Kopan Course No. 11 (1978)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal November 1978 (Archive #394)

The following is a transcript of teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Eleventh Kopan Meditation Course in November 1978. 

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

Section Six

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Session 30

The six benefits of remembering of impermanence and death are very useful. Otherwise, again the mind gets confused, you don’t know the purpose of meditating on impermanence and death. Then instead of becoming the medicine to cure the disease, the confused mind, eight worldly Dharmas, then it becomes—I think I mentioned ht example of shooting the arrow already. If you are shooting you should know if the animal is actually there or not. You have to focus on the object. So like that, you have to know the object, you have to know where you are going, where you are using this meditation technique. You have to recognize it. We are using the meditation technique, reflecting on impermanence and death, to destroy the unsubdued mind. The whole point is this, you see.

So before meditating on impermanence death, remember this, the six shortcomings and benefits. Especially beginners who haven’t meditated so much on impermanence death, who don’t understand the purpose, who think this meditation is very ugly… that’s not the right term but, bad meditation. Suffering meditation. That person would think, “I want a meditation that makes my mind only happy,” not knowing the purpose of this meditation. Usually anyway, we Western people, we like beautiful things, even for the object of concentration, only beautiful objects like flower or like light or something like that, or beautiful colors, like people’s wings. If one does not remember impermanence death, you see, one cannot remember to practice Dharma.

This is something that you should not ignore. It is the real thing, and it definitely happens, it’s something that everybody knows will definitely happen. So what happens is, if you think about death, it shows suffering. Even from this way of thinking it shows death is something that is not desirable, it is suffering. If it were a good experience of life people would talk about it. If it were some happiness, pleasure, something like that. People would think a lot about that. But because it is suffering, even people who don’t know Dharma, shows it as the nature of suffering. They have no method at all in the mind, so therefore they want to ignore it, because what are you going to do? There is no understanding Dharma, no method, no understanding of the death evolution…

Firstly there is no method in the mind because we haven’t met Dharma, because the person hasn’t met Dharma. There is no method in the mind—if death happens, if one is in the process of death, what one can do, what one can think of. What does one prepare? Nothing, the mind is completely empty. So you ignore it. So that’s the only way. That’s all they can do. That’s a very upset kind of situation. A methodless way.

Then during life, the person doesn’t remember death. Even if the thought of death comes, he tries to ignore it, tries to quickly stop it as quick as possible. Then because it causes fear when you think of the death, future, what one is going to experience, there is no method in the mind to deal with it so the person doesn’t know, no method to stop the fear, to control the fear, nothing. So the person doesn’t think of it.

It is like this in the beginning, during the life. Then after some time, when the body becomes more decayed, gradually finishing, the senses gradually becoming weaker, finishing, when you get cancer or when you get some disease, when there is not so much time is left, and the body has no control, the mind has much worry, so much fear. Oh, I might die soon. At that time, this is of no use. At that time it is useless. There is no time to practice the method. During the lifetime when you are well, when you are healthy, you did not practice, didn’t try to meet the teaching, or did not practice, like this.

So this is how it is happening with people normally. In the East, West, people who don’t practice Dharma, if you do like that, then there’s no use. During the lifetime when you have a lot of time, when you are healthy, mentally, physically healthy, when you have the opportunity to practice, to make any preparation, if you do nothing, it is completely a waste of time. In the West, people who haven’t met Dharma, who don’t know Dharma, and don’t want to practice Dharma, even if they think of death, what’s the use? What’s the use? What’s the use? No use. Why no use? Because by being aware of death and rising fear you want to do something for death, make some preparation, check what can be done to stop this, to have a happy mind at the death time, or to check out what causes death and rebirth. Is there any way that one can be free from the cause of death and rebirth, from the circle? Even if the person has the fear he doesn’t check these things. He doesn’t understand, doesn’t check like this and doesn’t check if there is any method. He doesn’t want to understand. For instance, the birds outside, during the lifetime they don’t use. So however much fear they have over there, what can be done? What they can do? There is no possibility to communicate. You can take Dharma to them. What can be done? There is no possibility, because they have taken that body, there is no way to communicate. They have no intelligence to understand Dharma, so it’s limited. So what I am saying is, the main point is this. Do you understand? For one who doesn’t want to practice Dharma, who doesn’t want to know about Dharma, who hasn’t met it, who doesn’t know, then the fear of death is of no use. No use. Just completely useless. He doesn’t make the fear useful. You see why?

We, who have met Buddhadharma, who have a little bit of understanding, who have the opportunity to practice this, by meditating on impermanence death, the fear that rises they control. They use that as a tool to control over the fear, to not have fear at all. To make the cause of the fear not exist in their mind. Like, when you have an operation, surgery, it stops the great pain, great suffering that one will experience if one doesn’t do the surgery, the operation. If one doesn’t do that one cannot recover and the life will be shortened. So you might feel some pain, to have that surgery. But that becomes a method to stop that great problem, that what one might experience later.

The meditators, as great Milarepa said in his teaching, from this you can understand, “I was scared of death and escaped to the mountain. Now, I have realized the face of the simultaneous born, mind is empty. It’s empty. I have realized the face of this simultaneous born mind is empty.” Anyway , what he’s saying, “Now I have realized the nature of the simultaneous born mind empty. Now, even when the death comes, I have no upsetness. I am not scared at all.”

So, like this great yogi meditator did, the skillful wise people during the lifetime remember death. Death is definitely going to happen. Being aware of that which is definitely going to happen in the future to oneself. They use this fear that rises as a tool. They use it to practice Dharma, to destroy laziness, to destroy the eight worldly Dharmas, to practice Dharma. Then that, that way, to practice Dharma, to accumulate the extensive merit, purification, they generate bodhicitta. Then they generate absolute bodhicitta. Then they realize the absolute nature of the self. Then whenever the fear and death comes, there is not one single fear. It doesn’t cause one tiny, slightest fear in the mind. Even when the great death happens. The mind is extremely happy.

So the whole thing, the fear that rises from meditating on impermanence death, is used to control and destroy the fear. The fear is used as a medicine to stop the fear. So in that way, there is no fear. By meditating impermanence death as the fearless meditators, the Dharma practitioner follows the path, and as he generates the different levels of path, the path of preparation, the right-seeing path, for him it is impossible to be born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being and there is no fear at all. He has become an aryan being or higher being. The absolute Sangha, real Sangha. The absolute Sangha.

This started from meditating on impermanence death and the fear is used like medicine to control the eight worldly Dharmas, continuously practice Dharma. This makes it possible for the practitioner to achieve all those graduated paths to enlightenment. Then, like this, the skilful wise person, during the lifetime remembers and tries to be aware of impermanence death again and again.

So, you see, when he is in the real time, experiencing death, he has no fear. The mind is extremely happy. Not even doubt, not even a doubt. “Oh, I might go … oh, what will happen to me if I die now, what will happen?” Uncertainty in the mind, you are not sure. Not even a doubt like this. So calm, with great confidence in mind, the mind is very, very relaxed at death time. Without having any worry. With great happy mind the person, the wise Dharma practitioner dies like this. It doesn’t cause worry to other people. It doesn’t make other people so upset, terrified. Also it causes other people’s devotion to rise, because at death time he is amazing, due to the power of his Dharma practice. That person died differently from normal people, from ordinary people, differently. So instead of it becoming a cause to worry other people, to make upset other people, terrify other people, it makes everybody happy and devoted.


From today, making preparation for death…making preparation is more important than making the dam, making walls very thick walls around the house. On the mountain there is a big lake and there is a danger that it will overflow. This big water might come out and it will take away the whole village. In the summer time or next year there is a danger that this will happen. And then before that, making the walls very thick to protect the property…

First of all what I am saying is this. If there is danger like this for the water to come down, to wash away the whole village, whole family, it is important to do something, to stop this danger. You can’t say definitely after five years or you can’t say definitely summer; it’s not sure when it will happen—it will explode out of the water.

Like this it is important to make the preparation, even from today, for death. To make preparation, the happiness, perfections for the future life, from now. This is important. To prevent the difficulties, the sufferings of the future life and to receive happiness, perfections of the future life. You make that preparation. That work starts even from today, now.

Like that example, making preparation for this happiness, perfections of future life is more important, this is much more important than making preparation to stop that water. I think I mentioned already once before, but you make preparation for death, meditate on the lam-rim and purifying negative karma that has been collected, then do the practice of accumulating merit, meditate on impermanence, death everyday, then there is no upsetness, whenever the death comes—morning, night, afternoon, middle of night, right at twelve o’clock. Whenever it occurs, no upsetness, no difficulty in the mind. If one is ready for death like this, if one is able to make preparation there is nothing to worry about. Even if you’re meditating here and water comes, washes away, destroys, causes death to oneself, that doesn’t make one born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being. That alone doesn’t make one born in the lower realm.

