Lamrim Meditation Course at Chenrezig Institute

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

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

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

Lama Yeshe, Beatrice Ribush and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in meditation on Saka Dawa, Chenrezig Institute, Australia, May 25, 1975. Photo: Wendy Finster.
Lectures 9 and 10
Lecture 9

It is said in the teachings,

For the wise, skillful person who knows Dharma, even if the negativity is great it becomes small to them; but for a foolish person, even a small negativity becomes great. For an unskillful, ignorant person even if the negative karma is small, it becomes great.

That means that the wise person who really knows Dharma—who knows different techniques, who really knows karma—they know the karmic evolutions they know how negative karma can increase if it is not purified, confessed, right away. Also they know how to quickly purify, what is the benefit, what is the most powerful way to purify. Therefore, even though they have created very heavy negative karma, it becomes small, very little, by using skillful methods, powerful methods to purify.

But the deeply ignorant, unskillful person, even though they don't create that much heavy negative karma, even though they create very little, because they are ignorant in the methods of purification, not knowing how to purify and not knowing the evolution of karma, therefore, even though they create very little negative karma, it increases. Day by day, month by month, year by year it increases like the branches growing on a tree. Because they don't know the powerful methods and don't know the evolution of karma, the negative karma always increases; even though they create small, it becomes bigger and bigger, the longer they don't make purification.

[Reading from Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, p. 90]

The rarity of the perfect human rebirth
I can understand how the perfect human rebirth is difficult to receive by considering the way sentient beings are distributed throughout the six samsaric realms.

The vast majority of sentient beings are in the narak. Thus the number of upper rebirths is smaller than the number of lower rebirths, and the number of perfect human rebirths is the smallest of all.

The number of the narak living beings is like dust on the earth—so many, so many, unimaginable, cannot be counted. The number of animals is also unimaginable, like the sands of the Atlantic Ocean; so many, something which cannot be easily counted.

Thinking like this can be very useful, for instance, the number of Australian people and creatures that are on one small mountain. There is a certain population here, a certain number of people, millions maybe. Definitely the number of animals is many times more, the lower creatures just on one hill, and on the mountain, on the bushes and in the grass, there are all kinds of different insects, different flies. Many of the insects, the creatures, don't have legs, nothing, just dragging their body; many creatures have wings, have legs, all kinds of different types; so many just on one hill, tiny, all kinds of sizes and things, which can only be seen through a microscope.

Just thinking of the number of Australian people is nothing compared to the number of insects on one hill. There are many hills in Australia, without thinking of the insects in the desert, in the oceans; just talking about the hills. We can never compare, never compare, never compare. Just even in one handful of dust there can be so many tiny, tiny ones, which we hardly see with our eyes; there are many creatures like this. And besides on the ground, also in the trees there are so many tiny insects which have the karma to live in the trees, on the leaves, laying eggs, living there, many things. Then even the birds flying in space. There are all kinds. There are many different kinds of flies; so many that they cannot be counted. Then without question in the oceans, without need to talk about them. There are so many incredible numbers of these creatures, all kinds of different sizes, many things, so tiny, on the beach. Even in normal water there are also tiny insects, many things. Even in people's houses there are insects crawling; without talking about outside—ants, small ants, fleas, even in buildings. Sort of like there is almost no place where there are no animals.

If you think of the number of ants in the whole of Australia, how many creatures are there, then the number of Australian people gets lost. Nothing. Almost like not existing. And, for instance, if you don't preserve things, food in the refrigerator, things like that, if you just leave meat or fruit outside for one or two days it goes rotten and gets worms inside. It easily becomes full of worms. And then meat, if you leave it without keeping it cold, like an animal that is dead, if the body is left there—also it depends on the weather—after three days, sometimes even two days, the body easily gets full of worms inside. Mainly I'm talking about the number of creatures; it is too great.

Why is it so easy for thousands of worms all of a sudden to be born in meat, hundreds of germs in the food? How is it so easy? That is because in the previous life they were maybe also an animal or maybe a human being, or a samsaric god, preta or narak being, and they had created much karma to be born as animal.

