Kopan Course No. 10 (1977)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1976 (Archive #092)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Tenth Kopan Meditation Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal in 1977. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall, May, 2011.

You may also download the entire contents of these teachings in a pdf file.

Section Seven: Lectures 25 to 26

LECTURE 25

MOTIVATION
It is necessary to cultivate a pure motivation of bodhicitta, thinking I am going to listen to the oral teachings on the thought of enlightenment, which is the essence of this graduated path to enlightenment in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings.

Cultivating motivation is something to be practiced straightaway, it is not something waiting for future or something like that. For that reason, practice right away, right away transform all actions into the cause to receive enlightenment.

The listening subject is the oral teaching on the thought of enlightenment, the door of the Mahayana path, for the fortunate ones to receive enlightenment and is well expounded by the great highly realized propagators, Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is profound teachings which contain the essence of all the infinite knowledge of Dharma, that highly realized bodhisattvas Atisha and Lama Tsongkhapa have. And this contains all the essence of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, all these are set up for the graduated practice of one person to achieve enlightenment and this is the sole path through which all the past, present and future buddhas received enlightenment.

To offer this very commentary, just a drop in the ocean, an explanation of this teaching. Then there are preliminary meditations which help to actualize the loving compassionate precious thought of enlightenment, to complete the whole Mahayana path to enlightenment, including the Vajrayana path.

Start by thinking that I am going to listen to the oral teachings in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings.

Actually here what to do at the death time, after bodhicitta then, after bodhicitta the oral teachings of the branches, the branches of the actual body, training the mind in bodhicitta. So part of those branches is transforming the bad conditions, all the unhappiness what you experience transform into the path to enlightenment. And then after that there are five powers during life and there are five powers to do at the death time. There are five powers that include the whole life’s practice. The whole of life’s practice is divided into five, the total life is divided into five. So the five powers of the life’s practice and the five powers at the death time.

DYING WITH A VIRTUOUS AND A NONVIRTUOUS MIND
Actually the whole meditation starting from the perfect human rebirth, the meditation on impermanence and death and sufferings of the lower realms and negative karma, all that and all the meditation on the samsaric sufferings, all the meditations on equanimity, all these graduated meditations on bodhicitta and also meditation on shunyata, all the things are actually methods to also benefit at death time. These meditations are the fundamental methods. These basic meditations that we have gone through are the fundamental methods to benefit at death time. All these meditations are the methods that control the disturbing negative thoughts, so they are the methods that benefit at death time.

Especially there are various different, very high, very profound Vajrayana methods to do at the death time. But before practicing those specific profound Vajrayana methods, you should remember how all the samsara is in the nature of suffering. One has to begin with this meditation, such as bodhicitta, shunyata, like that. The basic thing is you completely makes determination that you will die. Instead of thinking, I don’t want to die, instead of thinking like this, you completely make the determination, then remember the meditation on impermanence and death and then remember the sufferings of samsara, how all samsara is in the nature of suffering. By remembering the twelve links, by remembering that there is nothing definite in samsaric happiness, perfections, surroundings, anything—nothing is definite. Nothing is definite, nothing can be trusted. Remembering those things, like the six general sufferings of samsara that I mentioned this morning. By remembering that then you see the whole of samsara is in nature of suffering. Then in that way you don’t get attached. You don’t get attached to anything. You don’t get attached to your own body, you don’t get attached to your surroundings, you don’t get attached to material possessions, nothing. Then you will attain freedom. You attain freedom to be born in the pure realm by using the profound Vajrayana method, or either through thought training, the method which comes after, which I explain afterwards.

You don’t even have to know the Vajrayana methods. If you have received the teachings on thought training then this is the main thing. If you are able to practice this, then it is without doubt that you can guide yourself from the rebirth of the suffering transmigratory beings to receive a precious human rebirth, to be born in a pure field of the buddhas. Then in that way, by renouncing attachment, by remembering the impermanence and death, then the suffering of samsara, you can renounce attachment. So in that way you get freedom.

At the death time it’s extremely important. The main thing is to try to make the last thought, the very last thought, virtuous. What rebirth you will take after death so much depends on what thought you have at the death time, the very last thought you have when you die. If the very last thought is virtue, then it is no question that you will be born in the realm of the happy transmigratory being.

If the very last thought isn’t virtue, if you die with nonvirtuous thought—if you die with anger, if you die with attachment, if you die with a jealous mind, with pride—even if you try to practice little bit Dharma and meditate little in life, death becomes nonvirtuous and that makes you be born in realm of the suffering transmigrator. So it is extremely important to make it virtuous.