If the negative karma is not purified, then there is danger, if one didn’t make preparation for death, didn’t purify negative karma, this can make one be born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being, to fall down, but otherwise, if one is ready for death, made preparation, then whatever happens, even if somebody kills you, even if the police shoot you, whatever happens, whatever conditions of death, nothing causes you to be born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being. According to karma one gets born in a pure realm, or finds the body of a happy transmigratory being, perfect human body. So what I am saying is that it is as important to prepare for death as to stop the water coming in.

Also it is not certain whether the water, explosion, will happen first or whether death will.

One thing I want to tell you is this. One thing that you should understand is this. Meditating on or hearing about impermanence death, meditating on the sufferings of those other sentient beings, pretas, naraks, animals, if this causes to fear—if, let’s say, if there is no reincarnation, no other life coming after this, what’s the point of worrying? If there is no life coming after this then anyway, you are not going to be born as a narak, you are not going to born in the animal realm, preta realm so what’s the point of worrying?

If I tell you how much this orange is suffering, or you are going to be born as this, you are going to reincarnate as a car, then terrible suffering of hunger, thirst when the fuel runs out, so much hunger, thirst, so much pain, going on the road, and when the person drives the car for many miles, exhausted, feeling so hot, very warm, so hot, then when the tires break, the heart is broken. When the wheel is off, then leg is broken. When there is an accident, when the engine, whole engine is broken, the brain is broken. You will be scared if I say that. You are going to reincarnate to a car. You are going to be born as the earth, then people will dig you, and you will have so much pain, incredible, unbelievable pain, like pieces of the skin taken out, taken with tools.

When they build houses, very heavy…


It doesn’t mean it is popcorn. You don’t get born, you don’t become popcorn, that I can put signature. You don’t get born as popcorn. You don’t have to worry even for one second. But inside popcorn I can make signature, okay? Anyway I am joking. I am joking, you understand?

Anyway I am not going to talk so much, that subject I think I finished. That’s not true, you see, so what’s the point of worrying about this? What’s the point of having fear, because of this. This whole talk is not true. It doesn’t matter how horrible the person says it will be; it’s not true, so what’s the point to worry? So if there is no reincarnation, what’s the point to worry about all these things? What’s the point of having fear? No worries at all, no one single reason. This is just stupid, being scared of something which is not true. Anyway, that doesn’t make sense, that’s nonsense; that is nonsense.

So now, there is reincarnation, and if there is a possibility, if there is a way to completely control the fear, to make the fear non-existent, if there is a possibility, if there is a way to control this, to make this non-existent, then try the method.

If there is fear then try the method, if there is a possibility to stop always experience of the circle of death, to make impossible the rebirth in the lower realm for oneself. If there is the possibility to never be reborn in the realm of suffering transmigrators, then why not try it? Why doesn’t one try the method, if there is possibility to control our fear. If there is no method at all, if it’s kind of fixed, there is no possibility, there is no method to stop the cycle of death and rebirth, again what’s the point of worrying? There is no use of being worried about this. There is no use, being scared of it. There is no use if there is no method at all. If it is kind of fixed like this then, then what’s the point of worrying? There is no point, having fear of this.

If there is a method then try to understand that method, and practice, practice and use that method to pacify, to make non-existent the fear, to make impossible the rebirth in the lower realms, to stop the circle of death and rebirth, this sufferings.

For instance the huge Rocky Mountain, in one’s village, lets say, next to one’s own house—there is a huge rock, and one is worried oh this is not gold, this is stone, worried so much, having so much fear. What is the use of this? If there is a method to transform that stone to gold, you do it. If there is no way, no method to transform it into gold, then what’s the point to worry that is not gold, not gold, stone.

Then if there is fear, that shows that as long as one is not free, one hasn’t receive the stability; as long as one’s mind is not in the state that should never be reborn in the realm of the suffering transmigrator, not having full confidence, not having received this path, if the cause to be reborn in a suffering realm was created by oneself then the fear comes. If there is no cause created then there is no reason for the fear, there is no reason, no reason. No reason. No reason. No reason.

Those who have received this path, the higher beings, these higher bodhisattvas, who have received the path of preparation, who have accumulated the path, for them, there is not one slightest fear, because they don’t have the cause to be born in the lower realm and they don’t get born there.

Similarly, the person who has received confidence, who knows when death comes, who has full confidence that he is going to be born in a pure realm, where there is Buddhadharma, where there are Mahayana teachings, who knows that he is going to find perfect human rebirth, has not fear of being born in the lower realm.

Like we do every morning, begin each session all time with the mandala offering, do prostrations, seven limb practice, those basic practices of accumulating merit, making peace—if there is a method, then one should practice the method and make noise at the fear, that’s all.

Actually you have already meditated on impermanence death before, you were guided, I believe you meditated on this. However I still want to mention this also. When I was in Australia the first time, I met one Theravada monk who was talking about how there was no such thing as narak and so forth. He said this was an ancient teaching, not relating to modern sentient beings. Even though there are quotations, whole sutra teachings about it, explaining karma, the causes of each realm, not having faith and devotion in the teachings. Because of this one can’t understand how karma works, and he finds it very difficult to explain to other. So then because one cannot explain, one says like this. There is no change in the teachings according to the level of people’s mind. If the people check up, one who understands all the Dharma, geshes, learned lamas, those who have studied, if you check up, if you debate them, then you can understand…

[end of tape]

From the person who has wrong understanding of Buddhadharma, from that person you get wrong understanding.

And also like this, any subject of Buddhadharma, on karma, reincarnation, all these things, if one, if one asks, if one debates the learned geshe, that learned lama who made these studies, who understands well Buddhadharma, quotations, readings, all these things, all these issues debate—anyway, I am not going to continue.

Anyway, so nobody can debate anyway with this learned one. If you talk with the learned geshe, cannot justify.

However anyway, these things, are labeled, the narak, merely labeled. If it is the heaviest suffering in the six realms, the beings who experience the heaviest suffering are called narak. That is the level of narak. The conclusion is this. We can’t put a signature whether you’ll experience such a life before death—if the house the burned and you are inside of that, difficult to escape, can you put the signature that you will never experience this in life?

After death, animal rebirth, narak, preta—if one carefully and deeply thinks inside, one cannot see at all whether the consciousness really ceases at the death time or it continues. So there is no way to put signature.

Anyway, my conclusion is this. From the heart truly we cannot say that I will definitely live, that I will definitely live this year without dying. So even if we are not sure about reincarnation, whether one will reincarnate in the realm of the suffering transmigrator or not, just like normal people in this world, even though they are not sure whether they are going to live or not this year, still for many years they plan. So is it worthwhile? It is skillful, it is worthwhile, to make preparation. To practice Dharma, to make preparation for the happiness of future lives. It doesn’t harm one in the slightest. That’s the whole conclusion.

So anyway, you keep this in mind. I am just telling this for your benefit. In order to prevent the wrong conception, that’s all. So keep this in the mind and then, think. In regards to reincarnation, in the beginning I talked—actually I really don’t know Dharma—but I said just a few words, so you think, check, check if it’s true or not. Anyway … I stop here.


Session 31

Just one thing that I did not finish yesterday. The last part of the talk.

Actually, to real Western people, what we want is first to achieve enlightenment. First we achieve omniscient mind, then practice Dharma. That’s what it looks like. First achieve enlightenment, omniscient mind knowing everything, then practice Dharma, then try to understand karma then have faith in karma. In refuge and karma.

The way we expect is like this. We don’t expect the cause that leads to there, but at very first, right away, without depending on effort, without depending on any cause, instantly the mind becomes enlightened. All of a sudden you switch the light in the dark room.

Or if there is some phenomena it should be known by me, I should understand that. If there is some existent knowledge of other people, absolute, I should realize it before. I should know it. Similarly like this, if there is something, I should know. I don’t know that, so it doesn’t exist. I didn’t hear, I was taught in school, like this. The personality of our mind is like this, complete upside down. Not checking whether such things exist or not, if there is such an omniscient mind, and what is the way to achieve that, not checking that.

Without depending on the cause, wanting to experience the result. So like without planting the seed in the ground, the apple tree, expecting to get apples, fruit, right away for lunch time.

