Kopan Course No. 14 (1981)

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

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

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

Section Seven: Lectures 28-34

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Lecture 28: December 5th am

[Preliminary prayers]

Please listen to the teaching, generating at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve omniscient mind for the sake of all the kind mother sentient beings; therefore, I’m going to listen to the commentary of the Bodhicaryavatara.”

The next stanza is about the benefits of attempting to renounce the unsubdued mind.

Even when the wise are suffering
Their minds remain very lucid and undefiled.
For when war is being waged against the disturbing conceptions,
Much harm is caused at the times of battle.

The explanation of the first two lines was done yesterday. The last two lines and then the next one:

The victorious warriors are those
Who, having disregarded all suffering,
Vanquish the foes of hatred and so forth:
Common warriors slay only corpses.

What the verse shows are the benefits of attempting to renounce the unsubdued mind. One practices the remedy, waging war on the unsubdued mind—such as anger, those that are to be subdued, to be renounced, to be ceased—even though there are many difficulties in doing that. If it is regarded as brave by the worldly people to bear the suffering of receiving injuries with weapons, swords cutting the body, killing the enemy then, of course, if this person can be called brave, the practitioner who bears all the hardships of body and mind to overwhelm and destroy the enemy, the unsubdued mind, such as anger, the one who becomes victorious over the unsubdued mind is really brave. If one doesn’t call this brave then the connotation of “brave” is lost. If this person is not a worthwhile base to recognize and label as brave, then the meaning of bravery is something else. If one who is able to do this hard work, who has the great will to do this hard work, is not the meaning of brave, then “brave” does not exist. Among the hard works there’s no harder work than this. There is no hard work that is more worthwhile than destroying the enemy, the unsubdued mind of anger, the inner enemy. The outside enemy is destroyed by weapons but the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind, cannot be destroyed by materials. The inner enemy, who gives great harm to you and others in all the three times, in the past, the present and the future, is the unsubdued mind. And this enemy has to be subdued by the remedy mind. The remedy mind has to destroy it. The remedy has to be one’s own mind, such as patience and the loving compassionate thought of bodhicitta. The remedy, the path that is one’s own mind, has to destroy the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind, which is also one’s own mind. So the work to gain victory over the delusions is the hardest work, this is the most brave, this is what is really brave.

Also, as it is said in the Bodhicaryavatara by the great bodhisattva Shantideva, I don’t remember exactly the stanza: Once the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind is destroyed, all the enemies are destroyed by the way. Once the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind, is destroyed, when that doesn’t exist any more, there is no more outside enemy to be found. That is because the outside enemy happened due to the existence of the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind. The reason one has so many outside enemies is because one has so many inner enemies. One can understand that by checking one’s own life and also by looking at other people’s lives—the way some people are living their lives, and their personalities. The more impatience there is in the mind, the more the person finds outside enemies. Even in a new place, where there wasn’t any enemy before, soon somebody turns out to be an enemy. He finds an enemy. Like this, one can understand by watching the way of living life, one’s own and others’.

So then, while this inner enemy is not destroyed, not subdued, no matter how much you are able to kill human beings, the outer enemy who hates oneself, the violent one who attacks oneself, the tigers, the vicious animals, no matter how many one kills there is no way to finish the outer enemy. There is no way, there is no time that the outside enemies will be completely finished. “This is the way to end the outside enemy; after killing all these, from now on there won’t be one single enemy left.” There is no such thing, no such time, as long as the inner enemy, the unsubdued mind, is not destroyed.

Like the example that is used in the Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva, without exactly saying the lines of the verse: If you think how the thorns of this earth hurt you and by thinking like this you want to destroy the thorns, to have no more thorns existing on this earth to hurt you, and if you want to cover all the thorns that grow on this earth with leather, there wouldn’t be enough leather to cover all the bushes that have thorns on the earth. But if you have shoes of leather under your feet, with this small piece of leather under the shoes, you can cover it all. With that small piece you can cover all the thorn bushes that grow on this earth. It can stop all thorns from hurting you.

This example is used to show that once the inner enemy is subdued all the outside enemies are destroyed. Even the danger of the elements, non-living beings, dangers for your life and also enemies harming you, like vicious animals, snakes, tigers, human beings, things like that—all the outside enemies get destroyed at the same time.

This is very practical, without needing to have weapons at all, without needing to use even a needle to hurt others. Without hurting other sentient beings at all, there is no need to hurt sentient beings in the slightest, just use the medicine of one’s mind meditating on the remedy of the path, subduing the one enemy, the inner enemy, making it completely non-existent. By this, all the outside enemies become non-existent for oneself. After this, no matter how much one tries to find, one cannot find even one outer enemy at all. So it is very practical work, this way of making the enemy non-existent by developing the mind, the good heart. If one practices in this way, destroying the enemy, the more one practices, the more one is able to make the unsubdued mind smaller, the more one is able to benefit other sentient beings. Like this, there are advantages and benefits of attempting to remove the unsubdued mind. There are great advantages like this.

In fact, there is not one sentient being that we have not killed before. Not one sentient being. Even we who are living together here, numberless times we have killed each other, numberless times we were each other’s enemy, cutting off each other’s heads. If all the heads were piled up, there wouldn’t be any space left. If one had clairvoyance like arhats, like Buddha has clairvoyance, that psychic power, then by thinking back to all the relationships that we had with each other, it’s kind of amazing, it gives great fear in the mind. Actually, it is similar—all sentient beings have been one’s own mother and there’s not one sentient being that we didn’t have the experience of killing. We killed them numberless times. As regards stories from life to life, past stories, it has been like this, even though we can’t remember the past life or the relationships we had with others. Even though one cannot remember this at the moment, it has been like this. Still the outside enemy is not finished. There’s not one sentient being that we didn’t have the experience of killing, that we have not killed numberless times—but still it’s nothing—making war, killing a billion people on this earth, that’s nothing. That is nothing, destroying the outside enemy. Trying to make the outside enemy non-existent, that is nothing. We have done that many times but still the outside enemy is not finished. That is because we still find more and more outside enemies. The whole thing is, the whole mistake is that the one enemy that dwells in one’s heart is not destroyed because one is unable to be victorious over the inner enemy.

Those beings such as arhats, high bodhisattvas and buddhas do not have outside enemies. They cannot find outside enemies, they do not have such objects because inside there is no unsubdued mind arising, anger and such minds do not arise. There is no object of delusion, no object of anger, no object of attachment, like this. Relating to oneself, relating to others, from one’s own experience one can understand this. When one strongly does the practice of a good heart, at these times there are much fewer enemies, and at times when one doesn’t do the practice of the good heart one finds more enemies. Like this one can understand even from one’s own life experience how the outside enemy is dependent on the inner enemy. One who has a very vicious, cruel mind, very impatient, so selfish, has so many enemies. One whose mind is normally very patient, with great thoughts of loving kindness and compassion, according to that there are fewer enemies. From this one can understand.

Then it says, killing those outside enemies is like killing a corpse, because whether you kill them or not, sooner or later they are going to die. It’s not that if you don’t kill them they will exist on this earth forever, harming you. It’s not like that. Whether you kill them or not, sooner or later they are going to die anyway. Gradually those outside enemies, those who are not killed by you, who are left there, moving around on this earth; those who harm you, even if you don’t do anything to them, are samsaric beings who die without choice under the control of unsubdued mind and karma. So your killing them is like killing a corpse. What the worldly people recognize as brave is not really brave, that’s what Shantideva is saying.

The next stanza explains the benefits of meditating on suffering.

Furthermore, suffering has good qualities:
Through being disheartened with it, arrogance is dispelled,
Compassion arises for those in cyclic existence,
Evil is shunned and joy is found in virtue.

Meditating on suffering is very important, an extremely important point of practice. The qualities of thinking of suffering, the true cause of suffering, true suffering make us understand, for example, the twelve links. We understand that this is the true cause of suffering, the seven results which arise from the true cause of suffering, the unsubdued mind and karma. Understanding this, meditating on this, hearing this, you discover that you yourself are under the control of suffering.

And then also you feel upset and feel repentance that you experience the samsaric sufferings being under the control of the unsubdued mind and karma. That stops the arrogance and pride in having a better caste, more power and education, having too much arrogance. Realizing your own sufferings of samsara, how you are under the control of unsubdued mind and karma stops those unsubdued minds of pride and arrogance, those inflamed minds, flaming minds—inflation? Inflated; I think arrogance is enough, arrogance.

Then, also, realizing your own suffering, realizing how you are experiencing the sufferings of samsara and having repentance, when you see how others are under the control of suffering, compassion arises in the mind, wishing those other sentient beings to be without suffering. “How wonderful it would be if those other sentient beings could be free from these sufferings.”

Also, thinking of the sufferings, meditating on the sufferings helps to check the cause from where they came. One sees that suffering is the result of non-virtue. In that way, as one does not wish suffering, one is able to be careful with non-virtuous actions, wishing to protect oneself from the non-virtuous actions. Also if the person wishes happiness and checks the cause, then he sees that happiness is the result of virtue and in that way he is happy to practice virtue, the mind is happy to practice virtue.

So one thing is that meditating on suffering dispels the unsubdued minds of pride and arrogance, also attachment, anger and ignorance—all these unsubdued minds are dispelled by meditating on suffering, by discovering one’s own suffering. By discovering true suffering, one seeks the true cause of suffering; then one realizes that the cessation of the true cause of suffering is the ultimate happiness. So then, when one knows that “this is my goal, this is what I should achieve in order to be free forever from suffering,” this persuades the person, the practitioner, to seek the path to the cessation of the true cause of suffering, to nirvana. In that way one follows the path as remedy and through that one accomplishes the cessation of the true cause of suffering. So like this, how beneficial it is to meditate on suffering, the discovery of the suffering of one’s own samsara.

Then also it helps to generate compassion when you see others are also suffering in samsara. In short, it helps to renounce non-virtue and practice virtue. In that way this life is happy and one goes from happiness to happiness; from one life to another life one goes from happiness to happiness. Like this, one goes to the highest happiness, omniscient mind.

The next stanza: meditating on patience, definitely reflecting the Dharma, the holy Dharma. In particular, anger itself and the person who is angry, both, how they are not a self-entity. They do not have self-control. The reason he doesn’t have self-control is because he is under the control of others. This is why there is no reason to get angry, why it is not worthwhile to get angry with the unsubdued-minded person—I’m not sure if it’s correct or not—with the person who has delusions.

As I do not become angry
With great sources of sufferings such as jaundice,
Then why be angry with animate creatures?
They too are provoked by conditions.

If the question arises whether it is worthwhile or not to get angry, because the enemy gave me harm, if selfish attitude that takes the side of anger says this, then is it worthwhile to get angry? It is not worthwhile; one cannot get angry for the reason that the other enemy harmed you. If that were a reason that makes it worthwhile to get angry, then why don’t you get angry with disease—with bile, wind disease, phlegm disease—when they are not balanced, if one of those is too strong? Such diseases are the originators of great sufferings and produce many problems, so why don’t you get angry with those? It is the same thing, those diseases also give harm. Also, when the four elements are not balanced, the disease comes. Therefore the unbalanced four elements are the originator of great sufferings, of the various diseases, so why don’t you get angry with those elements for the same reason, that they give harm to you?