At the time of death because of karma you can feel very cold. You crave heat so much, how good it is, wanting to be in a fire. Craving heat can arise like this. You think, “How good it is that, how fantastic if I can be in hot water.” Sometimes such a thought can come because you feel very cold. To be in a fire or to be near a fire, craving, because you experience so being cold. Many times, you can see many people die like this. No matter how many blankets you put on them, they are freezing cold. There are many people I heard of like this. And craving so much the heat. If a person dies without remembering the lam-rim, without remembering this meditation, then he dies with so much craving for heat, that attachment is what causes him to be born in the hot narak sufferings at the death time. This is called craving and grasping. Grasping. Dying with this attachment, what happens right after that is to be born in the hot narak suffering.

Also at the death time due to karma a person can feel so hot. No matter whether all the clothes are taken off but still feeling so hot and the person craves coolness so much, right away to be in cold water, in a cold spring, in a river. With so much craving the strong thought arises, “How good if I could get some ice, to bite it.” This is also craving. Usually normally when we experience these things, this is also craving and grasping. At the death time if this happens, if the person doesn’t remember the meditation to control attachment, then if she dies, if her life ends with anger with the last thought craving, attachment, to the cold, wanting to be in cold water, that is the cause, that is what makes her be born right away in the cold narak suffering.

Like that then, craving not wanting to leave this body, unable to make the determination to leave this body, clinging to this body. If you don’t remember the meditation on impermanence and death and shortcomings of samsara, what is explained in the lam-rim meditation, how the whole of samsara is in nature of suffering, if you clings to it, not wanting to leave the body, this is the cause of samsara, this clinging to the body. So that’s why we do so much meditation trying to see samsara is the nature of suffering. So craving, like grasping the cold or the heat, either feeling cold or hot, depending on that, then grasping like this.

So therefore, normally in daily life if you can remember, if you meditate, if you can train your mind in this lam-rim meditation, if you can remember again and again, then whenever you are in danger of death you can easily remember because the mind is well trained. So even if your body and mind are in a difficult situation—you are sick or something—you can still remember the meditation. That’s how you can save yourself. By remembering the meditation then you can see the whole of samsara is in nature of suffering completely and all samsaric happiness and perfections is essenceless. Nothing is definite, nothing can be trusted, all samsaric happiness is in the nature of suffering. When you see this, there is nothing to be attached to, therefore you are free at death time. Your mind is happy.

It is also very good, it is extremely important to recite the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha mantra. As you think the benefit, it has much power to purify negative karma, depending on how perfectly you recite the mantra. If you can recite the mantra with a bodhicitta motivation then you know how to recite mantra. Just being able to repeat the words doesn’t mean you know how to recite mantra.

VAJRASATTVA
There is a deity called Vajrasattva. All the buddhas have taken this specific manifestation to specially purify the negative karma, and it is extremely powerful. There is a long mantra and a short of this Vajrasattva. The short mantra only has four words, only four syllables. This is extremely important if you want to purify negative karma very quickly, from all the beginningless previous lives, from beginningless time, by thinking “I have collected so much negative karma tin his life, I did like this, I did that.” If you want to quickly purify then it is extremely good if you can recite this deity’s mantra.

By reciting this deity’s mantra, the short one, twenty-eight times, late of the night, before going to bed, if you can recite this Vajrasattva mantra twenty eight times, it that stops however much negative karma you have collected in that day, it stops it from increasing. Reciting even just twenty eight times in the evening has the power to stop the negative karma increasing, becoming doubled the next day. It stops to increase, otherwise it will increase, day by day, month by month, year by year. If you killed one ant, if you didn’t purify in eighteen days, then what happens is negative karma is increased, it will be increased 100,000 and another ten thousand, 1,393 or 300 or 100, I am not sure, in the mind coming 300, 92. It increases that much after eighteen days if it is not purified, becomes as heavy as having killed a human being right away, having killed a human being. The heavy negative karma becomes the same. So therefore if you recites this Vajrasattva mantra, even the short one at least twenty eight times, before going to bed, the negative karma collected that day stops increasing. Not only that, it purifies all the negative karma that has been collected from previous lifetimes. So therefore if you can recite this every day, every night, then it is so incredible, so much negative karma gets purified. Even just by that, even if you don’t know any other meditation, even if you can just do this until death time, even that makes life highly meaningful.

PURIFICATION PRACTICES: THE THIRTY-FIVE BUDDHAS
Another method to purify is to make prostrations by repeating the holy names of the Thirty-five Buddhas. By hearing the name of one special Buddha at the death time then you don’t get reborn in the lower realm.

If somebody wants to know, Chom den de/ de zhin shek pa, normally what we recite at the beginning is the same, Chom den de/ de zhin shek pa/da chom pa yang tag pa gyal wa sangye

Student: Do we have it in the book?

Rinpoche: We have de zhin shek pa. We usually have this but we don’t have the main one. So instead of saying gyalwa shakya tukpa you say rin chhen tsug tor chän la. Chom den de/ de zhin shek pa/da chom pa/ yang tag pa/ dzog pai sangye rin chhen tsug tor chän la.

