Kopan Course No. 14 (1981)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Kathmandu, Nepal November 1981 (Archive #119)

The following is a transcript of teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Fourteenth Kopan Meditation Course in November 1981. The teachings include a commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara [A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life] and a short talk and "Question and Answer" session with Lama Thubten Yeshe.

You may download the entire contents of these teachings in a pdf file. You can also listen to the recordings of lectures 1-5 here.

Section Four: Lectures 14-17

◄ Previous Section  : Kopan Course 14 Index Page  : Next Section ►

Lecture 14: November 25th am

This time what I need to explain is a quotation about the benefits of bodhicitta, which takes much time to talk about. So however, through listening to teaching on the Bodhicaryavatara—normally I introduce the motivation that way, and it is kind of easy to understand. Knowing the different levels of motivation gives more freedom, knowing what is holy Dharma, what is not holy Dharma and what is worldly dharma gives more freedom. Whenever one wishes to practice Dharma one can transform the actions into holy Dharma, and however much one wants within that day, that night, however much time, however one wishes to practice holy Dharma, one has choice. If one does not have the Dharma wisdom to be able to discriminate, to be able to transform actions with choice, by knowing, if one does not have the Dharma wisdom to be able to transform actions into holy Dharma, then sometimes by opportunity the actions become Dharma. Not by knowing, just by opportunity, even if the person has no particular goal.

Let’s say there are four people reading the scriptures of the graduated path to enlightenment. One person reads the scripture of lam-rim with the motive concerned with the happiness of this life, the happiness of his own life, only this life’s happiness. Then one person read the scriptures and recites the prayer of the graduated path to enlightenment with the motive to find a better rebirth in the next life for himself. Then the next person reads the scripture, recites it, with the motive to achieve ever-release from samsara. Then the next person reads or recites the text with the motive to achieve the state of omniscient mind for the sake of others.

So you see the action of the very last person reading or reciting the scriptures becomes the cause of omniscient mind, because it is possessed by the motive of either the actual bodhicitta, effortless bodhicitta—that is without question. By having the actual realization of bodhicitta, for that there is no question, but even if it is possessed by effortful bodhicitta, you create the motive, the thought of bodhicitta by reasoning. You don’t have the realization so it is with effort, you have to build it up, you have created the attitude so, effortful bodhicitta. However, if it is possessed by the motive of bodhicitta to achieve enlightenment in order to benefit sentient beings, if he is reading the scriptures, reciting with that motive, then it becomes the cause of omniscient mind.

The third person’s action, the reading of the scripture, is done only with the motive of himself to achieve nirvana, the ever-release from samsara, with the motive to achieve this only for the sake of himself. His action of reading, of reciting, is not possessed by the motive of bodhicitta so it doesn’t become the cause of omniscient mind; it only becomes the cause up to nirvana, only up to nirvana. It becomes the cause up to that goal.

Up to that: you see, the fourth person, by cutting off attachment he reads the scriptures, without clinging to this life, with aversion to this life, by cutting off the clinging of this life and also by cutting the clinging to nirvana for oneself—only with the motive to achieve omniscient mind for the sake of others. So you see his reading, his reciting that scripture does benefit even for this life. Even though he doesn’t cling to the happiness of this life, he doesn’t seek that, he doesn’t seek the happiness of this life but what he does, his action, his reciting mantra does benefit the happiness of this life. Obtaining long life—to receive the necessary conditions to accomplish the Dharma practice, his action benefits the happiness of this life, even though he doesn’t cling, even though he doesn’t seek that, doesn’t have attachment to the happiness of this life. Similar you see, it also benefits the future, his action, which is holy Dharma, even though he doesn’t cling to the happiness of future lives, but the action, which becomes holy Dharma does benefit also the happiness of future lives. It is like without expectation from the side of the person, the person receives the result. Then also the release from samsara, particularly the omniscient mind, his reading of the scriptures, his reciting those prayers, it benefits up to that. It benefits from the present life up to omniscient mind, it benefits all—his holy Dharma benefits from this life up to omniscient mind, for all. It fulfills all the wishes.

Then the third person, his reading, his reciting prayers with the motive of receiving just only the release from samsara, again the same thing: that holy Dharma, which is done with the thought of renouncing the whole of samsara, not only the lower realms, not only having aversion to the lower realms but having aversion even to the three upper realms’ happiness and perfections, not having the slightest interest, not finding even for a second attraction in samsaric happiness and perfections, having the thought of renouncing the whole of samsara—his action, his holy Dharma done with that thought of renouncing the whole of samsara benefits the happiness of this life and of future lives, up to nirvana.

Then the second person, the holy Dharma done with the motive of seeking only the happiness of future lives: it benefits this life. Since it becomes holy Dharma there is no question that it benefits this life and it benefits the happiness of future lives. It becomes only the cause of happiness of future lives, not nirvana, not omniscient mind.

For the first person reading the scriptures, reciting the graduated path to enlightenment, his action didn’t become the cause of omniscient mind, it didn’t become the cause of release from samsara, it didn’t become the cause even for the happiness of future lives. It didn’t become holy Dharma. The subject, what he is reciting, is holy Dharma but his action of reciting the scripture, the prayer—that action, that karma didn’t become holy Dharma. What he is reciting, what he is reading is holy Dharma, talking about the qualities of the buddhas, talking about the path, talking about the shortcomings of samsara, things like that, the true cause of suffering and the medicine. However, his action, the karma of reciting the scriptures doesn’t become holy Dharma. What it becomes is worldly Dharma because it is done with worldly concern, which not only worldly human beings but even the creatures have, the same motive, the thought to obtain happiness for only this life.

Generally it is like this but there are particular actions done with holy objects, exceptional actions in relationship to holy objects. Those become holy Dharma without depending on a virtuous motive, such as making prostrations. Even if we don’t see the actual Buddha, even if it is to the figure of the holy object of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha or the precious holy objects of stupas, which is the signification of Buddha’s holy mind, those things, circumambulation, prostrations, making offerings, even if there is no mind thinking Buddha, the enlightened being, still every single action, such as offering one spoon of food, one stick of incense, one tiny rice, even a few grains of rice thrown into space, all these actions, even one glass of water, whatever, every single one of those particular actions are exceptional because they do not depend on the motive in order to become the cause of happiness. By the power of the holy object it becomes holy Dharma, so every single action like this, whatever is done, every single action such as making offerings, done with the holy object, always becomes the cause of omniscient mind, without depending on the motive. Even without the motive of bodhicitta.

Even looking at the figures of Buddha, statues and paintings of Buddha, even if one looks with an angry mind, just looking, the action of looking at the image of the Buddha becomes purification.

It is said in the sutra teachings by Buddha: the holy body of the One Gone to Bliss, of Buddha, drawn on the walls, even one looks at it with disturbed or angry mind, those sentient beings will gradually see ten million Buddhas. That karma of just seeing the figure of Buddha drawn on the wall causes one gradually to see ten millions of Buddhas. There is another quotation that I don’t remember.

When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was in India there were the two arhats who were very close disciples. One was called Shariputra. I think you must have heard the story about him from Geshe-la when he was talking about how nothing is definite, how relationships change from one life to another life. The one who saw the complete change of the whole family from previous life to this life: the mother born as a dog, the father born as a fish, the enemy born as the child of the family, as a child of the son by being attached to his wife.

Shariputra, the arhat, the reason he was able to be with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, able to go everywhere with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, always to be very close to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was because in one of his past lives when he was traveling he stopped at one house and in the nighttime he was fixing his shoe with a small light in front of him and when he got a little bit tired, when he took a rest, by accident somehow he looked at the wall and against the light, on the wall there was an extremely beautiful figure of Buddha. So he wonders, “This is so beautiful, so beautiful. How wonderful it is, if only I could be like that.” Again he looked at the Buddha and again he generated the wish, “How wonderful it would be if I could be like that, so beautiful.” He was not particularly thinking of the omniscient mind or remembering the qualities of the Buddha, nothing, just thinking “How beautiful. If only I could be like that.” He generated the wish again and again, and that became the karma to be able to join Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in his next life, to be able to get teachings, to be able to offer service, to be able to always be with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.

Besides making offerings, even just to look at them becomes purification of the unsubdued mind and negative karma. Even if you are very angry, even if your mind is very disturbed, you go in the meditation room or whatever it is and you just concentrate, you just sit down and look at the painting of Buddha, at a figure of Buddha, that nice painting of Buddha, at that statue. The way he is sitting is so relaxed, so peaceful, so subdued, so compassionate looking. If you just concentrate, just think of that, looking at it, it is so helpful, so beneficial for the mind. It brings great calmness to the mind, it subdues the mind; we generate the wish to be like that.

Wrathful buddhas have big eyes—they open big eyes, round, wrathful eyes. The round eyes are wrathful, opened big. The peaceful aspect of Buddha has the eyes half closed. Half open and half closed; that is how it is. This has great significance. Half open eyes shows the power of the holy action, the capability of Buddha. It shows the power of Buddha.

While the higher bodhisattvas, the arya bodhisattvas, the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas are able to one-pointedly concentrate on shunyata, on emptiness, like putting water into water, without any discrimination between subject and object, without any view of the all-obscuring truth, the conventional truth, dissolving all the views and one-pointedly concentrating on emptiness. Sentient beings and even the arya beings cannot concentrate one-pointedly on both emptiness and conventional truth. While one is single-pointedly concentrating on absolute truth, he cannot see conventional truth. He cannot see the all-obscuring truth. While the arya being’s mind focuses on the all-obscuring truth, it cannot one-pointedly concentrate on the absolute truth, simultaneously. One mind cannot focus on both objects; it can only do so at different times.

So you see, the particular power of Buddha is that while Buddha’s holy mind sees fully, concentrating on the emptiness only, on all existence, at the same time Buddha’s holy mind sees all of the other existence, conventional truth, the all-obscuring truth, all other existence at the same time. While Buddha’s holy mind is concentrating on emptiness only, like putting water into water, at the same time the holy mind sees all that is not emptiness-only—all other existence. He sees the all- obscuring truth very clearly without the slightest mistake. That is a particular power of Buddha’s holy mind. Sentient beings and even the higher bodhisattvas cannot do this at the same time.

So, eyes half opened, eyes half looking and half closed, means Buddha’s holy mind: half-closed signifies one-pointedly concentrating, seeing, concentrating, placing the mind on the emptiness-only of all existence, and at the same time the eyes half opened means seeing the all-obscuring truth with great love, all the sentient beings, all the different levels of mind of sentient beings, past, present and future. Half-opened eyes means out of great love doing the work for other sentient beings, looking at sentient beings all the time, seeing all the sentient beings. There is not even a slightest second that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s loving thought does not see, does not look at sentient beings, does not look at each of us, does not look at you. There is not even a second. Not only do they see, not only do they look, but they do the work according to the level of mind, the karma of sentient beings. If one knows the significance of the holy object, the figure, it makes it more attractive for the mind.

So the point of what I am saying is that since we wish happiness, without being lazy, as much as possible we should follow this infallible method, which is the cause of happiness, to accomplish happiness. It does not even depend on the motive; even such a particular action does not depend on creating the virtuous motive with effort. It is so easy for this to become virtue, so easy for it to become the cause of omniscient mind. So, while we have the opportunity, while we have this precious human body, and while we have the opportunity to accumulate as many causes of happiness as we want to create, as many years, as many days, as many hours, as many minutes—as much as one wishes one has the opportunity to create them, knowing this, recognizing this—one has the opportunity and also has the understanding, and it is so easy, it doesn’t depend on much hardship, it becomes so easy to create the causes of happiness and the causes of omniscient mind. All these things—the resultant karma and the resultant happiness—are the experience of Buddha himself. He himself has gone through this. And it is also the experience of the great pandits, the great yogis, and the meditators. It is their experience too.

We don’t even know thought directly; our limited knowledge cannot see. We don’t even have ordinary clairvoyance. We have limited knowledge, limited wisdom. Our Dharma wisdom is so limited that we cannot see, we cannot remember how this happiness comes from past life’s good actions, from good karma. We cannot remember this even though it is our own experience. It is your own experience but you don’t remember; and you cannot see the result of the karmas that you are creating now, which you will experience in the future, due to limited knowledge you cannot see. Even though it is your own experience, you don’t recognize it. You don’t remember the past, you don’t see the future; you don’t see the relationship, how suffering is the result of non-virtuous actions. You don’t see the connection. From which karma what kind of result arises—happiness arises from virtuous karma and suffering arises from non-virtuous karma.

One way of saying it, one way of thinking is that if one cannot trust the omniscient one, the fully knowing one like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, if one cannot trust the teachings taught by him, then there is nothing left in the world, there is nobody whom you can trust. In the world, on this earth there is nobody whom you can trust. You yourself don’t have a fully knowing mind, an omniscient mind. Your own knowledge is limited; your power is limited, so how can you guide yourself? Since your knowledge is limited there is no way to guide yourself—you alone cannot guide yourself from all the true causes of suffering and from the true sufferings to omniscient mind. You alone cannot guide yourself.

