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 Three: The Sufferings of Samsara

THE GENERAL SUFFERINGS OF SAMSARA
Even if born in the upper realms, we still suffer in samsara, the suffering of bondage and its cause, caught in the circle of the twelve dependent links.

Shantideva said:
One will only come up again and again in the happy realms, enjoy samsaric pleasures with greed, and then suffer for infinite times after the death of this all.

Using our present rebirth only to enjoy samsaric pleasures is being like a dumb animal that eats the grass at the edge of a cliff, in constant danger of falling off.

Previous yogis have greatly emphasised the necessity of attempting to subdue our mind well in a secluded place, seeing with dauntless renouncing mind that samsara is full only of catastrophe and suffering. Some beings of limited wisdom think that staying in a secluded place to think about the shortcomings of samsara with a renounced mind is a Hinayana practice. They think that this is not the Mahayana way because Mahayanists are supposed to work for other beings, and cannot do so by remaining in solitude, avoiding contact with the masses in the city. This is childish thinking, showing neither taste for nor any idea of Mahayana practice. It is not like that, for Bodhisattvas need greater aversion to samsara than those who follow the lesser vehicle. The Hinayanist meditates on the shortcomings of samsara and avoids delusions only for his own Liberation; the Bodhisattva has to realise the total shortcomings of samsara and use many methods to get rid of them with great compassion, which arises from remembering the sentient beings wandering in samsara. The Bodhisattva needs a hundred thousand times greater aversion to samsara than the Hinayanist, who follows the path for the sake of only himself.

Some people of limited understanding think that the Bodhisattva who follows the Paramitayana needs this greater aversion, but that the Bodhisattva who follows the most supreme Tantrayana doesn’t need to achieve aversion to samsara. Those who have such distorted notions only show the nature of their ignorance—the complete lack of knowledge of the purpose for following the Vajrayana Path—and are as foolish as those who could try to pluck fruit from thin air, not understanding the nature of seeds and stems.

Without achieving understanding of suffering, the doors to Vajrayana, Paramitayana and even Hinayana are closed. It is as hopeless as trying to get into the inner court of the king’s palace when one hasn’t even a visa for the country, let alone the other necessary credentials. This only causes oneself confusion. There has never been even one Bodhisattva who entered the Vajrayana Path without having depended upon receiving full aversion to samsara.

Only one with an egocentric mind would try to practise the Mahamudra without the practice of renunciation or understanding the nature of samsara. This would be like eating poisonous honey without knowing that it is poisonous.

Beings who have the Wisdom Eye should be careful that they understand the right way to practise. It is absolutely essential that yogis following the most supreme Tantrayana develop strong renunciation of samsara through strongly and extensively meditating on its sufferings.

One of the greatest Indian Yogic Tantric practitioners, Lu.yi.pa, was instructed by the Vajrayogini—a female aspect of the Buddha – to give up the temporal life and to make the dauntless effort to arouse strong aversion to samsara, for this is an absolute necessity for those who wish to practise Tantricism. According to the Vajrayogini’s instruction, Lu.yi.pa went to a solitary place and through much austere practice received Siddhi. Because of their single-pointed practice in solitary places constellations of yogis have received Siddhi. The great yogis have said in their Tantric Teachings that even the power and possessions of a king have to be meditated on as suffering.

Having the fully-knowing Mind, the great Guru Tzong.k’a.pa said in the prayer of the Tantric Deity, Heruka:
Living beings travel on the right path by having full unshakeable belief in it, thinking deeply on the perfect human rebirth: its meaningfulness, rarity and perishability; on the suffering of the lower realms; on karma; and on the Refuge guiding them.

WHAT IS NIRVANA?
The complete release from samsara—the formation of true suffering and its cause—is Nirvana. To receive Nirvana we must have

  1. effortless, energetic inspiration. This arises from
  2. strong, effortless renunciation of samsara. This arises from
  3. strong aversion to samsara, which depends on
  4. deep, clear insight into the true nature of samsara.

Sha.kya.wa said:
The experienced, learned ones fear the upper realms as they do the narak. It is so rare for beings to fear any of the realms of samsara.

Every past realised Indian pandit and Tibetan ascetic Lama was released from samsara by truly seeing the whole of samsara in its suffering nature, like a blaze of fire with no real pleasure wherever we go. For them the mind renouncing samsara generates the energy to become Enlightened and work for all sentient beings until samsara ends.

