GURU IS BUDDHA, GURU IS DHARMA, GURU IS SANGHA ALSO; GURU IS THE CREATOR OF ALL HAPPINESS.
You might find this a little strange, especially this last part. It might seem very strange after I spoke for one or two days saying that there’s no separate creator, then suddenly finding here that there is a creator! This has a very deep explanation. This can actually be understood from the explanation of refuge if it is given, based on the outlines of lam-rim where it talks about a Buddha’s different qualities and different actions—action possessed by a Buddha himself and a Buddha’s actions in the minds of the sentient beings. The virtue which sentient beings accumulate is the action of Buddha. There are two actions: one that is possessed by Buddha himself and one generated in the minds of the sentient beings. It also means that the creator is Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, all three. The thing to concentrate on when you recite is this: the Absolute Guru, the Dharmakaya, the holy mind of all the Buddhas, the fully enlightened beings; then there will be less confusion.
GURU IS BUDDHA, GURU IS DHARMA, GURU IS SANGHA ALSO; GURU IS THE CREATOR OF ALL HAPPINESS. TO ALL GURUS I GO FOR REFUGE.
The last time we will chant it in Tibetan as we have been doing normally during courses.
I WILL GENERATE THE ENLIGHTENMENT THOUGHT IN ORDER TO OBTAIN SUCCESS FOR MYSELF AND THE ALL OTHER LIVING BEINGS.
Purifying the place.
MAY ALL THE REALMS WHERE SENTIENT BEINGS ARE BE PURIFIED AND DEVOID OF THORNS AND IMPURE OBJECTS AND MAY THEY BE TRANSFORMED INTO THE SMOOTH FLEXIBLE NATURE OF LAPIS-LAZULI, AS PLAIN AS THE HAND’S PALM.
We visualize a beautiful place as an offering to invoke Buddha, like we clean the house when there’s an important guest like a king or someone coming. It’s an offering to Buddha to accumulate merit. One should think not just of lapis-lazuli ground, but very beautiful flowers, like a beautiful park, with many water ponds; huge lotus petals, the size of a house, many beautiful trees and many beautiful flowers and fruits, beautiful birds making sounds of Dharma, flying around; even all of space scented, not smelling of ka-ka.
MAY THE ENTIRE REALM OF SPACE BE FILLED WITH THE OFFERINGS OF GODS AND MEN, BOTH THOSE THAT ARE PHYSICALLY OFFERED AND THOSE VISUALIZED, WITH THE SUPREME CLOUDS OF OFFERINGS OF SAMANTABHADRA.
Think that the whole of the space is covered by offerings. These light offerings actually performed here and visualized ones. “Samantabhadra’s offering” has different meanings.
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The lineage lamas give advice on one particular way of doing the offering of Samantabhadra. Also it might be a term for many offerings, visualizing that the whole space is filled with offerings.
This mantra is very powerful; it blesses the offerings and multiplies them in front of the buddhas. Due to the power of this mantra each Buddha in the ten directions receives a rainfall of offerings. It blesses the offerings which are performed. If the offerings are not blessed with the mantra there are interferers who take the essence, or the potential of them. They take the essence of water, food or light offerings. It becomes a distraction to the development of the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment. The mind becomes very forgetful and also concentration is disturbed. One cannot concentrate at all because there are various distractions. So that’s why this mantra is regarded as a very powerful mantra to bless and also to multiply the offerings.
OM NAMO BAGAWATE...
MAY MY OFFERINGS BECOME LIKE THESE BY THE POWER OF THE TRUTH OF THE THREE GEMS”—BUDDHA, DHARMA AND SANGHA—“AND BY THE BLESSINGS OF ALL THE BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS, THEIR SPIRITUAL ENERGY IN THE NATURE OF THE INCONCEIVABLE DHARMADHATU, THE ULTIMATE REALITY.
The other mantra to be recited is for doing prostrations. If one begins the prostrations with this mantra it multiplies the prostrations a thousand times. It is a powerful mantra for increasing merit. Actually this Mahayana ordination of eight precepts is taken in the presence of all buddhas and bodhisattvas.
As I mentioned, the route of the graduated path to enlightenment, the route to temporal and ultimate happiness and perfections is correctly doing the practice with respect to the guru with mind and action. From my side, I dare not mention it. To think of me as Buddha, to visualize me in the aspect of Buddha, is not something to mention. I’m not trying to tell you that I’m a Buddha. You see, the point is this—according to the sutra, this guru practice is a practice of the mind—always looking at the guru as being in the nature of a Buddha. In tantra it is visualizing him in the aspect of a Buddha. In the Paramitayana teachings the practice of the guru is to think of him as being in the essence of a Buddha. In tantra, one always has to practice the external practice of pure view—pure thought, pure view, pure conceptions. One also has to practice to purify impure view, the impure conceptions. So, not only seeing the guru in the essence of Buddha but visualizing him in the aspect of a Buddha. This is pure view.
Why does the guru have to be visualized as Buddha in the Mahayana ordination ceremony? Because this ordination is Mahayana ordination, not the Pratimoksha ordination which also has eight precepts. This came from Kriya Tantra, and that is why the lama who gives ordination has to be visualized in the aspect of, not only in the essence of, Buddha. Also that is why the Pratimoksha ordination of eight precepts does not have the precepts to not eat black foods, which pollute body and mind. This one has the branch precept to not eat black food but to eat white food to keep the body clean.
If a disciple practices properly it does not matter whether the guru is a buddha or a bodhisattva or an ordinary person. Doing the practice correctly means doing it as Buddha taught, so that means first of all one has to understand what Buddha taught, then to practice with correct devotion to the guru as in the commentaries by Tibetan Lamas. However, it is not following the guru without checking at all and without knowing at all the level of one’s mind. One should follow the guru according to how Buddha taught. If you practice according to what Buddha taught about how to practice with the guru, you will have achievements.
One shouldn’t follow the guru without checking at all or by ignoring the level of one’s mind or without understanding how to practice with the guru. If one does the practice as Buddha explained, with mind and action, seeing him in the essence of a Buddha, then even if the guru himself is not a Buddha, the disciple becomes enlightened. The disciple receives the profit. If he doesn’t do the practice as Buddha taught, he doesn’t make a profit, only loss. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha himself, and all the pandits, the great yogis, every lineage lama of the lam-rim who accomplished realizations, all practiced with the guru correctly and accomplished the whole path. They achieved profit from that practice.
A person like me who didn’t do practice in past lives still lives in samsara. If one wishes for profit one should practice as Buddha taught, and as Lama Tsongkhapa taught in the lam-rim. If one doesn’t want profit then one doesn’t need to do this. If one doesn’t care or doesn’t need the profit of temporal and ultimate happiness and the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment, then one doesn’t need to do these practices. It comes to that.
This time visualize the lama as Chenrezig as you have been meditating on Chenrezig. Think of him in the essence of Chenrezig and visualize him as Chenrezig. With the holy object, the merit field, practice the essential method of purifying and accumulating extensive merit:
I PROSTRATE WITH BODY, SPEECH AND MIND IN FAITH.
Even not doing the action of prostrating but just keeping one’s palms together becomes prostration.
EACH AND EVERY OFFERING, INCLUDING THOSE REALLY PERFORMED AND THOSE MENTALLY TRANSFORMED, COLLECTED FROM BEGINNINGLESS ...I REJOICE IN ALL ORDINARY BEINGS’ AND NOBLE BEINGS’ ACTIONS. REVEAL THE TEACHINGS TO SENTIENT BEINGS. I DEDICATE MY OWN VIRTUES AND THOSE OF ALL OTHERS TO THE GREAT ENLIGHTENMENT.
Tomorrow I’ll mention a little about this practice. Then make a short mandala offering:
“THE GROUND WITH SCENT...”
You see, because of the wrong conceptions we believe that that which has an impermanent nature—the phenomena, such as the “I” and the aggregates—are permanent. As Nagarjuna explained in detail in the teaching “The Jewel Garland,” the body is the container of thirty-six impurities. However, that which has an impure nature we believe to be completely pure. You can prove whether this body is by nature impure or not by the things which come out of it through the holes. There are two or three holes in this body. It’s things which come from the ears, the nose, the mouth, and the lower doors. We do not want to touch those things. If they drop on the ground it even makes the place dirty and disgusting. That which makes a place disgusting, filled with smells, dirty, comes from the body. So that proves how samsara, this body is impure.
So, if you check like this, you can understand. These temporal samsaric pleasures not only change, but the base on which we label pleasure is only suffering. By analyzing our own feelings with a sharp mind we can understand. The nature is suffering but we are hallucinating it as pleasure. The “I” which exists, the “I” which has thoughts and which takes ordination, which meditates, is only what is merely labeled on the aggregates. That’s it—only that. That which does all these various activities, which suffers or is happy, is merely labeled on the aggregates. In fact it’s like this, but you are hallucinating, not being aware of , not realizing this. Hallucinating that there is an ‘I’ on these aggregates. “I,” existing only from its own side, without depending on anything; existing alone, by itself. That which has an impermanent nature you hallucinate as permanent; that which has an impure nature is hallucinated as pure.
Due to these wrong conceptions oneself and all sentient beings have been suffering in samsara without beginning and experiencing so much suffering, particularly in the lower realms so much; it makes tears come out if one thinks back to beginningless rebirths and how one has been experiencing the sufferings of samsara, particularly in the lower realms. But we cannot remember all the past lives and the suffering from beginningless rebirths. If we could remember it would be unbelievable—knowing it makes tears come out! If one doesn’t eliminate these wrong conceptions, if one keeps and continuously follows these wrong conceptions, samsara has no end. We have been experiencing suffering in samsara continuously. If one thinks of all the endless suffering of samsara, especially those which one will experience in the future, it makes one unable to sleep and unable to eat food.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha himself took Mahayana ordination, practiced and generated the path, become enlightened and enlightened numberless sentient beings. Even now Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is guiding us by having left the teachings for us. This method, the Mahayana ordination, was left for us to practice in order to accumulate merit for the happiness of this life and future lives, up to enlightenment. To create a cause, teachings on karma and this ordination was shown. We also have the same potential to become enlightened and to enlighten numberless sentient beings as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had. We have the same potential but we continuously follow the selfish attitudes, the wrong conceptions—no different from animals. They use the enjoyment of eating, drinking, everything, for themselves. So, if we have such a selfish attitude we are no different to them.
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Even achieving enlightenment is dependent on the kindness of the sentient beings. Practicing Dharma, the cause of enlightenment, depends on the kindness of sentient beings. Even to be able to continue to practice the path depends on the kindness of sentient beings. What the kind mother sentient beings want is temporal and ultimate happiness but they are devoid of it. What they do not want is suffering but they continuously suffer.
“I have the opportunity. I have met the Dharma. I have the wisdom to understand what is the cause of happiness and what is the cause of suffering. I have the opportunity to help them, to liberate them from samsara and to lead them to omniscience. I have the opportunity, therefore this is my responsibility. To do that there is no method except to achieve an omniscient mind myself. Therefore, I must achieve an omniscient mind. That’s dependent on the very root of the path, protecting karma by methods such as living in the eight Mahayana precepts. Therefore, I’m going to take the eight Mahayana precepts from now until sunrise tomorrow.”
