Lecture 1: November 13th pm
Can you hear, the people who are sitting around the edge? Then you meditate! Maybe next year.
First I would like to express thanks. I feel great rejoicefulness that many people came from various countries, from very far countries to seek peace of mind. I’m not sure what kind of peace of mind you want or need, I am not quite sure. This has to be examined; however, peace of mind, happiness. But my rejoicefulness is not just for your seeking peace, seeking happiness. Everybody, any living being, any being who has an unsubdued mind, all the living beings, even the tiniest creatures, even the tiny creatures that we cannot see without machines—even they have the thought to seek happiness. Because of desiring happiness and not desiring suffering, even those tiniest creatures move around, doing whatever they can. Even though they have such a tiny body, they attempt as much as possible, whatever they can.
So I am not thinking of just that. The great rejoicefulness that I have for you is for your not being satisfied with what you have done so far, what you have been doing, what you have been managing in this life in regards to obtaining mind-peace. Not being satisfied, understanding this, discovering this. “What I have been doing is not enough, there is something wrong in that. There is something wrong with what I have been doing, it is not enough.” So there must be something else, something more correct, which definitely brings happiness. Something that does not mislead. Something that you do and you get what you want. Not something that you dislike, not something that you did not wish. Not something that makes you shocked.
You open your own mind to seek a new method. Not having a closed mind, not closing your mind by yourself. You are giving yourself the opportunity to seek the method, to understand, to practice, to accomplish the ultimate—not only temporal happiness and perfection, but also ultimate happiness, everlasting release. So this is a great surprise, a great surprise you happened to find in your life.
You might have heard my name, in the papers, Lama Zopa, something like that. You might have heard this in the papers, pictures, or you were told by somebody else, in the restaurant, or at the beach or at the movies. Anyway, I’m joking. However, you might have come here to hear something, to learn some meditation or to hear something from me, somebody who is called Lama Zopa. However, just from myself, just from my side, I don’t have hope that you will receive benefits, because I am not a meditator, not a holy Dharma practitioner. My practice, what I really practice is the worldly dharma, not the holy Dharma. But here nowadays we have many learned monks and geshes—learned monks who spent their whole lives from childhood, from ten, fifteen, thirteen, nine, from childhood up till now, thirty, forty, fifty years, their whole lives they lived in the monastery and studied. I did not do that. I didn’t study. Of course I did touch the scriptures a little bit, you know, like a baby touching books, like that, putting up and down the pages. That kind of thing I did, the body touching the text. That’s all.
I think there are perfectly qualified teachers, highly learned. And they themselves are not just speaking the words, but living in the practice. This is the most important thing. In the world, on this earth, there are many professors, many people who have studied the words and who speak. But those who are living in the experience, who are living in the practice, a teacher who himself has either lived or is living in the practice of which he speaks, living in the discipline of which he speaks, becoming an example—that is rare to find, very rare to find. That kind of teacher, guru, or virtuous friend is worthwhile to follow, there is no misleading.
I think you people are highly fortunate to receive profound, extensive teachings, profound without the slightest mistake—especially if you can understand Tibetan language. I’m joking. However sometimes there can be difficulties in the translation. But even if some mistake happens it can be explained again, it can be corrected by other people who understand. Also from the side of the geshe and from the side of the translator, it can be corrected. Also if you have doubts, not clear, they can be discussed. They can be made clear, made that much clearer. But if you live in the practice, if you really try, if you put things into practice, when you start to really experience it—that is the time that it really becomes clear. It starts to become clear when you start to experience it, when you yourself live in the practice. So anyway, things can be made that much clearer in regards understanding the words, the definition of the words, the meaning of the Dharma, like this.
Buddhadharma is something that the more you study it, the more you check, it becomes more and more clear. It becomes more and more deep, more clear. That is the particular nature of the Buddhadharma. The more you understand, the more you study, the more you check, it doesn’t become weaker and weaker and more and more faulty, you don’t see more and more faults. So definitely even though there are other problems, although it is hard, it is hard when you listen to the teachings, when you do the meditation, definitely there are great benefits. We think one month is incredibly long, however, it is like last night’s dream, so short. It might seem to be very hard and very difficult, but in fact it is like last night’s dream, it is like one second of the meditation course, it is like that, this one time that we do. If, with patience, you continue to study, to listen to the teachings, to meditate, to practice as much as you can—definitely there is unimaginable benefit that you receive. Especially those geshes, you know, highly learned. So there is no question about the benefits for your temporal and ultimate mental peace. Especially after the course, after you understand more and more teachings, after you understand the fundamental teachings, then you would find how it has been greatly worthwhile, how each meditation session, how each session of listening to the teachings during the course has been so precious. How every meditation, listening to the teachings, each of these hours and minutes has been so precious and so worthwhile. The more you understand the teachings in the future, especially the fundamental teachings, the more you see this. You feel great rejoicefulness that you have done this.
Can you hear? Can you hear those who are around? Those who are sitting on the edge? How difficult? I think what can be done, maybe we can have a short peepee break, then sit close, sit tight. I think this next hour, I don’t think I will talk. [thunder] Also it might rain. Anyway we cannot hear.
[Everybody moves closer]
I have a request to you, to you people, asking a favor. That is to recite mantra, a long-life mantra, one particular aspect, (you see, it started to rain) one particular aspect of Buddha, the female aspect of Buddha called Tara. Is there an example? Can you pass it around?
The right hand is in the mudra of granting sublime realizations and the left hand is in the mudra of granting guidance, guiding sentient beings from fear and suffering. And these mudras have significance. The two fingers joined like this signify enlightenment, the unified state of the holy body and the holy mind, the achievement. And usually these three fingers standing signify Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—the Triple Gem. It can also signify the three principles of the path: the mind renouncing samsara, bodhicitta—renouncing self, cherishing other sentient beings—that ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, then also the wisdom realizing voidness; the three principal paths to enlightenment. By taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha one achieves enlightenment, the unified state of the holy body and holy mind. One can understand it that way. One can understand that by actualizing the three principal paths one can achieve the unified state, enlightenment. However, then there can be other explanations. Then, holding the utpala flower, the left hand is in the mudra of granting guidance, guiding from fears and from the sufferings of samsara.
White Tara has seven eyes—one eye on each foot, then one eye on each palm, and then there is the third eye—as you have seen in the picture. That is just to have an idea of that manifestation, to have just a rough idea. What is drawn in the thangka or what you can see on the picture is just a rough idea of how it looks, the manifestation. In the meditation you should visualize better than that if you can.
The dharmakaya, the holy mind, is the most important thing to think about first or to feel. The most important thing is the dharmakaya, the holy mind, which is complete in all realizations and purified of all obscurations, devoid of all mistakes. This holy mind, this completely pure holy mind, dharmakaya, which is called the absolute guru, the real guru, the absolute guru, in order to guide yourself and other sentient beings, manifest in this particular aspect, the female aspect, having one face, two arms, with the legs in the vajra posture. The essence is the dharmakaya, the pure holy mind.
The holy body is very clear, calm, in the nature of light, extremely beautiful. You visualize this seated on a lotus and a moon disc.
This mantra, the purpose of reciting the mantra of this particular aspect of Buddha, Tara, White Tara’s mantra, is mainly because some students here asked what can be done for the long life of Lama Yeshe. You might be able to see Lama Yeshe after about two weeks; you might be able to hear teachings. So some students asked what can be done for the long life of Lama Yeshe. So this particular Buddha’s mantra comes out highly beneficial to recite, about one hundred thousand times. Also I think it comes out beneficial that if here in the course everybody recites it. Also the number finishes soon. If many people recite, then the number finishes soon, less expensive. I am joking, anyway.
So the visualization for those who have received initiation, Tara, the great kriya tantra initiation, the great mahaanuttara tantra initiations—there is a particular visualization to do if anybody, one’s parents, or any other sick person has the danger of shortage of life; in order to have a long life there is a particular meditation to do, generating yourself as that deity, and then at the heart, there is a particular meditation to do.
Anyway, what we can do is this. Visualize Tara, then underneath, down below, Lama Yeshe. If you have seen a picture of Lama Yeshe, anyway, Lama Yeshe, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, any of the holy beings, think all the holy beings there, the holy beings who work for sentient beings to eliminate their sufferings, to obtain happiness. All the holy beings are down below Tara. Then nectar rays, like milk, that color, flow from the Tara’s heart and fill the holy beings. The holy bodies are like a glass filled with milk, the long life nectar.
Then visualize the enemy that you dislike or who hates you, then all the rest of the sentient beings. Think of the enemy in front of you, the dearest enemy in front of you. Then father, mother, then the same Dharma friends who are sitting around you here now and all the rest of sentient beings you think of. Nectar flows from Tara’s holy mind and purifies yourself and your parents, the enemy, friends, and all the rest of the sentient beings, purified.
You see, without the holy beings, those who work for the sentient beings, those who have accomplished the path, without those holy beings who reveal the teaching, without them, if they don’t live then there is no teaching. Like without a doctor there is no medicine, however much you are sick there is no medicine, there is no way to receive treatment. So without these holy beings there is no teaching, no pure teaching. So you see, for we sentient beings, there is no way to be free from suffering, from confusion, there is no method—we cannot find the method. Even if we seek we cannot find it, we do not meet it. So you see, sentient being’s happiness, temporal happiness and ultimate happiness, is dependent on the merit, dependent on good actions, on the teachings, the holy Dharma. The holy Dharma is dependent on the holy beings, so therefore how important the long life of the holy beings is, how important that they live longer in the aspect that we can see, which we can communicate with. That is the purpose of reciting the mantra.
One thing, in relation to the long life of the great holy beings who have accomplished the path, they themselves don’t have such things as death and rebirth caused by unsubdued mind and karma like we experience. They don’t even have the name of that. Even the name death and rebirth do not exist for them. The actions that harm others and yourself, which come from the confused mind of anger, ignorance, and attachment, these things cause the holy beings to not exist a long time in that aspect. So our confused mind, our unsubdued, uncontrolled mind and the actions that come from that, they are the obstacle to meet the holy beings, the obstacle to hear the infallible teachings, to be able to see those holy beings and to hear the infallible teachings. This, itself is the obstacle. So for them to have long lives we should purify the obstacles that we have in our mind. So therefore first we purify.
As we recite the mantra, nectar beams emitted from Tara’s heart purify us, the sentient beings. Then at the end, long life nectar beams flow into all the holy beings and their bodies get filled with long life nectar. I think that is all.
To do the oral transmission of this mantra, first we recite together, so please generate the motivation to take the oral transmission of this mantra. At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the benefit of all the sentient beings, therefore I am going to take the oral transmission of the White Tara long-life mantra.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA ARYU PUNE GYANA PUTIM GURUYE SOHA
[Recited many times]
From Tara’s heart, from the holy mind, unbearable compassion flows from the heart for us, the sentient beings. From that holy mind white nectar rays flow and purify the obstacles, the unsubdued mind and the karma that causes holy beings to have short lives. Those obstacles within one’s own mind are purified, then all the obscurations and negative karma that comes from that, all that negative karma, then disease, spirit harms—also you can think that those are purified; also other sentient beings’ obscurations, unsubdued mind and the actions which come from that, and their negative karma. Then all their suffering, all their problems, disease, and all the rest of their problems, all their sufferings of body and mind—your father, mother, friend, enemy, and all the rest of the sentient beings—all the true suffering and the cause of the suffering are completely purified by the white nectar rays flowing from Tara’s holy mind.
You can visualize the unsubdued mind, negative karma, those diseases, all the confusions of the life—all the sufferings of body and mind are completely purified in the form of dirty liquid, filthy dirty liquid coming from the lower doors of the body and also from all the pores, like when your body is very dirty and when you are having a shower how the dirt comes out, like that.
One can make requests to Tara and the holy beings to exist until samsara ends, to exist and to continuously do the works and turn the Dharma wheel for oneself and all sentient beings. And also yourself—as the white nectar rays fill your body and the bodies of other sentient beings, if you wish to have a long life also you can make that request. Then when you stop the mantra you can think, “I have received the realization, the undying realization.”
