Kopan Course No. 14 (1981) Audio and Unedited Transcripts

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal (Archive #119)

The following are excerpts from the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Fourteenth Kopan Meditation Course, 1981. The teachings include a commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara [A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.] Unfortunately, one of the tapes from Lecture Six was lost, and the remaining recordings were not good enough to publish online. So we have posted only those which are most clear. The entire lightly edited transcript of Rinpoche's teachings from this course can be read or downloaded here.

Lectures 5-6: Samsaric Suffering; Shortcomings of Self-Cherishing Thought

...joins, joins to the next life. It circles. So this present aggregates, as it circles without freedom, by the force of unsubdued mind and karma, so this aggregates is called cycle, samsara or cycle. So always cycles like this. The aggregates, the continuity of aggregates joins from one life to another life, again, whichever rebirth place, wherever it joins then it experiences suffering in that realm. Then experiences suffering there, then again the aggregate consciousness joins, that samsara joins again to another life, to another rebirth, another birthplace, then again experiencing suffering of rebirth, again experiences the suffering of death, the various sufferings between rebirth and death. So like this on and on the continuity of aggregates joins again and again like this and experience suffering. So the "I" which exists on that, which is labeled on that, which exists on that circles in the samsara, in the six realms and suffers. Like this.

So because we have taken the rebirth, we have taken this body so we experience the suffering of old age, suffering of sickness, the suffering of death. Then between those, besides those four major sufferings, then the suffering of meeting the undesirable object, then not finding the desirable object and even if one finds, the suffering of dissatisfaction. The sufferings of these aggregates is explained by the lineage lamas of the lam-rim teachings, in order to easily understand [pause], in order to see clearly and easily the shortcomings of samsara, how the samsara is in the nature of suffering, in order to see clearly and easily, in order to generate the thought of renouncing the samsara quickly, by quickly generating, if one is able to quickly generate the thought of renouncing samsara then one is able to generate bodhicitta that much quicker and then one is able to achieve the state of omniscient mind quicker. H/e so therefore the lineage lamas of the lam-rim teachings made clear by setting up the meditations, the suffering rebirth, each of these sufferings in five numbers, suffering of old age, suffering of sicknesses, suffering of aggregates, all those in five numbers they set up, so that way very clear and easy to meditate, easy to see.

So however, all these problems, every day what we experience, up and down, nervous breaking down when you lose job, when the money is cut down, however all these things, all these worries, fears, everything, all these mistakes are because we have taken this body. Because we have taken the rebirth. If we didn't take the rebirth in the first place - the first mistake is that. If we didn't take the rebirth then no reason at all, no reason to protest, no reason to strike, no reason to do strike. If we had not taken rebirth then no reason to do strike; even the garbage collectors, even the collecting garbage, people do strike, they don't collect the garbage. Where was it? I think in Venice, I think in Italy, I think in Venice the garbage was piled up outside the people's house.

Anyway, the whole problem is having taken the rebirth. Why we have to experience suffering of death, why we have all the worry, why we have to worry about death is also because we have taken rebirth. Why we have to take medicines in order not to experience death, so much worry and fear for the death, trying to prevent, even by making pujas trying to prevent death, all this is by the mistake of rebirth, the first mistake is by having taken the rebirth. So therefore, if you do not want suffering, all these problems, old age and all these things, white hair and teeth falling out and all these things, if you don't want abortions (G.L.), the operations, then spending much money, stretching out skin, paying a lot of money for the doctors, however, all these things, if one doesn't wish to experience then we have to stop taking rebirth again. So if you stop taking rebirth again all these problems would not happen, we won't experience.

However, so the conclusion is this, the whole suffering, you see, it started from the very beginning mistake; even though the I is merely labeled on these aggregates, but appearing as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side. Then clinging on that that this is completely true. You see, everything whole rest, the whole suffering, the whole thing started from that very beginning. From the ignorance which clings this is completely true, this I is completely true. So it is your own mistake, the whole problem. From this you can understand in everyday life, complaining that we receive criticism, complaining about what we receive, being badly treated by others, all these things, aside from rebirth and death all these things in every day life, all this discomfort, bad reputations, all these things that we receive, the whole thing is your own mistake completely because of clinging, following the ignorance, completely clinging that this I which appears as truly existent is completely true.

So I think I stop here.

So the point is to realize, to understand, to study shunyata, to study under the guidance of well-experienced teacher who has found the infallible right view, with such a teacher then you study on shunyata to realize the right view, infallible right view, which eliminates this ignorance. So that is extremely important. As I started the talk, so like this: you created the suffering, your own suffering is created by yourself and so eliminating that you also should do by yourself, [pause] so by practicing the path, the right path that is revealed by Shakyamuni Buddha, the absolute truth, then yourself by following that then yourself is able to eliminate this very root of the suffering, ignorance.

I think I stop here.



So as I explained the last two, three days, the creator of all one's own suffering is oneself, how all the suffering came from self. That is one way to think, one way to understand. It is not just believing. In fact it is not like that, in fact, in the reality it is not like that, but one should believe in that way - it is not like that. Even though you cannot understand, in the long run, from one life another life by making connection, even if you cannot understand in that way, you can understand or you can see, if you are intelligent, if you are smart, you can understand if you think a little bit, if you check a little bit, you can understand even each day life's problem how it is based on this ignorance, how it comes from this ignorance. While the I is empty of existing from its own side, believing, clinging that it exists from its own side, how even each day's life problem, the unhappiness, the sufferings of the body and mind, how they build up on the basis of that or how it arises from that, how that causes it. It is very scientific.

Then also to think in this way is very effective, very effective for the mind - Can you hear? Who sit by the door? - By following the self-cherishing thought again how so many suffering and problem arises. That is also very effective for the mind to control, to subdue the selfish attitude, the uncomfortable mind, the very painful uncomfortable mind, the selfish attitude. To think in this way, the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought, how the self-cherishing thought obliges you to experience much problems. So much suffering in the samsara. [pause] How the self-cherishing thought is the thief, stealing away all the happiness, all one's own happiness, temporal and ultimate happiness and perfections. How the self-cherishing thought is like a butcher, a butcher cutting off the life, the root of the temporal and ultimate happiness and perfections. You see, by following the self-cherishing thought, then anger arises very easily. How strongly, how much the person follows the selfish attitude, careless of the happiness and the suffering of others, caring only, concerned only about one's own happiness and suffering, one's own comfort, strongly seeking one's own comfort for self, so that, how much and how strongly follows the self-cherishing thought, depending on that, that much easily anger arises, that much easily the person becomes impatient.

So by rising anger, the root of temporal and ultimate happiness and perfections is the virtue, the merit, so the anger completely eliminates, it completely destroys the merit, like the burnt rice, the completely burnt rice, even if you plant that it cannot grow. So like that anger either completely makes the virtue not having any potential to bring its result happiness, perfections, it makes it impossible to experience, to enjoy the result, temporal or ultimate happiness, whatever it is, it makes it impossible to experience, to enjoy the result or the undedicated merit, the merit which are not accumulated with the motivation of bodhicitta, and even the merit accumulated with the motive of bodhicitta, those merits which are dedicated to achieve enlightenment for the sake of others, even those, by arising anger it postpones to experience the result. Whatever result happiness that one is about to experience, that is ready to be experienced, realizations, one is about to generate the realizations, then by arising anger it postpones, it causes to take long time to experience the result. Like this also by arising heresy. So the self-cherishing thought is like a butcher. It is like a thief, it is like a butcher...