Instead of yang gyal wa shakya tukpa you replace rin chhen tsug tor chän la.You don’t say gyal wa shakya tukpa, instead of that you attach rin chhen tsug tor chän la chag tsal lo. Chag means “I prostrate.”

Rin chhen tsug tor chän la chag tsal lo. This is the special Buddha that especially guides sentient beings by saying just the name, his holy name, it has power at the death time to stop the sentient being getting born in the lower realm.

Rin chhen tsug tor chän la chag tsal lo.

Maybe you can repeat.

Chom den de de zhin shek pa da chom pa yang tag pa dzog pai sangye rin chhen tsug tor chän la chag tsal lo. [Repeated several times.]

PURIFICATION PRACTICES: MILAREPA’S MANTRA
Then also the great yogi, Milarepa’s mantra, this mantra if you recite and blow, even on bones of animals that have been dead for a long time, after reciting, then blow on that bone then that makes to remove them from that suffering realm, naraks, whatever they are suffering, and causes them to be born in pure realm, also to be born in the human realm. Even by reciting and blowing on the bones or the body, by that effect, by that power then it has benefit like this. There are many benefits explained by Milarepa himself.

Then same thing if you can remember that mantra of Milarepa at the death time, or even if you hear that mantra, then you gets saved, you don’t get born in the lower realm. Then also reciting Milarepa’s mantra, praying like that, then he himself said in the teaching that a person who always reads his life story, person who always hears his name, who recites mantra then, who always talk about his life story will be born in the pure realm of the buddha called Ananga(?). He said, “I will receive the person in the pure land, the person will see me in the pure realm. With his bodhicitta, even those who recite my name, even those who hear my name, to receive this benefit, the benefit of bodhicitta.” So that’s how there is the benefit.

Then if one recite the great Milarepa’s mantra, it is like this,

OM AH GURU VAJRADHARA HASA VAJRA SARVA SIDDHI PALA HUM [Repeated.]

Also when you have to eat meat, then that time you recite these mantras, these very precious mantras, they have incredible benefit. You should try to benefit that sentient being like that. In that way, even if you are drinking water, after reciting then you blow on it and with the motivation you pray for the sentient being, make the sentient being to be born in pure realm that way, whatever he is suffering now may he be released from that suffering right away and to be born in pure realm. If you pray like this, “May this, my mother sentient being, be released from suffering right away and immediately get born in pure realm.” Then recite the mantra, such as the great Milarepa’s mantra, and it can benefit like this. The same thing, you can recite if you see a person dying, like that. You can recite and blow.

In Italy close to our center, there’s a cemetery. It’s not a big cemetery like in New York [GL] a small cemetery. We stayed a long time reciting at each box—What do you call it? Grave? Huh? Coffin—at each coffin, each dead person, we tried to recite the Avalokiteshvara he six-syllable mantra OM MANI PADME HUM. We spent some time there, with all the coffins lined up, kind of in rows, like that.

[Break in tape.]

OVERCOMING SELF-CHERISHING
When you try to receive the experience of the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and the benefits of cherishing others, then you meditates like this, thinking in many different ways, like remembering the kindness of the other sentient beings. You need to do this until you can exchange the object of your cherishing, until you are capable of exchanging the object of cherishing. Now the object of cherishing is just you yourself. By meditating on this many times, you can go from completely renouncing others and never caring about them and only cherishing yourself, but gradually one day through experiencing this meditation on the shortcomings of cherishing yourself and the benefits of cherishing others, it becomes completely the opposite—you cherish other sentient beings more than yourself and you completely renounce yourself, never caring about your own happiness.

When there is such an experience as this, when your object of cherishing changes, when that happens you have received the realization of exchanging oneself with others. Until you receives this realization you have to continue, you should continue this meditation.

Then after this in the profound Mahayana practice comes one of the main principal aspects of thought training. This is the main thing, which by practicing we collect infinite merit in such short time— by generating compassion, taking other sentient beings’ suffering upon yourself and dedicating your body, possessions and merit to other sentient beings, including teachings and the nirmanakaya, the embodiment of buddhas. Dedicating like that. With the sentient beings dedicating these things by generating love. This is one of the main Mahayana thought training techniques. This comes after this. Then after this comes bodhicitta. The great will is included in with this practice. So after this then comes bodhicitta, wishing to achieve enlightenment.

Probably, I might have to go to India, to do something. [GL] His Holiness Dalai Lama’s younger guru—who is the embodiment of the three times’ buddhas, who is the root guru of myself from whom I received so much, from whom I received my first lam-rim teachings, whose kindness can never be repaid any time—His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche is in south of India, in a monastery where there are many Tibetan monks. He is giving teachings there which I haven’t received before, Vajrayana initiations and commentaries. So at the moment I am hoping to be able to attend that teaching, if there is seat in the plane. If there is no seat, if nothing happens, then I might come again in the evening session. If there is seat then this afternoon one of the teachers, one who is very well qualified, one who has perfect understanding of the Dharma, will come here to give talk on karma.