One can request the long life of one’s parents. If there are sick people that you know, then also one can pray, one can visualize the nectar flowing, purifying, visualize their body filled up with undying white nectar and think that the person achieves the undying realization.
However, whether you pray for yourself to have long life or not, it is very important to pray for others, for those who protect karma, avoiding the harmful actions, the non-virtuous harmful actions, who practice the virtuous actions, who have refuge in the mind, for those who recite even one mantra of OM MANI PADME HUM, even those sentient beings who recite this mantra, to have a long life. For even those who recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, the six syllable mantra, even those sentient beings to have a long life.
You see, those sentient beings who accumulate merit, especially the sentient beings who know how to accumulate merit, if they have a long life, the longer they live they are able to make their life more meaningful. They are able to create more causes of happiness, so there is sense in living long. There is a meaning to live, to have a long life being a human being, not an animal, not another, lower type of sentient being with greater suffering, with another type of body. Among human beings, for those who do not practice Dharma, those who do not understand Dharma, those who do not attempt to accumulate merit, there is a little bit more opportunity for them to experience temporal pleasures, by having the human body.
Lecture 2: November 14th pm
During this teaching on the Bodhisattvacaryavatara—the teaching that was composed by the great bodhisattva, the great pandit, the bodhisattva called Shantideva—Manjushri is the particular aspect of Buddha to whom we are going to make requests and take refuge, in order to quickly realize or see the object, the ignorance of true existence, the object, the ignorance of the truly existent “I,” which is empty—to truly realize that which is empty as empty. Then, in that way, be able to quickly eliminate even the seed of that ignorance, the root of samsara. Realizing that which is empty to be empty, and quickly eliminating even the seed of that ignorance—one essential purpose is that. Then also, to be able to quickly generate bodhicitta, renouncing self and cherishing others, this precious thought of enlightenment—to be able to quickly generate these things.
So for these two main purposes we visualize the particular aspect of Buddha called Manjushri, who is of the Buddha’s transcendental wisdom manifested in one aspect. He has one face, two arms, with his legs in the vajra posture, his right hand holding the wisdom sword and the left hand holding the stem of a lotus. In the lotus is the Prajnaparamita scripture. The holy body is orange colored. This aspect is called Manjushri and exists particularly to grant us, sentient beings, the development of Dharma wisdom.
As you see Manjushri in the examples, in the tangkas or pictures, better than that, visualize in front of you, at the height the same level as your forehead above the ground, facing you, with a smiling, youthful face. Then, as the admiring prayer, the requesting prayer to Manjushri is still on the way to be printed, and is not finished, I will just read it here. So you just meditate on the meaning of this.
“Obeisance to my guru and protector Manjushri, who holds to his heart a scriptural text, symbolic of his seeing all things as they are; whose intelligence shines forth as the sun, unclouded by delusions or traces of ignorance; who teaches in sixty ways, with the loving compassion of a father for his only son, all creatures caught in the prison of samsara, confused in the darkness of their ignorance, overwhelmed by their suffering.
“You, whose dragon thunder-like proclamation of Dharma arouses us from the stupor of our delusion and frees us from the iron chains of our karma, who wields the sword of wisdom hewing down suffering wherever its sprouts appear, clearing away the darkness of ignorance.
“You, whose princely body is adorned with the one hundred and twelve marks of Buddha, who has completed the stages achieving the highest perfections of a bodhisattva, who has been pure from the beginning, I bow down to you, O Manjushri.
“With the brilliance of your wisdom, O Compassionate One, illuminate (this is the request)… With the brilliance of your wisdom O Compassionate One, illuminate the darkness enclosing my mind; enlighten my intelligence and wisdom so that I may gain insight into Buddha’s words and the texts that explain them.”
Visualizing, you might wonder why there is not only one buddha, why there are different aspects of buddhas, “Having many different aspects of buddha that you have to visualize confuses my mind.” However, even generally to do the works in a country, generally speaking, you have to have that particular power, you have to have that particular position so that you can do the work, so that those people will listen, and people will follow, so that you can achieve what you want to help them. You see, with that power, in that position, if you are in that particular position, with that particular power, then you can accomplish your wishes, whatever you want to help them. Or maybe sometimes you have your own particular work, anyway it doesn’t matter. That is not important, that we don’t talk about now. Anyway you understand.
If you are concerned for others, if you want to relieve people from certain difficulties and problems, then if you are in the position of that king, like in Nepal, if you have that power, if you are in that position, then you have the power to make laws, or to change, to stop the actions or things that cause problems. You can stop them, and you can suggest good things, prosperity, whatever good things you think and whatever you can develop, then you can help. Also they will listen if you are in that position, if you have particular power for example, like the king. Then, there are other examples, such as a doctor. There are various examples, many different examples, just talking in general way. So these different aspects of buddha are like that. Another way, if you don’t have a certificate saying that you are a psychologist, for example, if you don’t have a recognized certificate saying that you are a very learned psychologist, then probably other people may not come to you. There might not be crowds of people coming to see you. Or you might not make enough money. Anyway you see you have to have those things, certificates.
So like that there are many different aspects. One aspect is not enough. One aspect is not enough to fulfill the wishes of sentient beings. There are numberless sentient beings, but to fulfill the wish of one sentient being, one particular aspect, is not enough. So there is the need for different aspects to fulfill the different wishes, an aspect that suits the different levels of mind of sentient beings.
Therefore, White Tara is particularly for granting long life. All these particular aspects of buddhas, the compassionate buddha or Tara—there are about one hundred different aspects of Tara—however, the main aim, the main purpose is to bring the sentient beings to the highest state, enlightenment, the sublime happiness. That is the main purpose. But in order to make that successful, there is need of wisdom. In order to make it successful one must generate the path to omniscient mind. In order to generate the path, one must not just meditate on space, blank, that alone, without studying, without doing extensive listening, reflecting, or meditation practice, just sitting in the meditation position, and just keeping the mind on space, keeping the mind blank. Ignorant mind won’t make it to enlightenment. With ignorant mind you cannot approach the omniscient mind. Like without fuel in the car you cannot reach your destination. Even if you have the car, if you don’t have the fuel then you cannot reach to the desirable place. So, you see, this is similar.
However, in order to make generating the complete path to omniscient mind successful, one should have the wisdom of listening, reflecting, and meditation—one should have all these wisdoms. So therefore there is a need, since you cannot do it alone by yourself—for example, you alone cannot learn ABCD alone, without depending on somebody, you don’t know how to fix the car, how to fix the watch, how to make the watch, or how to drive the car without depending on somebody. Somebody gives you a car, or you buy a car, but without anybody teaching you, you cannot learn the whole thing—if something is wrong how to fix it, and how to drive. If somebody gives you a car, you learn—somebody puts you in the huge ground, if somebody leaves you there with the car but without anybody to teach you, then you alone cannot learn, even if you have a car.
However, without talking much, here, what we are doing here this one month, what we are trying here is not just to learn how to fix a car, to fix a watch, to make Coca-Cola, or make chocolate—anyway, I’m joking. It is not like that, what we are doing here is not like that. Here what we’re doing is not trying to recover from some disease, not only that, not even that. Like you take medicine to rid of a stomachache, or a toothache, or a discomfort of the body to relax for some time, like you take medicine and then get better for some time, again it comes back. Not like that. Not even like that.
Here, what we are doing, whether we know it or not, the method that we are doing, the different meditations that we are doing now, the benefits, from the individual’s side, whether we know the benefits or not, the benefits are to free ourselves forever from true sufferings, such as the suffering of rebirth, sickness, old age and death—all the problems of samsara. To be forever free from true suffering, all those various problems of samsara, even from the true cause of suffering, the unsubdued mind and its action, karma. Without being free from that there is no way that you can be forever free from those true sufferings, those everyday life problems. There is no way to be free forever from those. So, otherwise, as long as we are not free from them forever, free from the unsubdued mind and karma, the true cause of suffering, it would be like taking medicine—all the other methods are like taking medicine. Perhaps, if it works it works for some time, that’s all. It doesn’t mean that you are free forever from that.
So not only that, not only the self alone, the blissful state of peace, the achievement of everlasting release from samsara, or from true suffering and the true cause of suffering for oneself. Not only that. That is not the main goal; that is not the main thing. That should not be the main reason we are here, why we study, why we listen to the teaching and do the meditation, particularly this teaching, the Mahayana.
The teachings that were revealed by Buddha are divided into two: the lesser vehicle teaching and the greater vehicle teaching. This is the greater vehicle teaching, the Mahayana teaching. So the teaching that we are hearing and meditating on, what we are trying to actualize, the path that we are trying to actualize, the basic idea, the main motive, the principal motive, the only motive, if possible the only motive that should be in our heart, is to benefit others. The motive for doing this course, the greater vehicle, the Mahayana teaching, if possible it should be only that. It should be purely that, only the thought to benefit others—on the basis of avoiding harm, not having the thought to harm others, having only the thought to benefit others, to fulfill the wishes of all sentient beings, for all sentient beings to be in all happiness, to be in sublime happiness, the state of omniscient mind.
So, “To make this extensive work for others successful, I am going to achieve the state of omniscient mind, which is complete in all realizations and which is purified of all mistakes, all obscurations. For that reason I am going to listen and study, reflect and do the meditation practice on the graduated path to that omniscient mind.” Like this.
Also for that reason, to fulfill this work, the Dharma practice, one also needs a long life and many things: wisdom, long life, many necessary conditions. So therefore there are different particular aspects of buddhas who—the main thing is to bring the sentient beings to enlightenment—but to grant help, to grant the different guidance, there are particular different aspects. So therefore, by taking refuge, or by ourselves, from the individual’s side making contact with the particular aspects of the buddha, one’s wishes of Dharma practice become successful, the hindrances get stopped.
It just happened, otherwise you might wonder, why each session you have to visualize different things. It’s very confusing, it drives crazy, you might wonder.
If you want to go pee-pee…
Any type of human being from different countries, with different cultures, even the creatures, however different they look, whatever different body they have, all these living beings who live on this earth, all they wish is one thing, all they do not wish is one thing. It’s just one. All they wish is happiness. All the human beings, with different colors, speaking different languages, even the creatures who are flying, those who are crawling on the ground—what they do not wish is just one: suffering. So to prevent, to pacify either one’s own suffering, to accomplish one’s own happiness, either for self or for others, to accomplish that wish for either oneself or for others, there happened various religions on this earth.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s way of freeing the sentient beings from suffering is not by washing off the cause of suffering, the unsubdued mind and its action, karma—not by washing with water. And not like taking thorns from the body. You just sit and somebody comes along, you just scream, you don’t do anything, you sit on the bed then somebody comes along and takes out the thorn. You just sit comfortably, you just relax on a chair, then somebody comes along, takes out the thorn that bothers you. Not like this. Not in this way. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha does not just come along; sentient beings just sit there, then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha comes along and takes it out; not like this, like taking the thorn out, not like that. Not eliminating by hand, by the physical hand. And also not by transplanting, like in the West transplanting the heart. If somebody’s heart is transplanted to another’s heart, then the other person is empty, the body is empty of heart, there’s something missing in the other person’s body, even though now the other person has a good heart, a healthy heart. Not like that. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha does not transplant his enlightenment, his realization of bodhicitta, his wisdom of shunyata, his realization of enlightenment in our minds, then it frees us, we become free from sufferings, and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha becomes a sentient being, his mind becomes empty of realization. The way Guru Shakyamuni Buddha frees sentient beings is not by transplanting realizations in the mind of others.
So, what is the way of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, what is his way of freeing sentient beings from suffering? It is by revealing the absolute truth, by revealing the nature of existence, the nature of the “I”. By revealing the absolute truth of the “I”, the self, the “I,” the absolute truth, the absolute nature of the “I,” the absolute nature of existence, of which we, the sentient beings, are ignorant, hallucinating. Because of not seeing this, because of hallucinating, we are ignorant of this, so continuously we suffer. So the way Guru Shakyamuni Buddha frees sentient beings from sufferings of samsara is by revealing the absolute nature. Then, by listening, reflecting, and meditating on this, by actualizing it, the sentient beings are able to eliminate even the seed of ignorance, the hallucinating mind, the ignorance, which is the originator of all sufferings, of all other unsubdued minds and sufferings. This is the way that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha leads sentient beings into the blissful state of peace, and this is the way that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha leads us to the state of omniscient mind, the supreme bliss, the sublime bliss. By developing the path of method and wisdom that is revealed by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the sentient beings practice, actualize, and develop that, and they approach sublime bliss, the state of omniscient mind.