By making charity, one receives great enjoyment. By stealing material possessions, by being miserly, one receives rebirth in the preta realm, or even if one gets born as a human being, one has difficulty with material conditions. One will have a poor life, in means of living.

Doing actions with ignorance, having degenerated the precepts, meditating on the blank. Meditating on sluggishness. Meditating on mental fogginess, keeping the mind on that state for long time. Oh this is so blissful … things like that. Then with the careless mind, with the negative mind, calling other people nicknames. You’re eating like a pig, or dog, things like that. These cause one to be born as an animal.

If we have clairvoyance, if we had foreknowledge already, from our side, that is something else. We don’t have that. From our side, we don’t have that knowledge, to see clearly the future. From this karma, this is the result we will receive. We don’t have the omniscient mind like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, we don’t have the fore knowledge to be able to see clearly and explain cause and result—from this cause this result will be this; from this cause the result will be this. Like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, like the arhats, like the great bodhisattvas, those who have great psychic powers, those who have great foreknowledge; they can explain. Like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained to each sentient being that he met on the way, the benefactors, who offered alms.

From our side we don’t have any of this, we don’t have omniscient mind, we don’t have even foreknowledge to be able to see these things and explain. Then, because I don’t see that, I can’t understand this. I can’t see, I can’t understand how this will happen, from such karma, result like this. That one can live life without the unsubdued mind, without attachment, without ignorance. How can this be possible, how can this be possible? It is not my experience. I can’t understand this. By that reason, one shouldn’t have faith in those things. Any existence such as karma, which one cannot comprehend, until one clearly understands the whole thing, the whole existence, until one receives the omniscient mind, until one fully understands all these things, all these existences, which cannot be comprehended, all this Dharma, if one is going to wait until one has clear understanding of all these existences, all these Dharma subjects, all these paths, which one cannot comprehend now, which one cannot see now, it will never happen. Then nothing happens. Nothing gets done, nothing happens.

[end of tape]

Until the clear understanding comes in the mind, then that way nothing gets done.

However, it is not object of my knowledge, I can’t see and I don’t want to check up, I don’t want to check up, I don’t want to check up, I don’t want to trust, I don’t want to have faith, in what is explained in the teachings by Buddha, I don’t want to have faith in what is explained in the books, in the scriptures, this story that happened in the past time, I don’t believe. This author of this book died a long time ago, passed away a long time ago. I don’t believe it. Because it was a long time since it was written or the stories happened in the past time, what happens is this. That person doesn’t believe any of these things. He does not believe any past stories, anything that happened in the past times recorded in the book, by those people who passed away, whom he did not see, who passed away, many years ago. He does not believe it at all. Same reason.

What Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained in the teachings, I can’t see this clearly, it’s not object of my knowledge, it was a long time ago, he passed away, or an old story, something like that. In that case, same thing, many of those stories, like the scientifically explained evolution of this earth, stories of the families, stories of our countries, all the past stories that happened and are recorded in the book by previous people who do not exist nowadays, we should not believe at all. Anything that is going to happen in the future, since we do not know if it is true, even if that changed the world, if it’s not the object of one’s own knowledge, we should not believe. We should only believe now what we see here around with our eye. Not past, not future, then cannot check. Cannot have any faith, any belief in those things.

Because of the same reason. Why we should believe? Because of the same reason, in those normal stories, what people talk about in the future, explain in the book in the past, things that happened, those stories of the person or country, all those things that are recorded in the book—they are not the object of one’s own mind, so why should you trust in the book; it doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. Same reason.

Like the parents of our parents had a diary, and they wrote about the countries they traveled to, everything they did, all the stories, their life experience and so forth in the book. Only the book is left; they don’t exist. So we should not trust. We cannot remember, can’t see clearly, so even if it is true, why should we believe in it? We should only believe in the present things that one has seen in this life.

Somebody who wants to practice Dharma, then how to do? Oneself doesn’t have any power to understand so we have to rely on somebody who has understanding, his explanation. We have to depend on that. If we do not accept at all, then nothing happens to the mind. In that way, it doesn’t become the method to free oneself from samsara, you see. From samsaric suffering, anyway, from the confused mind.

So, so we should depend on the right explanation that is given, explained by Buddha, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha who himself went through the path, who was an ordinary person like oneself, and then followed the path, the teachings that were shown by a Hindu gurus, who had had the experience of actualizing the whole path. With his complete experience of the path, his omniscient mind fully seeing the whole existence, conventional truth, absolute truth, or the all obscuring mind, without one single mistake seeing each single karma of sentient beings. Seeing the result that each single small karma brings.

On the subject of karma, the intelligent ones receive the realization of karma by reflecting on reasons, without needing to check for a long time. By reflecting on reasons faith comes, and then for the lower intelligent ones, for understanding to arise is difficult. In order to receive the realizations and to have clear understanding, they depend on the explanations of Buddha and then purification and accumulating merit. Otherwise it is difficult for them to understand. The method is to accumulate extensive merit, make the extensive practice of the purification. By doing this, the obscurations become thinner, thinner, thinner, thinner, thinner, like the dust on the mirror, that can’t give a clear reflections. Similarly, your mind is not clear. As you clean the dust on the mirror more and more it becomes thinner, thinner, and the mirror can give more and more reflections, clearer, clearer reflections. The more and more one does the practice of purification, accumulating merit, then the obscurations become thinner and thinner, and the mind becomes clearer, clear, clear. It is easier to understand Dharma and to generate the realizations. Like that.

Of course we Western people find this subject difficult, of course, there is no question. Even for the Tibetans, generally it is a difficult subject.

Anyway without talking much, we all have different level of mind. Like here we have all kinds of different level of mind—for some people, all the Dharma, all the teachings, all the explanations of Dharma, whatever is explained, the person does not find new, he finds no difficulty in understanding, in having faith, and understanding. So easy, so easy.

For some, even the whole lam-rim teaching, even the whole Buddhadharma text is read, is explained for him, all the volumes, all the texts, all the sutras, all the tantras, even if the person himself has memorized the whole text, the whole commentary, the whole thing, if the person is not a fortunate person, even if he can recite very well from the heart, still there is no faith in the karma, no faith in the teachings, no understanding, no feeling for it.

There was one who was always competing with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in India, who had memorized pages of texts of Dharma books, as much as an elephant can carry on his backside, but had no faith and no real understanding, no feeling, just able to say the words. All this depends on accumulating much merit. If the person hasn’t accumulated much merit, because the fortune is low, there is difficulty, even if there is intellectual understanding, he has memorized the text and so forth, it is difficult to feel faith. It needs background, foundation, accumulation of much merit. It depends on foundation, like building a house. For the person who easily gets a feeling for it, understanding comes very easily, and person has accumulated more merit—that’s why he finds it easier.

Keep what I said in the mind and check up. It might not be completely useless, unworthy to remember, wasting time, it might not be like that completely, not if you keep it in mind.

When the Buddha was going for alms to one village, a girl from a family offered food to his begging bowl. Then he predicted, “From this good karma you will receive such-and-such a result in your future life.” So this girl felt very strange because what she offered was nothing, very little food and Buddha said, “from this good karma, at such and such a time, you will be born as (I don’t remember the name of the buddha), you will become Buddha, in this world.” The result of that karma was becoming enlightened. The cause is nothing, just a very little amount of food. At first she couldn’t believe, couldn’t imagine this, she thought, “He is complimenting the benefactor, just making talk, to please the benefactor because he got food. How can he say I shall become enlightened by making this small offering?” She couldn’t figure it out so she complained to Buddha about it. Then Buddha asked her, “Is there a seed you plant that grows into a tree, having an incredible number of branches, growing so big, reaching very far—is there no such thing—have you not seen this?” She said, “Yes, there is! I know there is a tree called nayaduja; it has so many branches covering a big area.” Buddha said, “No, there is no such tree.” She replied, “Of course there is, this is my experience!” Then Buddha said “Yes, and your good karma of making this small offering to me resulting in your becoming Buddha, enlightened, is my experience!” So you see, nothing to talk about. The doubt is cut off.

So you should remember this is the experience of Buddha. The experience of misery in our life is such-and-such a result of karma. A good experience in our life, enjoyments, is because in previous times we created good karma. I think that’s all about this.

