Kopan Course No. 16 (1983)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Kathmandu, Nepal November 1983 (Archive #395)

This is a transcript of teachings given by Kyabje Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, during the sixteenth annual meditation course, November/December 1983. Edited by Uldis Balodis, June 1985. You may also download the entire contents of these teachings as a PDF file.

The immeasurably kind Lama Yeshe gave three teachings at this meditation course, now available as an ebook, The Enlightened Experience: Collected Teachings, Vol. 3. These were Lama Yeshe's last public teachings before he tragically passing away in March 1984, so they have a special significance.

Section One: Lectures 1-6

Kopan Course 16 Index Page : Next Section ►

November 14 am

Firstly, I would like to say thank you very much to all of you for having discovered that only external material development does not stop life’s problems, does not bring peace of mind. You felt that without cheating yourself, without closing the door to your own liberation, the door to your own peace of mind, and without closing your own mind or wisdom by thinking that there’s a need to develop the mind in order to gain peace of mind to cease sufferings and problems. Not only peace of mind for this life which lasts for only a few years, a few months—or maybe less than that! But furthermore you have the wish to seek an infallible path through which you can accomplish ultimate and everlasting happiness. It may not be correct English, but, “ever-release” from suffering— liberation— and “ever-release” from the confused mind on the stream of this mind which at this moment is confused, ignorant, and suffering. When I think that you are opening your own mind, opening the door of your own peace, I rejoice greatly.

You came to Nepal, to Kopan, to do this meditation course; here I’m supposed to give teachings on meditation. For the teaching to become beneficial for others, for the teacher to be able to guide others, to subdue others’ minds, first of all his own mind should be subdued. Otherwise, without he himself having those qualities, there is no way to guide and subdue the minds of others correctly. My qualities are not just empty by way of inherent existence, but also empty by name! I think you heard a little bit last night about inherent existence. So, my qualities are not empty in regard to inherent existence, but empty in regard to name. They don’t exist, you know! So, I’m not sure whether it can benefit you or not. However, I have been fortunate enough to be able to hear, with this precious human body, extensive sutra and tantra—various infallible teachings of the Buddha—from many accomplished, highly realized, well—experienced teachers. It planted many impressions on my mind. I was fortunate enough to plant the seed. So, the one or two words of Dharma—the Buddha’s teachings—that I know, I will try to speak of. I hope there might be some benefit.

Generally how much the teaching is beneficial is dependent on both sides—not only the teacher, but also the listeners. The accomplishment, the realization, the subduing of the confused mind—the ignorant, dissatisfied, angry mind—by listening to the teachings, is dependent on both sides. The teacher having all the necessary qualities is not sufficient; there are also qualities for the listener to have in order to make the teachings effective for his mind.

I think this morning I will do question-answer, if there is something that I know, that I can tell you. Normally, in every course, I start with a subject, but I thought maybe this time we could begin the course with question-answer. Can you hear my voice? I think slowly you might hear! Day by day, you know!

Audience member: How to purify mind and body?
Lama Zopa: By purifying the mind, the body also becomes purified.
A.M: How to purify the mind?
L.Z: How to purify the mind? Practicing and generating the whole graduated path to enlightenment is purifying the mind. You see, that ceases the wrong conceptions. It removes the obscurations. All these teachings that were revealed by Buddha are included in sutra and tantra, or, in the three vehicles—the lesser vehicle path, the Paramitayana path and the Vajrayana, the secret vehicle, path.

By practicing the teachings of the lesser vehicle path and generating the path that is revealed, one accomplishes the Eightfold Noble Path. That is contained in short in the three higher trainings—moral conduct, concentration, and higher seeing, or great insight. All these are included in method and wisdom. Even to achieve the mere cessation of true suffering and the true cause of suffering—the disturbing thoughts—even to achieve liberation for oneself, one should practice this path. However all of this path is included in these two: method and wisdom.

Wisdom is the wisdom realizing shunyata, or wisdom realizing emptiness. That is the direct remedy for eliminating the root of suffering, the root of the confused mind—being ignorant of the meaning of the absolute nature of “I.” Although the way “I” exists is by being merely labeled on these aggregates, it appears that it exists from its own side, not labeled. The “I” appears completely in the wrong way, is perceived in the wrong way, and one completely clings or grasps onto that: that one hundred percent is true, that “I” exists from its own side, that it is not labeled on these aggregates. Being ignorant is not perceiving the absolute nature of the “I:” that it’s empty of independence; not realizing that the “I” that is empty of independence is in fact empty; not realizing that that which is dependent is dependent. So, being ignorant is not realizing how the “I” exists. The wisdom realizing voidness is the direct remedy. That’s the main thing that cuts off, which purifies, which cuts off the true suffering and the true cause of suffering.

Now, even in this lesser vehicle path, just having the wisdom realizing voidness is not sufficient, even though that is the direct remedy to cut off the disturbing thoughts, the root of all the sufferings, the ignorance. One should develop this wisdom realizing voidness together with method: the thought of renouncing samsara— the suffering realms— by realizing how they have the nature of suffering; how these aggregates— mind and body— are in the nature of suffering. A simple way of saying it: method is the thought of renouncing samsara. Also, there is the method of moral conduct. You see, with these fundamental methods, by practicing wisdom and method together, one generates, or, one is able to accomplish, the cessation of suffering—nirvana, or liberation.

It’s the same in the Paramitayana, the great vehicle. The wisdom is the same—wisdom realizing voidness. Again, the whole path is included in method and wisdom. Here the method is much more skillful and extensive than in the lesser vehicle path. The method is bodhicitta—the altruistic mind of enlightenment—which is derived by generating the thought of loving kindness and great compassion. That is not taught in the teachings of the lesser vehicle path. With this attitude, the paramitas, the “gone beyond” of charity, patience, perseverance and concentration are practiced. These are the method. It’s like this: even when you take old food with a very bad smell out of a cup, there is still a bad smell left. Likewise, by completing the lesser vehicle path one can eliminate the true cause of suffering, the disturbing thoughts, and even the seed of those, but not completely purifying the subtle obscurations, the impression that is left by the disturbing thoughts, the wrong conception of true existence, like the smell in the cup.

That’s why there are differences between the arhat and the fully enlightened Buddha. Arhats don’t have the disturbing thoughts; they have completely eliminated, or, purified them by completing the method and wisdom of the lesser vehicle path. They are completely free of the true cause of suffering but they haven’t practiced the skillful method that is revealed in the teachings of the greater vehicle path, so the subtle obscurations, like the smell, are not removed. The arhat hasn’t accomplished the great liberation, the great nirvana, the perfect cessation of the stains. Because of that, the understanding is not complete—still there are limitations in regard to guiding by revealing the means to the sentient beings. So, by practicing the wisdom realizing voidness and developing that in conjunction with the skillful, extensive method revealed in the Mahayana path, one is able to eliminate even the subtle obscurations, which are like the smell that is left in the container. So, you see, when there’s not the slightest obscuration left, the understanding is complete; the realization is complete. Like a mirror that is covered by dust—the more you clean it, the more clear the reflection becomes.

Now, because we are incredibly impatient, it looks like it’s hopeless—that this stream of consciousness cannot be separated from anger. It appears that one’s mind is oneness with anger. It looks like it’s impossible to separate it from anger and the dissatisfied mind and ignorance. It’s kind of like consciousness itself is anger, consciousness itself is pride, consciousness itself is jealousy. It appears impossible to live without a jealous mind, pride, or anger and so on. However, although it now looks like that—very confused—the mind is not oneness with anger, not oneness with pride, jealousy, the selfish attitude, or ignorance. It’s not only that it’s not oneness with them, but the mind can be developed if one trains in the path.

So, even though the practice of the greater vehicle path, the wisdom and method, looks hopeless now, after some time the stream of this consciousness will be completely separated away from, or purified of, the disturbing thoughts. Not only that, but even the smell—the subtle stains, impressions, the dualistic views, the hallucinated views, the views of true existence get purified with not the slightest stain left and because of that all the realizations are completed. At that time, the stream of consciousness becomes what is called omniscient mind. This is what is called dharmakaya, this is what is called enlightenment.

At that time the nature of this consciousness is separated away from all the stains and obscuration. That is the great liberation. When we achieve this we are enlightened. When one’s stream of consciousness becomes an omniscient mind there are no mistakes at all. Every single being’s different level of karma—or, another way of saying it, fortune—their level of intelligence and different personality are seen. So, there is not the slightest mistake—there is complete understanding of the various methods to reveal in order to suit different sentient beings who have different levels of mind. Then one can guide the sentient beings by using various means: the holy body, the holy speech, and the holy mind. The paramita path or the bodhisattva path contains five paths: the path of merit, the path of preparation, the path of right seeing, the path of meditation, and the path of no-need-of-training. All of these, as I explained before, are included in method and wisdom.

(end of tape)

Then one should practice the Vajrayana path, the path of the secret vehicle. In this third path the wisdom realizing voidness is much finer. shunyata, the object, is the same; it is not transcended. However, the subject, the wisdom realizing voidness, is finer, much more subtle. Again that is developed in conjunction with method, much more skillful than the method that is taught in the paramita teachings. One is able to stop the disturbing thoughts and even the subtle stains—the impressions, the dualistic, hallucinated, impure views—much quicker than in the paramita path.

So, these three vehicles are the actual path in order to purify. Generating, actualizing them in the mind is the main purification. The stream of consciousness which is temporarily obscured is separated away from, purified of, those obscurations. In order to generate this path in the mind one has to create the cause: merit, or, good luck. One has to create good luck in order to generate the actual body of the path, to purify the obstacles which disturb one from generating the realizations. In the teachings it is explained that in order to purify the obstacles, to quickly develop the mind, or, another way of saying it—to quickly generate the path to enlightenment in our mind—reading the scriptures on Prajnaparamita and meditating on shunyata are strong methods. Meditating on emptiness is explained by Buddha as being a very powerful method to purify the obstacles. Then, practicing bodhicitta is the best means to accumulate merit in order to generate the path to enlightenment, and for purifying obstacles.

Obscurations are created by doing unskillful, unwholesome actions with body, speech and mind. The mind is polluted by wrong attitudes, bad thoughts, or actions of body and speech done with bad thoughts. This disturbs the mind, so that even if we try to meditate, the mind cannot concentrate, cannot focus on the meditation object; the meditation object does not become clear. Even if one tries to visualize Buddha, it does not become clear and the concentration does not last. One cannot concentrate for even one minute, even for half a minute. The mind is so unclear, so foggy, so many causes arise, so many distracting thoughts; one cannot control the mind. Even if one wishes to develop the mind, to train the mind in the path, in the altruistic mind of enlightenment—the thought of loving kindness and compassion—and patience, to be content, satisfied, one finds it very difficult to control it because of these pollutions—the wrong attitudes. Actions of the body and speech done with a wrong attitude pollute the mind.

There are powerful deities for quickly purifying obstacles, such as Vajrasattva. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha manifested in different aspects, different buddhas to guide the sentient beings, particularly to purify the obscurations, the pollutions of the mind, the negative karmas. You are reciting Chenrezig mantra—that is also one very powerful method to purify. If you recite this mantra as many times as possible, meditating on the Compassionate Buddha, this is one of the best methods to quickly transform the mind, to develop the mind, to purify obstacles such as the selfish attitude. The self-centered mind is the greatest enemy to the immediate success of the work to gain temporal happiness and ultimate happiness for oneself and others. Reciting Chenrezig mantra is the best. This is one method which is extremely important. If the mantras are recited in conjunction with the practice of the four powers, it becomes perfect purification. There are various practices of purification; very profound, very powerful methods such as prostrations to Buddha, to purify the obstacles to quickly generating the path of enlightenment, to quickly generating the realizations of the meditations.