Visualize the lama who gives ordination in the essence or aspect of Chenrezig, surrounded by numberless Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Then, please do three prostrations, okay? Please kneel down. Those who can’t sit that way, who have pain, don’t need to kneel down. Those who can, please do so. Then, put both palms together at the heart in the mudra of prostration. Please repeat the prayer thinking that you are repeating the prayer as Chenrezig is saying it.
PLEASE GURU PAY ATTENTION TO ME...
ALL THE BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS OF THE TEN DIRECTIONS...AS THE PREVIOUS TATHAGATAS, THE ARHATS, THE FULLY ENLIGHTENED BUDDHAS, LIKE A SKILLFUL HORSE, THE GREAT ELEPHANT, DID WHAT HAD TO BE DONE...
You may find this a little strange, but these particular animals are used to express the qualities of Buddhas. This has an extensive commentary.
I WHOM AM NAMED....
Please mention your name, okay? It’s like registering for enlightenment! I think the purpose of mentioning your name is to show that you’re not taking the vow for the sake of other sentient beings like just playing a game.
FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THAT LIVES; IN ORDER TO BENEFIT ALL...
Here you might remember all the six realms beings.
IN ORDER TO PREVENT FAMINE ...
Remember the problems of South Africa, India and all over—many refugees dying of starvation. Think, “I’m taking this ordination today for those sentient beings not to have these sufferings in the future. For those who are sick now to recover and not to have problems in the future.”
I SHALL TAKE THE EIGHT MAHAYANA PRECEPTS JUST AS YOU HAVE DONE.
PLEASE GURU PAY ATTENTION ...IN ORDER TO BENEFIT ALL…
When you think “In order to benefit all,” you should remember your parents or anybody whom you are concerned for, whom you want to benefit, somebody who’s in trouble, especially your enemy—one who has criticized you, one who doesn’t think that you are a good person. Think: “I’m also taking ordination to liberate them from sufferings, to lead them to enlightenment.”
JUST AS YOU HAVE DONE…..PLEASE GURU PAY ATTENTION……AND TO RECEIVE THE STAGE OF FULLY COMPLETED BUDDHAHOOD...
Then, when I have finished, please think: “I have received the eight precepts of Mahayana ordination purely. Mahayana ordination purifies the negative karma, the vices of degenerated precepts and restores them and develops merit. One should make the determination: “Today I have received the pure Mahayana ordination.”
I SHALL TAKE THE EIGHT MAHAYANA PRECEPTS JUST AS YOU HAVE DONE.
Whenever we take the Mahayana ordination, we should remember the four suffering results from the ten non-virtuous actions and the opposite, the four good results from these eight virtuous actions that we made determination to abide I, to practice today. Remember not only those temporal four good results but also that each of these precepts is the cause of various qualities of Buddha. Feel great happiness through knowing the benefits of the precepts: “I’m so fortunate today, I’m not sure whether I will have more opportunities to practice and accumulate this merit of taking vows. Maybe today is the last. I’m not sure. I’m so fortunate.” Feel great happiness. Then think, “As the arhats and tathagatas keep these precepts from now until the sun rises tomorrow I’m going to keep these eight precepts in order to free each sentient being from all sufferings and to lead them to enlightenment.” Please repeat the prayers.
FROM NOW ON I SHALL NOT KILL...
When I say, ta.wa yi.no, you answer lek.so—“This is the method,” then you are kind-of responding, “yes.” When you take ordination in front of an altar, if the statue speaks then you can say lek.so! But otherwise don’t! If the painting or statue speaks to you, then ...
Audience Member: I am a sinner, Sir; I am a sinner! You read the right line and I caught on. I am a sinner—I was dancing, I was taking intoxicating things. This punishment that I am here, but I am not a liar. Please read it again! I was living myself in a hotel and enjoying my life in different ways. I spent a lot of money like this. I wasted money. It’s not wise. We are good people, we need comforts also, but we should not misuse the money.
Lama Zopa: Yes, right! That’s perfect, what you say. Right!
I SHALL NOT SIT ON HIGH EXPENSIVE BEDS….
A.M: Please carry on.
L.Z: I don’t know if my bed is expensive or not!
A.M: I just want to tell others my experiences.
L.Z: Okay! This refers to sitting on something high not for Dharma reasons. This throne is to respect the teachings. I think it was like this in India, also in Tibet. The main point is that when the lama gives teachings he sits on a throne, not so much because other people cannot see, but mainly out of respect for the Buddhadharma.
I SHALL NOT EAT FOOD AT THE WRONG TIMES. I SHALL AVOID SINGING, DANCING, AND PLAYING MUSIC...
A.M: Yes! Please, this is what I want to tell you. Drinking, dancing is good when you are actually perfect and a man of character—inside there is the name of God and you are dancing with your only wife, whom you love, real love. I think only few people ...We have love for fifteen days, we have love for a month, for a few months, for years. No! There should be one and only one.
L.Z: Yes, that’s right! Thank you very much.
A.M: I mean, we must laugh also, we must enjoy it. But this is the truth!
L.Z: Yes, that’s right. I agree. I agree with what you’re saying.
BE RELEASED FROM THE OCEAN OF SAMSARA…
A.M: Thank you very much! I’m your friend!
L.Z: No, you don’t have to feel bad. Even if you have been a sinner, now you don’t have to be a sinner.
A.M: Now, I think this is the right place where I am. I told the people when I came here this is my home. This is my home. Refuge means refuge. Yes, you cannot kick me out! I will live with the name of God. This is the teaching of the gurus.
L.Z: Then, please repeat the mantra three times.
OM AH MO GA SHI LA...
Then, please dedicate the merit.
DUE TO THE MERITS ACCUMULATED BY ME AND BY OTHERS IN THE THREE TIMES, MAY THE PARAMITA OF MORAL CONDUCT BE COMPLETED BY KEEPING IT WITHOUT MISTAKES, PURELY, WITHOUT PRIDE.
The reason why it says “without pride” is because if you have too much pride, because of that negative mind, I think it causes the virtue to have less power. Then, of course, there are many other shortcomings, but just to mention this particular thing. I think I heard something like that. Now please dedicate like this:
DUE TO ALL THESE MERITS MAY THE BODHICITTA WHICH IS NOT GENERATED IN MY MIND AND IN THE MINDS OF OTHERS BE GENERATED, AND WHICH HAS BEEN GENERATED IN THE MINDS OF OTHERS BE INCREASED.
I think this bodhicitta prayer is very important. Not matter how many meetings for peace are held to stop the fighting and bring harmony, still there is so much fighting, so much war, atomic danger. All this is because there is no bodhicitta in the minds of the human beings on this earth. If they all had bodhicitta there would be no problem. Then there would not be this fighting and these problems—one country taking another, killing each other. People see terrible things in their life which they never expected to see happening. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had one guru, a great bodhisattva, a great pandita, Khunnu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen. His Holiness asked this great bodhisattva, “Please pray for Tibet to get independence.” So this great bodhisattva, who was an ascetic, a great pandit, answered, “We should pray that in Mao’s mind, bodhicitta will be generated. Then we can get independence.” [At that time Chairman Mao was the Chinese leader.]
Then please dedicate the merit for all the holy beings to have a long life, including His Holiness and Lama Yeshe, who is extremely kind, particularly by spreading Dharma in the West, and all the rest of the holy beings who work for the sentient beings. Not necessarily just Buddhists, not necessarily only Tibetan lamas! Any priests, and all the holy beings who work to prevent and eliminate others’ suffering and bring happiness to others. Dedicate that all their wishes for the sentient beings be accomplished immediately and to free all the sentient beings from all their suffering and to lead them to omniscient mind by oneself as quickly as possible. Please dedicate the merits of having taken the ordination like this.
In the break times think again and again, “How fortunate I am, how happy I am. Think that, as Ubdesh Singh was saying before, “So far my life has been wasted. Today I’m doing something meaningful, something beneficial. Today I’m doing something, making my life beneficial for every sentient being, until sunrise tomorrow. Every sentient being—those who are now in wars, those who have great fear now; for everyone.” Think this again and again when you see creatures in the forest—birds, worms, human beings. Any types of human being, any type of creatures attacking each other and suffering. Think, “I’m taking these vows to benefit them.” Then think, “I don’t live for myself. My life belongs to the sentient beings. I’m not living for myself, I’m living for others. So, my body, speech and mind don’t belong to me but belong to others, so what to do is to eliminate others’ suffering, to obtain happiness for others.” This should be remembered frequently during meditations and even break times, as it helps one very much not to break the precepts.
When there’s danger of breaking precepts because of careless thoughts coming, think, “Oh, I have taken a vow for the benefit of all sentient beings and if I break this I will be cheating or lying to all the sentient beings and also the buddhas and bodhisattvas.” Think, “How dare I break them for just my own happiness. How dare I give up the sentient beings’ happiness and cherish my own happiness. So far I have been seeking happiness for myself—that’s why I’m still caught in and not liberated from samsara, still having a confused life.”
A.M: If I have hurt the feelings of anybody, please forgive me. I think I’ve done the right thing what God brought me for that purpose. Please accept my apology if I have done anything wrong, if a single word, because...
L.Z: I’m not sure. I'm not sure. Thank you.
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Visualize the Great Compassionate One on your own crown and on the crown of each sentient being.
I GO FOR REFUGE TO BUDDHA, DHARMA AND THE SUPREME ASSEMBLY ...
That means, “I am going to practice bodhicitta, I will avoid giving harm to other sentient beings with body, speech and mind, and I will benefit them with all three doors, as much as possible.”
THE GROUND WITH SCENT IS BLESSED AND WITH FLOWERS STREWN, ADORNED WITH MT.MERU, THE FOUR LANDS, THE SUN AND MOON, TRANSFORMED AS A PURE LAND AND THEN OFFERED; MAY ALL WANDERING BEINGS ENJOY THIS BUDDHA REALM.
Please make a request to Guru Chenrezig to immediately pacify all the wrong conceptions towards the guru; from there to the subtle dual view of the white vision, red vision and dark vision, and to generate the right realizations immediately in one’s mind from seeing the guru in the essence of, and in the aspect of, a Buddha, through to the unified state of no-more-learning and the minds of all sentient beings. Especially to generate the stable definite understanding of karma and bodhicitta and immediately pacify all the obstacles and the hindrances to the practice of the graduated path to enlightenment.
As I mentioned this morning during the general motivation for the ordination: we should think of others’ suffering because of their hallucinations. While the “I” doesn’t exist from its own side, they completely hallucinate that it exists from its own side. While the temporal, samsaric pleasures are in the nature of suffering, believing them to be completely pure pleasure. Completely hallucinating the body which is impure as pure. While the aggregates are impermanent, completely hallucinating them as permanent. Try to be aware of how they are suffering with all these confusions, how they create many problems. Then purify—
OM MANI PADME HUM ... OM MANI PADME HUM ...
Leaving aside the lower realm beings and how they are hallucinating, just observe what you can about whichever country you came from. If you came from America, just think of Los Angeles. Or, if you came from New York, then you can think of New York City. All the people, their life, their way of thinking. How their life passes—with happiness or with problems? From wherever you came, just watch the human life in that city. If you came from Japan, then think about Tokyo. Look at the Katmandu valley and the many people. Just watch. Remember these four types of hallucinations that they have and how many incredible problems come into their lives. They themselves create problems for themselves through completely hallucinating in these four ways.
