We’re going to do a meditation together, okay? visualize Chenrezig about your own crown.
I GO FOR REFUGE TO BUDDHA, DHARMA, SANGHA....
For those who are going to practice, when you are going to meditate on lam-rim visualizing Guru Chenrezig about your own crown, you should think that he is the embodiment of all the gurus with whom one has had Dharma contact. As I mentioned before, he encompasses the three objects of refuge—Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Then generate the particular motivation of bodhicitta in order for the meditation to become the cause of enlightenment for the sake of all the sentient beings.
Because of not having generated the realization of the graduated path of the lower capability being—the precious human body qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses, that it is highly meaningful and will be difficult to find again, and that it’s definite for death to happen and the actual time of death is indefinite—myself and other sentient beings have been suffering from beginningless rebirths until now. You should feel this first of all. If you don’t feel the suffering of samsara much, at least you should try to remember your own past experiences—all the problems that you have gone through since you were born until now. You should feel at least that which is your own experience, even if you cannot see or feel others’ experiences. These problems that you did not like, the samsaric sufferings, came from the deluded aggregates caused by karma and disturbing thoughts. You should think of the mistake—that oneself and all sentient beings are suffering in samsara because of the mistake of not having generated these realizations.
It is not sufficient that oneself wants to be freed from samsara. All the sufferings come from the selfish attitude—not being concerned at all for others, only concerned with one’s own happiness and comfort. All the time thinking about “I,” “I,” “I,” with nothing else to think about. No space for the thought of concern for others, to think about works to benefit other sentient beings. One doesn’t, one is completely occupied by the selfish attitude thinking, “When can I be happy?” All the problems and sufferings come from this. All of one’s happiness and perfections, all the good things are caused by other sentient beings. “Therefore, I must attain enlightenment, at any rate. No matter how difficult it is, even if it takes billions and billions of eons.” “At any rate” means no matter how hard it is to achieve enlightenment in order to free sentient beings from samsaric sufferings and to lead them to the state of omniscient mind; one should have a great mind, a great will.
One can even think like this: we can label the time from beginningless rebirths until now as “one second.” There are so many seconds in a minute, so many minutes in an hour, so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, so many months in a year and so many years in an eon. Even if it takes as many of these eons composed of these seconds as there are atoms of this earth to complete the works for other sentient beings, one should feel, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it!” One should have a long range plan, a strong determination. A bodhisattva, one who has the altruistic mind of enlightenment is this brave. No matter how hard it is, no matter now long it takes; even if one has to be born to suffer in the narak—in the heaviest hot suffering narak, the worst that exists—for that many eons, in order to guide one sentient being from suffering and to lead him into happiness. As it is said in the Guru Puja, “Eons equaling the drops in the Atlantic Ocean.” A person having that quality of mind, that strong determination to dedicate himself for others is called a “bodhisattva.” They have incredible determination, no matter how hard, how long it takes to reach enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings. Like this, you should think, “At any rate I must reach enlightenment!” So, “at any rate” contains this meaning. “I must reach enlightenment for the benefit of all the sentient beings.” Particularly remember your enemies—it is also for them.
THEREFORE I’M GOING TO MEDITATE ON THE GRADUATED PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT.
Offer the mandala to Chenrezig.
THE GROUND WITH SCENT...
Request Guru Chenrezig, remembering that he is the embodiment of the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, “I’m requesting you to pacify immediately all the wrong conceptions, from disrespect to the guru, to the subtle dual view of the white, red and dark visions—my own and all the sentient beings—and particular obstacles such as the conception of permanence; and to generate the realizations of the perfect human rebirth—its usefulness, difficulty, impermanence and death—aversion to the sufferings of the lower realms and stable indestructible faith in refuge and in karma—the graduated path of the lower capability beings. I’m requesting you to generate all the right realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment—the unified state of no-more-learning; particularly the realizations of the lower capability beings’ graduated path, and to pacify all the outer and inner hindrances to this path. To generate this realization right this session, right this minute, in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.”
Then think that nectar beams are emitted from Guru Chenrezig, purifying all one’s, as well as other sentient beings’, obstacles. You can think a replica is absorbed which generates all the realizations, particularly the realizations of the lower capability beings’ path.
OM IDAM GURU RATNA...
First think like this: this time the human body that I have received is qualified with eight freedoms and ten richness. All eight; all ten—eighteen things are gathered. Without having created eighteen causes I could not achieve a precious human body having eighteen qualities. At other times I received some, but some were missing. I was born in a human realm but born deaf, or a fool. Or born in the naraks. Even if I was born with perfect organs, I did not meet the teachings; I was born in a place where there were no teachings, where Buddha did not descend. Or born in a place where there were teachings but did not follow the teachings; I received some, but missed some.
But now, this time, the human body is perfect with all the eighteen necessary qualities needed to practice the holy Dharma; to accomplish the great meanings or purposes. How precious it is having the eighteen things gathering that are needed to complete the great purposes. If you have no idea in your mind, think of the happiness of having the body of a happy transmigrator in future lives, and of liberation, enlightenment—how precious that is. Just keep on thinking this; one-pointedly concentrate on this and recite the Chenrezig mantra. Your mind should not wander. One-pointedly concentrate on how this is so precious—on and on—by being aware of all the eighteen things. Nectar flows from Chenrezig, purifying oneself and other sentient beings and generating the realizations.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
At these times you should not concentrate so much on the words, on the recitation of the mantra, but mainly concentrate on the precious human rebirth and just how it is so precious. Just keep on thinking, “This is so precious ... this is so precious,” like that. If you continuously, one-pointedly concentrate on its preciousness, the result that comes into your mind will be the thought, every minute, every hour; “I’m not going to waste my life. I’m going to use my life for whatever is the most important, the most beneficial for other sentient beings.” If that determination comes automatically while you’re one-pointed concentrating on “This is so precious, so precious, so precious,” that is good—then your mind has a hope! That means there’s a possibility that the mind can generate realizations of the lam-rim, the graduated lower capability beings’ path, and also the rest. Make a determination, a conclusion like this.
“The most beneficial, most important work”—that is just a general idea; you have to know what it is. What’s the most beneficial thing? You have to make it clear. It’s so precious, so what are you going to do with it? “What am I going to do with it? How am I going to use it? It’s something that I cannot waste but have to make most meaningful.” Think with determination, “Whatever actions I do I’m going to try to make them oppose the disturbing thoughts.” Thinking this way is good instead of saying, “I’m going to practice Dharma.” Because if you say, “I’m going to practice Dharma,” probably it might mean to recite mantra of just keep on doing something. You might get an idea that practicing Dharma is doing something else—not sleeping or not eating. But, you see, we should cause whatever action we are doing to become Dharma. That’s the most important thing. Rather than vaguely saying, “I’m going to practice Dharma,” think of the actual meaning of “Dharma” and remind yourself by thinking, “Every action that I’m going to do will become a remedy to the disturbing thoughts.” If from morning until night all our actions become remedies to the disturbing thoughts, everything we do becomes Dharma. You shouldn’t think it is just like during the course. You should also think it is life in the West—you know, when you work in the office from morning till night, living in the family. The whole thing, from morning until night should become Dharma, so that whatever actions are done they become a remedy to the disturbing thoughts.
Make a conclusion, “Whatever actions I do I’m going to make them become a remedy to the disturbing thoughts and I’m not going to separate away from the practice of the two bodhicittas.” This is the decision that has to be made in the life by those who practice thought training—to never separate away from the practice of the two bodhicittas. It doesn’t matter so much if you do meditation on Shunyata or not. One should try to practice that, but the most important thing is to keep the altruistic mind of enlightenment, bodhicitta, in one’s heart, and to never separate away from this practice. In every single moment, in every single action having the thought to benefit others. Doing it for others.
Now think this, “With this perfect human rebirth, if I wish to achieve the body of the happy transmigratory beings in my future lives and even the necessary conditions—the perfect enjoyments, the perfect surroundings and helpers—I can accomplish it. How? With this body I can create the cause by the practice of moral conduct, the practice of charity, and the practice of patience. Charity, for enjoyments; patience, in order to have perfect helpers.” Think, “This perfect human rebirth is highly meaningful, so precious...
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The wish-granting jewel is the most valuable among the material possessions. By praying to it you can get any enjoyment, any material possession, any wealth. Whatever you need you can get without effort due to the power of that object. In the lam-rim teachings the wish-granting jewel is used to give an idea of how this human body is precious. Actually, there is nothing among material possessions which has the same value as the perfect human rebirth; but to give some idea of how precious the human rebirth is, it is compared to the most precious among possessions, the wish-granting jewel. However, I’m not going to mention the story of that. If that gives you some feeling, then think of the whole of space filled with those. If that doesn’t make sense, you can think of all space filled with diamonds or dollars, okay? The whole of space filled with dollars!
Now think, “Without having this perfect human rebirth, even if I own the whole of space filled with diamonds, dollars and wish granting jewels, does this along stop me from being born in the lower realms? Does it help? This alone? No, it doesn’t help me to not be born in the lower realms. Does it help me to receive the body of a happy transmigratory being in the next life?—at least this, with all the enjoyments and perfect surroundings? No, it doesn’t.” You cannot get this from the wish-granting jewel alone.
First of all, you should get the idea that you own the whole of space filled with dollars. From this alone you can’t get happiness in future lives. Now, after thinking that you own that many dollars, and how precious they are, think about the perfect human rebirth, “Even if I don’t own one wish-granting jewel, one diamond, or even one dollar, with this perfect human rebirth alone I can stop myself from going to the lower realms, and I can receive the body of a happy transmigratory being and perfect enjoyments and surroundings.” Now you see that all space filled with jewels, diamonds, or dollars is nothing, but this perfect human rebirth is incredibly precious. Just by checking this point those other materials go down in value, in contrast this perfect human rebirth is so precious.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
We should meditate that we can achieve temporal happiness in future lives—a perfect human rebirth—and also the ultimate result—liberation and enlightenment. Then, like we did with the temporal result, compare the value of the jewels and the value of the perfect human rebirth for achieving the ultimate result. After you discover that the human rebirth is more precious than those materials, again do one-pointed concentration for a long time, very strongly, without a wandering mind. After this, think that while this perfect human rebirth is so meaningful for one to achieve the great purposes, it has been wasted.
Then again go through the three steps, one by one. Think of how it has been wasted, ending like this, “Since I was born until now much of this perfect human rebirth has been wasted because of not practicing moral conduct, not practicing charity and not practicing patience, so not creating the cause for temporal happiness in future lives.” Think, “By following the evil thought of the worldly Dharma, the worldly concerns, my actions did not become Dharma. They did not become the cause of happiness in future lives. How much this perfect human rebirth has been wasted!”
How much has it been wasted? You saw that it is much more precious than the wish-granting jewel. Now think about wasting it for even one minute or one second by not practicing Dharma, letting your mind follow worldly concerns and using it to create non-virtue. By following worldly concerns actions become non-virtuous. We waste this precious human rebirth in order to commit non-virtue. Wasting it for one minute is a much greater loss than losing all space filled with wish-granting jewels, diamonds, or dollars. Wasting it for even a minute is a greater loss than losing all those possessions. While there is an incredible opportunity to accomplish whatever happiness one wishes in future lives, not making life meaningful by practicing Dharma in each minute is a great loss.
After this, think, “Since I was born until now my mind has been following worldly concerns, has been in a state of non-virtue, not Dharma. This is how it has been wasted. This precious human rebirth is being used to create the cause of suffering in the lower realms instead of the cause of happiness in future lives.” By being aware of the past and the mind that has been following the worldly concerns, we see that the life, the precious human body, has been wasted. We will recite the mantra concentrating one-pointedly on this.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
We should try to discover how this life has been wasted by recollecting all the past years and all the past lives.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Then, after you have meditated on each one of the three great purposes, meditate on how you’ve been wasting the opportunity regarding the second great purpose. Clinging to samsaric perfection is the opposite to renunciation, to creating the cause for liberation. How much that opportunity has been wasted! It is a greater loss than losing all those possessions. Try to feel that while feeling that there is this incredibly opportunity to create the cause for enlightenment, the ultimate goal. Especially think how precious it is to be born on the southern continent and having the physical body which has three things received from the father. On this particular planet, this southern continent, there is the existence of the complete tantra teachings, including Maha-anuttara tantra which grants enlightenment even in this very brief life in this degenerate time, even within a few years; or within three or sixteen lifetimes. So, when you think of this, it is incredibly, unbelievably precious. There is nothing more precious. This perfect human rebirth is unbelievably important. While there is this incredible opportunity, it is wasted. By not making this life meaningful such as by practicing tantra, the quickest path to enlightenment, there is an incredible, unbelievable loss. Come to that decision and do one-pointed concentration on it.
The third advice regarding the three meanings is that even in an hour, a minute or a second, whatever happiness you wish for—happiness in a future life, liberation from samsara, or enlightenment—you can create so many causes for it. This perfect human rebirth is so precious even within each hour. As it has come to this point, I will mention this—those who have heard and who know the unbelievable, incredible benefits of doing even one prostration should remember these things: how, within an hour or minute, by doing even one prostration one can create unbelievable merit with this body. I’m not going to mention it now. Within a minute you can do so many prostrations.
Unbelievable merit can be created with this perfect human rebirth. By generating the motivation of bodhicitta even for a second, infinite merit is created. Practicing rejoicing can create infinite merit, as can making offerings to the Triple Gem and guru. Most of you have not got the detailed explanation of the result of each of the offerings. There are some stories that I mentioned about karma being expandable; it is unbelievable what you can do within each minute for the cause of happiness. Just the one or two stories that I have mentioned illustrate how karma does unbelievable things.
