above your crown absorbs into you, and you become a buddha, and at your heart is the mantra, which send beams of light to all sentient beings, to numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, suras, asuras—all the six realms’ sentient beings, and intermediate state beings— and they’re all purified. So, while chanting the mantra, you purify them and they all become enlightened. Numberless hell beings become enlightened, numberless hungry ghosts become enlightened, all the animals become enlightened in the aspect of Shakyamuni Buddha. And as well, all the human beings become enlightened, all the sura, asura beings become enlightened, all the intermediate state beings become enlightened.

Due to all the three times’ merits collected by me and collected by others, that which is merely labeled by mind. Merely labeled doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There’s great danger when you hear “merely labeled” that you think it doesn’t exist. It’s very easy to think that and it’s a great danger. As I already explained yesterday, it’s merely labeled but it exists. For anything which exists, any phenomenon which exists, there’s no other way of existing, except merely labeled by mind, there’s no other way it’s existing.

If you believe there’s something additional, there’s something more than that, then that’s a hallucination. This should be known, this should be kept in mind. This should be written down, and kept in the mind.

Whatever exists, exists in mere name, merely imputed by mind, there’s no other way existing. Something slight, something slight, something slight, anything more than that, then it’s the object to be reputed, gag-cha. Even something slight, anything more than that, not just merely labeled by mind, but something slightly more than that, if it goes a little bit beyond that, that is the gag-cha, the object to be reputed. That’s the false object; it doesn’t exist.

Anything slightly more than what’s merely labeled, that does not exist, that’s the hallucination. The concept which believes, which holds onto that is a wrong concept, because the object doesn’t exist. What it believes is true, it’s not true, it doesn’t exist.

I’m not saying anything that is merely labeled by mind exists, I’m not saying that. I’m saying, whatever exists is merely imputed by mind. What they are and how they exist is merely imputed by mind.

If, in a dream, you had a wedding with a billionaire, a zillionaire, a trillionaire, and then had many children, and all those expensive buildings, because all those many things happened in the dream, they are also merely labeled by mind, but that doesn’t mean they exist. When you wake up, even by your own valid mind, you can discover that’s not true, that doesn’t exist. When you wake up, you don’t have it, so you know it doesn’t exist.

In a dream you bought a lottery ticket and you win a billion, zillion dollars. It’s the same, merely labeled by mind, in the dream, but when you wake up, even your valid mind can see, can discover it doesn’t exist. You don’t have it. What you see with your valid mind, five dollars, ten dollars, or one hundred dollars, whatever you have in your purse, that one can function, with that one you can go to the shop, you can buy ice cream or buy chocolate, you can get a cup of coffee. That one your valid mind discovers can function. But the things you see in a dream, all those things, even when you wake up, even your own mind, your own valid mind sees they are non-existent.

There are many things merely imputed by mind, but doesn’t exist. When we have the hallucination, we don’t realize it’s a hallucination. It’s the same, merely labeled by mind, but it doesn’t exist.

Therefore, things which do exist should be free from three mistakes.

If a thing does exist, it should have a valid base. If it has a valid base, then the label exists. I think that’s the main one, that’s the main reason.

Secondly, it doesn’t receive harm from the conventional mind or the valid mind. If it receives harm from that, then it doesn’t exist.

Then, the next one is not receiving harm from absolute wisdom, from the wisdom perceiving emptiness. For example, inherent existence, this I which is inside this body, which appears and which is projected there by our mind, basically from ignorance, holding things as truly, inherently existent, by leaving the negative imprint on the mental continuum, projecting it is inherently existent. Right after your mind merely imputes the I, the next second it projects this inherent existence, existing by nature, seeming real in the sense of appearing from its own side, projected onto the merely labeled I. That makes the I real to you. That’s the hallucination, projected onto these aggregates, relating to our present incorrect concept of true existence.

Put it this way. The I which is merely labeled by our own mind is decorated with inherent existence, like you put carpets over a bare floor. We decorate this inherent existence on to the merely labeled I. That’s what I’m saying. I lost what I’m talking about. What did I say?

[Student reminds Rinpoche]

Yes, that’s right. This hallucination is projected this by the superstitious mind, the king of superstition. Ignorance is the king of the superstitious mind, the main one, making it real. This is the one that receives harm from absolute wisdom. [Rinpoche laughs] This one receives harm from absolute wisdom, the wisdom realizing emptiness. By analyzing, absolute wisdom sees this is totally non-existent, it discovers this is totally non-existent. Through analysis, it discovers there’s not even an atom of that true existence there. So this receives harm from absolute wisdom. It does not exist at all; it does not exist at all.