Also one thing: if suffering did not come from the self, if it was not created by one’s mind, if it came from others, from a separate being, if the creator of one’s own suffering is a separate being who is separate from oneself, then in that way perhaps it might be possible that by just having faith alone, without the need to practice from the side of sentient beings, without the need to do anything from our side, just by having faith. Or another way, what happens is that it doesn’t make any difference whatever you do, because the creator of your suffering is somebody else, not you, it is somebody else, so it doesn’t matter whatever you do from your side, anyway it’s up to him, it’s up to the other being. So it’s completely dependent on him, no matter whether you do good actions, no matter whether you do bad actions, whether you live a good life or even a very evil life, having only ill will in the mind, not having any love and compassion for others, only doing harm to others, even if one lives a very evil life, even without having faith, nothing, it would be possible to experience happiness.
Then also no matter how much you lived the good life, no matter how much anger, how much self-cherishing thought, self-centered mind, strong selfish thought, anger, ignorance, or attachment, those unsubdued minds, no matter how thin they become, it wouldn’t make any difference for that person’s happiness or suffering. The mental peace would not become greater as those unsubdued minds became thinner, there would not be any effect or result of greater and greater happiness in the mind. This doesn’t make any sense. The creator of suffering and happiness being somebody else does not make any sense, because it is completely dependent on that other being. If the creator of suffering, of the self, the creator of your own happiness, of the world is somebody else, a separate being, whether that being is called a god or a deva or whatever, then first of all, what would happen if he did not create the world, if he did not create the self, if he did not create the beings? If he did not create them in the first place, what would happen? Would there be any problems if he did not create them? Wouldn’t it be better if he didn’t create anything from the beginning? Then there wouldn’t be any suffering, wars, there would be no need to fear the third war, no need to fight for oil. Also it is just extra work. If you create suffering then you have to keep busy stopping starvation, the danger of sickness, even the effort of buying and taking medicine would be unnecessary extra work. Wouldn’t it be better at the very beginning if nothing was created? However, I think there’re ways one can check, like this, one can examine.
What Guru Buddha Shakyamuni said is that all the sufferings came from the self. All the happiness and perfections came from others. How all the sufferings came from the self: while the self, the “I,” looks as if it exists from its own side on these aggregates, it is empty from its own side. It is empty. While the “I,” the self, looks as if it exists from its own side from above the aggregates, it is empty—in fact it’s empty of existing from its own side. It looks as if it exists from its own side but it doesn’t exist from its own side. Empty. While the “I” is empty of existing from its own side, the “I” appears from above, from above these aggregates, as if it exists from its own side.
Another way of saying it: this “I,” the self, which appears as if it is inside the chest, above the heart, above the heart in the chest, somewhere here, looks real, looks as if it is there. It appears in the chest, it doesn’t appear in the toes or in the legs or in the nose, or in the ears, in the fingers. One doesn’t feel or it doesn’t appear like that in the other parts of the body. Here is something that you feel, particularly here something that you feel; real “I.” While you are not examining it, when you let it go, when you let it happen in normal life, it looks kind of solid, real solid, living in a dark room, living in a kind of black, dark room, something like that, as if you are living in a dark room without light. Something like that, the “I” is here inside, kind of living in a dark room, like that.
While you are not examining it looks like it is there, but if you search, if you really examine whether it really exists, where it is, whether it really exists, in fact, when you examine that, right on that, by watching it, while you are looking at it, if you examine whether it really exists, where it is actually, it cannot be found anywhere, from the very tip of the hair down to the feet, the toes. It cannot be found anywhere, completely empty. What you used to cling to before, so far what you have been clinging to in your life since you were born, since beginningless past lives until now, what you have been clinging to, what you have been believing in, is completely empty in fact. On these aggregates it is completely empty in fact.
Without mentioning much, like this: when one is not examining it looks like it is there, real, solid, solidity. It looks like it can be found if one searched but it becomes weaker—the more one searches it becomes weaker, unclear, and cannot be found. Like when you look from far away it looks like there is a cow that you want to find, which you are supposed to find, a cow on that mountain. From far away it looks like it is there, eating grass, but when you are on that mountain, when you searched you couldn’t find the cow, on the top, on the bottom, anywhere—nowhere can you find the cow. That mountain it is empty of cow. Similarly, that mountain is empty of cow and like that, on these aggregates the “I” existing from its own side is completely empty, in fact it is completely empty from its own side, just there, completely empty from its own side.
However, on these aggregates there is an appearance of the “I” existing, there is an appearance of an “I” that exists from its own side. Another way of saying this: the appearance of the real “I,” the solid “I” that we point out, today, now, that we put our finger on, that we point out when somebody calls you, when you get shocked, or when you are in a certain circumstance, happy or suffering circumstances, then you point out here. This is it, what is appearing now to us, to you now, right now, the self, the “I” that is appearing to you now as real, as solid, somewhere above the heart, not in the stomach but above the heart, somewhere in the chest. This is it. However by making it short, by making it simple, the “I” that doesn’t exist, this is it.
So normally what we point to in certain circumstances, during shock or happiness, when there is happiness or when there is suffering, normally we point there. The reason we point there is because that relates to the mind belief, it relates to the conception, it is not just pointing there unnecessarily. When somebody calls you or when you get angry, you can point at the nose, you can point anywhere. When somebody calls you, if somebody accuses you, “You have stolen my car,” or ice-cream from the refrigerator… anyway, I am joking but you see, if somebody accuses you, you don’t point...
“When did you see me stealing?” At that time you don’t point your fingers to the toes. “When did I come to your house, when did I steal your ice-cream?” usually we point at the chest. Especially when you are angry you hit the palm on the chest, like this. This is to do with the conception; the outside physical action is related to the internal mind, the conception.
This “I” appears as if it is real or solid, as if it exists from its own side, and we completely cling to that, believing that this is completely true. This ignorance, even now we cling to that, this appearance of this “I,” this truly existent “I,” we cling to that. This is completely true. The ignorance that clings to that is the simultaneously-born ignorance. It is not the intellectual belief caused by a wrong philosophy or doctrine that says “I” and existence are truly existent, existing from their own side. Without the mind being caused to believe this by wrong philosophy, which causes you to have acceptance, belief, verbally you accept that this “I” exists from its own side. Even now we are clinging to this “I,” this present appearance of “I”, as completely true. That is the simultaneously-born ignorance.
When one was born in the mother’s womb, when consciousness took place on the fertilized egg, even from that very first second, even at that time, the previous continuation of this simultaneously-born ignorance this life began from that. Even in the mother’s womb one was born with it. Another way of saying this, making it simple, is to say that one was born with this simultaneously-born ignorance, clinging to the “I” that appears as truly existent, clinging to it as true. One was born with it even in the mother’s womb. The reason we have this now, the reason we have this ignorance clinging to the “I” as truly existent, is because we are born with it.
Similarly, the reason we have anger. The answer to why we have anger and attachment now, why we have these unsubdued minds, is similar. This is because when we were born, in the mother’s womb, even at that time, we were born with the impression, the seed of that. We were born with it. The reason we were born with this ignorance, this simultaneously-born ignorance clinging to the “I” as truly existent, even as a child, even in the mother’s womb, even at birth-time, is because in the past life we were not free, we were not liberated from these unsubdued minds, the true cause of suffering, we were not liberated from them by generating the remedy in our mind. The reason we were born with this unsubdued mind, this ignorance clinging to the truly existent “I,” cherishing the “I” so much, is because there was the continuation of that just before the consciousness took place on the fertilized egg. There was the continuation of this unsubdued mind from the past life.
So that past life’s unsubdued mind, the root of suffering, the ignorance of the truly existent “I,” continued from other past lives. The unsubdued mind continued from other past lives. So like this, as the continuity of the consciousness has no beginning, so the ignorance, the root, the very root of all the sufferings, the ignorance clinging to the truly existent “I,” the continuation of that didn’t have beginning. Because that didn’t have beginning, so the continuation of our suffering didn’t have beginning. So the confusion of our life that we experience with a human body, it is not the first time. A lot of up and down, depression, aggression, all these things, this is not the first time. Even if we live in the West, wherever we live, whatever problem we experience, relationship problems, all these things, it is not the first time. We experienced this numberless times in the past.
However, even though our suffering, the cause of suffering, the resultant suffering, true suffering, even though the continuation of that didn’t have a beginning, at this time, this period, this short time while we have this precious human body and not only that, we have met the perfect virtuous teacher who can reveal the complete path to enlightenment with nothing missing, the complete path, who has complete understanding without missing anything, the perfect complete path to enlightenment; and we also have the opportunity to hear, to receive the teachings and the opportunity to practice such a profound, infallible path, the method that ends suffering. So we should not waste the opportunity while we have all these three, having met such a qualified virtuous teacher and from one’s own side having a precious human body, which can practice and has met the teaching, and having the opportunity to practice the methods that end the suffering, the infallible method that definitely ends suffering if one can practice it.
From one’s own side if one practices, from the side of the method, from the side of the teaching there is no misleading at all, except if from the side of the practitioner one doesn’t practice this infallible method that definitely ends the suffering. So anyway if one practices such an infallible perfect method, the teaching of Buddha, even though the continuation of suffering has no beginning, but you, yourself can make it end.
I think I stop here.
Lecture 3: November 15th pm
[Prayers, including praise to Manjushri]
Just briefly mentioning at this point, for clear understanding—more details on this point about the object of ignorance, true existence, might come gradually in the future, more details on this subject, but at the moment it is just to start, to have a brief idea.
This way it is clear, why we believe, “I am here in this tent at Kopan, I am here at Kopan, I am in Nepal.” Each person, each of us believes, “I am in Nepal now.” Where is it? At Kopan, at Kopan on this hill, in the meditation hut or whatever it is called. Then, “I am sitting on this meditation cushion,” or “I am sitting on this mattress or this cold ground.” However, the reason we say “I am here, I am in Nepal,” or “I am at Kopan,” there is no other reason to say that I am here, no other reason, nothing else except for the reason of the labeling base, the aggregates, the group of body and mind—what is called the five aggregates—the group of the five aggregates, the group of body and mind, just to make it simple. No reason except this labeling base being here.
This physical body, the labeling base, the physical body, is sometimes there, sometimes not there. It changes. At the moment we have this shape called a human being, two legs and two hands, standing up, without tails—then somebody might have tails. I think it should be checked up; maybe short tails. I am joking, anyway. Not crawling. It doesn’t matter. However, sentient beings who are called human beings, the consciousness abiding at the moment, like renting a house, living in the rented house. Soon we have to leave that house to go to another house, we get kicked out. It changes. At the moment we have this shape, you know, called a human being. So consciousness abides in this body, at the moment inside this body, inside this form. Then, after some time, this consciousness migrates, the continuity of this consciousness migrates to another body, according to how we lived life every day, according to those actions of body, speech, and mind, done with good motive, bad motive.
Like this, the physical body sometimes is there, sometimes is not there. Sometimes there is a physical body, sometimes there is no physical body. Sometimes there is only consciousness, then there are other aggregates that are not the physical body, there are the five aggregates, so even though there is no physical body there are the other aggregates. However, there is always continuity of consciousness, the aggregates: the labeling base.
So, the continuity of consciousness, this present life’s consciousness continued from the past life. Like the continuity of today’s consciousness continued from yesterday, like that the continuity of consciousness has no beginning. As the labeling base, the consciousness, the continuity of that has no beginning, so the “I,” the self, which is labeled on that, the continuity of that also has no beginning. So like this, the continuity of the consciousness has no end. As it has no beginning it doesn’t have end, the continuity of consciousness.