For example, the scientists’ definitions always change. They write books, explaining what they discovered about the mind, about the body, about things. What they explain in their books changes all the time, as they check more and more. In what they explained before they find mistakes, they find that what they explained before, a few years ago, is wrong, so then they have to write a new book again. They find mistakes in the previous one, the more and more they check. The more they check the more they learn, so they find mistakes. They have to learn more and more and more, they find mistakes because of not having a fully knowing mind. They have to change their definitions, their explanations again and again; that is because of not having a fully knowing mind.

It is not even that they are explaining according to different levels of sentient beings’ minds, like Buddha’s teaching. Not even that. If it were like that then that would be something else: for some, for a certain level of mind, teaching, then gradually a better life, a human body, a deva’s body, a better life, a body in which it is more beneficial to practice now, then nirvana, then enlightenment—like that, gradually, by different methods. If it were something like that it would be good, but it is not like that. It is by guessing, so then afterwards you find mistakes. In the world generally and particularly in the West, the scientist is whom one relies on and depends on, the one who gives the explanation, the definitions. That is all, nothing else. Then maybe on the machine—what is it called? That which gives answers, you set it up in that way and then it gives answers—computers. The next object of refuge is the computer.

Like this, there is nothing in the world you can trust, nobody whom you can rely on—if it’s like this then it is very upsetting. That doesn’t make the mind happy, so it is very upsetting. There is nobody who can guide you. There is nobody who can help you, nobody who can guide you from suffering without misleading you, without making mistakes in the method. That is very upsetting.

So then, if you think, “I don’t see Buddha, I see only statues, paintings, but I don’t see Buddha.” The reason is only that I don’t see it; I can’t see things such as karma, perfection coming from our virtuous actions of charity, high rebirth, the body of the happy transmigrating being that is received by practicing moral conduct, these things. Practicing charity stops poverty and gives the result of wealth—such as these karmas, and achieving liberation, naraks, unfortunate beings.

Because you don’t remember, and because you don’t see it, it is not an object of knowledge. In that case why should we believe in the past histories that happened, because we don’t remember? The same reason, because you don’t remember the past histories that are explained in the books, explained by the ancient people, by ancient poets, ancient learned people, what they wrote, what they explained—that in such a time such things happened, this and that, stories about the families, the generations, the mother’s mother’s mother, the father’s grandfather, the father’s father’s father. Stories of grandfathers are written in books and then we trust in this. We learn this, we memorize it and we speak about it, people believe it. But how we can trust in all these past things that we cannot see now, which don’t exist now, things that you don’t remember—how can you trust them? The same thing, it is exactly the same—but in these stories that the father told, stories that mother told, in these things we trust easily. Somebody explains it and then we trust it, like this. But we find it very hard to have faith in the teachings of Buddha.

Actually even just to have faith is very difficult, because to have faith in such incredible teachings, that person with faith has to be a very fortunate person, because this is not particularly based on the complete experience of the lam-rim path and it is not based on the effortless experience of meditating—it is not that but in some ways it depends on it. If the mind is completely empty of faith… the person with faith is like a person with a realization. To have faith in such incredible teachings is difficult, of course, because it depends on having created the cause in the past, much merit. Having faith in karma, in the teachings of the omniscient one is not easy because it depends on having created the cause of much merit in the past. Depending on that, that much faith comes. Therefore, on this earth there are more people who do not have faith and such a small number who have faith in the teachings of Buddha. This is also decided by how much merit is accumulated; it is decided by karma, by merit, like this. The reason there is such a small number is that it is difficult. That is one thing. Also there is such a small number to follow the infallible path, the teachings of Buddha, and that shows something—that follower, that person has created so many causes, so much merit.

It shows something, why? Because following the teaching of Buddha has great advantage. Like a business person who receives much profit has to have good karma, has to have accumulated that much good karma in the past. It depends on that. Therefore all the time, every time you make business, you plan how much profit to receive. You have the idea, the wish to receive great profit all the time. But it doesn’t work all the time as you expected—you don’t receive it as you planned all the time. It doesn’t always work. Even though you might be successful one or two times, you are not successful forever, as if it were fixed. Like that, how difficult that is, it is the same. Following the teachings of Buddha is a great incredible advantage—to receive what you want to receive, that much merit needs to be accumulated.

Also you can figure out, for example, that there is existence. For example, there is the achievement of nirvana, the ever-release from samsara. When you meditate on shunyata, on emptiness only, when you meditate correctly, even from that small experience you can recognize what Buddha explained in the teaching—the object of your hallucinated mind, the “I” that doesn’t exist, the truly existent “I” that doesn’t exist, the “I” to which the ignorant, hallucinated mind clings to be truly existent. When you recognize that, and especially when you recognize that it is empty, you can figure out how the teaching works. This experience is the very root to the release from samsara, to nirvana—discovering the object of ignorance is empty.

Even meditating on impermanence and death cuts off and controls attachment, cuts off anger, makes one lose anger. Doing these fundamental lam-rim meditations, you can experience how they affect the mind, how they benefit the mind, how they bring peace in the mind, overwhelming the delusions. By practicing, through meditation, you can figure it out, even from a small experience.

However, even to have faith depends on karma, as it is explained by Buddha in the teachings. Even for that, one should accumulate much merit; one should practice purification; the obstacles and heavy karmic obscurations that are collected through heresy arising in the past need to be purified. So one needs to practice—it is just that without causes and conditions it doesn’t come, faith does not happen.

Just making light offering to Buddha has ten benefits. Even without a particular virtuous motive, just by thinking of Buddha, whether there is a Buddha statue or not in the room or in front of you, something substantial, just by thinking of and visualizing Buddha and even making one light offering, the ten benefits arise.

For example, the achievement of clairvoyance; clairvoyance of hearing, the deva’s hearing, the deva’s eye, which is able to see very distant things—no matter how far it is, miles distant, one can see the sentient being’s level of mind or objects, or is able to read other’s thoughts. Without this it is difficult to perfectly work for others. Then the ignorance of not knowing Dharma is decreased, it becomes thinner. Then the Dharma wisdom increases in this life and future lives. The mind becomes very sharp and intelligent. It is easy to understand the teachings, so easy to memorize the words—so easy, by just looking at them, you get the words, and are able to memorize and understand all the profound meanings quickly and immediately, things like that.

Then, while you are in samsara, you will not be born in the place where there’s no light. There are human beings who have to live life in the dark, who have to live many years in darkness. There are also creatures who never see any light in their life, however many hundreds of years they live. So while one is still in samsara one will not be born in a place where there is no light. Particularly in the West where there is electricity, like this.

We are enjoying the result of the good karma that we created in the past, so now, knowing this, in this life we should create as many causes as possible for the future; knowing that these enjoyments are the result of one’s own past lives’ merit, if you want them again or even better than that, you should create the virtuous causes as much as possible, by doing virtuous actions. Before death comes you should hurry up to create the cause, without delay.

Then also it causes one to receive perfections and wealth in their future lives. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t benefit this life, but that it particularly causes the perfection of wealth in future lives. Then, also it causes one to achieve nirvana, and the omniscient mind.

So even just one small light, one tiny light offered while just simply thinking of Buddha, thinking, “I’m making offering to Buddha,” has those ten benefits. So, like this, any offering that one does to a holy object, any offering, has ten benefits, ten benefits. Even, if a particular virtuous action is done without a virtuous motive, it always becomes the cause of omniscient mind. One always receives this result.

It is like this. You see, if you plant corn in the field and then you pray, “Please may it not grow,” however much you pray, even if you pray a hundred times a day, if the conditions are perfect, it will definitely grow. Similar, with these particular virtuous actions done in relation to the holy object of Buddha, however much you pray, “May I not become enlightened,” you become enlightened. It becomes the cause of omniscient mind. As regards motive, generally it is like this.

In the West among young people, those who are called hippies by other people, they are like this also—even if the person doesn’t talk about the next life, future lives, even if the person doesn’t talk about omniscient mind, doesn’t talk about nirvana, doesn’t talk about the future lives, in Dharma terms, even if the person doesn’t know the definition of holy Dharma and doesn’t know what is not holy Dharma, even if the person doesn’t know good karma and bad karma—I mean, he does talk about bad and good actions, but he doesn’t know the clear definitions as explained in the teachings. In the West, particularly among the young people, there are many people who feel that the selfish attitude is bad. Somehow, even though they don’t understand so much about karma, somehow the selfish attitude is bad, that is a bad thought, which one shouldn’t have. I think sometimes, also when the emotional “I” comes up, I think they call it ego. When the emotional “I” is very strong, they call this truly existent “I” having strong ego.

Also there are those who have an incredibly good personality and do not have so much miserliness in their possessions—giving, sharing with each other. When somebody runs out of money, when somebody is having trouble, when somebody is sick, when somebody has something they share it with others. This is fantastic, very good—taking care of the other person as yourself. Even though you don’t think the other person is more important, more precious than you, at least you take care of them in the same way. I think this is really very good. They really help each other with whatever is there: food, clothes, whatever one has. They sincerely try to do things for others without expectation. This is one of the most beautiful things that I find in the minds of Western people—young ones, and in the Western old ones too—the most beautiful thing that I find is those who do not have expectation of the result, and that is really so beautiful. I think that is a most beautiful thing.

This is more beautiful then somebody who accepts karma, somebody who has faith in karma but expects so much result, “If I do this, I will get this result,” you know. Like for example the Tibetans, or in Thailand, Japan or those Buddhist countries—those families who are Buddhists. Mostly there’s not so much understanding, they just have faith and the example grows from the grandfather, from the examples of the mother—what is seen by the eyes, not so much by understanding but based on faith. Like the Tibetans, for whom faith is an incredibly important thing. The object to whom they go for refuge, in which they place their faith, with that object there is no mistake, no danger, no misguiding.

But those who think, “If I make this charity, I will be rich,” or “If I make offering to the monastery, I will be rich in a future life, I will be rich in this life, I will have no sickness, a long life and my business will be successful,” things like that mostly. Even though they have faith in karma, there is so much clinging. It looks like—this is my own view, I am talking about my own view—I’m not saying all, but even though generally there’s faith, there is belief in karma, the virtuous actions are done so much in order to get results “for me,” to get something “for me,” clinging so much. It is good, compared to nothing this is very good, it is no mistake; in terms of the object to whom they make offerings, there is no mistake at all, no doubt.

I mean, the action, offering to Buddha, there is no mistake with that, it is reliable. In regards to that the Tibetans are very fortunate. And they have incredible high lamas, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama—no doubt, that is very fortunate. I mean, without need to speak much, they have an incredible opportunity. But you see generally it is like this. There are lay people—again, at the same time they have incredibly strong compassion, so generous for others, so much compassion, there are those like this among the lay people but normally, generally, it looks like whatever is done is alone for me, for me in future lives to be happy, to have a good body, to not be born in the naraks. So much is done for oneself, to make preparation for oneself.

But these young people, these hippies have very good minds, many of them. I mean, there are also some things but so many are more wonderful than somebody who, like these Tibetans, are too much expecting for oneself. Compared to that, it is really beautiful. There is no expectation, nothing—whatever you have you use to help others, you share, you give to others; you give it and it is finished. You give sincerely, something that benefits them. You give it and then it is very clean, there is no expectation for reputation, no expectation that “I did it,” that “I gave it.” There is no expectation, no particular expectation for this life, and of course, there is no talking about future lives. Anyway, those people sincerely help and they are sincerely concerned with others’ peace and happiness, really concerned about others’ happiness and about relieving others’ suffering. That is really true Dharma, pure Dharma, even though the person doesn’t talk about future lives.

What I am saying is that it becomes virtue by opportunity. Things like that cause wealth in the future life. So definitely, there are beautiful things that I discovered during these years, most beautiful things. Even if you need them, even though these are things that you need for your own comfort, you give them to the others—those are very beautiful things, real Dharma, pure Dharma. This is practicing pure Dharma without a selfish attitude, without a self-centered attitude. That is something that I admire so much, it is a beautiful quality. I don’t know whether it happens by taking drugs, I don’t know what makes them share this. Eating mushrooms, or whatever, I don’t know. I think we better eat something.

I am sorry, again I didn’t get through.


Lecture 15: November 26th am

Manjushri Prayer [prayers]

It is very important during this time to do the visualization of purifying the obscurations and negative karma, the obstacles, the hindrances to complete and accomplish the listening of the Dharma. Listening to Dharma is not something that doesn’t have an end. It is not like that. The purpose of listening to Dharma is to finish the sufferings of self, to finish the obscurations within one’s own mind, to cease them. Whenever the obscurations in the mind are ceased, when the realization of the path is complete, then listening to the Dharma is finished, the work of listening to the Dharma is finished, and reflection and meditation are finished. It is not like worldly work, which never has an end.

As long as we are in samsara, until we are free, until we have cut off the continuation of these aggregates, until we have ended joining the continuation of aggregates from one life to another life, until we break this, all the time, the work for autumn, for winter, for summer, for spring, the work for those different seasons, cultivating different crops—this work never gets finished. There is no end. Until you break this cycle there is no way to finish the work.