Then there is the intermediate state, after the death and before the next rebirth. Even in the intermediate stage there are incredible numbers of sentient beings who are ready to take animal rebirth, who are seeking a place to take birth, to take a body. There are an incredible number of sentient beings whose mind passed away from other bodies and who are in the intermediate stage to find another body, to take an animal body. There are so many of them seeking a place. Therefore when food or something is a little bit off by not taking care, it easily becomes full of worms. When it becomes a condition, then easily they come there. That's why it is so easy, why there are so many. That proves that in the intermediate stage there is a great number of sentient beings who are seeking a place, who are going to take animal rebirth.

Also pretas: the number of pretas is so great, like when there is rain we cannot count each raindrop. Like snow, each tiny flake of snow is incredibly difficult to count. This is just to give you an idea, to emphasize the incredible numbers.

The meditation from two o'clock is to do the Guru Shakyamuni yoga meditation. Then after the light, meditate on the difficulty of receiving the perfect human rebirth, checking through the examples of how it is difficult to receive, from the side of the example. As I repeated, you can follow the meditation.

The important thing is the number of sentient beings, continuously thinking of the insects, the creatures and the human beings. Thinking like this is very useful.

Then one of the most important things is the precepts—sort of checking within your mind whether it is difficult for you, how it is difficult. Checking like this. As I explained, generally in the world there are less people keeping precepts, less people keeping morality. Like this, slowly check up the different levels of ordination. Then check with each one. Among those keeping the precepts there are less people who keep them purely. There are less people who are keeping these different levels of precepts purely. There are more people keeping precepts but less people who are keeping them purely.

Even to take and keep one precept is difficult. Especially check with your own experience how it is easy or difficult. Otherwise, if you don't check on yourself, if you check on some other person, on their mind, then you don't see how this is difficult or easy. The main thing is to help you discover how difficult it is to receive the perfect human rebirth.

Lecture 10

The number of creatures there are, as we can clearly understand, is much more than the number of people in the country. Just like this, it is the same with other suffering sentient beings, such as the narak and preta suffering sentient beings. Comparing the number of sentient beings who take rebirth in the evil destiny, in the lower suffering realms, and those in the upper realms, more sentient beings get born in the suffering lower realms. Fewer sentient beings, a much smaller number of sentient beings get born in upper realms, in these realms of the sura, asura and humans.

As Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said in his sutra teaching, “The number of sentient beings who get born in the upper realms is as if we take as much dust as we can get under our nails.” When we take the dust under our nails it is very little. Between the dust that we receive under our nails and the dust on the earth there is nothing to compare. It is very little. Like this, the sentient beings who get born in the upper realms are very, very few, so few. And among the sentient beings who get born in the upper realms, generally the sentient beings who receive the perfect human rebirth are very few. Receiving the perfect human rebirth is extremely difficult. That is the rarest rebirth. That is the rarest rebirth to receive. So this is checking, trying to discover how the perfect human rebirth is difficult to receive, even from the side of the numbers.

The third way of checking in order to discover how the perfect human rebirth is difficult to receive:

[Reading from Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, p. 90]

Analogies illustrating the difficulty to receiving the perfect human rebirth
The chance of gaining the precious perfect human rebirth is that of a blind tortoise, swimming in a vast ocean and surfacing only once each one hundred years, putting its head through a small golden ring floating somewhere on the surface.

It is more difficult than throwing grain so that it sticks to a glass wall or lands on the point of a needle.

The example is this. Let's say there's the Atlantic Ocean, then there's a golden ring floating around. There is a reason why the ring is called gold, it has its own meaning, this just an example. Then there is a blind tortoise who, after each hundred years, comes up once from the bottom onto the surface. As the blind tortoise comes up, its neck comes out of the surface of the water. The golden ring doesn't stay in one place all the time. It always moves around on the surface of the ocean, so even though the golden ring was here last time, even though it was here, the blind tortoise, when it comes up after a hundred years, his neck doesn't come through the golden ring. Maybe when he comes up his neck is supposed to come through the golden ring, but he comes up in another direction. The golden ring is here but he comes up in another direction where there is no golden ring. And then maybe after another hundred years he comes up here but that golden ring is in another place. It always floats around, in another place. So it's extremely difficult. If the blind tortoise comes every day that's something else, but it is only once every hundred years so at that time it is extremely difficult to put the neck through. Even to be near the golden ring, but especially to put his neck in that golden ring is extremely difficult. So just like this.

