Teachings at Amitabha and White Tara Initiations and Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Shakyamuni Center, Taichung, Taiwan (Archive #1604)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings during Amitabha and White Tara initiations and a White Tara retreat at Shakyamuni Center, Taichung, Taiwan, February 18-21, 2007. The teachings include lung  (oral transmission) of the Amitayus mantra and the long-life sutra. 

Please note: the teaching was being translated into Chinese and while we have edited those sections out, you may still occasionally hear the Chinese interpreter's voice in the background. 

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Malaysia.
Precious Human Rebirth

So hello everyone and a Happy New Year. I’m very happy to meet everyone again this year, today.

So many others, even our same age, many unable to be, in this year, to be human being and especially to practise Dharma, to continue to be human being and especially to practise Dharma, didn’t have opportunity, so many passed away already in this world, even in Taiwan, even in one city so many passed away. So how fortunate we are, it’s like a dream, again this new year - what year 2007? 8 - 2008? I’m jumping to the next year. 2007 OK - to be human being, not only that, which has many [more] opportunities for happiness than the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, especially opportunities to practise Dharma, by meeting Buddhadharma that which reveals, not only cause, not only gives opportunity because it explains the unmistaken cause of happiness, that gives us opportunity you see, in the future lives whatever happiness we wish we can achieve. To be born in the pure land, such as Amitabha Buddha’s pure land, and you complete the path there and then come back, then go to a suffering world to liberate numberless other beings. So that, or one can achieve perfect human rebirth in next lives, that can meet the complete Mahayana teachings, not just only several teachings but Mahayana paramitayana teachings, Mahayana secret mantra Vajrayana teachings, that one can practise.

Or as Lama Tsongkhapa explained, the eight ripening aspects, such as perfect human body, which has eight ripening qualities, by achieving that one can make a very rapid, a great progression attaining the path to enlightenment.

Also what is explained in the lam-rim teachings that, the human body, which has seven qualities: higher caste, perfect body, wealth, power, wisdom, long life, healthy body and mind. So the seven qualities that are conditions to be able to practise Dharma, to have attainment and to benefit other sentient beings. Also that one can achieve the perfect human body which has the four Mahayana Dharma wheels: birth in the right environment, family. The environment you see, needs that which does not hinder but which supports the practice, attaining the path to enlightenment. So the right environment, the family in which one takes birth, Buddhist family which is supportive for one’s own practice, to attain the path. Then able to meet and able to follow the Mahayana virtuous friend. Then having collected merits, having done prayers, having collected merits, being in the right environment, place that which doesn’t interfere to, place which doesn’t interfere to one’s practice, supportive - harmonious according to the Dharma practice. Four Mahayana Dharma wheels, perfect body which is endowed with the four Mahayana Dharma wheels, so, that you can attain the path to enlightenment.

So we have this unbelievable opportunity, this human body that we have received this time. So what I was saying is so many, even the same age, already passed away, so many that we knew, even the family members, so many unable to be human being and continue to practise Dharma this new year. Didn’t get opportunity. So we have, so therefore like dream, unbelievable, so fortunate it’s unbelievable. So must rejoice. So that is one thing, one very important thing, when the new year begins that is very important to rejoice, to feel great happiness like having found, like you win the lottery, billions, zillions, trillions of dollars, like you win the lottery, so you should feel great happiness.

Even we win billions, zillions of dollars or, if it did happen it would become the most unbelievable thing that happened in the life, kind of like, sort of impossible thing that happened, something that is impossible thing became possible. In the world people regard as most wonderful, most exciting. However, here, just to be human being, each day, each hour, minute, second, just having human body, even this is much more precious, much more greater exciting, much more wonderful, like dreaming, that one thinks not possible like this example, the billions zillions of dollars that one achieved - so that’s nothing. This human body that we have achieved gives us opportunity that able to communicate, able to learn words and meanings of Dharma. It gives us this opportunity.

