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.

Searching for the I; Mental Factors; Subtle Mind

So going to begin with the preliminary practice, the Heart Sutra and preliminary meditation practice. [Shakyamuni Buddha praise etc.]

Do not engage in any unwholesome action, And engage in the perfect wholesome action, And subdue one's own mind: This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Now we reflect the nature of our life, impermanence and death and then after that, not only that then on top of that, how everything, what appears existing from their own side is empty, all those are empty, all those are hallucinations, empty, including I, action, object, all phenomena they are empty from their own side.

[prayers in Tibetan]

With mindfulness in the nature of the causative phenomena and the ultimate nature of, looking at ultimate nature, practice mindfulness or meditating, realizing the impermanence-death and then ultimate nature of the phenomena, so with this, one is able to cease, one is able to control, one is able to cease the cause of samsara, karma and delusions, ignorance, anger, attachment, so forth, these delusions and karma, that one is able to be liberated from the whole entire suffering realm, the samsara, and able to achieve full enlightenment by ceasing even the subtle obscurations. So without mindfulness in these things, in these basic teachings of Buddha or the nature of the phenomena, the impermanence and death, the very nature of the phenomena, the ultimate nature, then the suffering of samsara becomes endless. One's own suffering of samsara becomes endless.

Then we recite the Heart Sutra.

[recitation of Heart Sutra in English, Lion-face Dakini]

So one visualize, so the meditation is visualize the virtuous friend, one's own root virtuous friend on and look at it all the embodiment of all the guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha and then _____ ______ _____ request, nectar beams emitted and purified all the obstacles to achieve realizations, all the obstacles which interfere to achieve all the realizations of the path of method and wisdom, the profound, extensive path to achieve dharmakaya, rupakaya.

And then by making request, a replica absorbed within oneself and then received, then meditation is one has received all the blessings, which means all the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment, the whole realizations of the extensive path and profound path. Then, same thing from all the lineage lamas, so same thing, same meditation with all the lineage lamas, from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha down to the direct gurus.

[palden tsa wai....]

So since we have done today meditation prayer of the whole path to enlightenment, the lam-rim this morning from the book How to Meditate, so here we just condense into this the essence of the whole path, we make request in this way, Please grant me blessings, so make strong request from the bottom of our heart, one's own heart, please grant me blessings to see the virtuous friend, to see the guru from one's own side enlightened being, to be detached to the samsara, to be able to take the responsibility all one's own mother migratory beings, all the mothers, one's own mother migratory beings, to liberate, to take the responsibility to liberate all one's own mother migratory beings. [pause]

And to achieve the sublime realization, the glorified unification, the mahamudra, the general and particular. So which means, general, the sutra mahamudra, which means emptiness, to have the wisdom realizing emptiness and then tantra mahamudra, that is the clear light, the wisdom of non-dual bliss-voidness. [pause]

So forth, so all the rest of the path, the unification, the path of the unification and the unification of no more learning, the attainment, the goal.


So here all the merit field is absorbed to Buddha and Buddha descended on one's own crown, so before one has visualized guru so that become, one can think absorbed to that in the aspect of Buddha. And nectar beams emitted and purified oneself and sentient beings, during the mantra.

Due to this merit may I achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment and lead all sentient beings to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment.

Short mandala. [short mandala, sang gye cho dang....]

Then, during this life, that one has received all the necessary conditions, all the opportunities to practice Dharma, then during this time not enough just to not be reborn in the lower realms, to receive deva, human body in next life, that's not sufficient. One must be liberated completely from the whole entire samsara, the suffering realm. Because deva, human realm, in the six realms wherever one reincarnate, one is not free from the sufferings, the sufferings of samsara, the suffering of pain, and the temporary samsaric sense pleasures that which is the suffering of change, and then pervasive compounding suffering, and still, even, just to achieve liberation from the samsara for oneself, still that is not the goal of why we have this precious human body at this time, the purpose of why we attempt to receive this, this precious human body. So achieving liberation from the whole entire samsara for oneself, that doesn't fulfill the purpose, the meaning of the human life. So therefore, the meaning of the human life is to free all sentient beings from all the sufferings and to bring them in full enlightenment, so therefore one must achieve full enlightenment for that, in order to accomplish that. All that work, the perfect work towards all sentient beings, to do that by oneself alone, one must achieve full enlightenment; therefore one need to actualize the steps of the path to enlightenment, so therefore I'm going to listen to the profound holy Dharma, the commentary on the Essence of Wisdom. Now for the benefit of all my kind mother sentient beings.