The blind turtle is an example of the samsaric sentient beings. Down there at the bottom of the ocean is like keeping or taking rebirth in the preta, narak and animal realms, again always taking rebirth, always circling around in those suffering realms. Even after finishing the karma to be in the narak for a certain length of time, even after that is finished, again being reborn as an animal. Even after that there's another karma which has to be experienced in the preta realm, so becoming a preta. Like this always taking rebirth.

While a sentient being is born as an animal—being born as an animal is the result of previous karma—while the sentient being is an animal they create so much negative karma in that life because they are deeply ignorant and there's no chance to practice Dharma. Again they create negative karma, so again there is more cause to be born in those suffering realms. So therefore, the sentient being keeps on taking rebirth down there in the suffering realms. So it is extremely difficult. And the same thing, in the life of the animal, they are always creating negative karma; the same thing in the preta and narak realms. So it is extremely difficult to receive an upper rebirth, extremely difficult.

The golden ring is the teaching of the Buddha. Each time, even when we take human rebirth after a certain incredible time, after such a long time, even though we get born as a human being in the upper realms, we don't meet the teachings. We don't meet the teachings. We are not born in a country where there are the teachings, where we can meet the teachings, practice the teachings and follow the teachings. Putting the neck in the golden ring is like putting the golden ring on one's neck like an ornament. So that is like, besides being born at such a time in a country where the teaching exists, we are actually following the teaching, practicing the teaching, meeting the teaching. So the blind turtle putting the neck in the golden ring is like being born as a human being in a country where there are teachings and we are practicing the teachings. This is the meaning of that example.

Actually, if it is really checked up, the example is still nothing. If it is really checked up, the meaning is more difficult than that example. If it is deeply, carefully checked, the way we act in our life, the way we lead our life, if we carefully and deeply checked, even though we are human beings. Of course, if we are born as those suffering beings there is nothing to talk about regarding how our actions are mostly negative. So therefore, checking like this we can discover the difficulty of receiving this perfect human rebirth.

For example if we throw grain at glass, it is extremely difficult for it to get stuck there, to stay on the glass. Or if there is a needle put like this on the floor and we throw grains of rice, it's difficult for them to sit on the point of the needle. These examples give a kind of feeling, they make clear how the perfect human rebirth is difficult to receive. However, the main way to check is through the causes, charity and morality, and how, in the world, it is difficult [to create the causes.]

Making meditation in these three ways makes it very clear and is very helpful for the mind. It gives us incredible energy. As we continue the meditation, it causes us to build more and more energy and we're no longer lazy to continuously practice this meditation. Through the continual practice of the meditation, trying to continuously make practice on this first meditation, the perfect human rebirth, then the more happiness we feel, how it is more and more precious, how it is precious. Feeling this means our meditation is working, progressing. Then there's such incredible strong feeling of happiness, feeling the preciousness of this rebirth so strongly. It is just like a beggar finding a diamond from the garbage in the street. When the beggar finds a diamond in the garbage unexpectedly, they have an incredible feeling of happiness, an unbelievable feeling of happiness because it is so precious. Understanding that the diamond is so precious; discerning that they have found the diamond and it is so precious. Like this, such a strong feeling of happiness arises when we experience this meditation.

Especially when we really try, when we really practice this meditation, it is also useful to think of each of those richnesses, each freedom—like being a human being, receiving a human rebirth, etc.,—comparing each of these to a world full of jewels. Then comparing these two—which one is more useful to practice Dharma, to receive enlightenment—comparing these two. Then as we have received each of these, because it is easier to understand about materials, which is more precious and which is not precious, it is easy to get a feeling. As with this example then with each one; as we find that we have received it we have such a great feeling of preciousness, there's a great feeling of being so fortunate, so lucky. In this way I think it is easy to receive realization, to see clearly, the feeling arises so strongly. In this way the experience is easier to receive.