I think one of the best things is not getting angry in daily life when you are in situations, with somebody who treated you badly or criticized you, when you are in a situation where there is danger of anger, jealous mind or dissatisfied mind arising. If in your everyday life you don’t make your mind confused by yourself, you won’t pollute your mind. In this way you won’t create negative karma of body, speech, and mind which pollutes the mind and disturbs the realizations of your meditations, of the path, and which brings problems in this life and problems in future lives. So you see, even in our everyday life we can protect ourselves in this way. We ourselves are a guide, a protector, protecting our own mind.

Practice mindfulness; always watch the mind. Watch what is happening while one is in the house, while one is outside, while one is alone, while one is with other people. Always watch the mind; look at the mind all the time. Spy on the mind all the time. Then, when there is danger of these disturbing thoughts arising and disturbing your peace, destroying your happiness, and the happiness of the surrounding people, bringing disharmony, great difficulty and danger in this life and also the future lives, do not let them arise. Do not allow these dissatisfactory minds to arise. One of the worst is anger. If we don’t protect our mind, if we let the mind be overwhelmed by the disturbing thoughts, we become an enemy to ourselves; we destroy our peace by ourselves; we make ourselves confused. So, as the Buddha said in the teachings, “Oneself is the guide, oneself is also the enemy.” Practice with memory and mindfulness. Remember, watch the mind for whether the disturbing thoughts are controlling the mind or not. When there is danger of being overwhelmed, protect yourself from them. Instead of them controlling you, control them. Instead of giving liberation to the disturbing thoughts such as anger, dissatisfied mind or jealousy, give liberation to yourself. I think watching the mind, controlling the mind in everyday life itself is what it means to practice the holy Dharma, Buddha’s teaching; this is what it means to practice the spiritual path. It’s the best meditation, the best purification. By doing this one doesn’t pollute any more. Even if one doesn’t know other very profound meditations in order to purify, such as the very profound tantra meditations; even if one does not know what shunyata means, if one protects the mind in everyday life, one doesn’t pollute one’s own mind any more. In this way one doesn’t create more work of purification. If one doesn’t create negative karma, if one doesn’t pollute the mind, there is nothing to purify!

Doing Chenrezig meditation itself is very purifying. White Tara meditation is very purifying. Each meditation that you have been doing now is a process, a way of purifying. That’s all, I think. How to purify? That is a very extensive question! That answer contains the whole thing.

A.M. It’s very simple, sir! Just with the name of God, and doing the duty also. One’s consciousness is busy in the name of God, and the other’s are busy washing the floor or doing all the duties: cleaning the bedroom, cleaning the toilet, kitchen and doing an eight hours job. While doing all the duties, one side ... the name of God. That is sufficient.
L.Z. Good! Yes, very good! That’s right! doing! Doing all these things for the God.
A.M: Doing all the duties with the name of God!
L.Z: With the name of God!
A.M: Yes!
L.Z: That’s good. Yes, good.
A.M: You cannot spend all the time in a forest, on the mountains. We have to live in the world.
L.Z: That’s right.
A.M: Yes! Yes!
L.Z: That’s right! I agree!
A.M: If we leave the world and go to a mountain then God is not happy. Yes! Yes! We are here just to gain something, then we go back into the world. We join them.
L.Z: We are living in the world. Right! If you don’t have to live in the world, then it is excellent, no problem!
A.M: God gives us all the things if we are doing our duties. If we do the duty, that is karma. Doing the karma!
L.Z: That’s right! Good!
A.M: If we do wrong, if we expect more, the other things, that’s not right! We must think about the future! And the future is in our hands. With that doing, that’s karma. If we do right, that’s karma.
L.Z: That’s right!
A.M: We must be honest to ourselves, only then are we honest to others. If we are truthful to ourselves then we are truthful to others and we get truth for living in the name of God. That is the philosophy of living! This is all the religious main philosophy of living. All the religions say “live like good people.” The difference is the philosophy. This is the best religion where I am sitting. I give more respect because the best people of the world are sitting here and they need it now!
L.Z: Of course! I think I will stop now, okay.

November 14 pm

Before mentioning the actual subject, I would like to mention what Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said in the teachings. “Bhikshus,”—monks, the learned ones—“examine well my teachings, like gold is examined by burning, cutting and rubbing, then practice; not by blind faith.” Guru Shakyamuni Buddha himself said this. Buddhadharma is something that the more one studies, the more one practices, the more one examines, the understanding becomes deeper and clearer. It is the quality of the Buddha’s teaching. This is the experience of the previous learned ones, the great pandits and realized ones, meditators, attainers, and the present practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings. In the East and also in the West.

Even the scientists who have made the finest, most subtle discoveries about the nature of external phenomena such as atoms, even those most highly intelligent ones are coming closer to Buddhism. The more they examine instead of moving further away from Buddhism they find they are closer to what is explained in the Buddha’s philosophical teachings on reality: the two truths—the absolute truth, the reality of how things exist, and the conventional truth. As they examine external phenomena more their understanding becomes more and more correct. As they continue their examination they find that which they used to believe in the past is mistaken. The teaching is more acceptable, more agreeable as they continue their examination. When they discuss with the learned lamas, when they hear and study, it helps them so much. It opens a door for their knowledge, for science, to that which for so many years they were unable to understand.

So, the conclusion is that as you are expecting to learn new methods and to practice these in order to pacify your suffering, there will come many things that you will find you do not understand right away. Those can be clarified by discussion. One doesn’t have to become crazy, feeling, “I don’t understand this subject, this point.” Keep it as a subject to study. The more you study, the more you hear, that which you cannot understand through study comes through practice. Through meditation, through training the mind in the path, it becomes a realization and a clear understanding comes.

(end of tape)

However, if we had actualized this path already, by now we wouldn’t be suffering; we wouldn’t have a confused life; we wouldn’t have such a suffering body and mind. That shows that we haven’t had the experience of generating the path to liberation, the cessation of the sufferings. Therefore, we are hearing about a path that our mind has never been trained in or which has never been actualized in past years, in past lives. From the beginningless rebirths until now we haven’t accomplished the path to liberation. So, with this precious human body we are trying to listen, reflect and meditate and to train the mind to become the path, to transform the mind to a state of liberation. So, of course it’s not easy.

Even for one’s own happiness there’s nothing more important than to train the mind in the path to achieve everlasting liberation. Once the disturbing thoughts, the cause of suffering are ceased, by accomplishing the remedial path in one’s mind it is impossible to again experience suffering and to be reborn in the cycle of rebirth, old age, sickness and death, because there’s no cause, once the disturbing thoughts and there seeds are completely ceased there is, there is no way for them to arise again in this mind. As one cannot get apples from the cement floor, without a cause the result cannot be experienced, whether it is happiness or suffering. So, even concerning happiness for oneself there is nothing more important than this. It is so worthwhile to experiment or even to study in order to check whether it is true or not, even if one doesn’t practice. To guide other suffering beings, oneself should be liberated from suffering first. If one’s own mind is confused and ignorant one cannot liberate others from ignorance, confusion and suffering. Like, for example, an armless being cannot help another being who is in danger of falling down a precipice or drowning in the water.

During my lecture, because my English is so perfect—accent and everything!—you might have trouble to understand! If there is something that is not clear to you, you can ask somebody who is familiar with my noise, with my voice!

One should not be satisfied with one or two meditation techniques. I don’t know why the number of diseases is counted in the west, but generally they say there are about four hundred and twenty-four diseases. If one person gets sick with various diseases there is a need for different medicines. One medicine cannot stop all diseases, such as taking aspirins cannot cure toothache, diarrhea, cancer, T.B, heart-attacks, cuts, and infections! Being satisfied with one or two simple meditations in life is like this; thinking that there is no need to study the other meditations of the graduated path, that it is too much for oneself, is similar to the example of being satisfied with aspirin for all those diseases. As there are various remedies for various diseases, there is a need to understand the various meditations in order to recover from the worst disease that we have—the various disturbing thoughts. The diseases of the mind are from where the various undesirable, terrifying physical sicknesses and mental problems come. To study and understand the various graduated meditation practices is extremely important.

Buddha said in the teachings, “Not creating any non-virtue, enjoying perfect virtue and subduing one’s own mind is the teaching of the Buddha.” This reveals the Four Noble Truths, the first teaching that Buddha gave at Sarnath for lower intelligent people. The person who normally doesn’t control his mind and always lets himself be under the control of anger, the selfish
attitude and dissatisfied mind—those disturbing thoughts—who is concerned all the time only with himself or herself, who is so impatient and easily disturbed, in each day of the life experiences many problems, confusion, and disharmony. If we think of the life of even one couple, without thinking about the whole world, we can see so clearly what Buddha was saying.

Even if we just watch our own minds we see that while we have anger there is no peace. If we remember past experiences in our life, those times when we had anger and strong selfish attitude or while there was strong pride, or jealous mind, was there peace? Because of strong jealousy, ill-will, dissatisfied mind or anger, not only is mind unhappy but even physically there is pain, such as pain in the physical heart. We can see even from a simple thing like this how in each day happiness and peace of mind, or unhappiness, depends on our own mind of that hour, of that day. There is no peace or happiness when we allow our mind to be under the control of disturbing thoughts. But when we don’t allow it to be under their control there is peace and relaxation. Even physically there is comfort, even if we don’t have the enjoyment of a luxurious place, because the mind is subdued and not under the control of disturbing thoughts. When the mind is virtuous, when it has the nature of patience, there is much peace, relaxation, and tranquility. When the mind is under the control of anger, even if someone is living in a rich apartment which costs thousands of dollars each day, eating luxurious foods which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each day, spending thousands of dollars for clothes from the head down to the feet, if he doesn’t subdue his mind, take care of his mind there is no peace or happiness in his life. His life is always lived in suffering and problems, even if he is rich. His mental suffering is greater than if he was a beggar!

When the mind is in virtue, in the nature of loving kindness and compassion, there is much peace and contentment. Immediately there is an incredible realization of peace. When one has much suffering in the mind it is not so much due to starvation and so on. Even if one finds an apartment, the mind thinks of getting a better apartment. It is similar with things inside the house. For example, television: first one has one and after one has used it for some time one wishes to get a better one. Similarly with cars. If one follows the selfish attitude it is always like this—there is no end. One wants more and better all the time. When one doesn’t get it, there is the worry of being unable to get it or of not having enough money. The dissatisfied mind brings so many other problems. Much fighting happens in the family and with friends over materials. It brings disharmony to a harmonious family or friendship-quarreling, killing and much fear and worry. One feels a need for so many hundreds of things in the house. Even if one gets old one is still not happy. The dissatisfied mind wanting better and more, continues without end. As long as we don’t stop this great disease, the dissatisfied mind, from our side the suffering continues all the time bringing thousands of other problems.

Check your mind while there is much confusion and the various problems which come from the dissatisfied mind not being happy due to not getting better and more things that you desire. If you simply think, “This is the dissatisfied mind and this has no end. As long as I follow this it never ends. It’s not sure that I will live for a long time—thirty or forty years—as the wrong conception of permanence believes. This thought that I will live long will continue until the moment death comes, therefore it cannot be trusted. Therefore, that’s enough for me. Because of following the dissatisfied mind, I get so many problems.” The pain in the mind caused by the dissatisfied mind is immediately pacified, there is great peace and liberation from problems. The mind being satisfied is itself what is called “practicing Dharma.” The benefit of practicing Dharma is immediate peace. I will stop here.