In general there is no way to finish, although without choice it ends by impermanence, by death—now it’s summer and they are doing some work, now it’s winter and they are doing some different work, autumn, spring, moving to a different place, doing different cultivation—all these things. Or they do a job and go to school, or to the office, whatever it is. Then there are a certain number of holidays in the year, Christmas and others , I don’t remember, several holidays, then either you go for camping or you go to the beach, or trekking, traveling the countries where you have not been or where you have been before, whether in this life or not, and even during those times there is the worry of not having enough enjoyment, of not finding pleasure. And even when one comes back to work there is again worry and fear and suffering; and again one goes for holidays, again one goes trekking, whatever it is, and again there is worry, fear, something is not right, something is missing in the mind.

Whatever you do, when you are away from work, when you come back, while you are working, there is always something missing in the mind, something not right. Whatever you try, whatever different style of life you try, always something is wrong. There is always something missing in the mind—something is not fulfilled, not satisfied. Always something is missing there. No matter what you try, even when you experience pleasure but even while you are experiencing pleasure, in the mind there is something missing, always. Whatever you do, even if you get it, even while you experience the pleasure, the mind is not completely satisfied. There is always something missing. That is the most painful suffering of samsara.

Even though you try, even though you work so hard to get it, even when you do get it there is something missing, not completely satisfied. There is something missing. Then again you seek that. That is the contagious disease, the worst; much more dangerous than cancer, than any of these diseases. This is the dissatisfied mind, and that is what makes one circle in samsara, and there is no end. The dissatisfaction obliges you always to work in order to fulfill desire.

You keep on trying all these different styles of life, “Maybe now if I do this, this life will be happier, maybe if I give up school, maybe if I attend the circus now—that looks like great fun.” You don’t know the pain; you don’t know the suffering inside. Then try a wealthy life, “If I become like that, those wealthy people with a big apartment, lots of cars and lots of things, that looks like it’s great, that looks good, like there is much happiness there.” So you try, you work very hard for many years, and when you become that, again there are many problems. There are problems with having those things, having wealth. There is fear that it will be taken by others, controlled by others, robbers, terrorists, wrathful people, those who make phone calls—you know, “If you don’t give a million dollars, if you don’t leave it at this place, then I will kill you.”

We had one Italian, one guy—I’m not sure, but when he had that problem he must have been rich. I think he received a phone call several times, the people rang his home and told him that if he didn’t leave a lot of money in some place—I don’t know the name of the place where he was supposed to leave the money, maybe a shop, I am not sure. He was living alone in an apartment and one day suddenly the people came. He must have a lot of money because otherwise these people wouldn’t try. Anyway, one day they showed up—I think that he did not have any other friends; he stayed alone in this apartment. I am sure that these people must have known. So they came up and two people worked on him and the rest of the people stayed around in the room. Two people tied his legs, and arms to the chair and one person held a gun at his neck, like this. Then one person asked him where all the money was.

I don’t know whether he said anything or not. Downstairs a lady heard some noise, something happening upstairs. She called the police. The people searched his room and found some money, and then they suddenly left because they heard the downstairs lady make a phone call.

He came twice during the course. At that time Lama Tsongkhapa Institute didn’t exist; we were doing the course in a priest’s place, where people came to do retreat. Maybe a monastery—a very nice, very beautiful retreat place. There were very good priests and they also came during the lectures. They had very good understanding. I think when this problem happened the center wasn’t there.

Lama Yeshe sent one Italian monk, Piero, to protect this man’s life. There was the danger that the people would come to kill him, so they asked him to come to the center. And since he was quite an old man and alone, Lama thought that if he could travel without too many problems, if he had enough money to do this, it would be good—otherwise he might lose his life and also he would live his life in fear. Piero the monk went to get him and helped him pack, and they came back together to Kopan. I think he didn’t realize Lama’s kindness, he didn’t recognize the guidance, I guess; after a few days, he couldn’t stand it here. There was no course, he was just staying relaxed in his room, up in the tower. After five days he couldn’t stand it. He left with another Italian guy. I am not sure what he is doing now, I don’t know where he is now. Maybe he is reincarnated, maybe one of those kidnappers—I am joking. So there are these kinds of problems.

Then again giving it up, giving all these things away. “Oh now maybe it will be better if I lead a hippie life, just being free, doing whatever I want, traveling, going anywhere I want, doing anything I want, with freedom, complete freedom. Maybe there’s great peace in that life.” Then try that. “No problems, something very simple, very successful life, very happy life, very smooth life.” However, again there are different kinds of problems, which are nothing new, and again there is dissatisfaction. Always something missing, whatever you do, wherever you travel.

Following desire, expecting to fulfill it, and working for that—the result is dissatisfaction. Following desire, clinging to and seeking samsaric perfections, expecting to fulfill desire, even with effort, even if working with effort you get what you want; even if you get it, the mind is not satisfied. So again you work for that, again you work for desire. If you don’t get it, then of course, but even if you do get it, the mind is not satisfied. It goes on and on and on like this.

This work is done in order to fulfill desire, in order to get satisfaction. For example, even an action such as stealing, or even if one is able to make profit in business, a thousand dollars, a hundred dollars, then, “This is not enough; I should get more.” Then, a thousand dollars; still it is not enough. Even if one does get a thousand dollars, one should get a million dollars, one wants more. Even if you get it, there’s something missing in the mind, something not completely happy, not full. The work is done in order to fulfill the desire but by following the desire the result is always dissatisfaction. The purpose of doing the work is to fulfill the desire, that’s the aim, but it doesn’t happen. Instead of that there is dissatisfaction, so the work is repeated over and over and over, for the whole life.

So in this life the work itself doesn’t have an end and, without choice, this life, related to this body, ends by impermanence and death. But since you still wander in samsara, since the continuity of these aggregates joins the next life without a break, one is caught in samsara, and no matter what samsaric aggregates are taken, again it is the same thing—work for desire, and again the result is dissatisfaction. So it goes on and on and on like this.

This work and the dissatisfaction don’t have a beginning. Its continuation has no beginning. It has no beginning and as long as we work for desire, it has no end. Suffering and dissatisfaction have no end; they always continue. So that is the nature; working for desire, what you get is dissatisfaction.

You see, practicing Dharma—I don’t remember the quotation exactly—Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said in the sutra teachings that as long as one follows desire one will not be satisfied; until one renounces desire, one will never be satisfied. After that, I don’t remember the words exactly, but what Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said was that the one who follows desire is always suffering; the one who is satisfied by Dharma wisdom is always happy. The practice of Dharma brings satisfaction.

This does not mean just shaving the hair, wearing robes or changing the dress. It doesn’t mean living in a monastery or a center, or in a hermitage, or just reciting prayers or circumambulating stupas or temples. It doesn’t even mean just meditation. Practicing Dharma doesn’t mean just this.

So how does practicing the holy Dharma bring satisfaction in the mind, bring peace in the mind? Taking care of desire is the problem of life; that itself is the fundamental confusion of life. All the problems that we hear of all the time in the West, in the newspapers, on television, all this, with the family or the single person, whatever, all these problems are shortcomings of following desire, seeking samsaric happiness and perfections, seeking comfort, seeking the pleasure of this life. Practicing Dharma—whenever one starts to practice the holy Dharma, right in that minute, right at that time, the result in the mind, the effect in the mind is peace, relaxation and calmness. The other one is unsubdued, uncontrolled.

For example: if one has much worry and fear about not having a better quality of material possessions, then instead of keeping busy worrying, having fear of not getting better, not getting more material possessions; if it is an apartment, I need this, I need that, thinking what the house needs, when you think of the comfort, so many things one needs, you can make so many lists of things…

<end of tape>

… while you have such fear and worry, think, “This is enough for me.” Suddenly, when you make a decision, when you renounce the desire, the dissatisfaction, thinking, “Oh, this is enough,” then even though the mind was very disturbed before, very unpeaceful, filled with the worry and fear of not receiving, when you suddenly make the decision, “Oh, this is enough for me, I’m also not sure how long I will live my life,” suddenly those fears and worry are stopped. Immediately, there is peace and calm, relaxation in the mind.

Or, for example, one’s wife follows another man; she runs away and lives with another person. Before there was much worry and fear. Then if one thinks, “So for that many years I lived with her. I myself lived that many years with her, had a good time with her, so now why can’t he have her. I lived with her that many months and years, so why can’t he have her. As I want her, he also wants her for his comfort, same thing. He desires happiness, doesn’t desire suffering; he wants to enjoy with her, same thing. So there is not the slightest reason that I am more important, that my happiness is more important than his happiness, not the slightest reason to prove that he can’t have her and that I should have her.”

Before you thought, “Why can’t he have her?” You were seeking desire, your mind was in great pain, in great confusion but suddenly when you think of this, instead of worrying and having fear, instead of being angry all the time—equalizing yourself and the other person, dedicating for him, doing the practice of dedication for him, “As I want her, he also wants her, so why can’t he have her?” When you dedicate for him, the great pain that your mind produced by one way of thinking stops. All that great competition stops in the mind. Immediately, when you dedicated her to him, that means you renounced your desire. That dedication, renouncing the desire: that is the real holy Dharma.

So while you are dissatisfied with perfections, suddenly be content, thinking, “This is enough, this is okay,” cutting off desire, renouncing desire, that itself is the real holy Dharma. When one renounces desire suddenly there is great peace in the mind—the immediate effect in the mind is great peace and calmness, relaxation.

Here, the point that I am making is about this desire but generally, when there is the danger of anger arising, by practicing patience you are renouncing anger, not letting the anger arise. That is the real holy Dharma, practicing the real holy Dharma. Whether one recites mantra or not, whether one makes offerings in front of holy objects, in daily life one practices like this, trying to control the mind, trying to subdue the mind, which is unsubdued, unpeaceful and uncontrolled. One tries to control it, trying to have freedom from the mind that is overwhelmed by unsubdued delusions, turning it upside down, trying to get the delusions under the control of mind instead of the mind under the control of the delusions, trying to give freedom to the mind. You give freedom to your mind. This is the real practice of holy Dharma, whether one works in the office or lives in a family or in a hermitage, whether one lives in a center, in a monastery, whether one lives in ordination or not in ordination. If one practices like this, wherever one lives, in the West or in the East, in a city or outside the city, in the mountains—in each day of life there is so much peace.

Otherwise, if you just leave your life up to the delusions, in the hand of the delusions, if you let yourself be overwhelmed by delusions, if you give too much freedom to the delusions, then even this precious human body with which one can accomplish many great meanings, any perfection, happiness, this body, which has incredible great opportunity; if you take too much refuge in the delusions, if you live your life in the hand of the delusions, if you give too much freedom to the delusions, then even while you are alive there will be no happiness, much disaster and so much confusion. There will be thousands of confusions—with this person, with that person, with the husband—everywhere, no matter where you are—in the office or in the family, wherever you go, so much. Always emotional; then always you have to take so much medicine for the mind, for the body. And there will be too many expenses. Then there is so much worry because you are unable to pay, and there is not even a minute to relax. No happiness, incredible. Because of that you are always so busy. While you are alive, life passes like this, day after day, month after month, year after year. And then when you die, even if you were born with suffering, even if you lived the life with much confusion, when you die if you died with great happiness, that would be something else, that would be something good. Also if at the time of death you have nothing to regret.

But at the end of life, even you could live long, even if you could have this precious human body with which you can achieve any happiness and perfection for many years, even if nobody caused you to have a short life, even if nobody executes you, you kill yourself. You cause yourself to have a short life. Like this, you end up at the end of life in great fear, instead of great happiness. You end up with worry, in a terrible way, which scares everybody who sees it. However all this is a mistake, giving too much freedom to the delusions. Instead of giving more freedom to yourself, you give more freedom to the delusions. Like this. It’s a mistake of being too friendly with the inner enemy.

The point that I started from here is that it is very important to do such practices as requesting, with the visualization that I explained before. With this visualization it’s very important to make the request. It is very important to do the visualization of purifying the obstacles to complete the listening, reflecting and meditation on the graduated path to enlightenment, on those teachings. It is not easy. Even the work of this life, to obtain education, to get a degree—just by wishing it doesn’t happen. Just because you have the wish, only from that, it does not happen, but that doesn’t mean that it is definite that you will get it. There are so many hindrances and it is so difficult. Even to obtain happiness one month, one year, making business—just having the wish to get it alone doesn’t make it successful. There are many hindrances.

So what we are doing here is trying to accomplish omniscient mind, the sublime happiness of the omniscient mind. This is not for the sake of oneself but for the sake of others, for the sake of uncountable numbers of sentient beings. There is no greater goal than that. There’s nothing more important than practicing holy Dharma in order to achieve this goal. There’s nothing more important than the work to benefit others, not only liberating yourself from suffering and leading yourself to ultimate happiness, but also freeing each and every sentient being from all suffering and leading them to the state of omniscient mind, into sublime happiness. There is nothing more important than that aim, nothing more important than that work.

So of course, if even the works just to obtain this life’s happiness, to obtain happiness for a few months, a few years, is so difficult to do, then of course, why not practicing holy Dharma? If that is difficult, then of course practicing holy Dharma should be much more difficult, of course there will be many more hindrances, so many hindrances even to listening to the teachings, then to understanding, to actualizing—so many outer, inner and secret hindrances.