Actually when we really meditate just on that meditation, the usefulness comes from there, everything comes from there. Anyway, now maybe it is a little complicated but actually when we really meditate like this, we can feel like that just by making meditation on the perfect human rebirth; counting each one, feeling the preciousness. But somehow, the way we think also becomes a meditation on usefulness, and it all comes together, sort of.

Then when we continuously make meditation on the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth—just as Guru Tsongkhapa said in his lamrim teaching, “When one realizes the great meaning of the human life, passing the time in meaningless action…”

When we have received the experience of the meditation on the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth, even just for one minute we can't stand, we dare not spend our time on meaningless actions, doing meaningless actions, such as creating negative karma, negative actions. We can't, we dare not spend time to create negative actions, such as meaningless actions that are only to do with this life. And even if we waste one minute or half a minute we feel great, incredible waste, like a person who loses billions of dollars, that incredible feeling of wasting or losing the great meaning of the human rebirth—even though we spent only one minute or half a minute. Just as we talked about the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth even in one second or one minute, we have the experience of this meditation.

So the usefulness of this meditation is that by experiencing this it helps us a great deal to avoid using the life for meaningless actions, even for the shortest time. Due to the experience of this meditation all the time, wherever we are, if we have the achievement of this meditation our mind is very skillfully always in the Dharma, always making the life meaningful. Because there's no way to get distracted, we can't stand to spend time in meaningless actions.

Also Guru Tsongkhapa said in his teaching about experiencing the meditation on the difficulty of receiving the perfect human rebirth: “When one realizes the difficulty of receiving the perfect human rebirth, one cannot stand not doing something, not doing anything.”

“Not doing anything” means without practicing Dharma, without doing an action of Dharma, without creating virtuous actions, we cannot stand it. Then there's not much problem of feeling lazy. Also this basic meditation helps so much for those many negative minds such as attachment, which cause us to create negative karma; for those negative minds to not arise, so we do not create this negative karma.

[Reading from Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, pp. 90–91]

How should we make of perfect human rebirth highly meaningful?
We should use this rebirth to free ourselves … which ceases all problems.

Part of this subject is actually how to make the human life meaningful. We can understand from the second meditation, the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth. From there we can understand how to make it meaningful. But still, just following the proverbs above, how ordinary people sacrifice their life, dedicate their life for such small things; for such little, essenceless things they dedicate their whole life, this kind of example. It is very useful to cause us to continually practice Dharma and also, in this way, we will get the energy to control the distractions to Dharma practice.

Then the next one—this one especially is very useful for the mind to think, especially when we have time to meditate. Let’s say we are working during the day and the time has completely passed, so there's no time. In the morning there is a little bit of time, before breakfast and things like that. But then we are lazy to get up—there's time but we are lazy to get up, we don't want to get up early. So there's no time left for meditation because we cannot meditate by renouncing breakfast, those things. We can't meditate instead of having breakfast. Before breakfast there is a short time free, but our time is spent by sleeping or taking much time for washing, things like that.

However there is time. We can make time, even half an hour or something. We remember the meditation but we feel sort of very tired, it’s hard to get up, very difficult to get up. That is due mainly to not having much interest in meditation. We remember to do meditation but there is not so much interest in meditation, not so much interest. There is more interest to lie down because that is much more comfortable and easier.

At such times it's useful to think that our problem or laziness is not really difficult. It's not really like physical hardships such as having to carry big luggage, not like that. The difficulty of getting up because of feeling tired, feeling it’s hard to get up—that is just a mind conception, and it’s not even as difficult as carrying heavy luggage or something. At those times it is very useful to think like this, extremely useful.