I’ll just mention it here—it is very good to go for a walk with this awareness, to go around the stupa, to go around the temple, and you also collect a lot of merit. It’s unbelievable purification, just that. Then, at the same time, you meditate like this, on the emptiness of the I, the truth of yourself; you meditate on the ultimate truth with the full awareness that there’s nothing there, not even an atom of true existence. With this full awareness, it’s very good to sit somewhere, or even when you’re walking—I don’t mean, very slowly going like this, I’m not talking about that—just normal walking, but the most important thing, the meditation is the awareness. With that awareness, there’s no slightest of that real I. While you’re talking you do that. You can do various activities, talking with people, all the things, but at the same time, do the meditation. While you’re having meetings, discussions, it’s very good in the meetings, sometimes. [Rinpoche laughs] If somebody accuses you, somebody blames you, somebody talks against your wishes, it’s very good, at the same time you’re aware, you’re fully aware, so there’s nothing to hurt, because you know that, what you believe is the real I is not there. So there’s nothing to hurt, there’s nothing that you get hurt from others. Whenever, while you’re eating, while you’re doing normal activities, you can have this awareness, this awareness meditation.

Anyway, I’ll mention it here. Do this while you’re walking. You’re now in the East, but especially in the West, so many people going for a walk. Because of cancer, because of diabetes, because of so many health problems, getting fat, getting bigger, getting bigger this way, bigger this way, different directions getting bigger, so many people go for a walk. So much time is spent walking, but if you do this mindfulness while walking, then that walking could become the antidote to samsara. It becomes pure Dharma and the antidote to samsara, the antidote to ignorance, the root of samsara, to eliminate root of samsara. Your walking can become this, with this meditation on emptiness. As I mentioned yesterday, there are three ways you can look at it as empty: you, the action of walking and the road you are walking on. There are always three things whatever, for everything that appears real to your mind, which is projection of the hallucinated mind.

Then you’re meditating, keeping your mind in the awareness of this, that all this appears as something real, which is hallucination, a projection by your mind, by your ignorance, by the negative imprint on the mind. When you think that, looking at hallucination as it is a hallucination, then emptiness comes in your heart. All these three are merely imputed by mind: the I, the action of walking and the road. Everything is merely imputed by the mind, everything exists in mere name. So, you’re walking with this meditation, then again comes emptiness in your heart. Nothing exists from their own side: no I exists, no action exists, no road exists from its own side. Every step appears as empty.

I forgot again. I’ve lost my road. Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

So I was talking about what exists being free from those. It should have a valid base, and it should not be harmed from a valid conventional mind, and it should not receive harm from the absolute wisdom. If it has all three of these, then it exists.

I’m going to do the oral transmission—just one or two pages—of the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in English.

If I read in English, you’ll understand the main parts and even if you don’t understand the meaning, it leaves a positive imprint on the mind, it becomes an oral transmission.

If you understand the meaning, then it becomes a commentary. When you hear and understand the meaning, it becomes a commentary; if you don’t understand, it becomes an oral transmission. You receive the blessing, you receive the lineage of the blessing from Lama Atisha.

So I’ll read one or two pages. I received the lineage from Kyabje Khunu Lama Rinpoche, who is a great bodhisattva. He is like those Indian pandits, like the Six Ornaments or like those great pandits. It’s unbelievable. His holy mind is like a library. He knows the entire Buddha’s teachings, about a hundred volumes of the Kangyur and the Tengyur. He can quote all of them. His holy mind is like a library; he knows everything.

There was a teacher training study center in Mussoorie in India, where His Holiness lived at the beginning, before Dharamsala. There were so many great teachers and many abbots there, including His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, and Khunu Lama Rinpoche was giving teachings to them on very profound texts. So, it was teacher training. His Holiness the Dalai Lama received extensive commentaries on Bodhicaryavatara from Khunu Lama Rinpoche. He was a great bodhisattva in lay aspect.

[Mandala offering and refuge]

I go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, until enlightenment is achieved. Think like that.

Due to the three times’ merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, all the sentient beings and buddhas, may I achieve enlightenment in order to benefit the transmigrator beings.

That means liberating the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering: the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, the numberless animals, the numberless human beings, the numberless suras, the numberless asuras, the numberless intermediate state beings—all those sentient beings—freeing them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to full enlightenment, by ceasing the cause of suffering.