If we do not change our mind, if we don’t practice Dharma, if we don’t change our mind, if we don’t do something with this mind, if we don’t eliminate the ignorance of true existence, the root of suffering, the creator of all the suffering that each of us experiences, if we don’t do something with it, we don’t eliminate this, if we always keep this, if we always keep this in our heart, if we do not change this, then endlessly, endlessly, consciousness always continues. If we do not do something, if we don’t change the mind, if we don’t make ourselves able to eliminate completely the ignorance of true existence—the root of suffering—then continuously, endlessly we experience suffering in samsara. As the continuity of consciousness has no end, there is no time that it ceases; it always continues, so there is always self, there is always continuity of the self that is labeled on that, that exists by labeling on that, there is always continuity of the “I.”
So you see if we don’t practice Dharma, if we don’t do something with this mind, if we keep always same mind, controlled, hallucinated, always under the control of delusion and karma, always hallucinating with this ignorance of true existence, if we live always in this world, then endlessly we experience suffering in samsara. But if you practice Dharma, if you change this, if you eliminate the ignorance of true existence then this consciousness, instead of continuously suffering, transmigrating in the different bodies, in different samsaric bodies, instead of that, this continuity of consciousness goes to the state of omniscient mind. The continuity of this present consciousness goes to omniscient mind, is able to approach, able to reach the omniscient mind, able to become omniscient mind. The continuity of this present consciousness is able to become omniscient mind, the holy mind of Buddha, which is devoid of all mistakes and obscurations and perfected in all realizations, in all understandings. Once the continuity of this consciousness becomes that, then the self, which is labeled on that, the self that exists on that, becomes Buddha. The mind becomes omniscient mind, the self which exists on that, on those aggregates, which is labeled on that—that “I,” as it is living in the meaning of the Buddha, also it receives the name “Buddha.”
Now our mind is under the control of the unsubdued mind, of ignorance and karma. It is not free from that. So the self, the “I” that exists by labeling on that is a samsaric being, a suffering being. And also a sentient being having obscurations.
When this mind becomes omniscient mind, when the continuity of this consciousness becomes that, when it approaches the state of omniscient mind, then the base is that—the omniscient mind, the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, and the absolute nature of that omniscient mind is called svabhavakaya. It is completely pure, omniscient mind, which is the continuity of this present consciousness. We could say it is just a way of talking about the future, about the future omniscient mind, what you are going to achieve, just talking about that. The omniscient mind is the continuity of this present consciousness that is completely pure of all the obscurations and perfected in all the understanding. Also the absolute nature of that omniscient mind is also completely pure, and at the same time completely pure. So the omniscient mind itself is the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya; the absolute nature of that is svabhavakaya, ngo wo nyi ku, or the svabhavakaya, the state of self-nature. They translate into the holy body of the self-nature, but it is not a body like this, it is a state, the state of self-nature, svabhavakaya.
Now, our mind or consciousness is not oneness with the obscurations. It is not oneness with this ignorance, it is not oneness with the anger and it is not oneness with the attachment. It is not oneness with the unsubdued mind, it is not oneness. Like the mirror is not oneness with the dirt, it is temporarily obscured by the dirt. Like that, the mind is obscured, it is not oneness with the obscurations but it is temporarily obscured by these veils. It is temporarily obscured by these veils such as the unsubdued mind and the obscurations; obscurations such as the obscuration to the omniscient mind, which is the more subtle one. The unsubdued mind obscuration is the grosser; the obscuration to omniscient mind is the obscuration that mainly disturbs to achieve the omniscient mind, not so much liberation from samsara.
So our present mind is temporarily obscured by these two veils. So it is not pure. Like the mirror that is covered by dust is not clean, like the white cloth that is covered by the dirt of the body is not clean; like that the mind is not clean, the mind is not pure. It is similar.
The absolute nature of the mind, the absolute nature of our present mind is pure. One can say that the absolute nature of the mind is pure because it is not oneness with the obscurations, in that sense. However it is not pure, it is not stainless, it is stained by obscurations; the absolute nature of the present mind is stained by obscurations.
By practicing the remedy, by generating the remedy-path in the mind, then, you see, one removes the two obscurations, and then the mind becomes omniscient mind, the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, and the absolute nature of that becomes the svabhavakaya, the state of the self-nature, which is called enlightenment.
I think you heard a lot about these two terms. My talk somehow went this way. I think you have heard many times these two types—the rang shin ney rig and the gye gyur gyi rig. I think you might have heard this many times. One is buddha-nature or the clear light nature of mind; the absolute nature of the mind, called buddha-nature, rang shin ney rig, the type of absolute nature. Then gye gyur gyi rig, the type that causes enlightenment, is the present mind, the continuity of this present mind that goes to enlightenment by practicing Dharma, by following the path; that is what it is, this is it, mind, this mind, whose nature is clear and knowing.
The causative phenomena, which brings the result, which benefits, which is useful to bring the result, has three divisions: the matter, then the knowing, then the phenomena that are neither matter or knowing, so three things. The knowing, that which is knowing—matter, relating to the aggregates, the body is matter, substantial, which can be seen by the eye but there are aggregates that cannot be seen by the eye, which are not tangible, which cannot be seen by the eye, but can be an object of clairvoyance, like if somebody who has clairvoyance can read or see the level of mind or what the person is thinking. It cannot be touched with the hands; it is not an object of the five senses. It is the mind becoming the object of mind, of consciousness.
So, the knowing. In regards to the aggregates on which the self is labeled, on which the self exists, there is the body and there is knowing, the knowing phenomena. The body is something that has shape and color, which can be seen by the sense of eye. The knowing is formless and colorless, which contains and includes all the positives, loving compassion, wisdom, all these positive parts and all the negatives like ignorance, anger and attachment.
Knowing phenomena contain all these, the fifty-one secondary minds, the different types of thought. There can be many branches of thoughts like this, the negative side and the positive side. All this goes in the part of the knowing phenomena. The meaning and definition of knowing phenomena is clarity and perceiving.
The delusions, the anger, attachment, and ignorance, don’t go to omniscient mind, but this consciousness, even though it is obscured by these veils, by depending on and generating the remedy of the path then this consciousness, this continuity of this mind goes to omniscient mind. So this consciousness, this mind, which is clear and perceiving, is the gye gyur gyi rig, the type that becomes the cause of enlightenment. Literally, the type that becomes development but by saying “enlightenment” it makes it much easier. However, the causative phenomena that can become enlightenment, gye gyur gyi rig, the second one.
What I am saying is… that’s right. I am lost in my point like the Indian train station. So, you see, the point of what I am saying so far is that the continuity of consciousness has no beginning, the continuity of consciousness has no end. So the continuity of the “I,” the “I” that exists on the aggregates—the point is this, what I am trying to clarify is that the body, even this present body, after it becomes ashes, it is strewn on the flowers, in the parks, in the gardens, in the rivers, then after some time we can’t see, can’t find anything, not even the ashes. However, there is the continuity of consciousness and the aggregates, whether it has entered another body or not. Since there are aggregates and consciousness existing, so there is self, there is the continuity of the “I” existing on that. How? By merely labeling on that—and that is difficult to understand at the moment, but it is like this.
You see, when somebody dies, when somebody is dead, the body is in the grave, in the tomb or in the grave, and the nice flowers around the tomb, or what do you call it? Tomb, tomb, heh? Tomb? Tombstone. Nice flowers are planted around, especially on Sundays. However, you don’t point out “my mother is still here,” people don’t say “my mother is here.” Even at the house, if your mother died, if somebody, your mother, your father or whoever, died last night, even if the body is on the bed this morning, on that comfortable bed, then if somebody comes along and bangs on the door, “Is your father at home?” then you slowly say, whispering, “My father died last night.” This happens when he does not breathe, when the people in the family discover that his senses don’t do any function any more.
You see, normally in the world, even though there is the body, in general people, even though they don’t know exactly what it means, they don’t know the process of the death exactly, the evolution of the death, even if they don’t know exactly that the gross consciousness absorbs, then the subtle mind becomes visible, and then it leaves from the heart, from the indestructible seed, and then comes out either from the lower doors or from the upper doors of the body, even though the person doesn’t know those processes exactly, doesn’t know them clearly, but generally in the world even though there is the body but when there is no mind, when the mind is separated from the body, when the body doesn’t do any functions, they believe or they call it dead. “Such and such is dead.”
Then by clairvoyance, maybe you see that the consciousness migrated into the calf, the cow-baby, the calf. The father’s consciousness migrated, has taken the body of a calf, a cow-body. Then somebody who has clairvoyance, either born with that knowledge, or the clairvoyance that is generated through meditation, however, somebody who is able to see, to recognize these things would say, “This family’s father, this calf…” No, I choose the American, not the English. The one who has clairvoyance, who can see the past and future life, would say, “This calf is this family’s father.” “This family’s father was born as a calf” or a fish in their swimming-pool. Anyway, the body is changed, there is a different body, but the continuity of that consciousness entered this body, the continuity of consciousness joined this, migrated into this body. So because of that, the father was born as a calf, because of the continuity of the consciousness, which migrated into that particular body.
The point of what I’m saying is this: wherever the consciousness is, there is the self, there is the “I.” Wherever the consciousness exists, wherever the consciousness goes, the self, the “I” that is labeled on that, which exists on that, also goes. So it is interesting to find out, to check on the body that is left in the grave—on that there is no self, but on the consciousness, wherever the consciousness is, on that there is the self. This you can check why, why it is. Why the self doesn’t exist on the body. When the mind and body are separated, the “I,” the self doesn’t exist on the body but it exists on the consciousness, on the aggregates of consciousness—why this is.
I would say it is similar with this flower. At present, now, my “I,” self, doesn’t exist on this flower, because my consciousness has not entered this flower, has not migrated in this flower. Let’s say a hair, let’s put it also this way, the hair in the water, somebody’s hair thrown in the water. When my consciousness has not migrated into that hair, on that I wouldn’t think “I.” I don’t label “I” on that as long as my consciousness is not there, migrated into that. That doesn’t happen, to label “I” on that while my consciousness is not in that, not with that. But whenever my consciousness entered in that hair, due to my karma, the condition is there, due my karma to have such a body in the shape of a hair, then just like this, on these aggregates of body and mind “I” is labeled. On the action of these aggregates “I” is labeled, each time, “I want to talk, drive people crazy, make them more confused,” “Now I want to eat,” “Now I want to sleep,”—labeling “I” on this, on these aggregates, on the actions of the aggregates. Now as we label on these aggregates, the body and mind, on these aggregates we label “I”. “I, I, I, I,” we label on the aggregates, “I am going to do this and that,” or “I did this and that,” “I,”—past, present and future. Like this we cling that there is an “I” existing now on these aggregates. While the consciousness has not migrated in that hair, like this the body has not migrated. In the same way that we don’t label “I” on this hair, I don’t think there is “I” on that, “There is me on that, I don’t think so.” But whenever our consciousness migrated into that hair, then, in the same way as we feel now, as we think on these aggregates now, same thing. In the same way we cling to the thought that there is an “I” on that, that there is an “I” on these aggregates: the hair, the body, hair, and the consciousness. Like that.
So it is not so much what other people label, it is actually your own experience, it is to do with your own mind. What I am saying is that it is similar—when the consciousness has left the hair, then one doesn’t think that on this hair there is an “I,” there is “me” existing. I don’t label “I” on that and I don’t cling to the thought that there is an “I” that exists from its own side on that hair. It is similar with the dead body, after the consciousness has left, after the consciousness has separated from the body.
It is also similar with the flower. Anyway there is no need to repeat, you might have gotten a clear idea, but this is just to make it clear, some new people might have doubt, so just to make it clear. If my consciousness has entered this flower like my consciousness entered this body, migrated into this body, like this—I die, my body is here, but my consciousness enters this flower. This example is just to benefit some other doubts. At that time I am not a plant. What am I saying, yes, that’s right, at that time I am not a plant. Now it is a plant. Now this is a plant, but when by my karma my consciousness enters this flower, migrates into this flower like it did into this body, then I have a body shaped as a flower. But I am not a plant; I am a living being, not a plant. Like this. But when my consciousness has left that body then at that time it can be a plant. However, it is like this. As the consciousness migrates into the flower, the hair or the flower or whatever the material is, like this body, at that time even though before there was no clinging to that material, to this flower, to that hair, to that piece of leather, that piece of leather in the water, before there was no thought clinging to the “I,” labeling “I” on that, but whenever the labeling base, the consciousness is with that, then automatically there is this thought labeling that “I,” and also there is the “I” that appears as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side. Then the mind, the ignorance clings to this as completely true.