So now, so generate very strong motivation of bodhicitta like this, generate strong thought to benefit others. [long pause]

So today a very important meditation, which becomes very important preparation to meditate on the Essence of Wisdom, the Heart Sutra or the emptiness. So now our kind compassionate Buddha, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the reason that Buddha generated great compassion towards us, all suffering sentient beings, and actualized bodhicitta, entered in the Mahayana path and practiced bodhisattva's deeds, _________ path of bodhisattva's deeds, practiced charity, giving his own life or the body, limbs, eyes and limbs, giving whole body, whole life, sacrificing to ants, to tiger, whole tiger family, that starving to death, there are about, the father and mother tiger, so the whole are starving to death so the father and mother about to eat their own children, so Buddha gave the, saw the five family tigers so Buddha made charity, so his whole body completely gave the whole tiger family. So for three countless great eons Buddha did like this, made charity, gave up his life to other sentient beings, so collected merit like this and practiced, so like this, numberless times, made the limbs charity, eyes charity to others, for the blind ones, those who need.

So collected merit for three countless great eons like this by practicing charity and by practicing morality, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom, so with much hardships Buddha collected merit of method, merit of wisdom, like this, and achieved enlightenment for us sentient beings. All this he did for us sentient beings, for us the suffering sentient beings, then achieved enlightenment by completing the two types of merit and then, all this in order to reveal Dharma to us sentient beings, in order to be able to do perfect service or guidance towards us sentient beings, without any mistake, for that purpose. And so therefore the only purpose when Buddha entered the Mahayana path is only for us sentient beings, achieving enlightenment is only for us sentient beings and then, so Buddha's descending in this world is no other reason except to benefit for us sentient beings and that is by revealing Dharma, the main, the best guidance to us the sentient beings, by revealing Dharma.

So now the fundamental teaching of the Buddha, even though there's three levels of teaching, Lesser Vehicle teaching, Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle teaching, the Mahayana the Paramitayana and the Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana, Buddha taught the three levels of teachings because sentient beings' level of mind is not same, different, there are different levels of mind, so to fit it to gradually to bring them to full enlightenment, in the great liberation. So therefore, the fundamental path, the fundamental teaching that is the four noble truths. The fundamental teaching of the Buddha, that is the four noble truths.

So now, so Buddha explained twelve links by relating to the example, external plant, rice plant, relating to that evolution then Buddha explained the twelve dependent related limbs, that which shows the evolution of the samsara, how we enter in the samsara, how we get caught in samsara. [pause]

So during the teaching it's good to keep the body, only if you're making notes it's different but good to keep the body like this. Of course, it doesn't mean I practice like this when I take teachings , but definitely it helps very much to keep the body like meditation time. If the body is like this, like that, then down then it's very easy to mind to be distracted and also easy to fall asleep. So, then miss the teachings and then you may not get the idea of what I am talking about, if you miss the point. So then when you meditate , then it will be like, I don't know, it might become salad - I'm joking, anyway. The meditation become like salad or maybe better, noodles . Anyway, it's good to train, to practice, unless you are making notes, that's different, but otherwise to keep like during meditation time, just like this, then it supports the mind. So to exercise the body and exercise the mind. Otherwise becomes very sloppy, the body becomes very sloppy and the mind becomes very sloppy and yeah, then life becomes very sloppy. So now, so what I want today very intensive meditation, not only during sessions but also in break time to practice always mindfulness is this one. So this will help to understand easier the emptiness, when we're talking about those subjects.

So, it looks like, when we do not analyze, it looks like there's I in this body, looks like there's I that you can find on these aggregates, the association of body and mind. Or there's I in this body. When we do not analyze, it looks like there's I there. To our hallucinated mind, it appears like that, the ignorance. It's only the time when we, it appears like that only in the times when we do not analyze, when we do not analyze the I, do not look for the I or do not analyze what that I exist or not. So as soon as we start to analyze, so normally it looks like there, looks like there's a real I appearing from there. But whenever we analyze whether it exists or not, whether it really exists or not, where it is, when you look for where it is exactly, it cannot be found. So through analysis, through scientific or through the Buddha's teachings, Buddha's scientific method or the teachings, how to analyze. So when you analyze whether it exists or not, where it is exactly, cannot find. So what you discover, by doing analysis what you discover is…

Yeah, contact, the six senses contact object and become basis for, become foundation for the feeling.

Then intention, the mental factor which gives job to the consciousness, to focus on the virtue or non-virtue, indifferent object. The intention. Makes the consciousness to enter or to focus on these objects. Then comprehension, what's the difference apprehension and comprehension? So, comprehension, which mental factor which holds the consciousness on the object, which keeps the consciousness, mental factor which keeps the principal consciousness on the object, which keeps or which holds on the object. Like the assistant or the secretary making the diet or to pay attention on certain matters, so like that.

Then, cognition, the mental factor, the discriminating object, this is friend, this is enemy or this is book, this is clock, this is cup, this is towel. That this is microphone , so the mental factor that discriminates objects. This is this, this is that.

So now, so these five omnipresent minds, so the senses, so always accompany with the principal consciousness, so in other words, always work together, with the boss or anyway, the consciousness.

