The Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal 1973 (Archive #488)

This book gives an overview of the Mahayana Buddhist path to enlightenment and outlines essential meditations and daily practices. The text was compiled from students’ notes from the second Kopan meditation course, March 1972, and first published for the third Kopan course in the fall of 1972. Over the next two-and-a-half years this version was revised several times by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Nicholas Ribush for the various Kopan courses held during that period. An edition of the 1975 final edit was published by FPMT in 2016 and is available for download as a free PDF.

Meditation Five: The Seven Techniques of Mahayana Cause and Effect (Part I)

THE SEVEN TECHNIQUES OF MAHAYANIC CAUSE AND EFFECT (PART 1)

  1. How Are All Sentient Beings My Mother?
    That all sentient beings have been my mother is shown by:
    1. Scriptural authority
      Nagarjuna said:
      If we divided this Earth into pieces the size of juniper berries, the number of these would not be as great as the number of times that each sentient being has been our mother.
       
    2. Logical reasons
      1. Because of beginningless mind, samsaric transmigration is beginningless and my previous lives are numberless. But, due to different individual karmas, my present mother has not been my mother in all previous lives.
        For instance, when this mother was an elephant I was an ant, born from a mother ant; when I was a yak, she was a flea; and so on.
      2. However, the mother of my present, human life has been my human mother numberless times.
        She has also been my mother when we were turkeys, hens, cows, etc., countless times each.
      3. Of all the realms of samsara, there is none in which I was never born. I have been born in every single place throughout the entire extension of space.
        Each and every physical form in existence, even the most ugly and miserable of all, seen or not seen by me, I have taken innumerable times.
      4. Finally, the time when sentient beings began to be mother does not exist. Such a time is not the object of even the Omniscient Mind of Enlightened Beings, so it cannot be that of the limited minds of ordinary beings.
        What is true, as above, for my present mother is also true for all other sentient beings.
  2. Remembering The Kindness Of All Mother Sentient Beings
    Even worldly people are grateful for the kindness of the mother, which extends from conception until death.

    My mother’s kindness is responsible for all the opportunities I have, of making use of my physical body and of leading the sort of life that I do. If she hadn’t taken care of me when I was in the womb, I wouldn’t have been born alive. If she hadn’t fed me well afterwards, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the various functions of my physical body, such as using

    • my eyes to see the most beautiful objects,
    • my ears to hear the most beautiful sounds,
    • my nose to smell the sweetest perfumes,
    • my tongue to enjoy the most delicious tastes, or
    • my body to enjoy sexual love, and have many children.

     

    Also, becoming rich by working with my body, speech or mind, and being skilful and creative with my hands; all this depends on my mother’s kindness. My mother always took good care of me, feeding me properly, protecting me from many dangers, directing my life, and making me study so that I could have a comfortable life and good reputation.

    From the time of my conception she has been worried and concerned about me. When I was in the womb she worried day and night, didn’t move as freely as before, and always took more care of me than of herself, because of the great love and compassion she had for her baby. She took much care in eating—renouncing desirable food, and eating only that which would not give me harm, avoiding foods that were too hot and too cold, etc.

    At the time of my birth, she bore the extreme suffering of feeling as if her body were about to split apart, and had fear that her life was in danger. If my mother hadn’t wanted to bear the suffering of childbirth, I wouldn’t have been born.

    When I was a baby, in spite of disgust, she always kept me clean of ka-ka, pi-pi, snot, etc. She always tried to keep me warm and protected, and gave me the best clothes and food that she could. She would also keep the best part of her own food and other enjoyments for me.

    My mother told lies to give me a good reputation, and to hide my faults and bad behaviour. To protect me from danger she fought or did anything possible to help, taking more care of me than of herself.

    In all, my parents took great care of my life with much suffering, creating bad karma by making other beings suffer so that I would be happy.

    Moreover, because my present mother has been my mother in countless human lives, she has been infinitely kind to me since time without beginning.

    Nagarjuna said:
    The amount of milk we have drunk from the one mother is greater than the amount of water in the oceans.

    If all the milk I have ever received from my mother could be collected, it would fill infinite space, and I could continue to drink it in future lives. Similarly, the food received from her is as infinite as space, and all my past ka-kas and pi-pis, the result of that food, would fill an infinite, immense extension. So would the clothes she gave me, the immense ocean of tears she shed out of worry for me, and the numberless bodies she sacrificed to protect my life.

    Besides the kindnesses she gave me as a human, there are those she gave as all different beings.

    I have received exactly the same amount of benefits from each sentient being. Therefore, as my present mother has been infinitely kind to me, so has every other sentient being.

  3. Repaying All Mother Sentient Beings For Their Kindness
    Receiving Bodhicitta depends on having Great Compassion. This depends on Great Love, which comes from the unselfish love that sees only beauty. This can be easily achieved by considering sentient beings as mother and remembering their kindness to me. This is done because living beings cherish, of the two parents, their mother more than their father.