So you see, wherever the consciousness goes, on that consciousness there is the thought that the “I” exists, the self exists. How? By merely labeling, it exists. It exists by merely labeling on that. And the “I” that is merely labeled on that consciousness appears as if it exists from its own side without being merely labeled, and the ignorance clings to this as true.
As I mentioned yesterday, as consciousness has been continuing so far without beginning, it is the same thing with this ignorance that clings to the “I,” which is merely labeled on the consciousness but appears as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side. Then we cling, completely cling to this as true. So this ignorance also has continued, the continuity of that has existed without beginning. But the interesting thing in what I am saying is this, the very interesting thing is this: it doesn’t matter whatever aggregates, the aggregates, group of body and mind, or just even the consciousness, either way, with the body or without the body, the interesting thing is this. The “I” that exists on this consciousness is unchangeable. “Unchangeable” is not clear, but what I am saying is that it is something that cannot be stopped—the “I” existing on the consciousness, on the aggregate, the consciousness. The reason it exists on the consciousness, the “I”, the self, the reason it exists on the consciousness, on these aggregates, the reason it exists, the reason it is there, that is the most interesting part, that subject—especially if you realize it. When we realize this it is the most interesting part, the most interesting subject, when you see it really clearly, how it exists, how the “I” exists on the consciousness.
At the moment, the way that we believe now, the way that we cling to the “I,” how it exists when we talk about it, the way that our mind clings, “I do this and I do that,” “I am doing this and that,” “I am going to do this and that,” the way that we believe now, the way that we cling now is something that doesn’t exist at all, something that is not there at all—at all. Actually, when we are talking about “I do this and that,” actually according to the way we perceive, the way we view, according to that we are always talking about the “I” that doesn’t exist, we are always talking about the life story, the suffering or the happiness of “I” that doesn’t exist, Lama Zopa, George or Peter, who does not exist at all.
It is inexpressible, it is inexpressible the way the “I” exists on these aggregates. I mean you can simply say that it exists by labeling with thought, motive, and with words, name, you can simply talk about it in that way, you can simply say as it is explained in the scriptures, you can say that that is how it exists on the aggregates. But when you really discover, when you really see the way it exists, the way the “I” exists on these aggregates, when you really see it, clearly, by realizing the non-existent “I,” by realizing the “I” that we cling to now on these aggregates is in fact empty. The “I” that appears as if it exists, the “I” that is merely labeled on these aggregates appearing as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side, by realizing this “I” that looks as if it exists from its own side as empty, empty on these aggregates, completely empty, it doesn’t exist at all, when you see this as completely empty, the “I” that we are clinging to now on these aggregates, completely empty…..
<end of tape>
…then you don’t need to worry that I am falling in an extreme, I am falling in nihilism. You don’t need to get hung up in the words; you don’t need to hang up in the words, “Oh, I exist by labeling.”
Without need to worry, without even trying to think of that, “I exist,” without need to think about the existence of “I” at all, without attempting to think about the way of the existence of the “I” at all, just by realizing, right in that minute, in that second, just by realizing that this “I,” which looks as if it exists from its own side is empty, completely empty of existing from its own side; whenever you realize this, at the moment of seeing it as completely empty on these aggregates, automatically by the force of that, by the cause of realizing the “I” that exists from its own side as being empty of existing from its own side, uncontrollably, without thinking, without need to think about “I” at all—“I definitely exist” or “merely labeled” or all these things, all these words—uncontrollably, without freedom, uncontrollably the existence of the “I” comes so powerfully, so strongly on these aggregates. Uncontrollably, so powerfully, so strongly, by the force, by the cause of realizing that this “I” that exists from its own side is empty, that the “I” exists under the control of name, powerfully comes, without any attempt. You meditated to realize it is empty, you put your effort into realizing that the “I” looks as if it exists from its own side, to try to see that as empty. In other words, you don’t particularly attempt to see, to discover, to realize that the “I” exists under the control of name. You don’t particularly attempt that. What you attempt is to see the “I,” which looks as if it exists from its own side, to see that as empty. Then just as a result, when you discover it is empty, as a result, that the “I” exists under the control of name, that the “I” definitely exists under the control of name, comes so powerfully, uncontrollably. On these aggregates, merely labeled, under the control of name; it comes so powerfully that it exists under the control of name.
How you see, now how it appears is as an “I” that exists not being merely labeled, not under the control of name, as if it exists from its own side—that is how it appears from above these aggregates and that is how we cling. But that time, when you realize that the “I” is empty of existing from its own side, at that time then you see the “I” so powerfully existing under the control of name. So that time as you have discovered, as you have realized how the “I” exists on these aggregates, under the control of name, so powerfully, so then, similar way, instead of falling into nihilism that “I” doesn’t exist, that there is no such thing as “I” existing, instead of rising such heresy, instead of that, much more faith in the existence of the “I.”
Similarly, as the “I” exists, in a similar way it benefits so much to have more faith in karma—from the virtuous actions that one accumulates one receives the result of happiness, from the non-virtuous actions that one accumulates, one receives the result of suffering. It causes one to have more faith, unchangeable faith in ordinary karma, instead of falling into nihilism, and the heresy that they don’t exist.
Like the experience of the “I,” how the “I” exists on these aggregates, like that, in the same way you can realize about karma, how the virtuous actions and non-virtuous actions exist, how happiness and suffering exist. In the same way you can realize how they exist by being merely labeled and by being merely labeled how they do all the functions, doing the function of cause, bringing the result, all these things.
So my conclusion is this, according to the way I started the talk in the beginning. The reason we say, “I am here” is because the aggregates are here at Kopan. So there is no other reason, only because the aggregates are here, the aggregates of the body and mind are here, so because of that “I,” “I am here.” It is in Nepal so that is why we call it, “I am in Nepal.” So, the same thing, in the morning, when the body, the aggregate of body stands up, on that we label, “I am getting up.” As the aggregate of body is doing the function of wearing clothes, dressing up, then, “I am wearing clothes.” Then, similarly according to the activity of the aggregates we label, “I am washing.” Then like this, according to the action of the aggregate of eating food, eating breakfast, “I am having breakfast.” On that it is labeled, “I am taking breakfast.” Then, as the aggregates are doing sitting meditation, as the body is sitting in meditation posture and the mind is thinking, then on that it is labeled “I am meditating.” When the aggregates go to bed, the body is laid down in the sleeping bag, the mind trying to not have any object, to not be aware, to stop the views, the visions, “I am sleeping.” Like this from morning until night according to the body and mind, aggregates, whatever action it does, then, “I am doing this and that.” By that reason it is labeled, “I am doing this and that.”
Like this, the same thing, this month, one day’s biography of self is merely labeled on the aggregates, on the activities of the aggregates. The same thing, the biography of oneself this week is merely labeled on the aggregates. Same thing this month’s, this year’s biography of oneself, whatever one did is labeled according to the activities of the aggregates. The same thing from birth until death, all the biography, “I did this and that,” “I suffered,” “I was very happy,” such and such, “I enjoyed so much,” all these things “I am happy,” “I am suffering,” all these things, upset and depressed, all these things, excited, all these things, whatever action of “I,” the work of “I,” all this is merely labeled according to the activities of the aggregates done from birth-time until death-time.
Same thing like this from beginningless past lives until now, “I did this and that,” “I suffered,” “I was born in such and such a realm, experienced such and such sufferings.” “I was born in the human realms, experienced such and such,” had such perfections, pleasures in deva’s realms, all this, whatever experience I had, whatever action I did from the beginningless past lives until now, all this is merely labeled according to the activities of the aggregates, according to that; so like this up to enlightenment, merely labeled according to the activities of the aggregates.
So this is it, how the “I” is like a dream, how the “I” is like illusory. This is the main thing to understand, this is what I am emphasizing, how the “I” is merely labeled on these aggregates, how the “I” is dependent on these aggregates, merely labeled on these aggregates—that is the main emphasis of how I started the talk.
You should question yourself. This morning these aggregates were doing the function of eating breakfast and last night of sleeping. But you could call it, “I am sleeping,” “I am sleeping,” all the time. As you call last night, “I am sleeping,” this morning you call, “I am eating breakfast,” you could you call all the time, “I am eating breakfast.” Why don’t you call? As you are calling that time, “I am eating breakfast,” why do you change the letters when you meditate? Why don’t you still call it, “I am eating breakfast?” When you go to bed, why do you call it, “I am sleeping?” Why don’t you call it, “I am eating breakfast?” Why don’t you call it that? From this you can understand. You can say, “I am still in the mother’s womb.” Even when you are dying you can say, “I am still in the mother’s womb.” Why don’t you call? Why do you change, why do you change all the time? “I am doing this and that different actions,” why do you change all the time? From this you can understand, when you question like this. From this you can understand the whole biography, “I do this, I do that,” “I have this suffering,” all these things are merely labeled on these aggregates.
Yes, I think I stop here.
Lecture 4: November 17th am
As I mentioned before, it is usual to think in this way. It is clear, if we relate it to ourselves, to our own daily life activities, your own aggregates and the activities of that, so if you meditate like that, on the “I,” the existing “I,” how the “I,” the self, is dependent on that and the activities of that, it makes very clear and it is more effective.
Now we are sitting, one is sitting. If somebody asks a question: “Oh, I am sitting.” No other reason except that the aggregate, the body, is sitting. “I am meditating”—no other reason, not any secret, hidden or other reason besides that the mind is meditating on the path, trying to make the mind familiar or trying to transform it into the path. By the reason of the mind meditating, on that it is called “I.” “I” is labeled on the aggregates, the body and mind, so the mind is doing the activity, so, “I am meditating.” The action of the “I” exists in that way, as the labeling base, the mind is meditating, so like this.
As there is a labeling base, the aggregates, existing, so therefore, because of that reason the self, the “I” exists. How? By being merely labeled on that.
I am not going to mention the details about why it is called “merely.” There is a very clear definition of that. In order to understand that, one should explain the four schools, the different wrong views and the refuted objects of the four schools. First of all very gross, then a little more subtle than that, then more subtle and the last school is very subtle wrong view. The refuted object of the fourth school, the Middle Way School, has two; one is Prasangika. The actual refuted object, as the Prasangika School explains, this is it; in order to realize shunyata, the infallible right view, this is it what we should recognize. As long as we don’t recognize this according to Prasangika school, this refuted object, the truly existent “I,” as long as we do not recognize this, then realizing shunyata is blocked, there is no way to realize the meaning of selflessness.
By going through these explanations then you will understand clearly the reason, the meaning of saying merely labeled. However, the explanation of that might come after some time, those different levels of refuted objects, and the different schools.
The Middle Way doctrine school has two—I don’t know how to say it in Sanskrit—what are they called in Sanskrit? Svatantrika and Prasangika.
The philosophers of the Svatantrika school say that the “I” and existence should have inherent existence; they should exist from their own side. If there is not something existing from its own side, there is no way that it can exist and then it becomes non-existent. It becomes non-existent. “I” and all the rest of existence, if there is not something, if there is not some existence from its own side, inherent existence, then there is no way that anything can exist—then it becomes non-existent.
So the understanding and theory of the philosophers of this school is this: “I” and all existence are labeled, there is no such thing as “merely” labeled by thought and name. They exist by labeling but also exist from their own side, together.
For instance, sometimes, for somebody who is studying Madhyamaka, if we check we cannot contradict it, it is obvious, it is so clear, it is true. We cannot contradict that the “I” is labeled by thought and name. We cannot contradict it, it is so clear that it is labeled by thought and name. It is so clear, I mean we cannot contradict, except such an incredibly foolish person, otherwise we cannot say no. The child, the baby who is called Reagan, the one day, two day old baby called Reagan, I mean it is so obvious, it is so clear that it is labeled by mind, by thought and name, it is so clear. Except if the person is crazy. If the person is crazy then he may insist, he may push, he may say anything—even that he doesn’t exist, whatever—even while he is seeing Reagan he might say Reagan doesn’t exist.