As mentioned in the lam-rim teachings the nagas they have a wish-granting jewel, the most precious, precious thing in the external possessions, materially, amongst the precious materials, the most precious thing, that is the wish-granting jewel. So after it is found in the ocean, the sea, then you clean in two ways, then you put on the fifteenth, on the full-moon night, on that day you put that jewel on top of the banner on top of the house, on the roof of the house, then whatever you pray to that, all the material needs whatever you wish, material enjoyment you receive. Whatever you wish you generate. So like that even more precious than billions, zillions of dollars, like this wish-granting jewel, even the nagas they have as an ornament on their head crown all the time and they have like cities, like supermarket, like department stores, however wish-granting jewel, wealth. But you see no opportunity to practise Dharma. That doesn’t give opportunity to practise Dharma, they are in animal realm.

So therefore you see from this example you can see just to be human being, just to have mere human body is unbelievably precious, more precious than wish-granting jewel. We don’t have wish-granting jewel, billions, zillions dollars however, especially wish-granting jewel, but by having the human body we have this unbelievable, it opened opportunity like sky, opportunity to learn Dharma, to understand what it means. That by meeting Buddhadharma and by learning we can remove all the cause of the sufferings, delusion, karma, cause of the delusion, negative imprints that we can remove by actualising the path revealed by Buddha, the cessation of the sufferings, the defilements - which causes to achieve that is the true path, that which Buddha revealed, and one can learn those and we can make preparation in the mind to actualise those paths. So having this mere, just enough being a human being or having this mere human body is unbelievable, how precious it is. So nothing, so it’s nothing billion, zillion dollars, even the most precious wish-granting jewel, how many days, how many one owns is nothing, the value is nothing compared to the value of the human body that we have. So therefore you see must rejoice, must realise, must discover this. Just even this mere human body is so, having just the mere human body is so precious.

What is ‘jon quoi’?

Interpreter: ‘Jonquoi’ means precious.

Ah, jon.quoi.So actually what I’m saying is that we should feel much greater happiness, much more greater happiness, unbelievable joy and happiness, than how people feel so happy when they win lottery or achieve billions, zillions of dollars or even found wish-granting jewel, for the reasons that I explained before how just having the mere human body is so precious, how this is unbelievable. So therefore in the reality we should feel much greater happiness. It is really like, even much more like than which I mentioned before, like dream, something very impossible thing has happened at this time.

Not only that, we can achieve, with this human body that we have achieved now not only all the happiness in future lives we wish but also ultimate happiness, total liberation, total liberation, to be free forever from the oceans of sufferings of human beings, suras, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, intermediate-state beings, the oceans of sufferings of samsara - you can achieve this total liberation. Beside this you can achieve the great liberation, non-abiding, the sorrowless state, great liberation, the full enlightenment, the cessation of all the mistakes of mind, the defilements, gross, subtle; and the completion of all the qualities, of realisations. So one can achieve that with this present human body we received. By attaining that you can get enlightened, you can liberate numberless hell-beings from all the suffering causes, the samsara, as well as numberless human beings, numberless hell-beings, like that you can liberate from all the suffering and its causes as well as all the animals, as well as pretas and so forth. What one can achieve, can do for others is unbelievable, by having achieved the human body.

Not only that… so by these reasons how you can see how it is so precious-----. Not only that then because we have this human body, which can achieve all this happiness, this the perfect human body qualified with eight freedoms and ten endowments this time, what we have received, achieved.

Also in the six realms, on which body you can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, there is no others, except only the human body and even that no other human body. Other continents like eastern continents, northern continents, western continents, with those human bodies you can’t achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. It’s only the southern continent’s human body. This human body is the only one that one can achieve the full enlightenment in one lifetime. So that one we have now, we have achieved this time. So by that, that reason aids that this human body we have achieved now is so precious, most unbelievably precious.

R: What is ‘bookacee’?

Interpreter: ‘Bookacee’ means unbelievable.

Booka-cee. . I learnt one very important word in the Chinese language - ‘booka-cee’.

So this reason, the southern continent human body is the only one that can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. So this is another reason, a very important reason how this is most precious, that we should take this opportunity to achieve enlightenment in this life, that we should not miss the opportunity, that we should not waste this most precious human body, this southern continent human body.