That is what is contained in the word “benefit”—in order to benefit. In order to benefit is not just giving home to the homeless, giving money to those without money, or giving food to those without food, it’s not just that benefit. It’s extremely deep, it’s kind of full benefit, bringing all transmigratory beings to enlightenment.

“Transmigrate” here means transmigrating between all six realms: the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras, all these realms. All beings die and are reborn and die again, experiencing all those sufferings in between, and are reborn and die, experiencing all the sufferings again, and so on, continuously, from beginningless rebirths, from beginningless rebirths being under the control of karma and delusion. Therefore, they themselves have no freedom at all. They are totally overwhelmed by karma and delusion. That’s the main suffering.

As I said before, by cherishing one sentient being, we are able to achieve enlightenment, like Getsul Tsimbulwa, by cherishing that being filled with leprosy, with pus coming out, with so much suffering, by cherishing that being he was able to go to a pure land with that body, without needing to die, and become enlightened there. So, by cherishing even one sentient being, by the kindness of sentient beings, we are able to achieve enlightenment. That sentient being gives us enlightenment.

Arya Asanga and so many others say this. By generating bodhicitta to sentient beings, we achieve enlightenment, so it is by the kindness of sentient beings; it comes from that sentient being. If we don’t cherish that sentient being, there’s no enlightenment, attaining all that path. But if we cherish that sentient being, we achieve all that.

Therefore, we can see that, on the path up to enlightenment, that sentient being is the most precious, the most precious, the kindest, the kindest, the most precious. Every sentient being is the most precious: the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, the numberless animals, the numberless human beings, all the suras, asuras, the intermediate state beings, everyone, every insect, every person, every deva, sura, asura, everybody is the most kind, the most precious one, the kindest, the most precious one in our life.

They give us all these realizations, these cessations of all the defilements, both gross and subtle, and the completion of all the qualities up to enlightenment. It’s most unimaginable, unimaginable. They’re the most kind, the most precious ones in our life. All the past happiness from beginningless rebirths, the present happiness and all the future happiness while we’re in samsara, then liberation and enlightenment, all this comes from each and every single sentient being, so they are the most kind, most precious ones.

Therefore, the most happy thing is if we’re able to serve them, if we’re able to serve others, even one sentient being. Even if it’s a very small help we offer, this is the most happy thing, the most happy thing in life, the most meaningful thing, the most happy thing in the life. Even a small help we can offer somebody, to sentient beings, even a small service we can offer, it’s the greatest joy, the happiest thing in life, because that being is the most kind, the most precious one in our life.

For example, if somebody is carrying a very heavy load and we offer to carry something for them, we help to cut down that person’s difficulties, their suffering. Even offering a seat on a bus, offer that seat to somebody, we are offering our comfort to somebody. Even small things, just small things, it’s great because who we offer to is the most precious and kindest one, so we should take every opportunity, even something small like that. It’s a great joy; it’s the happiest thing in life. Even saving insects that have fallen in the water, that aren’t dead, we are freeing them from that problem.

So, you see, like that, you know, in the daily life, in the daily life, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you know, whatever you are doing, you see, you see, there are things you can help, you see, always you can see things you can help, you know, so that, so as much as possible, even if it’s such a small thing to help, you know, it’s the greatest joy and happiest thing to do in the life, so that, so, besides, no question, if you have big responsibility, big responsibility to really, to dedicate your life to others, you know, you know, you have great responsibility, no question that, it’s, you know, it’s unbelievable thing to offer. I told you those few stories before, the benefits of cherishing others.

Then all the time our life is filled with happiness. There’s no depression; our life is always filled with joy, with happiness. When we always focus on others like this, in our daily life, whether we are touring, doing a world tour [Rinpoche laughs] or whatever, we should always keep in our mind that our life is for others, to serve others, to benefit others. We should think, “This is what my life is, to help others.”

This is so good. It brings so much happiness to others. In everyday life we bring so much happiness to others, and then at the same time, we also bring happiness in our heart. So, we bring happiness to this person and we bring happiness to ourselves. When we’re able to bring happiness to the person, to help this person, our mind is happy. So with one act there are two successes, one act, two successes.

By following the selfish mind, we harm the other person, and then even our own happiness may not succeed, it may not get obtained well. Then, that brings many problems, and it doesn’t give inner happiness.

Two pages, or one page, or half page? [Talking to student]

So, we should think, “I’m not sure how long I can live in this very short life, therefore I must make every opportunity, I must make the best use of my life, the most beneficial, not only to stop rebirth in the lower realms and achieve higher rebirth, not only that, not even for myself to be liberated from samsara, not just that—that’s not the real meaning, not really the purpose of being born a human being, not real meaning of life—but to really benefit others.