However, that is true, and you see very clearly, Reagan, “I,” hand, or leg is labeled by thought and name—that is so clear.
But while you accept that, while you know that, while you know that the existence of these do depend on thought and name labeling, they are labeled, you know that, while you accept that, while you know that, intellectually understanding—I would not say realized, it is not that the person has realized that they are conventional truth, the all-obscuring truth; without having realized the absolute truth there is no way to realize conventional truth, the all-obscuring truth. Just that alone doesn’t mean the person accepts, that he has agreed or understands that it cannot exist without thought labeling, thought and name labeling; he has some understanding of that, but just that alone doesn’t mean he realizes that it exists under the control of name.
While we accept this, while we understand a little bit that it cannot exist without thought and name labeling, this Reagan and this “I” and all these things, if you check, at the same time in our view we see something that exists from its own side. While we are talking about it, that they are labeled by thought and name, while we are talking about that, thinking about that, at the same time something exists from its own side, there is inherent existence from its own side, from the side of the “I,” from the side of the Reagan.
So the philosophers of rang gyu pa, the Svatantrika, their theory is that “I” and things exist by labeling, and also they have existence from their own side.
In fact, according to the Prasangika school, if there is existence from its own side, from the side of the “I,” from the side of the Reagan, if there is inherent existence, then the “I” and other existents should exist only from their own side, without being labeled by thought and name, without depending on conditions, without depending on the labeling base. So in fact, in the evolution, if there is existence from its own side it would be like this.
So according to the Prasangika school if there is existence from the side of the “I,” from the side of any existence, then it would be like this: completely independent, existing by itself alone, existing by itself without depending on anything, without depending on any other, without depending on the labeling base, on the thought and name that labels. So “merely,” “merely labeled.” “I” is merely labeled on the aggregates; “Reagan” is merely labeled on the aggregates of the Reagan. “Merely” purely, completely cuts off any existence from its own side, any existence from the side of Reagan, any existence from the side of the “I.” It completely cuts it off, saying “merely labeled by thought and name”.
I just mention this now: on the basis of this, as you meditate and as you study more then eventually, gradually it will become more and more clear. More and more you see how “I” and things are merely labeled. Not only they are labeled, but merely labeled. Especially when you find the understanding of “emptiness-only,” especially when you realize, either on the aggregates or on any of the aggregates, when you realize existence and emptiness together, unified—the appearance and the emptiness together, unified and inseparable. Whenever you realize this, whenever you realize the refuted object “I” on these aggregates, the “I” that appears as if it exists from its own side, when you realize this is empty on these aggregates, then as a result you see how the “I” is merely labeled by thought and name on these aggregates—clearly.
I guess some people didn’t get, before when I was talking about this point “powerfully,” how you see the “I” powerfully existing, I think, I guess, for some people it might have sounded like when you realize this “I” is empty of existing from its own side on these aggregates, that the ignorance of clinging to the “I” as truly existent is powerfully coming or something, I don’t know, whatever. It might have sounded some other way, it might have sounded opposite.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama used to say in the teachings when he talked about shunyata, “I” and things, whatever, on the existence of such as “I,” there is no existence from its own side, there is no inherent existence on this; there are infinite logical reasons to identify that “I” and things have no existence from their own side, that there is no inherent existence. But in regards the side to prove that “I” and things exist, there is no reason. No reason. In regards the side that there is no existence from its own side on the “I” and all existence, there are infinite logical reasons to identify.
The reason the “I” exists on these labeling aggregates, the labeling base, the aggregates—there is no other reason, as I mentioned before. The reason I am now at Kopan—today I am at Kopan, in this meditation hut. There is no other reason except that the aggregates are here at Kopan in this meditation hut.
Just because the only reason is that the aggregates are here and on them the “I” is merely labeled by thought and name, one should be satisfied just by that that “I” exists. By mixing the flour with water and making it round, you label it bread. By putting it into the machine, making it long, by making very long ones, then on that particular shape made of flour, on that you label noodles. Then, when that is mixed with tomatoes and either mushrooms or meat, inside containing that, then covered, either covered or underneath, different styles depending on the cook I think, depending on the cook’s interest, then it is called pizza. Then when it is wrapped, you make the dough flat and then you put meat or potatoes, or vegetables, whatever it is, inside, then you close it up, and then it is called momo, the Tibetan food momo.
So you label on that according to the different shape that is made of flour or the different stuff, by what is labeled on it you have to just be satisfied that it is a momo. That is momo, that is pizza, that is the noodle, that is bread, that is French bread… whatever it is. You have to just be satisfied with that. If you search well, “Where is the noodle, I want to find out, where is the noodle, where is the momo, where is the pizza?” If you want to search, “Where is the pizza?” then you won’t get the pizza, you won’t find pizza and you won’t get pizza. On that particular shape that material is made in that way, so on that labeling base, when the labeling base is formed, “pizza” is merely labeled on that by thought and name. So on that it is merely believed that this is pizza or this and that.
By being merely labeled one should be satisfied that this is pizza, that this is bread, like this. If one searches for where it is, without being satisfied by that, if you start to search, then that becomes checking the absolute truth.
And also it is not that things can exist just only by labeling. The way that things exist is also not like that, just only by labeling. Then you could collect all the Katmandu garbage and pile it up at your house, and then believe it is gold. You can call it gold, you can label it gold or whatever you want to call it, whatever you want to label, hashish or whatever it is. You see, if anything can exist by simply labeling, only by the reason of being labeled, then it is very easy. Then when you have problems, if you do not want to see somebody, if the police are coming, then you call it, “I don’t exist!” It is very easy, you don’t need to run away, you don’t need to close the door, you don’t need to scream or you don’t need to escape to the mountains or whatever it is, just simply you call it, you label, “I don’t exist.” That’s enough. Whatever name is in your passport you call your body that—on your aggregates you call that name, but they don’t exist. Then the police won’t see it, and they have nothing to capture, nothing to put in prison—however, not like this.
There are three things that need to be gathered. In the scriptures it is explained that the base on which you label, the labeling base, should be a true base. And what you are labeling on that should be familiar, valid, valid knowledge of a valid mind—it should be familiar to other worldly beings’ valid minds.
It means like when the abbot gave the name, Thubten Zopa. On these aggregates he labeled Thubten Zopa, so that I am Thubten Zopa. This is common, it is known by my abbot’s valid mind—just an example to explain, so that from this seed you can expand, just an example—then the other valid mind cannot harm this, cannot find that this is not Thubten Zopa. It cannot harm, it cannot negate, saying that this is not Thubten Zopa. And the absolute wisdom analyzing the absolute truth doesn’t find a mistake with the fact that I am Thubten Zopa. The absolute wisdom analyzing, realizing shunyata doesn’t find a mistake in that I am Thubten Zopa.
You see if the absolute wisdom realizing the absolute truth, shunyata, analyzing that, finds a mistake in the fact that I am Thubten Zopa, it means Thubten Zopa would be a truly existent Thubten Zopa. The absolute wisdom is the wisdom that sees that the truly existent Thubten Zopa, which is in fact empty, as empty; seeing that which is empty in fact, as empty. So if the absolute wisdom sees Thubten Zopa as a mistake, if it negates, can give harm, in that case Thubten Zopa would be truly existent. But the absolute wisdom doesn’t find a mistake, it cannot negate, so Thubten Zopa is not truly existent. It exists by being merely labeled by thought and name.
And, for example, if somebody sees Thubten Zopa sitting on this throne having a one-mile tail, even if one person sees that but many other valid minds, true minds, don’t—they see Thubten Zopa who is sitting on this throne without a one mile tail. So you see in regards to having the one-mile tail many other valid minds can refute it. Many other valid minds see that Thubten Zopa sitting on this throne does not have a tail, so they discover it’s a mistake. They don’t see it, so the other person’s view, that person who sees Thubten Zopa having a one-mile tail has a wrong view, it is a mistake. It is not agreeable with most others’ valid knowledge, valid mind.
An example relating to yourself: From a distance you see a mannequin. From far away you see that there is somebody standing there talking, there is somebody making a phone call. You see one young girl making a phone call there. You see it from far away, but when you come near you don’t find the human being that you believed in before, that young girl making a phone call—that becomes empty. It disappears, it becomes empty. When you come close it is plastic, it is a figure made of plastic and holding a telephone, holding the machine, the phone.
So now the one that he used to see from a distance as a person, that young girl, even though this person himself labeled, “Oh, that is a young girl making a phone call there outside the shop,” even though he labeled it like that, that young girl doesn’t exist. She doesn’t exist as this person comes nearby—the previous one becomes empty, that previous young girl becomes empty, the person sees that she doesn’t exist, that the young girl doesn’t exist on this figure. He and other people agree, it is agreeable—other valid minds see that this is not a living being, that this figure is a mannequin made of plastic. So that mannequin exists, but that young girl doesn’t exist. Even though it is labeled on that, it doesn’t exist. The mannequin that is agreed on by others, which other valid minds see as a mannequin, that exists. It is common, it is known to other valid minds, it doesn’t receive any harm from other valid minds. Even when this person himself sees his mistake, when he reaches near, when he sees it is a mannequin, his valid mind finds a mistake in his previous view of the young girl. His valid mind finds the mistake there, is able to harm the previous view of the woman, the young girl. So also others’ valid mind can harm to that view seeing the mannequin as a young girl, and also other valid minds can find mistakes in that view, because other valid minds see that the mannequin is not an actual human being.
Similarly, the “I”: on the perfect labeling base, the labeling base that is the valid perfect base, the “I” that is merely labeled on that is known to other valid minds and other valid minds cannot negate it, cannot find mistakes, cannot find that it is not “I.” And the absolute wisdom cannot negate it, cannot find mistakes or cannot negate it.
Simply just by labeling things cannot exist. For things to exist they should be have these three qualities—then it exists.
I think pee-pee break.
You collect, you buy many pieces of brass and go to sell them as gold. You go to sell them, labeling them gold—you call it gold, you tell everybody this is gold. “This is gold,” then you sell it. Then you realize whether it needs these three qualities or not—these three qualities that I have just mentioned: being known to other valid minds; other valid minds not finding mistakes; and absolute wisdom not finding mistakes. If that brass has all these three qualities then you won’t have the problem of becoming a criminal; you won’t have the problem of selling brass, because actually what you are selling is gold. So you won’t get the blame, or become a criminal, or get into trouble and get punished for selling things that are not gold as gold, for cheating others by calling it gold, for calling this brass “gold.” If the material that you are selling has these three qualities you won’t have these problems.
If you think this way, if you use this example, than you can understand the need for these three qualities, how things need these three to exist, how they should be perfected in regards to these three qualities. If you think of such an example, if you relate to an example such as this, than you can understand, it is easy to understand.
However, without mentioning much, how powerfully the “I” exists on these aggregates; what I am saying is this. When you buy something in the West in the supermarket, you buy things in packets. Very easy, things in packets already cleaned. Here you buy things in kilos—if you buy food in the shops they weigh it. The main thing I want to express is that when they weigh it, whenever one side is heavier, the other side goes up. Automatically, when this side is heavier, the other one, the other side, the other point of the stick goes up. Why does the other side of the stick go up when the person is holding it like this, why does the other side of the stick goes up? One would simply say, anybody would simply say, because the other side is heavier, so it goes down and the other one goes up. When this is lighter, when that is heavier, automatically, when this goes down the other one goes up. This is because they are dependent on each other. Dependent. The other one is lighter than this, this one is heavier, so then this one goes down and the other one goes up. Dependent, it works by dependence—it is not because there is no connection between these two, it is because there is a connection, a link, they are dependent on each other so this one, the heavier one, goes down, and the other one, the lighter one, that top of the stick goes up. So, like that, it works by dependence, being under the control of dependence. One side goes down, the other side goes up when it is unbalanced; it happens by being under the control of dependence. Because it is dependent, it works in that way.