Furthermore, this fully renouncing mind is most important because all the past Buddhas’ Enlightenment was received through renunciation. Subsequently, galaxies of numberless Indian pandits, their disciples and Tibetan monks and ascetics became Enlightened in their lifetimes through a pure, renounced mind. They taught all their experienced methods to their disciples, so the experiences have not been lost. This is why Tibetan monks still have the opportunity to achieve real experiences by developing their minds. Modern Europeans who are fortunate enough to study the Teachings can emulate these meditators and also achieve these experiences. Therefore, we have this present chance and it arose from all the original renounced minds, which have come inexhaustably to us. So, if we really achieve fully renounced mind, it helps in a limitless way for the numberless living beings, until samsara ends.

What has been stopping us from achieving the limitlessly valuable renounced mind? It is the ignorance that uncontrollably sees samsaric enjoyments as happiness. We wallow in the quagmire of samsara, believing completely that it is beautiful, yet hope to receive Enlightenment—an Enlightenment that no-one has ever received— achieving only suffering as shown by our Gurus: greed and ignorance.

For all those ancient Indian pandits and ascetics, the best everlasting psychiatry in the power of the mind was full renunciation. We can prove it for ourselves by living that experience, but it comes only from pure practice and understanding how samsaric nature is truly in the nature of suffering. That is why Guru Shakyamuni showed us the four Noble Truths.

 

The Teaching Of The Fully Enlightened One

     
     
     
     

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

  1. True Suffering
  2. True Cause Of Suffering
    Has four aspects
    (True realisations) Wrong conceptions
    1. Being the cause because it is delusion and karma.
    That there is no cause of (reason for) suffering.
    1. Being all-arising because it produces frequent suffering.
    That suffering arises from one cause only (and not from co-operative causes).
    1. Being strongly arising because it strongly brings the result of suffering.
    That suffering is created by God, i.e., some other being.
    1. Being co-operative causes because it is these that bring about the different sufferings.
    That suffering is momentarily impermanent though its nature is being permanent.
  3. True Cessation Of Suffering
    (True realisations) Wrong conceptions
    1. Being cessation because it is not tied by delusion and karma (Ching.pa, tied).
    That there is no Liberation (Tar.pa, release).
    1. Being peace because it is not tied by delusion.
    That any phenomena arising from delusion are peace.
    1. Being perfection because it is not tied, and in the nature of happiness and panacea.
    That some delusions are perfect.
    1. Being definite removal because it unties from the suffering arising again.
    That suffering arises again after being removed once.
  4. True Path Of Cessation
    Has four aspects
    (True realisations) Wrong conceptions
    1. Being the path because the rightseeing path fully sees the non-selfness.
    That there is no path to Liberation.
    1. Being Wisdom because the path goes against the delusions.
    That the Wisdom of fully realizing non-selfness is not the path to Liberation.
    1. Being attainment because it is fully attained through fully realising the nature of the path.
    That attainment in meditations, such as ordinary Samadhi meditation or Chakra meditation, without full renunciation of samsara is the path to Liberation.
    1. Being the definite remover because it eradicates the whole of delusion.
    That there is no path to complete cessation of suffering.

THE THREE UPPER REALMS OF SUFFERING

  1. Human
    There are sufferings in the human realms as well as in the others. The beggar and the rich man alike have problems: mental and physical. There are problems of families, societies and countries. The king and the populace have their problems. No matter how I try to solve them, problems always remain.
  2. Asura (Lha.ma.yin)
    In this realm too, there is always the suffering of fighting and discord resulting from jealousy. The Asuras are mischievous gods.
    There is no way for them to perceive the Absolute Truth.
  3. Sura (Lha)
    Gods of the senses
    These have three kinds of suffering:
    1. They are usually reborn in the three lower realms, and have the karmic power to see their realm of rebirth for seven days prior to death. During this time they undergo the five signs of death.
      All this causes incredible suffering.
    2. Embarrassment at not having as many possessions as other gods.
    3. Being killed or injured by many different sorts of weapons; they are always fighting.

    They can be banished to the Asura realm.
    Gods of form and formlessness
    These gods have many distractions, such as being unconscious for many eons. They have no control over the length of time they spend in their realm.
    Therefore, the whole of samsara is really like a blazing inferno, and it is not definite that I shall not be born in one of these suffering realms.

THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH: TRUE SUFFERING
Suffering can be clearly understood by considering the following three methods of classification.

  1. The Eight Sufferings
    1. The suffering of rebirth
      1. The suffering of the birth.
        Beings born in the narak, as a constantly suffering preta, or from the egg and the womb are all born with much heavy suffering.
        P’ag.pa.tog.me said:
        The Rebirths of all other beings are the same, even my upper rebirth. We are all born with suffering.
      2. The suffering of rebirth into wickedness (depravity).
        From the seed of ignorance springs the rebirth, giving delusion its birth, its existence and its increase. Hence it is difficult to use the life for virtuous work or to control the suffering as desired.
      3. The suffering of rebirth into a suffering realm.
        Rebirth into the worlds of the senses, of form or of formlessness inevitably brings the sufferings of old age, sickness and death.
      4. The suffering of rebirth into a deluded place.
        In samsara the negative minds of greed, hatred and ignorance manifest in relation to objects of beauty, ugliness and indifference respectively. As these negative minds arise, the body and mind become unsubdued and experience suffering.
      5. The suffering of separation.
        From the moment of rebirth the life goes towards the inevitable karmic death. This totally unwanted event brings suffering to the uncontrolled mind and body; instead of release from suffering, death only brings more.

      Rebirth in the womb
      Nagarjuna said:
      All over one is encased by an extremely horrible odour. It is dirty, clouded and very dark. The whole body is compressed and one suffers greatly by living in the womb.
      The womb is full of thick fluid, secretions and excretions, filthy odours, and innumerable subtle germs. It is narrow, with many ridges and irregularities.
      The baby usually faces backwards, towards the ka-ka of the mother’s food, spit and so on. Above the baby are the mother’s intestines, containing old food, bile, etc. Hence, the baby feels all kinds of filthy dark things going up and down and its body suffers from things eaten—acid and sour foods, hot and cold liquids, spicy or heavy food, much food or a little, rough or greasy food, and sweets.
      The baby is nourished by unclean liquid and feels as if in a hot quagmire of filth. The heat of the mother gives suffering to the baby’s body, and it feels extremely hot, as if burnt or in a pit of coals.
      When the mother moves the baby suffers: running, jumping, sitting, or in sexual intercourse. It feels pain when the mother is near a fire or wears tight clothing. Even its own posture makes it feel as if there were a stick running through its body.
      There is great suffering during and soon after birth. At the time of leaving the womb, due to karmic air, its head is pushed down, its legs up, and its arms inwards; the hip bones are compressed towards each other. As a large object forced with difficulty through a too small and grudgingly yielding opening, the body feels like a raw wound, and turns blue.
      It is born covered with partly dried and sticky secretions and excretions. The lips and throat and heart are dry. The contact of the skin with the outside atmosphere feels like that with very rough plants; the touch of the hand and cloth are like that of a sword. Held in the lap, the baby feels the suffering of a cow with its skin peeled off, being eaten by other animals.
      A baby cries because it is suffering. But I see it only from my side, my vision and feelings, and don’t consider the other.
       

    2. The suffering of old age
      1. Decaying.
        The beautiful-looking body becomes increasingly decrepit with each passing year, and loses its strength in a very short time.
      2. Losing the power of the senses.
        E.g., not being able to see clearly or hear distinctly.
      3. losing enjoyments.
        Not finding satisfaction with objects or material pleasures, such as impaired digestion causing loss of enjoyment of favourite foods.
      4. Losing the power of the mind.
        Forgetting names, places, ideas and so on.
      5. Worrying about life shortening and death approaching.

      All in all, old age is like a very rotten orange, with no beauty without or within. It is full of worms, and has such a taste of sorrow.
      It is easy to see how old people are. And looking old is such a big problem in the West, a bigger problem than other big problems.
      I should visualise several old men and women, putting myself in their place, and check up, suffering the sicknesses, the physical changes, and the pain of being unable to enjoy beautiful objects to which I am attached, and having to accept and use undesirable foods, treatments and medicines. And having so much worry of death; when it comes there is the great suffering of separation from the body, relatives, friends and desirable enjoyments.
       

    3. The suffering of sickness
       
    4. The suffering of death
      It is extremely important to make repeated observations on the sufferings of birth and death.
       