“The real purpose is to benefit others, to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment, the numberless sentient beings who are the source of all our own past, present and future happiness, therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore, I need to actualize the path, therefore I’m going to take the oral transmission of the very precious teachings, Lama Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment.”
You may have heard the story, perhaps. Anyway, I’ll just do it, so this way you receive the complete essence of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, setting up as graduated practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. It leaves a positive imprint of the whole path to enlightenment.

[Rinpoche begins the oral transmission]

The root text, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, by Atisha Dipamkara. What does it say? 1982? 1, 0, 5, 4. [Rinpoche laughs] I think this means when the teaching happened.

Homage to the Bodhisattva, the youthful Manjushri.

I pay homage with great respect
To the conquerors of the three times,
To their teaching and to those who aspire to virtue.
Urged by the good disciple Jangchub Ö
I shall illuminate the lamp
For the path to enlightenment.2

Rinpoche: Sorry, I said eliminate the lamp. “I shall illuminate” not eliminate. [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs] Sorry! Total contradiction. You eliminate the ignorance, but “I shall illuminate the path.”

Understand that there are three kinds of persons
Because of their small, middling and supreme capacities.
I shall write clearly distinguishing
Their individual characteristics.

Know that those who by whatever means
Seek for themselves no more
Than the pleasures of cyclic existence
Are persons of the least capacity.3

The word used here, capacity, is correct. I haven’t heard the exact term used much, but gyu-sum, gyu means “capable.” When we say, lower scope, middle scope, higher scope, I think “scope” means the object, scope is the object. Scope is the object? I think that translation is not very clear. It’s used so much now, and people who have studied for a long time understand what it really means, but the translation of gyu-sum, gyu is capable being, the graduated path of the three capable beings, that’s exactly what it is. So she used capacity, that’s a good, a correct translation, gyu sum kyi lam kyi rim pa.

Tibetan Buddhism was translated from Sanskrit language. It was done by great pandits, great scholars, not just scholars but they were holy beings, like Lotsawa Rinchen Zangbo, those great holy beings, those highly attained beings. Then those previous ones, there’s new ones, and then the ones before were translating, they are great holy beings, not just ordinary people, great holy beings, great scholars, very learned, holy beings, not only learned, but holy beings, highly attained beings.

When they translated, they concentrated so much on how they put it into the Tibetan language. This is not what happens with the English translations at the beginning. Now, of course, there are many who understand both sides, the Dharma very well, as well as English, so now more books are coming out. But back earlier, translators who didn’t have great knowledge of Dharma translated into English, so some translations are not complete; the terms didn’t come exactly from Tibetan into English, only some parts, only half parts or something close, but not exactly. Then, that term became very commonly used. But I think now, there are many more learned people who translate more correctly.

I’m just talking a little bit about the difference between early translations and now, the present, translating Dharma into English. But, of course, it’s not easy, it’s not an easy job. Even if you’re very good in English, and have studied debate and subjects well, but just to translate from the beginning to the end, exactly, without missing anything, that’s very difficult. There’s always something missing or not exact.

So I think a translator needs, first of all, a good understanding the subject, the language and the Dharma, and a very good memory, wisdom, memory, they need a very good memory to remember exactly to put into English, without missing anything. Of course, the major thing comes out. But I think it’s very difficult to not miss anything.

To continue.

Understand that there are three kinds of persons
Because of their small, middling and supreme capacities.
I shall write clearly distinguishing
Their individual characteristics.

Know that those who by whatever means
Seek for themselves no more
Than the pleasures of cyclic existence
Are persons of the least capacity.

Those who seek peace for themselves alone,
Turning away from worldly pleasures
And avoiding destructive actions
Are said to be of middling capacity.

Those who, through their personal suffering,
Truly want to end completely
All the suffering of others
Are persons of supreme capacity.

For those excellent living beings,
Who desire supreme enlightenment,
I shall explain the perfect methods
Taught by the spiritual teachers.

Facing paintings, statues and so forth
Of the completely enlightened one,
Reliquaries and the excellent teaching,
Offer flowers, incense—whatever you have. 

With the seven-part offering
From the [Prayer of] Noble Conduct,
With the thought never to turn back
Till you gain ultimate enlightenment,

And with strong faith in the Three Jewels,
Kneeling with one knee on the ground
And your hands pressed together,
First of all take refuge three times.