It’s just that in our mind we have formed a lot of obstacles. Even when somebody explains how, we don’t want to practice. We don’t want to know and we don’t want to practice. If someone explains, it doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t reach anything. So many obstacles. Even if we hear the Buddha’s teaching, it doesn’t mean anything and we have no thought to put it into action. It doesn’t mean as much to us as when we hear “chocolate,” or when we see ice cream. We don’t even get the feeling that is something that is needed, something that is important. But there are incredible benefits and one can be so happy. By knowing the lam-rim teachings, even just the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth and understanding other preliminary teachings, especially karma, instead of being depressed, one will only be happy. You should think extensively on this. After thinking how precious this life is even in each hour or minute, make one-pointed concentration on this. Then think how much it has been wasted. Then one should make a conclusion the same as before, “Whatever I do, I will make my actions become the remedy to the disturbing thoughts.”
For those who have already taken tantric initiations and are practicing tantra and the tantra vows, I think it’s very good to make a strong determination not to separate from the tantra practice and not to break the tantric vows. Making a determination helps one to remember to be conscious of tantric practice and the vows during working time. For those who have taken Maha-anuttara initiation there are vows related to activity such as the mother tantra vow of doing actions with the left side. It makes one more conscious. These vows are the root of the method to quickly achieve enlightenment, therefore it is helpful to have awareness of one’s tantra practice and the vows.
Then, those who haven’t received them generally should think of bodhicitta and create the cause. If one wishes to practice this incredible profound path, the secret, quickest path to enlightenment like those great yogis who achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime or even within a few years, one should create the cause. Dedicate the merits for that—to create the cause to be able to receive teachings and practice the path.
Then Guru Chenrezig melts into light and absorbs into one’s own heart. Feel oneness with great compassion.
DUE TO THE MERITS OF HAVING LISTENED TO THE TEACHINGS AND ALL THE THREE TIMES MERITS OF MYSELF AND OTHER SENTIENT BEINGS, MAY I QUICKLY, QUICKLY ACHIEVE THE GREAT COMPASSIONATE BUDDHA’S ENLIGHTENMENT AND LEAD EVERY SENTIENT BEINGS TO THE GREAT COMPASSIONATE ONE’S ENLIGHTENMENT.
The unification of the Great Compassionate Buddha Chenrezig’s holy body and mind is upon one’s own crown and on the crown of each sentient being. Visualize him in the one thousand-arm, one thousand-eyed aspect—the particular aspect for subduing the unpeaceful mind, the vicious harmful thoughts which harm other sentient beings, which give no peace to other sentient beings, and which give harm to oneself. Also, to subdue the ignorance holding true existence, believing things to be existing from their own side as if they were inherently existent; and ignorance of karma, and to subdue this dissatisfied mind, attachment and anger—there are six root disturbing thoughts. However, this aspect is to pacify all of these and to lead sentient beings from true sufferings to temporal happiness, and even from the cause of suffering by guiding them to the state of liberation; even from the subtle dual view, the subtle obscurations. If one finds this very difficult, if somehow it doesn’t fit one’s mind, one can visualize the compassionate Buddha in four-armed aspect.
Now we will do the practice of refuge and generating bodhicitta, the altruistic mind of enlightenment. Remember, as I explained before, the meaning of these prayers:
I GO FOR REFUGE TO THE BUDDHA, DHARMA, AND THE SUBLIME ASSEMBLY UNTIL I BECOME ENLIGHTENED.
You should know why one has to rely on Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and remember these things while doing this meditation, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. When we have some disease, we have to rely on the doctor, even for simple things. We cannot recognize the disease and cannot recover by ourselves. We have to depend on the doctor. If we didn’t have to depend on others we wouldn’t need a teacher to teach us A B C D. If you think we don’t need to practice refuge in order to be free from samsara—true suffering and the true cause of suffering—then there should also be no need to depend on others to teach us A B C D! We shouldn’t need to go to school, to university or to college and to depend on a teacher.
Generally it is like this: even to know the methods of earning food or money depends on a teacher, depends upon relying on somebody. Then why not for the path to achieve the ever-release from samsara and enlightenment? Examine this from your heart. Think carefully, in order not to waste this one time that you have received the perfect, precious human rebirth, but to make it highly meaningful. One cannot guide oneself from samsara, from all the obscurations, by oneself alone. One cannot guide oneself without depending on Buddha who revealed the path; without depending on the path; without depending on the helper, the Sangha—like the patient has to rely on a doctor, medicine and nurses for his disease to be cured. As you have some understanding of, and can remember what is meant by Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, meditate with a strong feeling then rely on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in order to free all the sentient beings from suffering and to lead them to enlightenment.
I GO FOR REFUGE TO THE BUDDHA, THE DHARMA AND THE SUBLIME ASSEMBLY...
Remember, “My being alive each day is not for my happiness, but to eliminate all other sentient beings’ sufferings and to obtain happiness for them. The purpose of my being a human being, my being alive in each hour, each minute, is completely for others. I exist for others, not for myself; for each of the narak beings with their sufferings as we meditated this morning; preta beings; animal beings; for each of the human beings, including the enemy whom I dislike, to liberate him from suffering and to lead him to enlightenment. Like this with each and every sentient being. I’m not living my life to harm others; the purpose of living my life is to benefit other sentient beings. Not only to offer temporal benefits, but also ultimate benefits. The actual thing that is needed, the most important thing, is ultimate benefit—not short-term benefits, but long-term benefits. To cease all the obscuration and stains and to cause them to attain a state of peerless happiness, the greatest liberation.”
Think, “My life is not to confuse others, but to help others, to free others from confusion. The purpose of my life, my existing is to be used by other sentient beings, to be a means of their living, whatever they need. To be used by other sentient beings in whichever way they want, for their happiness; like they use the four elements: water, earth, fire and air, for living, for their pleasure. They use these in many different ways, however they want; likewise may my life, my suffering, my body, speech and mind be beneficial in whichever way they want. It’s up to them—it’s not up to me. I’m owned by others; I belong to others, I don’t belong to myself.”
It is very important to practice the bodhisattva’s attitude and the bodhisattva’s conduct, “I belong to others, each of the sentient beings. When I do tong-len practice—giving and taking kindness, I am actually already giving myself, my possessions and my merits—even merit, the cause of temporal and ultimate happiness—to each sentient being. Charity has already been made to each sentient being, so nothing belongs to me. It belongs completely to other sentient beings, including my enemy, the one whom I dislike; the whole thing completely belongs to him. I exist only to make charity, to give it to him. So how can I think of this body, speech and mind, these possessions, their merits as mine? How can I use these for my own happiness?” While these belong to others, how can we use them for our own happiness? We should practice like this.
As it is said in one practice called Slaying the Ego, “While thinking that one’s possessions, and body, speech and mind are one’s own, one used them freely, however one wants to for one’s own happiness. Like that, let others use one’s own body, speech and mind, everything, freely, as one uses one’s things normally.” By thinking, “This is mine,” one uses it freely for one’s own happiness. Exchange; let others use it freely, however they want, for their happiness. You should develop the practice of the bodhisattvas. Try to practice the bodhisattva’s attitude or conduct. Please offer the mandala.
THE GROUND WITH SCENT...
Please make the request for the three great purposes, “I prostrate to and take refuge in the guru and the Triple Gem. I am requesting you to transform my mind. Please, immediately pacify all the wrong conceptions from disrespect to the guru to the subtle dual view of the white, red, and dark visions, of myself and all sentient beings. I’m requesting you to immediately grant all the right realizations from devotion to the guru up to the unified state of no-more-learning, in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings. I’m requesting you to pacify completely all the outer and inner hindrances and to complete the realizations of the Graduated Path to enlightenment.” Particularly request the stable understanding of karma and bodhicitta.
OM IDAM GURU RATNA...
We are going to recite one round of the mantra. Even if you don’t understand at the moment that “I” and things are merely labeled, at least try to understand “labeled.” Generate compassion for other sentient beings; try to realize how other sentient beings are suffering. In fact, there is no “I” that is not labeled existing on these aggregates. In fact there is no such thing as the body existing without being labeled on the parts, or the gathering, the groups, the particles, of the body. There is no such thing as the mind existing which is not labeled on the continuation of the mental particles in each hour and each minute. Today’s consciousness or mind depends on the mind on the mind of each of the twenty-four hours and that depends on the minutes of consciousness, and that on seconds of consciousness, and that on so many split-seconds of consciousness. This continuity from one second to another is labeled “today’s mind.” However, there is no such thing as much existing which is not labeled on those particles.
As we already discussed, and which is easy to understand—without the parents labeling the aggregates there would be no person whose name is “Paul”; no Paul existing from his own side on those aggregates. Without anybody labeling “Paul” on those aggregates there would be no Paul. Paul exists by merely labeling the aggregates. So this “I” and aggregates, everything, all the sense objects and the sense consciousness, as I mentioned before, do not exist without being merely labeled. Actually, if one has a bit of merit and has pacified obstacles and thinks well on the fact that nothing exists without being labeled, then without the need to say “merely” but just by saying “labeled” one would get the idea of merely labeled. Things exists by being merely labeled, like the name “Paul” cannot exist without somebody labeling those aggregates. The Paul appearing to exists on those aggregates without being labeled is completely non-existent. There is not even the slightest atom; it’s a completely hallucination.
Like this, for all kind mother sentient beings, their own “I,” aggregates, everything, appear as if they exist without being labeled, exist completely from their own side. While there are no such “I” and aggregates, body and mind—or six senses and sense objects—form, tastes, smells, sounds, contactables—existing from their own side, it appears to them that everything is existing from its own side. In reality they are empty of existing from their own side without being labeled. They completely cling to this as one-hundred percent true: that the consciousness, the “I,” the aggregates, the sense objects, everything are as they are appearing. For a person who has taken LSD, the earth is turned into moving worms although actually there are no worms. Or, a person who instead of seeing one dollar sees it as one thousand or whatever the biggest bill is—one million or ...
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In reality it doesn’t exist, but because the mind is hallucinating due to mantra or certain substances like drugs, or defective consciousness or senses, it appears like it is one hundred percent true. In fact there’s not even an atom of the one billion dollars which appears to the person’s senses and which he clings to.
Like this, the kind mother sentient beings are completely hallucinating about the way I and the aggregates, they themselves are existing. They believe something other than what exists in reality. This is the greatest disease, the greatest suffering and confusion. Because of this, anger, ignorance and karma—the cause of happiness and suffering—the dissatisfied mind, and all the disturbing thoughts arise, and they become more confused.
Then by generating much compassion purify the cause of suffering, the ignorance holding true existence, and all true sufferings and obscuration which interferes, with quickly achieving enlightenment.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
When you think of all beings at the same time, it may not be clear, it may not be that effective, so think that you first purify the narak beings, then the preta beings, then the animals—gradually, then its more effective. Nectar beams enter and purify them and their bodies become like crystal, calm and clear. As I mentioned, be aware of their particular sufferings, and as you finish each realm think that this is happening to yourself also.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Preta beings suffer mainly from hunger and thirst. The main suffering of animals is that they are food, are eaten by other sentient beings. Also they suffer from heat and cold. Human beings have the eight sufferings. Then there are the sufferings of the suras and asuras. Purify them, being aware not only of the cause, but of their true suffering.
Maybe you have watched television all your life—now you should make it useful! Or maybe you did much sightseeing—now you should make it useful! I think there are many creatures that make children and then the children eat the father. There is one huge fish like that which eats the mother or father, I don’t know which. Scorpions lay thousands of eggs and I heard they eat the mother. She gets completely covered by the children and they eat her. Think about this. There are many other examples such as the mother eating her children. Besides being attacked by others, even the family eats each other! There are many other examples which I haven’t seen but have heard about.
All animals are food for each other. Every animal is always looking for another animal to eat—those in the oceans, snakes, everything. Even tiny ones have other creatures which they eat. Those small conch shells which stick to the rocks at the beach—they are brought on to the beach by waves and as soon as the water goes away birds with long beaks come to eat them. They can’t fly away! Just think about being a shellfish and a bird with a long beak is coming and you can’t fly, can’t escape. It’s just unbelievable! It makes tears come to think of what they are suffering; just the true suffering, without talking about the true cause of suffering.
Then think about the true cause of suffering. They have a mind and feelings; they all have suffering and don’t have happiness. It’s the same thing for birds. After the birds eat, ants come to eat what is left over; many tiny ants completely fill the insides of the conch shells. I heard that when the turtles come up to lay eggs in the sand and then return to the water, the eagles eat them. Unbelievable. The big animals have other small animals attacking them and eating them. You should think about this extensively. Now you should remember so that the sightseeing you have done in the past and the television that you have watched become useful. They are useful because they can be used to subdue and control your own mind and to develop bodhicitta for the sake of sentient beings. Then it makes sense to go on tours; otherwise it is a waste of money! In this way however much money is spent you get the essence out of that which is essenceless!
It is very effective to go to the zoo or the beach. There are variously-shaped creatures quite similar to what was explained in the teachings. There are unimaginable creatures in the oceans which look like flowers or plants. Some can be seen at the beach in the sand or where there are rocks. Growing on the rocks there is one thing which looks kind-of like green grass, but actually it is an animal. It opens its mouth, which is red inside, just before the waves come. When I was watching them some were a little bit open and some were closed. What they do is, they open when the waves come and many creatures go inside and then they close. Unbelievable! In India I used to find some leaves which had the complete face of a human, very small and white—eyes, nose, mouth. Very strange! There are also some creatures which are completely like a stick. So it’s very useful to see the creatures in the zoo. One of the reasons I used to go is that it is the same as reading a text on karma. It is another way to think about karma.