As it is mentioned in ‘Liberation in the Palm’ by great enlightened Pabongka, that even the bodhisattvas in the pure lands, such as Amitabha’s, they pray to be in our world, to receive the body of the human being of the southern continent. Why? Because there are tantric teachings existing. Because to practise the tantric path and to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime or in a brief lifetime, or adding extra reasons, in a brief lifetime of degenerated time, so need the body that is constituted of six elements, received three from the father, received three from the mother. Received three from the father, the sperm and bone, inside the bone, marrow, three white things received from the father, three red things blood, flesh, skin, three red things from the mother. It should be body which is constituted with the six elements to practise tantra, particularly the highest tantra, So we have that, this southern continent human body.

Not only that, the additional reason is that what makes easier to achieve, besides these reasons, what makes possible to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, even in a brief lifetime of degenerate time, that is in this world there are 24 holy places, 32 or 24 holy places. There are numberless dakas, dakinis in those places and when you practise body-mandala practices, the mother tantra, the body-mandala practices such as Heruka, Vajrayogini, so forth, numberless dakas, dakinis at those 24 holy places who abide in those 24 holy places in this world. The minute you do the meditation of the body mandala they enter into your body and bless your chakra wind drops. So that makes it so easy, that makes it functionable, through your meditation, your drops, chakras, wind they are functionable. Then through that able to draw the wind in the central channel, able to enter, abide and absorb such as the 24 absorptions through the meditation. One can achieve these things. Able to achieve the clear light, gone/got(?) bliss, samten, gone/got(?) bliss, create the transcendental wisdom, this clear light which is the direct cause of dharmakaya. So by adding this reason one can see how this human body is unbelievable, the southern continent human body we have achieved at this time, how this is unbelievably precious, that we can achieve full enlightenment, not only in one life but within that, even in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.

So this perfect human body that we have received, even in one second – this perfect human rebirth that we have received, even each second that we have this perfect human body is more precious than the whole sky filled with, not only billion, zillion dollars but filled with wish-granting jewels. All that is nothing compared to this perfect human body we have received. So this is something that for us day and night, 24 hours to feel unbelievable happiness and joy. There’s no space in the mind for depression, there’s no space in the mind to feel unhappiness or depression. So reality is like that, if you think this way.

As I normally mention that people who win soccer or football, or Olympic competition, when they win, when they are able to put the ball into the goal through the door that is set up there between two sticks, able to put the ball inside there. How much they show unbelievable excitement, they raise up the arms and they shake, with very intensive face. They raise up their arms and shake to all those 100,000 people there in the audience. When I see, sometimes I’m not sure, in reality it means they win but in my view I see them, because their face is very intensive so I wasn’t sure whether sad or, I thought, sometimes I got confused maybe sad, face is very intensive, maybe doesn’t seem like peace, doesn’t show peace, very intensive face. So sometimes get confused whether it means something went wrong or failed. Anyway, we should be doing like that, much more than that, as I mentioned before, raise up the arms and shake, show much greater, 100,000 times show much greater excitement than that. We should be every day, every second we should be like that, by realising all this, unbelievable how this body is so precious, all these reasons ------- what it gives to you, what you can do, what you can achieve, for you and for numberless other sentient beings.

No matter how much able to climb very high mountains like Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, or able to win competition, the Olympics, soccer, all these things. First of all these pleasures are nothing, what is regarded as pleasure is nothing new, all these things that are regarded as pleasures are nothing new, we experienced these pleasures, samsaric pleasures numberless times from beginningless rebirth, we had all these pleasures numberless times. Not only that, by achieving shamatha, calm abiding, perfect meditation we achieve, we are born in the deva realm, form realm where there is no suffering of pain. And we are born in the formless realm where there is not even the suffering of change. You see, the temporary samsaric pleasures, besides there’s no suffering of pain there’s not even the temporary samsaric pleasure, the suffering of change. We are born, we were born in those realms where there’s no sufferings, born numberless times, even those samsaric peace, happiness we achieved numberless times, we experienced numberless times from beginningless rebirth, it is nothing new. All this is nothing new.