    5. The suffering of release from beautiful objects and attachments
      Separation and fear of separation from loved ones, enjoyments and possessions causes suffering during the whole life and at its end.
       
    6. The suffering of encounters with ugly (disagreeable) objects
      Suffering arises by contact with an enemy, having a catastrophe or involvement in problem situations.
       
    7. The suffering of not obtaining desirable objects
      There is suffering from not finding what is sought or from not obtaining satisfaction in any enjoyments.
      The whole problem arises from the three principal negative minds, their objects, and the three resulting feelings.
      1. Greed: beautiful object: happiness
      2. Hatred: ugly (disagreeable) object: suffering
      3. Ignorance: indifferent object: indifference.
    8. The suffering of this body created by delusion and karma
      1. Taking this deluded body causes suffering even in future lives.
      2. Because of the existence of this new formation, all the present life sufferings, old age and death arise.
      3. Suffering of suffering and
      4. Changeable suffering—both arise because the body is controlled by delusion and karma.
      5. Pervading suffering, the suffering of conditioned existence, exists merely because the body exists. I am born in the nature of suffering— I decay and perish.

    How to stop the three negative feelings
    An instant, powerful method, like fire, to destroy the negative minds of greed, ignorance and hatred and their objects, is the Enlightened One’s method to bring inner and outer peace, the well-subdued mind. But Guru Shakyamuni’s experienced solution is ineffective if we do not live in the right practice.
    Living in the right practice generates much faith, understanding and energy, leading to control, and these are the sublime qualities of his Teachings.
    Päl.dän.ch’ö.dr’ag said:
    Ordinary beings are always attached to the self-entity “I,” saying “I, I, I,” causing them to be attached to desirable objects. That attachment obscures the faults of ignorance.
    As the conception of the self is the source of all samsaric problems, immediately a problem arises, the mind should be brought inside, away from distractions, and made to check up on the “I.’’
    So, when the problems arise, there are several methods for dealing with them:

    1. We should try to see the “I” as a non-self-entity (Rang.gya.t’ub.pä.dzä.yö: self-entity), and the object of the problem in the same way. Also we should try to see the voidness of both “I” and object (Rang.shin.gy’i.tong.pa: voidness (emptied) of self nature).
    2. We should think of the shortcomings of the delusions—greed, ignorance and hatred—and react to these negative minds with feelings, as to a burning fire, remembering that they
      1. cause the sufferings of the six samsaric realms,
      2. prevent my Enlightenment,
      3. prevent my achieving the realisations of Bodhisattvas and Arhants,
      4. distract from full renunciation, Bodhicitta and right view,
      5. have given harm since beginningless time,
      6. will continue to harm and give endless suffering,
      7. do the same thing for all sentient beings, and
      8. are my worst, most dangerous enemy.
    3. We can change the aspect of objects: beauty into ugliness or vice versa.
    4. We should view the object in terms of permanence and impermanence.
    5. A lesser method for moments of uncontrolled mind is to make the mind like stone or a piece of wood.
    6. We can think “the opposite is true, the complete opposite.”

    But, of themselves these words mean nothing. These methods depend on understanding and feeling. It is most important to try to live in the consciousness of these methods.
    To give up this suffering samsara I must fully recognise its cause and let it go.
    For all samsara and the true nature of suffering there are two causes: ignorance (giving rise to delusion and karma) and craving.
    These are causes because they are the root of suffering and are continually arising, bringing the suffering result frequently and strongly.
     

  2. The Six Sufferings
    1. The suffering of the indefinite nature of samsaric pleasures.
      Whatever happiness they bring, it never lasts.
    2. The suffering of dissatisfaction.
      I am constantly striving for more and better samsaric pleasures, not realising that I have experienced each and every one infinite times and am still not content.
    3. The suffering of leaving the body again and again.
      No matter how beautiful my samsaric body, it will have to be given up for another.
    4. The suffering of joining with suffering again and again.
      I have experienced each of the infinite samsaric sufferings infinite times.
    5. The suffering-of rising and falling.
      The result of being higher is to become lower; the result of a collection is its finish; meeting leads to separation; and life is ended by death. Whatever is samsaric in nature brings suffering.
    6. The suffering of being without a helper.
      I cannot share my experience of problems; born alone, alone I die.
  3. The Three Sufferings
    1. Suffering of suffering:
      the pain and discomfort of disease, injury and other physical problems; mental anguish. Even lower beings recognise this sort of suffering.
    2. Changeable suffering:
      all samsaric pleasure is changeable in nature—it does not last and, in time, turns into suffering of suffering. Attachment to samsaric pleasure brings rebirth in the lower realms. Even humans find this suffering difficult to recognise.
    3. Pervading suffering:
      my whole body is in the nature of suffering—there is no part of it that never causes problems. From pervading suffering, the result of delusion and karma, arise from suffering of suffering and changeable suffering, and it is much more difficult to recognise than the others.

THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH: THE TRUE CAUSE OF SUFFERING: THE DELUSIONS

  1. The Six Principal Delusions (Root defilements) (Tza.nyön dr’ug)
    1. Ignorance (Ma.rig.pa)
      This is not understanding the four Noble Truths, the nature of samsara, the law of karma. It is the cause of all delusions.
    2. Greed (Dö.ch’ag)
      This is craving for the world of the senses, for form, and for objects considered to be beautiful in their self-nature.
    3. Anger (K’ong.tr’o)
      This is the opposite to humility and patience. It is the greatest barrier to Liberation and Enlightenment for myself and others.
    4. Pride (Nga.ky’äl)
      1. General pride: I am uplifted by feeling higher than others.
      2. Double pride: I am on the same level as others, yet feel superior to them and extraordinary.
      3. Pride over pride: even in a very special group, I feel the most special of all.
      4. Pride of my consciousness: by regarding the five skandhas as self-I, this delusion arises. Without the five skandhas there would be nothing left of pride, but until I know Shunyata I cannot know who the “I” really is. This is the worst pride and causes those before.
      5. Pride of feeling (perception): I think I have special knowledge, unaware that it is only samsaric knowledge and not Dharma Wisdom.
      6. Equal pride: I feel that I am just as important as a very important person, or only slightly less so, e.g., “I am almost as Enlightened as Guru Shakyamuni.”
      7. Misbelieving pride: I take wrong influences or methods to be correct, e.g., that sexual intercourse is the essential Tantric practice.

      Any knowledge that is not, for Liberation is neither real nor pure Knowledge. I should think of death and the shortcomings of pride. Great pure love stops pride.