You may not understand so well how pleasure is suffering; you may not feel much if you haven’t meditated and haven’t analyzed. Compassion has to arise without choice when you see how other sentient beings are suffering because of so much hallucination. It’s unbelievable. They are destroyed by their wrong conceptions. On top of one hallucination, another hallucination. On the hallucination of the truly existent “I,” hallucinating it as permanent, seeing suffering as pure pleasure. These are basic hallucinations. They create their problems for themselves. When you meditate like this, compassion has to arise without choice, except that you don’t know it well. Like I mentioned this morning, if one doesn’t know it well, one doesn’t get much feeling in the mind.
OM MANI PADME HUM ... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Then the light enters the body and the mind of each sentient being, and they are completely purified. Your own and other sentient beings’ bodies become like crystal. Like dirty glass that has been washed, it becomes light and clear, like crystal. Then Chenrezig melts into light and absorbs into one’s own heart and generates all the realizations and the stable, definite understanding of karma. Then the mind becomes completely oneness with Chenrezig’s great compassion. Feel the suffering of every sentient being as unbearable; then wish every sentient being to be freed from suffering and to cause that by oneself.
Please listen to the teaching by generating at least the effortful bodhicitta by thinking: “I must achieve the omniscient mind for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings, therefore I’m going to listen to the teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment.”
Understanding that karma is definite to bring its results is understanding this: if no obstacles happens to the virtue, it’s definite to bring its own result of happiness; if no obstacles happens to the non-virtue, it’s definite to bring its own result of suffering. So you see, by understanding this, the result is more happiness. If karma were not definite it would be more difficult to have a happy mind because then even if one tried to be pure, one could not be sure of the result. There would be nothing to trust. That would only make one more depressed and hopeless. However, by understanding firstly that it is definite—if I create virtue it will definitely bring its own result of happiness—the result is more inspiration. It makes one happier as there’s definite hope. If nothing is done to non-virtue it is definite to bring its own result. So one gains inspiration and energy to do something about that which has been accumulated in the past and also to not accumulate more non-virtue. So, naturally the person practices. Naturally more understanding, more faith comes.
Karma is expandable. These are some external examples to get an idea of how it is expandable: by planting one corn seed the result is that you get many. By planting one date, from the resulting tree you can get many dates for many years. When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going for alms on day, I think at a place called Niatoda in India, one girl offered one handful of beans to him. Usually Guru Shakyamuni Buddha immediately predicted the result of making an offering. Buddha predicted that because of that karma in the future life she would become a self-conqueror, a self-Buddha. This doesn’t mean a fully enlightened being, simply an arhat. This girl couldn’t believe that such a small action as offering one handful of beans to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha would have such an incredible result, so she told Buddha, “You shouldn’t tell lies about small offerings like this. Because of having received a small offering you shouldn’t tell lies.”
In one lam-rim teaching, I think it started like this: a person who made a small offering says, “I don’t believe karma is expandable.” Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, “The seed of the tree called nyajoda is the size of the mustard seed. By planting that a tree grows which has so many branches.” The other person said, “Yes, there is such a tree.” Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, “There is no such tree.” The other person said, “Yes, there is such a tree. In my experience there is a tree like this. It is my experience.” So then Guru Shakyamuni told him, “Oh, then, karma is expandable. Even though it’s not your experience, it is my experience. From such a small merit comes an incredible result.” The person’s doubt was destroyed! The seed of the nyajoda tree is so small, the size of a mustard seed, but by planting one seed the branches of the resulting tree can cover five hundred horse carriages without their touching each other! Without being piled up! I think you can often see huge trees in India, especially in the hot places.
Inner phenomena—action and result—are much more expandable than external phenomena. Here is one story: A gelongma, or bikshuni, Gelongma Pa Dorje had two children. One was drowned in the river and one was eaten by a wolf; the husband was killed by a snake; the house burned by a fire. Then she remarried. This second husband one day went to another family’s house, had too much alcohol to drink and became drunk, came back and killed their only child and gave the flesh to her to eat. She ran away! Then, I think, she married one thief, the head of a gang. Then the king of that area came and executed the thief. I think that that country had a custom that when the husband dies, even if the wife is not dead, she has to go—they’re buried together. Then at night thieves came and removed the soil and she married another thief! That’s right! Then that thief was executed and buried and she was also buried. After all that, I think she had the thought of renunciation! No problem with renunciation! She became a bikshuni, a fully ordained nun, with three hundred and sixty-something vows.
Why did she have incredible trouble like this? So much suffering? In one of her past lives when she was a princess, I think she killed maybe a serving maid. I’m not a hundred percent sure—maybe the maid’s child. Then she told many lies. Maybe she said she didn’t kill. All that set of problems is the result of killing one child and telling lies.
We don’t have power like clairvoyance or an omniscient mind to see the causes of the many problems people are having nowadays. An example: I don’t know in which country, but one Western person who was over seventy married twenty-three times. After that, he married one twenty year old girl! That was his last. He had ninety-three children. The shortest relationship was twenty-eight days! You can see—it’s similar. In Indonesia, Java, a city of Sumatra there is a person named Dakamuli. He’s over twenty-seven. He married one hundred and twenty times! Right after he divorced from one he immediately married another. I think that there are many things like this, even nowadays!
The conclusion is that one should purify even the small non-virtues, and accumulate even the smallest virtues, because they are expandable. That should be the conclusion.
Please listen to the teachings by generating at least the effortful bodhicitta, thinking, “I must achieve an omniscient mind for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings. Therefore, I’m going to listen to the teaching on the graduated path to enlightenment.
Yesterday, I mentioned untimely death. It may not be your problem so much at the moment! That is when a person’s karma to live a certain number of years is not finished, but an obstacle happens. Then the person dies because he doesn’t have any more merit to live as a human being and has the conditions for an untimely death. So, for untimely death, if medicine doesn’t help, there should be a puja or some meditation practice from the Buddha’s profound methods performed. Things such as the profound mantras can prevent untimely death, or, if the person has finished his merit, he can accumulate merit by making offerings to holy objects such as the Triple Gem—Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. As it is explained in Buddha’s teaching, in the lam-rim, this merit field is most powerful and with it one accumulates most merit by doing the practice of offering.
The other object of accumulating merit is the sentient beings. One of the ways of accumulating extensive merit is by practicing bodhicitta by means of the very essential Mahayana thought training: taking other sentient beings’ suffering onto oneself and dedicating all the good things that belong to one—the three times merits, surrounds, everything—by generating the great thought of loving kindness. This tong-len, taking and giving, is one of the very profound meditations. As you breathe out, as you breathe in, with each breath you accumulate infinite merit.
Another method is the practice of rejoicing. Through this, infinite merit can be accumulated in such a short time. Rejoicing in one’s own three times’ merit and in all other beings’ merit is one of the important, and is the simplest, easiest of methods to accumulate merit in a short time. There are two objects: one is the merit field, the other is sentient beings. Actually we can also call sentient beings a merit field, like when taking these eight precepts: as we take the ordination with the motivation of bodhicitta, we accumulate infinite merit. Also these four root vows: not killing, not stealing and so on—you see, we practice, we keep these vows, in regard to sentient beings. So, you see, our merit comes from the sentient beings. The sentient beings are the precious field on which we cultivate or create our cause of happiness. As it is explained in the lam-rim teachings, the most powerful objects in order to skillfully accumulate merit are sentient beings and the holy objects, the merit field.
Not only those practices, but there are many others such as physically making charity and so on. Sometimes it appears, even astrologically, that it is beneficial to give food and things to beggars. Sometimes to fix a bridge or road or cleaning where it’s uncomfortable. Also making charity to the pretas. There is a certain practice of making charity by using mantras. Also, I think, a method that works for preventing untimely death is liberating animals who are going to be killed. One buys them and liberates them, either taking care of them or putting them somewhere. Like buying fish from the people who are selling them alive, for example, then liberating them in water where it is impossible for people to catch them or where one thinks there is at least less danger! That’s very important for postponing untimely death. A person creates the cause that postpones death and prevents dangers by liberating others from danger, by causing others to have a long life.
Also it has been shown many times that a person living in a certain number of precepts will live long yet without taking the ordination of renunciation he will not live. There are various methods. I think that my sister was supposed to die soon. She asked, probably, one of my gurus who lives on the mountain Solo Khumbu, I don’t know what made her ask. Tulshig Rinpoche made the observation and told her that if she didn’t take ordination she would die. So, sometimes it’s like this.
Doing a retreat on White Tara is regarded as a very powerful method in order to have a longer life to create more merit and accomplish the realization of the graduated path to enlightenment. There are different aspects of long-life buddhas—this aspect is White Tara. Also, there is a special method where one makes pills and eats them and does meditation on that to prevent untimely death. Tibetans, if they can’t do retreat themselves, asks a lama to do this meditation, to bless the pills and then they just eat the pills when the lama has finished the retreat!
Then, there’s a particular, very powerful tantric puja in which the practitioners train in death. It doesn’t mean it makes it impossible for the person to die! For that, you have to eliminate the true cause of suffering. If you want suffering, rebirth and death to be impossible, then you have to eliminate the true cause of suffering completely. Until you’ve eliminated the true cause of suffering—karma and disturbing thoughts—there’s no way to prevent the cycle of death and rebirth. The best puja, the best treatment, is that—one’s own practice eliminating the true cause of suffering. Not letting the disturbing thoughts increase and by practicing lam-rim trying to diminish them year by year, month by month.
By ceasing the true cause of suffering, the eight types of human suffering that you have meditated on will be ended. Otherwise, no matter how many times we’re born as a human, there’s no end; no matter how much we wish not to get sick, sickness comes; no matter how much we hate to become old, how much we hate to have white hair, how much we hate wrinkles and ugly skin—there’s no end. For example, take America: American life is a very good example of karma. It’s regarded as the country which has the highest material development and comfort. They try to make life as easy and comfortable as possible. Whatever they can think of they try. Whatever they are capable of they try. They try and try, without seeing the need for purification; without seeing the need for practice in order to accumulate merit; without seeing the need to understand karma. Anyway, there’s an organization researching the cause of cancer. I heard that they found that cancer comes from cigarettes. They found many different causes, and one is cigarettes. So, I guess the government has to accept what this special organization says in order to stop the problem of cancer. I heard that on cigarettes there is a label “Smoking is a injurious to health”, hazardous. You’ve got this label in the shop, so I think the person has to decide whether he prefers cancer or to smoke the cigarettes. That small comfort—the smoke and flame—or cancer!
I went to see one of our gurus, His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, a guru from whom I have received so many initiations and teachings and meditations, one of the present living holders of the whole path, a great pandit and yogi. This was during Rinpoche’s first visit to America, to the West, in Santa Cruz.
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So I suggested to the organizers of the meditation course at Vajrapani Center that we take Rinpoche for some sightseeing. I explained to Rinpoche, because I had seen the old folks’ home and the place where the dead bodies are kept before. Very interesting places! So Rinpoche said, yes, he’d like to see it, so they arranged it. It was quite close to the place where we did the course.
