Three Principal Aspects of the Path (Audio)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Boulder Creek, CA 2006 (Archive #1567)

These teachings were given during a lam-rim retreat held at Vajrapani Institute in Boulder Creek, CA from August 20-23, 2006.

You can view video of the entire teaching on the Land of Medicine Buddha Media Lab on Vimeo.

Monday, August 21st: Part A

…before we chant, before we recite the Heart of Wisdom, we are reciting the heart of all the Buddha’s teachings, when we recite the Perfection of Wisdom Gone Beyond, the Heart of Wisdom, sherab nyingpo [Tibetan], so we are reciting the heart of the, the very heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma, 84,000 teachings, any teaching of the Buddha, that… As it’s mentioned in Bodhicaryavatara, _ [Rinpoche speaks Tibetan] all these branches of teachings, Buddha, the Mighty One, taught for the wisdom, so to actualize wisdom, the ultimate wisdom, wisdom realizing emptiness.

So the heart of the whole, entire Buddhadharma, that is the Prajnaparamita, the Wisdom Gone Beyond, the teaching of the Perfection of Wisdom, or the Wisdom Gone Beyond. So this is the Wisdom Gone Beyond, Wisdom Gone Beyond all the scriptures, the teachings. The wisdom gone beyond the path, that which teaching reveals, the path that which removes the cause of the suffering, the karma and delusion, the seeds and the, including the subtle negative imprint, that, so the wisdom gone beyond the path.

Then the wisdom gone beyond the result. Then there’s also the wisdom gone beyond the nature. So that’s the, that’s say, any phenomenon that exists. If it’s causative phenomenon, it’s dependent on causes and conditions. Even uncausative phenomenon, it exists by depending on the base, and the base and the conceptual mind, that which makes up the label, and depend on these three, the base to be labeled and the concept, the conceptual thought and the label, by depend on these three, it exists. So it’s, the phenomena, any phenomena, they exist, say, permanent phenomena, that which does not depend on causes and conditions, not being under the control of cause and conditions, those permanent phenomena.

Whether it’s permanent, impermanent, causative, uncausative phenomena, so all, or what’s called this and that, that’s name. So name has to come from the mind, name has to be given by the mind, imputed by the mind.

So, first of all there’s the base to be labeled, and then the valid base to be labeled, and then there’s the mind, conceptual mind, that which labels. Say, so by depending on the valid base, the conceptual mind labeling, then come in existence.

So therefore, all the phenomenas, that which exist, when we think of meaning exist, that is object to be discovered by a valid mind, yes, can say that but that which is mentioned in the philosophical texts, can mention that.

But then the other way to think, what it means, existing, anything exists or it doesn’t exist, so anything exists, if you think the meaning of, very meaning of existing, so that means without the valid base, even there’s the conceptual, making up the label doesn’t exist; even there’s the valid base, but there’s no conceptual thought making up the label, it doesn’t exist.

So by depending those, by depending both, there’s the valid base and there’s the conceptual thought. When you made up the label, believed in that, then that came in existence so the, it exists by depending on…the phenomena exists by depending on the valid base and the conceptual thought that makes up the label.

So therefore the phenomena, so when we meditate in that meaning, the phenomenas exist in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. So therefore, the phenomenas do not exist from its own side. So the phenomenas [are] empty of existing from their own side, empty of inherent, the truly existence, empty of existing by nature from its own side.

So exist means empty. So the point is, you have to understand, by meditating the meaning of this very subtle, say, the very meaning of the subtle dependent arising, according to the fourth school of Buddhist philosophy, the Madhyamaka, the second one, the Prasangika School view of how things exist, that which is extremely subtle, dependent arising, existing, being merely labeled, _[Tibetan] existing, being merely labeled.

So we think meaning of existing, the subtle, the very subtle dependent arising, then the, then you get the idea of, existing means it’s empty; there’s not something real existing, real in the sense what we normally believe real, you know, existing from its own side, not merely labeled by mind, existing from its own side. So what we normally believe when we use the word, when we, people who knows the teachings of Madhyamaka or who don’t know, who have no idea, who never heard.

However, usually most of us common people, sentient beings, when they talk in the daily life, real, which is normally say, describing the what you have to realize empty. They’re talking about real, say, which they have to realize empty. So they’re talking not the one that really exists, but they’re talking about, when they talk real, they’re talking something which doesn’t exist, [changes to say] they’re talking something, by analyzing something, you find out that which, they’re talking something which doesn’t exists in the daily life; they talk ‘real’, something which real from its own side, something which is not there, something which is not there at all, something which doesn’t exist, but believed that it is there.

So, without using philosophical term, oh the natural, normal language and then using the term, ‘real’, say, I see real or I experience real, or say it’s really there or something, so that.