Then, there are books about animals. Some animals which are seen through microscopes are like water bubbles. There are so many unbelievable things. All those are teachings on karma if one knows how to think. This is not like in those stories from the sutra texts which I mentioned which are about things you don’t see now. Now you don’t see the animal with eighteen heads or the golden ka-ka or whatever it is. At these places there is something which one can understand now. You can see those things by going into the water, to the zoo, and so on.
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The mind is completely transformed, becoming oneness with Chenrezig’s great compassion towards all; feeling the sufferings of each sentient being as unbearable; wishing to free them from all the sufferings and obscurations by oneself.
MAY THE ALTRUISTIC MIND OF ENLIGHTENMENT BE GENERATED WITHIN MY MIND AND THE MINDS OF ALL SENTIENT BEINGS WHERE IT HAS NOT BEEN GENERATED; AND WHERE IT HAS BEEN GENERATED, MAY IT INCREASE.
Please listen to the teaching...
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Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained in the teaching called Tsom... I think the entire text was recently translated into English by one student who lived here a long time, a Canadian monk. It is very effective for the mind. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, “About even a very small non-virtuous action, negative karma, one shouldn’t think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. This is so small it won’t harm me,” actions such as saying one or two nasty words which hurt another’s mind, or kicking dogs, or beating people. Also, disrespect for holy objects. The precepts of taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and what one should practice and what one should renounce, wasn’t finished yet. Those small things are very important.
If we want to practice we need to hear more. We need to listen and study many and various teachings, all the lam-rim subjects. Otherwise we will always have a limited understanding, knowing some karma subjects but not understanding others. Understanding karma is not easy, you know. It is very extensive. We should know as much as possible in order to practice.
Whether an action is virtuous or non-virtuous mostly depends on the motive, but there are many which depend on a holy object, not on the motive—whether they become the cause of suffering or of happiness depends on the powerful objects. So there are many things to learn; even if we have heard some lam-rim teachings and we think we might know about karma, there are many details to understand.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, “Even by collecting drops of water a large pot gets filled.” He used this as an example for negative karma, how by the collection of many small negative karmas the effect becomes great. That is one way for it to become great. I think I will mention it at the end, when the main part of the explanation is finished. The different small negative karmas are collected and become huge, like mountains are composed of atoms. Not only that, but unless the small karmas that are accumulated each day are purified that day, they multiply by the next day; day by day, month by month, year by year. Even if one small negative karma is not purified, it multiplies, it increases. So there are different ways to understand the collection of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings.
There are two ways to understand the increase of karma. One shouldn’t be careless of even an extremely small negative karma, thinking, “It won’t give harm,” because in one way it multiplies, and the other way, by accumulating many small ones they become like mountains. Even by killing one tiny creature—a mosquito, a flea, or any tiny creature—if one does not purify that negative karma on that day it increases. Doing the meditation practice of confession the downfalls to the Thirty-five Buddhas, or the mantra practice of one very powerful deity, Vajrasattva, which has the particular function of purifying the sentient beings’ negative karmas, their obstacles to generating the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment; or perfect confession with the four powers—I think this topic came on the very first day of the course—and purification practice, are methods of purification. If one does purification together with the confessions practice—the four powers—it is the most powerful, the most perfect method.
If one doesn’t get any purification done by the next day the negative karma has doubled; then tripled the third day. After fifteen days, through multiplying, the negative karma becomes as heavy as having killed a human being. After eighteen days the negative karma of having killed a mosquito or a flea multiplies by 100,000, then another 30,000 then another 1,000—I don’t remember the 100’s. It has increased like this after eighteen days. I will explain the four powers at the end of the basic subject, when some more details of karma are finished. Then maybe I will give the oral transmission of the mantras of these meditation practices.
Also Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, “Don’t think that the small negative karma that was accumulated won’t ripen in the future,” which means, “Don’t think it won’t be experienced in the future.” “Just as a great pot gets filled by water drops, by collecting the small negative karmas the child gets extremely filled.” He is saying “child,” but it actually means “ordinary being.” Normally in the teachings they are called “child.” The way we ordinary, worldly people act through body, speech and mind is childish. So, in the teachings they are always called “child.” When the higher beings—the bodhisattvas, the arhats, those beings who have entered in the path—look at how we live life, they see us as kind of very ignorant, kind of crazy, very foolish or childish. Then, it makes big sense! “The child gets extremely filled,” doesn’t mean the child gets filled with happiness or bliss! The child gets extremely filled with the collection of small negative karmas. “Gets extremely filled” also means doesn’t do any practice of purification; doesn’t know how important it is to purify; doesn’t know the meditation techniques to purify. Even if he knows he doesn’t practice. Then the mind of that “child,” of that ordinary being, gets completely filled by negative karmas. Instead of being completely filled with good karmas, it is filled with negative karmas.
Also it is said in the teachings, “Even if the skilled, wise person’s negative karma is great, it is easy; even if the foolish person’s negative karma is small, it becomes great.” That is very true; “the skillful, wise person” means wise in Dharma—it doesn’t mean wise in worldly politics, or wise in fighting wars, or wise in writing books or speaking languages, but wise in Dharma. Especially wise in karma—what is to be practiced and what is to be renounced. The wise are wise in the profound methods of purification, wise in practicing bodhicitta, wise in meditating on shunyata, wise in meditating on renunciation. For the person who is wise in the meditation techniques to purify, even if he has created much heavy negative karma, his negative karma becomes small because it gets completely purified. It becomes very weak, very small. So that is why it is said, “Even if a wise person’s negative karma is great, it is easy.” “Easy” because it gets immediately purified and becomes small.
Even by reciting Chenrezig’s mantra just one time the wise person can purify even very heavy negative karma such as the five immeasurable negative karmas—causing disunity among the Sangha, killing one’s mother or father, causing blood to flow from a Tathagata or killing an arhat. Among the heavy negative karmas, some of the heaviest are the immeasurable karmas. Why are these karmas called “immeasurable”? “Immeasurable” also has another meaning, but actually “immeasurable” suffering, or “immeasurable” karma means the unbearable suffering state, the heaviest hot suffering in the narak. It is immeasurable, the greatest among the narak sufferings. That makes sense. I think the actual translation of this is “uninterrupted karma.” Why it is called “uninterrupted” is because if this negative karma has been accumulated and no purification is done before death, then the next rebirth is definitely in the narak. With other negative karmas, even if they are not yet purified, maybe some good karma is more powerful than that at the time of death, so there is a possibility one might be born in the upper realms, the realms of the happy transmigrating beings, in the next life. But this uninterrupted negative karma is very heavy, so if nothing is done before death, there is no other rebirth before the narak.
Even such a heavy negative karma as this can be purified by the wise ones, even by reciting a mantra just one time. A person who has bodhicitta realization or who has realization of shunyata can purify even such heavy negative karma by reciting Chenrezig’s long mantra, or even the short one, just one time. Even if one doesn’t have the realization of bodhicitta, but has at least some correct understanding, the recitation of mantra, making prostrations and such things, is perfect—it has much power. Just prostration itself has power due to the holy object, the merit field. Doing these practices with the thought of bodhicitta and shunyata is very powerful.
Even if one does not finish 100,000 recitations, or a big number like 400,000 but one does several thousand, or even several hundred, how much purification is done is dependent mainly on how skillfully it is done, not on the number. As I mentioned before, even by reciting one mantra heavy negative karma can get purified. In some teachings the benefits of the Chenrezig mantra, the history of Chenrezig practice and the biographies of great yogis who attained Chenrezig are explained. There are stories about some practitioners who didn’t even finish the number they planned but already had many signs in their dreams. Some, even though they finished the number they planned, did not have so many signs of being purified. That is why even if the wise ones’ negative karma is great, it is easy; and even if the foolish ones’ negative karma is small, it is great. As I mentioned before, for one who doesn’t know, who doesn’t understand, or hasn’t met the Dharma—especially the teachings about karma—who doesn’t know the method to purify, who doesn’t practice, even though the negative karma is very small it is a great hindrance. There are two ways in which it becomes great, like a mountain: one way is like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said about the drops of water—one by one it becomes great if purification is not done. The other way is that one small negative karma increases.
Even if one has taken Vajrayana vows with Maha-anuttara yoga initiations and broken the root vows, the heaviest karma, or has received a downfall out of the root vows of the Paramitayana—the bodhisattva vows—by reciting the long Vajrasattva mantra, of one hundred syllables 100,000 times that gets completely purified. If one recites the long mantra twenty-one times or the short mantra of four syllables twenty-eight times at the end of the day, the negative karma that has been collected during that day doesn’t increase and it also gets purified. Not only that, but all the past negative karmas that have been accumulated since beginningless rebirths—those which we may have started to experience, but which are not yet finished, or those which we have not started to experience—are purified by this practice.
The small negative karmas give great harm like even a small amount of poison that has gone inside the stomach. Even a small flame, like the flame of candle, can destroy a city, or all of a forest or a whole mountain-side. Even though the negative karma was so small, the harm is great.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha also explained, “Don’t think that the small good that was accumulated won’t be experienced later. Like drops of water falling into a great vase, sentient beings’ minds get filled with the collection of the small virtues.”
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He said in the sutra teachings, “The karmas don’t get lost even throughout hundreds of eons.” The reason is that when the conditions are gathered, when the right time comes, samsaric beings will experience the result. Hundreds of eons is just to give a general idea, but no matter how long it takes, even billions of eons, it doesn’t get lost—whether it is virtue or non-virtue as long as no obstacles happen.
An example: we plant seeds of crops in a field and then as long as nothing happens, as long as no birds eat it or dig it out, as long as it does not rot, when the conditions gather it brings a result. But if obstacles happen like rotting or birds eating it or something, the seed cannot bring its own result. Otherwise it is definite to bring its own result. So, virtue and non-virtue is similar to this. Regarding virtue, if anger or heresy do not arise, these obstacles which destroy virtue, it is definite to bring its own result when conditions are gathered. When it becomes powerful it brings its own result. Now non-virtue: the obstacles are shunyata and bodhicitta! If somebody wants to practice the true cause of suffering, then he should not practice shunyata and bodhicitta, as these become obstacles to that! He shouldn’t do purification practices because then he will not get the chance to suffer! Anyway, if no obstacles happen it is definite to bring its own result when the conditions are gathered. No matter how long it takes, in time, it doesn’t get lost.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained this in the teaching Lung.nam.je, “If one protects one’s own speech, doesn’t do non-virtue with the body and conscientiously abstains from the non-virtuous actions of mind; if one trains, if one practices these three karmic paths, then one will achieve the path that is taught by the Sage.” This means if one trains well in the three virtues, the karmic path of body, speech and mind, the path which was taught by Buddha, “the Sage,” one will achieve the path.
It is also told in the sutra teachings how one naga called “Gyatso,” or “Ocean,” asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, “What is the root of this?” Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave this answer to the naga, “These virtues”—which means virtues such as the ten virtuous actions ...All the virtues and all the non-virtues are not contained in these ten, but in order to get some idea, for it to be easy to protect karma, some of the heavy actions were condensed into ten by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. These ten virtuous actions are the root. “These are the root of all the devas” and human beings” -those who are born and die in samsara—“perfection and happiness, that which they are seeking for.”
That is in regard to temporal happiness. It is also the base, the root of ultimate happiness. There are two liberations or lower enlightenments within the lesser vehicle path: the “hearer- listener” and the “self-conqueror,” the arhats. This is the root of their enlightenment—the mere cessation of true suffering and the cause of suffering.
So, what is the root? Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is saying that these ten virtues are the root. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha further explained to the naga, “For example, the cities, the villages—the places where there are gatherings—the valleys, and the king’s palace; the grass, trees, medicinal plants, and all the woods; all the means of travel—the roads, the ships; the shops that are making business—the whole thing, planting the seeds, growing the crops, plowing,” and the other things that I don’t know, I’m not sure about—all those things are dependent on the earth. “So like this, naga, the path of the ten virtuous actions is the root of being born as a deva or a human being.”
Having entered the Lesser Vehicle path or the Mahayana path and training, nirvana or the great nirvana, or enlightenment, the no-need-of-training, is achieved. For those who are training in virtue, the result is this. The “no-need of training”—both the hearer-listeners’ and the self-conquerors’ liberation, all the bodhisattvas’ conduct, and enlightenment—having all the qualities of a Buddha—the whole thing, comes from these ten virtues.
Now, we have to understand details in order to practice. In regards to killing, for example, we have to understand the details of how it becomes the complete action of killing. The completion of each of these actions has base, thought, action and goal. The base is a being having a mind which is the object. It depends on how you interpret it: it doesn’t mean just anything that people call having “life.” Even plants are regarded as having “life,” but there is a difference of “life” for beings having a mind and what we call the life of plants and things like that. Generally if something is able to perform functions, and has the power to grow, it is called “alive.” When it doesn’t have any power to grow, when there is no power for it to stay in that nature, when it is completely degenerated, it is said that a plant is “dead.” But it doesn’t mean that a plant has mind and that now the mind is separated from the plant. One shouldn’t make a mistake. In the oceans, and even in the forests, there are many things which look like plants, beings having plant shape, but it doesn’t mean they are plants. If it was a plant before and didn’t have mind, and consciousness entered into that plant later, it is no longer a plant; it is a living being even though it has that shape. Before, it was a plant.
Then, the second one, the thought, has three things: recognition, motivation and disturbing thoughts. Recognition is this: the base is a sentient being and the recognition is that it is a sentient being, like an animal or human being—things that we know are living beings. Things may be sentient beings but we recognize them as not being sentient beings. There are many creatures which are actually sentient beings but we don’t know that they are sentient beings. Scientists discovered many creatures that are actually sentient beings, but we recognize them as not being sentient beings. Or, for example, if it is distant or near but you can’t see clearly that it is a living being, there is no recognition and you kill it. You didn’t see clearly or maybe you hallucinated.