If you don’t get angry with those diseases, the originators of great suffering, those unbalanced elements, then why should you get angry at living beings? They both give harm, so if you don’t get angry with them, it is the same thing, so then why do you get angry with living beings?

The answer comes: bile disease and those unbalanced elements happen by conditions, without self-control, so therefore I don’t get angry with them. Then to that answer, the same reason is put: then there is no reason to get angry with living beings. The harm those living beings who have unsubdued minds give you is also persuaded by the condition of unsubdued mind. It is done without self-control. For the same reason, it is exactly the same.

Although they are not wished for,
These sicknesses arise;
And likewise, although they are not wished for,
These disturbing conceptions forcibly arise.

Without wish, when the conditions are gathered, the disease arises. Like that, also anger; without the wish in the mind of the person to have the anger, without wishing for anger to arise, from the conditions, the cause of the unhappy mind, from that delusion, the unsubdued mind of anger arises. So therefore if you want to get angry, then you should get angry with the unsubdued mind. If you do get angry, if you want to get angry, then it’s worthwhile to get angry to the unsubdued mind—there is no reason to get angry with the person himself.

I stop here.

[Dedication prayers]

Lecture 29: December 5th pm

Instead of sitting, I thought to do maybe a little bit of walking meditation. Not just paying attention to your feet, not just the awareness of your feet moving and stepping over the ground, not just that. Instead of doing meditation in dependence on sitting we do meditation in dependence on walking. Meditating on being empty, relating to what you are doing, being in a group, like a session, helping the mind to pay attention without distraction. It is easier to do this meditation related to action, to what you are doing.

Actually the best thing would be to do this meditation from morning until night, without need of separating it. Just whatever you do individually, whatever you do, according to that, relating to that, meditating in dependence. This is a special technique that is very useful even for somebody who has recognized the object to be refuted, who has seen emptiness. Also, especially for those who have no idea what “the refuting object” is or what it is that one should realize as empty, the “I” that doesn’t exist. It is very helpful to recognize what it is that doesn’t exist and what you should realize as empty. It is very beneficial for that. Otherwise there is no way—you are blocked from seeing the emptiness-only of the “I” in order to eliminate the ignorance of truly existence, the root of samsara.

The best is from morning to night, whatever one does, to practice awareness of dependence. How the self is merely labeled, the subject, aggregates, the objects of the six senses—whatever you hear, whatever you feel, whatever you taste—with everything practicing awareness of how all this depends on being merely labeled.

If one individually practices awareness like that it is excellent. Not just the awareness—“Now I’m making pee-pee, now I am eating, now I’m making kaka,” or “Now I’m angry”—but doing nothing. You are aware, but you do nothing about it. If you don’t use the remedy to control or to cut the unsubdued mind, then that awareness doesn’t have much meaning. The awareness that “I am killing a goat,” the awareness that “I am killing lice”—you can be aware of that while you are killing, while you are stealing; you know, the awareness of how to steal, being a very skillful thief who comes to the bank through the roof—to be a skillful thief who is clever in the ways to steal, who has much awareness of that, but doesn’t stop stealing. Doesn’t stop the negative mind, doesn’t stop the attachment clinging to the possessions, doesn’t stop these. Just only the awareness, “Now I am stealing,” is not enough. That awareness has no purpose, it doesn’t help.

So the purpose of that awareness is to give you the opportunity, the freedom to be able to use the method. If you have a method to control or to stop creating negative karma or to stop the unsubdued mind from arising, then you use it. Awareness helps that, it gives you the opportunity to use the meditations, the methods, the advice or the teachings—whatever one has read or whatever one has received from the guru. It gives you the opportunity to use that, so that you can be victorious over the delusions.

Otherwise you can be also be aware, “Oh, I’m hanging myself up now with rope.” You know you are doing that.

I think if it is done in a group instead of just individually, maybe it will help for everybody to pay more attention, to get some practice done. In this short time we are hoping to get some experience of what is the essence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching, the very essence of the sutra and tantra teachings—dependence, emptiness; to have some understanding of the essential method to liberate, to free oneself from samsara and to liberate others.

I think we shall meet maybe at three o’clock—I haven’t decided yet, but maybe at three o’clock or little bit before that.

So, visualize the omniscient one, Guru Manjushri, the radiating one, looking at oneself with smiling compassionate eyes, while making three prostrations.

[Namo Manjushriye....]

Those who know how to offer mandala, how to visualize and meditate offering the mandala, visualize those things. But for those who can’t, then offer your own body, speech and mind and all your possessions, the surroundings and all the three times’ merits, filling all of space. You are offering to Guru Manjushri.

[Mandala offering]

Please request from the depth of the heart to Guru Manjushri, “I take refuge in Guru Manjushri, who is the embodiment of all the three times’ objects of refuge. To you I prostrate. Please change my mind with empowerment. Please pacify immediately all the wrong conceptions, from the wrong view towards the guru up to the subtle dual view, the very last obstacle to omniscient mind. Please grant blessings to generate immediately seeing the guru in essence Buddha, the guru devotion; from there up to the unified state, enlightenment, in my mind and in the mind of all sentient beings.”

Making this request from the depth of the heart, strong white light beams emit from Manjushri and enters one’s body and mind and the body and mind of all sentient beings who are around you; purifying all the obstacles to the graduated path to enlightenment, particularly the ignorance of true existence, holding the “I” as truly existent, even though you are empty of true existence, and particularly these wrong conceptions are purified in my own mind and in the minds of all other sentient beings.

Then a replica of Manjushri absorbs into you and all sentient beings. Feel the oneness, and think, “All the realizations from guru devotion up to omniscient mind are generated in my mind, particularly the wisdom realizing emptiness only; in my mind and in the mind of all sentient beings.”

[...idam guru ratna mandalakam niryatayami…]

Now please generate the motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the omniscient mind for the sake of all my kind mother sentient beings. Therefore, I am going to meditate on all existence as illusory, as dependent. I am going to meditate on it as dependent, as illusory, as a dream.”

I am not going to talk, to introduce, to explain the refuting object, that what we should realize as empty. It is easier after doing some meditation, having some experience with the “I”. First meditate how the “I” is dependent, merely labeled or at least how it is dependent. Even if you don’t understand at the moment “merely labeled,” at least labeled, existing by depending on a base and thought and the name that is labeled on it. So by making some experiment yourself, by having some taste, on that basis, that small experience, if we talk, it makes more sense.

[Walking meditation]

I think it is better to be silent, better to keep silence. But if it causes life danger then I think you can break the silence. Suddenly if some shock comes, break the silence. Anyway, I am joking. And we don’t need to go in a line, like the army or police. We are not doing that. What we are going to do is mainly practicing awareness in a group. From here, from when you stand up, until death time, but particularly we should put effort during this time, like a session. Then we go and come back, continuously practicing awareness.

The main awareness is on the base, on the aggregates: the body, speech and mind, the aggregates. Each single action, whatever it does. When you stand up, you think, “Now the body stands up.” You think like this, as you are supposed to stand up, you think, “What I am doing? Oh I am standing up. Why I am standing up? The only reason, no other reason at all except the labeling base, the body is standing up. That’s all, nothing else.” Then when you are putting on clothes, think, “What am I doing? I am putting on clothes. The labeling base, the aggregates are putting on clothes. So because of that reason I am wearing clothes.” As you are walking, “Why am I walking? Because the labeling base, the aggregates, the body is walking. Nothing else besides that. No other reason. No other reason except that the body is doing the action of walking.”

So then the experience that comes in the mind after putting the reason, “Because my body, the labeling base, the aggregates of body is walking, nothing else, no other reason that I am walking,” what comes in the mind when you give that reason, what you feel with the “I,” that you continue. At that time, when you put the reason—the aggregates, no other reason except that the aggregates are doing the action of walking—then when you concentrate on that, the “I,” the self does not appear as so heavy or strong. It doesn’t appear truly existent so strongly as before. It becomes weaker, thinner. The “I” becomes a little bit invisible.

So then if you are touching a plant, each moment whatever you are doing, practice the awareness of the base, the aggregates. Then according to that you question, “What I am doing?” So then, concentrate, “There is no other reason except the labeling base, the body or the mind is doing this.” So meditate like this. After you put the reason that the labeling base is doing the action, you concentrate on that, on the experience of the “I.” How you feel about the “I,” concentrate on that. At the same time you watch the “I.”

The main awareness is on the aggregates. So, “What am I doing? There is no other reason except this.” So like this, whatever action the “I” does is dependent on the action of the aggregates. Be aware of that. Then whenever your mind is distracted from that awareness of dependence, that the “I” is merely labeled according to the actions of the aggregates, when your mind is distracted from that, you bring the mind back. Again you look at the “I,” how it appears to you—on the aggregates, how the “I” appears to you.

Without saying, “Oh, this “I” is merely labeled,” without going over the intellectual reasons, without pushing the intellectual reason, just how the “I” appears on the aggregates, this you watch.

Then again you do the same thing, using the reason of the aggregates, “What I am doing, why? Because the aggregates are doing this.” Then again at the same time you watch how the “I” appears. If the mind is distracted you bring the mind back and watch how the “I” appears on the aggregates.

Like this, checking if you find any difference: when you don’t put a reason, there is the normal “I” that appears to you on the aggregates; and after you put the reason, the action of the aggregates, how the “I” appears to oneself at that time.

The point of doing this is to find more and more clearly and stronger how the “I” appears. When you don’t check, with the normal “I,” and then the other time when you check with the reason, then you find more and more clearly the difference in the appearance of the “I,” the way you cling to the “I.” Not even so much in the appearance but mainly in the way of clinging to the “I,” you find more and more difference. Finding more difference means there is some progress in the mind toward recognizing the refuting object, the truly existent “I.” It also means that you make progression to quickly see the absolute nature of the “I.”

I hope it’s not too cold.

The main thing is, as you stand up, be aware.

If you have something to wear, some sweaters, please put them on. Maybe we’ll be unable to come back.

[End of discourse]

Lecture 30: December 6th pm

[Preliminary prayers]

I am not sure what to say tonight. Maybe I talk about darkness, since it is nighttime. Tonight we cannot fall asleep, all night talking and listening, then tomorrow morning when the sun rises we can go to bed.

Please generate at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve omniscient mind for the sake of all kind mother sentient beings, therefore I am going to listen to the teachings.