The psychic powers, such as the five types of psychic powers, not the psychic powers that arya beings or Buddha has, such as arya beings have, these common ones, five types of psychic powers and those eight siddhis, the various miracle powers that can be shown, those attainments, able to fly or able to, the, through wind power, that which takes many months you can go in few days or even few hours - eight ordinary siddhis. That concentration that can last for eons, for many years or eons that as Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained in the Three Principle Aspects of the Path to Enlightenment commentary, even the big drum beating right in front of the ear cannot disturb. Those clairvoyance, all those things, all the powers we achieved numberless times from beginningless rebirth. But that alone didn’t make us to be free from samsara, to cease the defilements, delusion and karma, by that experience.

All these samsaric pleasures, what in the world people see incredible excitement as if it is the first time experience, because later they understand reincarnation - that reincarnation and karma, lack of understanding these things. All these things even they achieved but it doesn’t last, the pleasure doesn’t last. To achieve that one has to bear so much hardships, has to suffer so much for that, have to bear so much hardships for that. Then even they achieve the pleasure but doesn’t last. Then in the future, they have to experience as a result unceasing suffering because all this intent, the motivation to attain all this, is not Dharma. It is simply attachment, clinging to this life happiness, totally pure non-virtue.

Therefore, here this time we have opportunity to practise lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment. By attaining the three principle aspects of the path to enlightenment - renunciation, bodhicitta, right view - which makes to be liberated, the fundamental path which makes to be liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and which makes to eliminate the root of all the suffering, delusion and karma. The root of all the suffering and the cause, the delusion and karma, the root of that, the ignorance, by realising right view, by actualising bodhicitta, which is developed from the root, the compassion, that which is the root of enlightenment, the great compassion towards sentient beings. So this is a new experience, we never achieved it in the past from beginningless rebirth, we never had this experience, never achieved this.

You can see how, comparing, how this is extremely worthwhile to practise Dharma, especially, the heart of that, the most important is attaining the lam-rim, the three principles of the path, to be able to eliminate the root of samsara and to achieve liberation, which is forever free from samsara, and to achieve full enlightenment.

This time we have received the eight freedoms, ten endowments or ten richnesses - eighteen qualities, eighteen very precious things this present human body has, is qualified with. Condition, eighteen very precious conditions we have received. Which-ever Dharma one wishes to practise one can practise. Unbelievable freedoms we have.

First of all one should know that, for those who haven’t read lam-rim or haven’t learnt lam-rim teachings before, then wouldn’t know why practising Dharma is so important, why it is the most important thing in the life. Other than praying that you have long life, or by praying to be healthy or to get wealth or something like that, other than that knowledge that it helps to that, to achieve the happiness of this life. Other than that wouldn’t know how Dharma is the most important thing in the life. How many billions of things there are to do in the life but, how busy you are, how many billions of things to do in the life, but however the most important, most precious thing to do is the Dharma. So wouldn’t know that, wouldn’t have that knowledge.

Therefore first one should know that without Dharma there’s no happiness - at all. Without Dharma there’s no happiness. Whether yourself or others, that particular sentient being to experience happiness, to achieve happiness there has to be a preliminary cause – having practised Dharma, having collected, done virtuous action, having created virtuous action, good karma. Without Dharma, what helps when you die, what helps is nothing else, no other, nothing else except only holy Dharma. What can help when you die, the most critical, most dangerous time, point of your life, what can help is only Dharma, nothing else.

That time you have to leave everything, even your own most cherished body, even that has to be left. Then consciousness alone has to go to the next life. Like as is mentioned in the teachings, when you pull the hair from the butter, butter doesn’t come with it, only hair comes. So like that only bare consciousness goes to the next life. All the material possessions, all the family members, even king or president, even one who has billions of populations, not pollutions populations, families, servants, whatever, everything has to be left. Like the beggar whose only possession is a stick, a hand-stick that he uses for walking, or whatever, to chase dogs, so so anyway the beggar has to leave that stick, only the bare consciousness goes to next life. So exactly the same, even the wheel-turning king, everything all the power and wealth, all the servants and the population, everything has to be left at the time of death.