If one doesn’t remember impermanence and death one doesn’t remember to practice Dharma, one cannot practice Dharma. Even if one is able to remember Dharma, if one does not reflect on impermanence and death one is unable to practice. Even if one likes to practice Dharma, “Oh Dharma is good, I like to practice Dharma, Dharma is positive, it’s a good one,” one remembers Dharma, “But first I will go back to the West and spend three years, I have lots of time, I will live until 80, 90, maybe 100 or more, 103 or -4 or -5, I have lots of time. I want to practice Dharma but first I will go back to the West, maybe have six children then enjoy the life for six or seven or maybe ten years, then slowly I can practice Dharma. The children will have grown up and can look after themselves, so then, after 28 years I might get some time for myself to practice Dharma.” Like this delaying, “I am going to practice Dharma next year.” Next year comes then again next year, the next year comes then again next year, like this. By being under the control of the evil thought of worldly Dharma, seeing more important the work of this life than practicing Dharma. Practicing Dharma is good, but first do the works of this life—like this.

In that way, if the person does that, it doesn’t get finished within one year, and again more and more one does the worldly work, more and more it doesn’t get finished, the plans get bigger and bigger, never get finished, then every time, “I must finish this before practicing Dharma,” always time goes like this. Dharma doesn’t get practiced as one doesn’t get the opportunity to practice Dharma. Those are the mistakes of not remembering impermanence and death. If one remembers Dharma as positive and good, one never finds time to practice.

Like many of the students say in the West, the people who study, live there, complain, “Oh I have no time to practice Dharma, I have to work, do this and that.” All those things are the mistake of not finding time to practice Dharma but finding lots of time for holidays…

[end of tape]

…if I die right now, if I die with when I am creating negative karma, with anger like this, with this unsubdued mind if I die now, it is definite, it is certain that I’ll born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being. You visualize the result of the karma, you visualize. You visualize, the hot red burning iron ground or large kind of pot, burning water, the result of karma. Then by creating the karma of rising anger, and thinking, “I might be born like this,” visualize this realm. Then question oneself whether I want to experience this or not. Then the mind says, no I don’t want to experience this, therefore I mustn’t create this negative karma. I mustn’t accumulate this negative karma.

Also, think, it’s uncertain that I won’t die within this hour. So I might die in this hour, so what’s the point of doing this argument, fighting, what’s the point of this getting angry at this person, what’s the point? There is no point, no point. No point. First of all, it’s uncertain that I won’t die, within this hour. Secondly I am accumulating negative karma, which makes one be born as a first-stage narak. So there is no point at all to get angry with this person. No point. I’m cheating myself. I am cheating myself. I am defeating myself. I am defeating myself, I am cheating myself completely.

Think like this. Very good. As soon as you remember that, the anger goes away. The uncontrollable anger goes away. Goes away. The uncontrollable pride goes away. The ill will or attachment becomes less, it disappears. So in that way you don’t accumulate any more negative karma. It does not continue. So your mind becomes very much relaxed. Relaxed. Suddenly your mind becomes very calm, very kind. Very kind. So peaceful. All of a sudden there is great change in the mind, great tranquility in the mind.

So in that way, because you changed your mind, you become relaxed, and also your face changes. This helps other people, it benefits the person. It makes the other person feel surprised. It helps his mind also. Remembering meditation techniques like this, when the mind is such a problem, is extremely effective for one’s practice.

Anyway, so remembering impermanence death is highly meaningful, at the beginning of Dharma practice. This makes the Dharma pure. Dharma practice, pure Dharma practice. It has great advantages like this. Then especially, at the time of death, with a great happy mind, one is able to die.


For the great Dharma practitioners it is like that. When the death occurs, the mind is extremely happy. Like when the child is going back from school, returning home for holiday, like going for a picnic in beautiful park, so happy to experience death. For those high lamas, like that, if possible, like that. The mind is extremely happy.

Or even if that is not possible then as a middle Dharma practitioner we should start. Not having difficulties at the time of death in the mind. The mind is so comfortable, so comfortable. There is great confidence in the mind that one is not going to be born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being. The mind is confident, so much relaxed. Not having any caution. Not having doubt. So comfortable having full confidence, inside your heart there is full confidence that one is not going to be born in the realms of suffering transmigratory being.

If that is not possible then not having fear at all at the time of death. Remembering death impermanence should at least make this possible. This is the lowest one.

Again, by trying to create good karma, this perfect human rebirth is found finally. Then again not being careful during this life, not making this life meaningful then, using this to accumulate negative karma and go back to the lower realms doesn’t make any sense. There is no meaning why we have taken this body. This is meaningless. Being born as a human being has no meaning. If one makes one’s life meaningless, it becomes meaningless.

So you see, if one makes it possible to use this perfect human rebirth to practice Dharma—in the lam-rim book, if you read you will find eight qualities. Like Atisha, like Atisha, like the great yogi Milarepa, Aryadeva, Shantideva, like that. A good body, qualified with eight things.

Then the realization that has been generated in this life continues in that life. Then again, if enlightenment is not received in that life, one takes another perfect human rebirth, by meeting a perfect guru, then again practicing the rest of the path. Then like this, gradually, receiving enlightenment. Practicing Dharma continuously, then taking the perfect human body. If you can do this, continuously, this is a great achievement. Then there is great meaning of this perfect human rebirth is it.

Death is definite. There is no place in the world where one will never die. There is no place to escape. Even if one escapes, even if one goes by rocket, goes over the moon, or the sun, there is no way to exist without experiencing death. There is no place that can stop death. Even if one hides under the earth, or goes to another planet.

In the past there was fighting in India. So one king called Samgyal who wanted power tried to kill all the member of the caste which Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was born into, the Sakya. It’s such a long story, doesn’t matter, just the essence. One of the arhats who had incredible powers tried to hide the Sakyas from the king. So he took a Sakya to a higher planet. And the king killed all the others on the same day, but the one he took away died too. His karma was finished. He had only that much length of life to live, so even though he reached a higher planet, he died.

I am sure if there were a place where you can’t experience death scientists would have found it. Nuclear scientists would go first. Also there is no medicine at all to protect one from death.

No matter how much physical strength, material power one has, nothing can prevent death. Even the elephant, having an incredible strong body, when he dies, even though normally his body is so strong at death time, he feels very poor. Even the tigers who look kind of very fearful looking, when death happens, the whole body becomes kind of contracted. They become poor looking, suffering, very poor looking.

Even the person who is very strong, very fat, incredibly fat, magnificent looking. Even if he can stop trains, cars, with big muscles, who can life up very heavy iron, at death time, he becomes very poor. There is no power, no medicine, no place to escape from the death.

And we cannot add additional life. Life is continuously ceasing. If one is going to live for sixty years, if one is now thirty years old—thirty years are finished. We can do nothing with the past. There is nothing to fix up. There is no way to go back.

Anyway, so there are thirty years left. If I am going to live for thirty years, I am now thirty years old, that much life is gone. So thirty years. That has a certain number of months, countable, a certain number of hours, a certain number of weeks, a certain number of days, a certain number of hours, and a certain number of seconds. So there are a certain number of seconds from now until the time of death. There is a certain number of breathing, breathing in and out, heart beating, heart thumping. This is not going to function all the time like this, forever—there is a certain number, then it will stop. So like that.

So now, this second of this life is continuously changing. Seconds finish. Life is finishing so quickly. So quickly. Without stopping, without breath. Without break. Continuously finishing.

Meditate like this. The longer you spend the better. It’s not profound or anything but it’s a very effective meditation, to make the mind peaceful. Very useful to be able to practice Dharma. If you try stone in the space, the stone continues, without stopping in the space, even a second…

[end of tape]

Even if one wants to do meditation, but there is time is used for something else so there is no time left for Dharma, for meditation. These are the mistakes of not remembering impermanence death. It’s the fault of not remembering impermanence death. So before generating the realization of impermanence death, when one is not meditating on impermanence death, not reflecting all the time on impermanence death, one spends time on the worldly work but very little time in practicing Dharma. By reflecting continuously on impermanence death, there is no time for worldly works. The person does not find time for worldly work, the works for the eight worldly Dharmas, there is no time for that. There is plenty of time to practice Dharma, even living in the city, even working, same life, the mind is changed, but outwardly the same. So there is no time to create negative karma, no time to work for the evil thought of worldly Dharma. So then it’s like this. Complete … it’s purely the mind.


Session 32

Even if one is trying to practice Dharma, one is unable to practice purely. That is also the shortcoming of not remembering impermanence death. Even if one is trying to practice Dharma, it does not become pure Dharma. That is not having the strong thought of impermanence death, that it might happen today.