As Chandrakirti, a disciple of Nagarjuna explained in the Madhyamaka teaching—to translate it verse by verse, to put it together in my mind takes time, quoting the verses exactly, but I will mention the meaning: the swan that has two well developed wings is able to cross the ocean flapping with the power of the wind; like that, the capable being who is like the swan, having the realization of the two truths—absolute truth and all-obscuring truth—in the recent translation of the Bodhicaryavatara it is translated as the deceptive truth, that is also okay, more exact, absolute truth and deceptive truth, like the two wings—by the power of accumulating virtue, which is like the power of the wind, the merit accumulated is like the wind, accumulated by the understanding of these two truths, one is able to cross the ocean of suffering of samsara, able to reach the state of omniscient mind. So like this, how important it is to realize the two truths.

Even with the example, one can understand. The swan cannot fly with one wing, same thing: without depending on the cooperative practice of method and wisdom, the two truths, one cannot reach omniscient mind by crossing the suffering of samsara, which is like the ocean. Without missing one of the two practices—not like one practices wisdom but not method, or if one practices method one does not practice wisdom—one should practice method and wisdom together.

Then, in order to understand and realize the two truths correctly, one should follow the true teaching, the infallible teaching taught by Buddha, which reveals the infallible right view, the absolute truth, the reality of existence as it in fact exists, exactly showing the way that things exist. In that way, understanding these teachings, one has the opportunity to discover the reality of existence. Without the slightest mistake one can clearly see the reality of existence—that it is empty, that it does not exist as it appears to the all-obscuring mind, the ignorance of true existence. The all-obscuring mind, the deceptive mind—things don’t exist the way they appear to this, they are empty of that. One can discover that things exist by being dependent on being merely labeled by the valid mind on mere appearance, mere perception. One can see it clearly, the way all existence exists.

So there are teachings with definite meaning and teachings with interpretive meaning. Definite meaning means that it is exactly as the teaching reveals it—that it is exactly that in fact, in reality. And also it is explained in the Madhyamaka teaching that those who are outside this path, the path that is passed down through Nagarjuna, have no method to achieve everlasting peace. Those who are degenerated from the two truths, the all-obscuring truth and the absolute truth, without understanding of these two truths or with wrong understanding, cannot accomplish liberation.

Lama Atisha re-established the Buddhadharma in Tibet and it was from him that the title graduated path to enlightenment came—this is the path that condenses all the teachings of the three vehicles shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; and all the teachings are set up as a graduated practice in order for one person to achieve enlightenment. Even though Buddha showed so many profound extensive teachings, such as the teachings of the three vehicles, Lama Atisha made it so easy to practice all this; he showed all these different paths, which are revealed by the teachings of the three vehicles, as a graduated path for one person to reach omniscient mind. However, Lama Atisha also advised this: by depending on the advice that is passed from Nagarjuna to his disciple Chandrakirti one can realize the absolute nature; in relation to the advice that was not passed down by Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti, there is no possibility to realize shunyata, the absolute nature.

It is the same thing with the lineage of the Kagyu lamas, Marpa and Mila. Milarepa also explained, “Absolutely there is no meditator, there is no meditation, there are no bhumis, there is no path to proceed on, there is no result, rupakaya or dharmakaya.” I think he also mentioned, “Absolutely there is not even the name samsara. Under the control of the absolute truth all these things do not exist; under the control of the all-obscuring truth there is samsara and there is the sorrowless state, there is everything that exists. This was taught by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.” This is what Milarepa said in the hymn—the advice or the hymn on shunyata. This is the same thing that Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti explained.

If one wishes to find the infallible right view, one should study the true teachings of Buddha, which reveal that, and the commentaries on that by the great pandits such as Nagarjuna. There are six different texts by Nagarjuna, commentaries that reveal the emptiness-only with many logical reasons and examples.

One great pandit, Buddhapalita, also wrote a teaching explaining shunyata. Then there is the Madhyamaka, written by Chandrakirti, Nagarjuna’s disciple. Then there are also others, The Commentary Clarifying the Words, another text written by Chandrakirti, explaining shunyata. Then also Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, The Great Commentary on the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, in which there is a very elaborate explanation of the two truths. Then there are also other teachings, other commentaries written by Lama Tsongkhapa such as The Essence of the Definite and Interpretative Meaning Well-Expounded. This scripture is regarded as one of the most important and detailed commentaries on the different explanations of shunyata of the four schools.

By listening, reflecting and meditating on these infallible teachings; reflecting on what one has listened in order to get a clear, correct understanding; cutting the doubts by checking it and studying it; and then training the mind in what one has discovered, whatever one understood through meditation; practitioners have found the infallible right view and oneself can also immediately find the infallible right view. Also, at the same time one can accumulate extensive merit. Together: at the same time as one studies, reflects, listens and meditates, one also accumulates extensive merits, purifying the hindrances and obstacles to immediately realizing shunyata.

It’s useful to have some idea of the gross refuted object of the other schools. It makes it clearer. If one has a little bit of understanding of the refuted object of each of the schools, it helps one very much to recognize the subtle right view, the subtle refuted object, according to the fourth school, the fourth philosophy. Among this fourth philosophy there are two types, one is called Rang Gyupa and one is called Thal Gyupa. I think in Sanskrit it is Svatantrika and Prasangika; for people who are familiar with the Sanskrit terms or who heard before this helps. For those who are not familiar it doesn’t matter what is mentioned, even if it is completely wrong, it doesn’t matter, it can just as well be named something else; it can be called rock and roll.

Anyway, within the fourth school there are two divisions, the last one is Prasangika, Thal Gyupa, the first one is called Rang Gyupa. Each word has its own definition, commentary and meaning. However, at this point it is not so important to explain and also it would take much time. The main point to talk or think about is the view of the refuted object.

As long as we don’t recognize or understand the subtle refuted object of the Prasangika, there is no way to understand or realize shunyata, emptiness only. One cannot find the infallible right view, which is the Prasangika view. That is what we should realize. This wisdom that realizes the Prasangika’s right view eliminates the root of samsara, the ignorance of true existence. It cuts off the ignorance of true existence, the root of samsara. The right view is very subtle. And the reason it is very subtle is because its refuted object is very subtle. In order to realize the Prasangika’s infallible right view, which is very subtle, one has to recognize the refuted object of the Prasangika, which is also very subtle. So to get a clear idea of that, comprehension of that, it helps very much to recognize and understand those previous philosophies, to recognize their gross refuted objects. This helps very much to get the complete understanding and recognition of the Prasangika’s refuted object, that which we should realize as empty.

I think maybe I stop here. [Tea is brought in.] Then, I think maybe better to have tea in order to realize the Prasangika view, to recognize the subtle refuted object as empty, the right view, which is very subtle. [Laughter]

I think it would be very good if we can do again like we did yesterday, but a little bit earlier. I was a little bit scared that the next morning everyone might be at the hospital, keeping the doctor busy, especially those who don’t have many things to cover the body. I thought to come back halfway, without sitting. I think if you can do this more in the group, it is very useful. But not only walking, also doing different things; the more the aggregates are doing the different actions, the more it gives one the opportunity to get a definite understanding that the “I” is merely labeled on the aggregates and that the action of the “I” is merely labeled on the actions of the aggregates. So, I think not only walking, but also if you do more actions with the aggregates. I think for the non-virtuous actions it is better to not have various things; the less one can create these the more benefit there is for ourselves. So not these actions but this one: we are meditating on how the “I” is a dependent arising in order to realize the emptiness-only of the “I,” to realize the non-truly-existent “I,” the emptiness only of the “I,” in order to realize the remedy of the ignorance of true existence.

So not only in the case of walking but also in the case of feelings, you can relate it to the senses, the aggregates. What the sense of the eye sees, according to this, “I see this and that.” “I smell this and that,” according to the sense of nose. According to the sense of body we label “I feel cold,” “I feel warm.” “Now I am terrified.” I’m joking—terrified is the mind, not the sense of body. Like this we can practice awareness. So it doesn’t have to be limited to only walking. At one time you are only walking but you can relate it to all the functions and experiences of the five senses. That is how it normally is, that is life according to the experience of the five senses. According to that, “I see that,” “I didn’t see that,” “I taste this,” “I did this and that,” we label on this all the time. That is the way one lives life, how one does actions, how the “I” does the actions, how the “I” lives life. Whether it is a suffering life or a happy life, labeling on that, according to the experience of the aggregates, each time when it does a different function, a different experience, then, “I did this and that,” like this.

But the confusion is that one is not aware of dependent arising; not aware that it is empty of existing from its own side. On the mere appearance of the aggregates—your aggregates, other’s aggregates—the valid thought merely labels “I,” “she,” “we” and “they;” merely labeled. Even though that is the way things exist, “I” and others exist—depending on the mere appearance of the base and the valid thought merely labeling, it comes into existence, it arises. But we are not aware of dependent arising, that it is empty of not depending on the mere appearance of the base and the valid thought merely labeling.

The best thing is to practice this awareness, this should be life. Actually, how we should live life—the best thing to do would be to not separate ourselves from the practice of the right view and bodhicitta, absolute bodhicitta and all-obscuring bodhicitta; the two bodhicittas. To not let the life be separated away from these two practices, that is the best life, the best practitioner. Day and night, all the time, from morning until night being aware, practicing awareness like this; sitting, walking, eating, sleeping, these four main actions, whatever action one does in one’s daily life, always mindful, awareness: “I” and all the actions of “I” are merely labeled on the aggregates and the actions of the aggregates. Practice awareness like this, especially in breaktime or when one is active. Then the other thing is bodhicitta, the ultimate good heart. Everything, every action of body, speech and mind, whatever one does, always starts with it. If you sit down, you sit down with bodhicitta; when you eat, you eat with bodhicitta; if you go to bed, you go to bed with bodhicitta; if you go, you go with bodhicitta; when you get angry, you get angry with bodhicitta. That one I didn’t find in the teaching [Rinpoche laughs]

Anyway, I think I stop here.

Like this. If you want to practice, we talked about so many practices, this is it; this is the most important practice in everyday life. If you are practicing the Mahayana teachings then this should be it. If one wishes to follow the Mahayana path, this is it. When you meditate, meditate with bodhicitta, like this. When you talk, talk with bodhicitta, when you write, write with bodhicitta—like this all the time. That is one practice, then the other one: continually practicing awareness, especially when you are active, that the “I” is a dependent arising, like a reflection, like a dream, illusory.

See all this as illusory, as a dream, as a magician’s transformation. Like when the magician has transformed something by the power of mantra, turned material into a snake or a beautiful girl—look at it like this. That is the way to relate to the truly existent “I.” The truly existent “I” that appears to us now is like those, like they don’t exist. This “I” doesn’t exist here on these aggregates. Like the view of that beautiful girl—in fact it is empty there, in fact it is empty on the place where you see it. Like this, the truly existent “I” is empty on these aggregates. What appears to oneself is empty on these aggregates; it is a dependent arising on the mere appearance of the aggregates merely labeled by valid thought. Like this, it is a dependent arising.

If one can live the life like this, with those two practices, that is the best. Fantastic! Whether one does retreat, whether one lives in a monastery, whether lives in a center, whether one doesn’t live in a center, even if one is working in the city, even if one works in the bars, like this, that person’s practice is very rich. Not a simple practice but a very rich practice, meditating on emptiness and bodhicitta; every day creating the cause to reach the rupakaya and dharmakaya.