An example of this is when there are distractions to Dharma practice, when we are wasting our life, then think, “From beginningless samsaric lifetimes I have been dedicating my life to creating the cause of suffering.” Like I’m sitting here, but I'm just trying to make clear. “Not just in one of my previous lives, not just in two of my previous lives, but in a great number, in numberless of my previous lifetimes, I have always been dedicating my life to creating the causes of suffering, which I have been experiencing from beginningless lifetimes until now. For example, the sufferings of the naraks, pretas, animals, also the sufferings of the human realm, and the sufferings of the sura and asura realms. I have been experiencing all these sufferings but I cannot dedicate my life [to this anymore.]” So think, “How foolish I am. It’s very silly.”

Actually, all the hardships, all the troubles that we experienced before are wrong. The hardships, the problems that we experienced before are completely wrong, always wrong, always for suffering. For suffering we surmount the difficulties. To create the cause of suffering we surmount difficulties, we experience hardship, we dedicate our life to this. Usually like this. We never dedicate our life, we never surmount the difficulties for practicing Dharma. This is what we ordinary sentient beings usually do. Even if we know a little Dharma, this is very true.

Then think: “To practice Dharma, it doesn't matter how difficult it is. It doesn't matter how much suffering has to be experienced in order to achieve the Dharma practice.”

Why doesn't it matter? Even if we have to experience hardships for practicing Dharma throughout our whole life, still it is nothing. Still it is nothing, still it is nothing. For instance, our sleeping time is just one good example. There are problems when we practice Dharma, when we make retreat or practice Dharma, doing something like this. There's the problem of food; something is not right, it’s not desirable food. There are many things, uncomfortable things that are not desirable according to attachment and which bring conflict in the mind. I don't mean you have to eat poison or you have to eat stones! You should not understand in that way. Even though generally there are all kinds of practices and techniques which have to be done according to the level of your mind. However it doesn't mean that way, it should not understand in that kind of silly way.

Generally there are things like this but it's OK, it doesn't bother your body, actually. It's not desirable food but it doesn't bother your health; if you eat that it doesn't bother you, it doesn't cause death. Even though it is OK for the body it is just not desirable, it's not what you like. So this kind of mind conception becomes a big confusion, a big problem to the mind, a big problem for you, a big disturbance and a big hindrance to the Dharma practice. Anyway, there are many other examples, many other uncomfortable things, many other things that our mind makes difficult.

In between the meditation times you feel a little bit tired, and because you feel a little tired you give up the meditation. There are many other things. Even if it is not so big a problem, your mind exaggerates it into a big problem. Then you give up because of attachment. The evil thought of the worldly dharmas wants to make an excuse, it doesn't want you to meditate, it doesn't want to allow you to meditate because if you meditate it bothers the attachment. When there's that problem, it's very easy to lose your Dharma practice, very easy to not continue your Dharma practice. So therefore during those times you need great understanding, during those times your mind has to be very strong. Your mind has to become strong to control these things.

Therefore, thinking of techniques such as these, thinking like this is extremely useful, extremely useful. For the Dharma practice, even for many lifetimes we have to think like this. However I think we have little minds and if I talk too much there's a risk we will explode! Anyway it’s like this: for our Dharma practice, even if we have to spend many lifetimes and in each lifetime our body is cut into pieces, even if we have to suffer that much for Dharma practice, still it is nothing. Nothing.

Why still nothing? Why still nothing?

There are two reasons. Because even if we have to experience suffering for the Dharma practice, once we have achieved the Dharma practice we receive enlightenment and all the suffering which has been experienced from beginningless lifetimes is finished. It is all completely finished. There's nothing to come up, nothing to experience, not one tiny single thing left. This is the great profit. This is one of the reasons why it is worthwhile, however much we have to experience suffering for Dharma, for the Dharma practice, because Dharma practice has an end. All the beginningless suffering that we have had from beginningless lifetimes is because of not practicing Dharma, therefore it is not still finished, still we are experiencing it, still we are involved.