Then, there is the recognition of that which is not a sentient being as not being a sentient being. Then, recognition of that which is not a sentient being as a sentient being. For example, many people believe plants are sentient beings. They regard the flowers we see as sentient beings. You see, to receive the actual complete negative karma of killing, one needs unmistaken recognition. For example you want to kill someone called Demon or somebody whose name is “Evil” or “Selfish Attitude”! But due to not seeing clearly or something, you kill someone who is called “Wish-Granting Jewel”! This is mistaken recognition, so the negative karma of killing is not complete. There is no actual recognition missing. This is not the complete non-virtuous action of killing. I think I will stop here.
“Due to the merit of listening to the teachings, doing meditation, doing prayers, all that—the three times merits accumulated by me and other sentient beings—may I achieve the Great Compassionate One’s enlightenment and lead every sentient being to that state.”
Please remember Guru Chenrezig, the Great Compassionate One, who is all the time above one’s own crown and on the crown of sentient beings. We visualize the manifestation that he has taken in order to lead us to enlightenment, to subdue our unsubdued mind.
Then, practice refuge and generate bodhicitta:
“I GO FOR REFUGE TO THE SUBLIME ASSEMBLY...”
“THE GROUND IS BLESSED...”
Please make the request to achieve the three great purposes, “I prostrate and go for refuge to the guru and the three sublime ones; I’m requesting you to bless my mind; I’m requesting you to immediately pacify all the wrong conceptions from disrespect to the virtuous friend up to the subtle dual view -the white, red and dark visions—mine and other sentient beings. I’m requesting you to immediately grant all the right realizations from respect to the guru up to the unified state of no-more-learning—within my mind and the minds of all sentient beings. I’m requesting you to pacify all the outer and inner obstacles”—the outer obstacles to generating the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment. I think these are things like living beings, or the place, which disturb, and do not let one practice Dharma. I think it is also physical problems which hinders the practice of Dharma. Inner obstacles are the disturbing thoughts hindering the generation of the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment. Due to the inner obstacles, the disturbing thought, the outer obstacles arise. Also, because of the conditions—the outer obstacles—the inner obstacles develop. They kind of become friends to each other. Together they oblige one to suffer in samsara and don’t allow one to receive enlightenment by blocking the realizations of the path. There are outer, inner and secret obstacles. There are different ways that lamas explain it.
Think especially that the stable understanding of karma is generated in one’s mind and the minds of all sentient beings.
OM IDAM GURU RATNA...
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In the previous courses, with the Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga we have read the direct meditation on the complete path to enlightenment in order to plant the seed of the whole path, every day. On the basis of planting the seed every day by doing this direct meditation, we train our mind in the path, doing analytical meditation and fixed one-pointed concentration in order to transform the mind into the graduated path to enlightenment. When there is need of analytical meditation, doing that, and when there is need of fixed meditation, practicing that, thus making preparations for quickly generating the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment in this life and in the near future lives. During this course somehow these practices didn’t get done. Somehow I didn’t particularly feel to do it this time.
Please concentrate on the meaning of the teachings of the complete path to enlightenment. If one does not pay attention when one does this prayer, if one is not mindful of the meaning, then it doesn’t accomplish the purpose of planting seeds on the mind in order to generate the path. This is making requests to Guru Chenrezig. Concentrate on the meaning, then from the heart request Chenrezig to grant the realizations. Then, think that they are generated. You can think that white nectar rays flow from Guru Chenrezig and purify all the obstacles to the whole path to enlightenment—one’s own and other sentient beings! Then, yellow nectar rays continuously flow from Guru Chenrezig. After each stanza think, “I have received this realization,” after the request.
“THE FOUNDATION OF ALL KNOWLEDGE IS THE KIND AND VENERABLE GURU. PLEASE BLESS ME TO SEE CLEARLY THAT TRUST IN HIM IS THE ROOT OF THE PATH, AND TO FOLLOW HIM CORRECTLY WITH GREAT DEVOTION AND UNFALTERING EFFORT.”
Think that the realization of the correct devotion to the guru is generated in one’s mind and in minds of all sentient beings. When you do this, you should also think of the Dharma friend’s here, and of all the six realms’ sentient beings. You should think of your own parents and any particular person whom you want to benefit—one’s enemy, and all the sentient beings. You should think like that each time, in order to generate the realizations. This is what they need so this is the best thing for them. The sentient beings are suffering because of a lack of these realizations, so this is what is needed. If you pray in this way, such meditation practice becomes a great puja, the best preparation to free them from suffering, and to lead them to enlightenment.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO REALIZE THAT THIS PRECIOUS BODY WITH FREEDOM IS FOUND ONLY ONCE, TO UNDERSTAND ITS GREAT MEANING AND RARITY AND TO CULTIVATE STEADILY, BOTH DAY AND NIGHT, THE MIND THAT TAKES HOLD OF ITS ESSENCE.”
Think that the realization of perfect human rebirth, its usefulness, and the difficulty in receiving it, is generated in one’s mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO REALIZE THAT MY BODY AND LIFE ARE LIKE A WATER-BUBBLE, TO REMEMBER HOW QUICKLY THEY DECAY AND DEATH COMES; AND TO GAIN FIRM, UNCHANGEABLE UNDERSTANDING THAT AFTER DEATH I MUST FOLLOW BLACK AND WHITE KARMA, LIKE A SHADOW FOLLOWS THE BODY. AND BLESS ME ALWAYS TO BE CAREFUL TO AVOID THE SLIGHTEST NEGATIVE KARMA AND TO COMPLETE THE ACCUMULATION OF MERIT.”
Think that one has generated the realization of impermanence and death, and also the realization of aversion to the lower realms of suffering; and stable faith, effortless devotion, to the Triple Gem and then the stable, definite understanding of karma.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO SATISFACTION IN ENJOYING SAMSARIC PLEASURES AND THEIR SHORTCOMING IS THAT THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED. BLESS ME TO CULTIVATE THE WISH TO STRIVE INTENTLY FOR THE BLISS OF THE BOUNDLESS STATE OF NIRVANA.”
From this pure thought arises remembrance, awareness and great caution.
“MAY I MAKE THE ESSENTIAL PRACTICE WHICH IS THE ROOT OF THE TEACHINGS THE KEEPING OF THE VOWS OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERATION.”
Think that the uncreated, or effortless realization, the thought of renouncing samsara, is generated within one’s own mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO SEE THAT ALL MOTHER SENTIENT BEINGS HAVE FALLEN INTO THE OCEAN OF SAMSARA JUST AS I HAVE, AND TO TRAIN MY MIND IN SUPREME BODHICITTA—TO CARRY THE BURDEN OF RELEASING ALL TRANSMIGRATING BEINGS.”
Think, “The realization of bodhicitta is generated in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.”
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO SEE CLEARLY THAT WITH BODHICITTA ALONE I CANNOT ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT WITHOUT TRAINING IN THE THREE PRACTICES OF MORALITY, AND THEREFORE TO FOLLOW WITH INTENSIVE EFFORT THE ORDINATIONS OF THE SONS OF THE VICTORIOUS ONES.”
Think that oneself and other sentient beings have received the capability, the merit to keep the bodhisattva vows purely.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO PACIFY DISTRACTION BROUGHT ON BY WRONG OBJECTS, AND BY ANALYZING THE MEANING OF REALITY TO QUICKLY PERFECT THE CO-OPERATIVE PATHS OF TRANQUILITY AND HIGHER SEEING.”
Think, “I have generated the realizations of tranquil abiding—shamatha and penetrative insight, the great higher seeing.
“HAVING BECOME A PURE VESSEL THROUGH THE GENERAL PATH, PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO INSTANTLY ENTER THE SUPREME, INSEPERABLE PATH, THE HOLY GATEWAY OF THE FORTUNATE ONES.”
Think, I have received the fortune, the capability, to receiving initiation and enter the path of the secret mantra.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO GAIN FIRM UNDERSTANDING THAT THE BASIS OF THE TWO ATTAINMENTS IS THE IMMACULATE WORD OF HONOR THAT I HAVE PLEDGED, AND TO PROTECT THESE PLEDGES AT THE COST OF MY LIFE.”
Think that one has received the merits, the capability, to be able to keep the tantra vows even at the cost of one’s life. To be able to guard them, to be able to practice them, is more precious than life.
“PLEASE GRANT ME BLESSINGS TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TWO STAGES WHICH ARE THE HEART OF THE TANTRA PATH; TO PRACTICE WITHOUT INDOLENCE THE FOUR SESSIONS OF MEDITATION AND TO REALIZE THE TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY BEINGS.”
One should think that one has received the merit, the capability, to be able to do four sessions of the sublime yoga practice, and to be able to accomplish the teachings of the holy beings in one’s own mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.
“MAY THE VIRTUOUS GUIDES WHO LEAD ME ON THE SECRET PATH, AND MY SPIRITUAL FRIENDS WHO PRACTICE IT, HAVE LONG LIVES. BLESS ME TO COMPLETELY PACIFY ALL OUTER AND INNER HINDRANCES TO DHARMA PRACTICE.”
Then, as requested, all those obstacles are pacified, become empty.
“IN ALL MY REBIRTHS MAY I ALWAYS BE UNITED WITH PERFECT GURUS AND ENJOY THE MAGNIFICENT DHARMA. MAY I PERFECTLY COMPLETE THE STAGES AND PATHS, AND QUICKLY ACHIEVE THE VAJRADHARA STAGE.”
“Vajradhara’s state” is enlightenment, the unification of the holy body and holy mind. This last stanza is kind of the shortest prayer of the graduated path to enlightenment. To achieve the unified state, the stage which is the union of the holy body and the holy mind, depends on generating the graduated path to enlightenment, and that is dependent on not separating from the virtuous friend. If one separates from the virtuous friend, then in this life and future lives one will not hear the teachings completely, nor understand the meaning nor do meditation practice.
Making this prayer of the graduated path to enlightenment precisely is in order to generate the realizations of the graduated path. If the lam-rim realizations are not generated in this life, even though one tries to practice, then due to praying precisely one will be able to generate them in future lives.
Then, we will recite the mantra with the same meditation as was done at other times.
OM MANI PADME HUM... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Now I think it is about time to have lunch, so if there are any questions? Yes?
Audience Member: I have a question about karma. If we make an effort to achieve one day, this going out of samsara, I have the impression that somewhere...
Lama Zopa: If you what?
A.M: If without effort one day maybe we can overcome coming back to samsaric life...
L.Z: Come back to the samsaric life?
A.M: Then I have the impression that somewhere very far in the beginningless time, maybe there also was a state...
L.Z: Who says that after becoming enlightened one comes back to this life?
A.M: I mean if it is possible with effort to come to a state where we are not coming back to this. So probably I imagine that there must have been such a stage before, a very very long time ago, when this stage was once attained.
A.M: Yes. What is the reason that we are reborn and exist in these samsaric realms? Like, for example, in the Christian religion there is the original sin that makes it that we have to come to earth. So in the Buddhist teachings what is the reason that the form and the life starts?
L.Z: I think I emphasized some days ago—actually quite a lot of times—the advantages of practicing Dharma. It is said in the Bodhicaryavatara by the great bodhisattva Shantideva—if we think of this, then it is very useful for our mind, even in our everyday life, even though we have not entered in the path, and even thought we are not higher beings....
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I don’t remember the details word by word in the quotation about the advantages of practicing Dharma and destroying the inner enemy compared to the opposite to Dharma practice, trying to destroy the outside enemies. That is what the worldly people normally do and what they think is the solution. They think that to kill, to destroy, the outside enemy who gives harm is the way to make one not have enemies. In essence Shantideva said: no matter how much we kill, how much we destroy the outside enemy—even if we kill all of the enemies in this country, even if we deport them from this country—they will come back after some time. Once we eliminate this inner enemy, the disturbing thoughts, from the mind; once we completely subdue the true cause of suffering so even the seed is non-existent, it is impossible for it to come back or to arise again.
Why is Shantideva saying that it is impossible? Because there is no cause for it to arise again. If you understand the meaning of samsara you will understand. Our deluded aggregates are caused by past karma and disturbing thoughts. Now, there are two ways to think of the deluded aggregates. One way to think is that these aggregates are contaminated by the seeds of the disturbing thoughts, the impressions. The seeds are there today because they were not eliminated in the past lives. The seed of the ignorance holding true existence was not ceased, the consciousness was not separated from that before, so that is why today there is this seed and the ignorance holding the truly existent “I.”
At this moment there is no strong anger arising, but it doesn’t mean we are completely free of anger. Actually, if we think now of a person whom we dislike, how terrible he is, how he gave us harm, anger may arise even now. Or, in regard to somebody of whom you are jealous, jealousy or anger might arise, even though at this moment you don’t have it. Even though there is no strong attachment arising now at this moment, but sooner or later when we meet a desirable object suddenly attachment will arise strongly, without effort. That is because these aggregates are contaminated by the seeds of disturbing thoughts, because the seeds were not ceased by the remedy, the path. That is why our experience today, in this life, we have delusions, the disturbing thoughts, arising.
We are born with the seeds because in past lives we didn’t cease them. We didn’t achieve the liberation of separating the seeds of the disturbing thoughts from the consciousness, by generating the path. So, because of that, in this life when we meet different desirable objects attachment arises; or not meeting undesirable objects anger, jealous mind and those things arise; and ignorance arises in regard to the objects of indifference. What Shantideva is saying is that once even the seeds of the disturbing thoughts are completely eliminated by the remedy—the path—the true cause of suffering—the delusions—never arises because there is no seed, no cause, no reason at all.
