Heart Sutra Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Genting View Resort, Malaysia (Archive #1048)

The following are teachings from a Heart Sutra retreat held in Malaysia in 1997.

The teachings include oral transmissions of the Vajrasattva mantra and the Heart Sutra and teachings on rebirth, bodhicitta and emptiness.

Questions and Answers; The Good Heart is the Best Way to Help Others

[recitation of Shakyamuni Buddha mantra]

Yeah, if there's one question? If there's one question, one and a half.

Student: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: The animal will be staying there. Stay in the comfortable room. No, that doesn't, the habit, it doesn't, there's habit from other lifetimes, being animal, there's habit from other lifetimes. Because there's no rebirth, whatever different types of animal there are or like Eastern person, Western person, different nationalities, whatever different nationalities there are, anyway all this, this is not the first experience, each sentient being has gone through, there's nothing new type, there's nothing new experience left in samsara, everything's, numberless times had experience, taking rebirth of different nationality or different animal. Even one animal that which is rare in one specific area, country, so that time the habit from past, being animal. Not necessary to relate to just the life before.

Student: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Have they done in the past? [reply inaudible] You mean they produce sheep, they produce a living sheep by taking the...?

Yeah, yeah, then they produce sheep. Yeah, then?

[reply inaudible]

However it happens, that's also karma of the beings. If it's a sheep, then sheep's karma, it happened that way.

[reply inaudible]

What do you mean, identical karma? It's just exactly the same as us here. Each of our minds came from, each of our minds, that which took place, that which was conceived in the mother's womb, it exists before that. Its continuation exists before that, it's similar. Each of our minds which was conceived in mother's womb, which took place in the mother's womb, on the fertilized egg, which took place, which was conceived there, which took place on the fertilized egg. So, that came from its own previous continuity, mind.

So same with the sheep, even though the scientists put together the cells like this, cells from the body put together, the consciousness, like this, us here, so first of all some consciousness from previous life if it was human being, came from there, continuation of that and some consciousness might have come from animal beings or hungry ghost or hell realms or from some of the worldly gods, sura, asura, those realms, so us here the consciousness would have come from various realms. So it's the same with the sheep - consciousness came from whichever, the consciousness came from the previous life, whichever realm that being was, so it's a continuation of that. Did it help?

[reply inaudible]

No, the cells were put together, the liquid from the both put together, so the consciousness will take place that time, when they are put together the consciousness will take place. Because that particular sentient being had the karma to take place, had the karma to be born in that way, had the karma to be conceived on that combination of cells.

I'll tell you one thing, that [pause] in the fruit, there are worms born in the fruit and in many of the corn there is a tiny, I don't know so much here but in Nepal, in many of the corn inside there's this tiny worm, hard one, very tiny, brown, strong one , inside the corn. So when the corn get fried, puffed then sometimes, so anyway, and in many times in bamboo, in India, when the monks at Buxa, where I mentioned today, where I lived about seven, eight years, so the monks they make bed, the bed there are no walls and they make those small rooms for privacy for their study, meditation. So outside there's bamboo so they go in the forest to cut this bamboo, so sometimes they found in the bamboo, the bamboo is, so there's no holes there, no holes at all, but inside there's snake living, because when cut the bamboo they found the snake, but there's no hole those sides. And many times in the rocks, inside the rocks, animals, inside the rock, there's no hole, nothing, there are animals born there, and many of these are regarded as ordinary naraks, ordinary hells, many types. Without any hole, born inside the rock, there are like this.

I missed out, I'm not sure, your question, what did you say just before?

Student: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Yeah, so they did produce in the past, sheep happened. So that is because that sentient being had the karma to be born in that way.

Like another story that, in the Sera Monastery, somebody had the leather, I think to carry luggage, to carry a load they use leather, made of leather to carry luggage, in the East they use leather, so because strong. So the person, the monk is going to travel somewhere so then this thing to carry luggage become very dry so he put in the water, he put in the river to become soft, so put stones, to make soft. Then after seven days he went and it become animal, the other side has ring, I think maybe the water side has a ring, so tie like that, then this is the finer part. So what happened is after seven days when he went to check, so it become animal. So the ring is the mouth, where the ring is that is the mouth of the animal, so that he was unable to use for .... So these are quite common, so the consciousness, that sentient being has particular karma to take the consciousness on that leather and that one to become the body of the animal, that sentient being had that karma. So first of all there's karma from the side of the sentient being, so there's the condition there, there's karma and there's condition, so when the karma is ripened and the condition is there then that's what happens.