    5. Doubt (T’e.tsom)
      Superstitions of two points is the greatest barrier to achieving Liberation. When I fully know the nature of Enlightenment, all doubts will be resolved.
      Nagarjuna said:
      Those who doubt powerfully have the power to realise the Truth, provided they investigate their doubts.
    6. The doctrine of delusion (Ta.wa)
      Ignorant beliefs, or wrong realisations.
      1. Belief that the five skandhas are “I.”
      2. Belief that the “I” ceases.
      3. Heresy—no belief, or not believing that immoral causes bring suffering or that moral causes bring happiness.
      4. Belief that the above three are best for me to believe in.
      5. The wrong conception that the main moral conduct is other than the real one, e.g., belief that the only way to reach Enlightenment is by bathing in a certain river. I cannot clean negativities by washing in water.
  2. The Twenty Secondary (Closer) Delusions (Nye.nyön.nyi.shu)
    1. Tr’o.wa
      Performing and provoking violent actions through anger.
    2. K’ön.dzin
      Bearing a grudge or ill-will for a short or long time.
    3. Tsig.pa
      Speaking harshly or insultingly because of anger or a grudge, causing much pain to others.
    4. Nam.par.tse.wa
      Harming others through carelessness and lack of compassion because of anger.
    5. Tr’ag.d’og
      Envy of others’ perfections and attachment to my own gifts and notoriety. This unhappy, uncontrolled mind is a basis of all other negativities.
    6. Yo
      Attachment to the pleasure of receiving respect and thing, heightening my vices and crooked mind. Arising from greed, ignorance or hatred, it is a cunning, pretending mind—wanting to continue but also hide itself. These vices greatly disturb my achieving perfect happiness.
    7. Gyu
      Because of ignorance and greed, I betray other beings by pretending or saying that I have achieved certain knowledge, although this is not true. It is done to gain reputation and position.
    8. Ngo.tsa.me.pa
      Not forbearing in the senses yet not feeling shame. Part of the three poisonous minds, it increases principal and secondary delusions, and causes many others.
    9. Dr’el.me.pa
      Not performing virtuous actions, neither caring nor feeling shame. Also part of the three poisonous minds, it increases principal and secondary delusions and causes many others.
    10. Ch’ab.pa
      Not wanting to follow Dharma instructions given by another. I hide my defilements and confess them neither to myself nor to others.
    11. Ser.na
      Miserliness; being tightly attached because of greed. The remedy is charity.
    12. Gyag.pa
      Attachment to the physical perfection of my body and to being without sicknesses. There is arrogance arising from my attachment; the basis of other deluded minds.
    13. Ma.d’ä.pa
      Neither believing nor having faith in the right objects, which is ignorance in Dharma practice and causes laziness.
    14. Le.lo
      Laziness; enjoyment of temporal happiness but not of virtuous work. Much is lost in the non-performance of virtuous acts, and this is the opposite of energy and perseverance.
    15. Bag.me.pa
      Carelessness in not seriously following the practices, and not following the precepts prohibiting carelessness. The three poisons cause this careless mind, decreasing virtue and increasing nonvirtue.
    16. Je.ngä
      An unclear mind which forgets the object of meditation or the Dharma subject and causes much distraction.
    17. She.zhin.me.pa
      Non-consciousness. A deluded mind, distracting me from consciously following the actions of the three doors of body, speech and mind.
    18. Mug.pa
      A dark ignorant mind, feeling mentally and physically heavy. Not having the control to grasp the object of meditation correctly nor to keep the mind inside. This leads to delusion.
    19. Gö.pa
      Agitation due to greed; uncontrolled interruption of mental quiescence; being caught up by beautiful relative things and distracted by objects.
    20. Nam.yong
      Being distracted by other objects and not keeping one-pointedness of mind on the subject of meditation. Caused by the three poisons.
  3. Four Changeable Mental Actions (Zhän.gyur.zhi)
    These “intermediate dharmas” can be positive or negative. The power of motivation can turn virtue into non-virtue or indifference, and vice versa.
    1. Nyi
      Sleep. The action of the principal mind is absorbed and without control to see or think objects because of the uninterruptedly appearing darkness.
    2. Gyö
      Repentance. The mental action of feeling upset for doing past actions.
    3. Tog.pa
      The mental action of seeking the gross aspect in the object.
    4. Chö.pa
      The mental action of seeking the subtle aspect in the object.

HOW DELUSION AND KARMA BIND US TO SAMSARA, THE WHEEL OF LIFE (Skt., Samsaracakra; Tib., Sib.pe.k’or.lo)
Another way to understand the suffering nature of samsara is to meditate on the gradual evolution of the twelve dependent links, as Guru Shakyamuni showed. This is represented by the symbolic drawing of the wheel of life, also called the circle of the twelve dependent originations (Skt., Pratitya samutpada; Tib., Ten.drel. chu.nyi). It is held in the mouth of the Lord of Death, showing how all beings who live in the six realms of samsara are controlled by impermanence and death. The wheel is also supported by his hands and feet, symbolising how these beings are trapped by true suffering and the true cause of suffering—delusion and karma.

I and most other sentient beings are suffering in this circle of interdependent origination. Its root is ignorance, which is the complete opposite of the Dharma Wisdom that perceives the Absolute reality.

  1. Ignorance (Ma.rig.pa)
    The blind man shown on the wheel of life symbolises the ignorant person, who does not see where he is going, where he will be reborn, what he has suffered or what he will suffer in rebirth. Ignorance is the cause of the 84,000 delusions.
    There are two kinds of ignorance:
    1. Ignorance of Absolute Truth, which binds me more strongly to samsara. The main purpose of all the Teachings of Guru Shakyamuni is to remove ignorance by realisation of the Absolute Truth, just as the main purpose of medicine is to remove sickness.
    2. Ignorance of karma arises from ignorance of Absolute Truth; it causes rebirth in the three lower realms.
  2. Karmic formation (Du.j’e.kyi.lä)
    Ignorance generates karmic formation.
    This is symbolised by a man producing clay pots. Just as a clay pot can be fashioned into many sizes and shapes, so does the creation of different karmas bring different results.
    Karma may be meritorious, demeritorious or indifferent.
     
  3. Consciousness (Nam.she)
    Karmic formation generates consciousness.
    This is symbolised by a monkey with fruit in its hand, swinging from tree to tree, to show that consciousness, bearing karmic impressions, joins past to present and present to future. The monkey is uncontrolled, impure, because its outlook depends on its position in the tree, just as my consciousness depends on karma.
    Consciousness is the mind, which perceives the different aspects of objects.
    There are six kinds of consciousness: those of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind.
     