Similarly, just exactly like that, the “I” that appears to us now on these aggregates, whenever we realize this “I” that appears to us now as empty, on these aggregates there is an “I” that appears as if it exists from its own side, the “I” that is merely labeled on these aggregates appearing as not merely labeled but as if it exists from its own side, whenever you realize this “I” completely, from all sides completely empty, not half and half, not like that. The “I” that appears as truly existent, complete, not as part…
This might be easier. When you realize that this piece of rope—either in the early morning or in the evening time, in the shimmering time, in such a condition and also the position of the rope—what you used to believe before was a snake, when you see that there is no snake, with the light, when you come near with a torch, when you search—where is that snake on that piece of rope? When you find there is no snake, when you realize this, then it is not like half of the body of the snake doesn’t exist but half does exist on that rope. It is not like that, that a piece of that snake exists on that rope but most of the part of the body doesn’t exist on that rope—it is not like that. When you see the emptiness of the snake on that rope, when you see that the snake is empty on that rope, you see that the whole part of the snake’s body is empty. It is empty on that rope, nothing left, nothing left there. Similar, like that, on these aggregates, the “I” that appears as truly existent is completely empty from its own side.
Whenever you see this, right that minute whenever you see this, as a result, that becomes the cause. Realizing the truly existent “I” on these aggregates, realizing that the truly existent “I” is completely empty is the cause, and then by that power—like the way the stick works, the unbalanced stick—you experience that the “I” exists on these aggregates under the control of name, so powerfully. That “I” exists under the control of name—so powerfully it comes on these aggregates, without choice, without freedom. Like when the heavier part of the stick comes up without freedom and the lighter side goes down. Like that, when you realize it is empty, without choice, even if you don’t accept it with words, even if you say the “I” doesn’t exist, even if your philosophy is this, when you realize that the “I” on the aggregates is empty—that “I” that exists from its own side is empty of existing from its own side—without freedom, without choice the experience comes. Even though verbally, intellectually you say that, however the experience comes. When you realize the “I” that is really empty, which doesn’t exist, when you realize that, there is no choice, no freedom—you realize that the “I” exists, you seize it. And then the way it exists is under the control of name, and it so powerfully, so strongly comes on these aggregates. At that time you don’t see “I” from the side of the aggregates, you don’t see it, but definitely you see “I” on these aggregates. “I” exists on these aggregates—definitely you see that—under the control of name. This “under the control of name” is exact, the experience, like taking a picture of a person, like that, under the control of name.
At that time you don’t see the “I” from the side of the aggregates, the way you used to believe in it before, but you see the “I” there on the aggregates. Normally, when you realize shunyata, when you finish analyzing shunyata, when you realize shunyata, you don’t find there what you used to believe before. Somewhere where you do not expect that it exists, that you did not expect before, that you did not think about, that you didn’t have an idea about before—the place where it is, it doesn’t exist, but it does exist the place where it is not. It is like that; you see like this in time.
However, when we see like this, when we actually realize shunyata, the infallible right view, the absolute nature, when we realize this we will discover that the “I” that we used to believe in is now completely non-existent. At that time we will discover this. What we used to believe in, what we used to cling to—we discover that this is completely empty, non-existent. At that time you recognize the “I;” that how it appears now and what we used to cling to, the me or the “I,” is a complete hallucination.
However when you see this, that the “I” exists under the control of name, while the “I” is appearing on these aggregates, while the “I” is appearing to you, at the same time you see the “I” is empty of existing from its own side. You see it is empty.
While you see the “I” is dependent, while you see the “I” exists under the control of name, while you see the “I” is dependent on these aggregates, at the same time you see that the “I” is empty of existing from its own side. While you see on these aggregates, while you see the “I” is empty, empty of existing from its own side, you see clearly that it exists. While you see the “I” is empty, the “I” appears. You see the “I” existing in dependence on the aggregates. Even though the “I” appears as truly existent, you see it as empty of true existence. While you see the “I” as empty of true existence, the “I” appears as truly existent—like while you see the mirage in the distance, on the condition of the hot sun touching the sandy ground, while you are seeing the mirage at the same time, while there is appearance of water there, at the same time you see it’s empty of water, at the same time you know there’s not the slightest drop of water. While there’s the appearance of water in the mirage, at the same time you see that is empty, like this. While you are seeing there’s no water, there’s not even a drop of water, while you are seeing it is not water, there’s the appearance of water, being a mirage.
Like that, the way how this comes, how it appears to the mind or how it comes, it might come like this in the experience—I think it is like that.
So when you have such an experience like that, then you have incredible faith, you get incredible faith from the depths of your heart for the teachings, which talk about this subject, such as Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings—the way he emphasized so much the unification of emptiness and appearance, of dependent arising and emptiness, such as the teachings of the three principles of the path—many people here might have received teachings on that, have seen or read the words that say…
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[Tape missing; rest of Lecture 4 from notes]
…the words that say that whenever the object of the ignorance of self-existence dissolves, becomes empty, at that time the practitioner has entered the path pleasing the buddhas. It is experienced exactly the way it is explained in the teachings. So you develop incredible faith for Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the great pandits. Now you identified; first you only copied, “things are dependent, blah, blah, blah,” like this but now you know.
Where Lama Tsongkhapa says—we just make it loose, without making the translation tight—as long as the person finds the separation between the appearance, the unbetrayable dependent arising and the emptiness that is accepted as true, as long as the person finds the separation, and cannot unify it with emptiness, when he accepts that the “I” is empty of self existence, but cannot unify it with dependent arising, and he thinks he realized shunyata, no matter how much pride he has, still he has not unified the view of Shakyamuni Buddha. Whenever the person can put together an object, “I,” can put together these two without separation—just by seeing that this “I” is a dependent arising—the object of ignorance, the truly existent “I” completely dissolves, is empty. That time examining shunyata is finished. Especially these words are like taking a picture, like when you have a picture of a house and then you see the house. It is so clear, the teachings explain it so exactly, so unbelievable devotion arises, more inspiration to practice Dharma, more than before.
I think now I stop here.
Just to conclude the subject. Because of the reason that the aggregates are sitting here, so I am sitting; now after one or two minutes I am standing, I am eating food. There is no other reason than the reason that the aggregates are standing and doing the action of eating food. To make it more clear: without depending on the aggregates sitting, the body sitting, the “I” sitting cannot exist, there is no way the “I” is sitting, no way it can happen. And also without depending on the labeling thought and name on these aggregates sitting, there is no way that “I am sitting” can exist and no way “I” can exist. They have to meet—the aggregates sitting and thought and name. So by these meeting, then “I am sitting” comes out, “I am sitting” comes into existence. That is how it is dependent. Otherwise, if “I am sitting,” “I am making peepee,” if that is truly existent, if it is independent, without depending on the thought and name labeling, without depending on the aggregates doing the functions, then if it exists by itself, independently existing, “I am making peepee.” Then in that case all the time it would be, “I am making peepee.” So the action of “I” would all the time be making peepee.
Otherwise, if it is independent, merely peepee, without depending on thought and name, then all the time then I would be making peepee. Even though you are having a party in the hotel, eating food, if somebody asks what are you doing, “I am making peepee.” Then you should be in the toilet. Otherwise people think you are crazy; shouldn’t be at the table but in the toilet.
I think that’s all.
Lecture 5: November 17th pm
Some more details on this subject, on shunyata, the emptiness only, and also about the refuted object, that which is empty and which we should realize as empty—perhaps more explanations on this might happen, might come after some time. For the moment it is just that I did not plan or I did not mean to go over these things, just to give a brief explanation on the motive, on bodhicitta, that was the plan. Then somehow it slipped away into this, somehow it slipped out this way.
Thinking this way is also useful—how the whole thing, the “I,” the aggregates, how the whole entire thing exists by being labeled. How everything, how all existence exists by being merely labeled. Thinking this way is also useful. I exist by thought and name merely labeled on these aggregates; then also the aggregates, the labeling base, the aggregates themselves also exist by merely labeling. What is called aggregates, the labeling base aggregates exist by merely labeling on the group, the gathering, the collection of the five aggregates. The aggregates exist by merely labeling on this group of the five aggregates.
Then again, think in the same way about the aggregates of the physical body—that what is called body, what we get attached to, the body on which we think “I,” again this exists on the group of the parts of the body by thought and name, merely labeled. Then the parts, the labeling base, the parts of the body—the leg, arm, head, stomach—those parts exist on the labeling base, the group of their parts, by being merely labeled.
When we see a hand, there is a hand that exists from its own side, without depending on its parts. On this there is hand that is not labeled, which is not merely labeled on this. There is such a hand that does not depend on the parts, which is not merely labeled—even though in fact it is merely labeled on this. On the parts, on the group of parts, the pieces of this, fingers and all these things, inside the bones and the skin, all these together, even though they are merely labeled on this particular shape, “hand,” merely labeled on this, nothing exists from its own side, it is merely labeled on this by thought and name. But suddenly when you look at your hand, when you look at another’s hand, suddenly, if you check your view—how the hand appears, then on this there is a hand that does not depend on any parts, on anything, something that is not labeled, a hand that exists— I cannot put the exact expression from Tibetan term into English exactly, but something that exists independently, which exists from its own side.
It is the same thing when you look at other’s feet, when you see other’s feet. On that there is a foot, on that group, on that group of pieces, toes and heels and all these pieces—on that there is a foot without depending on those parts. On the group there is a foot that exists from its own side, without depending on any parts, without depending on the group of its parts and the thought and name that labels. However such as this hand or foot, which appears as if it exists from its own side, that is the non-existent hand, the non-existent foot.
Example: let’s say you are shaking hands in the night time, in the complete dark, without any light, in the complete dark room. If you would be shaking hands, in fact the hand exists by labeling on the group of parts, by labeling on that it exists. But when you shake hands in the dark room you don’t feel that you are shaking your hand to another hand which is merely labeled, you don’t feel, when you shake hands that you are shaking your hand to another hand that is merely labeled. When you are shaking hands you feel you are shaking hands with a hand that exists from its own side, which is not merely labeled. Not merely labeled, this is what you feel. When you shake hands in a dark room, when you touch it, you don’t feel that you are shaking a hand or touching a hand that is merely labeled, you don’t feel that. You feel you are shaking a hand that is not merely labeled, which exists from its own side. So that hand, such as that hand is the refuted object. Such as that hand is the non-existent hand.
There is not much point to talk on this subject in more detail. However, what I was going to say is even the parts of this body exist by merely labeling on the groups of their parts.
Checking further, it comes to atoms. Atoms depend on particles. Then depending on the continuation, then comes depending on the fertilized egg, just checking back the evolution of the physical body. So that came by depending on the parents’ bodies; the parent’s body came from another parents’ body—dependent, merely labeled and dependent, like this. Then it goes back to the very original human being’s body. Parents’ parents’ parents’ parents—like this it goes back, if we think about dependent, to the very original human beings who lived on this earth, then the original human being’s body, then the very first condition, the light, the very first condition caused the mind, the consciousness to migrate on this earth; the very first, the original human beings on this earth, the element light. From the world of forms, the deva realms, consciousness came and migrated onto this earth. By the condition, light, that formed, that became the body, the body in the nature of light. That light is dependent on the elements.
So it is kind of beginningless, the origination, if you think how things are dependent. This earth is formed of elements. From the elements, the four elements, the very origin wind. Again that is dependent; it came from another universe, that very original wind. However, physically one can think, it is helpful to think, to search, to meditate like this, starting from the “I.” That labeling base is also merely labeled on a base, and that base is also merely labeled on a base; like this one can think about how things are dependent, how things are merely labeled.
Same thing with the consciousness: when we say mind, when we say consciousness, when we talk about it, while we are talking about mind or consciousness there appears to our mind a consciousness that does not depend on the nature of clarity, an independent consciousness that exists from its own side, or an independent mind that exists from its own side. Not a merely labeled mind but a mind that exists from its own side. That is what appears to our mind when we talk about consciousness, about mind. However, this consciousness mind, which appears to our mind when we talk about it, when we think about it—that is the refuted object, that is the non-existent consciousness, non-existent mind. That is what we should realize as empty.
What is called consciousness, mind, the six different consciousnesses—eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness etc.—all those things are called by each of the different functions. Each different function is labeled—eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness—is labeled on that. Today’s mind is labeled on the twenty-four hour stream of the mind, and is dependent on that. One hour consciousness or mind is dependent on those minutes mind, and then those minutes, each minute of mind is dependent on each second. Each split second of mind or consciousness is dependent on each other. The previous second of consciousness is dependent on the later. Because of the previous second of consciousness, this present second of consciousness is able to exist. Because of this present second consciousness, the later, the next second of consciousness can exist, will be able to exist. They are dependent on each other, and then on this particular phenomenon, which is formless and colorless, and whose nature is clarity and perceiving, we label mind, shepa, knowing phenomena.