So existing, say, so going back, so existing, so means, existing means it’s empty. So only if you think in the Prasangika’s view, the subtle dependent arising’s meaning, how it exists, meaning in that way, then means it’s empty, meaning existing, it is empty. Because existing means existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind, so therefore it means it’s empty of the real, what we normally, what appears to our hallucinated mind and believe by our superstitious thought, ignorance, that real, existing from its own side, so it’s empty, empty of that. Anything that exists is empty of that.

So, you can see in that way then, because it is empty, existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind, so therefore it’s empty, so it is unified, anything that exists, that which exists is unified with emptiness and dependent arising. So it’s good, even by understanding this essential meaning, existing, so even just to meditate on that point, that it’s empty, anything that exists, empty of existing, not merely labeled by mind, empty of that. [Long pause]

So, so can meditate, it is huge, it is most profound meditation, of the most important meditation, just thinking meaning of existing, or just thinking meaning of dependent arising, just that word, think meaning, meditate on meaning of dependent, then meditate on meaning of arising without many words, that’s just, say, the two truths are there.

All those many volumes of the Prajnaparamita teachings, so many volumes of those teachings, those, essence is there. And the commentaries by Lama Tsongkhapa and by many great pandits, and great, those enlightened many high lamas also from Tibet, so their commentaries, the different monasteries’ commentaries, the essence, the very essence, the very point is there. Dependent arising, that’s, you see, a huge subject. So the dependent, say, things exist, the phenomenas, say, the holder, perceiver or the holder, mind, which perceives object, so _ [Tibetan] means that which is held, the object, _ [Tibetan] that’s, that which is holding, that which is holding object is the mind.

So whole phenomenas, whole phenomenas contained in this, that which is perceiving is the mind, and the object, that which is perceived or which is held. So, however, all the phenomenas, so depend, exist, depending on, all these are dependent on the base and then the mind, that which imputes, which makes up the label, and believes in that. So it exists by depending, so depending, so depending, so dependent, so that eliminates, that first one dependent, eliminates the independence, eliminates the extreme of eternalism, extreme of eternalism, so that means the phenomenas are..they’re not independent.

So they’re dependent, they’re not…they’re empty of independence, that’s how empty eliminates, dependent, just word ‘dependent’, eliminates extreme of eternalism, the real, existing from its own side, not merely labeled by mind.

So eliminates the extreme of eternalism, then arises, that’s the first one den [Tibetan], and the second one, arises, djun _ [Tibetan],Tibetan word...arises, so it exists in that way. So _ [Tibetan]arises, exists, so, described already, described den described already, the nature of that, the nature of the phenomena den, dependent.

The arises, djun so it means, so that eliminates, so that means it is not non-existent, whatever phenomena, therefore it is not non-existent, dependent, so it’s not, therefore it’s not not non-existent; it exists, arises. The reason, because it’s dependent, so arises, that’s how it really exists, you see.

So that, second word djung or arises, arising, that eliminates nihilism, the extreme of nihilism, extreme of nihilism. So, meditating, so here, see, any phenomena that exists is devoid of two extremes: devoid of the extreme of eternalism, extreme of nihilism. So you’re seeing the phenomena this way, unified with emptiness and dependent arising, so you’re seeing Middle Way view, this is Middle Way, Madhyamaka, Middle Way view, say, most correct one according to the very subtle right view, the, according to the Prasangika School view, the most pure one, that which Buddha himself realized, and then this is the way how Buddha liberate, himself realized, and through this wisdom, by this wisdom, ceased all the gross, subtle defilements, then liberate from all the sufferings himself and with his own complete experience then he revealed, he revealed this Perfection of Wisdom, with this, the teaching showing this path, the ultimate wisdom to us sentient beings, then numberless sentient beings already Buddha has liberated from oceans of samsaric suffering, and the cause, delusion and karma, the seed of defilements, and brought enlightenment by causing, by revealing these teachings, the Perfection of Wisdom, and cause them to realize, develop, so numberless sentient beings already, and even at this moment enlighten many sentient beings, as well as future.

So this, same teaching that what we have been learning, what we are unbelievable, most fortunate, unbelievable, most fortunate how we are, what we have been hearing and study, meditate, up to now, say, or even one didn’t do in the past, but you have, one has unbelievable opportunity now, from now on to do that, incredible fortune to learn, to meditate, to realize and to follow the footsteps of the Omniscient One, the perfect being, and to reach the same goal, say, to create the same success, the greatest success, achieving enlightenment for sentient beings, the greatest success than anything else, the most important thing in the daily life than anything else, the first thing to think about, first thing to think about in our daily life, no matter how busy life that we have but, however, this is something that to have in our heart, deep down, deep in our heart as the main goal. And whatever busy life we have, all the busy life is for that if it can be. So then, this way it can be dedicated or it can be, the busy life can be for that. So then that’s, say, then the best life, no regret, so, happiness now, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, happiness now and happiness in the future, so up to enlightenment.