So same thing also if we throw our hair in the water then also the sentient beings, those who have karma consciousness to take place on the hair, to have body like hair, then those who have karma, their consciousness will take, when the karma is ripened the consciousness will take place on the hair, inside the water, the condition is ready, condition is there, then the consciousness will take place there and they become animal. It's not hair, it's animal, so that time. Same thing there are plants, same thing also plants. Having shape of plant but it's animal, small ones and large, like large trees, various shapes, so those are regarded also I think, maybe also ordinary hells, realm regarded as hells scattered on the human realm.

So, if from the side of the sentient being doesn't have karma then this doesn't happen, even the condition is there, doesn't happen. But from the side of the sentient beings if there's karma there, karma's very strong to ripened, and then that makes condition to happen, then the consciousness takes place on that.

Can somebody explain about the lice? Can someone explain about the lice born from the body? Did somebody study on that? Lice on the body and not coming from outside, it's coming from, sometimes I think, many times, maybe not you but I think , you can see it's coming out from the ?pores, the lice, with the head, lice.

[Student: inaudible]

Hole made? Hole made by other insects, yeah, then?

[Student: inaudible]

Yeah, there can be also that, both ways can happen. It's just a question of whether sentient being's karma or not, just like I explained before the leather. So fruit is no surprise, it can happen both. [pause]

There are so many sentient beings passed away from other realm and then born in intermediate stage, there's numberless beings there who are waiting there to reincarnate, so therefore whether, even inside human being's body, stomach or in the fruit or wherever, that there's so many sentient beings there in intermediate stage, to take rebirth so then from their side they have karma to be born as worm, so many they have karma to be born, their karma to be born as worms in fruit or wherever or in the flower, having same color, because consciousness took on that flower, on that leaf, so therefore the physical continuation came from there, physical continuation came from the green leaf or the yellow flower, the orange colored flower, so then their karma is ripened to conceive there, to be born on the green leaf or the flower, so consciousness took place on there, then according to the color of the leaves or the flower, then their body, they receive body. So even one tiny flower, so many insects there same color, leaves, green, same color as the leaves.

Same thing, for example, human body or animal body, something that after the death then without, if it's just left there then immediately, if it's just left there, the body on the ground or something, then immediately that old meat or that body filled with worms, so many worms inside the body, even it wasn't there before, but so quickly the body is filled with worms. Like that example, so many times happens. Why it's so easy to be born and so many, so easy to be born [pause], one time many years ago when I was doing retreat at Lawudo where the cave is, I think maybe the time when I was building the monastery up there, I met, I saw a piece of text, instruction how to make wisdom pills, it's advice from Nagarjuna, something it has unbelievable benefit. So I tried to get substances to make the pills, after retreat, but during the break I was always trying to bless these pills. So I made a few pills with other, somebody's precious substances, some plants, so made a few pills and put in a bottle. So, sooner or later that whole, that everything became worms, everything became this tiny one, very tiny one, sometimes you see on the dead, on the old wood, you see on humid, old wood, this tiny insects - what do you call? Do they have name?

So the bottle, the whole substance, pill, everything become like that, completely, thousands. I don't know, I thought that time maybe my mind was so impure maybe could be Manjushri, my mind is so impure see only tiny worms . So anyway, so like that. [pause] So this is similar, anyway, similar this karmic story, I think I mentioned recently somewhere, maybe in Singapore, I think . I think in Greece, the forest got fire, so the airplane went to take water from the ocean or whatever, to take water and to extinguish the fire. So what happened was , okay, so yeah, that's right. So the airplane went to get the water, to suck water, to draw water and extinguish the fire in the forest. Then they saw that in the forest one person with all the equipment, dressed up the diving uniform, frogman. So they are like fish . The legs have these ones , so this black, all dressed up, so lying down on the ground and dead, around the fire, the trees burnt, the firewood burnt, so all dressed up in the middle of the forest, in this diving suit. With the scuba , air tanks on the back.