It is similar with virtue and non-virtue, virtuous thought and non-virtuous thought. Those are labeled on the different qualities of mind. The non-virtuous thought, the mind that is called non-virtuous and whose nature is unsubdued, uncontrolled and confused, is labeled on that mind that has such characteristics. That is called non-virtuous mind. That mind does the function of making the mind unpeaceful and unsubdued. That characteristic of mind is called unsubdued mind. Like this are the different unsubdued minds such as anger, attachment, and ignorance. For our mind, when we talk about it, it looks as if there is attachment that truly exists from its own side. Independent attachment, independent anger, independent ignorance, independent pride, independent doubt—for our mind it appears like this, it looks as if there is independent true existence like this. But in fact all these—ignorance, anger, attachment, doubt, pride—these are merely labeled on the different characteristics of the unsubdued mind. Different characteristics and different functions, such as the mind that finds it so difficult to separate from the object, the mind that is very sticky to the object, difficult to separate, and because of that function, that characteristic, we call it attachhment. Attachment is labeled on that particular characteristic of mind.
Then the mind that dislikes that object, the undesirable mind, the mind which is ill-will, wishing to harm to the undesirable object, on such a characteristic, on such unsubdued mind it is labeled anger. However, like this—without mentioning the others, this is how the different unsubdued minds exist by labeling. And then also the virtuous thoughts, such as bodhicitta, those virtuous thoughts. When we talk about it, for our mind it appears as independent bodhicitta, independent wisdom and independent virtuous thought. When we talk about virtuous thought what appears to our mind is different independent virtuous thoughts, however, all these things are empty of independence, they are dependent, merely labeled on the different characteristics of virtuous thought.
Examining like this how the body and mind’s existence are dependent, merely labeled, existing by merely labeling is very important, thinking in many different ways, examining like this, trying to understand how not only these aggregates but even the outside existence, the objects of the five senses, all this, how everything exists by labeling mind. To get used to it, to see clearer and clearer, that is very important.
Even the “I,” this self, is merely labeled on these aggregates. But not merely labeled on these aggregates, with these aggregates existing from their own side, and then clinging on this as completely true is completely hallucinated. Completely hallucinated, like clinging to the non-existent. The way it appears to our mind is the non-existent “I,” so completely clinging to this non-existent “I,” completely clinging to this as true. Like this we are completely hallucinating, completely hallucinating the “I.” The non-existent “I” appears and we cling to the non-existent “I.” We do not see the “I” that exists.
It is similar with the aggregates. Even though they are merely labeled on their own labeling base, they appear as if they exist from their own side without being merely labeled on the aggregates, on the labeling base aggregates. Then we completely cling to that, that it is true. So we are completely hallucinating on the aggregates.
Now same thing with the object of the five senses: the object of form, the object of the sense of the eye, form; even when we see other’s body, even when we see a house, even when we see a meditation cushion, even when we see a plant, even when we see an apple, fruit—whatever object of the senses, whatever form we see exists by merely labeling the base by thought and name. Whatever we look at, even when we look at the light, the candle flame, which functions to make the darkness disappear, according to that function, on this we label “light.” On this base “light” is merely labeled by thought and name. But even when one sees the base on which one labels “light”—the base that performs that function, which has that nature—the light that one has labeled on this particular base does not appear to the mind. Right after we see the base that has that function, we call it “light.” “There is a light,” but the base that is labeled does not appear. The light is mixed with the labeling base—the labeling base that has the function of dispelling darkness is not clear. They look mixed, not clear.
Like this, any form that we see, we see it as if it exists from its own side. We do not see the merely labeled eye-sense, form—we cling to it as not merely labeled and existing from its own side, independent.
It is the same thing with the rest of the objects of the senses. Even when you hear music, even sound, if someone is playing guitar, or someone is snoring—even if someone is coughing, somehow on that person’s body there is a cough. On that that person’s mouth and tongue, this group together, there is a cough that exists from its own side, an independent cough. When you hear somebody coughing you do not feel it is a merely labeled cough—when you hear a cough, even while you are watching the person, if you examine how the sound of the cough appears to your mind, the independent cough that does not depend on the lips, which does not depend on the tongue, on the breath coming out, the breathing out, on that body there is a cough that exists from its own side. When we listen to music, when we listen to the sound on the guitar, on the group of strings, the instrument, there are various sounds, high and low, and the various sounds exist from their own side, as real sounds, independent. When we concentrate on the sound, the way it appears to our mind while we are listening to music, on that instrument there is a sound that exists without depending on the instrument, without depending on the person. It is the same thing when you listen to a record, and also similar with the songs or whatever you hear—independent, without being labeled, independent sound. The way we hear music is as if the sound exists from its own side. When you hear the song it looks as if you are hearing a song that exists from its own side.
However, all this is the refuted object. In fact all these are empty, they don’t exist, and this emptiness is what we should realize. Like this all the objects of the senses, all existence, even though in fact they exist by being merely labeled, they appear to exist from their own side, as if they are not merely labeled.
So like we completely hallucinate the “I,” the aggregates, it is the same with all the objects of the senses. We completely hallucinate with all the objects of the five senses. Like the dream at night time. Even though what you see in the dream is a mere projection of the hallucinated mind, dependent on the mind, in the dream you completely cling—whatever appears we believe in. In the dream things appear as independent. We completely cling to that even in the dream, and then on the basis of that, attachment arises, and anger—the dislikable thought arises, the thought to give harm arises—even in the dream.
Similar with all the hallucinations, even in the day time; using that dream as an example, in the daytime, on the basis of this hallucination, this clinging, things appear as truly existent, then we completely cling to that. Then as we meet various objects, the various unsubdued minds arise, which produce the various actions, virtue and non-virtue, and that plants seeds on the consciousness— karma, the virtuous and non-virtuous actions. Like a plant seed, this leaves ability, a potential on the field of consciousness. Relating to this present life’s body, in the past life the various actions that were accumulated left seeds, left potentials on the consciousness. Then just before this life, just before the birth of this life was taken, at the very end of the past life, at the time of death, when the gross mind, the gross consciousness was about to stop, to absorb, at that time the craving and grasping—I think grasping is stronger, which means stronger attachment, wanting to have a human body, the very strong thought of attachment wanting to find, wanting to receive a human body—the craving and grasping generated that potential, which was planted on the field of consciousness. This makes it stronger, and makes it ready to receive this present human body. So that seed, that potential, which was left on the consciousness becomes ready to bring this present body, and this is called “becoming.” As an example, this is like the pregnant woman when the baby is ready to come out.
So like this. By the force or by being under the control of the unsubdued mind, there is ignorance, craving and grasping, and then the action that comes from the ignorance, the action that comes from the attachment that seeks the human body in the next life. There is that kind of action, and then one action of becoming, which comes through the power of craving and grasping, which is generated by craving and grasping. So by being under the control of the unsubdued mind and karma, action, consciousness, the aggregates and samsara arise, particularly samsara. By the previous aggregates, particularly consciousness, being under the control of the force of the unsubdued mind and karma, that particular aggregate, consciousness, joined to this present samsara, the aggregates. Another way of saying this is that it got stuck to this fertilized egg, that consciousness got stuck to the fertilized egg in the mother’s womb. So you see, that is how it is samsara, a cycle.
The reason it has received the name “cycle” is because the gross body was left, but the previous samsaric aggregates, particularly the consciousness joined to this life. That is how we circle in samsara, how the previous aggregates circle in this life, and now, as we have not ceased the unsubdued mind in this life, again these present aggregates will join the next life. The continuity of the aggregates join from the past to this life, and then the continuity of these samsaric aggregates join the next life.
When I say “aggregates” we should not think only of this gross body. If we think only of that, it causes confusion because this body does not join the next life, it does not go back in the mother’s womb. Maybe you can shrink, you know, shrink? No, I am joking, that is not necessary. So we should mainly concentrate on consciousness.
The definition of samsara, the definition of the circle is the continuity of the aggregates that join again and again. This continuity of the present aggregate, the consciousness, will join again the next life. So this aggregate is labeled a cycle, like bicycle. It circles again and joins the next life. It circles. As these present aggregates circle without freedom, by the force of unsubdued mind and karma, these aggregates are called “cycle,” “samsara” or “cycle.” They always cycle like this. The continuity of aggregates joins from one life to another life—whichever rebirth place, wherever it joins, it experiences suffering in that realm. It experiences suffering there, and then the aggregate of consciousness joins another life, another rebirth, another birthplace, and again experiences the suffering of rebirth and death, and the various sufferings between rebirth and death. So like this, on and on, the continuity of aggregates joins again and again and experiences suffering; the “I” that is labeled on that, which exists on that, circles in samsara, in the six realms and suffers. Like this.
Because we have taken rebirth and this body, we experience the suffering of old age, sickness and death. Besides those four major sufferings, we experience the suffering of meeting the undesirable object, then not finding the desirable objects and, even if one finds them, the suffering of dissatisfaction. The suffering of these aggregates is explained by the lineage lamas of the lam-rim teachings, in order to easily understand and see clearly and easily the shortcomings of samsara, how samsara is in the nature of suffering. By generating the thought of renouncing samsara, one is able to generate bodhicitta that much quicker and one is able to achieve the state of omniscient mind quicker. The lineage lamas of the lam-rim teachings made it clear by setting up the meditations on the suffering of rebirth, each of these sufferings in five numbers—the suffering of old age, suffering of sicknesses, suffering of aggregates—all those in five numbers are set up, so in that way it is very clear and easy to meditate, easy to see.
All these problems, every day what we experience, up and down, nervous breaking down when you lose your job, when the money is cut down, all these worries, fears, everything, all these mistakes, are because we have taken this body, because we have taken this rebirth. If we didn’t take rebirth in the first place—the first mistake is that—if we didn’t take rebirth then there is no reason at all, no reason to protest, no reason to strike. If we had not taken rebirth then there is no reason to do strike. Even the garbage collectors strike, they don’t collect the garbage. Where was it? I think in Venice, I think in Italy, I think in Venice the garbage was piled up outside the people’s houses.
Anyway, the whole problem is having taken rebirth. The reason we have to experience the suffering of death, the reason we have all the worry, the reason we have to worry about death is also because we have taken rebirth. The reason we have to take medicines in order not to experience death, so much worry and fear about death, even making pujas trying to prevent death—all this is by the mistake of rebirth, the first mistake is having taken rebirth. Therefore, if you do not want suffering, all these problems, old age and all these things, white hair and teeth falling out and all these things, if you don’t want abortions, operations, spending much money, stretching out skin, paying a lot of money for the doctors—all these things, if one doesn’t wish to experience them, then we have to stop taking rebirth. If we stop taking rebirth again all these problems will not happen, we will not experience them.
The conclusion is this. The whole suffering started from the very beginning mistake: even though the “I” is merely labeled on these aggregates, it appears as if it is not merely labeled, as if it exists from its own side, then we cling to that as completely true. You see, the whole suffering, the whole thing started from that very beginning. From the ignorance that clings to this “I” as completely true. So it is your own mistake, the whole problem. From this you can understand everyday life, complaining that we receive criticism, complaining about what we receive, being badly treated by others, all these things, aside from rebirth and death all these things in everyday life, all this discomfort, bad reputations, all these things that we receive, the whole thing, is your own mistake completely because of clinging, following ignorance, completely clinging to this “I” that appears as truly existent as completely true.
The point is to realize, to understand, to study shunyata, to study under the guidance of a well-experienced teacher who has found the infallible right view. With such a teacher you study shunyata to realize the right view, the infallible right view, which eliminates this ignorance. So that is extremely important. As I started the talk, so like this: you created the suffering, your own suffering is created by yourself and so you should also eliminate it. By practicing the right path that was revealed by Shakyamuni Buddha, the absolute truth, and following that, you will be able to eliminate the very root of suffering, ignorance.
I think I stop here.