So there is need to make requests, because by relying on Manjushri and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the fully knowing one, the one who has perfect power, infinite compassion; since you do not have perfect power and fully knowing mind, since you alone cannot guide yourself, cannot do it by yourself, you have to rely on another separate being who has greater power, who has greater knowledge. You should rely on that. Like, for example, the old man who cannot stand up—if he relies on a stick he can stand up; or a person who is very weak, who cannot carry his load, who depends on a strong person to carry his food and his sleeping bag, his luggage. One has to rely on somebody. Since one does not have the power, one has to rely on somebody. So one has to rely on these enlightened beings and make requests.

Even though this is not your experience of how it works, it is the experience of those who have been practicing the Holy Dharma, those who are meditators on the graduated path to enlightenment. This is their experience of how it works. If it is not your experience, because you haven’t done the practice, haven’t had the experience of the path yet, it is the experience of those who have been practicing. So if it benefits them, if those same human beings who accomplished the path, who achieved omniscient mind, if they received the benefits of these practices then why not us? Why not oneself? We are the same, we are human beings. We have the same potential in mind, so why not? It is just a matter of experimenting, like a scientist, just a matter of experimenting, a matter of practice, a matter of whether the practice is done or not.

So, without saying the rest of the prayers, I will start straight away. Please generate the motivation, at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking that I am going to listen to the commentary on the Bodhicaryavatara in order to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all kind mother sentient beings. Instead of thinking, “I am going to listen to the teaching for the sake of my happiness,” you should think, “I am going to listen to the teaching for the sake of happiness of other sentient beings.” That is important.

One does create negative karma if one gets angry, even at a non-sentient being. It is said in sutra teachings by Buddha that because of that one shouldn’t get angry even with a log of wood. So there is no need to talk about getting angry with the bodies that have a consciousness, no need to question that one creates negative karma.

There is a story that happened—I think probably he was a monk—he passed a tree that belonged to the monastery. He had to go around it and somehow he banged his bead against the branches of the tree. So he got very angry and he broke the branches of that tree, which belonged to the sangha, to the monastery. Then because of that karma he was reborn as a naga and when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was giving teachings to many disciples one day, the naga came in the aspect of a king, well-decorated with jewels, among the disciples. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha asked him, “Tomorrow come in your own form, not in this form.”

So the next day he came in his own form, as a naga, his head in the form of a snake, with an incredible long tail that went on for miles. Even though the head was in the presence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the tail was way down in the village. From his head a tree grew, and when the tree moved, because of his karma, even the root of the tree moved, and he had an incredible, unbelievable headache. Then all the disciples who came there to receive teachings ran away because this snake came.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s omniscient mind can see even the most subtle karma, not only the gross karma, without the slightest mistake. So Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained to the disciples how he created the karma when he was a monk—I think he was a monk—how one day he was passing this tree and got incredibly angry and hit his head and broke the branches of the tree; and how by that result this happened. Elledarma is the name of that particular tree.

When we are in the mountains, there’s an animal, a worm under the ground but you see grass growing from its head. There is grass growing from the head—if you watch the grass, among the piles of grass there’s grass moving like this. It’s a red worm, with a red body and inside it’s white. When you see this grass moving the worm is below. The villagers eat the dead body of the worm because the inside is white—when it becomes dry it is white. I don’t know the tantra. But they eat this because it gives strength to the body, it is like vitamins. I think that worm does not have grass on the head, but in the mouth. Maybe you don’t even believe this example. You can go to Solu Khumbu and check. Or another one: you can create the karma, and then you can see. You can see by yourself, on your own body. Anyway I didn’t want to talk so much.

The conclusion, however, is that one should work hard to protect oneself from the harmful mind such as anger, the inner enemy. Also from the mind of heresy, which destroys merit. It destroys the merits that one has accumulated with much hardship.

You see, in this life, from birth until death, even in our human life, there are more times that delusions, the unsubdued minds arise than that don’t. Even if anger doesn’t arise, attachment arises, and even if attachment doesn’t arise, ignorance arises. If that doesn’t arise pride arises. Jealous mind arises. Even if one doesn’t arise, another one arises, one after another, then one produces non-virtuous actions. So there are more times, even in a human life, in which delusions arise than when delusions do not arise; there are more times of collecting non-virtuous actions than the rare times of accumulating virtue. Even if we do accumulate merit, it happens very rarely and is so difficult to do. There are so many hindrances even to accumulate one virtue; hindrances from outside, hindrances from inside; hindrances from the unsubdued mind, from delusions, from laziness, not wanting to pray and not wanting to practice. Even if one wishes to do so, one is lazy. Also there are hindrances from outside.

It is so difficult to accumulate virtue, even if one wishes to, even if one has interest in accumulating virtue. Even if one wishes to practice charity, there are so many hindrances from outside and inside. Even if one wishes to accumulate virtue by practicing, by protecting moral conduct, taking precepts, things like that, to take just one precept, not to tell lies, not to take others’ lives or not to commit sexual misconduct, even to accumulate the virtue of taking one precept is so difficult. It is much harder for the mind than climbing a very steep rocky mountain—that you find easy, even though it’s dangerous, even though you are not sure to climb that very high peak where there is much danger, avalanches, high cliff, not one hundred percent sure that you are going to come back from that, that you are going to reach the top. So hard is it, to climb this mountain, how dangerous it is, and climbing that is recognized as very brave.

Two years ago, I think, there was a group of people who came from Yugoslavia. I met them at the airport in the mountains, on the Japanese airstrip. These people made a plan, they made a project. They went on the mountain and then they came back and they made a plan, they made a new trail to go onto the mountain. They did not like to climb the mountain in the normal way, so they made a new project, a dangerous way without oxygen or something. They made a new plan to climb the mountain. They had to wait a few days at the airport because they didn’t get a flight. I was next to them, in the next room. I think they were very lonely. There was nothing else to do, no jobs. Of course if they knew Dharma they could have meditated, enjoying the time, meditating the whole day. But they didn’t have anything to do. Or they could have recited mantras. They could have used the time for something meaningful. But there was nothing else to do there on that mountain. I think finally they got a helicopter or something.

One night we did puja in that room because it was a special day so we had to do some meditation practice. There were some other students who also had a commitment to do this puja, the practice of Vajrayana. I didn’t realize it would disturb them. I think there was one person sleeping just behind that wooden wall, and I think they heard our chanting. I was leading the prayers, you see, and the person who was behind the wooden wall knew I was the leader of the disturbance. Each time I would start to chant the person would bang the wall. So after some time we tried to finish quickly with lower voices. I was scared he might show up in the door and scream.

So that one is recognized as very brave, in spite of all these dangers to the life. One renounces even the life completely, in spite of all the dangers, just to get the reputation, just to hear the dry words, the reputation, “Such and such a person climbed Mount Everest.” Or maybe there is some present to be received from the Queen of England, or whatever it is, one piece of material labeled something, labeled precious. Then one is able to completely give up the life.

Accumulating virtue—even if it was finally successful, if the person didn’t die due to avalanche, or didn’t fall down, even if the person could climb the mountain and come back, even if he gets a reputation, people talk about it for a few years, and the person’s name might be written in the papers, there are pictures of when they climbed the mountain, but after a few years his consciousness is somewhere else. If one has a human body it’s good. But it’s difficult to make sure of that. It is dependent upon how he lived that life, so it’s difficult to say. To find a human body again is difficult. Without having created the cause you cannot experience the result, so that is difficult. After a few years maybe the person takes a body full of hairs, with horns growing, with a tail, chewing grass; or in the lake where the person used to go for fishing, on that beach or in that lake. Then running around—another fisherman catches him, maybe his son, and hooks the fish, cutting the body in half. All that reputation, even if the name is left in that book, or there are pictures that other people can see on this earth, what is the use, what does it benefit? Nothing; for the person himself nothing, for the future life, nothing, nothing to say, no better body, a human body or a deva’s body, to be able to offer great benefits for others. Then for the past life, there is nothing to say. The life is finished. Even though one was born with a human life, it’s finished, empty.

The real bravery, the real hero is the one who can fight anger, the one who can overwhelm and climb over the anger; the one who can face the inner enemy, the most difficult one, the most dangerous one. One person’s anger kills sixty million people, one person’s mind’s anger. How dangerous it is. It is much more dangerous than the atomic bomb. There is no comparison between one person’s anger and the atomic bomb. How harmful the anger is, so harmful, much more so than the atomic bomb! The danger of the atomic bomb is that it harms others, destroys the whole earth, more than half of the world, all these millions and millions of human beings and creatures. There are so many creatures, uncountable numbers, in the water, under the ground, in the bushes, in the sky—so many, unbelievable. All this gets destroyed; not only human beings, but also creatures; then so many buildings, bridges and cities. All these things that so many thousands and thousands of people, for so many years, made plans for and spent so much money on, worked so hard in order to collect the money to give to the workers—all these enjoyments of sentient beings, of human beings, all these rich and comfortable apartments, all took so much time and effort, these huge buildings—they put so much effort into building all this and in one minute it all gets destroyed. In just one minute, one hour. In so many of these cities, it is unbelievable how much effort they put into it; they suffered so much to construct all this, then one day, in one hour, all this is completely destroyed.

How dangerous the atomic bomb is comes from anger. Without anger, if there is patience this would not happen. Even without talking about the naraks, how anger produces negatives karma, without talking about karma—something that you can see, just straight talking, how it is so harmful, so dangerous. If you talk about karma it is unbelievable—when you think about the suffering result of that, there is no need to talk much. Today’s anger arises toward another sentient being and this anger causes harm from life to life, and suffering from life to life. The result of that, suffering, is experienced from life to life, for such a long time. Particularly if we think of karma creating the result that is similar to the cause, particularly when we think of this result, we understand. Because of the habit of getting angry in this life, then again we see that if we do not cease it in this life, again the habit comes out in the next life, anger arises; and so it goes on and on like this.

As it is explained in the Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva, even if all the devas, worldly gods and all the human beings, even if all sentient beings became your enemy, they could not lead you to the fire of the narak realms. Even if they all became your enemy, became aggressive toward you, they could not lead you into the fire of the narak realms, they could not put you in the fire of the narak realms. But if you meet the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind, this powerful enemy destroys whatever one needs. It turns even great mountains into dust; besides the fragile bodies of other sentient beings, it destroys even very solid, concrete mountains and makes them non-existent. So the real hero, the real bravery, is being able to face, fight and defeat the powerful great inner enemies, such as anger and attachment and the unsubdued minds. Particularly you should face whatever is stronger in your mind—jealousy or pride or anger. If you can do this, if you can defeat this true enemy, the inner enemy, you are a real hero and that is real bravery.

All those leaders who have many ranks and medals due to killing—he was in such and such a war, he killed that many, then he gets extra colors, different materials. People think of that as brave. Especially when there is a mark somewhere on the hand or somewhere where the bullet went through, people recognize him as so precious and think of the person as very important. They think of him as a historical person, with a kind of long story, very important, very brave, very competent. Then, like this, the one who climbed a rocky mountain, a snow mountain, they call a brave, competent person. However in fact this is wrong. This is not a real hero, not real bravery, not real competency. He who is able to defeat the delusions is able accomplish temporal or ultimate happiness. The real bravery, the real hero is one who is able to face the unsubdued mind of anger and attachment, these things, who, between non-virtue and virtue, by defeating the delusions is able to accumulate more virtue, even in one’s day life. The one who is able to live in precepts, because living in precepts means that you have faced the delusions, the inner enemy. The delusions are one group and you are one. Then precepts are making war with the delusions. A person who lives in precepts is a real army, the inner army. That is a worthwhile army, an army to accomplish nirvana, omniscient mind.

That is an army, which by defeating the delusions accomplishes liberation, ever-release from samsara. The real army is the person who is living in precepts—that’s the real army, the one who can really benefit the world. This is the real army, who can really benefit, bringing peace in one’s own mind and in the mind of others. Because even by keeping eight precepts for one day, in twenty-four hours, you are facing the delusions, the ones who never give happiness, who never give peace in the mind, who only give trouble in all the three times—past, present and future. This one you try to defeat twenty-four hours and, without surrendering to the delusions, the inner enemy, without letting yourself be overwhelmed by that, you always watch yourself, protect yourself from this enemy of the delusions. Always watching, always being careful, always conscious when it comes. Always spying, then when it comes you use the remedy, the meditation practice, the thought training.

Living in precepts itself is not letting yourself be overwhelmed by the delusions, not following the delusions. That’s what it means. Once you do not follow the delusions there is peace. In those twenty-four hours there is much peace, as one does not follow the delusions living in the precepts. Killing, telling lies, sexual misconduct, all these things are actions done out of delusion, done out of attachment, out of anger—so once you do not follow these delusions, once you face them, once you try to defeat them, there is no way, no opportunity to create these non-virtuous actions. Once you are not friendly with the delusions there is no way to create these negative karmas that come from the delusions. There is no way; only the virtue, living in precepts, the opposite.