What benefits at the time of death, what we enjoy, and life after this is only Dharma. If one practises Dharma and as a result of that, happiness, then you enjoy next lives. What you can carry with you is that good karma, Dharma, if you have attainment of those realisations. That which benefit to oneself, benefit life after this is only Dharma. Happiness of future lives, that one can achieve is only Dharma. Therefore Dharma is the most important than anything else, Dharma practice.

Beside that even in this life, even talking only of this life without talking future lives, even talking only this life, Dharma becomes the most important thing because without Dharma, there’s no positive thought in our daily life. Whatever lifestyle, business life or student studying or farmer or what-ever lifestyle, actor or singer, whatever lifestyle one leads, however there’s no Dharma in one’s mental continuum, there’s no Dharma. The positive thought, virtuous thought, the contentment, renunciation, Dharma - Dharma, the renunciation, contentment, contentment, renunciation, letting go attachment, experiencing satisfaction. And Dharma, the compassion, instead of self-cherishing thought, compassion to others, cherishing others, that is Dharma, the bodhicitta. Then Dharma, the wisdom understanding emptiness, understanding ultimate nature of the I, the self - understanding, meditating, looking at things empty as they are, their ultimate nature.

So this is without talking tantra practice, just the sutra, just the fundamental lam-rim. Without this Dharma these positive minds, without talking future lives’ happiness, just only talking this life, for example, there’s no compassion to others, this Dharma compassion, bodhicitta, cherishing others, then your motivation of life is the self-cherishing thought, ego. Then it brings so many problems, so much unhappiness, so much problems to yourself, to others; to the family; in the work with the other people, with the boss, with the other employees; at home; at the office; wherever you go. Bringing so many problems to others, cause so much unhappiness, because the motivation that you have, the motivation of your life is only seeking happiness, concerned only your happiness. There’s no concern for others’ need, others’ happiness. So because of that. Then how you live your life, the activities one engages in is only seeking happiness for oneself. So then not seeking happiness for others, not working for others, so brings so many problems. Doesn’t get along, doesn’t become harmonious with others. Then others’ wishes, you interfere others’ wishes for happiness to be fulfilled. You don’t allow wishes of others, so many problems arises. Just even if there’s no Dharma in the daily life, in your mind, such as contentment, satisfaction, the renunciation, letting go desire, if it doesn’t have that then your mind becomes always unhappy, because you follow desire all the time so always dissatisfied. No matter how much reputation, no matter how much fame or reputation you achieve in this world, no matter how much wealth you achieve in this world, no matter how much you become famous, no matter how much you are surrounded by people, friends, can never achieve satisfaction, can never achieve inner peace, happiness.

Then that thought, the attachment - what is the opposite to renunciation, that is the attachment seeking happiness of this life, the desire. That’s the opposite of the positive thought, pure thought, renunciation. That is same meaning, meaning one’s own mind is satisfied. Same, just different way of saying. With this emotional thought, negative thought, attachment, seeking only happiness of this life then, seeking happiness for one’s own life and that only this life, then that brings, if you do that then anger arises, many other negative thoughts, jealous mind, many other emotional thoughts, disturbing thoughts, unhappy mind arises. It brings so many problems in the life. Mind becomes so much dissatisfied, so never achieve happiness. So when there’s strong attachment, desire, when you don’t achieve that then commit suicide, you engage in immoral things, unethical activities, killing, stealing, so forth, telling lie, all these things. Engage in so many negative karmas. Then so many other people in the family or office, so many people receive harm from you, disturbance from you. Then life ends up in the separation in the family, the others, due to one’s own negative attitude, the desire, others they don’t, they become unhappy and they also get angry, upset. Then life ends in prison or commit suicide, so many things, so many problems arise. Without talking future life, in this life if there’s no Dharma in the mental continuum, everyday life in that mental continuum, the motivation, in everyday life there’s no Dharma. Then many problems arise. So the life can never be happy, so much problems, so much unhappiness arises, so many obstacles, your wishes don’t get fulfilled.