Lecture 31: December 7th am

[Preliminary prayers]

Please generate at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the sake of all my mothers, sentient beings; therefore, I am going to listen to the commentary on the Bodhicaryavatara.”

I don’t remember if I read the twenty-third stanza:

Although they are not wished for,
These sicknesses arise;
And likewise although they are not wished for,
These disturbing conceptions forcibly arise.

The next stanza, what it shows is that anger is not generated willingly. You can understand it in two ways. In the case of the person who has anger, that anger is not generated in his mind by having the wish to get angry. He doesn’t get angry with the wish. In other words saying, “Oh, tomorrow at twelve o’clock I’m going to get angry.” You make a list in a notebook, like you make a list when you go shopping, you write down everything that you are going to buy or everything that you are going to do tomorrow, what work, people to see—whatever you are planning to do tomorrow you write down, so that you don’t forget. Maybe except death. Even if death happens tomorrow, it doesn’t come on the shopping list. The best thing would be to write down this thing first and then the others.

I just remembered, the thought just came, while I was talking like this, writing down death, that I heard that each incarnation of His Holiness Karmapa, just before he passed away, used to write down on a piece of paper in which place, in which family he would be reincarnated. Before he passed away he wrote this down and then he put it in a box, which was kept kind of secret until he passed away. So actually the reincarnation was recognized by himself, his past life, without need to go and ask some other lama or to request a prediction through an oracle.

I heard the same thing about my incomparably kind guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. There are two volumes of his biography—the first volume about his early life is already available but the biography of his later life is not yet printed.

Before he passed away His Holiness himself completely wrote this, before he passed away, before he took the aspect of sickness. I think the holy body collected water; I don’t know what this is called. He personally wrote everything about his death—that he was going to be in meditation for such and such a number of days and that one shouldn’t leave the holy body for longer than that, it should be taken out. Also he advised the servant, the manager, what to do, which lamas to invite, the whole thing, the reincarnation, everything. I heard that all this he wrote down in the biography.

When it was about time to pass away he told the servant, the manager, “If you don’t believe me then look at my biography.” The manager, whose name I can’t remember, the principal servant who took care of him, confessed to Rinpoche whatever mistakes he did from his side, requesting His Holiness that he should live long. The elder tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, also requested to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche to live long. However, His Holiness did not accept to live long.

Just before His Holiness Karmapa left for the West, I heard that he packed up all the precious statues, all the precious things in the same box with this letter telling about the reincarnation.

So if one can plan like this, if one knows one is going to die in one week or tomorrow, then if you want to you can die somewhere in the bushes alone, where there are no other beings disturbing—in a cave or in the rocky mountains, where there are no friends and relatives disturbing you and crying. You can die in a place where there’s a guru or a high lama, somewhere where one can meditate without much outside distraction. One can make secret plans instead of dying in a car or dying in an airplane or in a hospital. There, whether you are dead or not, right after the breath stops, when they don’t see the breath is functioning any more, when the limbs are cold, you are immediately taken out, whether the person is dead or not, even if the person is not dead.

One time in India there was a very old Tibetan man in one of the hospitals who had quite a lot of experience. He was there while there was somebody whose breath stopped by wind disease. The person was not dead, only the breath stopped. This old Tibetan man couldn’t speak the Indian language and next to him was this person whose breath stopped, who couldn’t breathe any more. The doctors came and they decided he was dead. So he was taken out and the old man knew that man didn’t die, that he just had wind disease and that he just needed something to wake up from the wind disease.

The man was taken out and the people—the doctor and nurses—decided that he was dead. The old man knew the person wasn’t dead but he couldn’t speak the Indian language. So he tried to wave his hand to the doctor, “Please put him down.” But they didn’t know what he was talking about, they thought that the Tibetan man was scared because the other person was dead; that’s what they understood. Then the brother of the old man came and he could speak the Indian language, and the doctor told him that his brother seemed to be very scared because the other person died. Then the old man told his brother that the man was not dead, that his breath only stopped by wind disease but that they decided to take him out; that he had been trying to tell them so much to leave the body there but because he couldn’t speak the language he couldn’t do anything.

The method is so simple—even the smoke of incense, food, flour or even burning tsampa makes you wake up from wind disease. In Tibet they also burn lama pills, precious pills or relics, a high bodhisattva’s pill or a high lama’s hairs, and spirit harms go away and the person is relieved. Even high lamas’ robes—they don’t have machines to protect from spirit harms but immediately one recovers. It is something that is not a machine, something that comes from the mind. I think it involves quite complicated things to explain. The effect of telling these things to somebody who has no idea, to a hospital or a doctor, it is like telling them that milk comes from the horns. For their mind it is like that, even though it works. They can’t imagine, their minds can’t figure it out.

In Tibet, one mother had a child, and they believed that the child was dead. Then there was a monk who stopped on his way, and he mixed tsampa with butter and made it hot and then completely covered the head with a thick layer of dough of tsampa. Then the child revived, it came back, the breath started functioning, because it had wind disease. So when the same thing happened again, when the child become unconscious again, then the mother did that again and it came back. She did this several times, making hot tsampa dough, covering the head. Then one time, hours and hours passed, and normally it came back, but the last time it didn’t come back soon. She prayed for the child to come back, I think it must have been the whole day covered with tsampa. But it didn’t come back. Normally it comes back quite quickly but that day it did not. I think she did this many times and she waited for a long time but that time the child actually was dead, actually dead, not just by wind disease. That’s why it couldn’t come back soon, why it didn’t start to breathe again soon like before.

There are many outer and inner and secret signs of death, distant and close signs of death, but the most definite sign of death is the breath running through the nose. There are ways to check and from this one can also tell problems, in the family, if one is going to be sick, and hindrances. Also one can tell about death, after how many years and how many months one is going to die. There is a normal way of running and then when it doesn’t run in the normal way, when it changes, it means different things. It is explained in the tantric teachings—I don’t remember exactly—in many scriptures and commentaries, also by Lama Tsongkhapa in the detailed explanations on transference of consciousness, about all the signs, and about the practice of transference of consciousness. This talk just came from that joke about putting the death on the list.

Normally at the beginning of the new month the breath runs three days mainly through the right side, then the next three days from the left—it changes around at dawn time. If you check, if you pay attention, you notice exactly that at the beginning of the new month it is stronger from the left side, and then after three days it’s stronger from the right side and weaker from the left side. But around death time it doesn’t flow like this, the way it is supposed to, around the dawn time, it is the normal way. But this is just conversation.

So then the next stanza:

Without thinking “I shall be angry”
People become angry with no resistance;
And without thinking, “I shall produce myself,”
Likewise anger itself is produced.

Is the enemy who motivated to give harm—who had the thought to give harm, who wished to give harm—different from the unsubdued mind, different from the disease? They are not the same. The question comes by thinking how it’s worthwhile to harm the enemy back. The person who gave such harm is bad, is different from sickness and unsubdued mind because unsubdued mind itself, anger itself, sickness itself doesn’t motivate, “I will come, I will harm to the person, I will arise.” The other motivates to harm the enemy so it is different from the unsubdued mind, disease. That question arises.

Even the cause of anger, the unhappy mind, doesn’t motivate you to generate anger, doesn’t plan to get angry but, because the cause is perfected, the conditions come together with the unhappy mind, and because of that in sentient beings, without choice, not voluntarily, not willingly, anger arises, without choice. The anger and unsubdued mind itself doesn’t motivate to arise. The person himself doesn’t motivate to get angry. But anger uncontrollably arises. The person himself doesn’t have control at all.

The verse shows that all the shortcomings have arisen from the condition so there is no control, there is no freedom. The person doesn’t have freedom.

All the shortcomings, however much delusion there is, not only the unsubdued mind itself but all shortcomings such as the suffering of rebirth, old age, sickness and death, and all the other problems, the various kinds of evil and negative karmas that are motivated by the unsubdued mind—all these negative karmas arise under the power of the conditions. All the shortcomings of the unsubdued mind and all the evil actions came from the power of conditions. The ten non-virtuous actions, such as taking others’ lives, are all motivated by the unsubdued mind—all these come by the power of conditions. So therefore the person himself doesn’t have control at all, doesn’t have freedom at all.

Complaining is nonsense, childish, foolish, crazy, like getting angry at a waterfall, criticizing, “This water is coming down—why doesn’t it go up? Why doesn’t it run up? Instead of falling down, why doesn’t it run up? This waterfall, climbing up the mountain: why doesn’t it fall up?” If one gets angry, if one criticizes the water, if one is angry that the water falls down, criticizing the waterfall for running down all the time, it is nonsense, childish, foolish and also crazy. It is the same thing if the person gets angry with another person, with other sentient beings, complaining, criticizing this and that, “What she is doing, such and such undesirable, what I dislike, actions this and that,” then getting angry. If somebody does this, it is like being worried and angry with a waterfall and recognizing how childish that person is, how foolish and crazy. This is the same thing, in fact, when we get angry with others, who have no freedom at all over the unsubdued mind, no freedom at all. So it is exactly the same thing—foolish, childish, crazy, nonsense.

By thinking of all these reasons mentioned above, how there is no worth in getting angry, we should stop the anger toward others by thinking of the example. When we think of our enemies—is it worthwhile to get angry? Is it worthwhile to criticize him? Then you should think of the example of the waterfall, of somebody who criticizes the earth that it is not sky, how bad it is. Immediately we would regard such a person as crazy: “This person has something wrong with his mind.” We don’t regard him as a normal person. If somebody is angry that the earth is not the sky, immediately we say that there is something wrong with his mind, that he is crazy, and we don’t consider him a reliable person that we can trust. We can rely on other people who do not say that; those who say this nonsense we leave out.

This is factual information and reasons; it is just a matter of understanding, just a matter of being aware, it is not particularly based on having faith. It is just a matter of being aware that all these reasons are true. What Shantideva is saying is that the person himself has no freedom. That he is overwhelmed by the unsubdued mind. These reasons explained above are true. It is like this in fact—there is nothing that one can negate, saying it’s wrong. These reasons talk about life: how the other person who gets angry has no freedom and how one should think of that person who gets angry at you as so pitiful, as an object of compassion, such a pitiful sentient being, not having freedom, overwhelmed by the unsubdued mind. It is just a matter of being aware of the nature of the unsubdued mind, the nature of the person. So if you think of these reasons with the enemy, you will see no worth in getting angry, you will see yourself as completely childish, thinking that it is nonsense that we get angry and criticize others. Exactly like this example.

Otherwise, when our mind is not aware of what Shantideva explained here in the chapter on patience, these reasons: nature and the unsubdued mind of the person—it looks like criticizing a waterfall and being angry that the earth is not sky, which is childish. If you don’t remember these, then when you meet somebody who is angry at you, who dislikes you, who regards you as the enemy, that seems to be something greatly worthwhile to get angry about, to complain about, and a good reason to treat him badly. It seems like that to our mind.