(end of tape)

November 15 am

If one wishes to benefit other sentient beings, to perfectly guide them from suffering to peerless happiness, one needs to attain omniscient mind; there is no other way. By practicing the remedial path one should remove all the stains completely and complete all realizations. The state of enlightenment needs to be achieved—this is the only solution, the only method. Like the seed of the fruit, the principal seed of enlightenment is bodhicitta: renouncing oneself completely and cherishing others one-pointedly, all the time, cherishing all other sentient beings. The thought of only benefiting others. One should try to transform the mind into bodhicitta, the path to enlightenment. One way to continuously and quickly generate bodhicitta, the ultimate good heart, is to listen to the various teachings on bodhicitta such as this extensive teaching, the Bodhicaryavatara, written by the great bodhisattva, the great attainer, the highly-accomplished saint, Shantideva. This text contains detailed explanations, meditations on how to transform the mind into the ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, through the practice of the six paramitas, the Mahayana path—such as the paramita of patience. Then there are the extensive sutra teachings taught by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha: the benefits of bodhicitta, the practice of bodhicitta, and the way of transforming the mind into bodhicitta. There are various texts such as The Admiration of Bodhicitta, written by the great saint, Kunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen and also lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment, in particular those texts written by Lama Tsongkhapa. Then there are others such as that written by the great saint, the bodhisattva Togme Sangpo, The Thirty-Seven Practices of All Bodhisattvas. Listening extensively, reflecting, trying to understand the meaning, and meditating help to transform the mind into bodhicitta. Preventing obstacles to the quick realization of bodhicitta and successful accomplishment in meditation, and accumulating merit, is achieved by reciting the Compassionate Buddha’s mantra—the mantra that you are now reciting. Doing the practice of the Compassionate Buddha, Chenrezig, is a way to develop the mind; to generate the ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, to establish the root of the Mahayana path to enlightenment quickly, within one’s mind and this present human body. OM MANI PADME HUM ... OM MANI PADME HUM ...

I briefly mentioned yesterday, but not the details, of the meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM. MANI is method and PADME is wisdom. As I mentioned, the whole path as revealed by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is contained in these two words: MANI PADME. The graduated path to enlightenment is contained in this. The whole path to achieve Nirvana, the liberation from suffering and the true cause of suffering, the lesser vehicle paths—all those are included in method and wisdom, therefore they are contained in MANI PADME. Then, all of the Paramitayana path, the bodhicitta path to achieve enlightenment, is contained in the method and wisdom, and again, all is contained in MANI PADME.

Also, all the Vajrayana path—the path of the inseparable vehicle, the path of tantra, or, the path of secret mantra. Tantra has four divisions or levels. The first one is kriya tantra—this is divided into that having the sign and that not having the sign. Having the sign is method; not having the sign is the path of wisdom. Again, the whole path of kriya tantra is included in MANI PADME. Similarly with the other tantras. The highest, the fourth is maha-anuttara yoga tantra, through the practice of which one can achieve enlightenment in this degenerate time, in a very brief life time. One is able to attain enlightenment, the state of omniscient mind, the transcendental state which is complete in all realizations and which is purified of every stain, in this very brief lifetime. The maha-anuttara yoga tantra path has two stages: generation and accomplishment. These are included in MANI PADME, method and wisdom. The second stage, that of accomplishment has four stages: the seclusion of mind; the illusory body; clear light; unification. Clear light is the path of wisdom; the illusory body is the path of method. Illusory body is contained in MANI and the clear light, wisdom, is contained in PADME. There are two types of clear light: the clear light of meaning and clear light of example.

In order to turn the mind into the path one should first lay the foundation, the three principal paths.

The thought of renouncing samsara is having strong aversion through realizing that samsara is only in the nature of suffering; that these aggregates—body and mind—are in the nature of suffering, being under the control of the disturbing thoughts and karma. We are not aware of its nature, we are hallucinating that which has the nature of impermanence we hallucinate as permanent; that which is dirty we hallucinate as clean; that which has the nature of suffering, we hallucinate as pleasant; that which has no existence at all from its own side, which is labeled, we completely hallucinate as existing from its own side. Renunciation is realizing the fact, the reality, of how this is in the nature of suffering.

It is like butterflies [moths] seeing a fire as a beautiful lantern, not realizing what happens when they get inside it—completely hallucinating. Even if it has a cover they still try to get inside, as much as possible! Even thought they feel hot they still try to get inside. They think that inside the white part there is incredible bliss. So what happens when they really get inside? That’s it! It’s not what they expected before! It’s completely contrary. As long as we are in samsara, it’s like this all the time—having a confused life all the time, not knowing that it’s the nature of suffering, following the hallucinating mind as if it’s right, as if the wrong conceptions are perfect! Completely trusting the projection, the hallucination believing the views of the wrong conception as if they are completely true. Like seeing a burning environment as a beautiful park and trying to live inside it, not realizing that it burns. Like seeing this suffering realm as a beautiful park. Renunciation is realizing your own samsara is only in the nature of suffering, seeing it as like being in the center of a fire and not being able to stand being in this realm of suffering for even a minute or a second without having achieved your own liberation.

After having the strong realization, or thought, to renounce samsara—feeling one’s own suffering as unbearable and the thought to seek liberation spontaneously and continuously arising—when you change the object—thinking of others instead of yourself—it becomes compassion. Because of having such a strong thought of renunciation of your own samsara, when you think of others being caught in samsara, suffering, it becomes incredible, unbearably strong compassion, feeling it as unbearable that others are in samsara, under the control of the disturbing thoughts and karma. When you see others caught in samsara it feels so unbearable—like having a spear put in your heart. It’s like how the mother feels when her beloved only child falls in a fire—it’s so unbearable. Like this, there arises such unbearably strong compassion wishing other sentient beings to be free from suffering. You cannot relax without doing something. There is no way to think of yourself, your own happiness. No way. There is no way for the thought of self-concern to arise. You can’t stand without doing something to free the sentient beings. You can’t stand them being in samsara even for an hour or a minute. Like before, you could not stand not having achieved your own liberation, could not wait for even a minute, so it is now in regard to others. When you have this wish arising, you have the realization of great compassion—wishing all sentient beings to be freed from all sufferings, and to do that by oneself. Bodhicitta comes from this.

So what’s the solution now? What shall I do? What’s the best method? There is no other method for yourself to be able to perfectly guide the sentient beings from suffering but by achieving omniscient mind. The wish to achieve omniscient mind comes from the root which is compassion. Then the altruistic mind of enlightenment, bodhicitta, is generated. Like I explained it is the compassion which spontaneously arises for all sentient beings without discriminating the enemy, friend and stranger—one who treats you badly, who criticizes, one who helps, and one who gives neither help nor harm—for all the sentient beings who are suffering. Wishing to be free ... of all obscurations those who are devoid of the peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind, who are obscured, and to do it by oneself. The spontaneously arising bodhicitta is like how the mother feels towards her one beloved child who has fallen in the fire. One can’t stand it; day and night, all the time, the altruistic mind of enlightenment arises without effort. Then one has the realization of bodhicitta. That person is the one who is called "fortunate", that person is wise, that person is skillful, compassionate. The one who has the ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, in his mind is the person who is really competent.

In the world a person who can earn a lot of money, who can kill his enemies, who has lots of apartments everywhere, is called clever, skilful, wise. Someone who can cheat others for his own reputation or happiness is called wise, clever, self-supporting. Those ideas are completely wrong. Even if one was able to liberate oneself from samsara, still one hasn’t finished the work for self and the work for others. Accordingly the bodhisattva is not necessarily skillful or compassionate even if he can liberate himself from samsara, thus the wisdom of realizing voidness is practiced after the realization of bodhicitta.

Then after one’s mind is trained well in the general path, one takes initiation from a qualified vajra guru, who can give maha-anuttara yoga tantra initiations. Then with one’s mind having been ripened by receiving the four types of maha-anuttara yoga tantra initiations, one trains the mind by meditating on the maha-anuttara yoga tantra path: the gradual path of generation and the gradual path of accomplishment. When one’s mind has reached the state of the clear light of example there is no danger of death. One is free—there’s no uncontrollable death, no dying without choice.

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... If you are able to approach this stage. The clear light is signified by PADME and the illusory body by MANI, the method. If not, then right after death in the intermediate stage like many of the high lamas and great yogis, such as Milarepa, who became enlightenment in one lifetime.

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All the merit that takes three countless eons to accumulate in the paramita, or, bodhisattva path, is completely accumulated in one brief lifetime by meditating on the illusory body. The clear light is the remedy to the dual view. The disturbing thoughts, even the subtle dual view, are completely ceased with the support of the illusory body which accumulates extensive merit. Through these, being the cause, one achieves the unification of completely pure holy body and the holy mind of the buddha, or the deity, in the aspect that one has been practicing through the yoga. Then one becomes a buddha.

When the moon rises it doesn’t require effort for its reflection to appear, “Now I’m going to manifest in all the waters on the earth—in all the ponds and dew drops.” When the moon rises wherever there is water on the earth the reflection comes without effort. Like this, after one has become a buddha, after one has achieved the deity that one has been practicing, one does the work of benefiting the sentient beings—continually doing the work with the holy body, speech and mind for the sentient beings who equal infinite space. Continually doing the work to lead them to peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind.

So you see, MANI PADME contains the whole graduated path to enlightenment: method and wisdom. This is briefly explaining the meaning of the mantra OM MANI. You see, if the mind is like rock it is the same as the soil which is not fertilized, not well prepared. Even if you plant crops they cannot grow. Like this, if the mind is so selfish, so solid—anger and dissatisfied mind like iron, like a rocky mountain, so solid, a vicious mind—even though you wish to achieve liberation, to achieve complete enlightenment, the path which is contained in MANI PADME cannot grow in the field of our mind. Soil should have minerals, it should be fertilized, it should have water—then it is possible to grow things. Similarly, this mind needs to change from the solid, the vicious, ugly mind; to be transformed from that, to be made soft. It needs to receive the blessings of the Guru Buddha.

So in OM MANI PADME HUM, MANI PADME is the name of Chenrezig, the Great Compassionate One. It’s like calling one’s mother. You call mother to get her attention and then you ask whether you want ice cream or whether you want chocolate, or whatever you want! So you call MANI PADME, Chenrezig’s holy name. HUM persuades Chenrezig’s holy mind. So what one is asking is for Him to bless the mind—your own mind, and also the minds of other sentient beings, to plant the root of the path to enlightenment, the method and wisdom which is contained in MANI PADME.

What is left is OM. Practicing and completing the path of method and wisdom in the mind is signified by MANI PADME, the purification of all the obscurations of body, speech and mind; the negative karma of the body, speech and mind. The impure conception or view, of body, speech and mind, is purified. Then, this body, speech and mind becomes Guru Chenrezig’s vajra holy body, vajra holy speech, and vajra holy mind. OM has three letters—Tibetan letters, not English! The letter AH—the mother syllable—a naro or “O” vowel, and a zero on top. These three signify the three kayas, or, the vajra body, speech and mind. Your impure conceptions of body, speech, and mind become completely pure, vajra holy body, speech and mind of Chenrezig, the Compassionate One. Therefore, OM means enlightenment. So, OM MANI PADME HUM contains this meaning: the beginning of the path—the cause—the path itself and the result. Like a tree, the root, the trunk and the fruit.

OM MANI PADME HUM ... OM MANI PADME HUM ...All existence is included in OM MANI PADME HUM. Dependent arising and emptiness—MANI PADME. All existence is contained in the two truths; all this is contained in MANI PADME. Absolute truth in PADME, and conventional truth, the truth of the all-obscuring mind, in MANI.