So anyway what happened was, how it happened, usually nobody goes in the forest dressed in that way . So anyway, with the legs like that . So anyway what happened was, so how it happened the person is dead there in that uniform or whatever, the diving suit, so how it happened is that when the airplane went there to take the water, to suck the water, I guess what happened was the person was diving that time, so then the person went inside the airplane along with the water, so then I think they, the pilot has no idea, so I think carried together and then where the water is put down to extinguish the fire then person is dropped there. So, I don't think this person had planned in that way, I don't think he planned in his life to be in that way , I don't think so. So that is, because the person's side there is karma to die in that way, there's karma to die in that time, in that moment, that time. So because there's karma so that's how it happened. So that karma, if it was purified before, if he practiced Dharma, purified the karma before then this ?time wouldn't have happened but the karma is not purified, so then that's what happened.

Also, in India I think some years ago, I think maybe three, four, five years ago, somewhere there is, on the road there was a huge snake, so all the trucks were stopped. So anyway one truck went over, huge snake straight on the road, not going away, so then the one truck went on top and then I think the person killed the snake. So what happened was that man got married and got two children, both children had snake, had all their body is exactly like snake body, the skin, snake skin. The two children have snake skin, exactly snake skin body. So nobody accepts them in school, nobody wants to accept them to come in school because it's frightening to other children or nobody wants, nobody accepts them to be in school.

So the newspaper said that, so the man, the parents were trying to make some change or trying to give some treatment or something, so I don't know what happened at the end. So that's, probably this might be, so anyway, so the children's side, they have karma to be born with that, then also there's relationship with the parents as well. So children's side it's their karma to be born like that, body like that. [pause]

Then, in France, one child was born with, this is even more, this is even harder to believe, one child was born with the leg wood, wooden leg, and there's more information of that, there's more detailed information, born with leg of wood. And then, one couple, the husband has other girlfriend or something, other affairs, so the wife finds…

…when the karma, she didn't have the karma to die that time, her karma to die that time did not happen, but the husband's karma to die in that way, karma of husband to die in that condition, in that situation, so had very bad karma and that karma ripened, so then husband died . So she landed only on him and he died.

[Student: inaudible]

Yes, yes. No here, the killing is not completed because there was no intention to kill, so...

[Student: inaudible]

yes, that is negative karma. But it's not complete negative karma of killing, but that can be, it could be killing with ignorance, ignorance without knowing, just like when we walk in the road, without knowing the insects are stepped over by the feet, similar. So still there is karma from that, even one did ignorance, could be that. But still it should be analyzed but it can be out of ignorance, there can be still, so like example, worms, on the road without seeing we step over, so still there would be karma involved, so therefore would be similar to that, even though it's not the complete action of killing, because there's no intention.

Then, yes, okay.

Student: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: I think in there, for example, like earthquake, you see, then you have no choice at all. I think that because you have no choice, you can't do anything there, you yourself, beyond from your capacity, so I don't think that, that yourself has no choice, you can't do anything, so..

[Student: inaudible]

or by going

[Student: inaudible]

but they fell down without choice, no? The road?

[Student: inaudible]

Yes, yes, that's right. But the main thing is, that's right, but that alone, just going there I don't think, anyway, from my side I would say, I don't think that makes them to become negative karma, especially it happened due to, they themselves had no complete freedom, due to external things that happened, the person himself has no freedom, no choice. So this is what I would say from my point of view.

The other very involved karma, so there happened one family, see if I can remember again . So the son of the family who didn't get, anyway, so what happened was, there was a couple and whenever the husband get angry, husband takes gun and there's no bullet, it's empty gun, so every time when he gets angry to his wife, he takes the gun and pretends shooting to his wife. So every time he does this. Then, what happened was the son of the family didn't get the inheritance from the mother, so the son really got angry, I think some hate towards the mother. So then one day he put bullet in the gun wishing that when the father gets angry then will shoot, the mother will be shot, so he wished, he planned that this way.