  4. Name and form (Ming.zug)
    Consciousness generates name (mind) and form (body).
    This is symbolised by a man rowing a boat, and shows that to do so, many conditions such as the boat, the oars-man, the ocean, etc., are necessary. Similarly, name and form could not exist without the five skandhas (aggregates).
    The skandha of form (Zug.kyi p’ung.po) is the fertilised egg, and the skandhas of feeling (Tsor.wä p’ung.po), of cognition (Du.she kyi p’ung.po), of compounded phenomena (volition) (Du.j’e kyi p’ung.po) and of consciousness (Nam.she p’ung.po), inhabiting the fertilised egg, are the name.
     
  5. Six sense organs (Kye.ch’e.dr’ug)
    Name and form generate the six sense organs.
    This is symbolised by an empty house. From the distance the house looks full and lived in, but it is empty. Similarly, the six sense organs are empty because they are meaningless without an object.
    For the six sense organs there are also six outer objects and six inner sense bases.
     
  6. Contact (Reg.pa)
    Six sense organs generate contact.
    This is symbolised by the contact of a man and a woman, the meeting of sense organs with their objects.
    There are six contacts.
     
  7. Feeling (Tsor.wa)
    Contact generates feeling.
    This is symbolised by a man who, with an arrow in his eye, is suffering because of his contact with an object. Without contact there is no feeling; therefore, if my mind is uncontrolled, I am better off to avoid contact with objects that lead to more greed and further suffering. This is why Guru Shakyamuni, with great compassion, made the rule that one should be well contained and have few possessions.
    There are three kinds of feeling:
    1. suffering,
    2. happiness, and
    3. indifference.
  8. Craving (Se.pa)
    Contact and feeling generate craving.
    This is symbolised by a man drinking wine. Just as this man’s thirst is never satisfied, so the person deluded by greed is never satisfied and craves more things. This greed ruins the present, and many future lives.
    There are three kinds of craving, and all cause suffering:
    1. desiring release from fear and ugly objects,
    2. desiring no release from beautiful objects to which I am attached, and
    3. attachment to the body, fearing loss of the “I” at death.
  9. Grasping (Len.pa)
    Craving generates grasping.
    This is symbolised by a monkey picking fruit from a tree. Having tasted one fruit, he clings to the tree for more and more. Grasping is created by craving and procreates becoming, just as human beings grasp at and cling to their physical bodies. This grasping causes greed, hatred and ignorance, bringing much suffering.
    There are four kinds of grasping, and all cause suffering:
    1. attachment to beauty,
    2. attachment to wrong beliefs or doctrines, such as the belief that karma, and past and future lives are non-existent,
    3. clinging to the wrong conception of the self-existent “I,” and
    4. holding the belief that immoralities, e.g., sacrificing living beings or deriving sexual happiness, are pure methods of receiving Liberation.
  10. Becoming (Si.pa)
    Grasping at the body generates becoming.
    This is symbolised by a pregnant woman. The greater my attachment to the physical body, the sooner will rebirth come. The becoming caused by ignorance is strengthened because craving and grasping conditioned it.
    There are four kinds of becoming, all under the control of delusion and karma:
    1. the becoming of rebirth,
    2. the becoming of death,
    3. the becoming of intermediate, and
    4. the becoming of lifetime.
  11. Rebirth (Kye.wa)
    Becoming generates rebirth.
    This is symbolised by a woman giving birth. The skandhas are determined by delusion and karma, and determine the form of the present rebirth.
    There are four kinds of rebirth:
    1. in the womb,
    2. from an egg,
    3. by heat, and
    4. intuitive, i.e., not needing the bodies of parents.
  12. Old age (Ga.wa) and death (Ch’i.wa)
    Birth usually generates old age.
    This is symbolised by an old man walking with a cane. Becoming old is the result of delusion and karma.
    Birth or old age generate death.
    This is symbolised by a corpse. Death ends the life, and the round of existence circles again.
    I do not desire suffering, so I must stop circling in samsara. To do so I must overcome delusion and karma. Ignorance leads to action, which leaves impressions on the consciousness. The results of those may appear in this lifetime, the next, or in subsequent lives.