This is just a very brief explanation of the Chenrezig mantra. However, all the 84,000 teachings of Buddha; the Prajnaparamita teachings—all those hundreds of volumes of the Tengyur and Kangyur are included in OM MANI PADME HUM. All the five great treatises on the sutras that they study in the monasteries which are an explanation of the logic which identifies that Buddha is a valid, or true, holy being—unbetraying, not misguiding, logical. Buddha’s teaching is true because when a sentient being practices it, it works; it contains the experience so the result comes. When it is practiced even the simplest everyday life problem gets solved, so this is a small proof that one can be liberated from the true cause of suffering; that one can become enlightened is proved; that the teachings are valid, true, unbetraying, is proved.

They study the teachings of logic for many years in the great monasteries. They usually study and debate Madhyamaka, about the two truths, for three years. Then they study the wisdom-gone-beyond, the Prajnaparamita teachings, for five years or something like that. Then Vinaya teachings about moral conduct: subduing the body, speech, and mind. Then they study the Abhidharmakosha for many years. They study these sutra teachings and the five great treatises for thirty or forty years in the monasteries, memorizing, debating and taking examinations. Then for many years they study tantric teachings and practice all those extensive, complete paths. A whole lifetime of study is contained in this OM MANI PADME HUM.

So then, together we will recite some mantra. Somehow there is a difference in this particular buddha, the embodiment of compassionate of all Buddhas—the great compassion not being able to bear the sentient beings’ suffering and guiding sentient beings from suffering. It is 100,000 times greater than the compassion that we have towards ourselves. There is no compassion. You see, all the buddhas’ compassion is manifested in this particular aspect called Chenrezig, the Compassionate-Eye-looking Buddha.

Because of his compassion, Buddha himself achieved the great nirvana, the sphere of the great peace. Without choice, being bound by compassion. We, being bound by selfish thoughts, without choice give harm to other sentient beings and even to ourselves. Buddhas, being bound by compassion manifest as higher bodhisattvas in sambhogakaya aspect, and ordinary bodhisattvas in nirmanakaya aspect. For ordinary beings they manifest in the form of a monk or as a king like His Holiness the Dalai Lama—various forms, whatever is necessary. If there is a way to subdue the sentient beings by being manifested, they manifest—as a judge, even as a butcher, as a general or even as a crazy person; as a blind person or a beggar to cause others to accumulate merit by practicing charity and so to create the cause of happiness. Also, as a wealthy person if some sentient beings needs to be guided in that way. As a prostitute if sentient beings need to be guided in such a special aspect, it being the only method to subdued their minds, because of their strong attachment.

The Buddha said in the teachings, “I will manifest as all these things.” Shakyamuni Buddha himself said, “I don’t have attachment but I manifest as having attachment. I’m not blind but I manifest as being blind. I’m not crippled, but I manifest as crippled. I’m not crazy, but I manifest as crazy. I have no anger in the slightest, but I manifest as having anger. If I manifest in the future like this, all those sentient beings will not recognize this.” He has manifested to guide us as the thousand-arm, thousand-eyed one. This is the mantra of the Compassionate Buddha. Somehow it is different from other mantras; other mantras are very powerful but has some particular personality or particular effect—the mind is naturally more compassionate during the time of reciting this mantra. The thought to benefit others naturally arises and one is less self-centered. Naturally the mind is very calm. Normally, ordinary people who are reciting this mantra have very good hearts even if they don’t know the teachings and don’t meditate on the graduated path to enlightenment. Just through having faith in the Compassionate Buddha, the Great Compassionate One; just through reciting the mantra. Even for the happiness of this life you need to have a good heart. In everyday life for peace of mind you need a good heart. It is the utmost need; this is the only way. It is so helpful to recite this mantra. It is very effective for the mind.

What we should feel is not so much the form but the essence, the nature of Chenrezig. If having Chenrezig above your crown is not comfortable, then you can visualize him in front, in the thousand-arm-eyed aspect. That great compassion towards all sentient beings manifests in this aspect. The nature of the holy body is light. Compassionate, loving eyes looking at oneself, the suffering sentient being who is confused, as well as all other sentient beings. Him smiling and the nectar flowing down from his heart. If you can think of it, in his heart there is a syllable HRIH on a moon disc which is on a lotus having eight petals. However, think that nectar beams purifying all the obscurations, particularly the selfish attitude, the obstacle to generating bodhicitta, comes from his heart.

Maybe I will do the lung, the oral transmission of this mantra. Think, “I am going to take the oral transmission of this mantra in order to achieve the enlightenment of the Great Compassionate One in order to quickly enlighten, to quickly lead, to quickly free, all the sentient beings from suffering and lead them into the Compassionate One’s enlightenment.” Please generate this motivation of bodhicitta then listen to the mantra. OM MANI PADME HUM ... OM MANI PADME HUM ...Also the long mantra: NAMO RATNA TRAY AYA ...

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Today I did not start to talk about karma—this morning didn’t happen as I planned! However, just hearing about karma and leaving it at that is not sufficient. Try to relate it to your own experience. We can see in our daily life, even during one day, that we meet many desirable and undesirable things. Maybe we experience many discomforts, undesirable sense objects—forms, sounds, smells, touchables. Even with thoughts, when some memory comes you become unhappy. Try to relate to what Buddha explained in the teachings. It is talking about your own life, try to realize that your own life is explaining karma. Everyday life’s different experiences—happiness, suffering, whatever we experience, bad or good things—every minute, every hour, are themselves explaining karma. Your life is explaining karma—your life is giving you yourself a teaching. For example, when you eat delicious food, think that this is the result of past virtuous thoughts and good actions. Then, when you suddenly find something with a bad taste, think that it is the result of non-virtue. When you eat bad food think that this is the result of covetousness. Practice awareness and karma, relating it to your own experience. Now I’m speaking more about karma, but you can also relate it to the present mind. So, practice awareness of karma like this.

When you are working outside and see a beautiful flower that pleases you, that is your karmic view. That view comes from your own mind, from virtuous thoughts. Anything which is disagreeable and disturbing to you is the result of bad thoughts in the past—negative karma. Whenever you experience sense objects—good smells, bad smells, when eating food, when looking around at views, practice awareness. When you see people or animals: when you see one person it makes you happy, another makes you unhappy. If one person is helping you, think, “This is the result of my good karma, of having the right attitude.” If somebody makes you unhappy, think, “This is the result of my negative karma, the bad thoughts.” It is so obvious, so clear, how liking or not liking, seeing something as nice or not nice, is dependent on your mind. When some people look at a particular person, they find him so nice, beautiful, good and so on; at the same time when others look at him they find him completely ugly, not worth being attached to! They see the one person in different ways. Let’s say you’re in prison and somebody unknown helps you get free. You see that person afterwards but you don’t see him as kind, you don’t have a warm feeling; but when you hear that he is the one that helped when you had troubles, suddenly you see him in a different way. You see him as having a warm beauty, as kind. For your mind, the person becomes nearer. Similarly, when a person is disturbing you, you see him as ugly, very bad, negative, black; but if you think of his kindness in destroying your selfish attitude, your bad thoughts, the view changes. He becomes closer and you feel warmth and kindness from the heart. Now you can see how it’s dependent on the mind. When you change your way of thinking, you will see things in a different way. With one way of thinking you see in one way, with another way of thinking you see in a different way. Some people see one place as very beautiful and like it, some see it as very ugly and undesirable.

Like this, practice awareness of karma when you walk outside. When pleasure turns into suffering think that is the result of wrong attitudes, of negative karma. Also, you can maybe do meditations on all your past lives. Sometimes you had a good life, sometimes a horrible, terrifying, suffocating life, wanting to kill yourself. Then think, “All this came from the wrong attitude in my own mind.”

We should use this awareness for something, for progressing the mind. We should use this awareness for more happiness, to decrease suffering, to lessen confusion. So, make the decision frequently, “This is the result of right attitudes. Therefore, what I should do from now on is renounce the non-virtuous mind as much as possible and practice the right attitude, a good heart, as much as possible.” Renounce anger, pride, jealous mind, dissatisfied mind. When you meet suffering, think, “This is the result of wrong attitudes. What I don’t want is suffering, what I want is happiness. This suffering means from now on I should renounce the wrong attitudes, those disturbing thoughts; renounce ill-well and practice the thought of loving kindness; renounce the selfish attitude and cherish others. I should protect karma-practice avoiding negative karma and practice virtue. This is telling me this.” So, use this awareness for practice, for the development of your happiness, for the development of your mind, for generating the right attitude. It’s very good.
I think that’s all.

November 16 am

We’re going to recite together one round of Chenrezig, the Compassionate Buddha mantra. Visualize all the Buddhas’ compassion—it doesn’t matter if it’s not clear—in the form of light, in the thousand-arm and thousand-eye aspect. If you cannot manage that, then the four-arm aspect is sufficient—on your own crown and on the crown of each of the Dharma friends who are here, and on the crown of each sentient being. Starting from here, all the human beings. Then above the crowns of all the animal beings, then other sentient beings called pretas, and sentient beings called narak beings who have heavy sufferings, and the other sentient beings—devas, or worldly gods, who have greater enjoyment than human beings, who are living on different planets. The idea is that whether you know all the sentient beings or not, there are just so many, uncountable suffering sentient beings. Just as human beings have different problems, there are many other types of sentient beings who have different problems. Basically we, the human beings, are the same, being under the control of disturbing thoughts and karma. This is basic suffering; but then on the basis of that there are different problems. Whatever kind of life they live in the world, humans have problems; farmers have problems, business people have problems, beggars have problems, rich people have their problems. Likewise many other sentient beings have different problems. Being in samsara is their fundamental suffering and whatever problems they have is on that basis.

Visualize the Compassionate Buddha on their crowns. Then nectar rays flow from the Compassionate Buddha’s heart and purify all the obscurations, the mental pollutions, the negative karma, problems, confusions. While you are reciting the mantra be aware of the whole world’s problems. Even if you can’t think of them all, just think of what you know of other beings’ sufferings—the true cause of suffering and the confusion and all those problems: couples’ problems, families’ and countries’ and the world’s problems—the fear of atomic danger and so on. All those fears are pacified. You see, by purifying the unsubdued mind, the vicious thoughts, the selfish attitude, by pacifying the true suffering, all is purified and pacified.

Before reciting the mantra we are going to offer the mandala. One powerful method by which one can accumulate extensive merit is the mandala offering practice. By doing this we are creating the extensive cause to quickly generate the whole path to enlightenment and complete the works for others—freeing every sentient being from suffering by reaching the state of omniscient mind; creating the cause to accomplish the work for oneself and the work for other sentient beings. This practice is the remedy to separate the consciousness from the mental diseases of miserliness and attachment—the dissatisfied mind—which is the root of the biggest problems of our life; to purify, to liberate us from this disease of the disturbing thoughts. This is the particular medicine or remedy: the attachment and miserliness that we have is for desirable objects—for undesirable objects we don’t have attachment. So, we offer, dedicate, give away these desirable objects to the Compassionate Buddha to accumulate extensive merit. Think that in your hands you are holding all the planets that the scientists describe, without mentioning what is described in the teachings—all those worlds containing desirable sense objects. For example, on this earth there are many beautiful islands like Hawaii or places like Kashmir in India—those beautiful places for which people earn money for many years in order to be able to go to and enjoy, either from the East going to the West or from the West going to the East! Or it could even be a piece of bone that you like very much—an antique! Broken antiques that you like very much, that you can’t give away, that you can’t separate from! Especially any object that you like very much. Think that all the planets are in your hands, then think of all the best things—the beautiful places, islands, ponds, beautiful houses, the sun and moon. All the supermarkets! Think of all there is, things that belong to you and those not owned by you; actually existing or mentally transformed. Also offer the objects of your anger, and strangers and friends. Offer in order to liberate all beings from ignorance, anger and attachment. Offer to the Compassionate Buddha without any clinging.