So what happened was, he did that, put the bullet in the gun, so then one day...

[discussion with Roger],

so for two months nothing happened. The father didn't get angry to his wife, the mother, it took two months, so nothing happened, so the son got very upset, so then he went to commit suicide himself. So then he jumped through the window, oh, from the roof! He jumped from , he jumped from the roof and then downstairs, down somewhere, one of the floors, outside the window there is safety net, so he jumped from the roof and he fell down, he fell on the safety net. So at the same time when he fell the safety net, the father got angry to his wife and he was, and then he was using his gun to shoot, so he shot that time and what happened, it happened at the same time that the son went to commit suicide so jumped from the roof, so fell on the safety net, so then - what? Oh, I see! So, yes, the father shot the gun, missed out the wife, missed out the target, the wife, then hit, the bullet went, it hit the son in the head, bullet went inside the head and he died there. What? Oh, while he was falling down . So while he was falling down, so the father shot the gun, he missed out the wife and he hit the son, went his head and he died. So you can see here how the karma, also his attitude, his plan was to kill the mother, but then it became, the whole thing turned out to be killing himself.

So h/e, when the karma is ripened....

[Student: inaudible]

Car went by? The driver, yes.

[Student: inaudible] Killed the man?

[Student: inaudible]

Maybe he needs to go for retreat , to purify. The Heart Sutra retreat . Anyway, that, what happened is, that day the six ladies, their collective karma is to die in that way, to die together, because they did something in the past, they did something together harm others, kill others, kill other beings together, so from their side they created cause to die in that way, together. And then this, so there's condition, how they are going to die, condition with the car, so they have karma to die with such a condition. Why they died in that way? Because they have karma to die in that way, with such a condition.

Then also, so it's possible, so when their karma is very powerful to die in this way, with this man's car, this man driving, so when, so because the karma is so powerful and ripened, so that time, even this person didn't have any intention to kill, he meant to just come there to receive the people, then, so because karma is so powerful it ripened, so the whole thing became out of control, so the ______ became out of control due to the heavy karma that is ripened already.

And also sometimes there's also conditions like a spirit, there's karma and also there's sometimes spirits, other beings harm, other beings cause to do this, that the day when the karma is ripened, the people in the car to die or some damage, first of all from the people's side there's karma and second thing, so there's some condition there, it has to have some condition, whatever it is it has to have some condition for the death or for the damage, the injury.

So, just to finish. So, also, so sometimes also there can be condition, other beings, spirits, either abiding in such a location, certain locations or then, first of all the karma from the people's side is ripened, then the condition. So can make the driver's, they can influence the driver's mind, suddenly out of control, the driver becomes out of control, suddenly change the mind or suddenly make the driver out of control. So, these are karma, so there are these other conditions also. So in certain places, certain spots, many people get some trouble at that spot, so many times it happens that car accident or in a certain spot, many people get trouble, things like that. So there are things like that which are related, first of all people's karma, then second is to do with the outside conditions.

So when we were traveling in Tibet, I think this second time seventy-three people went in Tibet for pilgrimage, it was supposed to be meant one month but it took two months. So when we were coming back, I think maybe the day before we reached at the border of Nepal, so we went in the morning from a place called Tingri, so there was snow, that morning there was snow. So there's one area where there are huge mountains around, so the one or two trucks who were going before us, both trucks they slipped in the ditch, they were driving okay then one slipped out, another one slipped out in the ditch at the side of the road.

Then, also our car, it was okay then also it slipped out in the ditch. Then in the car I think there were six people, six people in the same bus so they got headaches and there was one nun, Tibetan nun who was translator, did translation for many years different centers, so her eyes immediately, her eyes were looking corner, both eyes completely , then whole face completely changed, so then burnt tsampa, I think, burnt tsampa to smell, because somebody says it helps, then put, I was carrying protection so gave, put the protection on the head, h/e didn't last long. It was just for a short time. But then again, the next truck, the truck before us also, anyway, so these things, there's karma from the people's side first; because of that then the karma is ripened so then there are conditions, makes the driver out of control, like that.