There were only two bodies, not as many as I saw the first time. The place was quite smelly. I think they must use some medicines because there was some kind of very strong smell. Not such an interesting smell! One was a lady who had died six months before. Quite old, I think; she had white hair. With us was a Tibetan lady doctor from Dharamsala, a very good doctor. She cured several people from cancer. I think even when she was in America she cured some people. She was with us to give courses in Tibetan medicine. People enjoyed it very much. Also she mixes in a little bit of Dharma. Of course Tibetan medicine is very much connected—it talks about the three poisonous minds as being the root of disease, so of course Dharma subjects into it. She was with us to see these things. She put her hand inside the body—you know, I think you can take pieces that you are interested to see and put them back! So, she put her hand somewhere here (chest region) and took out something and it was completely black and blue, and she said, “She died of cancer”. She said this is due to smoking cigarettes. I think it was the lung. The woman had offered her body to that place for the students to study.
There was another body; I think that person might have died one year before. Maybe an aboriginal person. Red Indian? One black person, but very thick skin. You could see the brain; you could take the skin off and see. I don’t remember the old folks home where I went with Rinpoche very well. I guess that didn’t have any strong impression on me. There wasn’t any particularly strong thing that caused the mind to freak out! It wasn’t very clear in my mind; I think maybe we went to a small place.
Then, there’s one meditation for having a longer life called “Eating the Sky as Food.” There are different methods that one can use, such as taking long-life initiations of the long-life deities and things like that. However, if one has finished one’s life fortune, if the previously accumulated karma to live a certain length of life is finished, one can do nothing. Otherwise, there are other things to try. When all things are finished, then nothing. Death definitely happens due to karma and disturbing thoughts. There are diseases where the person has the karma to be cured by medicine, but there is some kind of interference from different types of spirits which do not allow medicine to be effective for the patient. The medicine is the same, but after doing pujas the medicine benefits. There are some diseases that no medicine can help, only puja; only the Buddha’s methods, the meditation practices can prevent and cure these sicknesses. Pujas done by others, by lamas, can cure some diseases. Then there are very heavy diseases that the person himself has to purify. Without he himself doing the practice of purifying negative karma there is no way he can recover from that disease.
My uncle—there are several uncles, the younger one—got sick. I wasn’t at Solu Khumbu at that time, I was in Tibet. He was sick for many years and went to see many doctors in Tibet and took many medicines, but nothing cured his disease. I think he had pain all the time, much pain and infection. He couldn’t sleep or anything. It was a very heavy disease, I think all over his body. Finally he went to see one meditator whose cave is close to where we built the first school—the Everest School, the monastery for young monks. He was a very good old monk—I remember when I was a very small child I used to get very good feelings from him. This meditator made an observation and said this is not something that treatment and medicine can cure easily. It is due to karmic obscurations, so you need to practice ngondros, the preliminary practices—prostrations, recitations of mantras—those things. Then he received the preliminary practice meditations from one other lama. He did 600,000—something like that—full-length prostrations. Some he did in the cave that I used to go to sometimes to eat potatoes! It was extremely cold weather, snow and the ice outside, so that his heels got cracked while doing prostrations: when one does the practice one doesn’t wear shoes.
He did many prostrations there in the cave, then he built one very small hermitage close by. It’s a kind-of very quiet, very isolated place. He built it with stones, without much shape, just stones piled on stones, then bamboo on the roof to stop storms. Meanwhile he was taking care of my grandmother. She became blind—I don’t think while I was there, but after I left for Tibet. There were no other people taking care of her. She was my uncle’s mother. He was cooking food during break times for both of them. Also he was carrying my grandmother out for pee-pee and ka-ka, then bringing her inside. At other times he did prostrations. Then as he was doing prostrations gradually the disease that had lasted for years, which no medicine helped, became well.
Many of the people here who received Chenrezig initiation may have heard this story: one full nun, Gelongma Palmo, got leprosy in her hand. I don’t know exactly what broke or fell off, or was getting thinner, due to the disease. However, she did much Chenrezig practice, much purification. First she went to Nepal, to a few places. One place was where there is an intuitive OM MANI PADME HUM appearing from rock—I don’t remember the name of the place. The second place was where King Indrabodhi became enlightened within three years, I think. King Indrabodhi advised her to go from that holy place of Chenrezig where she was, to another place. She did much practice there—prostrations and the mantra. Then she actually saw Chenrezig. Chenrezig initiated her and gave her teachings. So now there is a Chenrezig practice called nyung.ne—abiding in retreat of body, speech and mind—an incredibly powerful Chenrezig practice which is only for two days. It involves taking Mahayana ordination, a lot of prostrations, a lot of Chenrezig meditation and recitation of mantra. It’s only a two day retreat, but very intensive, extremely great purification. Due to leprosy her body had been completely undesirable, not nice looking. Then her body became completely young and she became an extremely, unbelievably beautiful nun. Leprosy disease and cancer is from harm by nagas. One of the most powerful remedies to cure those diseases is Chenrezig practice, such as nyung.ne.
Then Gelongma Palmo came into the city after she attained Chenrezig, with this completely new, extremely beautiful body. People criticized her, saying that she doesn’t live in her vows. Maybe they saw her coming from a monastery—I don’t remember one hundred percent. It’s in her biography. So, many people had heresy and created much negative karma by criticizing her. She wanted to change their minds, to stop them creating negative karma. She put her head on a trident—or a spear, I don’t remember. Then she danced between the clouds in the sky and showed psychic powers. The head came back. I think she might have said, “If what you are saying is true, then the head should not come. If what you are saying is not true, the head should come back.” Then the head naturally came back and she became as before. She showed many psychic powers to the people, and completely changed people’s minds from heresy, and everybody felt much repentance, much sorrow that they had criticized her. Then they offered many prayers to her and generated great devotion.
By having faith and understanding karma through meeting Buddhadharma, there are advantages, more methods, even in regards to solving temporal problems. When medicine doesn’t work, there are many other ways to prevent diseases. You see, in the places where there is no understanding of karma, where there is no understanding of these methods, where there is no teaching, the methods are very limited. If the medicine works, that’s it; if it doesn’t, that’s it. The only refuge for the people is the doctor and the medicine, that is all—nothing else. If that works, that’s it; if it doesn’t work, then finished!
Sometimes the person himself can’t do a powerful practice of purification—he didn’t do it before and then couldn’t do it later. The karmic obscuration, the negative karma of the disease is so heavy, so great. So, other people doing some pujas and things cannot easily and immediately cure it. If there’s much heavy karmic obscuration, negative karma, there should also be a very strong remedy—accumulating merit and purification. If the person is making offerings to the Triple Gem in order to recover from a disease, I think that even if his disease does not get cured immediately, the practice always has merit, depending on how perfectly and powerfully that merit is created. If it’s powerful he starts to experience the result in the same life; definitely in future lives. There is always a result of happiness. Always. Maybe not enough to receive the result, to pacify the great hindrance that he has, because the merit that is accumulated is not powerful enough. I think I’ll stop here.
JANG.CHUB SEM. CHOG...
I didn’t get to the actual subject—just making conversation on something, but it was something about karma! At other courses there hasn’t been much detailed explanation of karma. Protecting karma is the beginning of Dharma practice. Even if one has accomplished the tantric stage of generation, the first stage, having very stable, clear concentration of oneself as a deity; even if one can visualize all the mandala deities, the whole thing as very tiny like inside a sesame or mustard seed, however much one can generate siddhis, generate attainments, clairvoyance and psychic powers—if one does not protect karma, no happiness, only suffering is created. One cannot close the door of the lower realms in order not to be born in the lower realms after this life. However stable concentration one has, even if it lasts for 100 years, even one eon without distraction, if one does not protect karma, besides achieving liberation, one cannot even guarantee that if death happens now one will not be born in a lower realm. I think that understanding this is the essence of Dharma. I think that it is extremely important.
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(discussion on spirit phenomena)
A.M: That time it was at the dentist.
L.Z: Oh, at the dentist—where they spit, where they clean the mouth? Then?
A.M: Yes. And afterwards they found out it was a girl who had done it. She made fun of the patients. They made a lot of examinations of where the voices were coming from. She did it with a tape.
L.Z: Yes? I heard one story somewhere—somebody seemed to speak from a toilet. When people came and sat, there was someone speaking!
A.M: ... at the bottom of the toilet.
L.Z: Did it? And then they checked the wire which is under the ground?
A.M: After, they found out. After a long while they found out that it was the girl...
L.Z: She put a wire inside?
A.M: I don’t remember exactly how she did it.
L.Z: I heard once—speaking from toilets. They checked for wires—they could not find a wire.
I met one mother in Italy who had a problem for some years. Her husband had died, I think some years ago, and the telephone was ringing all the time and she never answered it. Again and again it made that noise for a long time—I think it might have been years. When she listened it seemed like her husband speaking. Not very loud, but like someone whispering. Each time it rang and she picked it up there was this whispering. So, afterwards she just let it ring—she never bothered to pick it up. So she came to Lama Tsongkhapa Center, to ask what to do. At that time His Holiness Zong Rinpoche was there. She came to see me—she was brought by one student—about what to do about these problems. Not only this, she also had other problems! The apartment belonged to her and I think she also had a little problem with the people staying upstairs.
Anyway, I told her maybe she should ask Rinpoche. So, we went to see Rinpoche and I explained the problem to Rinpoche. Rinpoche said: “What should I do?” I asked Rinpoche to maybe bless a string with which to tie to the telephone. Then, some blessed rice or some sesame seed to throw in the room to dispel the spirits. Maybe the problem decreased, I’m not sure. The next year she came again. She said it was still the same, maybe sometimes better, I don’t know. Then, we did a puja here. I don’t know which one. The next year when I went the noise of the telephone had stopped. I don’t know what the scientists would say, how they would describe these kinds of things! Excuse me!
Please listen to the teaching by generating at least the effortful bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings. Therefore, I’m going to listen to the teaching of the graduated path to enlightenment.”
Generally, whatever karma, whatever action or cause is created—virtue or non-virtue, whatever it is—the result is always bigger and is experienced longer. Such as in this story about one minister in Darjeeling. His mother Sadampa had thirty-two children. Some ministers slandered this minister, Ritagsin, and turned the king, called Sangyal, against him. The king punished this minister. He killed all thirty-two children by cutting off their heads and made the mother carry all thirty-two heads back home. Why did she have to experience such unimaginably heavy karma, to have such a terrifying life? In one of her past lives there were thirty-two people—I don’t know one hundred per cent if they were thieves—who killed one cow. She was the owner of the house and she let them stay. They killed the cow, and, I think, sort-of made a party! I think she felt joyful that these thirty-two people had killed the cow and were eating it. She was not involved in killing but she felt happy which is wrong rejoicing. The cause to experience such a heavy karmic result was just that—wrong rejoicing. You see, it was only a mental action, but the result was great, very heavy. So, even one karma is expandable. The cause was just her mind having wrong rejoicing at what they did. It didn’t need any big physical performance in order to experience that result.
It’s just mental action, very simple to create, but one can create incredibly heavy karma. One can also create unbelievable merit by the mental action of rejoicing, if one knows how to practice lam-rim and the preliminary practices. If somebody in a country that you don’t like kills a million people and you feel, “How good it is!,” even if you didn’t go to war and actually fight physically, you create incredibly heavy negative karma. Let’s say millions of Chinese get killed by Tibetans or Russians or whoever and you feel, “How fantastic!”; you are sitting on the meditation cushion or reciting mantra or reading Dharma books and you hear the information and think, “Oh, how fantastic!”—you get the negative karma as if you had actually killed a million people. As you have rejoiced in a million people getting killed, you get as much heavy negative karma as if you had actually killed a million people. You can get a little bit of an idea from the karmic stories that Buddha explained in the teachings, of how incredible results come from wrong rejoicing in non-virtuous actions.