If I have to leave, you have a great opportunity to receive teachings from Lama Yeshe. That is a big difference. My giving talk is like a baby chick, making cheep cheep noises. [GL] All day making “cheep cheep.” It doesn’t make any sense. So, actually you are becoming more fortunate.

I could have explained briefly each meditation; every time in the course there are always brief meditations, which might be good for new people perhaps, maybe not so clear but perhaps, but there any many old students who come who always have to do the brief meditation all the time. They come again and again and they never get profit because nothing becomes expanded. So therefore that is the reason why I took some time like this, going slowly. One reason is like this. By thinking that if I explain in detail just one time then it is more effective for the mind, in different ways if one hears more of this meditation.

However, if now your mind is different from before the course, concerned about making preparation for happiness of future life, concerned about be free from future samsara, want to practice Mahayana teachings in order achieve enlightenment for the benefit of other sentient beings, want to practice bodhicitta—if there is the slightest change in your thinking which wasn’t there in the mind before the course, then any thought that you have like this that has meaning. It has meaning that you attended the course, that you came, that you bore all the difficulties, the meditations, all these things. If there is no change at all, not one single change, if nothing happened, and your mind is just as before, the mind is perfectly left there in that shape, then I am not sure. (GL) Then that means the person did not take the course. [GL] The conclusion is, without talking much, the person did not take course, even if he or she was here, hanging around, that means he or she did not take course.

CHENREZIG MANTRA
However, there is no time to talk much anyway. The conclusion, the main thing is to observe karma and try to practice bodhicitta as much as possible, to quickly actualize bodhicitta. One method to quickly actualize bodhicitta is to recite this mantra, Avalokiteshvara, but it depends on guide, by always meditating on the guru and Avalokiteshvara as oneness, by the guru being inseparable from Avalokiteshvara. Recite this mantra and pray, all the time looking to receive bodhicitta. Then, if one recites this mantra, this is one method which makes you quickly actualize, develop, bodhicitta. His Holiness Dalai Lama said also to the Tibetan people when he was giving teachings, if you recite this mantra it makes the mind better and better. Better and better means to receive bodhicitta, to increase compassion and love. That is what is called a better mind, a good mind.

I have been asked to give blessing of this mantra, so I will do this just for auspiciousness. Then I think, that is my conclusion. And the benefits of this mantra, there are some people who came to the mountains for the puja, the compassionate buddha, we did the long retreat, 900 million or something like that, we did retreat. That time I explained the benefits quite elaborately. So if some person has notes on that, if someone is interested to know about the benefits of this mantra, what it means, what it contains, you can ask, you can read the notes.

Repeat the mantra that I say. This buddha, Avalokiteshvara, is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion to guide the sentient beings quickly to enlightenment by granting the realization of bodhicitta.

First repeat the prayer. You can visualize the guru in the form of Avalokiteshvara and think, I am going to take the blessings of the mantra in order to receive enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara enlightenment for the benefit of all the sentient beings.

[Group repeats prayer after Rinpoche.]

OM MANI PADME HUM

[Rinpoche recites several times then group recites together.]

Then make the food offering, nectar offering.

THE KINDNESS OF SENTIENT BEINGS
If you do the meditation like this you can see very clearly. Since it is same thing that you receive all happiness, you actualize the whole path to enlightenment by depending on the Buddha, it’s same thing that you are depending on sentient being, so just as you respect and make offerings to the Buddha, why can’t you respect the sentient beings? Not only human being, you can even respect the animals, even it is a tiny creature, a fly. You can respect the Buddha who is precious, because you can receive that much benefit. The Buddha is precious because you can receive that much benefit from him, being releasing from suffering and receiving enlightenment. But in the same way sentient beings are all precious. You gain so much advantage from them; you receive all your happiness from them. And also buddhas and bodhisattvas are born from the sentient beings, from each sentient being, so therefore a sentient beings is an extremely precious object. It is never an object to harm. It’s unbearable to think of harming one. Forget about killing, forget about torturing, by remembering all these kindness you have received, all these advantages you have received, it is unbearable even to beat with a finger, to even to give small pain by beating or hitting with the finger, even that is unbearable.

What pleases the Buddha? The Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa calls sentient beings the mother of the three times’ buddhas. The Tibetan honorific word for mother is yum, the respectful word for mother is yum. He says yum is the mother of the three times’ buddhas. He points out that the sentient beings are the mother from where the three times’ victorious ones were born. By checking, like you meditated before, you can see this is true. Like that you can understand, each sentient being is the mother from where all the past, present and future buddhas were born.