So there's two things, especially if the person didn't have any intention to kill them and happened out of control, so usually if we, so if the other people with negative mind if they give harm to that person that means that karma has to be experienced, means that other people who want to give trouble to this person, they created extra negative karma which result they have to experience in the future, so it's another trouble, actually in the reality the people created extra problem for themselves, to experience additional suffering in the future, this is the result giving with negative mind giving trouble, giving harm to this person. So actually if it's analyzed there's no benefit to that person, there's no benefit to the family, both sides there's no benefit. For the family it's just burden of another additional suffering, the karma, extra negative karma, so like that. So anyway, in that case I would say like that, in this particular case , from the Dharma point of view.

Student: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Yes, yes. That can happen.

Okay, maybe you want short, maybe you want pipi break? Maybe, there shouldn't be any spirit - anyway, I'm joking! So maybe we can have short break, okay.


So, as we talked before, so therefore the conclusion is that, if there is the karma created in the past that even, so in the life, even which one think, even one cannot believe at all that things can happen, generally speaking, so things can happen, even one cannot believe at all, so hard to believe, so if there's karma to happen that thing and if that karma is ripened, then those which one normally think is impossible to happen can happen. So therefore, there has been various karmas, we cannot see our mind what kind of karmas we created in the past lives, so there have been all sorts of karmas, there have been all sorts of negative karmas collected, the good karmas, no problems , having created good karmas, but all sorts of negative karmas collected in the past from beginningless rebirth, so therefore the conclusion is the practice of purification, not just, it is good that able to do retreat, that fixed time to do retreat or purification, it's good but the most important one is every day to do practice of purification is the essential thing. And, every day to do practice of purification, then and to observe, to not create the same negative karma again, so that means, that involves watching the mind, in everyday life constantly watching the mind and then guard the mind from the delusions, by watching the mind then one is able to guard, protect one's own mind from the delusions, so that means we are able to protect, we are able to abstain from creating negative karma, so the second thing is this, to abstain from negative karma, including then as many as possible living in the vows, precepts, take precepts, so if it's lay, there's lay precepts, lay vows to take, and that which, for the life or which is for one day, which one can take many times, again and again, the one which is for one day, like Eight Mahayana Precepts. So these things are solution, as regards looking for solution, what to do, so for us, for ourselves what to do is this, if we are thinking for solutions.

Then to help others, how to help others to not experience suffering, problems, experiencing negative karma, so how to help others, so ourselves practice like this, how to help others, to save from these various problems and sufferings of life, that is teaching others, teachings others good heart, always teaching others, inspiring others to practice compassion, loving kindness, good heart, so this way they don't harm others and they don't create negative karma, their actions do not become negative karma, their actions get transformed in good karma, virtuous actions, cause of happiness, so as they practice good heart.

So therefore, ourselves practice as much as possible then educate the others, educating others Dharma, educating others good heart, best Dharma is educating others good heart, teaching them, causing them to practice good heart as much as possible, that, so ourselves being example and then also with words also teaching, inspiring them, teaching them. So that's the solution to help others as much as possible, so to purify their negative karmas and to cause them to abstain from creating negative karma again. So this way then they will have more and more happiness and then gradually from happiness to happiness they can go to enlightenment.

Good heart, so the education of karma, explaining others, giving education of karma, giving knowledge of karma, about the mind and especially the good heart. So everybody, the people themselves they like other people to love them, the people themselves they like other people to be generous towards them, other people to have compassion towards them, concern for them, so therefore, easy to understand that their need, if they want to receive benefit from other people, they want to receive help from other people, they want to receive love from other people then from their side they should practice, in order to cause others to love them or to help them, to benefit them, others to not harm them then they should, that depends on creating the cause from their side, to love others or to benefit others, to help others. So that becomes the cause. So therefore, that can, for general people, by using themselves, their needs as an example, that should be, general people it's easy to understand need to practice good heart.

So it's not only just for, that takes care in their life, happiness, so their good heart, their understanding karma, having Dharma wisdom understanding karma and their good heart beings happiness to themselves in this life and especially happiness in the future lives, in all the future lives, then freedom from samsara and then full enlightenment, so this good heart benefits, brings all this happiness to them.