The next verse shows the causal conditions of these unsubdued minds, all the shortcomings of unsubdued mind, all the various evil actions motivated by unsubdued mind—how they don’t have self control. Before, we mentioned that however many shortcomings there are, the shortcomings of the unsubdued mind and all the evil actions, they do not have self control because they depend on the power of conditions. So now, even the causes and conditions of those do not have self control.

I think I haven’t read the stanza that shows how all the shortcomings come from conditions, so therefore don’t have self control:

All mistakes that are
And all the various kinds of evil
Arise through the force of conditions:
They do not govern themselves.

They do not govern themselves means they do not have self control or freedom. Then the next verse shows that even the causes and conditions of those do not have self control:

These conditions that are assembled together
Have no intention to produce anything,
And neither does their product
Have the intention to be produced.

Therefore the unsubdued mind, such as anger and so on, the sufferings—the Tibetan to English, you can’t go straight, it always has to be reversed, you know, upside down, so sometimes when I start talking according to a Tibetan sentence I get into problems later on, I get stuck. It has to be upside down. So even the gathering of the conditions of the unsubdued mind such as anger, the suffering, even if they don’t have any intention, they do not think, “Oh, I will experience suffering.” They don’t have the intention, the motive, “I will generate suffering.”

Also the suffering itself that comes from the gathering of conditions does not have the intention, “Oh, I will generate suffering”. That suffering does not think, “Oh, I will come out.” For example, a headache doesn’t have this intention, “Oh, I will disturb this person while he is meditating. Oh, I will disturb him, I will keep him on the toilet, I will let him meditate in the toilet.” Anyway, I am joking. So therefore, reasoning that the enemy intended to give harm, the thought intended to give harm, generating anger, is not worthwhile. Reasoning against the enemy that he intended to give harm, using this as a reason for you to get angry is not worthwhile.

I think I stop here.

Lecture 31: December 7th am

<Tape garbled at beginning>

…it is not necessary only at that time but, if you meditate also at other times on a similar type of meditation, either with the four analyses or with more reasons, or in a similar short way, putting the question [what am I doing?] and then giving the answer “I am doing this…” Then again asking the question, “What is the reason for that?” and then, when you give the reason, when you think of what the aggregates are doing, when you put that reason and nothing else besides that, the label, “I am walking, I am sitting,” and so forth, there is nothing else than that. When we think that the “I” is merely labeled and that it’s a dependent arising—how the “I” appears to you that time, how you think of the “I” at that time—I’m not saying the intellectual way of thinking, but the experience that comes that time with the “I.” Another way of saying is instinctively or naturally, how you change, how you hold the “I” at that time, and later when your mind is distracted from those analyses, from those meditations, suddenly when you think of the “I”… did you find some difference?

Student: When you trying to look at your mind and realize how it’s labeling everything… [inaudible]
Rinpoche: Body seems something else?
Student: … doesn’t feel related, mind seems something else… you are centered here…
Rinpoche: You are centered there? From the body—yeah, that is very good. Then?
Student: [inaudible]
Rinpoche: You feel there’s something there, you’re not sure what it is but something there, clinging to the body....
Student: [inaudible]
Rinpoche: Itself is nature of clinging? Self is clinging or what? Object?
Student: [inaudible] I is here, not the body… I don’t know how to explain it…
Rinpoche: When you question if the body is the “I?” At that time you don’t see that the leg is the “I” but you feel the “I” in the heart? I think that’s good, a good example. I think what you look at is supposed to be one person’s experience. For example, as these two gentlemen explained, more or less, both should be experienced by one person. That was the purpose of the meditation, that is the way to start.

[Inaudible discussions with other students.]

What’s your name? Bill? Thousand-dollar bill? Did Bill get some experience?
Bill: When I hold my breath down…
Rinpoche: When you keep your breath down, you are down there? Good. What you said before was good.
Student: On the walk I thought we all see and feel ourselves and the world differently and none of us is wrong or right. That’s my attitude.
Rinpoche: What did you see?
Student: Me? Who knows? What I was looking for I knew was there but I just couldn’t work out what it was. I was looking for emptiness, but I couldn’t….I was grasping on to too many things to see it…
Rinpoche: Are you happy to be grasping at many things?
Student: Trying to hang on to it…trying to find myself.
Rinpoche: Did you find yourself?
Student: I may have, but it might be wrong or it might be right.
Rinpoche: So what is your idea of self?
Student: I don’t think it matters if I were not here. I’m just another brick in the wall.
Rinpoche: I’m not questioning if you are part of the bricks in the wall.
Student: If I wasn’t sitting here you would probably be talking to this man here.
Rinpoche: Did you ever think, “What is yourself?”
Student: I feel I’m the same as everything else, like the flowers, the sun—I’m just part of it.
Rinpoche: So you are part of everything?
Student: That’s what I think. But I don’t know.
Rinpoche: Are you part of kaka?
Student: [something very funny about having made so much kaka—much laughter]. I don’t smell, I hope…
Rinpoche: Are you part of our anger? I’m joking.
Rinpoche: Actually the ignorance doesn’t think the body is “I.” The intuitive way the ignorance is clinging to the “I” isn’t as oneness with the body—that is not the way you think. If you check whether it is oneness with our five aggregates, one doesn’t think. Even my experience, my ignorance doesn’t think that the aggregates, the labeling base—the aggregates themselves—are the “I.”

But it might look suddenly, in some ways—in regards clinging, in regards appearance, when we look at outside objects such as a book—it looks like the aggregates of the book are oneness with the name “book.” What is the label looks like it is oneness with it, in appearance, like kind of oneness. When we think of wood, “wood” looks like oneness with the labeling base; when we think “pillar” it looks like oneness, in some ways. In some ways, when we pay attention to our view of the pillar it looks like oneness, suddenly it looks like oneness—the pillar and the base, the group of the parts looks like oneness, kind of mixed.

The incomparably kind guru His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s senior tutor used to say this, “The label and the labeling base appearing as if they are oneness is the refuting object.” So the way the labeling base and the label as oneness appears to our view is the refuting object, that is what doesn’t exist. Suddenly when your eye turns to the pillar and when you pay attention to your view, how the pillar appears, it looks as if it is mixed, oneness, unable to discriminate what is the labeling base and what is the label, “pillar,” and the group of parts. Between the shape that functions to hold up the beam, that labeling base, and the label “pillar,” we are unable to discriminate, to see them separately. They appear as if they are mixed. Like this, as Rinpoche explained.

I think it depends how well your mind is trained in discriminating your views. I think it depends on that. In a gross way, when you check, it is like that. But with mind training, meditation on emptiness-only, for those who have recognized the refuting object, whose mind is more trained in emptiness-only and recognizes the refuting object, what it is exactly, recognizing the way that the refuting object appears in one’s view, such as a pillar, I think a little bit different from that. It is more subtle than that—the refuting object and how it appears is more subtle than that—not even oneness, not even as if it is mixed. On the pillar there is a pillar that exists from its own side. On the vase there is a vase that exists from its own side. On the blue color there is a blue color that exists from its own side. On the aggregates of the pillar, on the group of the parts, there is a pillar that exists from its own side.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also used to say, when I asked about like a table: suddenly, it looks like the base is suddenly the table, sort of. The table is not separate from the labeling base, not separate from that, not different from that; it looks like that labeling base, the aggregates of the table, as if that itself is the label, the table—not the legs and so forth. Also, His Holiness did not say oneness. One is unable to discriminate the labeling base and the label; they are mixed. There is a slightly different way, but also what His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “When you see a table, when you look at the table it looks like from inside that there is the table, from inside of the labeling base. Inside there is a table.” I don’t think it can be pointed out in a particular place here and there, but however, His Holiness said that, and that is also true. As if it is inside that, the table is inside of the atoms, the particles, inside the labeling base. However, this is a wrong view, a hallucination, the refuting object.

What Bill said, you see, the “I” becomes weaker, and that is what is supposed to happen. When you think of the reason that “I am doing this or that,” there is no other reason except the aggregates doing this and that, nothing else. The effect that comes is that the “I” that you cling to is not as strong as before, it becomes very weak. Depending on how much your mind is trained, it becomes very weak. Then at the same time, the most important thing is that you relate more to the truly existent “I.” There’s a real “I,” a real self, here, existing above the heart; feeling that there is an “I” here, something kind of very worthwhile to cling to. The one that we think of here, itself is the refuting object; the “I” that doesn’t exist at all, that we cannot find, that we should realize as empty is that. That is the refuting object.

For example if you search inside—around the heart, here, the skin, the bones—if you try to point it out, asking the doctors to do surgery and then checking, the “I” that you believe in, to which you cling, which appears above the heart somewhere here in the chest—if you try to find it, it cannot be found. However, this you should relate to the emotional “I.” Relating to this, you should put the question, “Why do ‘I’ exist?” Not just the general “I,” not the “I” in the world, but what you feel here, that one, you should do the meditation relating to that. Then when you put that reason, it becomes weaker. It feels weaker; we should feel it is thinner. The experience of the effect should be increased.

When your mind is distracted from that concentration, holding that experience with that reason, then think again back to the normal “I.” Think of “I”. Think “I.” Again check how it appears. Then you see it as more clear, because it was weaker before. So because of the previous one, now when you think of the normal “I,” how the “I” appears to you, when you think of the “I”, then you see it stronger. Without any intellectualizing you see it stronger—you see the appearance of the truly existent “I” is stronger, for your mind it is stronger. By the power, by the effect of it having been weaker before, the next time when you check how the “I” appears normally, the truly existent “I,” it becomes much more vivid and stronger than before.

In this way you become more and more aware, recognizing clearer and clearer the truly existent “I.” And in that way, through this development, it becomes very easy. More and more clearly you recognize the refuting object without mistakes, the exact non-existent “I” that should be realized as empty, which is empty.

I think it is late.

[Dedication prayers]

Lecture 32: December 7th pm

[Preliminary prayers]

[Short mandala]

Please make requests from the depth of the heart to Guru Manjushri, “Please pacify immediately all the wrong conceptions, from the wrong views towards the guru up to the subtle dual view, the very last obstacle, in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.”

Visualize strong light beams emitted and purified, entering one’s body and mind and that of all sentient beings. Particularly all the hindrances, our wrong conception, the ignorance of truly existence are purified, completely purified, become non-existent within the mind of oneself and others.

Then request, “Please grant me blessings by your power to generate immediately all the right realizations from guru devotion, from seeing that the essence of the guru is buddha, up to the unified state of Vajradhara; particularly the wisdom seeing the meaning of selflessness, the absolute nature of the ‘I,’ in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings—parents, enemies, friends and all the rest of the sentient beings.” After this request a replica of Manjushri absorbs into oneself and all sentient beings. Feel the oneness, and having received all the realizations, particularly of shunyata.

[… idam guru…]

We are going to do the practice of awareness, the meditation on emptiness, the dependent arising of the “I” and the aggregates. Actually practice awareness of dependent arising, making the mind aware of that, training the mind in how these things are dependent arising. Then in that way practice awareness of how they are empty of independence, self existence and true existence.