Next, beginning with an attitude
Of love for all living creatures,
Consider beings, excluding none,
Suffering in the three bad rebirths,
Suffering birth, death and so forth.

Then, since you want to free these beings
From the suffering of pain,
From suffering and the cause of suffering,
Arouse immutably the resolve
To attain enlightenment.

The qualities of developing
Such an aspiration are
Fully explained by Maitreya
In the Array of Trunks Sutra.

Having learned about the infinite benefits
Of the intention to gain full enlightenment
By reading this sutra or listening to a teacher,
Arouse it repeatedly to make it steadfast.

The Sutra Requested by Viradatta
Fully explains the merit therein.
At this point, in summary,
I will cite just three verses.

If it possessed physical form,
The merit of the altruistic intention
Would completely fill the whole of space
And exceed even that.

If someone were to fill with jewels
As many buddha fields as there are grains
Of sand in the Ganges
To offer to the Protector of the World,

This would be surpassed by
The gift of folding one’s hands
And inclining one’s mind to enlightenment,
For such is limitless.

Having developed the aspiration for enlightenment,
Constantly enhance it through concerted effort.
To remember it in this and also in other lives,
Keep the precepts properly as explained.

Without the vow of the engaged intention,
Perfect aspiration will not grow.
Make effort definitely to take it,
Since you want the wish for enlightenment to grow.

Those who maintain any of the seven kinds
Of individual liberation vow
Have the ideal [prerequisite] for
The bodhisattva vow, not others.

The Tathagata spoke of seven kinds
Of individual liberation vow.
The best of these is glorious pure conduct,
Said to be the vow of a fully ordained person.4

So, maybe we’ll break. I think that’s enough, otherwise we might get enlightened tonight. [Group laughs]

Okay, so thank you very much.

[Students offer thanksgiving mandala]

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, all the sentient beings and the buddhas, may the bodhicitta which is the source of all the success, all happiness, for me and success and happiness of all sentient beings, may it be actualized within my own heart, in the hearts of my own family members, in the hearts of all the students in this organization, in the hearts of all the benefactors. There are so many people in this world bearing hardships, offering service to this organization, preserving the Mahayana teachings, the FPMT, so many people in different parts of the world, they bear so many hardships, serving the organization, to benefit for sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha. So, in all their hearts, as well as those who rely upon me, whom I promised to pray for, whose names were given to me, in their hearts, as well as in the hearts of everybody in this world, and in the hearts of all sentient beings, may bodhicitta is generated, may it be increased.

Jang chub…

Due to all the threes’ time merits collected by myself, the three times’ merits collected by others, all the sentient beings including bodhisattvas and buddhas, may the bodhicitta be actualized in the hearts of all the leaders of the world, especially the leaders of Mainland China—in each country there are so many millions of people—so may they all be brought to the correct path to peace, they will have perfect peace and happiness.

Jang chub…

Third. Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, may the bodhicitta be actualized in the hearts of all the people who follow all the various different religions; may the bodhicitta be actualized in all their hearts. This is extremely important.

Jang chub…

And due to all the three time merits collected by me, three time merits collected by others.

[Long life prayer to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.]

Then we do this prayer that all His Holiness’s wishes immediately be successful. Without His Holiness in this world, the world would become dark. With no leader of peace, it would become dark, like a body without a head, it becomes like that.

In short, all this unbelievable opportunity we’ve received, by meeting the Buddhadharma and so forth, meeting with Dharma, all this unbelievable precious opportunity we have received to achieve enlightenment, to liberate numberless sentient beings, to bring them to enlightenment, all this is by His Holiness’s kindness. It is by His Holiness’s kindness that we have received all this opportunity, therefore, we have responsibility to pray for His Holiness’s long life and for all his holy wishes to be successful, and the happiness of all sentient beings, not only temporary happiness but ultimate happiness, liberation and enlightenment, to be achieved. That’s what His Holiness’s holy wishes are, the happiness of all us sentient beings. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s holy wishes are fulfilled, then all our wishes are fulfilled, achieving happiness and liberation from samsara, enlightenment, all those, they are fulfilled.

So, this last prayer is for fulfilling his holy wishes.

[Rinpoche chants the prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s holy wishes to be successful]

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, that which exists, but which is empty from its own side, may the I, who exists, but who do not exist from its own side, who is totally empty, achieve Guru Buddha Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but does not exist from its own side, which is totally empty from its own side, lead all the sentient beings, who exist, but do not exist from their own side, who are totally empty, to that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but doesn’t exist from its own side, that which is totally empty, by myself alone, who exists, but who does not exist from its side, who is totally empty.