So Dharma education, meditation practice, such as, so this is best solution, best way to help because completely transforms their mind from thought of giving harm to others into thought of benefiting others, so at least to not give harm others, even they don't benefit others but at least to not harm others. So through Dharma education, meditation practice, especially bodhicitta, then this is what causes them. So I often say, I often mention that, like the Centers or like Nepal, Kopan meditation course, this for example, November, this one month meditation course, so around two hundred or a little less, around, more or less, that people come from many different parts of the world, h/e, after having attended, anybody who, I haven't met or heard somebody who attended the course and then involved in action of killing, haven't met or haven't heard. More heard opposite, so the person after having heard Dharma, because when you hear Dharma it talks about karma, cause of happiness, cause of suffering, what one should do, what one should not do, the right thing, then especially good heart, so bodhicitta, so therefore, the importance of benefiting others, then how that affects to yourself by the way, happiness and suffering to yourself, to your life, depending on whether one benefit others or whether one harm others, so anyway, so person gets this understanding, so even the person cannot do, cannot chant mantra, cannot do any sadhanas, cannot do any of the traditional practices, but this person, the very maximum, if there's insect in the house or something that to not step over, to not walk over, to not kill, so this carefulness to not harm, to not kill, this, at least this practices, this one to not harm other sentient beings, to not kill, if there's something there in the road to not step over, in the house, so even one could not do recitation of mantra…

…so it gives so much happiness, even by practicing this gives so much happiness to the other living beings, no harm, so much happiness to other living beings, and that itself, not harming others itself is not harming to oneself, not creating problems this life and future lives for oneself, not doing engaging in the actions which result is suffering to oneself now and in the future, so that is, so much peace and happiness one receives, one enjoys this life and future lives from that, then especially other sentient beings they have peace and happiness they receive from that person who doesn't harm them. So there is practical benefit, real practical benefit to others, to oneself, especially to others, so that is benefit of hearing Dharma, so even it's just two days teaching or one day's teaching of the Buddhadharma. So that means this one person who attempts, then since from that time the person doesn't give harm, doesn't kill others, especially intentionally, purposely killing, so doesn't happen. So that means numberless of other living beings, whom the person could have killed, fishing and many things, going for fishing and so forth, many, many things so numberless other living beings their life is protected or they are saved, they don't receive harm from this person, so many, all the thousands of fish or other animals, then also including human beings, so much harm received from that person becomes less. So there is real, practical benefit there by listening to Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha.

So the best way of taking care of oneself, best way of taking care of the life, one's own life, by not harming others and benefiting others.

[long pause]

So, therefore oneself by practicing Dharma and teaching others Dharma, causing others to meet Dharma, you are saving, giving education Dharma to others, causing to develop good heart in others, so by teaching Dharma, oneself practicing Dharma, by oneself learning Dharma and teaching Dharma to others, so you save so many sentient beings from the suffering, you save them, so many sentient beings. For example, each of these persons, whom one teach Dharma, whom one inspire to generate good heart, then each of these persons also inspire other people, other sentient beings to engage in the good karma, in positive actions to benefit others, to not harm others. Then those people, so each of these person inspire other people then those inspire other people then those inspire other people, cause others to create good karma, to not harm others. So like that, it spreads out. So each of these persons actually stop harm to so many sentient beings, whereas if the person didn't know karma and Dharma, didn't practice good heart, then this person can constantly harm to so many sentient beings without changing negative attitude and negative actions, harming others. So therefore, each of these person stops harm to numberless other living beings, so bring so much peace and happiness to others, besides their own individual life. So therefore, there is real, practical, no question those who are living in the vow inspire other sentient beings to live in precepts, no question. So therefore, there is real practical, such a vast way to bring peace and happiness to the sentient beings, so it's by Dharma, by oneself practicing Buddha's teaching, then inspiring others or making others to understand. There's no better than this to guide, there's no better than this to help other sentient beings, there's nothing better than this to help or to benefit other sentient beings.