This is what we see when we watch TV. This is what we see all the time, and when we read newspaper this is what we see all the time, and when we hear news, same - always the problem caused by lack of renunciation, lack of the letting go desire, lack of that. Then lack of compassion, lack of wisdom understanding ultimate nature.

So even the first one, so much problem due to that, lack of renunciation, lack of, not letting go of desire. So much problem, when we watch TV, when we read newspaper, when we meet others, their life problems. Therefore, even for the happiness of this life, peace, happiness of this life, even for that we need Dharma in our life. Motivation of the life, whatever lifestyle we do we need Dharma, in the motivation of the business or whatever lifestyle. If there’s no Dharma in the motivation of our life then whatever action do isn’t Dharma, then so many problems come, you encounter so many problems, so many problems come. There’s no problem coming from outside but there’s a problem coming from your mind, from your wrong motivation, opposite from lam-rim, opposite to three principle paths. As I mentioned before it’s like that.

Generally speaking without Dharma there’s no happiness. Whether it is this life’s happiness or future life happiness, whatever happiness, without Dharma there is no happiness. So that is very important, that is the first thing to be known, the first thing we should know.

So it is simple to understand that even you don’t think about reincarnation and karma, even you just think this life to be happy, you need Dharma. For that you need Dharma. For example if you want to be harmonious in the family, in the relationship or in the office or anywhere, if one doesn’t practise patience, tolerance, every time allow the anger to rise, every time you follow anger then that breaks your relationship, it breaks your harmony, peace in the family or in the office, anywhere. So you can see very simple, where there’s no Dharma in daily life, even without talking about reincarnation or karma. You can see here by practising patience, Dharma, patience, the antidote to anger, the delusion anger, the result is so much peace and happiness to yourself and others. Similar, there’s an example, if your motivation in life is only self-cherishing thought then sooner or later even though people see you very sweet at the beginning, when they meet you you’re very sweet person but sooner or later they discover your behind motivation, backside motivation – back room or back side. Sooner or later it manifests out, they can see very clearly, then they won’t be happy. Then there’s a personality clash. So this is many times in our life story, our biography.

Then, as far as the right view, like HH Dalai Lama said at one time in San Francisco at the Stanford University there, he said, ‘Shouldn’t be like animal.’ His Holiness said, “Shouldn’t be like animal.” Animals you see whatever appears they believe. They don’t analyse, they don’t check the appearance, whatever appears they just grasp, believe in that, trust in that. However it appears to them. So shouldn’t act like animal, must examine the appearance, shouldn’t trust, shouldn’t immediately believe in that. Must examine one’s own view. Of course that has many things. It can mean to look at it empty. It appears to you truly existent, existent from its own side, not merely labelled by mind, so do not hold on that, do not trust on that and look at it empty. So you examine and you find it’s empty.

Of course that’s the definitive meaning but also the other, even in the conventional truth, whatever people tell you or whatever you see, without going to the ultimate truth, even the conventional life, which means conventional truth, whatever appears to you don’t, must not… like animal, if you immediately believe then you get in trouble, great confusion and trouble. . So then rise anger, desire, many things, jealous mind, heresy, many negative thoughts. Then you get caught, then continuously one engages in negative karma and then get caught, you create the continuous cause of samsara so continuously get caught in the prison of samsara.

So it says examine, then by examining without letting to trust in that or believe immediately, so by examining then you are protected, you don’t hold onto the false view even conventionally, the conventional truth. You don’t hold on-to a false view which is wrong, mistaken, you don’t hold onto that as true. Then that is where you are protected in your life. You are always protected from all this confusion, from all the wrong concepts, that drives you crazy.

So that is related to the other one, the third, even without relating to the ultimate nature, without letting your mind hold onto the way the things appear truly existent, without letting to hold onto that, immediately to hold onto that, grasp onto that - thinking whether it exists or not, when you examine it doesn’t exist so, as it appeared you hold onto, believed to, doesn’t exist because it’s empty. Not only that, even in our conventional life there’s so many things that appeared which are wrong, but we immediately believe in that then all the wrong, all these emotional minds the wrong concepts arise, then you put yourself in trouble or deep confusion, then prisoner of samsara all the time.