Even if one wants to meditate, or even one try to make offerings, make prostrations, even of one is trying to do something it becomes the service, the work for the evil thought of the worldly Dharma; it doesn’t become pure Dharma. Just kind of doing something but in the heart is very strong desire, thinking, oh, if I do this, if I give offerings then people will think I am very good, I am a very good religious person; they will think of nice things, they will think of me, the will tell other people that I am living in the West, but still I am practicing Dharma. Or he will tell other people that I am doing meditation sessions every morning, he will tell everybody, all my friends. If you carefully check up in one’s heart, it doesn’t pure Dharma. There is something in there. It got poisonous, beautiful food but poison. Carefully check up, it’s mixed with something, the motivation is not really clean.

When there are a lot of people around, in somebody’s house, people who studied Dharma, you get up in the very early morning, and kind of meditate, without moving for many hours. Pretending that I am meditating all the time like this. You want them to think that I am such a good meditator, expecting that they will tell other people, that they will think of me like this. That kind of thing.

What one is practicing didn’t become Dharma. All the daily life actions, whether you meditate, whether you make offerings, whether you make prostrations, whether you do some kind of different action or not, eating, drinking, sleeping, making business, cleaning, cooking food—not becoming Dharma. Not becoming Dharma. This is the mistake of not having the strong thought thinking I might die even here. Not having this strong thought of impermanence death.

As I told you before, for people who don’t practice Dharma, then this thought, oh I will die any time, is nothing special. What prevents us from doing Dharma is thinking, oh, for sure I will live for several years. This conception of permanence. When we get up in the morning, we get up with this wrong conception. For sure, for sure I will live for a long time, for 60, 70 years. Oh, I am not going to die soon. You get up with this, you always go to bed with this.

This, even if you listen to this, if you don’t practice Dharma, if you listen to this wrong conception, then one single practice doesn’t get done. Until death occurs nothing gets done, no Dharma practice gets done. This wrong conception continues until the moment that you experience the car accident where one has to finish one’s life.

After one hour, you go shopping outside, it is time to finish one’s own life by having a car accident, but while you are in the house, just before going shopping, when you are getting ready, there is a very strong conception for sure, I will come back. For sure I will buy all the food from the supermarket and I will certainly come back home and have a beautiful, delicious lunch with all the family. This, this conception is very strong there. This continues until the moment of death

If one has generated the realization of impermanence death then whatever action that one does, the normal action, the mind is different, you but the work of this body is the same. So after having generated the realization of impermanence death any action becomes Dharma. No difficulty in practicing Dharma, after one has generated the realization of impermanence death. So easy to practice Dharma, difficult to create negative karma. Complete opposite

Now, you see, now for us, as we haven’t generated the realization of impermanence death, it is so easy for anger or attachment to arise, to give harm to others, to accumulate negative karmas of body, speech, and mind. Even if we want to control, uncontrollably it rises.

But after having generated the realization of impermanence death then no difficulty, so easy to practice Dharma. So easy to keep the mind in tranquility. To overpower this unsubdued mind.

The great yogi, Milarepa said, “By having generated impermanence I conquered the mara of the laziness. Whatever action that was done becomes Dharma.”

Then the bodhisattva, such as the highly realized lamas, such as Lama Tsongkhapa, whose holy mind passed away with great attainment, for them even each single breath, breathing out, in, becomes work for other sentient beings. It becomes the great work for the sentient beings.

So therefore, remembering impermanence death is extremely important. Especially if you want to practice Dharma, if you want all the actions to become good karma. If one doesn’t remember impermanence death, then one never makes preparation for the happiness of the future life, one doesn’t practice Dharma. Then one accumulates much negative karma, only being concerned for this life, thinking that I am going to live for a long time, like this. Then the person never tries to make purification of negative karma. Then what happens at the death time, when the death occurs, at very end of the life, instead of dying with a very happy mind, with a very satisfied mind, at very end of the life one dies with great fear and worry. With tears coming from the eyes. In a very poor situation, with a very poor mind. All those mistakes of not remembering impermanence death, not having practiced Dharma.

If one remembers the impermanence death, it is highly meaningful, because in that way one finds the body of a happy transmigratory being in the future life, one obtains happiness in future life, and then also in that way then one achieves nirvana by following the path, then one becomes enlightened by following the Mahayana path.

How it is powerful, remembering impermanence death, it is like an atomic bomb. Arrows and other small weapons can’t destroy the whole thing, they can destroy some things, many things, but they can’t destroy the buildings, the mountains, the city. However with an atomic bomb one can destroy so much—besides people, one can destroy the whole mountain. That is how powerful the meditation on impermanence death is, in order to control the unsubdued mind, to destroy anger, attachment, ignorance, the wrong concept, permanence, pride—many of those unsubdued minds.

By remembering this, by meditating on impermanence death, while you are under the control of this unsubdued mind, anger or attachment, when one is not remembering the remedy of impermanence death, the confusion that one has is then like Mt. Meru, like a huge mountain. Like a huge and solid rocky mountain. So incredible, huge, incredible big problem. But if you meditate on impermanence death, right after that hour, minute, that big crisis that you were believing so strongly before, like a huge rocky mountain, is completely cut off. Completely cut off. It suddenly becomes nothing, nothingness, nothingness, nothingness. Then, then you might laugh at yourself. Oh, oh, what was I thinking before? What was I thinking before? I was in a complete hallucination, it was nonsense. What I was worried about, what I was scared of, that was nothing, nonsense, nonsense. You will find that it was very childish, doesn’t make any sense. It makes oneself laugh, inside.

When the mind has great confusion, when the mind is in a state of very uncontrollable attachment or anger, something like that, relating to somebody, or the other person is disturbing you, causing you to get angry, after some time there is danger to fight, to become very violent with the mind, then second with speech then if that, if that becomes worse, with body, very violent, killing each other.

So if one is able to see like this, you see, very good. You bring your mind inside. The person is continuously arguing or beating you—then you hook the mind inside and think, “What am I doing. Oh I am creating negative karma,” try to recognize that.

[end of tape]

This is like the result of karma, the narak realm, the burning iron ground, then each second becomes closer to being born there, to going to the state. Like that.

This doesn’t mean that you are going to be born in the naraks; it is a method to control and pacify the unsubdued mind, to destroy that. That means it’s a method for that.

Also one thing about the general suffering of samsara, this time I am not going to talk on those things, in this course, like in previous times. The eight sufferings of human beings are as it’s translated in this—there is not much detail there but the general idea is given, the meditation on the sufferings, the eight sufferings, like this. So this time I am not going to talk on those things, because there is not much time and also if possible I want to talk more on the graduated path of the higher beings.

Probably a little bit on the refuge, a little on refuge. If possible a little bit on karma. Like that. More on the graduated path of the highest beings.

Relating to the morning, the motivation for the morning, the ordination, for those who haven’t heard if somebody has recorded or made notes then one can read. If one can understand the general sufferings of samsara, it will be very effective for the mind.

I like very much to play together. Like football playing, but sometimes it’s not so practical because then much time goes in that. There are many other people who don’t have those kinds of problems, and so it wastes time for other people and also the subject doesn’t get finished. So there is discussion time separately so if you want to discuss, then discuss in that time. If you have things to ask individually, in private time then you can discuss. If there is something that I know, I will just keep quiet.


Session 33

It is not certain whether oneself will definitely will be alive all day, or not. By remembering the uncertainty, then without seeking anything, the perfection of this life, think, I must achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all my kind mother sentient beings, therefore I am going to listen to this profound Mahayana teaching.

At the beginning of each meditation, as I explained at the very beginning, how to do the meditation on the perfect human rebirth, meditate on the difficulty, then impermanence death, also when you are meditating on the shortcomings of samsara, as I explained in the morning before the ordination, first you think of the difficulties, thinking so far I have not been free from the sufferings of samsara, by what mistake? That is because I haven’t generated yet the realization of the difficulties of finding the perfect human body. So I must achieve enlightenment. therefore I am going to meditate on this, then you meditate on the difficulties of receiving a perfect human rebirth, like that. And then at the end, after you check the difficulty, then you do the fixed meditation. After you do this analytical meditation, keep the mind in that state, feeling that find like this again is extremely difficult.

Then after meditating on this, you see, it’s very good to make the determination how one is going to spend one’s own life, in the graduated path to enlightenment, especially the bodhicitta. To make progression this year by year, month by month. I must make progression in this. Train my mind in this path, especially bodhicitta. Make the determination to generate the realization of bodhicitta in this life.