Due to all the past, present and future merits, collected by myself, the three times’ merits collected by others, may Lama Tsongkhapa teachings be actualized in my heart, in the hearts of my own family members, in all of us here, in the hearts of all the students, all the benefactors, in the hearts of all those people who are bearing so many hardships, offering service to the organization to benefit sentient beings and the teachings of Buddha, and those who rely upon me, who I promised to pray for, whose names were given to me, as well as in the hearts of everybody in this world, and that Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings flourish forever. May it spread in all the directions.

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan]

So, you asked before for a conclusion about tong-len. From this practice, we are able to purify all the defilements and achieve enlightenment very quickly, and then we are able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsara’s sufferings and bring them to enlightenment.

From this, we are able to be successful in working for ourselves, working for all sentient beings. This is the most powerful. It happens many times, many times that a person recovers, and it also happens that we get sick, but that person recovers. For some people, that is what happens, it just depends on the karma.

I think, many times there can be possibility, if we do one mala for somebody who is sick, or one mala every day, or something more, just not one time, many people can help. I think it’s very important to do that, very important to do that, so there can be possibility to help somebody. Medicine cannot help, it is very difficult for medicine to help. Doctors cannot understand very well. They give medicine, but it has side effects, or it doesn’t work—there are so many problems. If the patient has the karma to meet the right doctor, then he can see exactly. To see exactly that’s one thing, but then able to cure is another thing. So, you see, a lot depends on the karma.

So, anyway, I think this is the best thing to do if we want to help somebody, even on the road, when we see animals, those buffaloes carrying very heavy loads, unbelievable heavy loads.

In India, in Bombay or somewhere, maybe not in Bombay, somewhere, on the road, I saw a carriage pulled by a buffalo, loaded with iron bars, very long iron bars, many on the carriage, and there’s only one animal pulling. And the person was beating it, pulling on the ring through its nostrils. The animal could not walk properly and went like this. It was amaaaazing.

Anyway, when we see things like that on the road, it’s very good to do tong-len. People, animals, what we see on the road, the suffering, we do tong-len, we take their suffering and the cause. The suffering is one thing but the cause, karma and delusion, we take it in, absorb it , take it in, give it to selfish mind, who gives us all the problems, who never allowed us to reach enlightenment, and even liberation from samsara, who doesn’t allow us to have past, present and future happiness. By following the self-cherishing thought, I denies us all that, so we give all that suffering to it, and destroy it like that.

I mean, I didn’t explain the actual tong-len meditation, but this is talking about the importance.

If, on the road, there’s somebody who has missing limbs, or somebody who is suffering, we do tong-len while we’re walking there, taking all their sufferings and the cause, and giving them all our three times’ merits and all the result, all the happiness up to enlightenment, everything, we give it to that person, who receives everything and becomes enlightened.

Our body is wish-fulfilling. We give perfect possessions, all the merits, all the happiness, so it becomes a pure land, a buddha’s pure land, the perfect place. Then, there is no suffering, they receive the perfect body, the perfect surroundings, all the wealth, everything, then the realizations, then they cease all the defilements and become enlightened.

You can do that for each realm. That’s to make the prayer, and to do tong-len it’s very good, even though physically, it’s something we can’t really do, to really solve that immediately. That’s very good. When we see anybody suffering, we do tong-len, on the road, while we’re shopping or while we’re doing a world tour. [Rinpoche laughs] It’s very, very good.

If we go outside in the city or something, when we come back, we’ve spent one or two hours, or whatever, and we become that much closer to enlightenment by doing tong-len, by seeing that much suffering. It’s very, very good, with a sincere heart. People can get recovered like that. It also depends on the karma of the other person.

This is the best puja, because we do your best. [Rinpoche laughs] It’s the most powerful puja, in our mind, and it doesn’t cost even one penny.

So anyway, I think that’s it. So goodnight, thank you.

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1 Rinpoche says Anuttara Tantra for the third, which I’ve taken as a slip of the tongue. The fourth is usually stated as Anuttara Yoga Tantra, but Rinpoche often adds the “maha.”  [Return to text]

2 V. 1 The full text, translated by Ruth Sonam, Dharamsala, 1997, is available for download as a pdf file at LamRim.com - Tibetan Buddhist Internet Radio. [Return to text]

3 Vv. 2 and 3. [Return to text] 

 4 Vv. 2–21. [Return to text]