You see, in a place where a poisonous tree is growing we take out all the soil and the poisonous seeds, completely. As long as we don’t take out the seed if will grow again and again, even if we cut down the tree. So if you completely take out the seed and clean the place completely, don’t leave any poisonous seeds there, then the poisonous tree can’t grow because there is no seed. Similarly, once even the seeds of the disturbing thoughts are completely eliminated it is impossible for them to arise again. If it is possible for them to come into existence again, without seeds, without a cause then there is no point in practicing Dharma at all. No point at all, because then there is no solution to stop suffering. The true cause of suffering would be truly existent, without a cause, existing without depending on anything; and true suffering would also be truly existent, independent, without depending on anything. That means there would be no solution at all. We couldn’t even stop disease by medicine because disease, for example a headache, is a dependent arising, dependent on many causes and conditions, and dependent on the base and the thought labeling “headache.” It is empty of independence. So, that is why by taking medicine it can be cured. The medicine is also empty of independence, of true existence. Otherwise, if the true causes of suffering were truly existent, there would be no cure.
Consider this simple example: when you feel hungry, eating food stops the hunger. That wouldn’t happen if this hunger were independent, if it didn’t depend on not having food in the stomach! If hunger came by itself without depending on causes and conditions, then eating food would not be the solution to stop hunger now after twenty-four hours!
The conclusion is that: if we practice Dharma, generating the path which is the remedy to the disturbing thoughts, it is one time work. Once the disturbing thoughts are ceased completely by generating the path, the work is finished. You don’t need to practice again, starting from guru devotion, the perfect human rebirth, impermanence and death, renunciation of samsara and bodhicitta! One doesn’t need to repeat it because there is no reason—there is no obstacle, there is no obscuration.
So, you see, even if you kick out, deport the outside enemy, it comes back again and again. Also particularly if you kill an enemy, enemies increase instead of decreasing. Anyway, there is no end because harming others is itself karma creating the cause to have more enemies. However much you continue to harm others, there is no end. However, in regards to Dharma practice, by doing it one time it has an end. I think I will stop here.
Please listen to the teaching well by generating at least the effortful bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings, therefore I am going to listen to the commentary of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment.”
There should be unmistaken recognition in regard to the complete action of killing. There are four things in order to complete the actual body of the karma of killing: base, thought, action and completion. Thought has three aspects: recognition, motive and the disturbing thought. Recognition: unmistaken recognition of whom one kills. But when one does the action of killing, if one has the thought, “Whoever I meet I will kill,” that doesn’t need unmistaken recognition! It is similar with the rest of the ten non-virtuous actions in regard to recognition. The motive is the wish to kill. The disturbing thought is what makes the action of killing non-virtuous.
In the Mahayana teachings there are three non-virtuous actions of mind specified: ill-will, covetousness and heresy. There is no way to transform those into virtue. It is like trying to transform the black darkness into light. You can eliminate the darkness by having light, but you can’t transform darkness into light! Similarly, cloth which is dirty can be made clean, but dirtiness, the dirt itself, cannot be transformed. But it is said in the Mahayana teachings that the three actions of body—killing, stealing and sexual misconduct—and those of speech—telling lies, slandering, gossiping and speaking harshly—can be transformed into virtue, depending on the motive.
In the Mahayana teachings the main emphasis is on the attitude of mind, not so much the external actions. Between outside and inside, the main emphasis is on the inside, the mind. If you keep in the mind what I am going to mention you might have a lot of questions arising.
When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was a bodhisattva in a previous life, following the Mahayana path, he was the leader or guide for five hundred business people on a ship crossing the ocean. There was one person—a black man, I don’t know, but maybe carrying a short spear in his hand—in Tibetan he is called Ma.na.ten due.chen—who suddenly has a bad thought to kill them all. The “great-minded”—it means brave—guide, the bodhisattva understood that this black man was having bad thoughts arising in his mind, so he thought, “If I let him kill these five hundred people they will suffer greatly and he will create incredibly heavy negative karma and will have to experience suffering in the naraks for many eons.” So, unbelievable compassion for Ma.na.ten due.chen arose, that he is creating such unbelievable, heavy negative karma. Then he thought, “Instead of him creating negative karma and being born in the narak, how wonderful if I got born in the narak in his place. I will kill him and get born in the narak. Thinking, “I am going to kill this person,” he completely renounced himself in order to create the negative karma to be born in the naraks to save those other sentient beings. That bodhisattva’s action of killing became virtuous. It not only became virtuous, but it became incredible purification. You see, the action of killing done with unbearable compassion, with bodhicitta, completely renouncing himself and cherishing the others, instead of causing him to be born in the narak, caused him to be born in Samsara for 100,000 eons less in regard to time.
I think when Maitreya was a bodhisattva following the path, he met one girl who was kind-of completely crazy, in danger of committing suicide because of being completely intoxicated by desire, I think because of not finding a husband. Maitreya Buddha, the bodhisattva, felt unbelievable compassion that she was creating negative karma which would cause her great suffering. So he completely gave himself up to suffer in order to save the girl, for twelve years, renouncing himself completely to suffer for the sake of this girl. That action, instead of being a cause to be born in the narak, became the cause to be in samsara a shorter time.
So you see, the great-minded bodhisattvas are like this. Even though those actions done with the speech or body look like non-virtue from the outside, they were a great purification. Those actions have recognition and motive but are not done with disturbing thoughts. The non-virtuous actions of killing are done with disturbing thoughts—either ignorance or anger or attachment.
Then, in regard to actions of killing, doing it by oneself or letting others do, it is the same. If one asks others to do it, even if one asks the butcher to do it, it’s the same. A general is not in the war killing millions of people himself, but he gives a few words—“Attack those people,” or “Destroy that city.” Just by giving orders in two or three words, perhaps a thousand or million people get killed, even though he is not there carrying guns or anything, but staying on his bed all the time.
(end of tape)
When the armies get orders, they kill.
There are different ways the action can be done—using weapons, gentle ways like poison, or black magic and using the power of mantras and things like that. Then, if a person shoots or somehow harms another person but himself died before the victim, who died afterwards, the actual body of the non-virtuous action of killing is not completed. Perhaps the killer is already in the intermediate state when the victim dies! To complete the action, the victim has to die before the killer. It is the same if they die at the same time. If the victim dies first, even if the killer dies after one hour, the negative karma of killing is completed.
Then, regarding stealing: the base has to be something that is possessed or kept by, or belongs to others. The thought is the same as before: the recognition, the motive—wanting to steal—and the disturbing thought, “I want it,” is one of the poisonous minds of ignorance, attachment or anger. Here ignorance is not only the ignorance of holding true existence—any of these non-virtuous actions might be covered by the ignorance holding true existence, but in particular, it might be ignorance of karma, or not knowing that this action is stealing. The action is the same. There is robbing by force, confiscation, or stealing by hiding. For example, you put down a deposit to the person when you borrow something so that the person has trust that you will return it. Security. Say you borrow money or you borrow a book, then after some time, many years, you think, “Maybe it is O.K. now! I’ve had this book in my room for many years.” Of course, if the person is dead, you don’t have an object to return it back to. Unless you want to return it back to the reincarnation! Send it by post to the naraks. Or send a telegram to the person, “Please quickly be reborn in the human realm so I can give it back”! As soon as you decide not to return it the actual body of the non-virtuous action of stealing is completed. Also there are other ways: if one gets the material by cheating or by cunning and thinks “I’ve got it; it belongs to me,” the action is completed. Even if oneself doesn’t go to steal but asks others to steal, it’s the same thing and one receives the actual body of the non-virtuous action of stealing. But if one actually asks somebody to steal, and before the thought “Now I’ve got it; now this is mine, I won’t return it back” arises, if one’s mind changes ad the thought to give it back comes, even if the person has the object, one doesn’t receive the actual body of the non-virtuous action of stealing because it was not completed.
This is the general explanation, but now we have to think about many particular things. For example; if you are going by train or by airplane it may be a bit more difficult—even if the conductor didn’t ask whether you have a ticket or nor but after you came out of the train, if you think, “Oh, today I have been very successful, very lucky, very clever, I didn’t buy a ticket, nobody bothered me, so I have been very lucky,” it is stealing. Actually it is more lucky if you pay, because it doesn’t create negative karma. But you think the other way, not thinking of the burdens that will come in the future lives, the extra sufferings to be experienced later, only thinking of the money. Not thinking of the good karma of abstaining from stealing. Whenever the thought comes, “I didn’t need to give and I have got the cost of the ticket,” the actual body of the non-virtuous action of stealing is complete.
Then another example: even if the stealing is not done for oneself, but for one’s relatives or one’s friend, the attitude is the disturbing thoughts, kind-of attachment or something like that.
Sexual misconduct has four things to be gathered to complete the action. First is the object, which is not an object to be entered, which is not a limb to be entered. Then the wrong place is a place where if one has sexual intercourse it becomes sexual misconduct then, the wrong time – if one has sexual intercourse at certain times it becomes sexual misconduct.
Now to look at details. The objects not to be entered are such as another’s wife—if one has sexual intercourse it becomes sexual misconduct. Then, one who is living in the ordination of the eight Mahayana precepts, the Pratimoksha eight precepts, the thirty-six precepts, the two hundred and fifty-four or whatever it is, or the three hundred and sixty-five or something, which the full nun has. Also it should be understood to be vise-versa having intercourse with the wife owned by another husband, or a husband owned by another wife. Also having sexual intercourse with blood relatives becomes sexual misconduct. Not so many have guards outside their door, but anyone who is kind of possessed by, protected by, or belongs to parents or guards. Guardians? Guardians, yes! Guardians, people who guard the door, same as a body-guard. A guard who stands at the door, like at the Nepalese king’s palace. All the palaces and offices have them.
A.M: Does it mean that you are not allowed to have sex with the body-guard?
L.Z: The body-guard that belongs to one’s own parents or even oneself. Yes! Who stands, like the guard—that the officials have outside their doors. That is mentioned in the teachings—it’s the same thing as a body-guard.
A.M: Rinpoche, what if he is off-duty?
L.Z: I think it is different! When he is no longer working for the parents, protecting the parents, or no longer belongs to the parents, then, I think, in regards to that object, it does not become sexual misconduct. There is kind-of punishment for having sexual contact with someone who is guarded by the king or by the body-guards. According to the country’s laws, there is punishment, or the king punishes such contact. Which means it is not allowed by the king, and if one has physical contact with a person who belongs to the king or is protected by guardians, then the king punishes.
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If one has paid a prostitute whom other people pay, who does business, that doesn’t become sexual misconduct. Objects not to be entered: women and also men who don’t have sex, celibates, are not objects to be entered. Then regarding “limbs” which are not to be entered, that is the rest of the “limbs” except the sex organs. I think I will stop here.
“I MUST ACHIEVE QUICKLY, MORE QUICKLY...”
The purpose of making the prayers, the preliminary practices, before the teachings, longer, is that although I didn’t like doing many things at the beginning, I decided to do it just to give you an idea if you want to do some practice, some longer meditation, in everyday life. Then you will know how to start with the methods for purifying and accumulating merit, of creating the cause. This is a very short, simple practice just to get some idea. If I do it, it makes me speak a lot, so that is why I asked Neil to do it! I took refuge in him!
“I PROSTRATE WITH BODY, SPEECH AND MIND IN FAITH...
“THE GROUND WITH SCENT...
Please make the request for the great purpose to Guru Chenrezig:
“I PROSTRATE TO AND TAKE REFUGE IN THE GURU AND TRIPLE GEM AND I AM REQUESTING YOU TO TRANSFORM MY MIND. I AM REQUESTING YOU TO IMMEDIATELY PACIFY ALL THE WRONG CONCEPTIONS WHICH ARE IN THE MINDS OF MYSELF AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS, FROM DISRESPECT TOWARDS THE VIRTUOUS FRIEND, UP TO THE SUBTLE DUAL VIEW OF THE WHITE, RED AND DARK VISIONS. I AM REQUESTING YOU TO IMMEDIATELY GENERATE THE RIGHT REALIZATIONS, STARRING FROM RESPECT AND DEVOTION TOWARDS THE VIRTUOUS FRIEND, UP TO THE UNIFIED STATE OF NO-MORE-LEARNING, WITHIN MY MIND AND WITHIN THE MINDS OF ALL SENTIENT BEINGS.”
If you are doing meditation on a particular subject, then you should make the request to generate that realization in particular, and to purify the particular obstacles to generating that realization. Here the teaching subject is karma, so to purify the obstacles of ignorance and heresy and to generate the particular realization, the stable understanding of karma. Also request that particularly the self-cherishing thoughts, the obstacles to generating bodhicitta, be pacified.
“I AM REQUESTING YOU TO IMMEDIATELY PACIFY ALL THE OUTER AND INNER OBSTACLES, OF MYSELF AND OTHER SENTIENT BEINGS, TO COMPLETING THE PRACTICE AND GENERATING THE GRADUATED PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT.”
Then think that Guru Chenrezig has accepted what you have requested.
OM IDAM GURU RATNA...
The English translation of this prayer to Chenrezig can be received later. After this request white nectar rays are emitted, purifying all the obstacles, yours and other sentient beings’, and generating the realizations that you requested during the mandala offering. Now visualize that all the wrong conceptions, particularly those obstacles to whichever meditation you are doing—such as teachings on karma—are purified. Then, the stable understanding of karma and bodhicitta, and all the realizations, are generated. Then a replica of Chenrezig is absorbed to one’s own heart. Think that that has generated all the realizations.