So you see, in that day, without talking about the merit that you accumulate with each precept, without talking about this, just even during that twenty-four hours, there is so much peace and relaxation in the mind. And not only that, how it brings peace, just when we talk about it straight, practically, the very close benefit that you can see—even if you don’t see the far benefits such as omniscient mind, all this, becoming a high bodhisattva, blah, blah, blah, all these great benefits for sentient beings—just straight, the very close advantages that you can offer each day to others by living in the precepts, not following anger, attachment and those other delusions, besides having relaxation and peace in your mind, since you do not get angry you do not disturb the others who are living peacefully. As you don’t get angry, so also you don’t cause others to get angry. When there is anger there is no peace, and when there is no anger, there is that much peace in the mind of that person. The mind is not following the delusions, so your actions of speech and body are subdued and peaceful. That makes others also happy. One does not disturb others, but keeps others happy.

Even if you don’t help, you don’t give benefit, at least you are not giving harm by living in the precepts. Not following the unsubdued mind benefits. Those whose minds are relaxed and happy you don’t make unhappy, and those whose minds are unhappy you don’t cause to be more unhappy. It helps so much to not confuse others. Just straight, every day, what you can offer to others by living in precepts, by facing the delusions. So it is so good, even if one stops disturbing, causing unhappiness to three or four people, even that many. Even if you cannot bring peace in the mind of all sentient beings on this earth, at least these three or four who are living with you in that day, in that twenty-four hours, you bring that much peace in the world, in the minds of these people. That is how one can benefit. So, one should attempt to prevent anger.

I will just read one stanza here.

There is no evil like hatred
And no fortitude like patience.
Thus I should strive in various ways
To meditate on patience.

I stop here.

The point is… I didn’t finish, excuse me, I didn’t make it clear. The armies who fight are supposed to be for peace. But even though they are there to protect the rest of the people in the country, the population, they have to kill other sentient beings. To protect other sentient beings they have to give harm, besides themselves being harmed. But the army of the person facing the delusions—the Dharma practitioner—doesn’t harm oneself, doesn’t harm anybody. Besides not harming, it even gives benefit to others. At least it doesn’t give harm. That’s the big difference between these two armies—the army against the delusions, the Dharma practitioner, and the outside army. That is the big difference. That’s all.


Precepts Ceremony November 27th am


In order to take the pratimoksha ordination of the eight precepts, this Mahayana ordination, reviving and purifying—purifying the non-virtue and reviving the virtue, storing up the virtue—one of the most important things to make it a Mahayana ordination is the motivation of bodhicitta. So please generate a strong motivation of bodhicitta, at least the effortful bodhicitta.

In front of oneself at one side you put a big pile, a mountain of diamonds and on the other side a perfect human body. Then think, check the value of that many diamonds, high as mountains, and the value of this precious human body, which is qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses.

Think this way: “Without having a perfect human body, with that many jewels alone, even wish-granting jewels (making it even more precious) worth more than diamonds, even a mountain of diamonds cannot save me from the lower realms. It cannot benefit me so that I am born into the realm of the happy transmigratory beings. That alone cannot benefit. Even if you achieve the blissful state of peace, ever-release from samsara, this many jewels alone cannot lead me to omniscient mind, cannot do extensive works for other sentient beings. But even if I don’t have that many jewels, I have this precious human body; even if I don’t have even one diamond, one tiny diamond or ornament, I have this precious human body qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses, and with this I can stop rebirth in the lower realms, I can achieve rebirth as a happy transmigratory being, I can find a perfect human body again in the next life, ever-release from samsara and the state of omniscient mind to accomplish the work for other sentient beings. With this I can achieve the three great meanings. This is what I have now.”

Then think: “This is what I have now and this is difficult to find again in the future life. I cannot have it in my hand; I can’t have it forever. Definitely the time comes—in one month, one year, one hour—when I will lose it. It is definite that I will have to separate from this body, without freedom. Death can happen at any time—it can happen this year, this month, this week or even today.

When somebody is dead we receive a telegram: suddenly, somewhere, saying such and such has died. After the name it says “dead.” We are surprised, with big eyes. It’s a shock. We cry, we say “wauw.” However, now we are receiving the telegram—other people die and we receive a telegram. We are the ones who receive the telegram. But there will be one day that some others receive a telegram saying, “Today Zopa died,” or, if the name is Joseph, “Joseph died.” The story of the telegram will be about you; your name, then after your own name, “dead.” One day, it is one’s own turn.

This can happen even today. Somebody receives a phone call, “This person died in Nepal.” Or somebody receives a telegram, the friends or parents. As it happens to others, it can also happen to us, today. Suddenly one becomes unconscious, suddenly one falls down—on the way to the toilet, outside the room, or even during meditation time suddenly one falls, and doesn’t come back. Suddenly the body becomes very pale, white—either that or suddenly the breathing out is very strong and the breathing in becomes weaker, and you know, “I am dying,” whether it is at home in the West or no matter where it is. Nothing can be done to stop the death. Nothing can be done.

Then the mind is so upset, with fear and no method; even though the mind is upset there is nothing that can be done, even though the mind is in great fear, nothing can be done. Dearest friends, greatest friends, most beloved friends around oneself, full of tears—it is time now to separate from them, to leave them and the possessions. With much negative karma, with that much miserliness that one collected with much hardship, it is time to leave.

The body becomes a corpse. The name, whatever it is called, people say “dead.” The body is at the cemetery, in the tomb or in the firewood and the consciousness or the self is facing the lower realms. Then the relatives, the husband, parents or friends are left at the funeral place, and all the possessions are left in the house—those possessions earned with much hardship and much miserliness. The car, everything—all the money, all the possessions are left there in the house. These things collected with much hardship now belong to somebody else, become somebody else’s possessions. Whatever work is not finished, such as building a house, traveling, writing a book, or an office job, studying, whatever, whether it is finished or not finished, it is left. Doing retreat or whatever—whether it is finished or not finished, it is ended by impermanence and death.

“Such a thing is definite to happen, so without being lazy from now on I should be careful with life, with what is still left.” How many years, how many months, how many days, how many minutes, how many seconds—from now until death one should be careful with it. With effort, by putting the lower lip under the teeth—that is an expression: to put all your energy, all your effort, into making the life meaningful, as much as possible, as much as is left of life, without cheating yourself you should make the life meaningful. Knowing such a thing can happen, being aware of it and then practicing the holy Dharma, practicing the good heart in everyday life; also the practice of living in precepts, which is an incredible advantage to ourselves and for others, for the whole world.

You should make this precious human body highly meaningful. Then at the time of death, for the best Dharma practitioners, their mind is so happy—like going to a picnic, like going back home, to the parents, so happy. Like that. Being able to go to the pure realm, so happy. However, if you cannot do that at the time of death, having a happy mind, not having fear, knowing that you will receive a perfect human body and again have the opportunity practice Dharma, for sure you should not have doubt at the time of death, to be sure that you are not going to be born in the lower realms. You should have confidence in your own mind where you are going to be reborn. You should have confidence like this by having prepared. We should prepare now, make preparations, by practicing Dharma. The only thing that can benefit at the time of death is the holy Dharma.

“So, just as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, by taking the pratimoksha ordination, by following the graduated path became enlightened, I myself also have the opportunity to be able to benefit, like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, to enlighten numberless sentient beings. I also have the same potential to be able to benefit others. I myself can become enlightened and I myself can enlighten all sentient beings. So while I have this great opportunity, such potential and opportunity to practice the holy Dharma, especially the Mahayana path, if I seek only happiness for myself, ever-release from samsara, then it is no different from the animal’s attitude. Sentient beings are so kind, so precious, so extremely kind—they are those from whom I receive all my three times’ happiness and perfections. While I am in samsara, without depending on the kindness of sentient beings, there is no way that I can begin Dharma practice and receive omniscient mind. There is no way without depending on the kindness of sentient beings.

“What the sentient beings want is happiness and what they do not want is suffering, so there is nothing more important in my life, nothing more precious than this work in my life—the work that frees all sentient beings from suffering and leads them into the state of omniscient mind. There is nothing more important than this work, nothing more meaningful than this work, than this job. So for sentient beings I must achieve the state of omniscient mind. The cause of the path to omniscient mind, the method of accumulating merit to reach omniscient mind, the path towards omniscient mind, is ordination. Therefore I am going to take the Mahayana ordination for the sake of all sentient beings.”

Think that the purpose of taking the ordination is for the happiness of others, for the uncountable number of sentient beings, particularly who are on this earth, as well as all other sentient beings, human beings who are suffering so much.

Visualizing Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, you make three prostrations to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.

Then if you can, if you have no problem with the legs, kneel in the position with the right knee up and the left down, putting the palms of the hands together in the mudra of prostration, respectfully. With this respectful action of body—I think when someone requests a king for something, then one takes that position out of humbleness, a respectful manner to make requests. Like this I think.


“All Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, with your divine wisdom, please pay attention to me. As the previous tathagathas, the arhats, the fully enlightened buddhas, like a divine skillful wise horse, a great elephant, did what had to be done...”

This is relating to examples of the power of Buddha, how he is capable of doing the works for others. Only from the commentary can you understand. It is quite difficult to understand just from the words here, it might sound a little bit strange—it might sound as if you are turning into animals, elephants or something like that.

Mention all your names. If you have twenty names you mention them here. I think the purpose of mentioning names is not to let the mind wander, to make sure to take the ordination for the sake of others. Like when you go to the bank and put your signature.

“...for the sake of all that lives, in order to benefit all, in order to prevent famine...”

When we say this you should remember particularly all the problems of the sentient beings on this particular world, those that you know of, that you remember. When you say these words, you should remember them, as well as all the rest of the sentient beings. This is not the only world; even the scientists have discovered that there are many universes.

“...in order to prevent mental and physical sickness...”

This time you should remember all the patients in hospitals, and their incredible, unbelievable sufferings; it is kind of hopeless that they will recover. Remember these sentient beings, these human beings, in the hospitals. Even today, there are so many who can’t recover, who can’t be helped by the doctors, who wish to live but have no chance to recover. They have so much pain, screaming, so much suffering. You should remember these. You take precepts to free them from the sufferings. Then there are so many refugees dying from starvation…

[Second and third repetitions]

“...in order to prevent mental and physical sicknesses...”

So here you should remember the people who create much negative karma. Even having taken a human body they create much negative karma, due to lack of Dharma wisdom, lack of faith in karma. You take precepts to liberate them from suffering.

[Ceremony continues]

Then think: “Now I have received the pure Mahayana ordination.” Feel great rejoicefulness, like having found a mountain of wish-granting jewels, like having found a trillion dollars. If you found a trillion dollars you would be spaced out. Like a dream, we wouldn’t believe it, thinking maybe it is a dream. Between the value of that and the value of one precept, there is no comparison. Taking the vow of not taking others’ lives; taking others’ lives causes the suffering result, but when you live in the vow of not taking others lives, it is the cause of the good result. The way to understand this is to see the opposites—how it brings the good result, the opposite of suffering, and how bad actions cause the ripening aspect result of rebirth in the lower realms, a suffering body instead of the body of a happy transmigratory being in the deva realm or the human realm. Like that, the opposite, you have to figure it out. Not only that, not only happiness and perfection in samsara, but each of these precepts becomes a cause to achieve the qualities of a Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, in order to do the works for all other sentient beings. So there is temporal and ultimate benefit for you. As it is taken with the motive of bodhicitta, one precept has infinite benefits. Now here we are taking eight precepts, which are much more—so a trillion dollars is nothing compared to the value of this. Each of these precepts is the cause to have happiness and perfections lifetime after lifetime for so many lifetimes. Remembering this, you should feel great happiness.

“From now on I shall not kill, nor steal other’s possession, nor engage in sexual misconduct....”

The Pratimoksha ordination is not a Mahayana ordination, not like this particular Mahayana ordination. It does not involve visualizing the guru in Buddha. Visualizing the guru as Buddha, guru yoga practice, is tantric practice. [inaudible]

“...nor lie. I shall avoid intoxicants from which many mistakes arise...”

Intoxicants in the Pratimoksha ordination just means wine, which makes the mind go crazy and makes one become a not-normal human being. Wine makes you become shameless. First you have shame, then after you drink the wine, you become shameless. But here in this particular Mahayana ordination it means also cigarettes—with the other precepts, the five precepts, it means particularly wine, it does not mean cigarettes. Cigarettes don’t completely change the mind like wine does, but here cigarettes is a type of black food. Like when you drink coffee, for some people it makes the mind a little bit unstable when you concentrate—not like that, but a black food. Anyway, in Tibetan we say that wine is a typical black food. In the Tibetan prayer it says, “Wine, from which many mistakes arise.”

“...I shall not sit on large, high, expensive beds...”

There is no precept to not sit on a throne. Before giving I also have taken the ordination. I don’t know how expensive this bed is! However, the main thing with all these precepts is the motivation; they are meant to overwhelm the delusions, to destroy them, to make them non-existent. That is the main point. In that way, they are meant to benefit for ultimate happiness for you and to liberate others, to lead them to ultimate happiness. So it is so much dependent on the motive, whether it is for Dharma reasons or not, whether it becomes work for others—that is the whole point. Like sitting on a throne like this, giving teaching, that is for a Dharma reason, respecting the Dharma, the teaching, by sitting on a high throne; it’s not only the reason that other people cannot see, but for the Dharma reason, it becomes work for others.