So thinking about these two things, “From beginningless lifetimes we have been dedicating, sacrificing our lives to suffer and to create the cause of suffering. However, by bearing the difficulties to practice Dharma we will finish quickly the whole suffering and receive enlightenment.” Thinking of these two things is very useful to stop the laziness, to control those distractions to Dharma practice.

Then, the usefulness. I think you have some idea as we have talked about this so it doesn't have to be repeated. This outline, “How should we make our perfect human rebirth highly useful?” Actually this title “how to make it meaningful” is just made in this book but is not according to the outline of the graduated path. We don't have to follow the outlines but this technique, this way to think, is very helpful for the mind.

The reason why the expeditions and things like that happen is because many tourists come from the West to the mountains near Everest in Nepal. Many times they come to make expedition, to do a trek. So many people die on the mountains, not only the Westerners but also the country people, the Sherpa people, the mountain people. They go as porters, carrying luggage. In that country, carrying luggage for the tourists is the main business to bring money into the home to make the family rich. Think of similar actions, like this example, which put the life in great danger but don't have any essence and yet we completely dedicate our lives and make sacrifices for such things.

The main aim in coming there is, for instance, to get a title or a name, to have a good reputation in their countries, in the world. Thereby perhaps they get maybe baksheesh or money by receiving such a reputation in their country, from the government or something. That is the only thing, the only aim. It's nothing to do with other lives, it's nothing to do with the future life, it's nothing to do with enlightenment, nothing to do with ultimate happiness. It’s just that thing, which is only to do with this life. And for this reason they have such incredible expenses, such as buying things in the West, buying all the clothes, all the food, everything, so much expense.

Then they come and on the way they meet so many expenses for such a small goal. Then they come up the mountain. If the whole trip was very comfortable, if there wasn’t any difficulty at all, that is something else, but there are many difficulties, many costs of having this reputation. Again pride comes. Even if they use the money to do some positive action, maybe that is again something else, but still that's nothing. And that reputation is maybe just for a few years. If it lasted for a hundred years or for two hundred or three hundred years, then they would be existing and enjoying the reputation, but it's not like this. There's no choice. After one, two or three years, then shortly, quickly comes the time of death. Since the whole thing is done with attachment, the life doesn't have one single essence—it’s completely empty. All the problems that have been experienced are for nothing. Like this there are many other examples.

As the perfect human rebirth is so highly useful and extremely difficult to receive again, for these reasons, if we can also make the normal daily life actions into Dharma actions—even just actions such as eating and sleeping—if we can make them virtuous then it makes the life meaningful, it makes the life rich. We have created some good karma during the day even though we didn't purposely arrange some action to create good karma, some kind of specific thing. We don't have to think like that to create good karma: “Now, today, this time I'm hoping to create good karma,” then doing some kind of special arrangement. We don't have to think in such a way; we don't have to do like that. Our normal actions, whatever we do, if we can do them purely, positively, with Dharma understanding and thought, with wisdom, then the whole thing becomes virtuous and makes the life meaningful. That itself becomes beneficial. Also it depends on our motivation, how wide and pure our motivation is.

One thing we can do is this: because we eat many times—two or three times a day— we eat in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. Then we drink many times. So actually if we can make all these actions virtuous, positive Dharma actions, then because we eat every day—we don't have to worry about not eating or not drinking, that is no trouble—then automatically we create good karma; it easily happens. As we eat and drink every day, so every day we have created that much good karma, profit. By that much the life has been made meaningful, even with normal actions. In this way it is easy, because we have to eat and we have to drink; we cannot stand being without it. So at that time if we can be careful, if at that time we can be really careful with ourselves and with our mind be aware; if we can be really careful all the time, then the action really becomes good karma. We don't have to purposely arrange it, we don't have to make special preparation or arrangements to create good karma.

At other times, without relating to daily life actions, at specific times to do something especially, like maybe making meditation or doing some prostrations, making offerings or something is difficult, difficult. To do something like this purposely with our time—something which doesn't relate to our daily actions of sleeping, eating and these things—is difficult because it doesn't relate to our daily life actions. These other things are specific, so the mind finds it very hard to start; the mind feels sort of tired. Even to start is very difficult. Like this. So while we are eating or drinking, which we do every day, at those times, if we can take care of our mind, I think that is very useful.