There are detailed teachings on the preliminary practices, particularly on the power of the methods of purification and accumulation of merit. After one has got some idea of the main practice, the lam-rim path, if one has the wish to practice these, one should study and receive teachings.



Now we can recite the mantra for one round. All the wrong, impure conceptions preventing one from realizing the guru as a Buddha and having disrespect through to the subtle dual view are pacified—your own and other sentient beings’. The obstacles to generating the path from realizing the guru as a Buddha, up to enlightenment are purified.


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All the obscurations, one’s own and other’s are completely purified. True suffering and the true cause of suffering are completely purified. Think, “I have generated all the realizations from beginning to the end—from respect to the guru up to enlightenment—in my mind and the minds of all the sentient beings. Especially bodhicitta.” Chenrezig is absorbed into your heart and the Compassionate Buddha, who is on the crown of each sentient being, is absorbed into their hearts. Now feel the lightness. Your mind is completely transformed, oneness with Chenrezig’s holy mind in the nature of compassion. Feel unbearable compassion towards each sentient being.



The particular text that I’m going to try to explain is the basic text on the graduated path to enlightenment. It is by Lama Tsongkhapa, who is the crown jewel of the learned, highly realized yogis of Tibet; whose holy mind has approached the highest state of attainment; who did complete, extensive listening and perfect meditation on the whole teaching of Buddha, both sutra and tantra; who did correct listening, reflection and meditation practice and found infallible realizations of the whole graduated path to enlightenment; who did extensive works for the teachings and did extensive works for uncountable numbers of sentient beings. Like when the sun rises and gives much happiness to the human beings, animals—all sentient beings—by dispelling the darkness, this teaching is like the rising sun dispelling the ignorance of uncountable numbers of sentient beings. It dispelled numberless sentient beings’ ignorance of the path to liberation; it guided them to temporal and ultimate happiness. Even though nowadays present meditators and practitioners cannot see and receive teachings from Lama Tsongkhapa, by listening to, studying, reflecting, and meditating on them, they find it incredible. They are able to have correct understanding of the path, do correct practice and gain correct realization.

Especially these days, not only Eastern, but so many Western people are receiving benefit from Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. They were able to have so many teachings in these last few years, especially since Tibet was overtaken by the Chinese. The teachings have been of so much benefit, particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s essential teaching of the graduated path to enlightenment, which summarizes all the teachings and which is so practical. It explains how to live everyday life in order to make the actions of body, speech, and mind meaningful, in order to benefit oneself and other sentient beings. Not only to obtain temporal happiness for oneself and others, but to obtain the state of omniscient mind. It planted so many seeds for enlightenment in so many people’s, even Western peoples’ minds—seeds of liberation and seeds of enlightenment. So much preparation was able to be done for liberation from the sufferings of samsara—not only dispelling the ignorance of not knowing what is the cause of happiness and what the cause of suffering, but planting the seeds for the whole path—sutra and tantra. It is so incredibly beneficial for gaining immediate peace especially when there are problems and sufferings in everyday life. I was going to tell the life story of Lama Tsongkhapa. Maybe one brief life story can be read out—what incredible attainments he had, how he practiced Dharma and did incredibly beneficial work for sentient beings.

Those who have received many teachings on lam-rim and thought-training, but from their side did not practice, did not put it into action, of course, that’s something else. But for those who have received many teachings, who have understood, who know the meditation techniques, there is no question that as long as it’s put into action it does stop the problems. No question; no doubt. After one has understanding of the meditation techniques from receiving teachings, it depends on whether one puts the advice into practice or not, especially in everyday life, especially in circumstances where problems are nearly arising or when one is already caught in the problems. It is said in the teachings: the beginning of the meditation is the motivation; the beginning of the practice of the graduated path to enlightenment is meditating on the perfect human rebirth—the freedoms and richness of the human body, how the human body is precious, the qualities this human body has. The beginning of the practice of holy Dharma is karma. One should start meditating with pure motivation. When training the mind in the graduated path to enlightenment, one should start from the perfect human rebirth. Practice of the holy Dharma should start from karma.

In regards the different levels of virtuous motivation, this example is very beneficial for the mind. There are four people who are saying prayers or doing meditation such as watching the breath or the stomach moving, or concentrating on sensations. For this example it doesn’t matter whether the person has one-pointed concentration without distractions on the breath or on sensations or the movement of the abdomen or on some other object that is not a holy object such as Buddha. It can be just on a light or something that is not Buddha’s holy body. One person does concentration with only the motive to get some psychic powers to show off, or to be able to do something incredible. No power to benefit other sentient beings, but to be able to do something or be famous; for example, so I can have some experience, some attainment; so that I can become a guru and be famous; so I can get a lot of laughs, so I will have many followers,’ whatever the person thinks. Maybe the person is doing meditation in order to have a long life, to recover from a disease, or to be happy. However, the essential motive arises from being attached to the happiness of this life.

Another person does concentration for the happiness of future lives, to find a good rebirth—the body of a happy transmigrating being—to be wealthy, to have perfect surroundings and so on, in future lives. The third person does concentration with the motive to achieve liberation for himself. The fourth person does concentration with a higher attitude than the third person—to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. So, the fourth person’s concentration—watching the breath or sensations or movement of the abdomen, whether concentrating on an external or internal object—becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings. This attitude, the motivation of bodhicitta to achieve the omniscient mind of enlightenment, in order to free all sentient beings from suffering, is the highest among the pure attitudes. The motivation of bodhicitta is the most pure attitude, even if there’s no actual realization of, no uncreated bodhicitta, the altruistic mind of enlightenment. If the action of concentration is done even with created bodhicitta, it is done with the most pure motivation, bodhicitta unstained by a selfish attitude, this becomes the cause to achieve the greatest liberation—enlightenment.

The third practitioner’s concentration is done with only the motive to himself achieve liberation from samsara, from this bondage—the disturbing thoughts and karma binding himself to these aggregates. This person’s concentration does not become the cause of enlightenment as it is not possessed by the purest motivation, but is stained with the selfish attitude. This concentration becomes the cause to achieve only liberation for himself.

The second person’s concentration does not have the purest motivation of bodhicitta nor renunciation of samsara—the wish to achieve liberation. His concentration does not become the cause of enlightenment nor does it become the cause of liberation. His practice of concentration is done with the motivation of only seeking the happiness of future lives, so his concentration becomes the cause only to achieve the happiness of future lives.

The first person’s practice of concentration does not have the purest motivation of bodhicitta so it does not become the cause of enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings. As it doesn’t have the pure motive of having aversion to samsara and having the wish to achieve liberation for himself, and as it does not even have the pure motive of seeking happiness of future lives, his action does not become the cause of enlightenment, liberation or even the happiness of future lives. His practice of concentration or reciting or prayers and so on is done only with the motive of seeking happiness for this life; he is attached to this life. The rest of these four persons’ motives, starting with the second, who is seeking the happiness of future lives, are pure and virtuous. The first persons motivation ...

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is not Buddhadharma it is the fault of worldly dharma, his practice of concentration is worldly dharma, not holy Dharma. It is non-virtuous.

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Drom.ton.ba, who was the translator for Lama Atisha and who was the embodiment of the Compassionate Buddha, Chenrezig, asked Lama Atisha: “Would the result of any actions done for this life, actions done with anger, ignorance or attachment, be rebirth in the narak realm?” Narak beings are those who have the heaviest suffering: they have heavier suffering than humans and other sentient beings—that is the general definition. Those who pass their life in great desire are preta beings. Then there are animal belief in great desire are preta beings. Then there are animal beings. Lama Atisha replied that the result would be these rebirths.

The motive of the first person is non-virtuous and the result is these suffering rebirths, the worlds of these suffering transmigratory beings. You see, with this attitude, this worldly, non-virtuous thought, not having even the thought to make preparation for the happiness of future lives, having only an attitude with respect to this life, even if he does a lifetime retreat concentrating on the breath, or sensation or light and so on; even if he fasts, even keeps silence for a lifetime; lives in the rocky mountains, living as an ascetic, all this becomes non-virtuous negative karma. It does not become holy Dharma.

You see, all those practices of concentration starting from the motive of seeking happiness of future lives up to the motive of achieving enlightenment for the sake of other sentient beings, become Buddhadharma. The second person practices concentration with the motive of seeking happiness of future lives, making preparation for the happiness of future lives—that is virtue. It is pure because the motive is not stained by attachment, the clinging to this life. It is not sufficient that a mantra or a prayer or words of a text are holy Dharma. Your action has to be holy Dharma. For your action to become the cause of happiness, it’s not enough that the mantra, or the prayer or the subject of a text is holy Dharma—it depends on the attitude. It is not enough that you are concentrating on something. For your action to become the cause of happiness, it is not enough that your mind is concentrating on one object without being distracted. Without pure motivation the concentration becomes the cause of a suffering rebirth. Another way of saying it: when you think of an object of attachment—either material or a person—when you think, “He or she is so good—good hair, good nose,” your mind is one-pointed on that—thinking of this or that quality, labeling on that. You can spend hours on that object without the mind being distracted. This is training the mind in attachment and disturbing thoughts—training the mind in the causes of samsara. Meditation for suffering! The mind becoming familiar with attachment in order to have continual confusion. Similarly, with a person who is an enemy you spend hours thinking, “How bad he is,” and of the bad behavior and the words that he spoke to you. We spend hours and hours meditating on anger, making the mind familiar with anger, instead of separating it from anger. Then also you are focusing on that object. Generally, when talking about concentration, meditation, meditation means focusing on one object. That means these are objects of meditation! But it is not the concentration or meditation that’s needed to pacify problems or to liberate oneself from the sufferings.

So far, since we were born this time, and from beginningless rebirths, until now, we have been confused and suffering, under the control of the disturbing thoughts and karma. Even now we are not liberated from confusion and from being under the control of disturbing thoughts and karma. That is because from beginningless rebirths until now we have been doing the wrong meditation, meditating on ignorance and attachment. Making the mind familiar with, instead of making it distant from, the true cause of suffering, those disturbing thoughts. So you see, from morning when we get up until the last action of going to bed and sleeping—eating, sitting, walking, whatever actions we do that day—if all these are done with the pure motivation, bodhicitta, then all these actions of body, speech and mind become the cause of enlightenment. If the actions are done with aversion to samsara—the wish to achieve liberation—they become the cause to achieve liberation. If these actions are done with the motive of seeking happiness for the future lives, they become the cause of happiness for future lives. All this becomes holy Dharma if possessed by any of these pure motives. If, from morning until night the actions of body, speech and mind, whatever one does, are done with the motive of clinging to this life, then, as I mentioned before, even if one stops working and does concentration or prayers, it becomes non-virtue. That person is creating the cause of suffering from morning until night, the cause of confusion in this life and in future lives. There is no realization or peace of not having clinging thoughts in the mind of that person; no freedom from this dissatisfied mind.