If you suddenly become sick and the medicine that you need to cure your disease is wine, you can take it—especially when you are very thirsty. I am joking. Then if you take the wine your sickness gets better, and you can do much more practice. If you are very sick you can’t do anything. In order to practice Dharma, in order to reach enlightenment for the sake of others, for that reason your body should be healthy. You take it for that reason, not because you want happiness in this life. So you see, you take it with a Dharma reason, to benefit others, purely to do the work for others. Things like sitting on a throne, even if the person took ordination, things like that are not fixed—you have to examine the motive first before you change your action and then there is no danger. The whole point is if it is something that benefits others, one should do it and if it does not benefit others, one does not do it. Like that.

“I shall not eat food at the wrong times.”

This means not to eat after twelve o’clock, one meal. By making the vow at this time you are doing the action for the sake of all sentient beings. During retreat, if one takes Mahayana ordination all the time for a whole month or so, then you can take breakfast. But when one takes it only occasionally, it is better to take it strictly.

“I shall avoid singing, dancing and playing music, and I shall not wear perfumes, rosaries or ornaments.

“As arhats have avoided the wrong actions such as taking the lives of others, I shall also avoid these actions, such as taking the lives of others. May I quickly receive enlightenment and may the living beings who are experiencing the various sufferings be released from the ocean of samsara.”

Then please repeat this mantra.


Please dedicate the three time merits accumulated by oneself, especially by taking ordination, then all the merits of other sentient beings. Dedicate these merits to generate bodhicitta, renouncing self and cherishing others, in the minds of oneself and of others. And that the bodhicitta of ones who already have this will increase.

“Due to all these merits may my parents, the sentient beings, have great happiness. May they all have happiness. May the three lower realms be empty forever, may they not exist any more. Wherever there are bodhisattvas, may all their wishes be fulfilled, may all their prayers be fulfilled.”

Their prayers are that all the sentient beings, including oneself, will be free from all the undesirable things and have all happiness, including omniscient mind. That is what the bodhisattva prayer includes. So if this becomes fulfilled, then all our wishes become fulfilled. So please dedicate like this that—wherever there are buddhas and bodhisattvas may all their prayers be fulfilled immediately.

“The bodhisattvas Jampal and Kuntu Zangpo, however they dedicated their merits, so will I dedicate my merit. Then, as the three time buddhas have dedicated their merits, I will also dedicate my merits to quickly enlighten sentient beings.”

Then during the rest of the day, the most helpful, most beneficial thing, not only during meditation time, but also in break times, is again and again to remember: “Today I am doing a great work. Today I’m accomplishing a great work for the benefit of others. Usually my life is empty, doing nothing for other sentient beings, only doing work for myself—eating, sleeping, walking, talking—all these actions I do only for myself.”

Try to generate happiness by knowing what you are doing and that what you are doing offers great benefit to others. Think: “I don’t exist for myself; I exist for the sake of others, for the sake of sentient beings.” If you see a bird, creatures, ants, worms, even human beings, think, “I exist for them. The purpose of my having this perfect human body is only to obtain happiness for them. Not for me, only for them. Today I am doing this to benefit them, to bring them happiness.”

This way it helps not to break the precepts, if there is more care for others. Also this morning you made a vow for the sake of others, in the presence of Buddha, so you can’t cheat others, the uncountable number of sentient beings. Because of the care of others, especially when you are very hungry, it makes you aware and helps you be aware, even if the hand touches the fruit or the biscuit. It makes the mind more conscious.

If the vow is one meal, then you eat as much as you can, as much as you want, huge, but once you stop, then you stop. Not then again you eat and then you stop, changing your mind again. If you start again then that is not one meal. It becomes two. Thank you.

Lecture 16: November 27th am


Please listen to the teaching by generating at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking: “At any rate, I must achieve enlightenment for the sake of all the kind mother sentient beings. Therefore I am going to listen to the commentary on the Bodhicaryavatara, and in particular the commentary on the chapter on patience.”

As I mentioned yesterday morning—how difficult it is to accumulate virtue and how rare it is. In our mind, non-virtue arises so much. There are more times that delusions arise than times that delusions don’t arise. As the mind is unsubdued, delusions arise uncontrollably—anger, attachment, pride, jealous mind. This happens even though you know that it is painful, that it is only the suffering nature, that the nature of that unsubdued mind is painful. Even though one does not wish to get angry, uncontrollably it arises and so, like that, non-virtuous actions uncontrollably arise. But virtuous actions, even if you have the wish to accumulate them are so difficult to cause to arise, there are so many hindrances. Even if you try to put effort there are so many hindrances that one is unable to accumulate them.

So, virtue is very rare, like the lightning in the sky, as mentioned in the beginning of the Bodhicaryavatara, in the benefits of bodhicitta. The mind of samsaric beings, our mind, is like nighttime, without moon, even without stars, completely dark. Our mind is like that. Even if one generates virtue, it happens for a very short time, like lightning in that darkness. So the cause of happiness, the little virtue that has been accumulated by opportunity or with much effort by knowing Dharma wisdom, if we destroy this little that we have with anger, then how it is? If we let anger arise without applying the remedy, patience, if we let it destroy that little cause of happiness that we have accumulated in the mind—it is so important, since we have this great wish not only for ultimate happiness but even for small comfort, small happiness. If you have desire, if you want this, then you should protect the cause as much as you can, with all effort, as much as you can. This little cause that we have created in the mind we should protect with all effort from the enemy, anger.

In order to destroy anger one should know the shortcomings of anger; to stop anger from arising we should know the shortcomings of anger and the benefits of patience. In regards the shortcomings of anger: there are those that you can see with the eye and those that you cannot.

“There is no evil like hatred,”

Which disturbs the generation of the path to enlightenment; there is no greater enemy than that. There is no greater enemy than this to destroy the virtue and merit. Then, also:

“There is no fortitude like patience.”

There is no other mind that bears greater hardships than patience; that bears greater difficulties than patience, which is the remedy for the hot, unsubdued mind of anger, which is like a fire, burning and destroying oneself.

“Thus I should strive in various ways
To meditate on patience.”

Meditating on patience with various methods will be explained in the following subjects.

The next is the shortcomings of anger that can be seen by the eye—how anger doesn’t give the opportunity for the body and mind to have comfort. Even while body and mind are relaxed and comfortable, anger stops and disturbs. Even if the person experiences comfort of body and mind the anger suddenly stops it, it disturbs. Also, it destroys friends, relatives, even those who help you.

“My mind will not experience peace
If it fosters painful thoughts of hatred.
I shall find no joy or happiness,
Unable to sleep, I shall feel unsettled.”

So, you see, from anger arises great discomfort—very undesirable, very painful, great suffering. If one keeps and harbors the painful mind, the hatred, then one does not experience happiness and peace, pacified of suffering. So, one does not receive happiness in the mind. One does not even receive comfort for the body. Even at nighttime one won’t sleep, and even in the daytime there is no relaxation. Unsettled, body and mind—both unsettled; no relaxation, no peace.

Even if you are invited by somebody to a restaurant, or a party, even though the food is so delicious, so expensive, so delicious, even if each mushroom costs thirty, sixty, seventy dollars, even though the food costs hundreds of dollars, even though it is so delicious, if there is somebody who sits next to you in that group, who has a little bit undesirable manners towards you, just a little bit, just one or two words, the way it is formed, the way it is put together—by that your mind is so disturbed. If one does not practice patience, the mind is easily disturbed; suddenly the mind becomes so unhappy, as the anger rises, so uncomfortable. If the person says something that disturbs your reputation, talks about some of your mistakes, after you have eaten you don’t even remember how it tasted. You don’t even remember. You ate so fast, you were not aware of the taste of the food, because the mind is completely concentrating on the subject of the anger, which causes anger, the one that gives harm, to arise. Or maybe reciting mantra in the mind, “How terrible he is, how bad he is, he’s telling me this and that,” like reciting OM MANI PADME HUM.

There is no comfort, no comfort at all for the body and mind without practicing patience, even when you are lying down on that very comfortable, soft bed, which is so large that you can roll any way, any direction—it is comfortable, with no fleas. From outside there’s nothing that makes it painful, that hurts. If you press it down it comes up, if you step on it, it comes up like this. Even if your body is on such a comfortable bed, there is no comfort if the mind doesn’t practice patience, if you are meditating in order to get angry—not to stop the anger but in order to get angry. The mind meditates in order to create more negative karma, trying to remember the harm given by the enemy, how he did it, the way he insulted you, the way he complained, with such a manner, with such a face. Trying to remember every single thing, how he did it, at such and such place, counting, “In such and such a place he treated me badly, also he said this and this”; either you count, you try to find more and more ways he gave you harm or you think over and over about the same harm.

You do not meditate on the way he gave harm in order to generate patience, in order to generate compassion for him. You think about how he created so much negative karma in relation to me, the cause of sufferings. Not like this, but you think over and over how he gave harm, harboring it in the mind, in the depth of the heart—meditating like this on the harm that is given by the enemy—and you to get more and more angry. Even though the body is in such a comfortable soft bed, warm, there is no comfort, the mind is full of anger so one does not experience comfort, one doesn’t feel it. The mind is full of anger, so painful; at nighttime you can’t get to sleep, the whole night you turn this way, that way, you try to sleep upside down, or up, or turn on the other side. At nighttime you go to bed with anger, in the morning you get up with anger. All these hours you live your life with anger. So much negative karma is accumulated during these hours; the little negative karma that one had accumulated gets very powerful by continuing like this.

Then also you think about how to give harm back. The whole night and also in the daytime, even while you are eating, you are always thinking about how to retaliate, how to give harm back. Even if you can’t harm the body, you think about the words, what would be the most painful thing that you could say to him if you see him again. If one gets the opportunity to say the most painful words, if it really hurts his mind, then you feel so happy, “Oh, it worked.” You feel happy, “Oh, it is so good; I expressed what I wanted to say.” “What I was keeping in the mind, I expressed. Now I am free.” There is a feeling of rejoicefulness, of happiness, which makes the karma much heavier, the negative karma of harming others much heavier. Instead of feeling happiness when some other people say bad words to you, feeling happiness, that it is very good, that it is extremely good.

When some others badly treat you, it is very good. When others badly treat you, when others give very heavy harms, when others say very painful words to you, you should feel so happy in your mind, instead of feeling depressed, instead of being angry or aggressive—that is extremely worthwhile. You should not have great happiness that he is creating negative karma, not that one. You should feel happiness because you are receiving the harm. By thinking of the kindness of the enemy, by thinking like this: “By his giving me harm, from all the negative karma that I have accumulated he helps me to finish one negative karma. How kind he is.”

You see, that enemy badly treating you is the result of one’s own previous karma, that enemy is just a condition. As you see how kind he is, among all these uncountable numbers of negative karmas he is helping you to finish experiencing one negative karma now, instead of having to experience it in the future in the lower realms, from life to life, for hundreds of years or eons. He is helping you to finish experiencing this in this life, in a short time. So you should feel happiness and remember the kindness like that. Also remember the kindness in this way.

Also, feel happiness that he’s giving you an opportunity to practice tong-len, taking on other’s suffering and experiencing it oneself. “He is giving me the opportunity to practice the Mahayana thought training.” When somebody gives harm, think: “I’m not the only one who is badly treated by others; there are many other sentient beings, uncountable numbers of sentient beings who are badly treated, who are suffering, who are tortured, who are insulted, who are suffering like this.” Even if you cannot think of the heavy sufferings, at least you think of some of them, the same type of suffering that you are experiencing.

Even if you can’t think of the heavier sufferings that others are experiencing, even if you can’t bear to think to take these on yourself and to experience these by yourself, think: “There are many others who are suffering like this, so when that enemy is badly treating me, giving me harm, may this be the substitute for all the sentient beings who receive harm. May I receive all the harms that other sentient beings receive. May this be the substitute.”

Think, “I am experiencing this, I am taking the harm on behalf of all the sentient beings who suffer by receiving harm. I am the representative, I am the substitute of all those others. I am the member of all sentient beings, like a country sends a member to meetings in another country. I am the member of all sentient beings; taking the harm and experiencing the suffering.” One should pray like this many times and one should request, again and again. Each time a person gives harm one should think, “Oh, this is the substitute.”

Also if a person dislikes you, when you find that your friend dislikes you, think also again and again, “I am experiencing this on behalf of the sentient beings, I am experiencing this undesirable thing on the behalf of all sentient beings.” You see, choosing in the mind, making the determination: “Instead of all the sentient beings receiving undesirable things, experiencing undesirable things, let me experience it, let me have all the undesirable things. Disliking each other is painful for the mind; instead of other sentient beings suffering this, receiving these harms, I should experience them, I should receive them.” Pray like this and then think that sentient beings have become empty of sufferings, that they have virtue and not suffering. Think like this.