     

    Even worldly people feel the responsibility of repaying help received from their mother or from other people, even if this help is in small, insignificant things. For instance, this help may be in satisfying my desires, by giving invitations to parties, food, or sups of tea, or by saying one or two sweet, empty words, pleasing to my ears. Also, even deeply ignorant animals such as dogs help their master in return for kindness received, so why can’t I do the same?

    Yet, repaying mother sentient beings in their worldly needs is not enough nor is it the best way, because it can’t extinguish their suffering or its cause.

    The best method of repayment is by helping them with the true realisation of Dharma, because this helps them to stop all interrupting mind, and so to receive Enlightenment.

PRAYER TO BE SAID AFTER THE THIRD TECHNIQUE (during Meditation Five)
From the Profound Tantric Text, Guru Puja

With this prayer visualise:

Guru Shakyamuni, surrounded by Vajradhara, the Infinite Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhants, Dakas and Dakinis, many other Tantric Deities, the Protecting Deities, and all the Holy Gurus in the direct and indirect Lineage of the Teachings, sending much light to me and to all sentient beings, who are visualised as surrounding me.

This light is absorbed into me and into all sentient beings, purifying all negativities and obscurations and bringing all Knowledge—especially the Knowledge that all sentient beings are my mother, all have been constantly kind to me, and all are in great suffering.

NYAM.T’AG DRO.WA DI.KÜN DAG.G’I.MA
tormented living beings this all my mother
YANG.YANG DR’IN.GY’I KYANG.PÄ TSÜL.SAM.NÄ
again and again have been kind how thinking by
DUG.PÄ B’U.LA TZE.WÄ MA.ZHIN.D’U
beautiful beloved boy of compassion mother as
CHÖ.MIN NYING.JE KYE.WAR J’IN.GY’I.LOB
effortless compassion to generate please bless

(Please bless me to generate true effortless compassion, such as a mother has for her beloved, beautiful boy, by thinking that all living beings are equally tormented, and that all are my mother, and have been constantly kind to me.)

After this prayer, complete the visualisation as described on pp. 16-18 and dedicate the merits with the prayer on the last page.

After all this, I should check up in my mind to see if I am still harbouring thoughts of self-attachment and self-cherishing, which are my worst enemy.

If so, I should apply the following solution, with deep feeling.

  1. Equalising Oneself With Others
    Shantideva said:
    The practice of equalising oneself with others is a Holy and mystical practice.

     

    How is this?

    The greatly courageous mind takes on the suffering of others by taking more care of others than of itself and gives its own happiness and merits to others.

    The importance of this Teaching is not grasped by those of lower understanding, and it is difficult for them to rejoice at this action. Therefore, this practice is recognised as Holy and mystical.

    Guru Tzong.k’a.pa said:
    Even the breath running in and out can become a great method of helping other beings—by making them receive the highest, most magnificent state, obtained through the practice of a Bodhisattva’s deeds, characterised by Bodhicitta: taking more care of others than of oneself.

    I should equalise myself with others because we are equal in fact: all sentient beings, myself included, desire happiness and dislike suffering.

    Shantideva said:
    We should primarily train ourselves in the practice of equalising oneself with others.

    As all beings are equal in happiness and suffering, they should be protected as oneself.

    There are many parts of the body, yet they protect each other from suffering, equally. Similarly, although the suffering of other beings is separate to me, we are all equal in desiring happiness. The action of curing the suffering of others should have no expectations, just as I don’t expect to receive anything by curing my own suffering.

    Therefore, as there is no reason to cherish myself more than others, I should take more care of others than of myself.

    By deeply thinking of the numberless shortcomings of cherishing myself, and the numberless benefits of cherishing others, I can raise the greatly courageous thought: thinking of curing the suffering of all other beings by feeling even their smallest suffering as unbearable, and not being upset even by the thought of suffering all their sufferings.

PRAYER TO BE SAID AFTER MEDITATION FIVE
From the Profound Tantric Text, Guru Puja

With this prayer visualise:

Guru Shakyamuni, surrounded by Vajradhara, the Infinite Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhants, Dakas and Dakinis, many other Tantric Deities, the Protecting Deities, and all the Holy Gurus in the direct and indirect Lineage of the Teachings, sending much light to me and to all sentient beings, who are visualised as surrounding me.

This light is absorbed into me and into all sentient beings, purifying all negativities and obscurations and bringing all Knowledge—especially the Knowledge of my sameness with others, dispelling all haughty thoughts.

DOR.NA J’I.PA RANG.D’ÖN K’O.NA.D’ANG
in brief little child self interest solely and
T’UB.WANG ZHÄN.D’ÖN BA.ZHIG DZÄ.PA.YI
mighty power others interest only he does
KYÖN.D’ANG YÖN.TÄN YE.WA TOG.PÄ.LÖ
defect and good quality distinction understand by mind
DAG.ZHÄN NYAM.JE NÜ.PAR J’IN.GY’I.LOB
others equalise be able please bless

(Please bless me to be able to change myself into others and to equalise myself with them, by thinking of the benefits and shortcomings of the following actions: The Buddha works only for others; the limited-minded child works only for himself.)

After this prayer, complete the visualisation as described on pp. 16-18 and dedicate the merits with the prayer on the last page.