So, say, very clear, so direction of your life very clear. You know where you’re going, what’s the objective to be achieved in the life is clear, there’s nothing confusing. [Long pause]

So, what I was trying to say before was, in Tibetan what’s called _ [Tibetan] the wisdom gone beyond of the nature, the nature, the nature of the phenomenas, so, you see, something exists, it means it’s empty, so there’s no such thing as independently existing, there’s no such thing. There’s no such thing that which exists without being merely imputed by the mind. There’s no phenomena which exists without being merely imputed by the mind; there’s no phenomena exists.

So there’s no independent existence, it’s impossible. There’s contradiction, independent and existing. So independent, existing, they’re contradictory. There’s no way existing, independence to be one, no way to be unified, no way. That’s contradictory. Non-existent, existent, it’s like whether you believe phenomenas, you see, say, non-existent or existent; it is non-existent but also existent, simply like that, it’s just existing in name, independence, the existing from its own side, existing by nature.

So it’s all, that’s all non-existence, you see. There’s no such thing in the nature of phenomena, there’s no such thing, there’s no such thing, that the phenomena’s pure of, phenomenas are pure, say, the nature is pure of the independence of the, existing from its own side, or existing by nature, truly existent, phenomena, their nature is pure of these things, empty of those things. So saying it is crazy thing, you can see it is crazy thing to say, it is non-existent, existent, then, you see.

I mean, if you put it this way, then people might think you’re crazy, say, I don’t know what other people will think, no idea, maybe there’s all kinds of people. So some people think that’s great. Maybe some people who have taken LSD , some people who have taken, say, Buddha grass, and the small tablets, LSD, anyway, they might think it’s great! Anything that is far out,, what do you call the age…What is the age? What it’s called this? There are some shops that…New Age! So New Age or LSD, anyway, so, say, people who like to be freaked out. So they might think it’s great. If some person [not clear ] exists, not exists, you know that.

Anyway, so that is totally silly, that’s totally, crazy, I mean, things such like that, you see, so because there’s no such thing. While it is non-existent, then exists, you see.

So anyway, putting it another way, the meaning like that, you know, you see, reality, so not only if you believe, say, so normally we don’t think the meaning of existing in that way, we don’t think, don’t say, do not discover, do not see that way, do not think that way, perhaps even if we’re meditator, we don’t think that way, not only during daily life when you talk, conversation, but even when we meditate, we don’t think that way, you know, the real meaning of existence, the subtle dependent arising, the Prasangika School view, that which is, then which makes you to see that no phenomena, all the phenomena is empty of existing not merely, to put the opposite, not merely labeled by mind, empty of the existing not, empty of existence not merely labeled by the mind. [Long pause]

So therefore, should not think like, emptiness is like, like having the tea having sugar or salt, in the cake, there’s sugar, so it is, emptiness is inside of the phenomenas, like orange covered by, you know, inside the orange, the thing to eat, covered by the skin.

So like that, that’s wrong way of thinking. If one is thinking that way, emptiness sort of, the phenomena is contained in emptiness, then that’s totally wrong. You’re not, say, so you’re not talking nature of the phenomena, so contained something, contained something, then you’re talking two different phenomena. So if you’re thinking something contained, like a mug contained water or tea, so that. If you’re thinking emptiness that way, so that’s totally wrong, in case if one think like that.

That’s, you’re talking two different phenomena, you’re not talking nature of the mug itself; you’re not thinking nature of the developmental…

So therefore, now, so any phenomena existing means that it’s empty. So that’s the very nature of the phenomena, empty of independence, empty of the existing, empty of existing, not, empty of existence, not being merely labeled by the mind. So, that which is the, say, emptiness, nature of the phenomena is emptiness, empty by nature, pure by nature, ra-shin-tag-pa.

So, however, this emptiness, nature of phenomena is emptiness, so that is the paramita… the teachings, gone beyond, say, that is the _ [Tibetan] gone beyond wisdom, so that. The ultimate wisdom, the very ultimate wisdom, the ultimate, the perfection of wisdom, the wisdom gone beyond, that is the Dharmakaya, the result, wisdom gone beyond, the Buddha’s holy mind, Dharmakaya, so that’s our objective, what to be achieved, what we look for. [Long pause]

So, so as it’s mentioned in the teachings that, say, just before I mention the benefits, so there’s the heart of all the teachings of Buddha, the teachings of the perfection, the, say, wisdom, Gone Beyond Wisdom. The 100,000 stanzas which has 12 volumes, and then the 20,000 stanzas in three volumes, then the 8,000 stanzas, one volume.