Usually lamas who give lam-rim teachings emphasize this very much. So you see, in Dharma practice the whole key is to watch the mind all the time. Watch the mind. To understand first you have to study; you have to receive teachings and listen extensively. Not just the small texts, but the whole lam-rim and all texts possible. Then, practice constantly. Watch the mind. If an obstacle arises which disturbs your temporal and ultimate happiness and disturbs your path to enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings, stop that. With awareness and memory always keep the mind in virtue. Use awareness to know whether any obstacle, any disturbing thought is arising or not, whether you are creating any negative karmas or not.
When there is danger, try not to let it arise. If it’s a disturbing thought that has already arisen, stop it as quickly as possible. If you are late, if the disturbing thoughts come before you have a chance to protect yourself from them, if they are already occupying your mind, controlling your mind, do not let them increase or continue even for a second. Do not give freedom to the delusions to destroy your temporal and ultimate happiness, that which you are looking for. Be aware of the shortcomings of disturbing thoughts—that they gave incredible harm in the past, are giving harm now at the present, and will continuously give harm in the future. Be aware that you are obliging yourself to experience all the samsaric problems that arise from these disturbing thoughts.
Harbor the harms of the disturbing thoughts; keep them in the heart like we do with outside enemies. We keep all the harms that a person is doing or did, in the heart. We remember them, again and again—while we’re eating, while we’re walking, even when we wake up from our dreams at night. We speak to other people as much as possible about how that person is bad, what terrible faults he has. As we react to the outside enemy, harboring all the harms, if we wish to practice Dharma we should react to the disturbing thoughts. The real enemy, the inner enemy is the disturbing thoughts.
Actually, if you know how to think, if you know the thought training teachings, and if you are practicing, that outer person is not an enemy at all. Completely the opposite—he’s a great helper—a practical, virtuous friend; a practical guru who gives one temporal and ultimate peace of mind in the hand, immediately, as it is said in the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation written by Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa Dorje Senge. These eight verses and other thought training teachings are for transforming suffering into happiness. Those thought-training teachings transform whatever you are experiencing—happiness or suffering—so that you can utilize it in the path to enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings. The various thought training teachings are condensed into these eight stanzas—so effective for the mind. (The sound of a dog howling)—I think the dogs are giving teachings to us, saying, “If you live in samsara there is suffering.” That’s why he’s crying.
Actually, for all the problems for which they don’t have answers in the West, the answers are in the lam-rim, especially in the thought training teachings such as The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation. However many problems, and however many fears there are in the world, if one knows just this thought-training teaching and if one practices there is not one problem which cannot be solved. For somebody who knows how to do even just the tong-len practice—taking and giving, which is contained in the seventh stanza—there’s not one single problem that cannot be solved.
I think this might be the third stanza, “In all actions I will examine well, watching the mind. As soon as a disturbing thought arises and makes evil for myself and others, I will practice to avert it immediately.” This third stanza tells us how to practice Dharma—that’s the very essential advice. If somebody asks the question, how to protect karma?—this is the answer. It shows how one should act to stop creating negative karma, to make non-virtuous actions less and virtuous actions greater; how one should act from morning to night, all twenty-four hours, in actions of body, speech and mind; how to make all the actions become Dharma, the cause of happiness. The answer is in this third stanza. In all actions such as the major actions like sitting, sleeping, eating, and all the rest—always watch the mind continuously.
I usually say this in the courses—“watch the mind.” But watching the mind alone is not sufficient. After watching the mind, what one should do is not to let the mind which is virtuous become non-virtuous and transform the mind which one recognizes as non-virtuous into virtue. Not letting the mind be under the control of disturbing thoughts, and if disturbing thoughts arise, preventing them by practicing the remedy of the lam-rim meditations on thought training. If, on the basis of watching the mind, you don’t do any practice of virtue, and don’t renounce non-virtue, then there’s not too much sense in it. What is the use of watching the mind if you don’t do something after watching the actions of speech, body and mind—particularly watching the mind, the sensations? If you don’t renounce something which gives harm to you and practice something which gives benefit to you, there’s no purpose in practicing awareness. What’s the purpose? We can practice our awareness on any object, on ka-ka! I think I mentioned that already. If a person gets angry...
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….at first he doesn’t do anything, doesn’t do the practice of protecting karma so his problem doesn’t get solved – the anger gets bigger and bigger, his actions of giving harm to others, his enemies, happen more and more. He is kind of one-pointedly concentrating on his view that the other person is giving harm, that the person is terrible. Because he doesn’t do anything to renounce non-virtue and practice virtue, his problem doesn’t get solved but gets bigger and bigger. I should give this example: A person who goes to rob a bank has to be very careful, has to have a lot of awareness—knowing how to get inside, how to get through the window, how to get from the roof! He has to have all the equipment. A lot of awareness is needed. And he knows “I am stealing.”
(A dog starts howling)
A.M: He is also saying “God.”
L.Z: I will ask the dog to cry every session, even in the meditation sessions!
You see, the person who is stealing is aware that he is stealing—he knows that he is not supposed to, that it does not belong to him. That’s why he is scared! After he recognizes the thought to steal, after he recognizes that “I am stealing,” “I am taking,” if he doesn’t do something, some Dharma practice, that is the problem. Not protecting karma is the problem. That is what gives trouble to other people and problems for oneself.
One example: one Kadampa Geshe—those who have heard lam-rim many times must be familiar with this story!—named Gen Kungyal, a great yogi, in his early life was a robber during the daytime and a thief in the night-time! He had a field and he reaped forty big sacks of wheat, but he was not satisfied even with that much. So he became a robber and a thief. He carried many weapons, such as arrows and knives, tied with his belt. His nickname was “Forty-Evil.” “Forty” because he got forty big sacks of wheat from his field and “Evil” because he did a lot of robbing and thieving.
After he met Dharma there was still a very strong impression from the past karma of stealing. When he first started to practice, one day he went to his benefactor’s house. Normally he lived in a cave and came down to his benefactor’s house to get food. Somehow the thought came to steal tea from the tea sack. His hand went inside the tea sack, then suddenly he remembered that he was stealing. He screamed, “Oh, there is a thief in the house! Please come!” He screamed very loudly so the people working in the field would hear! When the owner rushed inside he showed him that his right hand was inside the tea sack and said, “Oh, here is the thief!” That is practicing Dharma! When he remembered that he was stealing, he wanted to do the complete opposite.
The self-cherishing thought wanted to steal the tea for himself, for his own comfort. As soon as he recognized this he acted completely against the self-cherishing thought; he did completely what the self-cherishing thought didn’t want. Of course the self-cherishing thought didn’t want other people to know that he is a thief, so he went completely against the self-cherishing thought. So this is pure actual Dharma practice. This is hurting and destroying the selfish attitude by putting the thought training practice into action. His recognition “I am stealing” had meaning and brought a result. Not only did he stop stealing, but he did an incredible brave practice to destroy the selfish attitude. This is Mahayana thought training. He exposed himself to the benefactor. I think that instead of making the benefactor angry, it would have caused him to laugh! I think there is another example about wine, but I don’t remember that clearly.
So that is the practice of renouncing this life, renouncing worldly concern. Holy Dharma is against worldly concern and the self-cherishing thought. He also did this—in one temple—I don’t remember the name—everybody lined up and he was sitting at the end of the line. An offering of curd was being served—I don’t know, maybe they were monks. He could see the curd from the end of the line. In Tibet they have very good curd, very thick curd! Anyway, it doesn’t matter! So, he was watching the people in the line who were being served the curd, and he saw that a lot of curd was going into other peoples’ bowls. He became very concerned that he wouldn’t get enough, or any! Suddenly he became aware that he was having much worldly concern and practicing the eight worldly Dharmas. As soon as he became aware of that he put his bowl upside down and when the person serving the curd came by he didn’t accept any. Again, this is completely against the worldly concern. Again he became aware of the evil thought of the eight worldly Dharmas arising, the attachment clinging to this life, the selfish attitude. He didn’t give the curd to the selfish attitude; he didn’t give the curd to the worldly concern, but completely renounced worldly concern and the selfish attitude. An ascetic, simple life doesn’t refer so much to the outside -whether one is wearing red cloth, living with a naked body, not keeping possessions, living in a forest or living in a cave. A simple, ascetic life means a life such as this practitioner lived: cutting-off or separating from worldly concern. One who is living a pure life separated from the selfish attitude of clinging to this life is a greater ascetic, is more simple. Many great lamas such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness’s gurus, many great yogis who passed away and who have gone to very high realization of the tantric path, and many bodhisattva kings, although well dressed, having many possessions, having many attendants, many things, their minds are unstained by worldly concern, unstained by selfish attitudes, unstained by ignorance holding true existence, and especially unstained by impure conceptions and views. So you see, the life they live is the purest, simplest life—but having everything. So the definition of a simple life is this. Being a simple monk, or a simple ascetic Dharma practitioner does not depend on external appearance.
The bodhisattva kings had to have many possessions in order to work for others. They had to have power and wealth in order to make charity to others and to guide others. Some, who find it more beneficial for others, even though they have great attainments, live simply, even physically. Those great lamas and great yogis live in different styles of life according to whatever is more beneficial for others. Some are very rich; some do not keep any possessions. If one practices by watching the mind, like this Kadampa Geshe Gen Kungyal, once one is aware of disturbing thoughts arising and of creating negative karma, there is a great meaning. Otherwise one will never understand and protect karma by practicing virtue and renouncing non-virtue. In that case, even if one does meditation for one hundred years—watching the mind, watching sensation, watching the stomach moving up and down, watching the breath—it doesn’t make much sense. It is very hard to see any virtue there, any cause for happiness. Besides not purifying previous negative karmas, it becomes non-virtue because it is motivated by worldly concern.
Perhaps some, maybe a very few, even though they don’t know karma, would gain something if they didn’t do it for their own happiness, but for the happiness of others—perhaps to be able to solve other people’s very simple problems, or something very simple like that. Having a motivation like: “I am practicing this meditation of watching sensation so that if I develop something, some concentration, maybe I can help someone who has problems.” Without any expectation for himself, for reputation or anything, but just simply having a very sincere heart to help others. Because meditation done with that motive is possessed by the thought to benefit others, it is virtue. That’s different. It’s quite rare to have this pure thought for the happiness of others without any expectation for one’s own happiness. That is difficult for most people. For somebody who naturally has a very good heart from a past life, this may arise and then if the person does a meditation retreat on awareness of sensation, for example, there is a possibility for his action to become virtue.
If you know shunyata—“labeled” and “merely labeled” then it is very interesting. Even if you do the meditation for one minute or one second, it is very powerful—it shakes the root of samsara even to do one minute of meditation, concentrating on or being aware of the sensations and meditating on emptiness, or how the sensations are a dependent arising. Then, the different levels of dependent arising—“labeled” and “merely labeled.” There is so much to meditate on just in these two words! It is not an easy subject. One can meditate for a month or years and years, even the whole life, just on this. It is so unbelievably worthwhile. It is a complete remedy. This is the actual weapon, like an atomic bomb. Then each time you meditate you plant a seed to realize shunyata. Even if you don’t actually know what shunyata is, it plants a seed, prepares one for the realization.