Begin the meditation with the motivation of bodhicitta, “At any rate I must achieve the state of omniscient mind for the benefit of all mother sentient beings who have been kind to me in all the three times. The essence of the path, the essential remedy to eliminate the root of the whole samsara, the ignorance of true existence, is the right view; so in order to liberate others from samsara, one must reveal the infallible teachings of the right view, the absolute truth, and in order to reveal that, to make others have realizations of this and eliminate ignorance, the root of samsara in their minds, oneself should have the realization of shunyata. To reveal the teachings to others one has to experience them. Also, the essential method, the path for oneself to be liberated from samsara for the sake of others is to realize the emptiness only of the ‘I.’ Therefore, I am going to meditate on dependent arising, the method to realize the infallible right view.”

I think I won’t repeat again because I’ve mentioned it so many times. If I repeat again it must be boring, it must be bothering you. I don’t think I have to repeat it again.

I think we should make the day longer. Do you think you’ll be cold?

While you are questioning yourself, “What I’m doing? What I’m doing?” When you put the reason, the aggregates, at that time the important thing is to watch the “I.” How the “I” appears, how the mind is clinging to the “I.” Then when the mind wanders from that, from the awareness of that, when the mind is distracted, then get back to that. Again watch the “I,” how it appears on these aggregates and how one thinks—be aware of that. Then again put the same questions related to that, the five senses, as I mentioned before, according to the function, what one hears and what one sees, what one feels. As one is walking on the road, how one feels, with the shoes if one is comfortable or not. Anyway, the contact—how it feels, soft, rough, or cool, what I am experiencing, why I feel this, the only reason, the body, the sense of the body is feeling this and that. Then, if possible, not only that, not only meditating on the dependent arising of the “I,” also the aggregates, the mind, the objects of the six senses, how they are dependent arising, if one can.

If I don’t finish soon again the sun is gone.

Lecture 33: December 8th am

[Preliminary prayers]

When you recite the prayers, recite them in Tibetan but understand the meaning of what you are saying.

The last words, if you’re wondering what I’m saying: it goes with the visualization. For me it is just a visualization but when other lamas do this, it is real, as it is said in the words. Just giving you the rough idea of what these verses mean—this is what is explained by the lineage lamas of lam-rim, who have generated the graduated path to enlightenment. There are ways of listening to the Dharma and there are ways of explaining Dharma, without pride, without any expectation of happiness for this life, without any worldly concern or concern for offerings, respect, reputation, things like that—without any thought of worldly dharmas. That is the most important thing. If the teaching is given with the thought of the worldly dharmas, it becomes poison—the action is mixed with poison. Even though the spoken subject is Dharma, the teaching taught by Buddha, if the action of the teacher, the expounder, is mixed with poison, it doesn’t become true Dharma, it becomes worldly dharma, it doesn’t become holy Dharma. That is the most important thing.

Then, the thought of explaining Dharma with the wisdom of shunyata and the thought of bodhicitta; the teaching that one reveals, the action itself, is to be beneficial for others and pure. One of the precepts of thought-training is the precept of not mixing the practice of thought-training with poisonous food. That means explaining Dharma and any action, not only the thought-training, but any action, as not possessed by the self-cherishing thought and the ignorance of true existence.

In this way, one should give teachings possessed by the wisdom of shunyata and the thought of bodhicitta—how much the person is able to generate the strong thought of bodhicitta and how much there is strong meditation…

<end of tape>

… understanding of shunyata, depending on that, that much it is not mixed with the poison of the ignorance of true existence and the self-cherishing thought.

The same thing with the dedication; if dedication is done with ignorance of true existence, it becomes like food mixed with poison. So when one dedicates the merits, at that time one should do the practice as purely as possible, without it being mixed with poison or the thought of self-cherishing, without it being possessed by this, dedicating for the sake of self as sincerely as one can, not for the sake of self-happiness. Not with the thought, “This merit is for me, this merit is for my happiness.” Making this as weak as possible, as small as possible, and making the thought that the merit is for others as strong as possible. It should be like this in the mind. Sincere—as one says the prayers with the mouth, the mind should be harmonious with what one says with the words—for the sake of sentient beings, dedicating oneself to achieving omniscient mind for the sake of others.

You should train the mind even when you make offerings—water-offerings, flower-offerings, incense, light, whatever. Not only when you dedicate the merits but even from the beginning, when you motivate to accumulate some virtue. Even at that time, instead of thinking, “I want happiness, therefore I am going to accumulate merits, this is for me, this merit is for me,” then for example while filling each bowl with water or whatever it is, making the offering, you should think that each of these merits is not for me, it is for all sentient beings. When you start to offer you think like this, you train the mind this way, instead of thinking, “This is for my long life.”

Actually I don’t think the Injis think so much of the motive of having long life, of being healthy. When we accumulate merits I don’t think we think so much about this life, as many Tibetans do. In Buddhist countries, many people have faith but the dedication is done somehow—due to lack of understanding, even though the person has the understanding of Dharma, somehow the practice is often done with the motive of happiness for the self. Also the dedication is done for oneself to be happy—to have a long life, to be wealthy, healthy—then a little bit better one is for the future life, to have a good rebirth, to be reborn as a deva or human being. That’s a little bit better one. I don’t think the Injis think like that when they accumulate merit. When we don’t accumulate merit, then that’s it! That’s all! But once we do it I don’t think it’s a problem. Injis don’t do it so much for this life, as with the Tibetans or other Buddhists, or people that believe they are Buddhist.

So we should train the mind, even when we do prostration, even when we offer one bowl of water, we should think, “This merit is not for me. I am offering this merit to all sentient beings.” Thinking this you get more merit, more merit is created by doing the action like this, but this way you don’t cling to the merit. From the beginning it is already dedicated for others, so it is very pure.

Then also think like this, “If I offer this one bowl of water, all sentient beings receive one extra merit, cause of happiness. If I do not offer this one bowl of water, then there are less causes of happiness for other sentient beings. If I make this one prostration to Buddha, they get that much merit, that many causes of happiness. If I don’t do even one prostration, they don’t get this merit.” So you see it inspires and also it destroys laziness and clinging to one’s own comfort.

When you think the merit is others’, not yours, you can’t stand not accumulating it. If you do that, they get one more cause for happiness; if you don’t do it, they don’t get it—so it makes a big difference. Sentient beings are not one; they are an uncountable number, so it is unbearable to be lazy, not profiting sentient beings. This is very effective for the mind, particularly against the self-cherishing thought, “I want to achieve enlightenment therefore I want merit. I want to achieve enlightenment because I want to be happy.” The conception “I want to be happy” is in the very inside of the heart, so since enlightenment is the highest: “I want to be happy so I want enlightenment, therefore I want to accumulate merits.” Like the fruit—even though it looks nice outside, the color is good, inside it is rotten, full of worms. Like that, inside the words “to reach enlightenment for the sake of others,” it is kind of rotten. Inside there is the worm of the self-cherishing thought. In the depth of the heart the merit that is accumulated is for the happiness of the self. So as much as possible, don’t do this.

Often His Holiness the Dalai Lama uses expressions when His Holiness gives teachings. I don’t think this example fits the Injis but it fits the Tibetans very well. Injis don’t have these habits—a very few Italians have it but they are not here [Rinpoche laughs, general laughter]. His Holiness often used to say this, “While one is keeping the work for oneself inside the stomach, the work for others is like lifting up the eyebrows.” The work for others is like lifting up the eyebrows, the work for oneself is kept very inside of the stomach.

I think this is very interesting. What His Holiness is saying is that even when they practice, there is a kind of habit like with some Tibetans, even when one does sadhanas or prayers, puja, it always starts, “I am going to achieve enlightenment quicker and quicker for the sake of all the mother sentient beings.” However, the very first motive for doing the sadhana, the prayers, from the beginning up to the end, from the very beginning motive up to the end, the dedication, even though the person is trying to do some virtuous action, when the person says, “For the sake of all mother sentient beings,” they lift the eyebrows; either big open eyes or half open eyes—lifting up the eyebrows when the person comes to that word. However, from the very beginning the motive up to the dedication, the whole thing, is the works for the self, the happiness of the self. That is the main aim of doing the sadhana, the meditation. “If I don’t do this I will go to hell. So I won’t be happy, that’s all, I will lose my happiness.” So you see, the happiness of the self is kept inside, nothing else is more important than that. It is the most important thing. So that is kept on the very inside, like you keep jewels. The house has many locks, but inside the box one keeps the most precious, most valuable thing—very, very deep inside. Like that, very, very deep inside, the most important thing that is the happiness for self. So that is what His Holiness is saying. The work for others is not inside the heart, it is only on the eyebrows, the work for others is only on the eyebrows. His Holiness gives advice about how to be sincere—when His Holiness gives advice for everyday life it is the practice of the good heart.

Anyway, what I am saying is that at the beginning when you want to accumulate merit, even from the beginning you don’t think, “The merit is mine,” but “The merit is others’,” or “That is others’ merit.” This is very good, it becomes a remedy to destroy the self-cherishing thought—just to motivate like this from the beginning. Dedicate like this, completely against the self-cherishing thought.

Also, recite mantra or make prostrations with this thought, “This merit is others’,” even when you are reciting mantra or making prostrations. When you recite mantra it is very good to think from the beginning, of course with motivation of bodhicitta, that all the merit of reciting the mantra is others’, not mine. Remember this again and again, especially during retreat where you have to recite so many hundred thousands of mantras. It is very good to train the mind again and again. Even though you do other visualizations, particular visualizations, remember this occasionally: the merit that is created by reciting the mantras is for all sentient beings. Starting with the parents, the enemy and then all the rest of sentient beings—it’s theirs. When you accumulate virtue with such an attitude like this, the mind is very happy, very happy to do it, very sincere and pure.

Then if possible, be aware that it is merely labeled, starting with that. If you have some understanding—look at the virtue itself, the object to whom you offer, either sentient beings or the merit field, and remember the unification of emptiness and dependent arising, appearance and emptiness. Remember the virtue and the merit field. If you have some understanding, some idea, some experience, then remember these objects. Although there are you, the virtue, the action and the object to whom you offer, even though for your mind they appear as truly existent, in fact they are empty of it. So remember that unification. “I, the virtue, the action, the object, the other sentient beings, or the merit field, the Triple Gem are empty of true existence. As they appear to my mind now, in fact they are empty of it.”

They are empty of it. But not ordinary completely non-existent; they exist under the control of name on the labeling base: “I”, the action, the merit field, the Triple Gem or sentient beings. Whether it is a beggar, or an offering to the pores of the gurus or the Triple Gem, they exist under the control of name on the labeling base, by depending on the labeling base. They exist by depending on the labeling base. On the labeling base of the “I,” the action, or the merit field, the thought puts the label; merely putting the label on that, it exists. Be aware of the dependence: the labeling base and the valid thought or the all-obscuring mind labeling that. So remember the meaning of dependent like this, according to the Prasangika explanation of dependentThal Gyupa, the Middle Way—these philosophers’ explanation and definition of dependent.