After meditating on the evil thought of Dharma, make the conclusion, the determination—it’s very good, very effective for mind, that I have received many rare, many precious things come together, this one time. First the perfect human rebirth qualified with eight freedom, ten richnesses, and having met the teachings, the Buddhadharma. Not just Buddhadharma but Mahayana teaching, which is rare among the Buddhadharma. I met this. Also the virtuous friend, the teacher showing the path perfectly, without mistake. Then also I have intelligence to be able to recognize what is positive, what is negative, or what is to practice, what is to be avoided.

Some people are very intelligent in the works of this life, but when it comes to Dharma, when it comes to teaching, then it is very difficult, so difficult to understand. They are not smart in Dharma, like a dull knife, kind of not sharp. I have all these things, I have many precious things come together; how can I waste this perfect human rebirth which is difficult to find again, by allowing this to come under the evil thought of Dharma? Then, make the determination. Even today, even a hour, even a minute I won’t let myself under the control of the eight worldly Dharmas. I won’t give up myself to the eight worldly Dharmas.

Make the determination to make following the evil thought of Dharma, each day less. The works for the evil thought of Dharma less tomorrow than today. Less today than yesterday, then less tomorrow than today. This is the way to overcome the eight worldly Dharmas. This way makes the mind better; in each month then, in each year; makes the mind better next year than this year. Then also make the determination to practice bodhicitta, without wasting this perfect human body. Make the determination to not give up oneself to the evil thought of Dharma, to practice bodhicitta, without wasting this precious human body. After you meditate on the evil thought of Dharma then also it’s very good to make the determination like this. Then after this one meditates on impermanence.

Again think, the mistake that I have been experiencing in samsara, not being free so far is because of not having generated the realization of impermanence death.

And all the actions become work for the evil thought of Dharma, because of not having generated the realization of impermanence death, you remember this mistake. Then you meditate on impermanence death.

So if you really want to practice Dharma, if you’re really seeking Dharma then it’s so important to meditate as much as possible on impermanence death, to read the teaching that contains the teaching on impermanence death. Read and meditate, and during the session mediate or even during the working time, remember impermanence death. Frequently remembering impermanence death is the most important thing. It is extremely important.

As I explained, there is no additional life, what is left is very short, very short, very short. Probably shorter than how long we lived so far. Not certain.

So anyway, without talking much, how the seconds go so fast. You talk about when you are talking picture and you talk about thousandths of a second or, many hundredths of a second, like that. Very good to relate that to life, how quickly it finishes.

The seconds get closer and closer to death, like this. So like this one is constantly running toward death, without stopping even for a minute, even for a second, like this. From this morning until now, how many seconds have gone from the life? How many seconds have finished? You are that much closer to death. Whether one has accumulate negative karma or not, however, meditate like this.

Then the example, like stones falling down from space on the ground, on the ground. Visualize the narak realm, hot red iron ground, then, as each second finishes, then getting closer, closer, closer to the hot burning iron ground. This is very effective for the mind.

Especially in order to abstain oneself from accumulating negative karmas, it is very good to remember this. Then if you see some people captured by police, some criminal people, put in a car, we see the police driving, taking the person to the place where he will be punished, where he will be shot. When you look at that car, when you look at that person, you are incredibly upset, you see them as very kind of terrifying, very fearful even to look at it—kind of unbearable to see the person. On the way however much he is surrounded by people, even all the people in the country, offering, giving presents to him, delicious food, billions of dollars, lots of cars, airplanes, boats, shops, supermarkets, clothing, jewels, and however many beautiful girls dance for him—he doesn’t find attraction, because there are only three minutes left to live. Even if people say very nice things, how good he is, giving honey, cheesecake in the mouth, chocolate, jewels—there is no attraction. Each second he is closer to the danger of death.

It’s very useful to visualize yourself in this example. Then you see how one feels.

[end of tape]

Maybe one can ask the police, oh I have to make peepee, you stop. Can we stop for a minute? When one’s life becomes close to the death there is nobody we can ask, please, could you stop a minute, I didn’t finish my work, could you wait please. So visualize yourself in that example, then use that example for life.

We are not in the car now, but life is no different. Even if we are sleeping on a comfortable bunk, huge bed, large bed, or sleeping, eating, dancing, having great excitement, playing, one’s own life is exactly like example of the criminal person who is taken by the police car. Continuously getting closer to death. Finishing all the time. Like that.

If, after death, we will find a good rebirth then it is a little bit better. But if one is not sure, then getting closer to death, that suffering realm, it’s very short, just like lightning, just a flash, like that. Then finished.

When death occurs, what appears to one’s own mind is like lightning. Such a short time.

So therefore, there is no reason to be attached. No reason. No purpose to cling to the surrounding family, material possession, whatever great enjoyments there are. There is only a short time left to live the life, no reason to fight, no reason to argue with anger. What’s the point of fighting for such a short time, in such a short life? Life is incredibly short, like this, so what’s the purpose of clinging too much? First remember the example, then be aware of the present life.

Sometimes when I talk the words do not come together. So anyway, if you understand the essence, think how it’s similar. Life becoming shorter and shorter, like this. So if you understand the essence, that’s the most important thing, even not exactly, word for word.

Many people who say very nice things to us, so much reputation, interest, admiration, giving material possessions or things like that, think that there is not so much point, no purpose, no reason to cling.

One’s own family, sister, brother, all these things, father and mother, came from very different places, from past lives. Some came from animals; some came from preta; some came from narak; some came from the realm of gods, some came from human beings, all different. Like here we have gathered, just exactly like this. We all came from different places, just gathered here for a short time in this beautiful apartment. Just exactly like this, exactly like this. How many families we have, even together, living together in one house, is for a short time, short time. Previously, each of them came from different places, from different realms. Then, taking the human body, they gathered together like this for a short time. Then again they go away. Individually they go away. Then, according to their karma, how they live their lives depends on each individual. Some go in the realm of the preta, animal, narak, human being—according to individual karma, like this. They all separate away completely. Just for a short moment they are together. Soon this gathering is finished.

Soon, this place becomes empty. In a year, after three years, all the people here now living in this tent talking, discussing, getting angry each other, nervous at each other, anyway, after three years, all this finishes. There is no way to meet each other again.

Probably the names are left. Out names, and maybe stories left in a book. But nobody will see each other. As they travel in the world, on this earth, to meet each other, everybody left completely. They might talk about that monk Zopa, the crazy things that he did, all these things. How he lived his life, all that. People talk, only use names. We can’t see the actual person at all, no way to meet at all—only the name is used.

If it is written in the books, people talk about, it is in the records, in the books. Even after some time it will be completely lost many times.

Now we here gathered with this body for a short time, just like, just like the fly. When there is dirt, when there is a treat leftover, the flies come there—enjoying the feast. They are together like this, busy like this, after a few seconds they all go away in different place completely. Before they come from different place and now after a few seconds they leave, one flew that way, one flew this way—exactly like this, such a short time.

Then the family is missing each other. Also the dry leaves fall down from the tree and they’re on the ground for some short time, and the wind blows, and for a short time there is a bunch of leaves then suddenly the wind blows them all away, all scattered. For a short time we are together like this, then soon our karmic winds blow away. We are completely scattered. Not only the separation from this place but completely blown away in the different realm, without choice, by the karmic winds, in the six realms, all the time, circling round.

Our being born this time as human beings, together with the other people in the city, in the family, is like a one hour football match. First of all the people come from kinds of different places, and have much excitement during that short time, noise, anger, all these things, the mind being extremely busy. Some are kind of happy, some are angry, all kinds of things. There are so many things happening during the one hour, then suddenly all is gone. Just like the dream, all gone. Just exactly like that, exactly like that, like people who came for meeting, people who came to see a movie, people who came to watch the football match, like that, we human beings came from the lower realms to see a football match, to watch scenery, for sightseeing. Just for a very short time.

As Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said in the teachings, all the three realms, the realm of desire, the realm of the form and formless are impermanent, like the cars in olden times. If you look at the dance of the transmigratory beings, death and the rebirth, it is similar. Finishing the life of transmigratory beings is like lightning in the sky. Like the waterfall from the cliff. The nature of our life is exactly as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said.

Suddenly a cloud appears like a human being. Then relating to oneself, having taken this body, if you watch the cloud, it changes, in each second it changes. Gradually it disintegrates. It becomes lighter and lighter, lighter and lighter, thinner and thinner. Then while you are looking at it, while you are watching at it, it doesn’t last. It is changing. Like that, even if we are suffering, even if we are enjoying, having great excitement, life is just like while you are watching the cloud, constantly moving, become closer to disappearing.