Then that which, say, now the heart of all those teachings of the Perfection of Wisdom, that is the sherab nyingpo, the Heart of Wisdom, what is normally recited, the short one, so, directly revealing the meaning of the Wisdom Gone Beyond, say, the path to achieve enlightenment, the wisdom, indirectly reveals the method, path and method, so that, in [?] Sutra. And so therefore, it is called ‘Heart of Wisdom’, sherab wisdom, and nyingpo is heart.

The other meaning, the ultimate nature of one’s own mind, the very nature of one’s own mind, the nature, the Heart of Wisdom, so by realizing this, and developing this wisdom, realizing the very nature of your mind, by developing this wisdom, so because the nature of the mind is not oneness with the delusions, not oneness with the anger, attachment, ignorance, it’s not oneness with the mistakes of the mind, the defilements, the negative imprint; it is temporarily obscured. But, the real nature of our mind is not oneness with these mistakes.

So therefore, by discovering, realizing the very nature of our mind, by developing this wisdom, then able to remove, able to cease directly the gross, subtle defilements, and then this mind, the total cessation, then they achieve total cessation, separation from the defilements, gross, subtle, so that’s the great liberation, full enlightenment.

So that, very nature of, that ultimate nature of that complete, pure mind is svabhavikaya, the holy body, the very nature. That mind is the transcendental wisdom, dharmakaya. [Long pause]So, it is mentioned in the teachings that the practicing, say, engaging in the paramita of morality for ten eons, engaging in the paramita of charity, and as well as the paramita of patience, perseverances, concentration for ten eons, so even one year to engage in the pure morality, there’s so many obstacles from within one’s own mind, all these delusions and obstacles. Due to that, then also external, from our side obstacles to live in pure morality.

So even, say, one month, see, difficult, you know, one week, even one day, just even to accept that, to understand that, even that takes time to accept, even to, say, to, understand that karma, to have faith in the by living in the morality, result happiness, good rebirth next lives and all that, up to liberation, so done with renunciation, result renunciation; if done with bodhicitta, enlightenment, all that.

However, so after all that, then all that understanding of the faith, that discovery and, of karma and faith in that, and engaging even one day is not easy.

So here, so engaging in five paramitas for ten eons and listening to the teachings on emptiness, and this one has far more greater merit than engaging, if you compare, than engaging these five paramitas for ten eons, that much merit, it’s unbelievable. But you compare to listening to the teachings on emptiness, this one’s far more greater, all others smaller.

Now, ten eons of listening to the teachings of Prajnaparamita, and you explain the teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom, teachings on emptiness, this one collects greater merit than listening to the teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom for ten eons. So it’s very small compared to the merit that you collect by explaining the teachings on emptiness.

And then, now, one moment of, second, like duration like this, snap your finger, meditate on emptiness, that, then ten eons of explaining the teachings on emptiness, so duration snapping finger, meditate on, even that’s a short time, focus on emptiness, this one collect far more greater merit than ten eons explaining the teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom, so that.

So therefore, so therefore, when we, therefore, we’re extremely fortunate that have opportunity to recite the Heart of Wisdom, even able to recite the words, the Buddha’s teaching, everybody, even have opportunity to recite these words, that, even without meditating, even without meditating the meaning of this, just able to recite, able to just, opportunity to, having met, opportunity to have met this teaching, having opportunity just to recite, and that which leaves positive imprint on the mental continuum to realize any time, sometime later, to realize emptiness sooner or later by leaving this positive imprint on the mental continuum.

So even just reading this one time, even just only one time in the life, even it happened only one time, it made huge, it made a huge difference in the life, difference like between the sky and earth, like that differences. Even one had, say, opportunity to recite this only one time in the life, it made the life, huge difference, so you left potential on the mind to realize emptiness, even by reciting one time, by having heard one time. So that’s unbelievable, so like that.

So, that, you don’t have to wander in samsara endlessly, die and reborn, die and reborn and experience all the sufferings, nothing new, the samsaric pleasures which is only suffering, however, three types of sufferings: suffering of pain; suffering of change, temporary samsaric pleasure; and pervasive compounding suffering, so that one experience again and again all the six realm sufferings one after the other, so, endlessly. So that gives unbelievable, unbelievable hope, preparation of the mind to reach, to finish, to end suffering, to end the suffering, to end your suffering of samsara, you see, to end, it gives unbelievable, say, makes preparation of the mind, each time when you read, even just by reading, even just by listening.

Then no question if you meditate, as I just explained before, it becomes this meditation on emptiness, nature of the I, emptiness, then nature of the aggregates, then the nature of the each of the aggregates, you see, and then, say, senses, objects, the six objects, the senses, then 12 dependent related limbs, emptiness of those, all the 18 elements, however, all those, the emptiness of the Four Noble Truths, so, say, that’s, say, amazing.

So each time, each time when you look at their nature empty, nature which is emptiness, so, say, unbelievable, unbelievable purification, purify negative karma, and incredible, as I mentioned before, means of collecting extensive merits.