Then also one can do the visualization of taking others’ sufferings. Especially while you are receiving harm, while somebody is complaining, criticizing you, while somebody is badly treating you, then think these things and also visualize. All those beings who are receiving harm from others, all those sufferings, think: “I am receiving them in the form of fog; the cause of receiving harms and the resulting harm, all in the form of pollution.” You visualize it like fog coming, like when you are in the mountains and fog is coming from down there, from all sides fog is coming and covering the whole place; like that you are receiving it from all directions, from all the sentient beings, then going through the nose, through the doors, then absorbing into the selfish attitude. You give it to the selfish attitude, which always harms you in so many ways and never gives you peace. You give all these sufferings, the cause of suffering and the result of suffering, to the self-cherishing thought, the selfish attitude.

You can do the same thing also with anger. All the sufferings of the sentient beings in the form of pollution, the harms, the experience of suffering, the cause of sufferings, and the one who gives harm, the anger, from where the harm comes, the anger, the cause of anger, even that, the motive that is in the nature of anger, as smoke, pollution, absorbing into the self-cherishing attitude.

So one can do meditation and also do the visualization. Feel happiness that this enemy is very kind, giving you the opportunity to do the practice of purification by taking others’ sufferings on oneself, purifying others, purifying yourself, your own heavy negative karma. Then also, accumulating infinite merits each time you take their sufferings. Again remember the kindness of the enemy who gives this opportunity. One can feel happiness in the mind like this; one can feel happiness in the mind for having the opportunity. The main thing that makes the mind happy is having the opportunity to experience the sufferings on behalf of others. You yourself have the opportunity to experience suffering on the behalf of others. Then feel happiness.

It is also very good like this—if you are with somebody who dislikes you, who criticizes you, who always talks about your mistakes, then you sit with him. You make preparation from the beginning to practice patience, to practice thought-training, then you sit with him and you wait to hear. You wait to hear. You see, like waiting, if you cannot beat the enemy by yourself, you are weak; you are scared that you might not have the strength, you are very weak and there is danger that the enemy might put you in bad shape, that you might lose. So you are waiting for a friend, somebody who is stronger, to give harm, to beat the enemy, to destroy the enemy—somebody who is more powerful, you are waiting for his help to destroy the enemy. Exactly the same, like that you wait; you sit down with him and wait for the criticism. Then each time he gives criticism, you give that criticism to your inner enemy, the self-cherishing thought.

Instead of repeating over and over, “He is criticizing me,” instead of accepting that for yourself, instead of possessing it, you think “This harm is for me,” you give what the other person criticizes to your enemy, the real enemy, the selfish attitude. You give that criticism right on top of the self-cherishing thought. Right on that, right on the head of the self-cherishing thought. Each time the person says something you give it to the self-cherishing thought. In that way, all his criticism, whatever terrible things he says all becomes true, it all becomes weapons to destroy the inner enemy, the self-cherishing thought. Even if the person beats you it becomes a weapon to beat the self-cherishing thought; if you think that way it becomes beating the self-cherishing thought. So in that way you are happier; the worse things the person says, the more painful, the happier you are, more fun. Maybe there comes a worry to not receive painful ones, that he is not saying terrible things, only good ones!

Definitely there are big differences. When you think the criticism is for you, when you accept it is for you, then there are only problems, only confusion. When you give the criticism, the harm to the self-cherishing thought, by remembering the selfish attitude, the anger, when you think of the shortcomings of that, even the suffering of death-time or even stomach pain, even a disease, if you give it to the self-cherishing thought, instead of thinking, “I am sick, I am this and that,” instead of thinking “I, the most precious one, the one more important than anybody else, is sick,” this and that, instead of worrying what to do, instead of thinking, “my pain, my this and that,” instead of that you give it to the self-cherishing thought. When you give it to the self-cherishing thought, the selfish attitude, immediately the pain becomes less, the pain becomes weaker. Instead of thinking, “I am sick, this is my pain,” immediately when you give it to the self-cherishing thought, there is a big difference. Sooner or later it disappears and at least immediately it becomes weaker. Even the pain, the harm, the pain becomes very effective; it even becomes a teaching for the mind.

If one practices like this it is very effective for the mind, very useful, very beneficial. If one practices thought-training in this way even the harm, the bad circumstances such as this disease become a method of accumulating extensive merit; the best method of purification, the best method of accumulating merit. In the benefits of bodhicitta, if one has bodhicitta whatever heavy karma one has accumulated can be purified by bodhicitta. So if one practices this thought-training, the bodhicitta practice, renouncing self and cherishing others, it becomes a great purification. If one practices thought-training like this then, when one meets bad circumstances, it is like a broom cleaning the garbage. It becomes like a mop wiping off the sufferings.

Also these bad circumstances become a means to persuade, reminding you of Dharma practice, persuading you to practice virtue, to follow the path to omniscient mind, to practice bodhicitta. It becomes beneficial; the bad circumstances become beneficial, persuading you to practice holy Dharma, not to be lazy.

Similarly with the enemy: if one practices patience, if one practices thought-training a little bit, then the enemy becomes the virtuous teacher who benefits you to accumulate merit, to purify the obscurations. The enemy becomes like a virtuous friend, helping like this, the virtuous friend who persuades you to practice Dharma. In this way the enemy also becomes the virtuous teacher, checking, examining whether you are practicing the Dharma or not, creating the conditions, creating the miserable conditions then checking to see whether you are practicing holy Dharma or not; how much you are able to practice holy Dharma when you are in such a situation like this, how much you are able to cope. It becomes the examiner, the virtuous teacher who examines you.

When one meets bad circumstances or miserable conditions, one can discover how much one is able to practice Dharma. If you are practicing thought-training, you can examine how much your mind is trained in thought-training. You can discover how pure a Dharma practitioner you are when you meet miserable circumstances, when somebody harms you, when somebody treats you badly. So from this, one can examine, one can discover how much one is able to practice.

There is one geshe who was living in Ganden Monastery. Before he left the monastery, he was the disciplinarian, the one who looks after the discipline. I guess he finished his term, so he made offerings to all the monks. Just before that he received teachings on the Bodhicaryavatara, a complete explanation from the abbot of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamsala. The abbot belonged to the same college, Ganden Monastery.

So in the puja, while the monks were having tea, he read the requests and then he told the abbot and the monks that he did not have any problem, nothing that needs to be discussed, that there was nothing to talk about, and then he said a few words from the chapter on concentration, which says to go to a solitary place to meditate, in the forest. “This is what I am going to practice,” he announced to all the monks. He said this is what we have heard recently and this is what I am going to do. And he left. He is not recognized, not well known, not highly educated, learned; not particularly recognized by the monks but very happy, usually a very happy monk. He is a very good monk, good understanding, having understanding of the basic scriptures, the five great treatises.

Then he left the monastery and he lived in the southern part of India. Sometimes he lived with sadhus, in those holy places; many times he lived alone in the different mountains in caves. Then sometimes I think he lived in Indian villages. He had nothing. He carried one begging bowl and just this yellow robe, his Bodhicaryavatara text, his practice of tantra, his special deity practice and then the dedication prayer, the bodhisattva’s prayer—nothing else. The Indian villagers, when they discovered there was some monk in a cave, offered him some food. He spent some years like this, and in that time he was able to generate bodhicitta.

Recently he was asked for by his Holiness Dalai Lama and he traveled from South India to Bombay to Dharamsala. Along the way, somewhere there was much rain so he became completely wet. He rarely traveled by car or train, mostly he walked and even before, he never accepted money. Even when people come to offer food, he accepted very little or he did not accept it all. However, one day there was much rain, it was a little bit hard time, a hard day, so he asked himself, “My body is like this but how is the mind? Is the mind happy or not? The mind is happy.” He discovered the mind is happy. So he advised himself, “That is good.” He was telling himself, “You say you want to avoid suffering; so if you want to avoid suffering then you should bear hardships. Without bearing hardships, how can you avoid suffering?” He told himself this.

Then after some time, he stopped to have tea in one village. He took off his robes and hung them on some trees to dry and he wanted to make some tea. Then he asked for firewood. One lady kind of signaled by moving her head that it was okay to cut the branch of a tree. But after he cut the tree the owner of the land came, the owner of the property, and he beat the geshe, he kicked him and beat him with his hands, so much, so much. Then he went back and came again with a long stick to beat him more. Then there were some other Indians who fought this man who came with the stick, so I think he was not beaten by the stick a second time. Anyway, during those times, the ascetic geshe told me that during those times, as much as he was beaten and kicked with the feet, during these times the slightest anger did not come. “One good thing was my mind: the slightest anger did not come.” So then afterwards he felt the unbelievable kindness of that person who beat him; much more than a mother. So like this.

I think I stop here. The next story I will tell you tomorrow.

However you see, even if we can’t do much practice, even if we cannot achieve the higher tantric path or the higher bodhisattva path, even if we cannot achieve much in this life, at least we should try to be able to practice like this monk, like this geshe; at least, in our life. Then it is very beautiful and then there is great happiness. He keeps normally only thirty rupees, twenty rupees and if he gets more he gives it away. Later, I think after he generated the realization of bodhicitta, those kind of realizations, he accepted offerings but he never kept them, he always gave them to the old folks’ homes where the Tibetan old men are kept. He gave donations to schools and hospitals, like that, he always gives it away. When the Tibetan people recognized him as an ascetic monk with such and such realizations, living in a cave, many people made offerings when he came for alms, begging. So one day I think he had a talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; he explained to His Holiness what he does with the money and His Holiness asked him to give some money to the Tibetan hospital in Dharamsala. The reason was not so much the material, why His Holiness asked was not so much because of the material but because the person from whom the money comes is a bodhisattva. You see, the money he gives to the hospital comes out of the pure motive of bodhicitta, dedicated for those patients to be recovered soon, so it has power to benefit the patients; it’s not so much the material. The reason His Holiness asked him to give the money is that.

I stop here.


Lecture 17: November 27th pm


I must have mentioned before, I might have said before, there is no fortitude like patience to destroy the unsubdued mind, anger, which is like the fire burning. I think I might have mentioned this at the beginning. “There’s no evil like hatred to destroy the virtue, disturbing the generation of the path in the mind. Therefore I must meditate on patience in the various ways, which will be explained in the following.”

One can say it this way, understanding the shortcomings of anger, understanding the benefits of patience, then making the determination what to do—to follow more on the side of the anger or follow more on the side of the patience. Following anger, you receive only shortcomings, not the slightest benefit, only shortcomings. Following patience, there is only benefit. You should say, “I’m going to do this, I am going to meditate. Therefore I must meditate,” making a plan, making determination about what to do in everyday life. Shantideva advises like this; anger is like this, patience is like this. If you follow anger you receive only harm, not the slightest benefit and if you practice patience, then there is not the slightest harm, only benefits. So therefore you must meditate and try to control the anger with various methods, which I will explain later.

The previous stanza explains the shortcomings of anger that cannot be seen by the eye; one experiences them but they cannot be seen by the eye. Next is explaining the shortcomings that can be seen by the eye.

Even if the person normally looks very beautiful, once there is anger in the mind even the shape of the face changes completely. Even when he normally looks very beautiful, when anger arises, when there is anger in the mind you get scared when you see their face—other people who see that person get scared. It is ugly. Even if normally it is a beautiful shape, when there is anger in the mind the whole face completely changes, even the colors; the whole thing turns very ugly, very aggressive, very ugly, terrifying. Then even if the body is full of ornaments, decorated with lots of ornaments on the hairs, the ears, even if the person’s body is well decorated with ornaments, when there is anger in the mind you don’t see its beauty. It looks funny.

Then the next one: if you keep anger, how harmful it is. Day and night, all the time, for you there is no happiness for the mind, no comfort for the body. Besides that it destroys friends and relatives, even those who are extremely kind.

“A master who has hatred
Is in danger of being killed
Even by those who for their wealth and happiness
Depend upon his kindness.

“By it, friends and relatives are disheartened;
Though drawn by my generosity they will not trust me.”

The angry servants who are dependent on the master kill the kind master, although the master has been so kind to them, giving them wealth and health, benefiting them. They kill the kind master, the master on whom their life depends, from whom they receive their means of living. These angry servants kill this kind master who has anger. This is talking about the shortcomings of the anger of the servants and the shortcomings of the anger of the master, both. The servants killing the most kind master, such heavy negative karma, comes from their anger. Also the master who experiences this, who is executed by the servants, this experience also comes from his anger, from retaliating back with anger. When the servants say something he retaliates with anger.

One can think about how here in this stanza, the great bodhisattva Shantideva put it this way—the angry servant killing the kind master. And then also one can think the other way: the master killed the servants, those who offered service, those who worked for him, those from whom he receives his comfort, his happiness, respect, reputation or wealth. He makes money with the help of those workers and when he has anger he kills them. When he has anger toward the workers, the servants, he kills even those kind ones, on whom his life depends and from whom he receives his comfort and wealth.

It is happening in the world all the time, like that—the problems that are happening in the world. If one has what is called anger, this unsubdued mind, it is very dangerous. If one does not do the practice of patience to pacify the anger, once the anger rises, it is very difficult, it is very dangerous, and the life is in great danger—your own life and others’ lives. The lives of the others who are the object of anger are also in danger.