When this Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa talks about seeing sentient beings, he uses the world jal-wa which is the honorific term for meeting. This is the term we would normally use when we talk about meeting high lamas, but just use an ordinary form for everybody else, but here he uses it for all sentient beings. This Kadampa Geshe refers to any meeting like that, calling it dal-wa, the meeting the mother of the three times’ victorious ones.

Therefore think, “How dare I give harm to other sentient beings. Giving harm other sentient beings that is same as giving harm to myself. It is that uncomfortable, that painful.”

Buddhas and bodhisattvas are only concern about sentient beings. Who they work for, who they are concerned about are only sentient beings. Bodhisattvas try to achieve enlightenment only to help the sentient beings. So therefore because of these reasons, how dare we can give harm to any sentient being, even one who gives us harm. That is like harming a bodhisattva. Their only concern is how to release sentient beings from suffering and how to lead them into happiness, day and night all the time. All their works is completely done for the sentient beings, so to harm a sentient beings, even one giving us harm, that is harming the bodhisattvas.

After they have received enlightenment, what are the buddhas concerned about? What they think of is only sentient beings. All their work is only to guide sentient beings from suffering and lead them to happiness. Therefore harming sentient beings who gives harm to us is harming the buddhas. Is same as actually harming the buddhas. It is the same as if we harm the son we harm the parents who hold the son in their hearts. Day and night, all the time, they think of their one son, so if you hurt the son, you hurt the parents. Even though you don’t actually physically see the parents, even though you don’t hurt their body directly, but by hurting the son you hurt them because it is like their heart. It is the same thing; it’s like the Buddha’s heart. The sentient being who harms you is in the heart of the bodhisattva, so how dare harm him. How can we get angry at him, how dare we hurt him?

By taking care, by cherishing other sentient beings, you receive all the happiness. It is very good to remember the benefits of cherishing others. It is also very good to remember the nine points, the nine outlines, the benefits of bodhicitta that I explained before the meditation on bodhicitta. By renouncing other sentient beings then all the suffering arises.

It is said in the teachings that the happy transmigratory begins and the suffering transmigratory beings, their desirable result and undesirable result come from benefiting the sentient beings and harming the sentient beings. What it is saying is that all desirable results, happiness, is received by benefiting other sentient beings and all undesirable things, suffering, it received from harming other sentient beings. Also it is said in the teachings, the various sufferings that the narak beings, animals and pretas experience come from harming the sentient beings.

Even though arhats are free from samsara, why they haven’t receive enlightenment is because of cherishing oneself, not cherishing other sentient beings. Because of renouncing other sentient beings they haven’t received enlightenment even though they have received the lower nirvana. Beings such as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, on the other hand, by renouncing oneself and cherishing others, have received enlightenment.

It is also good to remember that if any sentient being who harms you, the principal cause is your own delusions. Your own delusions from previous lifetimes becomes the principal cause and harming other sentient beings due to that principal cause becomes the co-operative cause. Because of that, your delusions from beginningless previous lifetimes are the principle causes and your harming become the cooperative causes.

Because of that, in this life, this life, this sentient being who has given us harm, by doing a violent action, by doing a wrong action, with bad thoughts, with negative karma, he is going to experience particularly the various sufferings of the lower realms, and the general samsaric sufferings, endlessly. They are going to suffer like this. That is caused by me. It’s my fault.

Think, “I am throwing sentient beings into the lower realm,” like when you throw a stone. “I am throwing the sentient being into the suffering realms.”

Remember also Shantideva saying, remember this way is extremely beneficial. This is the Wheel of Sharp Weapons circling back on yourself. First, starting from your delusions and harming others, and then coming back full circle like this. This is one way you can remember it also. Shantideva says, “Persuaded by my karma, I have receive this harm. By doing this, don’t I make sentient beings become lost in the pit of the narak?”

This describes the whole process. Think like this. “My own delusions are the principal causes and doing harm to others are co-operative causes and then because of that other sentient beings giving harm to me. Their harm to me is the result of me creating negative karma so I have caused this harm. If I did not create that karma, they would not have given me that harm. If I had not created that karma of harming others, then they wouldn’t give me harm, and they wouldn’t have created that negative karma. Harming me is creating negative karma, and this is karma I let them create. So, I am letting them be born in the naraks. I am throwing sentient beings into the narak, into the lower realms.” That’s what it is saying here. That’s the connotation contained here. “By making them harm ma, don’t I make sentient beings create negative karma that will result in suffering and so don’t I make them live in the pit of the narak? It’s a path. Sentient beings who gave harm to me, numberless times I have thrown them into the lower realms, I have let them to fall into the lower realms and suffer. I did this by creating harm to them. By that, didn’t I make sentient beings become lost in the narak pit, to fall into the narak realm and suffer there.”