There’s incredible benefit from meditating on shunyata. It is said in the teachings that even just questions, even doubts, arising about shunyata—whether something is empty of true existence, inherent existence, of independence, or not—and doing analytical meditation on that, breaks samsara into pieces. Even a minute of meditation or concentration on, or just remembering emptiness has much greater benefit than making charity to all the sentient beings in the three realms. The many benefits of meditating on shunyata are explained.
Now I’m going back to the conclusion! There is no question of whether or not meditation is virtue if it is the remedy to the ignorance which is the root of samsara. Of course it is virtue if it harms the ignorance holding true existence. Remember these words from the stanza: “Whenever a disturbing thought arises, it makes evil for oneself and others.”
Watch your mind, remembering that disturbing thoughts have harmed you from beginningless samsaric rebirths until now and do so even now by having these deluded aggregates formed by karma and disturbing thoughts. Being caught in samsara is harm given by karma and disturbing thoughts. They are giving harm now and will continue to give harm to oneself. Disturbing thoughts oblige one to create negative karma—that is how the disturbing thoughts make evil for oneself and for others. One becomes a condition for disturbing thoughts to arise in the minds of others, obliging others to create negative karma, so it makes others evil. Anger makes oneself evil, then because of getting angry at others, it makes them unhappy and angry and one obliges other people to create negative karma.
When a thief enters your house, or when you know that a thief has stolen many of your possessions in the past and so far you haven’t been able to catch him, you want to stop that harm now...
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If you are late by one second to control anger, the undedicated merits get destroyed and even the results of dedicated merits get postponed. If you’re going to generate the realization of shunyata tomorrow, say, it gets postponed for one hundred eons or a thousand eons, depending on whom you get angry at, even if it is for one second. It depends on the level of the mind of the person you get angry with—if it is higher than yours, it postpones the realization, the result of the virtue, for one thousand eons. You see, that’s why it is so important. the danger is incredible.
So, one should catch the disturbing thoughts with the practice of awareness and memory and then destroy them with method and wisdom. Without memory and awareness, that can never be done. The wisdom of shunyata and dependent arising is wisdom, and method is the rest of the lam-rim meditations such as patience, loving kindness, compassion and so on. This is the answer, the essential advice as to how to practice Dharma. We started from wrong rejoicing, remember? He emphasizes how the mind is so dangerous even in its way of thinking if one is not careful, if one doesn’t know Dharma, and if one does not practice.
JANG.CHUB SEM.CHOG RINPOCHE...
Dedicate the merits of taking ordination, together with the merits accumulated by other sentient beings—all the three times’ merits accumulated by me, and by other sentient beings, “May I quickly achieve the Great Compassionate One’s enlightenment, and lead each and every sentient being to the Great Compassionate One’s enlightenment.”
I GO FOR REFUGE TO THE BUDDHA, DHARMA, AND SANGHA...
Please generate at least the effortful bodhicitta, then listen to the lam-rim teaching, “At any rate, I must achieve an omniscient mind for the benefit of all kind mother sentient beings, therefore I’m going to listen to the teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment.”
In regard to karma being expandable, Guru Shakyamuni also explained this in the sutra teachings: somebody with non-virtuous, negative thoughts criticized a monk as he was crossing over, or jumping over water. The person said the monk was jumping like a monkey—not like a monk! I’m not sure about the karma, the virtue of being a monk like a monkey! Just because of criticizing like this, just simply saying this, the person had to be born five hundred times as a monkey with a voice like a barking dog.
At one place in India there’s a great river—I don’t know the name of it. However, one day five hundred fishermen were catching fish and they put out a huge net. Somehow they caught an incredibly heavy fish which even all five hundred fishermen couldn’t pull up! So they had to ask for help from some nomad shepherds nearby. It was huge—I think it was a kind of—what is the largest animal? A whale! But having eighteen different heads. There were also founders of the “inner beings” gathered there to watch this animal. It was during the time when Guru Shakyamuni was in the aspect of the sublime transformation. The omniscient mind sees every single existence wherever there are sentient beings, and what is the right time to guide, to benefit them. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha saw that it was the right time to benefit other sentient beings by revealing teachings of karma.
Suddenly Buddha appeared there with his psychic power. Then those other inner beings thought, “Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is supposed to not have any attachment to sight.” They were thinking that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is supposed to be an ascetic so should not have any attachment to seeing what is happening, for his own pleasure. Like, for example, going to a football match! Then some people told them, “No, Guru Shakyamuni’s omniscient mind sees all the time how to benefit sentient beings, so usually Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gives teachings, starting from karma. That is why Guru Shakyamuni Buddha came here.” Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha blessed the animal so it could remember past and future lives and be able to speak in human language. I think Guru Shakyamuni Buddha asked him, “What is your name?” The animal answered, “Shiva Sakya.” “Do you remember the negative karma accumulated by body, speech and mind?” He said, “Yes.” “Who is your non-virtuous friend?” He said, “My mother.” Then, “Where is she? Where was she born?” “In the narak” “Now you are born as an animal, but after this, where will you be born?” Then the animal answered, “I will be born in the narak.” Then the animal cried.
The fishermen were amazed that he was able to remember past and future lives like that. So then they asked Kungawo, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s attendant, to request Guru Shakyamuni to explain more about how this happened. Then Guru Shakyamuni explained the karma of this animal. In the time of the king Triti, some brahmins came to that country to debate. One brahmin called Selge Shiva completely defeated those other brahmins. So the king gave him gifts of treasures—hidden treasures buried in rocky mountains. This brahmin Selge Shiva had one child, and this one child had yellow-white hair so he was called Shiva Seto. They had these possessions that were given by the king and received from the father. The mother was worried that the possessions might be taken by force by somebody. She wanted the son to become like the father, to defeat others, so she asked him, “Can you destroy all others in debate?” The son answered, “I can, except for Guru Shakyamuni’s followers. Those monks I can’t destroy in debate.” She said to the son, “You should also be able to destroy those monk followers of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in debate.” He respected his mother very much and he always did what she asked.
Then he met one monk. The monk asked the son some questions but he couldn’t answer. The mother asked, “Did you destroy him?” The son said, “Actually, if I tell you frankly, I was completely defeated!” Then the mother suggested to him, “Don’t reveal teachings to many people. You just become a monk and study, and after studying a while you can go back to being a lay person. You should be an expert in the teachings of the Buddha.” So he became a monk, and he became expert in his studies. Then, again the mother asked, “Did you destroy them?” The son answered, “I can’t. I only have the words of Buddha’s teachings; I don’t have realization. They not only have the quality of understanding the words of Buddha’s teachings, but they also have realizations.” So the mother suggested, “You speak Dharma as much as possible, then after some time the monks will start to debate with you. Then you call them nicknames. You see, they will be afraid to rave back because they will try to protect karma.” She said, “If you call them nicknames when they start to debate, they will be scared to rave back at you, and so other people who will be watching will think that now you are winning because they are quiet!”
Then he started to talk Dharma. After some time the monks started to debate with him. Then he called each of them nicknames such as “Elephant Head” and “Tiger Head.” He called them by eighteen different names. Because of that karma of having called monks eighteen different nicknames with negative thought he was born as this huge whale with eighteen different heads. One was an elephant’s, one a tiger’s, then dog’s, monkey’s, donkey’s—maybe not yak’s! You see, the object is powerful—monks—so the karma is heavier. Because of the power of the object if it’s good karma, more powerful; if it’s negative karma, more powerful.
In order of increasing non-virtue it is this life’s mother, then the ordinary monks, then Arhats, then bodhisattvas, then Buddhas, then gurus. If one does good actions in relation to the very powerful objects one starts to experience the result even in this life.
There is one story of a clay-maker girl. This story which Guru Shakyamuni explained is the sutra reference for the practice of exchanging oneself for others. This story is about the negative karma that is created with a powerful object such as the mother and how one starts to experience it even in the same life. Those who have heard the Mahayana thought-training teachings might have heard this story. Her father, I think, used to be in business as a gold trader. He used to go over the ocean by boat to get gold. I think her father drowned when his boat sank. They had many children but all of them died.
I don’t know if they have this custom in the West that when many children die you call the last one some special name so he or she lives. No such custom? Now you can create the custom! I’m joking! They had many children. Similarly, my mother had many children and many of them died. Her last child had something like a Buddha’s pinnacle. It came out of the womb but it didn’t last a long time. I don’t know what happened. When my sister was born she was called “Blacksmith,” a name regarded as lower-caste. By calling her that name it kind-of stopped the obstacle. Somehow the method is a dependent arising. There are many examples where after being called a nick-name the person does not die.
Anyway, this mother had many children but most of them died. So one child, actually not a girl but a son, they called “Clay.” Clay is also regarded as referring to a lower caste according to Indian custom or kind-of law. One day he told the mother, “I want to do exactly what my father did.” She didn’t want him to go across the ocean to do gold business because she thought he would die as did the father. So she told him, “Your father used to make business in grass.” So he tried to sell grass. Then I think again he asked, and she said fire-wood. Then he made business in firewood. Then, I think, he asked again and his mother said grain. Then, somehow he heard from other people that his father used to do gold business. His mother asked him very much not to go to get gold. She even grabbed his feet. He did not listen and he kicked his mother’s head and left.
As he was going across the ocean, he saw a kind-of island. He reached this island and there were incredible entertainments and enjoyments: five hundred beautiful palaces, incredibly beautiful five hundred-storied mansions, clothing, food, and many beautiful goddesses. And everybody asked him to stay there. They gave him so many different kinds of food, but he did not listen. I think he went away from there, over the ocean, and then came to another island.
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I think after the third or something like that, island, he reached one area where there was a person whose head was being cut into by a karmic wheel—a wheel of swords. He was experiencing incredible, unbelievable pain. Then there came a karmic voice from the sky: “Those who created negative karma such as this will have this wheel moved onto their head.” He felt so much compassion for the other person who was suffering so much. Then he remembered having treated his mother badly by kicking her head and then the wheel came onto his head from the other person’s head. Then he generated incredible compassion, thinking, “Any sentient being who has created karma to have to experience a suffering result such as this, may they be free from that and may I experience all their karma, all their suffering, by myself.” As soon as he generated this thought renouncing himself and cherishing others, the wheel which was turning on his head suddenly went up, his consciousness was transferred and he was born in a deva realm—Tushita, or something.
Experiencing his head being cut by a sharp wheel of swords was the result of the negative karma of kicking his mother’s head. Seeing those islands with five-hundred storied mansions and much clothing and food and many beautiful goddesses was a result of gaining money earned by doing the business of selling grass or roots or branches—I’m not sure whether it’s two or three; if I remember I’ll tell you—and giving his earnings to his mother. I think on the first day he gave her two coins, the second day four coins, and then more and more like that. The result of those karmas was not experienced in his next life, but experienced in that same life. You see, there are three different types of karma. There is karma the result of which one experiences in this life. That’s called action karma because it can be seen by eye. Then there is karma experienced in the next life; then that experienced in other lifetimes. So this was karma which is seen in the same life.
This story is to show that any karma, even if small, that one creates with powerful objects such as the mother, one starts to experience in this life. Also from this you can understand that karma is expandable—because he gave two coins, then four coins, then eight coins and so on, the result was a beautiful island with five-hundred storied houses, many beautiful goddesses, being given clothing and many hundreds of different foods. You can see, the result is so great yet the cause was so small.
You can learn from this how karma is expandable.