Now you can see how incredibly important the attitude is. Your happiness comes from the right attitude in your own mind. All sufferings come from the wrong attitude, the wrong way of thinking, from wrong conceptions. By knowing this you can see now how incredibly important it is to protect the mind, to guide the mind. Even if a person wishes to be pure, to be a good human being, to have a good heart, he should protect his own mind. To protect karma and to protect the mind are the same thing. Even if a person wishes to be learned or famous—since he desires happiness and doesn’t wish for suffering—this is it, there is no other way than to protect karma, to protect the mind. If the person wishes to be strict, not seeing anybody, remaining in silence in a solitary place, living in any number of precepts or vows, this is it—protecting his own mind and karma. Otherwise one loses one’s happiness, the desirable happiness that one is seeking. Even if the person is poor, this is it. Since he wants happiness and not suffering the key is to protect the mind. Even if he is a rich person it’s the same. It’s so important.

The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in the Bodhicaryavatara—this quotation has great meaning—”If the person has tamed or pacified whatever he thinks is wrong and needs to be pacified, and has entered into whatever he believes is right, what is the need of many practices except protecting the mind?” Another way of saying it—in the world there are so many different philosophies, and doctrines, so many different ways of reasoning and modes of conduct of body, speech and mind; different propounders and followers, beliefs that this is right and this is wrong, so many disciplines. The conclusion from what he is saying is that as long as you don’t do the practice of subduing the wrong attitudes and entering into the right attitude—protecting the mind—what is the need of so many other practices? This is the essential advice. Another way of saying it is—without protecting your mind, no matter how much you study in universities, schools, colleges, no matter how many different languages you speak, or how much power you have, as long as you don’t protect the mind, it is of no use.

I think I will stop here. Again I didn’t make it to the text! I think it is very useful to practice continually, during break times, and perhaps in one of the meditation sessions, on the basis of what I spoke of yesterday. For example, if you see somebody, like your friend during the day, it leaves an impression on your mind and then that night in the dream you may see the friend that you met. It can be the same with an enemy whom you met or with whom you fought—you see the impression that is left on the mind in the dream, maybe fighting or something. In everyday life, even in one day, we experience various sufferings—the suffering of suffering and problems. That shows, that explains to you that you have accumulated various karmas in the past, in this life and other lifetimes. Actions done with the right or wrong attitudes planted impressions on the consciousness—the consciousness that continued from past lives to this life, and the consciousness that continued from yesterday to today.

As there are various flower seeds from which various flowers grow, likewise there are various impressions on the consciousness. So, even in one day we sometimes experience comfort, sometimes discomfort due to the impressions that were planted. Anything that is desirable in our view—sense objects—is the result of the good impressions. That which gives comfort to you comes from the impressions. Like the things which you met before that you see in dreams, as in the example, come from the impressions. For example, you see even parents or someone who died a long time ago in dreams. All these comforts and desirable sense objects come from impressions planted by virtue. All the bad or undesirable things come from impressions planted by non-virtue.

There’s nothing that exists or which you experience, which does not depend on the impressions in your mind.

So, on the basis of what I spoke of yesterday, practice awareness of this. Any sense object that you see or hear, practice awareness, thinking, “They exist depending on my mind. They came from my mind.” The impression that was planted is created by your own past attitudes. Your mind sees your parents or an enemy or a friend and that leaves an impression on your mind, and because of the impression you see them in a dream. It is not only that the way you see things depends on the present perceiver, the mind, the present wrong conception. If you can think further of course it’s excellent. But in relation to the impression left by the attitude, the perceptions come from your own attitude. Everything, good and bad. So practice awareness. Then the mind gets a clearer understanding in regard to karma. “It’s reminding me, persuading me, `It’s right because I have created the cause!’” When you have some comfort or someone says some nice words, that pleasure is persuading me, “If you want happiness then create the cause of happiness in regards to the objects sentient beings and the holy objects.” Create the cause of merit by practicing compassion, generosity and so forth. “Listening to the teachings and doing meditation for the sake of sentient beings I will create some merit.”

(end of tape)

November 17 am

We’re going to recite one rosary of Chenrezig mantra with the same meditation that we did yesterday. First of all offer a mandala to the Great Compassionate One. For those who have met him or received teachings from him, it is very good to visualize His Holiness the Dalai Lama on your crown and also on the crowns of other sentient beings. Either looking the same as Chenrezig, or with Chenrezig at the heart of His Holiness. Either way it becomes guru yoga practice. Also if you received teachings or made a connection think of that and make requests to quickly attain the graduated path. Then we will recite a prayer of request—this is translated into English, so it can be copied later on:


So, strongly concentrate, being aware of all the sentient beings’ sufferings, as much as you understand. Be aware of the whole world’s problems. Nectar flows from the Chenrezig that you visualized on the crown of each sentient being, purifying the true cause of suffering, all the confusion, the true sufferings, all the wrong conceptions which disturb, from faulting the guru through to the subtle dual view which disturbs the achievement of the state of omniscient mind. All those wrong conceptions are completely purified—your own and all other sentient beings’ Think of your own parents and any particular person that you want to comfort; somebody who is very confused, somebody who has many problems or who is very sick. We can think of them, and all the rest of the humans, or the sentient beings.


The nectar rays that flow enter the body and mind of oneself and all sentient beings and completely pacify and purify all the wrong conceptions, all the defilements—true suffering and the true cause of suffering. Think that your own and other sentient beings’ bodies become like crystal or well cleaned glass—not having any spots—becoming very calm and clear. Then Guru Chenrezig melts into light, and is absorbed at one’s heart as well as at the hearts of all sentient beings. Feel oneness, and that you have generated the whole path. The mind completely becomes oneness with Chenrezig’s holy mind, the great compassion towards every living being without discrimination. Feel this.


I mentioned yesterday which way of thinking becomes holy Dharma or virtue, and which way of thinking becomes non-virtue, the worldly thought. The virtuous and non-virtuous attitudes transform actions into virtue and non-virtue. From those various actions the result of happiness or suffering arises. So you see, the whole thing is dependent on attitude, on one’s own mind. All the sufferings and confusions come from non-virtuous thoughts, the wrong attitudes; all the happiness and all perfections come from virtuous thoughts, the right attitudes. The most important thing is our everyday life, the first thing to be concerned about—as suffering is that which we do not wish for oneself and for others and happiness is that which we wish for oneself and for others—is protecting the mind, not letting the mind become non-virtuous and as much as possible keeping it in the nature of virtue all the time. This is what protecting karma means. In our everyday life out of all projects and plans to be concerned about, to check, this is the first thing. Otherwise, we wish for happiness, yet the result is suffering and confusion. We mean to be working for happiness but in reality we are working for suffering.

In reality, if we don’t know Dharma, if we don’t know what the causes of suffering and happiness are, those secret aspects of the mind—that all the good and bad things come from the mind, that all our future happiness and suffering, from now until enlightenment depends on our way of thinking—it looks like we have taken the precious human body especially to create more and heavier negative karma, more causes of suffering. It looks like we are not born as animals—as fleas, mosquitoes, or tigers—because they cannot create sufficient negative karma, and that we are born as human being to create more sufferings! It depends on how we think in every minute, every hour, of our everyday life. So, it is extremely important to study about these things and to understand Dharma. Dharma means protecting oneself from the sufferings. If you understand refuge well—Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the Triple Gem—how, by taking refuge in Dharma, Dharma guides oneself, then you understand the meaning of Dharma. It means protecting or guiding.

Relating to how Dharma guides us in everyday life—practicing Dharma, such as practicing patience, is in itself taking refuge in Dharma. Like when we train our mind in the path to enlightenment: in bodhicitta, in the six paramitas—generosity, moral conduct, and so on—when there’s much confusion or great fear and we cut the clinging thought by remembering impermanence and death, or the shortcomings of attachment, or by remembering the nature of the object to which we are clinging—such as it is impermanence, how it changes in each second, and the absolute nature of it, how it exists by being merely labeled. When we attain a contained, satisfied mind, there’s protection against present and future problems. When you practice Dharma like this you are immediately content, satisfied, and the unbelievable fear, depression, aggression—the huge problems—are completely cut off, become non existent. You are immediately protected from that day’s problems that you have experienced since that morning, or the previous years, or, from birth, or since living with a particular person. Your Dharma practice, the pure mind and good heart, immediately protects you from problems that you may have suffered from for months or years. And because you have stopped the wrong attitude you don’t create negative karma, so it protects you from the rebirths of the suffering transmigratory beings. As it protects you from creating the cause of samsara you don’t need to be in samsara any longer. So, it protects you from the fear of samsara.

For example when we are sick we have to take refuge in, or rely on, medicine and treatment. What medicine does is cure us of disease. To have this treatment and medicine we have to rely upon the doctor to give it. We ourselves cannot recognize all diseases and know all the treatments. We don’t have the medicine needed to recover from the disease. We have to rely on a doctor who knows about all diseases, who can make a diagnosis—you have such and such disease caused by such and such and you should have such and such treatment. You shouldn’t do such and such harmful actions and you should eat such and such food in your diet. He gives us advice to not do harmful actions—if you do such and such action it will help your health. That is taking refuge in, or relying on the doctor. The doctor gives treatment and advice and that is the way he guides us. Then we also need the help of a nurse to care for us and to give us medicine. We rely on the helper, the nurse, in order to follow the advice and treatment that the doctor prescribed. The nurse is also guiding us.

Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the Great Commentary to the Graduated Path to Enlightenment that the actual Dharma refuge starts from avoiding, renouncing each mistake and accumulating each quality. Then, the qualities become more and more transcendental. That is the actual Dharma refuge. That means giving up, for example, the mistaken, non-virtuous action of killing. Starting from this—avoiding each mistake and attaining each quality—the qualities, the realizations, become more and more transcendental. Later on, those become the cause and then you generate the true path which causes the achievement of the true cessation of suffering and the true cause of suffering. The actual refuge, the Dharma, is the true path ...

(end of tape)

You can’t achieve this all of a sudden just by going on a mountain thinking, “I want nirvana, I want liberation.” Some leave the city and go into the forest where there’s nobody, or go into the mountains and stay there and hope something happens in the mind. Nirvana doesn’t happen like that. It has to be achieved from a small beginning, by avoiding each mistake of body, speech, and mind. Obtaining the ten virtues gradually and eliminating the ten non-virtues. Then the realization becomes transcendental, higher and infallible. Then one achieves the actual refuge Dharma, the true path, the true cessation of suffering. One should go to liberation by avoiding these ten non-virtuous actions and practicing the ten virtues—this Dharma protects. This is taking refuge whether you use the words “taking refuge” or not, whether you like the word or not. This is the “Dharma” whether one likes the word or not. However, if one is practicing virtue one is actually taking refuge even though one does not level it “taking refuge.” If we practice this Dharma it protects us from the sufferings of the bodies of the suffering transmigratory beings: the narak, preta and animal beings.

The whole graduated path to enlightenment is divided into three: the graduated path of the lower capability being, medium capability being, and higher capability being. This one is the lower capability beings’ Dharma. The lower capability beings’ Dharma protects one from the suffering of the lower realms. Practicing the medium capability beings’ Dharma, such as the three higher trainings protects from the fear of samsara, from the disturbing, unsubdued mind and obscurations. Practicing the higher capability beings’ path—bodhicitta and the six Paramitas—protects one even from the subtle obscurations. The higher capability beings’ path, including the path of the secret mantra, protects, guides one from the impure conception or view, the subtle obscuration which disturbs the achievement of the fully enlightened mind. Taking refuge in the holy Dharma, or another way of saying it, practicing Dharma, is how Dharma guides and protects oneself. The practice of the lower capability beings’ path offers happiness in the future lives—the body of the happy transmigratory beings, wealth, perfect surroundings and things like that. The practice of the medium capability beings’ path offers liberation from samsara; and the practice of the higher capability beings’ path offers the great liberation or enlightenment.