Within that life, we are so busy, completely concentrated, so busy with the work of this life. Always having the wrong conception, oh I am going to live long, then life is gone, it is finished, life is finished, while we are spending the time finishing the work of this life, one after another, one after another. Like the ripples of the water, one after another it comes. Then one day, unexpectedly, thinking I am going to live long, for many years many years—if you are writing, without having completed the writing; if you are talking, without completing the work of talking; if you are building a house, then without completing the work of building—suddenly, death happens. While one is eating food, without finishing that, death happens suddenly. Then the whole life just finishes. However much you do, the work of this life is never finished, there is no way to complete it.

Then in world the people who do not practice Dharma, the life of the worldly people, how it goes. Always spending time, something is not finished, something is not done. Always, with worries, things like that, experiencing hardships all the time. Then while the person is spending time like this, life is finished. Then he reaches the future life. It is similar to the dance of the transmigratory beings, death and rebirth. It’s like the lightning. All the time it is like this. When we watch the world, all the time it is like this.

That child is born, but it’s dead the next day. That man was working yesterday, finished his University study, has found a job, got a degree, everything, today he dies. Yesterday he found a million dollars, he was making such big plans to travel East, West, by airplane, by going in the car—and that night he died, not existing. Suddenly he has left. Yesterday the person was very healthy, nothing wrong, very healthy, very beautiful, enjoying in the sunshine at the beach, yesterday. Today the body…

[end of tape]

…taken from the house, taken from the room. And taken to the cemetery. The body is surrounded by flowers, relatives throw flowers, and that person was having great excitement, laughing, joking like this but after one hour you hear, oh he is dead. Then somebody comes along in the house, in the room, that friend called John, you hear he is dead from a heart attack, something. Then, the other person says, oh I saw him just before, I saw him just before at his house, I had a cup of tea with him and we made jokes; so nothing was wrong, he was very happy. We were talking about where to go next weekend for camping. We were making plans, beautiful plans. Then surprise. Oh, he died. All the time we hear these things. Suddenly things change like this. Like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, lightning. It is there now but then it’s gone. It’s finished, in this moment, like this.

Session 34

So therefore we should feel happiness, having joy in our practice, having the conditions to practice Dharma.

For instance, the gentleman in America, in California, what’s his name? Reverend Jim Jones. If you were one those people, by now it’s finished. This incredible, unbelievable number of people, 900 people drank poison and they all died, they all killed themselves. First of all he drinks himself, then let everybody drink poison, asking everybody should we all die together. The parents can’t take the poison first themselves, because the children would be left there you see, so the mother gives the poison to the child first. When the mother was giving poison to her child, first of all, she couldn’t understand why this has to be done. She questioned herself, what have I done? An incredible question about karma. They don’t call it karma but it is kind of an incredible question for mind—such a terrible suggestion, having to kill the child. She couldn’t understand.

It was announces like this and all the people among that group volunteered. Then this mother gave poison to her child, and then afterwards the parents died, husband and wife, the sister or brother—what’s the use of dying together, grabbing the body like this. No use really, no use for mind, just suffering. Because of clinging, then like this, they died together like this, keeping their heads to each other, touching each other, like this, and between father and mother, the child, all dying together. Physically together, but after death nothing helps. It is a very terrible suggestion, one person killing 900 people.

In India a long time ago, one person killed 999 people and wore the rosary of their nails. This happened because he met the wrong guru. I don’t remember the whole story. That guru’s wife was jealous of this person, something like that, and she inspired the guru, her husband, gave bad advice. She disliked the person who killed 999 people, and the guru told the man if you kill 1000 people and make a rosary out of the nails then I will give you my profound secret teachings. So he killed 999 people, like this—it’s a long story. It’s one of the stories of how Guru Shakyamuni Buddha subdued sentient beings who had accumulated unbelievable negative karma.

The very last person that was left was his mother. So he was about to kill his mother. He thought, if I kill my mother I won’t get food, because he gets the food from his mother. So he had to make a decision. Either get the teaching, kill the mother. If he kills the mother then it becomes one thousand. So he decided if he didn’t kill his mother, he wouldn’t get the profound secret teachings. So better to kill the mother. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha manifested as one monk. He was walking so slowly on the road, he was not running. But the other person was running. He was running so fast to catch the monk, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, having a knife in his hand, he was running. He was trying to catch him but he couldn’t. So he asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, please stop. Please don’t walk. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was walking so slowly somehow. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha said, if you stop, I’ll stop.

So it became a teaching to him. If you stop, I will stop. However fast he tried to run, he couldn’t catch. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha told him, if you stop, then I will stop. He was kind of very surprised. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was saying to him, if you stop creating the cause of suffering then the result of suffering will stop. And he understood, he realized, as it was the right time to subdue him.

So then afterward he had strong repentance, having accumulated negative karmas, and he was very surprised, much devotion arose in his mind, then he took teachings from Buddha and afterwards he entered the path, generated the mind of renunciation of samsara, then he became an arhat. He completely purified all the heavy negative karmas. This just happened because of the story of that gentleman in California. So like that.

He accumulated the incredible negative karma, 900 people were killed and then not only that, they were obliged to drink the poison, so besides killing 900, he led them to create the negative karma of killing themselves. If you in that group who died, the human body that was received one time, was completely wasted, ended up in a very terrible way. The bodies are buried there in the ground, having some names written, however the consciousness is somewhere else completely.

During their life if they have been not harming others, if they haven’t accumulated much negative karma, then it is a little bit better rebirth, otherwise generally very difficult. By now completely changed, the consciousness has taken another body. The family cannot recognize this our son, or father, or husband.

This story about the arhat is part of the shortcomings of samsara, that nothing is definite.

The mother was born as a dog to that family because of being attached to the family—at the time of death she died with that frame of mind. The father, because he used to catch fish all the time from the back of the water, was reborn as a fish in the water pond beside the house.

When I travel to those countries, like Thailand, we don’t have to travel very far but, I think many times, it circles round. People in that country who catch fish, animals, turtles, the animals that are used for food, which are kept in the water, in the box, in the restaurant, the hotel, all those things. During their life, people live on those animals, then they themselves die, and are born in the same water, eaten by another one, become food for other people.

We can’t recognize the family. Maybe due to karma when those people go to catch these animals, they catch their parents, father, wife. They can’t recognize each other. The animals cannot recognize the people, and people cannot recognize the animals; they don’t have the clairvoyance, foreknowledge, to understand that they were relatives like this. So it happens is a very upset situation. It changes the life. It brings you to another body, so you can’t recognize.

So therefore anyway, this information is the teaching on impermanence and death, things like this.

When we are watching television every night, many people die by disease, by explosions, fire, by shooting each other—so many things like this. By car accidents. All the time we see in the newspaper, every night we see or we hear, all those teachings, advice on impermanence death. In New York they have a newspaper that each week reports how many people died; they have the whole list of people who died. For the person who meditates on impermanence death it’s extremely good to see these things, to hear these things.

For the one who does not practice Dharma, it becomes suffering, it becomes useless. Those are lam-rim teachings, on impermanence death.

Then the changes of the seasons, all these are teacher showing impermanence death. The sun has risen this morning but then it is getting closer to passing away, to setting down. All those, all these things that you see just round here are impermanent, the teacher and teaching of impermanence death.

If one knows how to look at those things, then one can look at the changes in the water. In summer there is a big river but then after some time it dries.

All of a sudden this hour, the whole space is covered with the clouds, then suddenly it’s all gone away. All these changes show us impermanence.

Actually, all the information that we read in the Time magazine, that we hear from other people, what we see in the movies, in the TV, if one knows to how watch none of this becomes a cause for attachment, building attachment, or building anger, or ignorance. If one knows how to watch all these things, if one knows how to listen, how to look, all this become meditation on lam-rim. Meditation on the graduated path to enlightenment. The newspaper is full of meditations on the shortcomings of samsara. From the beginning up to the end. It’s very clear. Nothing definite. There is nothing definite, samsaric perfections, the relationships, nothing certain, it is full of that. You see. Then dissatisfaction. The shortcomings of samsara, dissatisfaction, then again there is a lot of information on that, so much on that.

The shortcomings of samsara, having to take a body again and again. Also it talks about birth, the suffering of samsara, becoming higher, lower, so much.

The movie or the TV or the newspaper that you read is full of that information, the sufferings of samsara, those changes. The rich one becoming poor, then the higher person become low. The important person becomes unimportant person. So many things. Also there are meditations on the shortcomings of not having a helper, shortcomings of samsara. This meditation is always there.

One can relate it also to the eight sufferings. What you look at with eye, what you hear with your ear, always you can put in lam-rim. Always you can relate to lam-rim.