I think this next story is in the very beginning of the book “The Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun.” One great yogi, Lopon Sangye Yeshe was giving teachings to many disciples, when his guru when his guru Pasangba walked by. Sangye Yeshe pretended to not see his guru. You see, what he should actually do whenever he sees his guru is stand up to show respect. I think this is probably what is called “kurti”—the particular term used in “the Great lam-rim,” Lama Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim teaching—the offering of respect. His Guru Pasangba later asked him, “Didn’t you see me before?” Sangye Yeshe said that he hadn’t seen him. As he said this, suddenly both eyes dropped onto the floor. The object to whom he was telling lies to is the most powerful object amongst all the merit field, the Triple Gem—the guru. His guru Pasangba blessed him and he was able to adjust and keep one eye; the other eye would not stay in. Then he had to do great purification and confession.
If you are able to read the life stories of the lineage lamas of the nyung.ne, the Chenrezig practice which comes from the fully-ordained nun Gelongma Palmo, who attained Chenrezig enlightenment, you will see there are many stories like this about other lineage lamas. One yogi had leprosy disease of the eye and no treatment helped him. He had so much pain in his eyes. Even hot spring didn’t help. I think he did the retreat of Red Yamantaka but even that didn’t help. Afterwards, he did the part of the retreat where he had to make confession of the negative karmas related to the guru. No treatment except this confession practice helped. There are several of these stories. If you read the life stories it is very inspiring, very effective, for the mind. Again, this is receiving guidance from Sangha.
Then, as I have come to this point of talking about how negative karmas connected with powerful objects are so powerful; nowadays there are a lot of stories that come from Tibet about people who previously destroyed the monasteries and precious statues. Of course, people themselves didn’t have freedom—the Chinese forced them to destroy these things. One lama was tortured by the Chinese in public. They asked one woman to torture the lama. The lama had given no harm to her, but they made her ride on the lama. The lama had to crawl over the ground like a horse, like an animal. Sooner or later this woman who rode on the lama went completely crazy. Many people destroyed precious holy objects and statues—I don’t remember the particular names. They took them from the altar and threw them onto the floor and things like that. Many people are telling about these things being taken to China; this summer they are returning them back, broken.
One person who broke statues at a temple later had both his legs slowly go up like this, completely stuck to the skin. His palms went completely backwards, like that. Is there any case of this in the West? Where a person was born perfect but changed later on? Have you heard? Hands becoming shorter and sticking to the arms?
A.M: Muscle atrophy through lack of usage—shriveled.
L.Z: Even becoming stuck!? You don’t like the part about them sticking? I’m joking! It turned out very funny.
Also, one monk that I knew at Darjeeling—studied Dharma for many years in Sera College and knows Dharma very well. Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, Lama Govinda’s Guru—you know Lama Govinda?—a great yogi, passed away and reincarnated. This monk used to be Rinpoche’s servant. His name is Tashi. He was a Tibetan school teacher for some time. He wasn’t serving Rinpoche then. Anyway, what happened was that his leg or hand got stuck to his body. Then they did a lot of pujas and he had to do a lot of purification. Now he has recovered. I didn’t see him, but I heard that he has recovered. I heard he was very sick before, in a very bad situation.
Those who did many of these things under the force of the Chinese—such as the care-takers of the monasteries destroying the very precious statues and other holy objects—many of them are becoming crazy. Before that time they didn’t have strong faith in karma, that there can be such a result. So, many people who used to say there is no karma, that there is no such thing as the Triple Gem—following the Chinese idea—because they themselves went through a lot of fears, now have unshakable faith in karma. They even ask other people, “Definitely there is karma, so please don’t destroy the holy objects.” There are many stories like this.
There are reference experiences or stories in the tantric teachings taught by guru Shakyamuni Buddha about how the mandala offering practice is a way of accumulating extensive merits. One visualizes the four continents, the eight small continents, Mt. Meru, many enjoyments, golden mountains and many offerings including as many universes as one can visualize or think of. When one does the mandala offering to the merit field one receives as extensive merit as if one had actually offered all those continents, the whole universe, all those devas’ enjoyments. However many universes one can visualize when one makes offerings, one receives as much extensive merit as if one had actually offered them. These karmic stories are the main references to illustrate the benefits of the mandala offering practice.
It is very good to remember them again and again because then, you see, inspiration comes to create merit. Even if one doesn’t have good quality offerings such as gold, silver or jewels, even if one doesn’t have better possessions to offer, even if one doesn’t have anything, one can still accumulate extensive merit. You can get an idea from this following story.
When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going for alms along a road, three children were playing on the sandy ground. The children saw that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was coming along the path and they thought to make some offering, but they didn’t have anything to offer. As they were playing in the sand one child thought to offer sand grains. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy body is very tall—I think twelve times a common person’s height! So they could not reach the begging bowl. They planned that one child stand, then another stands on his shoulders and the third one on that one’s shoulders, like a circus! Then the third child visualized the sand as gold and offered it to Guru Shakyamuni’s offering bowl. That is all that the action was—sand visualized as gold—but as a result after that life he was born as King Ashoka. As that king, even in one day he was able to build one million stupas in many different places. He became a religious king and had much wealth and power; he was able to build many monasteries and able to make many offerings to the Sangha, creating so much unbelievably good karma in that life. Even though it wasn’t gold, but just sand visualized as gold, he received benefits as if he had offered gold.
That is the reference story for understanding the mandala offering practice, how one can accumulate as extensive merits as by offering the actual universe.
Virtuous karma is expandable. By using this story as an example of how to skillfully accumulate extensive merit, even if we are offering just a few paisa, we should visualize gold or diamonds or something like that. You can even visualize this money as the whole universe. If you are throwing rice or sand grains to a holy object, an actual living holy object or even a statue or stupa, you can visualize each of the grains as a wish-granting jewel, the whole space filled up with wish-granting jewels and you can think that they are granting the essence from guru devotion up to enlightenment. That creates the cause to rapidly generate the realization of the path to enlightenment. It is similar to how we do the mandala offering practice. If one understands lam-rim, even if one is penniless, a beggar, there are so many skillful ways to create extensive merit.
I think it was in Washington, quite some years ago: one lady wanted to commit suicide off one very high tower—I don’t know how many stories. She was not staying in the tower; I don’t think people stay in this tower. She especially went right up to the roof. She thought that if she jumped off the low buildings she may not die; so to make sure of dying, she especially went up the highest tower and she jumped. But what happened was that there was a strong wind and she didn’t succeed in what she wanted. This illustrates that karma is definite! Expandable? I cannot predict that yet! There may be other things to come! Without having created the cause, the result doesn’t get experienced: she wanted to die immediately, but she didn’t have the karma to die at that time. Then, karma that is created doesn’t get lost: she had the karma to remain alive.
Another similar example—some people might know this event. In New York, I think two years ago, one huge airplane—I don’t know where it came from—right after it landed at the airport the pilot’s cabin was becoming hot and he was screaming for help. I read it in the newspapers when I was in the West, but I don’t remember it clearly now. Normally where shouldn’t be any problem because the hostesses were well-trained in how to open the door and all those things. Theoretically, there should not have been any problem. There were maybe three hundred people. You may remember—they went to open the door, but they couldn’t open it at all, and they couldn’t understand why. Then the plane became completely wet and even though they screamed, nobody could help. People outside came to open the door but they could not as it was completely stuck. Many people tried to open the door and after some time—I think it took quite a while—when it opened, the people inside were piled up dead from suffocation. The roof was completely burned. Then they could figure out what really happened. Maybe the pilot forgot to do something. Again there is the whole set: karma is definite, so it was definite for those people to experience such a result that day at that airport. You see, it was group karma, collective karma. Then, karma is expandable: the cause was smaller...
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….those negative karmas were not purified before, nothing was done so it was not lost. Then, another story. I didn’t get to know details of this story, but you may get to know them from Australian people. I think some people were eaten by a shark. They went fishing? Three people went for entertainment.
A.M: Two men and one woman.
L.Z: Yes, in a boat. I don’t know the details, but the essence of the story is, I think, that while they were in the boat...
L.Z: Surf-board, yes. I think the shark came and he had bitten one man’s leg. Not just bitten, but completely broken!
A.M: Bitten off.
L.Z: Yes, bitten off! I think the whole ocean around there become bloody. Much blood came from his knee, you see. Actually this man is incredible. A bodhisattva; it is fantastic what he did, the attitude that he had. Anyway, the one whose leg was bitten off told the other man and the girl, “I will give up myself to the shark to save you two.” So he himself followed where the shark went. The shark came back and took the girl and shook her in the air. Theoretically it was supposed to catch the man, but actually it passed in front of the man and caught the girl and shook her in the air. Again, the four aspects of karma are illustrated. One man was not eaten by the shark, and the girl and the other man were eaten. That explains the four outlines of karma. I think I will stop here.
Regarding karma being expandable: you will get more of an idea particularly when you study those virtuous actions like the various types of offerings—how from each offering one can attain various results. From the actual explanation of this part of the seven limb practice—that of making offerings—you will get a little bit more of an idea regarding how good karma is expandable.
By meditating on how karma is expandable, how without the cause being created the result cannot be experienced, how the cause that is created cannot be lost, one should make a conclusion. Since it’s like this—a small non-virtue having a great suffering resulting for a long time and a small virtue having a great result of happiness for a long time—one should renounce even small non-virtues and practice every single small virtue that one has the opportunity to practice. For example, trying to help the other person with pure motivation while one is talking to him, instead of saying something which is confusing to the person or makes him angry or to suffer, or causes him to create negative karma. Trying to create virtue while one is walking, sitting, eating and so on. Making offerings to the merit field when one eats or drinks. In every manner, whatever you are doing, it is always possible to accumulate virtue, to practice even a small virtue.
Since without creating the cause one cannot experience the result, think, “If I don’t create non-virtues I won’t experience the result at all. Therefore, I must purify and renounce creating non-virtue.” Also, “The result of happiness cannot be experienced without creating the cause so I must create it, and the cause which is created cannot be lost so I must attempt to renounce negative karma, to purify, and practice virtue’. You see, as you think about each outline, stronger and stronger determination to practice karma gradually comes. The more one understands that karma is expandable, one naturally feels that even small virtues like making charity, giving even one small piece of food to an ant, are very important; it is as important as giving food to the starving or to beggars. Making offerings to the Triple Gem is important. Saving that life is there is an insect which has got into water is as important as the great virtuous actions. Even to make a gesture of prostration upon seeing a holy object is incredibly important. Even to recite a mantra in the ear of an animal, to benefit it by planting an impression of the path to enlightenment is so unbelievably important. The more one understands and has faith in the four aspects of karma, the more one doesn’t feel careless—one naturally practices even very small virtues and renounces even the small non-virtues. Understanding, realization and faith depend on purifying and praying, or making requests to the holy object, the Compassionate Buddha, the lineage lamas, the merit field. Much requesting and much purification are needed to develop the realization of the graduated path to enlightenment. I will stop here.
JANG.CHUB SEM.CHOG RINPOCHE...
Generate bodhicitta while visualizing the merit field, the Great Compassionate One, above one’s crown and the crown of each sentient being.
I GO FOR REFUGE TO BUDDHA, DHARMA AND SANGHA...