Like this, you generate compassion. This is the way to generate compassion. Any sentient being who gives you harm, how to generate compassion? How to generate compassion? By thinking like this, automatically you generate compassion, instead of getting angry. There is no way for anger to arise when you think like this. With your own delusions harming others, because of that you let them to create the negative karma of harming to you. You let them create negative karma and you let them to fall into the lower realms. Therefore, if you think like this, instead of anger arising to other person, compassion arises. How it is only your own mistake. Like this meditate on compassion. Generate compassion, how pitiful it is.

I think I’ll stop there.

LECTURE 26

MOTIVATION
Cultivate the pure the motivation of bodhicitta, not only that I could receive the blissful state of peace, nirvana, that is making myself to be free from suffering. That is nothing surprising, nothing to be surprised about, that is not the great meaning of human life. There are numberless sentient beings who have been my mother and extremely kind to me, numberless times, and they are devoid of happiness and constantly experiencing suffering, so I must lead them to receive enlightenment. The cause to receive enlightenment is the graduated path to enlightenment, such as this graduated path to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta, therefore I am going to listen to the teachings, listen to the oral teachings on this in order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all the sentient beings.

The listening subject that is the Mahayana teachings, the oral teaching on training in the thought of enlightenment which is the door of the Mahayana path, is method for the fortunate ones to receive enlightenment, as it is well expounded by highly realized propagator Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is the profound teachings which contains the essence from the infinite knowledge of the Dharma that Atisha and great Lama Tsongkhapa has. This contains all the essence of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all this is set up for the graduated practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. This is sole path through which all past, present and future buddhas can receive enlightenment.

In order to offer just a very brief commentary, an explanation on the commentary of the oral teachings, part of this specific subject that is the actual body, training the mind in bodhicitta. The benefits of cherishing other sentient beings, how sentient beings are extremely kind in many ways and they are the base from where we receive all our happiness, every single happiness and perfection, therefore we should cherish the sentient beings.

CHERISHING OTHERS
Again, on the basis of yesterday evening’s talk, how do we generate compassion, instead of getting angry with any sentient being—animal, human or even spirits—who gives us harm? What normally happens when we get harm is to get angry, to get nervous, to become evil, so how do we generate compassion when we are harmed? , How do we make our compassion stronger?

On that basis, to actually think like this is extremely good. “By that person harming me in many ways, but particularly by harming my Mahayana practice, he is only making himself worse. By doing this he only becomes the base to receive all the general sufferings of samsara and in particular the various sufferings of the lower realms. How pitiful that is!” The Tibetans call this nying-je, feeling compassion from the heart. How pitiful, what a pity. So like this, you generate compassion.

Also think, if a crazy dog bit you, eating a piece of meat from your thigh, what do you think? Instead of killing the dog, destroying it, giving it to the police, in the hand of the police, what do you think? Any sentient being, even a person who shoots you with a gun, who hits you with a knife, who cuts your body, how do you think? How do you practice? How do you use take this bad condition into the path to enlightenment? How do you transform this bad condition into the path to enlightenment? This bad condition can become a cause to create negative karma, by getting angry and letting all those disturbing thoughts arise, and thus ensure continuously suffer in the samsara. This is how it has normally been; this is the way it has been in your life, how you have been reacting when you receive harm. But you don’t have to. You don’t have to make it to become the cause to create negative karma, the cause of samsara. You can turn it around; you can transform this bad condition of other sentient beings harming you into the cause for actualizing the path to enlightenment. Instead of becoming the cause to feel upset, to feel unhappy, you can transform the other people’s harm into the cause of happiness, which makes your mind and life happy.

So, when somebody hits you, when somebody cuts your leg or arm into pieces, then what? What do you think? How do you transform the bad condition into a happy condition, the unhappy life into a happy life? So then think like this, “This sentient being who gave harm, he has been my mother numberless times, numberless times.” If you can remember the four kindnesses of the mother that you have already meditated on that, as I repeated this morning, it’s excellent to think that he has been kind numberless times, there is no number to it.

Think, “There is no number, is out of number, how many times I have eaten your meat, I have drunk you blood, I have chewed your bones, as a dog, a tiger or some other animal. I have chewed other sentient beings bones. Numberless times I’ve eaten your meat, I’ve drank your milk.” I did not mention this morning that milk came out of the kindness of mother! [RL] “How many times have I drunk your milk? How times have I chewed your bones, with a “cru-cru” sound?”

While a sentient being is harming, still harming you, you can meditate like this. Or even from afar, you can still meditate. “How many times have I put on your skin? How many times have I worn your skin? Remember that, like woolen clothes that you wear, taken by force, with pain, from the animal, from the sheep, often taken by killing. Many of the clothes that you wear, which makes you feel warm in cold weather, which pampers you, [RL GL] you get by killing an animal or by forcing it, by giving it pain. Many of your clothes have been received by killing animals, by them experiencing unbelievable, incredible, unbelievable suffering.