If one thinks this way, the whole thing becomes a meditation on lam-rim. And actually, for the person who meditates on shunyata, who understands how to meditate on shunyata, for him whatever what he sees, what he hears, what he touches he can use to meditate on emptiness.

[end of tape]

… without having time to practice Dharma in your life, checking the past time, from the birth, since you were born from the mother’s womb until now. Anyway it’s finished, the time is past. There is nothing that we can do. Even though it was wasted, there is nothing we can do with the past time.

Then the night … so … let’s say thirty years, so half of that, fifteen years are gone … half of the years are nighttime. That is nighttime. So oneself is thirty years old, so for fifteen years we slept, we spent time in bed, sleeping. So, no time to practice Dharma. That’s extremely difficult, that’s extremely difficult. The times that we practice Dharma, if we do practice Dharma, is only daytime. In the baby time you couldn’t practice Dharma, because the mind was a baby. But even in the day, we spend most time in the distractions, and the times where we really practice Dharma, if you put it together, is a very short time. Only a few days. So now, that’s all, finished.

Then it is difficult for the whole day’s action to become Dharma. You don’t try to transform it into Dharma, and the unsubdued mind is strong, so strong, it controls. It controls oneself, and it is very difficult to spend the whole day practicing Dharma. Like that.

So then getting closer to death, even during the lifetime without having the opportunity to practice Dharma continuously. For those who didn’t get to practice Dharma at all, they die without having practiced Dharma. For we who are trying to practice Dharma, life is getting closer to the death, without having the opportunity to continuously practice Dharma.

The conclusion is this—meditate on impermanence, by following these outlines—death is definite, remembering those points, no place, power, medicine can stop it. And then remember there is no extra life, that what there is becomes shorter, and dying without having the opportunity to practice Dharma. When you meditate on the last one, being aware of this, you should make the determination that if you have thirty years to live, you will practice Dharma for that long. Try to make it equal. The point is to make the determination, to make strong determination. The make whatever life is leftover equal with the Dharma practice. You make the determination to do less worldly work, more Dharma practice.

So after meditating that death is definite, the conclusion is I must practice Dharma. Meditating on impermanence is to benefit you to be able to practice Dharma, to benefit the mind. To be able to pacify the unsubdued mind, so think like this. The conclusion is that I must practice Dharma. Make the decision like this.

If you don’t feel this decision, if the mind has doubt, think of the continuity of the consciousness, this is not the only one life. Meditate in that way, on the continuation of consciousness.

Justifying reincarnation, there are infinite reasons. There are logical reasons, there are infinite reasons. To justify no reincarnation, one life, there is not one single logical reason that proves it. However if the mind doesn’t see the decision that I must practice Dharma, if it can’t think like this, doesn’t see this as important, then think of the continuation of the consciousness, the reincarnation that I mentioned before. I don’t mean just believe like that, but you check, check, then think that death is certain, and the time of death is not certain. Remember the three reasons.

Generally the life of people on this earth is not definite. Particularly in the degenerated time. On other continents, I think I mentioned already before, they have a definite lifespan. All the people live for one thousand, or for three hundred years. They have this result of karma. But here it is not definite. They die only when they become old age, it’s not definite. Right after conception, dying, so many like this. That living being has no opportunity to come out, no opportunity to develop the body, no good karma to live the life with that human body. The consciousness took place in the mother’s womb for a few minutes then it left.

There are incredible numbers dying in child time, in baby time. Even if previous times the people could live for 200 years, still not definite. Particularly in this degenerated time life becomes much shorter than those former fortunate times.

As we mentioned before the five degenerations of life, there are more hindrances to life, so generally the length of the life of the human beings becomes much shorter. It is also good to meditate like this.

Many people plan to live for thirty, forty years but without having the opportunity to live that long, they die. Before they become old as expected, having lots of wrinkles in the face, the color of the skin changes, holding a stick in the hand, shaking, so many of them die.

There are many people who came to the East expecting to return to the West and enjoy the life. But they die, before reaching the West, before reaching one’s own country. By an airplane crash, like that. Anything is possible, think of it like that. As it happens for others, it can happen to me, can happen, who knows.

The first time one goes in an airplane, no doubt, I must for sure reach my home, for sure. There is the strong conception of that I am going to live a long time, certain to reach the home. But life can finish in space, while one is traveling in space.

Many people go to work in the morning expecting to come back in the evening time at four o’clock, to have a party, to have a good time, meeting with friends, and without having time to come back the person dies in a car accident, on the way. There are many people like this. All the time we see, we hear. I can’t say, no. It can happen to me.

Meditate on dying like this on the way to the office, without completion, planning to finish tomorrow, having left there without competing the letter, whatever job.

Also many people are going for a party, they arrange for a party, then they went outside for shopping, like this, and died by car accident. They have everything fixed, they call everybody, send invitation to everybody, all the friends, all the people in their life, then suddenly the person dies. The party did not happen. Everybody has to cry, everybody’s mind is upset. Everybody gets a shock. This can happen to me.

Many people get sick, they go to hospital to have treatment. Then on the way in the car, life is finished.

All those things can happen, it is not certain. Then many patients at the hospital expect to go back home, to completely recover and see everybody and have a good time. Many people die trying to come back to home. Like that, it can happen to me.

Then there are also many people who have arranged to have a wedding tomorrow, completely finished everything, planning to have a really good life, with that husband or with that wife, a happy life, planning like this, believing like this; the person made new clothes to go to the wedding, everything is decided, and all of a sudden the death occurs. They didn’t have time to do the wedding. Also like that can happen to me.

While one is in the university, in the school, while one is studying, some degree, certificate whatever it’s called, without having time to get it, one can die. Even if one has found, one has got the degree, without having the opportunity to do the job, to find the job, then death occurs, like that. There are so many people like this; it can happen like that to me.

Some people make a project to build factories, houses, things like that, and without having the opportunity to finish this, death occurs. That can happen to oneself. Somebody starts to write his own life story. Then without having time to beautifully complete it, nicely complete it, somewhere in the middle death occurs, suddenly death occurs. He didn’t have time to complete it. There are many people like this. This can happen to also myself.

Some persons, doctors or nurses, give medicine in the mouth, and while the medicine is in the mouth, the death occurs. This can happen to oneself.

A person reading a book, without having time to complete it, the person dies. There are many people like this. The book has some mark, some paper, in between. Like this, it can happen to me.

There are also people, some students, who were planning to come for the meditation course and they died on the way, like that has happened.

One girl from California, she was devoted, she has one husband called Bob, anyway I don’t remember the name, there are so many like this anyway. It doesn’t matter. When I was in California for the first time she was driving from her house, I think two minutes drive or something, very close, in the very early morning for the ordination. She divorces her husband at that time—he ran away with another girlfriend. So anyway she was planning to come to Nepal and go to lots of retreat. She was thinking about this in the car. On the way, when she reached Thailand, somebody gave her a drug injection, and she was thrown in the river. After a long time the police found her body.

There was one young Australian boy who planned to become a monk. He planned to go back to Australia and make all the arrangements, then come and take ordination. He made his robes. On the way to Australia, in Madras or something, he died. Some hindrance occurred in his mind—he jumped from a building or something like that.

So then like that.

Just recently in California, after the course finished, the car broke in the jungle where the retreat center was. The road was not so wide. The car fell off the road and the girl feel in the street, her body completely unrecognizable. I am sure she had some plan in mind, to go somewhere and do something and come back. You can’t say that won’t happen to me. Maybe this year, next year, can’t say.

Many people while they are writing letters to the friend, without having time to put any signature down there then they die. Death occurs. Then the correspondence stops, after death.

[end of tape]

Even without having time to finish completely, the will, what to do with the money in the bank, the property, while he is talking, the person suddenly dies. There are many like this. This also can happen to oneself.

So it is not certain whether the tea in the mug will finish first or whether life will. Also the rice on the plate and life, which will finish first. Life can finish before the rice. Uncertain. Can happen. Will the clothes we are wearing now or our life finish first? Will they tear first or will our life tear first? Will the food we bought and stored in the kitchen finish first, or will our life? The peanut better or our life? It’s uncertain. There is a danger that life will finish before the peanut butter.

Meditate like this with the material possessions.

The conclusion is, it is uncertain—therefore without planning and working for tomorrow, it is worthwhile to work for the future life. This is very logical. Death will definitely happen. When it will occur is uncertain. But the future life is definite. Either tonight, after one hour, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, after five years, after ten years—it’s just a matter of time. So it is worthwhile to make preparation, to practice Dharma.


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