The trip of the twelve dependents may be completed in two or three lifetimes. An example follows:

  1. In this lifetime I ignorantly create the karma for rebirth as a rat, this impression being left on my consciousness. But for the rest of my life I give up attachment to the samsaric life, become celibate and keep the precepts purely. So the craving, grasping and becoming of the rat rebirth are interrupted by those of the desired perfect human rebirth.
  2. I am reborn human, living in perfect chance, and the seven results from the dependence of a perfect human rebirth finish with this second life. But as this life is not spent in pure practice,
  3. rebirth as a rat occurs because its craving, grasping and becoming are now the strongest. In this life the dependence of the rat finishes.

Nagarjuna said:
Two deluded actions (links 2 and 10) arise from three deluded causes (links 1, 8 and 9); seven uncontrolled results (links 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 and 12) arise from those two deluded actions. Again three deluded causes arise from these seven results. Such a wheel of life goes round and round.

The Teaching of Guru Shakyamuni that the six samsaric realms and their suffering are only internally caused by delusion and karma was believed and realized by a great number of ancient Indian and Tibetan pandits. They, as did Guru Shakyamuni, gave up princely lives and kingdoms to penetrate fully the Absolute Truth, because they realised the external nature of samsara.

A person walking in thorns that pierce his flesh realises that the resultant suffering derives only from his internal state of ignorance. He could wear shoes and prevent his suffering. The suffering of samsara is also internally caused by ignorance. But if the nature of the thorns was the cause of suffering (external) and the cause was not in the nature of the sufferer, then even shoes would not prevent the suffering. And if the cause of samsaric suffering were external, then there would be no means for controlling samsara. Nor would there be any method of attaining final peace, of completing the state of perfect happiness by extinguishing samsara. Even medicine could not cure sickness. There would be neither perfect happiness nor people’s suffering.

But people do suffer, as shown by the world’s thirst for peace. Yet as we can experience greater and greater suffering, we can experience higher and higher happiness.

If it were God alone who created the samsaric realms and their suffering, then there would be no reason to follow the Teachings to be released, or to have the Teachings shown by God. All attempts would be in vain since every living being would have a samsaric nature rooted in suffering by God. If God were the cause of samsara he would be the creator of ignorance and suffering, and would be our worst enemy instead of a perfect guide. So the only way to final peace would be to extinguish God—the cause of all suffering.

There is no logical reason to say that the compassionate God created everything, for his Teachings were shown only to help us achieve happiness. For if he were the creator of all, he would have already created Enlightenment for each living being, and we would already have received it. But this sounds like the imagination of a little baby.

Universal evolution is created by the universal law of karma, created by the beings which inhabit the universe. That’s why there is a logical reason for both the universe and its inhabitants.

Shantideva said:
The weapons of the hell beings, By whom and for whom were they created? Who laid the foundation of the burning iron? How did the limitless blaze happen? All the suffering stages, even such as that one, Arose from the veil mind.

A beautiful girl is seen in beautiful ways by different people with varying levels of thought. Food tastes differently to different people. It depends on karma, and nothing is created by itself but by the individual mind.

World peace will not result through external development. It does not depend upon reducing noise in the city or hiding in a cave. The only cause that can bring peace to universal beings is to change ourselves into others, to be attached to the comfort of others instead of our own, which we would renounce. The negative thought that cherishes ourselves and not the other is the cause of all suffering and problems.

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PRAYER TO BE SAID AFTER MEDITATION THREE
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 attachment to samsaric pleasures keeps me as if locked in an unbearable prison, and that the Three Trainings and Seven Noble Possessions can bring me to Nirvana.

ZÖ.KA TZÖN.RA DRA.WÄ K’OR.WA.DI
unbearable prison like samsara this
GA.WÄ TSÄL.TAR T’ONG.WÄ LO.PANG.NÄ
desirable as park seeing of mind avoiding and
LAB.SUM P’AG.PÄ NOR.GY’I DZÖ.ZUNG.TE
trainings three noble of possession store by holding
T’AR.PÄ GYÄL.TSÄN DZIN.PAR J’IN.GY’I.LOB
Nirvana of banner to hold please bless

(Please bless me and all sentient beings to bear the banner of Nirvana by holding the store of the Three Trainings and the Noble Possessions, and to avoid seeing the unbearable prison of samsara as a beautiful park.)

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