So at the beginning, what I started to say was this: Asking the suras, the asuras and the different types of spirits—there are different names, different types—asking them to be here to listen to the teaching. The idea is to give the teaching to all sentient beings, not only to the people who are around here. Ask them to be here, to descend here. For example, Indra, the king of the sura realms, the Thirty-three Realm, who works for the side of Dharma—ask him to descend here in order to listen to Dharma, to listen to the teachings of Buddha that cause the pacification of all the sufferings and gain all happiness. Then advise them to listen to the teachings with respect—through this you can accomplish a great purpose and receive extensive qualities, like an ocean. The teachings are such a precious treasure, a wish-granting treasure, and by listening to these teachings of Buddha one can accomplish any wish.

Then say, “There is nothing more interesting than this, nothing else, nothing more interesting, nothing. There is nothing even a little bit more interesting than this. Therefore, listen to the teachings with subdued senses, with subdued body and mind; listen to the teachings of Buddha, the Victorious One, in a subdued and respectful manner, not with the manner of the unsubdued mind.”

Then say this, “The teachings of the Buddha are the originator of all that is auspicious, of all the good things. For human beings, nagas, devas—the teaching of Buddha, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, are the originator of all auspicious things, of all good things. Therefore, keep this in mind, keep this in the heart, and listen to the teachings. This pacifies all unsubdued mind; it pacifies disease and the sickness of the unsubdued mind. This is the nectar that removes all diseases of the unsubdued mind; this is the nectar that comes from Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy mouth. Reflect well on the meaning of the teachings, pay attention.” The advice is like this.

These are the words in the verses that I often say at the end, before the teaching. That is what it contains, here I briefly mentioned as it is said in Tibetan—what the teachings offer, what profit, this is what it contains.

What the nagas, devas, and spirits wish for is happiness, and what they don’t wish for is suffering, so you should listen to the teachings that come down from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s holy mouth. This will remove all your undesired suffering and fulfill all your wishes for happiness. The conclusion is that you should listen, and how to listen? Listen with respectful manner and subdued body and mind, not with the manner of unsubdued mind and body—laying down, with disrespectful manners that are explained in the teachings. There are explanations of how to keep the body, all the mistakes of the body, stretching the legs toward the altar without any particular reason of disease, with carelessness or with lack of understanding karma—these are mentioned in the lam-rim teachings at the very beginning.

Milarepa, the great yogis, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, arhats and high bodhisattvas, when they give teachings, as you remember from the biography of Milarepa, all the devas come around and stay in space. The dakinis make flower rain from space during the teachings while the disciples are listening. They make flower rain. Also when His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives teachings, we don’t see them but actually they are there, like when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings—devas, nagas, protectors, all kind of non-human beings come to listen to the teachings.

So these four schools, I think they existed during Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, but not so much—it happened later. They were not that well known, not exactly publicized. They became more and more well known afterwards. After Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did the action of passing away, I think about 116, during one of the kings’ reigns, I think Ashoka’s—there is another name that goes with it, but I don’t remember. So during Ashoka’s time there was much disharmony in the community of the Sangha and many divisions. First came two divisions and then there were many divisions inside of that. They were all Buddhists, inner beings, all with refuge in the mind; however, without talking in much detail, there was a little difference in regards to the view. There was a small difference maybe in the Vinaya, the traditional practices.

Then there is one division that accepts the “I” as a self entity, and that the “I” is able to exist alone. There are eighteen different schools. There were more and more divisions and then they became eighteen different schools. I think that all had this doctrine, they all accepted this intellectually. Not only intuitively, conceptually, but this doctrine was their philosophy, their intellectual acceptance. Their philosophy is actually saying this: the “I” is able to exist alone, without depending on the continuity of the aggregates. The Tibetan term is kang.sak rang.gya tru gyi. The “I,” the person, the “self,” is able to exist alone. Rang-gya means alone. All these eighteen divisions are Theravada; one of them is called Nema Puwa.

So now we are going to talk about the different levels of refuted objects—gross, then more and more subtle. First very gross, then a little more subtle, then a little more subtle than this—like this. For the Nema Puwa, the refuted object of this school is that the “I” is permanent, not changing by causes and conditions, not changing by the force of causes and conditions, permanent. “I” is permanent and only one, without depending on parts, such as the aggregates, and also the particles of time, talking about the continuity of the self depending on the particles of time, depending each other: today’s “I” is dependent on yesterday’s “I” and also dependent on tomorrow; one can also think in that way. Then also the aggregates, parts: the table depending on the parts, the aggregates. However, the “I” is only one, without depending on parts. Then third one, “I” has self control, which means not depending on causes and conditions. So basically “I” being only one, without depending on the parts, the aggregates; having self control, without depending on causes and conditions—this is their refuted object.

So this school Nema Puwa doesn’t accept that the “I” is permanent, because it changes each second by the force of causes and conditions. And the “I” is not accepted as only one, because it is dependent on particles; it is not something that exists alone without depending on the particles. They don’t accept that the “I” is only one. They don’t accept that the “I” has self-control because they accept that the “I” exists under the control of cause and conditions. So the person, the self, the “I,” that is permanent, only one, having self-control, is the refuted object according to this school, this Theravada school called Nema Puwa Dewa.

I think I stop here.

Already I have mentioned the refuted object, the “I” that doesn’t exist, many times, and also the object of the senses. However, today our main awareness is this. I thought first to finish introducing the refuted object, so that you get some idea, in case somebody didn’t get an idea yet, although it was repeated many times. But, however, today’s practice of awareness is this. For some people it is very easy to recognize the refuted object with the “I.” Somehow it is easy to recognize the refuted object on the “I,” the true existence that is perceived on the “I”—when we look at the “I,” the hallucination between the object observed and the watcher, the hallucination on the “I,” the true existence. It is kind of the same with everything: if you are going to point it out you do not find it, there is nothing to point out. This is a table. If you are going to point out where the table is, if you point there, this is not the table and this is not the table—wherever you point it out, wherever you touch it, there is no table there—just that is not the table.

It is similar with the “I.” You cannot point out the “I.” Some people, some meditators, say that it is very easy to recognize the refuted object of the “I” because it is very soft. It is kind of foggy, kind of soft. So therefore it is easy to recognize the refuted object and easy to realize the shunyata of the “I,” easier than with any other object.

However, I think that recognizing the refuted object is not sure. I think sometimes it is easier with the outside objects to recognize the refuted object then, when you recognize the refuted object above the outside object, the true existence on the outside object, which appears to your mind, right after you recognize that, with the “I” is it very easy. It takes just a minute to realize the emptiness of the “I” if you are skillful.

Such as with the color blue—there is a blue color that exists on the blue color. On the blue color there is a blue color. On the blue cloth there is a blue cloth that exists from its own side. So you look at colors. On the flower there is a flower that exists from its own side. Like that you think, you think well. You look at it; you actually look at it on the object. You look at the object while holding on to these words and then you make the experiment whether you see it in that way or not. You look at it—green or blue; was it green or blue? And you hold on to the words. The words are important, the advice of the well-experienced lama is very important. So you hold on to that word and then you check, and you make experiment with your view, you put these words in your view and see whether you see it in that way or not. Then, when you experiment with your view, whether you see in that way or not—definitely you see it in that way. On that green cloth there is a green cloth that exists from its own side.

You check; you meditate. You look at it, opening the eyes, you look at that and then you think. On that object you put the words that you heard, the advice introducing the refuted object. Then you examine it and then right after you recognize, “Oh that’s true, exactly true.” Then you see everything in that way. Once you have recognized the refuted object in one object, that which exists from its own side, everything appears in that way, then it is as if you are in a completely new place.

It is the same thing with the “I.” On the “I” there is an “I” that exists from its own side and everything appears in that way, everything appears as if it exists from its own side. But our mind is not aware. Like you read prayers but your mind doesn’t pay attention, the mind pays attention to some very beautiful interesting music. The mind that pays attention is with that but still you are reading the prayer. Reciting mantra or reading prayers but not being aware of the meaning, the awareness is in the music. Like that, the appearance has been there since we were born, since beginningless past lives appearances have happened in that way, never changed, always truly existent but only now, only this time we recognize it. You are aware. Then it is completely new, like a completely new place.

Then right after that, immediately, right after that you think of the “I.” Then you see the “I” in that way, exactly like that, the “I” as if it exists from its own side. Clearly you see it, very clearly. Then at that time, if one knows the four analyses, how to meditate, that is the one that one should search for, this “I.” I will clarify this a little more afterwards, but this “I” that exists from its own side, which is not merely labeled, this “I” is what you search for. This is the one that you should search first, on the base, on the aggregates.

However, even if you don’t use the four analyses, then as soon as you recognize it, “Oh, I see, this is it. What is actually empty does not exist. Oh, it is this one.” Then you have the understanding, the definite understanding, “Even though it is appearing like this, it is empty; in fact this is empty.” Like the way you see a mirage, the water—the person who came from that place and then goes back to that place has the definite understanding, even though there is the appearance of water, he actually understands that that place is empty of water. So like this, the “I” appears as if it exists from its own side but at the same time there is definite understanding inside: in fact it is empty. This is it, what doesn’t exist. Then even if you don’t use so much logic, right on top of that, while you are concentrating on that, on top of that, with the definite understanding that it is empty, it cannot exist; without control, without choice, because it is empty; with the understanding that in fact it is empty, with that understanding, one-pointedly looking at it, somehow there’s no choice, it becomes empty. The object of ignorance, the truly existent “I” becomes empty.

I think I stop here.

So today our awareness is this—not only of the “I” but also the aggregates, how you see them, how they appear. How the object of the senses appear. You remember the words that I mentioned and put them on your view, how it appears to you—whether you see something, whether you feel something, if you see it in that way or not. Like this, whatever appears, food, yourself, everything, cooks, earth, space, anything—examine how it appears by remembering the words, the teachings, and then think, “I am dreaming. This appearance is not different from the dream.” Think, “This is a dream.” Continuously think, “I am dreaming.”

Sometimes, think about how things appear, remembering the teachings. Other times think, “I am dreaming, this is a dream,” the subject, object, the experience—a dream, “This is a dream.” Think that, feel that, like you are recognizing a dream as a dream. Practice awareness of this. Think.

Lecture 34: December 8th pm

Please generate at least the effortful motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate, I must achieve omniscient mind for the sake of all mother sentient beings; therefore I am going to listen to the holy teachings.”

From the eighteen Theravada divisions, the refuted object of the Nema Puwa is this: permanent, only one, having self control. So for them, realizing that the “I” is impermanent, existing by the force of causes and conditions, depending on parts and empty of self-control—for them this is the right view.

Then the four great schools, of which the first two are also Theravada schools, the Sautrantika and Vaibhashika—their refuted object of the “I” is this: The Nema Puwa accept the “I” as impermanent, empty of permanence, empty of only one, empty of having self control; dependent on parts, dependent on causes and conditions. But they accept this one—the term is kang.sak rang.gye teu tse.dang trupa—they accept that the “I,” the self, the person is able to exist alone. The “I,” the self, rang.gye trupa: the “I” is able to exist alone. The “I” is able to exist by itself, alone.