So, you see, to have this actual Dharma refuge, to be free from all the fears and to receive all the happiness and perfections, one has to rely upon somebody who reveals this path—the Dharma refuge. Just as we rely on a doctor and his treatment. Buddha is the one who reveals this. So, that’s how Buddha guides oneself. In order to actualize this actual Dharma refuge, which frees us from suffering, which leads us to liberation and to enlightenment, we have to rely upon that which is shown by Buddha. Then, accomplishing all this in our mind depends on the Sangha, those who are practitioners and attainers of the path. We need to depend on their support, like we depend on a nurse. This is how Sangha guides oneself from suffering. Buddha said in the teaching called Tsom, “I have shown you the path which cuts off the samsaric pain. The Tathagata, the Gone to Bliss One is the Founder and you should do it.” That means, “I have shown the actual refuge, the Dharma, which cuts off the pain, the unbearable samsaric suffering. I have revealed the true path to the cessation of suffering to you already and left it for you”—which means for us. The gone-to-bliss-one, the Tathagata, Buddha, is the founder and the Sangha is the supporter, the helper. “You should do it,” means I have done what I am supposed to do, now it’s your work, your responsibility. “I have shown the path, I have left the teachings—now it’s up to you to free yourself from suffering, to achieve liberation. If you practice there’s liberation; if you don’t practice, there’s suffering.” This is Guru Shakyamuni’s basic, essential advice.

Dharma refuge is not just a mere relief. Even if we cannot understand liberation or enlightenment, by not letting the mind come under the control of the wrong attitudes—anger, ignorance, dissatisfied mind—in our everyday life there will always be great peace and happiness. It is extremely important to always watch the mind, day and night, all the time. We have the opportunity to cause the mind to become non-virtuous or to become virtuous. We can transform the mind that is non-virtuous into virtue. As I explained, there are different levels of pure motive. Not only when we recite mantra or do meditation, but from morning until night, whatever actions we do, we should try to make everything become Dharma. Because of understanding what is a virtuous motive and non-virtuous motive, there’s an opportunity, great freedom to create a cause for the happiness of a future life, to create a cause for liberation or to create a cause for enlightenment. We have freedom for the actions in our everyday life to become the cause to achieve whatever we wish. So by knowing this, we have great freedom to accomplish not only temporal but ultimate happiness. What I’m saying is we shouldn’t live just by knowing the words, just intellectual understanding of what is the cause of suffering and what is the cause of happiness. We should put it into practice. Just knowing the words alone, without practice, cannot liberate oneself from the undesirable sufferings.

Are there any questions? Something bothering you?

A.M: (A question about whether practices to benefit this life are beneficial or not.)
L.Z: I don’t remember that I said there’s no benefit exactly. It actually depends on which of the methods you’re talking about. The different methods have different benefits. Regarding mantra, if the person recites it to have a long life or recover from a disease just for this life, that does not become holy Dharma—the opposite to worldly Dharma. Mantra is very powerful. It contains very profound meanings about the qualities of Buddha. It depends on the methods, in regard to small benefits, like karmic impressions, there are those benefits.
A.M: Yesterday, during the meditation on everyone being your mother, as I was reflecting on the thought of the infinite lives that we had to create that situation, I thought perhaps we’ve experienced every life. In that case, we’ve been our own mothers. I didn’t know whether that was right or not, but it seems to fit very well with my understanding of the laws of karma, because if I do something rotten to you, I’m going to be you, and so I get all the karma.
L.Z: I didn’t understand. How do you feel that you are your own mother?
A.M: And then there’s the logic that we are all one and it’s like...
L.Z: But how do you feel that you are your mother?
A.M: How do I feel?
L.Z: What makes you think that?
A.M. Because we become the same.
L.Z: The same? You become the same with your mother? I don’t know. You are oneness with everyone? Because you feel you are one with everybody? This is good. When somebody criticizes you, when somebody steals your precious things, or maybe you are having incredible comfort of sleep and somebody comes and makes a noise, somebody comes along and screams, okay, at those times when you really want to continue that sleep and somebody disturbs, if you can think oneness with that person that is good! If you can feel oneness at that times, then great, worthwhile! If you feel the other person is you, or you think, “I am him.” When somebody steals, “I am him.” So there’s no problem! “I am him,” so actually you haven’t lost anything! It is like putting a tape recorder in your right hand and taking it from your right into your left hand—the left hand takes it from the right hand! If when somebody criticizes or puts you down you can think oneness, great! It helps very much if you can think like that during those times. Then there is no problem and there is peace in the mind.

The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in the Bodhicaryavatara teaching, “Sometimes be like a rock.” There are many other techniques of course, but this suggestion is to be like a rock when there are problems. It saves a lot of confusion! You’re not a rock of course, but it helps! Similarly, to think, the other person is me, is helpful. Actually it is very good, even if you don’t feel it, to think, “That person is me”—even to meditate on it while the person’s standing right in front of you screaming rude words like hailstones coming on your head—that person is you and you are others.

When you have a very strong thought of cherishing others, seeing them as precious and important, then think, “What the other person actually needs is the same as what I need.” Then transform: what he needs is what I need. Not as a separate person, because that is how the problem comes, but feeling that you yourself have disappeared. It should be like when a mother is terribly sick, almost dying, starving or something, her only thought is for her child to have a good life.

(remainder of tape faulty)

L.Z. But you think that from human to animal is possible? You think so?
A.M: I think, if I imagine animals like dogs or horses I can see a progression, but I can’t see ...
L.Z: What animals? Dolphins?
A.M: A dog.
L.Z: A Dog, ah yes! Possible what?
A.M: Some kind of fish, dolphins, which are supposed to be very intelligent—then I can see how you can do something for your karma. But if you are a mosquito, I can’t see how ...
L.Z: I see! We can’t say no; there is a possibility. Generally speaking it is almost impossible, but individually there is a possibility for even flies and mosquitoes to accumulate merit. There’s a story about one fly in India, somewhere, I don’t remember where exactly. There was a very precious holy stupa and this fly—I think there was cow dung around—followed the smell of the dung and somehow did a circumambulation of the stupa.

You see, it’s like I explained yesterday about the motives—virtuous and non-virtuous actions: most become virtuous or non-virtuous depending on the attitude. Generally it’s like this; if your question is, “Does that cover every action?”—then it’s not like that. There are certain exceptional actions that do not necessarily depend on motive or attitude—whether they are virtuous or non-virtuous. There are holy objects such as precious, blessed stupas, like for example this stupa built by an incredible transformation of Chenrezig, which so many great yogis blessed at different times. There are so many incredible stories about those precious stupas. If one makes circumambulations, prostrations or offerings, or even looks at it, any action—even if the attitude is just worldly, or even anger—becomes virtue by the power of the holy object. Such as Buddha or even statues of Buddha. These certain specific actions are not dependent on attitude. Of course, if one can form the right attitude it is better, it is pure Dharma. But those actions become virtuous by the power of the holy objects.

What happened was that afterwards this fly, because of the merit of the circumambulation it did by following the smell of kaka, when he was reborn as a human being and was over eighty, he left his home and lived in a monastery. He met Guru Shakyamuni Buddha who put him in the hands of one arhat, I think Mudgalypu. In that life the old man became an arhat. Although he was over eighty he practiced Dharma, generated the thought to renounce samsara and became an arhat. There are many stories like that. Yes?

A.M: I think it’s the same question, because when we are always dedicating our energies to the benefit of all the sentient beings, so in the same way this energy can maybe come to this life and help us? I don’t know.
L.Z: Yes, it can help.
A.M: I don’t know. Because we are sending it, no?
L.Z: Yes. Send more! It can definitely benefit, yes!
A.M: How can the object have power from its side?
L.Z: How? How does this flame (pointing to a candle) have the power to burn? Do you know. This has power to burn?
A.M: (Because of the wax, wick, air, etc.)
L.Z: So those give the flame, the power, is it right? Similarly those objects have the power, by Buddha having ceased His obscurations and having completed all realizations—like you explained about the wax and all that, put together it can burn. It is similar. I think I should stop here, okay?

November 17 pm

Particularly for listening to the lam-rim teachings, the graduated path to enlightenment, it is not sufficient to have just the motivation of seeking happiness for this life. Of course, the action of listening to the teachings should not be possessed by worldly concern, a non-virtuous motive, because what we’re doing here, what we’re attempting, is to gain happiness. Our action of listening to Dharma should become a cause for happiness, so it should not be possessed by worldly concerns, non-virtuous attitudes. But even if it’s virtuous—seeking happiness for future lives—that’s not sufficient. Even the motivation of seeking liberation for oneself is not right. With what motivation should one listen to this teaching on the graduated path to enlightenment? The motivation of bodhicitta.

As you meditated this morning, all sentient beings have been one’s mother and have been kind. Bring up the feeling of the kindness of others using that reasoning—others having been kind to you numberless times. Think, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind in order to free all the sentient beings from all their suffering, and to lead them to the state of omniscient mind. Therefore, I’m going to listen to the teaching on the graduated path to enlightenment.” In this way you actually, sincerely generate pure motivation. As you are repeating and thinking about these worlds I say at the same time you should feel it in the heart—a connection between the words and the heart. It’s not that the words are for others or something like that, so you are listening to the teaching but with the heart feeling something completely different—having a completely self-centered attitude. In that case it is not sincere. There’s a gap between the words that we say and what is in our hearts. No connection, no link. However, when you have a sincere attitude, when you generate a strong motivation of bodhicitta, you are listening purely; doing the action of listening to the teachings not for your own happiness but for the happiness of others. The most important thing is to have the happiness of others in your heart—that others are most precious; others’ happiness is most important. Then listen to the teachings for the sake of happiness of others—to eliminate their suffering.

So I thought to talk in detail from Lama Tsongkhapa’s The Great Commentary of the Teaching of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment. It’s actually the great commentary to the Lamp to the Path to Enlightenment, containing all the teachings, all three vehicles that Buddha taught. All that is set out in the graduated path for one person to achieve enlightenment. So you see, the person who studies and practices this doesn’t get confused. It contains various teachings—sutra and tantra—of the three vehicles. A person who has understanding of the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the graduated path to enlightenment, doesn’t get confused in regards to his practice. The teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment are set up mainly to subdue the mind. The way the teaching is presented is not as a subject to study, as are for example the studies of the various existences, but mainly to subdue the minds of the disciples. If, by studying those extensive philosophical teachings and tantra teachings, the mind cannot be subdued, cannot be changed, if one cannot make progress, even though one has very extensive understanding of the five great treatises, and extensive teachings on tantra, having studied for maybe thirty or forty years and become a great scholar or geshe, if one studies and practices lam-rim, the graduated path of enlightenment, definitely one does make progress.

This teaching, written by Lama Tsongkhapa, the Great Graduated Path to Enlightenment, is the most elaborate commentary to the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment written by the fully accomplished pandit Lama Atisha, who re-established Buddhadharma in Tibet. The Tibetan king, Yeshe-wo, himself invited Lama Atisha. In order to invite Lama Atisha he wanted to make gold offerings, so he went to find gold. He felt so sorry that the teachings had degenerated in Tibet. People were so confused—those who practiced tantra, secret mantra, didn’t practice Vinaya, the discipline of subduing the body, speech, and mind, moral conduct. They thought that living in moral conduct is contrary to the practice of the secret mantra. They were doing the outer forms without having reached the level of tantra—depending on women, things like that. Not understanding how to practice sutra and tantra in order for one person to achieve enlightenment. Finding sutra and tantra practice like hot and cold—that if you do one thing you can’t do the other. Some pandits who expressed wrong views and wrong conduct came to Tibet and spread their wrong views so there was much degeneration. The king was feeling so sad that it had become degenerated, so he invited Lama Atisha. Anyway this is a very long story!