“THE FOUNDATIONS OF...”
“PLEASE BLESS ME TO SEE CLEARLY...”
OM MANI PADME HUM.... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Chenrezig melts into light, absorbs into one’s own heart, and the same thing happens to all the sentient beings. Then the mind becomes complete oneness with the great compassion of Chenrezig’s holy mind. It is very important to strongly feel as unbearable how the other sentient beings are suffering and are obscured, and to wish that each one be liberated from the obscurations and sufferings by oneself.
“DUE TO THESE MERITS MAY I ACHIEVE THE GREAT COMPASSIONATE ONE’S ENLIGHTENMENT AND THEN LEAD EACH AND EVERY SENTIENT BEING TO THE GREAT COMPASSIONATE ONE’S ENLIGHTENMENT RAPIDLY.”
Then please generate the motivation for the teaching:
“I GO FOR REFUGE TO THE BUDDHA, DHARMA AND SANGHA UNTIL I BECOME ENLIGHTENED. DUE TO THE MERITS OF LISTENING...”
You should think, “The merits of my listening.”
“DUE TO THE MERITS OF LISTENING TO THE TEACHING AND SO ON, ACCUMULATED BY ME...”
You should think this, while I say, “Due to the merits of giving Dharma accumulated by me.”
“MAY I ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL THE SENTIENT BEINGS.”
The following quotation is from the holy speech of Guru Tsongkhapa—the guide, the great leader of the sentient beings of the three realms. In the lines of the lam-rim teaching Hymns of the Experience of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment is described that which has actually been the experience of Lama Tsongkhapa. It is about Lama Tsongkhapa’s complete experience of sutra and tantra, the complete path to enlightenment. “The body which has freedom is much more excellent”—which means much more precious, much higher—“than a wish-granting jewel.” I think in previous times bodhisattvas who had much fortune could go under the oceans to get these most precious jewels, the wish-granting jewels, on special days such as the 15th, the full moon day.
In the Tibetan calendar the day when there is a full moon normally becomes the 15th, or sometimes the 14th. I don’t know the reasons why the 8th, the 15th and the 30th are special days. On the days when there is a full moon, lay people and even monks take the eight Mahayana precepts. Even the monks, who have taken higher precepts, also take Mahayana precepts on these days to accumulate more merit even though normally they accumulate much merit. There is more merit on special days such as Guru Shakyamuni’s day of enlightenment, or of performing the twelve deeds—such as birth, descending from the deva realm Tushita to the southern continent, turning the Dharma wheel and so on. There are many special days. If one accumulates merit on those days it increases.
In the past times the bodhisattvas picked up the wish-granting jewels which were completely covered by mud. Then they cleared the mud in three different ways—the final time with cotton, after the dirt was completely off. Then, by putting banners on the roof on those special days, whatever temporal things they asked for—enjoyments and possessions—they received by the power of the jewel. Of course, it is mainly due to the person’s good karma. The other factor is the co-operative condition—that material has its own power, just as matches can produce fire. There are many things: atoms can produce energy like atomic bombs that have so much material power that they can destroy the world; like the Swami Sai Baba produces white powder from a clay pot. He puts his hand in there and he can produce white powder unceasingly. There is also the wish-granting vase and things like that. Of course, all that is dependent on the person having the karma. Similarly, for a person who has other people doing work for him or who is receiving much wealth from material objects such as his houses, it is basically dependent on the person’s own merit.
When I was in America—not exactly in Los Angeles, but outside the city—most of that place is a kind-of desert, not green but kind-of rocky, but it is a very nice place for retreats or meditation courses. There is one kind of institute there—psychedelic? Some kind of name like that! Anyway, it was a very nice place, very quiet, very isolated. I think since we did that course there many other courses have been done there at different times when lamas come. Vajrapani Center arranged it there because it’s a nice place for a course or for group retreats. The facilities are very comfortable, very luxurious, very quiet, with a of space around. Some student manifested ashes, or dust, by praying to the picture of, I think, Sai Baba—or some other baba. I don’t know which baba it is! Because of praying to the picture ashes feel from the picture. Not hashish—ashes! If it was hashish maybe it would have been more successful! Anyway, I am joking! Whenever he prays, the person gets quite a lot of ashes from the picture. The person gave me quite a bit in a bottle! Of course, it is dependent on the person who is praying, but it is also dependent on the power of the object.
So, that is why in the teachings the wish-granting jewel is mentioned so much—to give some idea of how precious things are, such as the perfect human body, or how kind, how precious sentient beings are. Among the most precious human possessions one cannot find an equivalent, something which has the same value as the perfect human rebirth. An equivalent doesn’t exist—that is the only thing that we can use to get an idea.
As we meditated that night—remember? This perfect human body which is qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses is highly meaningful because we can accomplish the three great purposes or whatever we wish for with it. Without this, however many wish-granting jewels one owns—the whole of space filled with diamonds—one cannot achieve any of the great purposes. So, you see, this is much more precious. The value of a wish-granting is insignificant when we think of the value of the perfect human rebirth. Normally, leaving aside realizing that this perfect human rebirth qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses is much more precious than as many diamonds or dollars as fill all space, we don’t even feel it to be equally as precious as those diamonds or dollars. We don’t feel it to be as precious as one hundred dollars. When we see one hundred dollars we see them as being so precious. Even with one dollar we can have a cup of coffee, or some chocolates, or some candies. We feel this is worthwhile having, that it is worth keeping, that we should not lose it. If one hundred dollars is lost we feel a great loss. However, the precious human rebirth has been wasted since one was born.
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If somebody steals one dollar or five dollars we get so angry. If somebody takes that away without our permission how angry we will get! But, you see, besides not feeling a great loss from wasting one minute, one hour, one day, one month or one year, we don’t feel even the slightest loss even if thirty or forty years—since one was born until now—is completely wasted. We don’t have the feeling of loss in regard to the perfect human rebirth. We keep one dollar, five dollars, or one hundred dollars, in a safe place, taking the best care, because we see the value of that. We don’t see the value of this perfect human rebirth because we are ignorant. Even if it is explained, one doesn’t have the feeling that this is so precious, due to the thick obscurations. One doesn’t feel this is so precious because of not having created the cause, or merit.
In the world, a person who has cancer, or a person who took poison and is going to have much trouble and die soon would immediately try to do something to stop the danger in order to have a longer life. But if he doesn’t know, he doesn’t do anything to stop the danger. So you see, we take the best care of one hundred or a million dollars, or a precious diamond and we try not to lose it when we discover the value of it. We never try to not waste the perfect human rebirth and make it meaningful by attempting to achieve these great purposes.
As Lama Tsongkhapa explained, “The body which has freedom is much more precious than the wish-granting jewel. One will find such a body only this time. This is difficult to find and it easily decays, like lightening in the sky. By thinking of the nature of this life”—which was just explained—“One should realize that all the works of this life are like husk and should take the essence all the time, day and night. The venerable guru practiced like this; you who are wishing for liberation, I am requesting you to practice like that.” Lama Tsongkhapa said this in the Hymns of Experience of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, which is a very effective teaching and effective meditation practice.
I want to emphasis again the point that I mentioned little bit before. Especially when you think about this, you feel this perfect human body to be incredibly more precious. I don’t know whether you have read or heard details about the perfect human rebirth regarding eons when there are teachings. It is also effective to think about this—it helps to see how incredibly precious the perfect human rebirth is.
I mentioned one morning during a discussion that the consciousness of the original human beings on this earth came from the world of form such as the deva realms. There are categories of stable concentration—first, second, third, fourth, form and formless. So, their consciousnesses came from the realms of the first level of stable concentration. Those original human beings of the first eon after this universe and this earth had evolved had bodies of light and they lived for such incredibly long times—not just a thousand or 10,000 years. I don’t know exactly, but it is not something that is uncountable; if it is uncountable, then they should be living now! It is a term that is used for some incredible, unbelievable number—something which cannot be guessed and doesn’t fit normal peoples’ minds. I think it is called “immeasurable life.” Then, gradually the life degenerated. It becomes shorter, shorter, shorter, down to the age of ten. Then again the lifespan gets longer and longer. All that is from karma.
As I mentioned the other day about trying to meditate on how everything comes from the mind, the whole evolution – outside, inside, everything—basically comes from the beings. For example, this planet, this “southern continent,” came from their minds. The different countries, for example, are very different places—some are rich, some are poor; some don’t have much gold, but some have so much. A place can be different at different times; things change because of the karma of the people who are living in that place at that time. This earth came from the karma, the minds, of all animals, human beings and holy beings who use it.
Then the life span goes up to 80,000 years and then gradually degenerates, comes down again. Because of previous impressions, the disturbing thoughts become more and more gross, stronger and stronger, and the life becomes shorter and shorter, down to ten years again. Did I mention the five degenerations before? There are five degenerations. First is the degeneration of disturbing thoughts. As I mentioned before, the very first human beings, whose consciousness came from deva realms, at the very beginning may not have had very strong anger, dissatisfied mind, pride or jealous mind—all these strong disturbing thoughts—arising, but they hadn’t ceased the impressions by practicing the remedial path. It is like this: perhaps you were very angry then went to bed, and during sleep the anger became kind-of invisible; then, next morning when you got up and again remembered how bad the person is, very strong anger arose again. During sleep strong anger did not arise but because anger was not ceased by practicing the remedy, the path, the seed is left and anger manifests again. Anger and so on gradually increases, becomes more and more visible, becomes stronger and stronger and stronger—that is the degeneration of the disturbing thoughts. Because of that, the degeneration of the life becoming shorter and shorter happens. The original human beings were able to live for much longer than 80,000 years, but nowadays even those who live to be over one hundred are becoming few and fewer. Mostly the length of life nowadays is around sixty or seventy. The degeneration of life comes from the degeneration of the disturbing thoughts.
Also, there is the degeneration of sentient beings; it is becoming more and more difficult to subdue the mind by means of holy Dharma. The mind is becoming more and more “thick-skulled” stubborn, like iron or rock. So it’s difficult for the mind to be subdued even if the infallible teachings of Buddha are explained although they are profound, pure and infallible—by practicing them one will definitely achieve the result. Even with all the scriptural quotations, explanations and proofs using pure logic it is difficult to understand. Even if it’s pure logic, it is difficult to understand that it’s pure logic. Even if shunyata teachings on how to destroy the root of samsara are given, the mind is like a rock and one cannot understand, it doesn’t make any sense. Even if the explanation is excellent, one gets a completely wrong idea of the teachings on shunyata, interpreting it completely the other way—as nihilism, that nothing exists.
Actually it doesn’t mean that—it is proving how things exist—but one misinterprets it as meaning that things don’t exist. The mind so solid, so thick-skulled, that it doesn’t make sense. Also it is having fear of listening to teachings about the cause of happiness and suffering. One gets frightened of listening, of trying to understand, and of practicing. The degeneration of sentient beings is like this. It comes from the degeneration of the disturbing thoughts.
Then, the degeneration of time: there is more and more fighting, more and more famine—there are more and more problems happening in the world; there is more and more fear. Things like atomic danger. Instead of becoming more peaceful, less violent, the world becomes worse and worse. That comes from the degeneration of the disturbing thoughts; it comes from the mind.
Then, there is the degeneration of view. I think I already explained it: not agreeing with what is said in the teachings. Sentient beings’ minds becoming more unsubdued, more and more difficult, more thick-skulled, is called the degeneration of sentient beings. The degeneration of view is fewer people having faith and understanding. The origin is the disturbing thoughts getting stronger and stronger.
From ten the lifespan goes up to 80,000 years, and again it degenerates down to ten, and again it goes up to 80,000. Like a curve it goes up, then falls down, goes up and falls down. Twenty of these cycles or curves is called one eon; not the great eon, the small eon. Twenty small eons is the definition of one great eon. It takes one great eon for the entire deva realms, the different planets, the earth and the whole sentient beings’ environment to be completed. The earth exists for one great eon. When it and all these planets, the devas’ realms and all the realms degenerate, or finish, it takes one great eon. Then, in this space where this planet is now another planet does not evolve for one great eon. Then the different planets, the sentient beings’ worlds, evolve again.
The point is this: while the lifespan increases from ten up to 80,000 there are no teachings. Those times are called dark eons. During those times no buddha descends. There are teachings only when life is degenerating from 80,000 to ten years. During this present eon different buddhas descended to give teachings. When the life span was 40,000 years I think the buddha was called Se.drup—I don’t know the Sanskrit names.
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I think there was another one, Buddha Shak.tu at that time—I am not sure. Three buddhas descended to reveal the teachings before Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Then, when the lifespan was one hundred, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha descended to reveal the teachings. After this it gradually goes down to ten years. Regarding Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, they are now like the sun setting down behind the mountains, or like a flame that is about to stop and the room is about to become completely dark. We are just lucky enough to catch them—we just made it! Not too late! Even if a buddha descends when the lifespan is ten, he doesn’t give teachings. There is a whole detailed explanation of this evolution. So, a buddha does not descend all the time, only during the last part of the age, when the lifespan is around 40,000, 2,000 and 10 years.
First of all, there are more dark times than times when there are teachings on this earth. Therefore, this precious human rebirth in which one met Dharma and is able to practice Dharma is so precious. In this, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, there are tantra teachings, the extremely profound and quick path to enlightenment. Then after this an embodiment of Lama Tsongkhapa, “The Roaring Sound of the Lion,” will descend due to prayers—I don’t remember exactly, due to some prayers or some prediction or something. There might be tantra teachings at that time. Then the very last buddha might reveal tantra teachings because he prayed, “Whatever works for sentient beings that the previous buddhas did, I will do.” So there is a belief, a hope, that there might be tantra teachings at the very end, at the time of the very last buddha. Those two are sort of beliefs. However, those teachings are actually existing now, during Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time.