When we are eating we can do like this. Generally, there are so many visualizations; there are so many different ways to make meditation according to our practice. There are so many different techniques. Also in tantra there are very profound ways to make meditation with the daily life actions of eating and these things. There are specific, very profound techniques, many different techniques. However the simple thing, the very simple thing which we can do is greatly, infinitely beneficial.

At the beginning the most important thing is the motivation, as I often talked about. We can think about this without it being complicated. At the very beginning it is more useful to check our mind. We can start the motivation right away and then eat, but sometimes it just becomes intellectual, like we are reading or like a tape recorder. It just becomes intellectual, with no feeling, nothing, like a Tibetan man repeating the English language, repeating the motivation in English language without understanding the meaning of that. Sort of like that.

First of all, check your mind. How do you feel about the food? What kind of mind is there? Then if there is attachment, think: “Oh, I have attachment; this mind with which I eat this food is attachment. I should not have attachment, the evil thought of the worldly dharmas; I should not have this. I should not eat with this thought, creating negative karma, which causes me to be born in the preta realm, therefore I should not eat with attachment. Then also I should not eat with a selfish motivation.” There are many ways to think but I think they are complicated, so just think, “Why should I have a selfish motivation? This pleasure, which I receive by eating this food and all these things, is received by me due to the kindness of the sentient beings. It is received only from the kindness of all the sentient beings.”

If you think like this, the selfish motivation goes down, it doesn't become so strong. If you think of the kindness of sentient beings like this, then the thought comes, you want to do something to repay their kindness and you feel guilty about eating this food just for yourself, you feel a little guilty. When you think like this, the thought comes to do something to repay the kindness or to do something for sentient beings. It comes. So it’s easy to dedicate the action of eating for sentient beings—we receive the pleasure, the food and these things, only by depending on the kindness of all sentient beings.

Then think, “In order to receive enlightenment only for the sake of the mother sentient beings, I'm going to make this offering. I'm going to offer this food to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. I’m going to dedicate and also make charity with this food to all sentient beings!”

Then you visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in your heart here, radiating light, in blissful nature, in blissful nature radiating light. Then at the heart of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, as you visualize, you recite the mantra and purify sentient beings, sending beams from the mantra. Also visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha here at your heart, the lotus, moon disc and in the center the letter om, same thing. Then on the edge of the moon you visualize all sentient beings. You can visualize them in the form of human beings, like many people. “This food belongs to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and to sentient beings. It's theirs, not mine.”

When you have such as this feeling, when you have dedicated that it completely belongs to them, then the idea of your offering, your charity to sentient beings, also becomes stronger, becomes easier. When you think, “This is mine, it belongs to me; only my share,” then the idea involves self and gets possessed by attachment. By deciding completely that it belongs to them, it completely belongs to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all sentient beings, there are prayers which can be said. Then there's also a prayer to make the offering. It's very useful to say the prayer (grace) before offering.

While you are eating, also be conscious: “I am offering to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and making charity to sentient beings.” Then each of your actions, no matter how much you take with your spoon from the plate, that many actions become virtuous and Dharma actions, especially if they are possessed by the pure thought of bodhicitta, that motivation. It has great benefit because you are doing each of these actions.

As you dedicate your actions for sentient beings, to receive enlightenment only for sentient beings, each time you are eating you are making offering to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and making charity of these actions, so it benefits all sentient beings. The benefits of the action cover all sentient beings. However many sentient beings, there are that many benefits. So if you do this practice with strong motivation, the pure thought of bodhicitta, it has incredible benefits. Each of these actions has incredible benefits, unbelievable benefits. It becomes great purification.

While we are eating we can be conscious and when we finish the food, then that is fantastic! We have made our life highly meaningful if we can do that much. Then the more food we have on our plate, the more good karma we collect. So it’s better to have as much as possible, if the stomach doesn't get pain.

Next Chapter:

Lectures 11 and 12 »