In order to revive the Buddhadharma in Tibet, the king chose and sent, I think, twenty-one intelligent boys to India to Nalanda in order to educate them. Because of the heat, of all those only one, I think, survived; the rest of them died. However, in brief, the king heard Lama Atisha’s name and heard the message that in all the monasteries when there were thousands of pandits, everybody was saying if Lama Atisha goes to Tibet it will be highly beneficial for Tibet. As soon as he heard the name of Lama Atisha, incredible devotion, unbelievable devotion arose; his hairs kind of stood up. So then he decided to invite Atisha. He went to find gold to make offerings to Lama Atisha, and somewhere at an upper place of Tibet or Nepal, one king captured him, confiscated all his gold, and put him in prison. I think the other king didn’t want to spread Dharma in Tibet. I think he was probably an irreligious king. Then his nephew Jang.chub tried to free the king from prison. He was told by the irreligious king, whose name was Kalo Gyalpo, that if he brought gold of a quantity such that if it was piled up it would come up to the neck of the Dharma king, he would be released. The nephew tried to find the gold in order to liberate the Dharma king from the prison. When he had collected it the irreligious king Kalo Gyalpo told the nephew, “Still it is not enough, the amount the size of the head is missing. As much gold as can be piled up to the neck you got, but not as much as reaches up to the head.” He asked the nephew to bring that much more gold. The nephew explained this to the Dharma king in the prison, and the Dharma king said to him, “Please don’t give any gold to this king; besides the size of my head, not even one handful. Take this gold and go and invite Lama Atisha; and I will die, I will give up my life in prison for the Tibetans, for the teachings. To invite Lama Atisha to spread the Dharma in Tibet, I will give up my life in prison.” Then he gave a message to his nephew Jang.chub.wo, “Please tell Lama Atisha when you meet him, that I have nothing else in my mind except to invite Lama Atisha to Tibet and spread Dharma in Tibet. That’s all that I have in my mind; and I give up my life. And to please pray, please help me to be able to see Lama Atisha in the next life.”

So, the king’s nephew invited Lama Atisha to Tibet. When Lama Atisha arrived there the nephew asked him, “The Tibetan people are very very ignorant, so please write a teaching, a very simple teaching,” I don’t remember exactly, word by word, but I think, “on refuge and karma!” A simple teaching to practice. Lama Atisha was sent the message by the king, explaining all the confusion that the Tibetan people had in regard to practicing the various teachings. Then, accordingly Lama Atisha wrote the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. It contains the essence of the whole path, all the teachings that Buddha taught; how all that is a graduated practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. So this teaching, the Great Graduated Path to Enlightenment, by Lama Tsongkhapa is the most elaborate commentary to that text written by Lama Atisha.

In the past I used to begin the lam-rim teachings as it is set up in the outlines: all the qualities of the author, Lama Atisha, because the title, the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, came from Lama Atisha and the way the subject is set up in this particular text came from Lama Atisha. In other words, integrating all the Buddha’s teachings so that it is easy for one person to practice in order to achieve enlightenment. Then come the qualities of the lam-rim teaching and like this, many things. There’s a whole lot before it reaches the meditation subjects! Many of the courses have started like that. Now, this time, we start from karma! Probably this time we are quicker attainers on the path to enlightenment!

As I mentioned the other day, Dharma practice should start from karma: action and result. So it’s very good to know details, the basics, such as that the non-virtuous action of killing has four suffering results and the virtuous action of abstaining from killing has the opposite—four good results. Also, details of things such as the ten non-virtuous actions.

Usually in the world for those who do not understand the Buddhadharma, especially karma, when there’s suffering, when there’s trouble, when bad things happen, the cause, or blame, is seen as coming from outside. No matter what other subjects they have studied—science or whatever other education they have: biology or science or whatever it is—nothing is related to the person who experiences the trouble. If it’s good, if it’s happiness, if it’s enjoyment—it is not related to the person’s mind. It is always explained by pointing outside. Then, if you ask them some questions, there are no more answers. The answers are exhausted. If you ask further, the answers become more and more false. At first the person can go back and back regarding the evolution of the external things, but after some time he gets kind-of stuck because there’s limited understanding. He doesn’t understand the mind. In the first place there is a complete block, a big darkness, in regards to understanding the mind. Without talking about the absolute nature of the mind but in regard to just the truth of the all-obscuring mind. He can’t understand even the nature of that, how it functions. He has no understanding of karma. Just a simple example that I often give at courses: one family has ten children and one was born with a handicap—the others are okay. When you ask the first time, of course the answer can be genetics—some hormones or something, or the genes. Something was missing, or was damaged, or part of an atom is missing. If the person doesn’t have legs, that part of the atom or genes or something like that, is missing. Something is wrong. But why? When the others were born it didn’t happen. They didn’t get these genes ... genes or chromosomes? The same? I don’t know; I just mentioned all the names! Amongst them there might be something right! Chromosomes or whatever. Why not for the others? Why did this particular child receive this body, this imperfect egg? Why? Why did he get this? Why? I think the answer would be, “Time.” Then I can ask the question: Why did this particular child have to be at this particular time? What made it? What caused it? Why did it happen in this time? You can ask and the person will repeat the same answer—and that’s it. His answers are blocked there. There’s no further explanation!

A similar example: there’s an avalanche when you’re trekking on the snow mountains. There are many people crossing and one stone falls down, or as they are going over the snow an avalanche happens. Some people die; some people are okay. It is similar. Why those people? Other people are going on the same day on that same trail. But why did some people die on that day and not the others? Because those people are there at the time when the avalanche happened. So, now, why did those people have to be there at that time? Why? What caused it? The person would say, “It just happened.” The people did not plan to die, but they just happened to be there. That’s it! There are no more answers.

I think, the more one understands the mind, the more one can understand about the external phenomena. So, by understanding karma one has a clear answer, an understanding of all the evolution, whether it’s of happiness or suffering, whatever it is ...

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To be in such a time, for the consciousness to be conceived on the imperfect egg, that is due to the inner cause. The problem’s to do with genes, chromosomes, something being imperfect, is talking about the external conditions, external causes. But now, talking about the inner cause, what caused that particular child to have a handicapped body? By understanding karma, not only do you understand evolution and all these things, but you have incredible freedom. Not understanding inner causes of happiness and suffering, only knowing the external causes—the conditions for a hard life or a comfortable life—you don’t have freedom to create the cause of happiness or to eliminate the cause of suffering. You don’t have freedom. If you don’t understand the external causes so much, even if you haven’t studied external phenomena, if you’ve studied the mind, if you’ve studied and understood karma, the inner cause, then you understand the inner cause of suffering and happiness. So then you have great freedom to not create the inner causes of suffering from now on, and to purify those which have been accumulated. One has as much freedom as one wishes. However many causes of happiness one wishes to accumulate one has great freedom to do so.

Even in the countries where there’s the highest technology, highest material development, you hear of so much suicide and so many heart attacks. People die of heart attacks so much. You hear of them killing each other so much. And for those who have everything, who tried to do whatever they could in the world, in the way of material enjoyments, who have everything that one can get on this earth, after some time, because they don’t have an understanding of Dharma, there’s nothing of interest left of this earth. Then they become completely depressed. Even if they are so rich, they are so depressed. They see life as having no meaning. For them being alive as a human being is no advantage at all; being alive is the problem! Instead of knowing that this is the body which can accomplish so many happinesses, whatever one wishes—temporal, ultimate, anything one wishes—seeing it completely the other way. So, having all this unbelievable mental suffering in countries which have the highest material development as I mentioned before, is a lack of understanding. Even though they study all the external phenomena—evolution, the conditions, the outside causes—they never study the inner cause of happiness. It’s the lack of understanding, the inner cause of happiness and suffering. So they have no freedom and things don’t work. Relying only on outside material alone doesn’t work, it doesn’t bring peace of mind. So then there’s nothing. The result is that they live their life in depression and aggression. The quickest solution is committing suicide! That’s all!

That’s why for people who practice Dharma, even if this life has problems because of the past lives’ karma—sickness and many troubles happening—their mind is happy. Happy because they’re making preparation for the happiness of future lives, and purifying. So, just temporarily having some problems—some sickness in this life or fear of the future—doesn’t matter so much for their minds. There are big differences regarding their peace of mind. If a person knows that it’s a result of his own karma. It’s better. The mind is more peaceful because he doesn’t blame the outside much. A practitioner who has understanding of Dharma, of karma, thinks that it’s mainly due to his own karma. That trouble—disease or whatever he is experiencing—inspires him to not create more negative karma! It inspires or helps him to create more understanding about karma; to do strong practice to purify; to accumulate merit. It helps him to have a stronger renunciation of samsara because these troubles—shortage of means of living, disease, all these things, whatever—are shortcomings of samsara.

Then, in regard to the ten non-virtuous actions: the heaviest ones cause one to be born in the narak realm; lighter ones than that cause one to be born in the preta realm; then ones lighter than that causes one to born in the animal realm.

The complete non-virtuous action of killing has four suffering results. The ripening aspect result of killing is rebirth in the lower realms. Experiencing the result similar to the cause is that even if one is born as a human being in future life, because of accumulating the non-virtuous action of killing in this life one has a shortage of life. For example, even if we become a human being in our mother’s womb we are unable to live long, not having a life long enough to come out as a human being—dead by being aborted or some kind of wrong conditions. Other people killing one and so causing a shorter life. Also, having so many diseases. Those are experiencing the result similar to the cause of the non-virtuous action of killing.

Creating the result similar to the cause is that after some time when we are born as human beings, again we do the act of killing. It’s what the scientists in the west might call instinctive. Because there is no explanation of karma so the term that they use is “instinctive.” For example, even a child sometimes likes to hunt or to kill so much. Some, even from childhood, have a very compassionate, very loving nature; they don’t want to give harm to others, and don’t like others to receive harm. They feel so sad when somebody harms another being—human being or animal. The child cries and is so sad. That is because there are many impressions—the mind was much tamed or trained in the thought of loving kindness or compassion. Because of the impression that is left on the consciousness this time the child is like that, having a good personality, being very generous. Even from childhood being very happy to give things to others. Some children are so stingy and so unbelievably impatient. When you see such a child you think: “Oh, this person won’t have a good life, won’t have happiness even when he’s grown up.” Similarly, in the past the mind was trained, was accustomed to, impatience and miserliness. It is due to the previous karma that this happens, even children having the wish to kill and doing the action of killing. Creating the result similar to the cause: when we are born as human beings again we continue the same negative karma of killing because of the previous impression.

The fourth one, the possessed result: that is always to do with the place—the outside where we live, the food, drink, medicine. The food and drink that is prepared and the crops—fruit and those things—have very little protein, not so much nourishment! How do you say it? Very weak? Not having so much nutrition, so much power, and being difficult to digest. Even if the food is mixed it doesn’t have much nutrition, much power. Even the crops don’t have much nourishment. They become a cause of disease. Then, even though your karma is to live, even though your life is not finished according to karma, untimely death happens. So these are the four suffering results of the negative karma of killing.

By knowing the inner cause, of why there’s so much trouble in the world, if you do not wish to have problems any longer and wish for only happiness, you should purify the inner cause, the negative karma of killing that you have accumulated in the past, and renounce the non-virtuous action of killing, of harming others. Then practice the virtue of abstaining from killing. Through that you will experience the opposite—the four good results, such as a long life when you get reborn as a human being. Again in that life you will create the virtue of abstaining from killing and again create the cause of happiness and will again be able to be born in a place where there are not all these problems. We would create the inner cause of happiness while we have the opportunity.

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