On this, the southern continent, we have a body with three things received from the mother and three things received from the father. Only this particular body can practice and accomplish tantra. Using these reasons we should think how precious it is. It is more precious than perfect human rebirths at other items—when other buddhas are descending there are no tantra teaching.
Being born in this southern continent, one sees various sufferings—the suffering of suffering—and various problems. Also one sees and experiences temporal pleasures. There are other continents or planets where human beings exist, such as the western continent. Everyone there lives for a thousand years—they have fixed lifespans—and they have great enjoyments. They don’t have the various problems we have on this southern continent. So it is difficult for them to generate the thought renouncing samsara. Having great wealth and great enjoyments becomes an obstacle. They can’t see the various problems, so it is difficult to realize how samsara is in the nature of suffering.
I think it might be said in the teachings that it is not possible to generate the thought of renouncing samsara on that continent, and to directly see shunyata and so become an arya being. I don’t remember clearly from the teachings, but I think even in the deva realms, the realm of desire, or even as human beings on those other continents, one can’t directly see shunyata because of the karmic obscurations. It is very difficult for them to generate the lam-rim realizations. I think it is more difficult on the western continent than on other continents. For those humans there is no tantra teaching, and there is no way to achieve enlightenment by practicing tantra. Also in the deva realms of desire, form and formlessness there is no way, no opportunity.
In the realm of desire, in a realm called the “Thirty-Three Realm,” on the top of Mount Meru, those devas have a little bit of karma to hear Dharma because of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy actions. They have a big drum and they beat it on special days and somehow they hear the sound of the Dharma, which is a teaching for them. It is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy action of giving teachings. Instead of having the karma to receive teachings directly from a various friend, as we can, their little karma to hear teachings is just to hear the sound of the drum.
In the realm of desire those devas are incredibly wealthy: if all the precious possessions on this earth were piled up, even just one of their ornaments is much more precious than that. The lives of the gods in the realm of desire are spent constantly having entertainment. They have great sense pleasures, so they live their lives always distracted by sense pleasures; therefore it is very difficult to practice Dharma. Even when somebody comes to give teachings, it is very difficult for the wish to listen to the teachings to arise. They pass the time playing music, enjoying the beautiful parks, the beautiful swimming pools, with many friends, with many, many girlfriends, with many, many boyfriends! They pass their whole life like this, until the death signs come.
Seven days before they are going to die, a karmic voice tells that person he is going to die. Then everything decays. Normally, water doesn’t stay on their body, but then it does, and the body gets dirty. Normally there is no dirt, the body is extremely beautiful, very handsome. At the time the death signs happen, the body gets dirty. Even the flowers that they are wearing at that time become old, and decayed; normally they don’t get old. Due to their karma they are able to remember past lives, from where they came, and they are able to see their future lives. When they see that their karma to be in the deva realm with its great sense pleasures is finished, and see that they are going to be born in the lower realms after seven days, they experience unbelievable mental suffering.
It is like this: poor people may have more physical problems but wealthy people who have fewer physical problems have greater mental problems. The devas have incredible mental suffering, worry and fear—like hell. So they are called kab.sum.pa—maybe “three types”—they see how they have great pleasure in the present, they remember their past lives, and they can see the future heavy suffering. So, when they die, they finish their life like this. Earlier in that life the mind was completely distracted by sense pleasures.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, two arhats, shown in the tangkas—in the center is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and then there are two disciples standing, two arhats: one is Sharipu, the other is Mongalipu. Sharipu had one disciple when he was in India, I think he was a doctor. After this disciple died he was born in the deva realm, the realm of desire. Sharipu with his psychic powers checked where this disciple was born. Then Sharipu using his psychic powers went to this deva’s planet—I think it might have been the Thirty-three Realm or Tushita. Sharipu met his disciple, the doctor, who was going to the park for entertainment with his girl-friend. In his previous life in India, whenever he saw his Guru Sharipu, the arhat, even if he was riding on an elephant, the doctor immediately came down onto the ground to show respect. But there in the deva realm, even though he saw his guru Sharipu, because of being so distracted by sense pleasures he just raised up his fingers like this, and just continued on his way. There was even no wish to talk to or see his guru.
How deluded they are; they have very little karma to practice Dharma or to listen to the teachings. Some worldly gods have a little karma to listen to teachings occasionally, as in the Thirty-three Realm, and that is on the drum. They don’t have great fortune like we human beings have.
Because of the various sufferings we can see in the world it is very easy to generate the thought of renouncing samsara. Therefore the bodhicitta that we generate through having this human body and being on the southern continent is much stronger—because the renunciation is much stronger—than bodhicitta generated in those other realms, such as the deva realms, and on those other human continents. Without having a body such as this—with three things received from the father: bone, the seed and marrow, the white stuff that is inside the bones; and the skin, blood and flesh which are developed from the mother’s seed—it is not possible to practice tantra. The three white things are developed from the father’s seed. We need this foundation, this body with the white and red seed, in order to practice. The maha-anuttara yoga tantra has to be practiced on this body. You see, without this body, the subtle mind realizing shunyata .... I don’t need to mention it since we are not sure of the fundamental teachings, but anyway, there are particular terms for the tantra path—subtle mind and subtle wisdom realizing shunyata. These are the causes for the achievement of things such as the illusory body and clear light, or the path of unification, or the path of the unified state of no-more-learning, or the unification of the completely pure holy body and holy mind, the Vajradhara state, that is, enlightenment. All this has to come from subtle clear light or subtle mind vision that is realizing shunyata. There is no way to accomplish the mind which is unified with that wisdom without having this type of body.
Now, in Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, the teachings of the secret mantra are complete. This is the most definite time for tantra teachings. Not only were the teachings of the lesser vehicle path and the bodhisattva path given, Guru Shakyamuni gave the complete tantra teaching. The understanding of the infallible meanings of the tantra teaching. The understanding of the infallible meanings of the tantra teachings and also the realizations of the tantra path exist in the holy minds of the present great yogis, the high Tibetan lamas. This great, complete Mahayana path, from the beginning up to enlightenment, is their experience. Now it is not degenerated, as the complete teachings exist. So, even if we haven’t met them, there is a great opportunity to make it possible to listen, reflect, and do meditation practices on this extremely profound, secret, and extremely quick path to achieve enlightenment. By practicing tantra, especially maha-anuttara yoga tantra, one achieves enlightenment more quickly. In that way one can accomplish the extensive work of freeing sentient beings from all their sufferings and leading them to peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind, much more quickly. The whole purpose of practicing tantra is to quickly accomplish the work for other sentient beings.
So, you see how this present perfect human rebirth that we have is so incredibly precious. Not just precious for being able to practice the Mahayana path, but also the extremely quick path to enlightenment, the tantric path. When you think of this you will feel it is incredibly, unbelievably important not to waste this life. It is much easier to generate the thought of renunciation and bodhicitta more strongly. As Lama Tsongkhapa said in the quotation, it is only one time that we have, therefore, without wasting this, without utilizing this precious perfect human rebirth to create the cause for lower realms, it should be used all the time.
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The complete teachings on the path to enlightenment exist and there is the opportunity to meet many perfect virtuous friends who can reveal the complete path without missing anything.
The first thing you should think is this: it is difficult to find again. This perfect human rebirth that we have now is incredibly precious—it doesn’t last for a thousand years or even for one hundred. Probably you might have meditated on this morning: this perfect human rebirth that we have now, even if we live for, let’s say, one hundred years, or half, fifty years—is finished by sleeping every night. Are we able to practice Dharma while we are sleeping? Are we able to transform sleep into virtue? Since we were born until now, however much we have slept, has that sleep been virtuous or not? It’s very difficult; you can’t find even one time where the sleep has become virtue. It is non-virtuous because of the motive, so it is difficult for it to become Dharma.
Now, what is left is the daytime, the other fifty years. Fifteen years of that fifty are finished during childhood—by playing. Then one can’t listen to teachings, can’t understand. Another fifteen years goes when one becomes old and can’t hear and can’t see clearly—all these problems. Then it is difficult to listen, reflect, and meditate. Memory is lost and so on. Even if one wishes to do it, it is difficult, because there is no power, no freedom. It looks like the person is just waiting for death, gradually decaying. One can’t practice, there is no memory; it is very difficult. Fifteen years go like that.
Thirty years have gone like that, so what is left now is twenty years. Out of this twenty years, so much goes for eating and drinking! Then, gossiping and talking wastes so much time. Then, the other time goes for quarreling and fighting. We spend so much time fighting! Then, we also sleep in the day time; we get sick and then we can’t practice Dharma. So we have to count those days or years of sickness or other problems when we can’t practice Dharma even though we are not sick. Even if we live for one hundred years, if all the time that we practice Dharma is totaled, it may come to five years or maybe one year. We won’t live for one hundred years—it is lucky if we live eighty-five or sixty years!
So, as I said before, thirty years is gone by sleeping; now there is another thirty years left. Then there is childhood, no opportunity to practice for about fifteen years. Then another fifteen go for many other things, as I explained before—for sickness, for eating and sleeping or quarreling. Many times one can’t practice due to those other problems. If our work, our jobs become Dharma, or, virtue, that is one thing; but, you see, it is very difficult for work to become Dharma. So much time goes on other things—if we put together the time that we practice Dharma, it may be five years, it may be three years, maybe one year, maybe just a few months. It is so little!
The lifespan is very short; the lifespan on this continent is not fixed—that we will live for one hundred years is not fixed. The actual time of death is uncertain—we are not sure when it will happen. Sixty years is just an average. It is not fixed that everybody will live to be sixty. So, you see, the opportunity to practice Dharma, to make preparation for happiness in future lives, is small.
Now, the conclusion which comes is that it is not sure whether death will happen next year, next month, tomorrow, tonight, maybe even after one hour. Maybe one will be suddenly paralyzed—epilepsy disease could strike and suddenly one could become unconscious. That happened here at one meditation course, I think. One girl suddenly became unconscious. Probably she was on the way to the hospital, that’s what I guess. Maybe died on the way, or when the doctors were taking her from the bus or car. But the decision that she was dead was made after having given the big electric shock. Normally in the West, I think, if the patient doesn’t come back, doesn’t breathe, if the heart doesn’t move after having been given an electric shock, that is the definition that the person is dead. If there is no heart movement after an electric shock, that is regarded as death.
One Australian man, a young boy, did a course—I don’t know how many years ago. He was going to become a monk. He was sent by Lama Yeshe to explain to his parents and to get their permission. I think he didn’t even get to Australia. He did the course the first time I went to Australia in a place called Diamond Valley. After that he came here. He prepared completely new robes, he bought everything to wear; then I think something happened. He went to Bombay, or it might have been another place, I don’t know. Something happened to his mind, some obstacle to continuing his Dharma practice. I think he jumped from the roof of a building and killed himself. We heard this during or after the lam-rim course. There were, I think, people doing lam-rim retreat...
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….I think there was a big revolution in Russia so they escaped to France and now live there. I think in her later life she married and lived in America. She had a very interesting life. She had, I think, almost every kind of life that it is possible to have in the West, except she didn’t become president or governor! But otherwise, those other kinds of lives…….
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……..relationships, so many things—being worldly in many ways. However, she took ordination in Dharamsala. Just before she died, Lama sent her to the mountains to do a long retreat on one deity. I didn’t get to see her but I received many long letters talking about her experiences during meditation. I think she had a very good time there. Also my guru, Tushig Rinpoche, is in this monastery, so she received initiations and did retreat there. Lama Yeshe went up to the mountains especially to see her. When we went to Dharamsala she was planning to come to India and I think to do retreat, to study or receive teachings. She wrote us a letter in pencil. That was her last letter, where she said she would like to come back to Dharamsala to study and to see Lama. Her last letter didn’t even have a signature although normally she would put her signature. She was definitely planning to come to Dharamsala. After we got that letter, we got a telegram that she had died. But she did a long retreat, and we heard she died in the meditation state, sitting up, perhaps, and reciting mantra. Her head fell down. I think her condition was a heart attack. She also had a stomach problem due to some food, but that was better. She couldn’t sit up a few days earlier, but before dying she could sit up. Then she realized she was having a heart attack. There was one Tibetan nun serving her, but she didn’t want to do anything so she ran away as she was scared. I think she said “I am dying, having a heart attack!” The Tibetan nun was scared, then good signs happened.
They did much puja for two or three days while the body was there; and when the body was brought outside, again the monks did puja. There was, I think, good weather and other good signs happened. Also I checked with one very old high lama—who is really like the precious Kadampa geshes, those great yogis, great bodhisattvas—who is a holder of all the teachings, living in the south of India. I asked this lama about her, and he checked. He said that the realm that she is in is a very good realm. She had received the initiation of one female aspect of Buddha from this lama. She always made paintings of this female aspect—it is not Tara. She always had much interest in the practice of this female aspect of Buddha. Then, the lama Tushig Rinpoche mentioned that she was born in the pure realm of that female aspect of Buddha. So, it seemed similar to what I heard when I asked that lama in India.