So now, so here now, now the karma, often we talk about the karma, so where does it belong to? So the karma is not the principal consciousness, so karma is, from the body and mind, it's mind, but it's not consciousness, it's the mental factor. It's in the section of the second one, the mental factors, and that is, from the five omnipresent mental factors, the intention, which is called sempa in the Tibetan language. So, as I mentioned this morning that including these aggregates, including this samsara, these aggregates, and all the views, all the appearances of objects that we have, all the objects, all the sense objects, and all the feelings, by contact, our senses contacting the objects, then all the feelings that which rise, so as I mentioned that all these are life, so whole this life came from the karma, that which is the mental factor, intention.

So now, so there are all these basic subjects about the mind, the mind formation, so there is fundamental subject about the mind, some basic subject to study, to learn, that is summarized one, that explained by Buddha, then later in other philosophical teachings, then it is expanded. So beginning preparation, so there are these subjects about paths, bhumis and so forth, the four schools of the Buddhist philosophers, so the basic subject that by studying this then which helps, which opens the understanding when one study extensive Buddhist philosophy, those five major sutra texts. Then of course that helps for tantra, which is much more finer subject, which is deeper subject, finer.

To fully understand about the mind, one need to understand the tantra, to completely understand about the mind, then one need to, on the basis of sutra then one, by learning tantra, only then one can have complete understanding of the mind, otherwise not. So the very subtle mind and, subtle part is only explained in tantra, Mahayana, it's not talking about Hindu tantra, it's talking the Buddha's tantric path, in that teachings. Specially Highest Tantra, by receiving, by taking the great initiation which involves the four parts, which definitely plants seed of the four kayas, four holy bodies or four kayas in one's own, on one's own mental continuum. Only then one is permitted to learn, to take teachings, commentaries and to practice the Highest Tantra path.

So to really understand completely the phenomenon of the mind, to really have depth understanding, this, only when you actualize the, so the Highest Tantra there are two paths, generation stage and completion stage, so there's completion stage, second one is graduated completion stage. So when you actually attain such as the clear light, illusory body, so this illusory body is the one that frees, what's called astral traveling, the term that is used in Lobsang Rampa's book? Uh? Astral what? Projection? Astral projection! With camera?

Anyway, so astral traveling or astral tour, so with the subtle body, that you can do with this, with the extremely subtle body, that one can go very far distance or maybe go in the pure land, make offerings to the Buddhas or doing practices with that extremely subtle body. That even the gross body is lying down [pause], anyway, so h/e not doing activity but the subtle, but with freedom the subtle body goes to, can travel or [pause], I remember that Lama Yeshe, I have about twenty-five gurus, so one guru who took care of me, so [gap in recording] guided in Dharma and so like parent, who took care of me, who gave food and clothing, so and took care of Dharma. So Lama Yeshe sometimes in conversation with other monks, just the close monks, so at Dharamsala where His Holiness lives, so one time we were there, so Lama Yeshe has realizations, has accomplished these realizations, clear light, illusory body, very high tantra path, that definitely qualified to receive the label "yogi."

So one night just in conversation, so there's one monk who takes care there, taking care of the altar, water bowl offerings and different, the shrine rooms there, so during a conversation so Lama told him that , sort of also to tease, so Lama said that he has capacity, the other monk is from tantric college, Lama Gyupa, so "While you are in your room, I can come with the subtle body, I can definitely come with the subtle body and to kill you." That's sort of also to tease. The capacity is true, but it's just showing what Lama can do with the realization that he has achieved.

So such those, of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is Buddha of Compassion, so no question. So like those yogis or like those spiritual masters, like that, like Lama Yeshe, so can go, even the gross body is not going to see other people's houses or to see other people, but the subtle body can come to watch, so like this, so with the subtle body, yes, with illusory body they do much practice, then they enter back to the old body, then do teaching and they do normal activity, eating, walking, so forth.

So in Highest Tantra there's a practice, those who achieved realizations, clear light, illusory body, so there are practice path-time dharmakaya, path-time rupakaya, path-time dharmakaya, path-time sambhogakaya, path-time nirmanakaya, so the three kayas, the dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of the holy mind of Buddha, deity's holy mind, the rupakaya, which comes in two, that the holy body of the complete enjoyment and another holy body of the supreme transformation. So three kayas, which is the result time, so they are result time three kayas, which is the main goal to achieve, by following, by actualizing the path. So the Highest Tantra, the graduated completion path, so there are practices like that, the path-time three kayas. That itself is means to achieve the result-time three kayas.

So now, what I was trying to say before is only by actualizing the completion path, Highest Tantra the graduated completion path, only then through your own experience then you have really much deeper understanding of the mind, the phenomenon, the mind. So only from sutra you can learn the gross part, not the subtle part. In tantra, through meditation you actually experience, so therefore there's very deep understanding of the mind.