Even if a flea bites you, no matter how painful it is, it’s out of the question, it absolutely nothing compared to the unbelievable suffering when that kind mother sentient being is killed. It’s the same here. By them experiencing unbelievable suffering, you receive these warm clothes, this warm hat or warm whatever it is. So like this, “How many times have I put on your skin. There is no number. So it’s unbelievable, incredible. Then also all these things, if each one could be collected, piled up, there would be no space, there would be no empty space left. The entire area would be filled by each of these, from this one sentient being. It is numberless, how times have I kill them by giving poison, by shooting, by cutting the body into pieces while its alive and taking the skin off. I have let the sentient beings experience suffer for such a long time in so many incredibly cruel ways, unbelievably cruel ways. So many times I have beaten them, I have robbed them, I have cheated them. So many times I have done so many harmful things to this one sentient being.”

Think, “So now, this is my turn. It has turned full circle, the karma is circling back on me. It’s my turn to suffer, it’s my turn to repay the kindness. It is my turn to repay the kindness, for what I have done to this sentient being.” Think like this. So think, “Therefore it is extremely worthwhile. It is extremely kind of this sentient being, this dog who has bitten me, who has taken a piece of my flesh. How kind to have taken a bit out of my thigh where I am so fat anyway!” I’m joking about this one! Especially in the West, people don’t like fat. I remember one day I sent a student to a butcher shop to buy some fat I needed for something and the butcher didn’t accept his money, saying nobody ever wanted fat anymore. However, I am joking.

So anyway, think, “This is extremely kind. How extremely kind it is, eating my flesh.” So then like this, generate compassion.

I think pipi break.

Then also generate love and compassion like you did in last night’s meditation, by taking on the suffering of other sentient beings and dedicating your body, your material possessions and merit to other sentient beings. This is also very good to practice when somebody harms you. Generate love and compassion this way. Generate compassion knowing he’s suffering by creating negative karma and following delusion, as I explained before, then love, knowing how he is devoid of happiness. Then you do this practice with sentient being who gives harm, which means you don’t have line them up so they have to wait until you finished the rest of your meditation session. [GL RL] They’re not sitting there lined up until you finish your meditation, not like this. No matter whatever he does, wherever he is, you just meditate, practice like this.

SHOWING PATIENCE FOR SENTIENT BEINGS WHO HAVE HARMED US
Then also think, “If I don’t practice patience on this sentient being who gives me harm, while he is giving me the opportunity to remember patience and to practice patience, if I don’t practice now, then when will I practice patience? When will I ever be able to complete the practice of patience? If I don’t practice now, when he helps me to practice patience, when he gives me the opportunity, when I will practice? When I will complete the practice of patience?”

You can achieve enlightenment only by completing the practice of patience. Without completing it, you cannot receive enlightenment. So think, “This is my teacher. This person who gives me harm is my teacher, my virtuous teacher. Why? Why? Why virtuous teacher? Because just as I receive teachings from my teacher, from my guru, I receive teachings on patience, on how to practice patience from this virtuous teacher, from this guru.” On that basis, you then practice patience. In the same way as a guru gives you the opportunity to practice patience, by explaining the teachings on how to practice patience, similarly this person who harm you also helps you practice patience as a guru helps you practice patience. If you practice patience based on this person’s harm then you receive received the virtue; you create virtue by the kindness of him harming you. Therefore, this is the same as creating virtue by following the teachings on patience from the guru. It’s the same thing here, and so he is also your virtuous teacher who helps you to complete the practice of patience. Think like this, “He’s my virtuous teacher who helps me complete the practice of patience.”

This last one is trying to see the harmer as a teacher, as a guru. You receive your virtue by generating the patience. Patience itself is a virtue, so this virtue is received by his kindness, so he is your virtuous teacher who helps you complete the practice of patience. Also question yourself, “If I don’t practice patience now, when I will I practice patience, when I will complete the practice of patience?” Then like this, remember his kindness.

So that’s how practicing the six perfections, the six gone-beyond things, is also received by depending on kindness of sentient beings.

For example, you receive patience from the sentient being who gives you harm, not from stone or wood, not from yourself. So think this is very good. Think, “I like friends but I don’t like enemies. But actually, this enemy is kinder than a friend. Actually, this enemy is kinder than friend. A friend who doesn’t give me any harm, doesn’t give me the opportunity to learn patience. I don’t receive patience from my friend. Patience does not arise from the friend who does not harm me but who helps me. On the other hand, the enemy who harms me gives me the opportunity to practice patience and so patience arises from this enemy. So this enemy is really extremely kind.”