Like the child that is dependent on the father and mother—first it was only able to lead the life, to survive by depending on the support of the father and mother, someone who is taking care. Especially during the baby-time it cannot take care of itself, it cannot lead its life by itself, it has to depend on somebody. But then after some time when it is grown up, the child can manage his means of living by himself. Before when he was a baby he couldn’t do this, he needed to be taken care of by somebody. Sometimes we use this term, rang gya, self alone. We use this term even for ordinary things in some cases, like “he can travel by himself, without need of a guide.”

Anyway, the Nema Puwa still accept that the person, the “I” exists, that it has self-entity, that it is able to exist alone. Khang.sak, the being, person, the “I,”—rang is self, the person, the “I.” Gya is alone, tug is able. The “I” is able to exist alone, by itself, as a self entity.

So those from the four schools, these two Theravada schools… before mentioning that I will clarify; what the Nema Puwa accepts—that the “I,” the self, the person exists by itself, alone, without depending on the group of aggregates, the continuity of the aggregates. For the cheta mewa and do dewa, these two philosophies, the Theravada schools, this becomes the refuted object. These philosophers don’t accept that there is a self-entity on the “I,” they don’t accept that the “I” is able to exist by itself, without depending on the group of aggregates, the continuity of aggregates. The cheta mewa, and do depa, these two philosophers of the Theravada schools, don’t accept this. What the Nema Puwa accept—that the “I,” the self, is able to exist by itself, without depending on the group of aggregates—is the refuted object of the cheta mewa and do depa.

If I put it this way it’s easy to understand. Even if someone realizes that the “I” is impermanent, empty of permanence, empty of only one; not one, depending on parts, empty of self-control, depending on causes and conditions—even if one realizes this it does not mean that one has realized the absolute nature of the “I.” It doesn’t mean that one has found the infallible right view. So even if one realizes that the “I” is empty of self-existence, rang gya tuk pa, that this “I” is empty of being able to exist by itself, empty of self-entity, even if one realizes that the “I” is dependent on the group of the aggregates and continuity of the aggregates, still that doesn’t mean one has realized the infallible right view, the remedy that eliminates the simultaneously born ignorance of true existence, the root of samsara. It is still not that, even if one discovers that the “I” is empty of self-entity, empty of being able to exist by itself, without depending on the group of the aggregates and the continuity of the aggregates, any of these things.

According to these Theravada philosophers, realizing that the “I” is empty of self-entity, depending upon the group of the aggregates, the continuity of the aggregates, is having realized the absolute nature; but according to the Prasangika School, the Middle Way School, it is not the right view.

There are four schools, and of the last two schools, the next one is the Cittamatra, the Mind Only School. These are Mahayana schools, of Mahayana philosophy. The Mind Only School’s refuted object is kind of easy to understand. It is kind of easy to relate somehow to this one, especially for Westerners, [Rinpoche laughs] it is kind of easy to accept the meaning, the view of the Mind Only school. There is nothing that exists from the side of the object. Only from the object, there is nothing that exists without depending on experiencing the impression, the potential that is left or stored on the consciousness. Without experiencing that, nothing can exist from the side of the object.

Like the example—when you project, when you show a movie, if the potential that is in the negative, the figures, colors, whatever it is, whatever was taken, is empty, if there’s nothing printed there, no figures or colors, when it is used in the machine you can’t see anything there because there’s nothing inside the negative. You can’t see any objects or any figures there. So that is dependent on the figures, the power of the elements that are on that negative. Depending on how good that is, you can see different things—together with the machine it is able to manifest there like that. That figure that you see there on the wall is dependent on, came from the power of the elements left on the negative.

It is the same thing with the dream. The dreams that you see due to attachment—traveling, having parties, physical contact, enjoying with girlfriends, boyfriends, fighting with the enemy—those are impressions left from past lives, impressions left from this life, impressions left even today according to anger, attachment, whatever it is, according to the actions that are done today, the conversations you had today, what was done in the past—the impression that was stored on the consciousness. Because of that you have those dreams of fighting with enemies, having contact with friends. In the daytime when there is very strong attachment to somebody, at nighttime, the dreams come. Also, virtuous actions that were done, not only negative actions but virtuous actions that were done also come in the dream. The dreams depend on the projection or hallucination of the mind. According to the impression that was left on the consciousness, you see those dreams or those objects—those people or friends, like that—or if it is virtue, spiritual, then you see statues, lamas, receiving teachings. However, without depending on the impression that was left on the consciousness, there is no dream. What you see in the dream doesn’t exist; those appearances do not happen without depending on the hallucinated mind.

It’s similar. The mind-only doctrine, the view of those philosophers, is that nothing exists—living beings, non-living beings—nothing exists from the side of the object, without depending on the impression or the potential left on the consciousness. Without depending on that, there’s no object that exists by itself.

Another example—without the consciousness taking place on the fertilized egg, without developing, there’s no baby that comes out. Without depending on the development of the fertilized egg and the consciousness joining the fertilized egg, and its development, there wouldn’t be an outside baby—suddenly there is a baby outside, not born from the mother’s womb. Suddenly there’s this small baby on her lap, without depending on the development of the fertilized egg inside.

Similarly, the impression that is left by the karmic formation, without craving and grasping making it ready to experience, there wouldn’t be any body for the consciousness to migrate into. There wouldn’t be the next aggregates. The next aggregates cannot exist without depending on the impression that is left by karmic formation and craving and grasping making that potential ready. Without depending on this the result of aggregates cannot come into existence.

“Mind only” has great meaning. Mind-only means everything—all your experiences, happiness and suffering of this and previous lives, all the objects of the senses, everything you see in your view, your particular objects of enjoyment, anything you see, all objects, whatever quality you see, bad or good— everything comes from your mind. It comes only from mind. Without depending on the creator of your mind, nothing exists from its own side. Nothing exists from the side of the object without the creator, your mind. What you see, what you enjoy, without depending on the creator, your mind, there is nothing that exists from its own side. So whatever quality you see is according to the quality of your mind—to the development of your mind. How you see the object is up to the way your mind labels it. It comes from your mind, it is a production of your mind, and that is according to the level of your mind.

So why “only,” “Mind-only” School”? Your life, your samsara, your enlightenment, your world and your objects of the senses are not created by somebody else. They are created by you, by your mind. By saying “only” it cuts off the wrong idea, the wrong conception of the evolution—saying my happiness, my suffering, my life is created by somebody else, by a separate being, someone else, a universal consciousness or something. A separate being created it, it is not created by my mind, not depending on my mind, on my karma. It is created by somebody else, by a separate being. That’s the trouble. So I have no choice, I have to suffer. I have no choice. This is it.

You see, it was created by you, yourself, and that is okay; but being created by a separate being is a problem, a wrong conception. On the basis of that idea, if you want to eliminate the root of suffering then when you come to that point it becomes difficult, because the root of suffering is not in your mind. So then you have no freedom, then it is up to the person who made us suffer. So if you want to liberate yourself from suffering, when it comes to this point it becomes difficult on the basis of this idea that your suffering, your life is created by someone else, a separate being or a universal principle of consciousness manifested in all, things, mountains, people, like this. Actually here we come to the part of the chapter of patience where we left off; the verse where we stopped now is at this point, where it discusses a universal principle, a universal consciousness that manifests in all things.

So “only” cuts off all these things, because that is not the factual evolution, and when you come to the point to eliminate suffering, to really make yourself free forever from all suffering, then there is not much freedom. It is illogical. If you check, if you put questions, it becomes more and more false—there is no logical reason, you see more and more faults. It is not our experience. If you examine your everyday life experience you can see that it is dependent upon your mind, dependent upon how much you are able to control the mind, and keep the mind in good quality or in bad quality. Depending on that, happiness and suffering changes. When you use the meditation techniques you can understand this—how it is in our hands, not in somebody else’s hands. When you meditate on shunyata, dependent arising, impermanence and death, and when you meditate on patience, you understand. We can see it from this and from our everyday life experience—by watching your experience you understand the problems and the cause, the unsubdued mind; by watching life experience you understand that happiness and suffering are produced by the mind, dependent on the individual’s mind.

So whether you get free forever from samsara or not depends on yourself, on whether you give freedom to yourself or not; it’s not dependent on somebody else. As long as you don’t give freedom to yourself to be free from suffering, then there is no end to the suffering. It’s completely dependent on yourself, how you take care of your own life, how much you give freedom to yourself, to practice Dharma.

So however, for the Mind-only School, all existence coming only from the mind cuts off things like your own suffering and happiness as being created by someone else, by a separate being. Things come from only the mind. For the Mind-only School, “only” has that meaning. What it stops is that one.

But we cannot criticize the viewpoint that God created the world, that God created things. We cannot say that this is wrong, because there are people who cannot accept or understand karma. They cannot comprehend that things are created by oneself, that they came from your own mind. So for one who cannot understand that, for one whom this method does not fit, it’s better to say that it is created by somebody else, “Your suffering is created by God, so therefore you should be good. If you aren’t good, God will punish you. God will do this and that.” Like small children, “If you don’t study well then mother or teacher will beat you or won’t give you presents or money.” So like that they teach children to listen and because of the fear of that, they study well, because otherwise they don’t get chocolate or presents.

Like that, it becomes a temporal help for these people, “You should be good, not tell lies, not harm to others, take other’s lives, you should not steal, because if you do this God will punish you.” This is very good for those people who cannot understand other ways. Even though there is no mistake in the explanation of karma—although it is presented according to the factual evolution, it is right, there is nothing wrong with it, Buddha cannot find any mistake there—by saying God will punish or somebody else will punish them, it temporarily benefits the person to live a good life, to not harm others, to help others. Because of fear of God; God will punish, so that helps the person himself, and stops bad actions toward others, even though there is no such thing as a God that will punish him. His karma punishes him—his mind, the negative mind will punish him. Even though that is the factual evolution, saying God or something else benefits, even though it is wrong, even though there is no such thing, it benefits his happiness. If it stops him from harming others, if it causes him to be good to others, that itself becomes the cause for happiness. So we cannot say that this is absolutely wrong for everybody.

So the refuted object of the mind-only philosophers is that things exist by themselves without depending on experiencing the impressions that are left or stored on the consciousness. That is the refuted object: the “I,” the self, the person existing by itself, without depending on the impression left on the consciousness being experienced. But even if you realize that the “I” is empty of existing by itself without depending on impressions left on the consciousness, even though you know the “I” is empty of this, dependent on the consciousness, dependent on the mind, that all the existence came only from the mind, even if you know this dependence, still according to the Prasangika it does not mean that you have realized the right view. Realizing this cannot actually cut off the simultaneously born ignorance, the root of samsara.

So now there are two schools left. The Middle Way School has two divisions.

I think I stop here.


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