Once the anger arises, even if it is the kind mother, who has been kind in giving this body, who experienced much hardship giving this body, who experienced much hardship to educate oneself, or the father, who experienced much hardship and put much effort into educating oneself, so that now you can easily find a job, you are able to do work together with other human beings, sit on a chair with other people in the office, able to write and able to speak, all these things, able to make money, having all these enjoyments, living in a nice, good, comfortable apartment, having these enjoyments as one wishes—all these things are received by depending on the kindness of the parents, the actual parents or even the substitutes. Even if you lost your parents, even if you don’t remember your own parents, if something happened in an earlier time when you were a child, even if you don’t remember them, those who brought you up, who took care of you, some other family that took care of you—all of those who were extremely kind, who educated you, who took care of life—then, you see, no matter how kind the mother is, how kind the father is, once the anger arises, there is no hesitation in killing them. If there is a weapon or something around, there is no hesitation in killing the mother, killing the father—that kindest person, who took care of you with much loving thought. Once the anger arises towards this person, there is nothing to think about, the thought to kill, to destroy just comes. Just to hit this person with whatever is available around there—bottles or stones, knives, guns or tables. You throw tables on the head of the other person; you throw cups in his face. If the person throws cakes I think that’s nice, then the other person can taste it. I’m joking. Or ice cream.

There’s not so much to think about when the anger arises, the mind is completely dark. Just one- pointedly concentrating on harming, destroying the other—that’s all, nothing else, like this. Even if you understand Dharma, even if normally you talk about Dharma, even if you talk about karma, even if it looks like there is faith in karma when the person speaks normally, once the anger arises karma is forgotten. Normally it looks like he has much faith in the Triple Gem, much faith in the teachings about karma—he talks about karma and this and that but once the anger arises all these things are completely forgotten, far away. Or when you meet the person who gives harm, who easily tells lies, who cheats you, who one-pointedly concentrates on putting you in prison, telling the police. Immediately you go there and fight. Or afterwards, at home, you discover that you are cheated. Immediately, without delay you go back to the person’s place or shop and then fight. Or try to have him punished, making application to the court, to the government. I think, I’m not sure, I think I might have met one boy, in Australia, somebody who killed his mother, or something like that, one student who was in the course in Australia.

So it is a great danger. Once the anger arises it takes just a minute to kill the wife, to kill the husband, even to kill the children—it is dangerous. In such countries as Spain or Italy they are throwing bombs all the time, destroying the hotels, destroying the banks, destroying big huge buildings where there are a lot of people—destroying other sentient beings’ perfections and enjoyments that they built with much hardship. Then in one day, in one or two hours, it is completely destroyed by a bomb. Those are the shortcomings of anger.

Recently in Delhi, in the newspaper there were two Indian men who executed one wealthy family. I think the father was maybe in the army, a commissioner or something, somebody who is well-known, who has much reputation. I’m not sure what the profession of the father was. I think normally how these two Indian men live their lives is by stealing, by harming others. So one day somehow these two men met the young son of that family, I think he was not even very grown-up, he sounded very young. They met the son and daughter of that family when they were going to the park or the railway station or something like that. These two Indian men met the son and daughter. Then I think first they put a knife up and accused the son or the daughter, I’m not sure. Anyway, they were accusing one of them and the other, the son or the daughter didn’t run away, the other one stayed there somehow, they could not separate. So I think they put a knife to both, the son and the daughter, they put them in the car and then they put the knife, and then again they asked them things, then again they put the knife, thirty or forty times over the body. Then again they gave them ice cream and again they asked, and then again put the knife. And then they did terrible things also with this young daughter.

Somehow I think the court could not find these two men for a long time. They sent spies all over India and they could not find them. Then one day these two men were on the train and they tried to steal the things of an Indian soldier who was sleeping in one compartment. Somehow this soldier grabbed both of them and took them to court. Then later on they found out that those two were the ones who had executed the young son and daughter of this family. So just before I left it said in the newspaper that they would be hanged. They were going to execute these two people by hanging and if people wanted to come and watch there would be only twenty or nineteen people allowed, something like that. These two people made petitions and it was postponed for month or something like that, but the plans were that they were going to be executed. Then the newsmen went to see these two men, to see what they had to say. Then one of the people said, “I have too much to say, or I have nothing else to say.” One of the men answered like this. However, they had executed the young son and the daughter because of jealousy or anger toward the wealthy family. This is how anger is so harmful.

The next verse explains the shortcomings of anger in brief.

Just before mentioning this: I think it was two or three years ago that a terrible thing happened in Sikkim. I think one Indian woman was supposed to get married with somebody from Himachal Pradesh, that area. But she came to Sikkim and I think she married with a doctor there. So after some time, some young Indian men came from Himachal Pradesh or Kangra, from one of those places. They were very angry with the doctor who married this lady. So these three or four young Indian men entered the house of the doctor and they fastened his hands and then his legs on the chair. Then they took off the doctor’s clothes completely and cut the doctor’s penis and put it in his mouth and then cut both ears, and they hung both ears like this. The room was full of blood; the whole floor was full of blood. Then they let the wife sit in front of the doctor on a chair, facing the doctor, like this. And then they accused and they also wanted to treat the wife badly, so she said, “I am pregnant.” Then the young people threatened her that if she told the court about their mistakes, about their killing the husband, the doctor, it would be just a minute before they would come to kill her. They threatened her like this.

So the people found out what happened there, I think the blood was dried on the floor, but when they asked the wife she answered, “I don’t know what happened, I was out.” She said something like that. Such karma, like experiencing the narak realms; this is like experiencing narak suffering with a human body. Those are shortcomings of anger—such terrible harm, so scary. Creating incredible heavy negative karma is the shortcoming of anger. And the reason the doctor experienced this is also because in a past life in a similar way he harmed others with anger and in this life that karma ripened, so it is experienced.

So, explaining the shortcomings of anger in short. Shantideva is saying that, in short, there is nobody who is happy with anger. “In brief, there is nobody who lives happily with anger.” Therefore, the ultimate cause of the suffering of this life, the sufferings of the future lives, is the inner enemy of anger. This is the ultimate cause of the suffering of this life and the sufferings of the future lives. The shortcomings that were explained destroy the merits, the virtues. It doesn’t say this in the words but they also create negative karma and cause one to experiencing the suffering result for a long time. Then there are the problems of this life that come from anger. So this is the utmost, ultimate cause. Anger is the ultimate cause of this life and future lives’ suffering.

The next verse is the benefits of patience. One verse is left that I did not read yet:

“In brief there is nobody
Who lives happily with anger.

“Hence the enemy, anger,
Creates sufferings such as these.

[pause] The benefits of patience:

“But whoever assiduously overcomes it
Finds happiness now and hereafter.”

Thinking well about the shortcomings of anger, those who destroy the anger with effort create only the cause of happiness of this and future lives. So therefore one must attempt to avoid anger.

Then next: comprehending and reflecting on the method of actualizing patience. The way of reflecting on the method of actualizing patience, ceasing the cause of anger, and meditating on the benefits of patience. Then particularly here in this next verse we see how anger generates suffering:

“Having found its fuel of mental unhappiness
In the prevention of what I wish for
And in doing what I do not want,
Hatred increases and then destroys me.”

The unhappy mind arises when undesirable things are done to me and to my possessions or my relatives or my friends; and also when there is disturbance to the fulfillment of my wishes. The unhappy mind that comes from this is the food that increases hatred. Finding the food, the unhappy mind, strengthens the body of hatred, makes the body of hatred stronger. So in this way hatred destroys this life and other lives. It destroys me in this life and it destroys me in other lives. It harms me.

You see, when somebody does some undesirable thing, something that you do not want, that you do not like, if somebody does undesirable things to you or to your possessions, to your relatives, wife, husband, children or friends, when somebody does undesirable things that you do not wish, which disturb the fulfillment of your wishes, your mind becomes unhappy. Because your mind becomes unhappy, anger arises. That makes the mind unhappy, so the anger arises. But somebody who helps you, somebody who gives you something, somebody who does desirable things, who does what you like, what you want, if somebody does desirable things to you and to your possessions, to your friends or relatives, then the mind is happy. And you would not get angry due to the reason that your mind is happy. “My mind is happy so I get angry.” “He made my mind happy so I get angry at him.” That is not our experience. The experience is that by doing undesirable things to you and to your possessions or surroundings, the mind becomes unhappy and anger arises. So that’s why the unhappy mind is used as an example, like food. Then the anger is the body and the food develops the body, gives strength to the body. So when somebody is disturbing you, if you do not practice patience and thought-training, then your mind becomes unhappy and from that anger arises and destroys you in this life and future lives.

Then next: giving the advice to attempt to change the anger, to stop the anger.

“Therefore I should totally eradicate
The fuel of this enemy;
For this enemy has no other function
Than that of causing me harm.”

Therefore, I must destroy the unhappy mind, the food of my enemy, the hatred. There is nothing but harm—no benefit at all from my enemy, hatred; it only harms me. I do not receive the slightest benefit from my enemy, the anger, except that it harms me. So therefore, with all this effort I must attempt to destroy the principal enemy, anger.

The next stanza is the actual method to stop the anger. Explaining how it is not worthy to let your own mind be unhappy, and the reasons for that; how to get rid of the unhappy mind.

“Whatever befalls me
I shall not disturb my mental joy;
For having been made unhappy, I shall not accomplish what I wish
And my virtues will decline.”

By reflecting on and thinking about the benefits of voluntarily taking on suffering, accepting the suffering instead of rejecting it, whatever important work you are doing—any place, any time, anywhere—you should never let your mind get disturbed by anger. Shantideva is advising is to think like this, to make a determination like this.

Imagine if you are doing retreat, doing meditation, for example, and somebody disturbs you outside, somebody makes noise, somebody suddenly bangs on the door—you are having an incredible time, a blissful trip, a blissful time, then somebody comes right at that point. The person doesn’t come, doesn’t disturb you when you are not doing meditation but when you are having such a good time, then he comes along, screaming outside or banging on the door, walking into your room without even asking whether he can come inside. However, even if what you are doing is Dharma, working to achieve the omniscient mind for the sake of others, if somebody disturbs that work, you should never disturb your mind with anger. You should never allow anger to arise within your mind and to disturb you, making your mind unhappy. This happens very easily. With other works it might sometimes be easy to practice patience, it might be easy to control the anger, but when you are doing Dharma work such as retreat or meditation, especially when you are having a good time then it is very easy for the anger to arise and also sometimes it is very easy to go crazy if you are too concerned about quiet. For somebody who has wind disease it is easily possible to become crazy.

There is nothing more important than the work to achieve omniscient mind but even if somebody disturbs this, you should never give anger the opportunity to arise and disturb your mind. You can understand this from Shantideva’s advice; even for Dharma reasons you cannot get angry. Even if the purpose is Dharma, you cannot insult others, you cannot badly treat them, you cannot insult others with anger. It is never allowed. There’s no permission for anger even if the reason is Dharma. Doing these things—harming others, scolding others, fighting others, beating others, things like that—with anger, kind of, “I am doing retreat and these people are disturbing me so much, so it is worthwhile to get angry, I am angry for a good reason, for a pure reason—I am getting angry for the omniscient mind,” that is completely wrong. “I am getting angry in order to practice Dharma.” It’s like saying my anger is worthwhile in order to control anger. It becomes like this, contradictory, because retreat is actually retreating from anger. Otherwise, it does not make sense to do retreat if one does not protect oneself from anger, if one does not retreat from anger. Then it does not make sense, one is not making retreat from delusions. That is not a real beneficial retreat that becomes the remedy to the delusions, which destroys the delusions, the cause of suffering.

The actions of speech and body can be wrathful, for Dharma reasons, to benefit that specific sentient being, but not the mind. The motive of anger, whenever it arises, only harms you, as Shantideva mentioned just before—what you receive from anger is nothing but harm. So the mind that harms you is never allowed. Why is it never allowed, why is there no permission given by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha? Because it harms you, it harms sentient beings. But if it is for the sake of that person, for the sake of that sentient being, for his happiness or for the prosperity or happiness of the community, of the majority, if it is of benefit, then wrathful actions of speech and wrathful actions of body can be done. But they must be without anger and with the thought of loving kindness. The motive of doing the wrathful action of body toward a sentient being can only be the thought of loving kindness, compassion, the thought concerned with their happiness. If it is done with such a motive it becomes Dharma.

A happy mind is the remedy to the unhappy mind, so whatever undesirable thing happens to you in your life, no matter how much you dislike it, how undesirable it is, even if none of your wishes are becoming successful, if your mind is unhappy with undesirable things even the virtues that you have been collecting, which bring the desirable result of happiness, degenerate. Those virtues will degenerate and all the suffering will arise from the unhappy mind—being unhappy with undesirable things and the anger that arises from that.

The next one shows why there is no reason, no point, no use in being unhappy when there is an undesirable situation. When you meet undesirable things, the mind becomes unhappy. This is why there is no use, no benefits to making your mind unhappy when you meet undesirable things:

“Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?”

I think I stop here.


◄ Previous Section  : Kopan Course 14 Index Page  : Next Section ►