MORALITY
So it’s the same thing with the paramita of moral conduct. Not taking of others’ lives, not harming others—it involves so many things to not harm other sentient beings. Not harming other sentient beings. If there are no sentient beings at all, there is not only no object to practice patience on, there is no object to allow you to observe moral conduct, to not take another’s life. If there are no sentient beings, there is no need to take the vow, and so no chance to observe the moral conduct of not harming other sentient beings. So like this, you have to receive the merit of observing moral conduct, not harming others, from sentient beings, from the precious holy objects, the sentient beings.

Then as well as moral conduct and patience then rest of them, charity, energy, concentration, wisdom, all the rest, all these perfections are received, by depending on the kindness of the sentient beings.

The sentient being—for example, the enemy—is the one who places enlightenment in your palm. The enemy, the sentient beings are the ones who gives you the enlightenment, who place enlightenment in your hand, your palm. So if you think like this, how the path, the six perfections, how everything that you have depends on sentient beings, you can see clearly how sentient beings place enlightenment in your hand. So it’s extremely kind.

SEEING THE SENTIENT BEINGS AS GURU
Also, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa says in his teaching, “Whether it’s an enemy or friend—the object of the delusion, the disturbing negative thoughts—one who sees this as a virtuous friend (which means teacher) that person, wherever he is, is happy. This is very clear.”

Another way of putting it is this. The person who sees the object of delusion, either enemy or friend, as a virtuous teacher all the time is happy. The object of delusion can be anything, the object of attachment, the object of anger, the object of pride, whatever makes to pride, jealousy, many things like this arise. Then who can see them all the time as a virtuous teacher, as a guru, by remembering thought training teaching, that person is happy, wherever he goes, wherever he is, even if he is in the prison, even if he is in a huge, beautiful palace, even if he is in court where he is punished, where he is to be killed, that person’s mind is always happy, always happy. That person’s mind is always happy, so that person’s life is always happy. What makes that person’s mind unhappy, as we talked at the beginning of course, is the disturbing negative thoughts.

So by remembering this thought training teaching, by practicing, just as I have explained these things about how to generate compassion, when somebody gives you harm, besides not letting to delusion arise, you develop your mind, you make your mind better. You use these conditions, these objects of delusions, to make the mind better, to increase compassion, then love, bodhicitta, then patience, and many other points on the path. Besides controlling delusions and not letting them arise, it becomes a helper to actualize this path and to increase the realizations. So like that, as the disturbing negative thoughts are controlled, you see there is nothing which makes your mind unhappy. As there is nothing that makes your mind unhappy, so there is nothing that makes your life unhappy. So, there are no ups and downs.

And also it’s very good to remember what great bodhisattva Shantideva said in his teaching,

“Just like having found a treasure at home, without obtaining with difficulties, the enemy became friend, who becomes a friend, the enemy who is friend, to practice the bodhisattva’s actions.” Maybe put it this way:

The enemy who is a friend for practicing the bodhisattva’s deeds, obtained without difficulty, like finding a treasure at home.

What the great bodhisattva Shantideva is saying is that if you go on purpose to find the enemy, you might not find him at all. “I want to find an enemy!” If you are purposely search for an enemy—“Where is my enemy?” putting advertisements in newspapers and television [GL] saying please come for party on such a day [GL] like people in the West do to find a good husband—then you maybe you can’t find him.

Even if there are many difficulties, if you try everywhere, hitchhiking all over the place [GL] still you can’t find the enemy. The enemy you have just received, he’s helping you practice the bodhisattva’s deeds. Another way of saying this is he’s helping you practice the bodhisattva path to enlightenment. What I’ve just mentioned before, this example, “I should like the enemy, just like the example of having received a precious treasure at home, without difficulty.” To obtain treasure, usually you need to go by ship, traveling for months and months, but this is without even leaving home. First you leave the home, all your family, then you go home, then you travel, then you go by ship, then you go to ocean, then go in the middle of the ocean and get the treasures by bearing the dangers of life, by making all this expenses, like that. But this is like a person who has found a treasure at home, without needing to go outside. You have received the precious treasure there, without needing to work for it, without need to bear difficulties to get it. Normally, if a person finds a treasure he is so happy, so why can’t you be happy when you have found an enemy without having to go outside to look for one, without traveling, without a lot of expenses. Therefore, you should receive that enemy as a friend because he helps you practice the bodhisattva actions, easily without any difficulty. Why can’t you be happy with this?

You can be happier, you should be happier meeting this enemy than having found a precious treasure at home. Why? Because the enemy helps to control the delusion, the enemy helps to actualize the Mahayana path, the bodhisattva path to enlightenment, but that jewel, that precious treasure that doesn’t have that value to help you. It doesn’t help in that way. So therefore actually you should be happier to receive the enemy.