Also remember when you say this, “The purpose of my being alive and having a human body today and each day, is to renounce giving harm to other sentient beings and to offer benefit to all other sentient beings.” As you have meditated about the perfect human rebirth, rejoice at not being a narak being, not being a preta or an animal like a snake, a crocodile or a tiger, scorpion or ring-worm or the long worm that’s given to the fish, you know? Not merely being alive, but having a body which is able to practice Dharma, which can practice not giving harm and giving benefit to every living being. Not merely being alive, but having a body which is able to practice Dharma, which can practice not giving harm and giving benefit to every living being. Not only being alive, but having received a precious human body. Not just a human body, but one having all the qualities, the necessary conditions in order to practice Dharma, to practice the graduated path to enlightenment. Think, “My not only being alive, but my having a human body, each day, is to be used to stop giving harm to others and to benefit every living being.” Remember this and practice bodhicitta to become enlightened for the sake of other sentient beings.
How much opportunity there is with this perfect human rebirth! How many suffering sentient beings one can help to become liberated—not just preventing a few problems temporarily, but eliminating their true suffering and even the root of suffering completely. What I’m talking about is not a short-term benefit but a long-term, deep, benefit. Not just temporal comfort but an omniscient mind, ultimate happiness. “I’m living each day to obtain the greatest benefit, the most important thing that the sentient beings need. Today I am alive and have this body which has the opportunity to accomplish this.” So make a very strong determination in the depth of your heart that, “I must do this while I have this precious perfect human rebirth.
THE GROUND WITH SCENT IS BLESSED...
Request that you and all other sentient beings’ negativities be purified immediately and all the right realizations related to the guru and up to the unified stage of no-more learning, enlightenment, be generated immediately in one’s mind and in the minds of all the sentient beings. And that all the outer and inner hindrances be pacified.
OM IDAM GURU RATNA...
OM MANI PADME HUM.... OM MANI PADME HUM...
Chenrezig’s mantra and the light is absorbed into one’s own heart, generating the whole path, especially the stable understanding of karma and bodhicitta. The same thing happens to all the sentient beings. The mind has become completely oneness with, is completely transformed into great compassion, feeling it as so unbearable that the kind mother sentient beings have obscurations and are suffering in samsara, and wishing to liberate them immediately from the suffering by oneself.
I GO FOR REFUGE TO BUDDHA, DHARMA AND SANGHA...
I say, “Due to the merits of giving teachings and so forth accumulated by me, may I become enlightened for the benefit of all sentient beings.”
Please listen to the teachings by generating at least the effortful bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings, therefore I’m going to listen to the teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment.”
The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in the Bodhicaryavatara, “From non-virtue all the sufferings arise. How can I be definitely liberated from this? It is worthwhile to think only of this.” What the great bodhisattva Shantideva is saying is, since non-virtuous karma is definite and it’s expandable, the result cannot be experienced without the cause, and it cannot be lost, it is worthwhile always to be thinking, “How can I be definitely liberated from this?” “This” actually means true suffering and the true cause of suffering. If from understanding the lam-rim teachings one all the time has the wish to be free of suffering and the true cause of suffering, this is renunciation. Also, recognizing karma and disturbing thoughts, the cause of the problems, the true suffering, as poison, one will have the strong wish to be liberated from this.
If you hear that there is actually poison in your food, of course you immediately throw it away; you don’t leave it around. As soon as you discover it, you stop eating and you throw it very far because you are scared—even if you have doubt that there may be poison—say if a pot where there was poison is not washed, one dares not eat the food. If there’s a poisonous snake around your place whose bite you can die from immediately, you are so aware, so careful, and you try to find the snake. You can’t stand it, can’t relax, can’t wait to remove the snake; it’s so uncomfortable. Similarly, when there’s a contagious disease around, you try to be so careful in order to not get it. You try to get injections ahead of time, even though it has not reached that area.
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It shows our ignorance. We don’t feel anything for the actual cause of those problems—the disturbing thoughts, anger and dissatisfied mind. We are friends with them, as much as possible. We keep them in the mind and heart as much as possible and take the best care of them. We completely dedicate our body, speech and mind for the true cause of suffering—the disturbing thoughts—and don’t have any fear of karma and disturbing thoughts. We gladly, happily follow them, with much joy. Only when the results, the problems come do we have much fear. You see, that is showing ignorance; not having an understanding of Dharma; not having found the stable understanding of karma, a strong, stable faith in karma.
Even if one has some understanding and accepts that life’s problems come from the true cause—karma and disturbing thoughts—even if one has ... kind of faith, but it is just words—only in the mouth and not in the heart. Like a flower which doesn’t sink in water, but stays on the surface of the water. You know, the green flower? I’m not talking about flour—you know, tsampa! When you throw that flower in the water it doesn’t sink, but stays on the surface. One doesn’t have deep understanding or faith in one’s heart. One doesn’t feel much even if one accepts it. That is due to not having thought well and extensively about the subject of karma in various ways such as about the teachings of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the karmic stories in the sutras. It is also due to not having done purification and having not accumulated extensive merit.
What Shantideva is saying is that one should feel that the true cause of suffering is like a poisonous snake, or poison that is in one’s food, or like a contagious disease. Then, because of understanding all the harms, one should eliminate the cause and purify what has been accumulated in the past. If one accepts, has understanding and has fear of karma and disturbing thoughts, as one has towards those other things, then naturally, without much hardship, much practice of purification of the negative karmas that have been accumulated is done and even small virtues are practiced. If one is always thinking, “How can I be free of the true cause of suffering?” one has the thought of leaving samsara, aversion to the true cause of suffering. Such a person has entered the path to liberation. He sees that the true cause of suffering is so dangerous, like a poison. The person who has strong renunciation of his own true cause of suffering will have unbelievably strong compassion when he thinks of others’ true cause of suffering. That person has established the root of the Mahayana path—the great compassion—and has the possibility to achieve enlightenment.
Also, the very distinguished great propagator of the Mahayana teachings, the great pandit Nagarjuna, said, “If you wish for the body of the happy transmigratory beings and for the liberation, then please train your mind in the right view.” If what you’re seeking for after this life is to have the body of the happy transmigratory beings, that is, happiness after this life, and not only that but even liberation—the lower liberation, or the great liberation of enlightenment—train in the right view. This right view is not only shunyata; it also means karma. Karma is called the worldly beings’ right view. You see, this is the main thing that ordinary beings have to be careful of and which they should think about and always practice awareness of. The main fundamental practice should be awareness of karma—actions of body, speech and mind—and then renunciation and bodhicitta. This is understanding virtue.
You see, we should plan our enlightenment, our liberation from samsara; we should plan to have those very high tantric realizations such as the Six Yogas of Naropa—the stage of accomplishment, which is the second stage of tantra—but most importantly, if we are not careful about today’s karma, this hour’s karma, there’s a danger that we might fall into the lower realms before we achieve those realizations! Before we achieve the Six Yogas, or the kundalini, or whatever we’re expecting!
The "very close one" is death. We are not sure when those other realizations will come, but death can happen at any moment—today, in any hour—if there’s karma. If we check, if we watch our mind, watch the nature of our thoughts and actions even in one day, then we will see that the lower realms are very close. That’s what’s in front of us! So you see, for us ordinary beings, the first thing is to pay attention, to be careful of this. We should make preparations not to have danger or fear at the time of death—our death which is very close, which will definitely happen. Those realizations are not sure to happen, but death is definite to happen. If we’re not careful we will be born in the lower realms. You can see whether it is easy or not for those beings to practice and create the cause of the realms of the happy transmigratory beings by practicing moral conduct. You can see whether the animals can practice moral conduct or not: how long it will take them to be born again as human beings having an opportunity to practice Dharma.
You can see how long it would take just to be born as a human being. You can see by just watching the buffaloes, the dogs, the birds and what they do, the nature of their lives, their attitudes. Because of having taken such bodies they are limited and have no opportunity to practice moral conduct, charity and patience—the causes for the body of a happy transmigratory being and the necessary conditions. Such perfect enjoyments and perfect surroundings and helpers. Even we, as human beings having met the Dharma, cannot transform our thoughts and actions from morning until night into Dharma; so how can these animals transform their actions into Dharma? Even we who can listen, reflect and meditate, who are trying to practice, find it difficult.
If we check our own minds, how many times in one day is the mind not under the control of disturbing thoughts. Is there any mind that becomes virtuous in one day? If there is, how many? Are there more times when the mind is under the control of disturbing thoughts or more time when it is being virtuous, not under the control of disturbing thoughts? By checking our own minds we can understand others and how pitiful they are. Because of hallucinations such as “I am good,” “I am honest,” “I always do good things,” kind of pride comes and we don’t really feel how those sentient beings have great suffering and are devoid of the freedom to practice Dharma. We don’t have a feeling in our hearts. Also, we don’t rejoice, don’t feel happiness in having the opportunity to practice Dharma, having the opportunity to listen to the incredible teachings of Buddha. By practicing, by putting them into action, there’s no betrayal—definitely one will achieve the results. They lead to the liberation that one is seeking. Instead of feeling happiness, some people even feel depressed, which is because of not understanding the perfect human birth, it’s usefulness, the difficulty of gaining it, and that it has a very short span. Because of not thinking well about the freedoms that we have, we can make ourselves depressed by knowing others’ sufferings, instead of rejoicing and being happy. Instead we should meditate on the eight freedoms and ten richnesses and how those who do not have the richnesses and freedom are suffering.
We ordinary beings should plan to realize shunyata, to achieve the tantra stages of the graduated paths of generation and accomplishment, and to achieve enlightenment, but if we don’t try to have a stable definite understanding of karma by studying these teachings, if we don’t protect karma itself, don’t renounce non-virtue and practice virtue, that itself becomes an obstacle to generating bodhicitta and realizing shunyata. You may be meditating on shunyata; you may like shunyata meditation very much: emptiness, voidness, nothingness—however you interpret it, perhaps as having a blank mind, like meditating on space—however, you see, not protecting karma itself becomes an interference to really generating realizations of emptiness or realizations of the three principal paths. Not being careful of karma, but hoping to realize something like shunyata, or something about astral trips, or clairvoyance, or kundalini or something like that; but before that happens some contagious disease or heavy problem comes, difficulties come, and one finds it very difficult and when death happens nothing has been done. No change was made in regards to the causes for the lower realms. No change in one’s actions was made; nothing was done to protect karma.
However, what I’m saying is that death and the lower realms are close; definite and very close. Therefore, the first thing that we ordinary people have to be careful of is karma. It’s very important to meditate on the perfect human rebirth, its usefulness and all those things.
I didn’t get to expand on each meditation. It’s very important after you’ve done each analyzing meditation, to do one-pointedness meditation on the understanding and the feeling. This kind of realization, the recognition that life is precious, is not strong yet. This has to be gradually developed until you feel the perfect human birth so spontaneously. You see, when attachment arises when you’re working, or eating, or sleeping, it comes spontaneously, without effort. Having a realization of these meditations—that this life is so precious, the difficulty of finding it and all those things—is continuously, naturally feeling it without effort. That’s the sign.
So, after generating the feeling do one-pointed meditation on that; thinking how precious the eight freedoms and ten richnesses are. How precious they are. Just this, over and over—“How precious this is. How precious this is ...” Like if you’ve found a million dollar diamond, you take best care of it—you put it in a safe place where it won’t get lost. Naturally you think, “How expensive, how precious it is.” Like that one should think of the perfect human body.
JANG. CHUB SEM.CHOG...