I have a friend, one old mother, in England. I have never met her, but she took care of me when I was in India, in Buxa, a place which used to be a concentration camp when India was under the control of the British. At that time it was used as a concentration camp to put Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. After the Tibetan monks fled from Lhasa those monks from all the four sects who wanted to continue their studies lived together in that place. So, when I was there studying I got T.B. The place was extremely hot, unbelievably hot, and the conditions were terribly bad—mosquitoes, leeches, bugs, bed-bugs, all over. Many monks died. Each week I could see through the door the dead monks’ bodies being carried out. Because they came from Tibet and the climate wasn’t suitable and they didn’t know how to eat Indian food Indian style, many monks died. For many years she took care of me—I think for six or seven years. She was my pen-friend, arranged by I think maybe the first or second Western nun. Her name was Frieda Bailey. It is by her kindness that so far I am doing courses and speaking something about Dharma—a little bit, a few words in broken English! She opened a school for young lamas for some years. But I went only twice. She wanted me to come very much. The second school was a little bit helpful, but the first one didn’t help much because I was very young and didn’t really study! And because at that time it was just sight—seeing, you know, I didn’t really learn, and after class we came back to the room and played! We just filled the papers with long handwriting so that we could get another new notebook! That was unnecessary. Actually, the school itself didn’t help for language because I couldn’t understand what the teacher was explaining at all because our language had not reached a level where we could understand grammar! So, it was a complete waste. I didn’t understand one single thing for months and months! Nobody suggested how to do it to us. They were voluntary teachers who didn’t speak Tibetan. Eventually I found one Tibetan book with English grammar, so that helped a little. Anyway, this extra story just happened!
So, I never saw that mother, but she took care of me for many years while I was in hospital, providing the medicine and everything. I think she had quite a good life, a very good heart. She was Jewish. Later she also had much faith in the Buddhadharma. She read and she met Tibetan lamas, such as lama Trungpa. She died some years ago. Why I am talking about this story is that when I asked this lama about the nun, I asked what happened to this mother. The lama said, “Now she is okay, in a good realm; but sooner or later it will turn out bad.” I think her consciousness will transmigrate to the lower realms. About the other one, the nun, the lama said, “Very good.” He
Kind of emphasized that one doesn’t need to worry.
You see, it’s not sure. Every morning when we get up we feel: “I am going to live for many years—thirty or forty years.” Even on the day we die—by car accident, by airplane crash, by falling off a mountain, by whatever condition—that morning we have the conception, “I am going to live a long time.” So, you see, that conception is nothing to trust. Even just before we meet the condition of death, there is the conception, “I am going to live a long time.” Since the time of death is not sure—it can happen any moment, today, this hour, this minute—it is so important that while we are presently living we practice Dharma in every moment. This precious and perfect human body is incredible because it can accomplish any great purpose, whatever we wish, as I mentioned before.
How long we are going to live life depends on the breath, which is nothing solid. It depends on now long it will continue to move, going out, coming in, going out, coming in. How long one is going to live is up to that. How long we are going to breathe in and out is not up to oneself. If it depends on our wish we could live forever on this earth. There is nobody since beginningless time who lived forever on this earth. We die whether we think, “I am a very strong person,” whether we think we are going to live long or not. While the breath does the function of coming in and out we are alive; when this stops, that’s it—dead. You breathe out and there is no breathe coming in, that’s all—that’s what is called “death.” That’s all—our being alive is dependent on this. So, you see how fragile it is: the movement of this breath can stop at any time, like a water bubble that can be popped at any time.
So, you can see that death is just there. Death is not far, it is just there. Similarly, what is called the narak or lower realm is not far. Just right after the breath has stopped, there is the narak. Between the narak and now is just the breath going out and coming in. Whenever this weak breath stops, what is called narak is just there. You should think, from the depth of your heart, “If this breath stopped now...
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Are you sure that when the breath stops, consciousness definitely stops—one hundred percent? You should check from the depths of your heart. If you feel there’s not the slightest logical reason to prove that there is beginningless continuity of consciousness before this life and continuity after this life, first you should check that. However, there are uncountable logical reasons; but there is not the slightest pure logic to prove that there is no consciousness at all after this life. A person can give reasonings for what he believes but that doesn’t mean his belief is correct according to reality. So, you cannot say one hundred percent that consciousness does not continue after this. You cannot say one hundred percent yes. You can’t decide completely yes or no. I think that that is fortunate. Rather than completely ignoring the reality of consciousness existing after this life, it is more fortunate if you at least have doubt. If a person doesn’t know, or finds it difficult to understand logic, and does not understand that that is experience, it is better if he can’t decide completely no or yes.
If there is continuity of consciousness, the consciousness has to take a body. It has to migrate, and migrating to which body depends on karma. When people come to Nepal they carry medicine in case they get sick with hepatitis—happy-titis?! If they are trekking in the mountains they are not sure what they will get, so they carry as many medicines as possible. They buy medicine for heart-attack in case they get a heart-attack. Rich people keep important medicines in the house in case they get sick. A person cannot see one hundred percent that he won’t get cancer or get a heart-attack, so he buys medicine.
The same thing—in case there is a future life, in case there is negative karma and a narak, in case you can be born as an animal or preta, isn’t it more skillful to practice Dharma ahead of time? Practicing Dharma even in this life pacifies all the anger, all the dissatisfied, painful minds, the mental diseases. It makes them weaker and weaker, more and more difficult for them to arise, and brings greater peace and happiness. As in the other examples, it is more skillful to practice Dharma before the danger comes. It only brings more peace and harmony even in this life, even in each day. So, in case there is negative karma and lower realms, isn’t it more skillful to prepare while one has the opportunity of this perfect human rebirth which can practice Dharma?
Even if there is no future life, there is great tranquility in this life if one practices Dharma. You can’t say one hundred percent no; you can’t prove that there is no future life. When you travel you prepare by buying medicine for headaches, diarrhea and things like that. You prepare ahead of time for even small problems like that, even though it’s not sure if you will experience them. Now we are talking about lifetimes, not just talking about headaches or diarrhea. To practice Dharma or not is a big decision; there’s nothing more important than this. Not practicing Dharma, not creating virtuous actions, is creating the cause to not have happiness in all of one’s future lives, but to have continuous suffering such as being in the lower realms. The determination to practice Dharma at this moment is incredible because the decision affects billions and billions of lifetimes. Practicing Dharma, without talking about this life, creates happiness in future lives, up to enlightenment, and brings temporal and ultimate benefits to all the sentient beings. Not practicing Dharma is completely the opposite of that. When you think in this way, there’s no decision more important than this. So now you can see how incredibly important it is to practice in every moment—today, each hour, each minute.
In America there is one lady whose life-story is in a book, which might be in our library. She died and she could see her family. She had not finished some things, so her consciousness entered back into the body. She realized that consciousness exists after this life, that there is a life after this. She discovered that whatever she had done from the time she was born until then was completely meaningless because nothing was done for the happiness of the future life. I don’t remember what her final decision about what to do to change from meaningless to meaningful works was.
I mentioned one day about the different levels of knowledge and power. Some people have greater knowledge and more power than us to see very distant things through clairvoyance—to see one, two, three hundred, or uncountable past and future lives. One can’t say that those mental powers don’t exist. There are many objects that we can’t see now, but the more our minds get developed we will see more and more. Now, for example, we don’t see voidness. If you say, “I don’t remember my past life therefore it doesn’t exist”, since realizing voidness is also not yet experienced, how can you realize voidness if that is not an object to practice but an object to abandon? That follows the reasoning that if it is not your experience now, it’s not possible, the same as with past and future lives. If we become more developed we will directly see shunyata. By cutting off the subtle dual view one becomes completely oneness with shunyata, one becomes enlightened. Our minds are obscured, that’s all. Those other beings’ minds are not obscured and past and future lives, shunyata and those things become the object of their knowledge.
The conclusion is this: if death suddenly happens, the consciousness after this will migrate within the different realms. Now think: “In case there are realms of happy transmigratory beings and suffering realms, since I was born have I been creating more karma for the lower realms or for the realms of the happy transmigrators? Check by checking your attitude—how much has been done with the attitude of worldly concern? Be aware of your own life: whether virtuous actions were done or not, and if they were done, how much? You have come to this course and the thought might come later, “Oh, I took Mahayana ordination, I did meditation and this and that, and so accumulated more virtuous actions after coming here!” However, this is just a few weeks. The virtue that was done during these weeks is nothing compared to all the non-virtuous actions done in the past years. There’s no comparison—the virtuous actions are insignificant. Then think, “This is how I lived my life. Now what? If there’s consciousness after death, if there is karma, it is more definite that I will go to a lower realm according to what the Omniscient One explained in regard to karma.” You should examine like that.
This is incredibly more worthwhile than making a rocket. Many people put effort into that for years and years—creating so many ideas about how to fly, how to land on the moon and so on. I think sometimes there are also dangers. I watched the rocket landing on the moon. They made a film which I saw in Katmandu at the British Library. Watching it did not make me interested in space travel; instead it gave the inspiration to practice Dharma. It was very useful! Watching that didn’t give me the slightest wish to want to learn to make a rocket or to go inside one! I had one friend many years ago who was on the mountain doing his Ph.D. research on tormas, the Tibetan ritual offering cakes used in puja! Now my story is getting very long! He used to ask the monastery to bring all the offering cakes, colored with lots of butter, after they finished puja! He used to collect what the monks gave him and set them up in his room because he wanted to study them! He told me if I want to go in a rocket he would get me a ticket! In the newspaper it said it would take some time, but you can get a ticket!
First of all people spend so much time on ideas. Then so many people put many years into actualizing them. So many lifespans are put into that effort. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I’m comparing which has more value: dedicating the life to practice Dharma, or not practicing Dharma and making a rocket? When these people landed on the moon that didn’t provide a solution to eliminate ignorance, anger, and attachment. It doesn’t happen that when they come back they have no ignorance, anger or attachment! There’s no change in their minds. They come back with a mental picture of a desert with some rocks—that’s all! The main thing is that unbelievable lifetimes of time and energy are put into that. If one had put that much energy into Dharma practice by now one would have accomplished so much. It’s work for one life-time; it’s not that it has to be repeated over and over. We could have made so much progress and reached a high level path. It’s better to think, “I am foolish that I did not put in enough effort. The Buddhadharma is incredible even in each day it is amazing for solving problems”.
The problem is not from the side of the teachings; they are a pure, complete and correct path to enlightenment. The only problem is from one’s own side—whether one practices or not. However, one has not put it into action, did not try, otherwise there is no reason at all why results have not been achieved as explained in the life-stories of those uncountable numbers of great yogis. “They are an incredible inspiration. They make me see myself as foolish for not practicing harder.”
Firstly, there is moral conduct: just to get the body of a happy transmigrator—without talking about a perfect human rebirth—the cause is perfect moral conduct. Then, to achieve wealth or enjoyment the necessary condition is the practice of charity. That’s just to be born as a deva or human being—it’s not talking about meeting and being able to practice Buddhadharma. Then think, “Have I been practicing moral conduct until I came here to take Mahayana ordination? Have I been practicing charity?” We have created so much non-virtue that even what we did in three weeks is insignificant in comparison. If death happens now will we be born with a body of the happy transmigrators or of the suffering transmigrators—there is no third way.
Especially when we think about the perfect human rebirth, not just a human rebirth, each hour of our life is incredibly important. Therefore, as Lama Tsongkhapa says, in order to not cheat oneself it is so important to be careful each day, each hour, each minute. Every bit of intelligence that one has should be put towards generating the path of happiness after this life up to enlightenment, in every hour of every day—to realize bodhicitta and shunyata every effort should be put into this during this one time that we have this perfect human rebirth, which might last for one day or maybe only a few hours. If you are intelligent make yourself realize shunyata. When you hear “merely labeled” you should realize it immediately if you are intelligent and fortunate! I’m talking about useful intelligence, not useless intelligence, which becomes an obstacle to Dharma practice. Useful intelligence subdues one’s mind.
Did somebody tell the story about the blind person riding the animal? I shall mention this now and then I will stop! The Kadampa geshes used this story to show how this perfect human rebirth comes only one time and how one must practice lam-rim. I don’t know the very beginning—one animal, I think a deer, called a kyang was sleeping, and one blind person somehow bumped it. It woke and was scared and ran away. Somehow the blind person was riding on the body of the kyang by holding its ear! He sang, “For me, a blind person, to get the chance to ride on this kyang come only one time!” He was so happy that he sang while riding on the animal which was running away!
One man in Tibet—in Tibet fish might be quite rare—got a fish to eat. He ate a lot because he found it very delicious, and he vomited.
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“It is only this one time that I have the chance to eat fish”. Then another one—I think these are in the lam-rim and you might have listened to them many times! I think in one place called Pembo a family made special food called marsen. It is like cake—flour mixed with lots of butter. The whole family was having this marsen, this special food. I think the young son hid has marsen behind him so that he could get another piece. He got another one, maybe the father’s. After some time he was crying but the parents couldn’t figure out why, so then they asked him. The reason he was crying was that his first marsen which he hid behind him was eaten by a dog. He wouldn’t say, “The dog has eaten my marsen,” otherwise he wouldn’t get more. The one time that he got extra marsen it was eaten by a dog! So it was a great waste!
Try to transform actions, as much as possible, into Dharma; try to generate realizations of lam-rim as quickly as possible. We should use every care, every effort, all intelligence and skill there is, for this opportunity which is only for one time. As Lama Tsongkhapa said at the end of that:, “By thinking of all the works of this life as husk,”—it means essenceless—“you should take the essence, all the time, day and night.” “Should take the essence” means that while there is an opportunity to achieve the great purpose one should try to accomplish it day and night, all the time. To not separate away from the practice of bodhicitta, day and night, every hour, is taking the essence. Through that there is a possibility to achieve enlightenment. Without bodhicitta in the mind there is no enlightenment and one cannot do the perfect work for all the sentient beings who equal infinite space.
So, among all these, one should see as the essence the practice of bodhicitta. I meant to mention about how you should do lam-rim practice when you go back to the West, in normal, everyday life, but something else happened! I hope you haven’t got much pain after sitting for this long time! Or anger!