Before listening to this course, it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation of bodhicitta, thinking that I am going to listen to the oral teaching, training the thought of enlightenment in order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all the kind mother sentient beings. The listening subject is the oral teachings, training in the thought of enlightenment, which is the door of Mahayana path and it is method for the fortunate one to receive enlightenment. It is expounded by highly realized propagators Nagarjuna and Asanga, profound teachings which contains the essence of the infinite knowledge of Dharma, which the great bodhisattva Atisha and Lama Tsongkhapa has. It contains all the essence of the 84,000 teachings and all this is set up for the graduate practice for one person to receive enlightenment. This is the short path by which all past present and future buddhas have received enlightenment.
So to offer just very brief explanation on the commentary of the teaching, the oral teaching. The subject is the preliminary meditation which you need to actualize before actualizing the graduate meditation to train in the thought of enlightenment.
So what makes the precious human rebirth that we receive one time highly meaningful human life? What makes it meaningless?
In order for the whole action of body, speech and mind to become Dharma, even if you try to practice Dharma what disturbs it so it doesn’t become Dharma is attachment seeking the happiness of this life. If you wish to constantly to make the precious human life always meaningful, all the time day and night, the best thing you should do, the best method, is trying to control this attachment seeking the happiness this life. This is what is called renouncing attachment, seeking happiness this life. This is what is called renouncing this life. It means that, even if you are living in the city, even if you are living at home, doing the same work that a person normally does, your mind is still living in the practice, renouncing the attachment seeking the happiness this life. Even though you are not overseas, even though you are not away from the home, with all the property, with all the family, with all the children, with everything around, your mind is living in the practice renouncing the happiness of this life, then you are renouncing this life. You are a pure Dharma practitioner.
There happened many kings in previous times, disciples of Nagarjuna, kings who had everything round, all the perfect surroundings, all the material possessions, so much population, everything is around, doing the same work but the mind is living in the, the mind is living in pure Dharma practice, by renouncing the attachment seeking happiness of this life. There have been many kings like that, disciples of Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna has instructed his disciple, one king, “If you are attached to the happiness this life then if you do the work seeking reputation, material possessions or things like that, you will get many problems. The best way you can guide the population, the best way you can benefit the population, to not receive any problems from the population, is to renounce completely reputation, material possessions, the whole thing, the happiness of this life, then you can do great beneficial work for the population. And by renouncing attachment, seeking reputation, material possession, things like that, in that way you will receive reputation, in that way you will receive admiration, respect, everything. It’s the best way to benefit the population.”
For also those who are living in ordination, what is the most harmful thing that makes you lose all the precepts—even the five precepts, even the eight precepts, even the 253 precepts—what is the thing that disturbs, what is the thing that makes it difficult to receive the precepts? That is so clear. What makes it difficult to keep the precept is because of the evil thought of worldly dharma that is living in your heart. This makes it difficult to keep the precepts. Even while you take ordination for your whole life then after sometime there is danger, you find it difficult to keep them. There comes a point and it becomes difficult and your mind starts to change. Because the evil thought of worldly dharma is stronger than you. Your own strength is small, the power of the evil thought of worldly dharma is strong so that’s how you find difficult to keep the precepts. What makes you lose, what makes you unable to keep the precepts is this.
There is a Kadampa practice called the “ten innermost jewels.” This is the basic practice they use to live their life. The basis of spending their life is the ten innermost jewels.
It is extremely important that those who are living in ordination, called a monk or a nun, to understand these ten things and try to keep these ten things as a base of your life, like the foundation of the house. Otherwise, as you do not try to control the evil thought of worldly dharma, from many sides, from inside, from outside, thousands and thousands of hindrances to Dharma practice arises. So if you practice the ten innermost jewels, the basis of the Kadampa’s life, that makes it simple to distance the mind from the problem, simple to distance from the confused mind, not being controlled by evil thought of worldly dharma, simple to renounce the worldly mind. So that’s how a monk’s or nun’s life become simple compared to their previous life.
REMEMBERING IMPERMANENCE AND DEATH
Otherwise, even if you become a monk or nun, even if you have entered into this, there are still so many problems. The same as before, there are so many problems, one after another like this, because you didn’t make the life simple so therefore same as before so many problems arise, and as before, up and down, if you don’t try to control this evil thought worldly dharma. The best method is to constantly remember the impermanence of life and death. Just like great yogi Milarepa said, with his experience,
After meditating on the impermanence of life and death, after I realized the impermanence of life and death, everything I did became Dharma.
He’s talking from his own experience. Before meditating on and realizing the impermanence of life and death, when you don’t practice meditating on the impermanence of life and death, you do not find any time to practice Dharma but you find so much time to do meaningless actions. There is plenty of time to do meaningless actions but it is so hard to find time to practice Dharma. It is like this. But after you have realized the impermanence of life and death, there is no time to do meaningless actions; it’s very hard to find the time to do meaningless actions, to create negative karma. You don’t have time to create negative karma, meaningless actions. There is no time to work for happiness this life. Now you can only find time to practice Dharma.
Normally, in the West, people say it is difficult to practice Dharma because there are so many things around. Usually the hindrances to practicing Dharma are not so much to do with outside things, is not so much to do outside things, but it’s mainly to do with your own mind. Whether practicing Dharma is difficult or not is mainly a question of your own mind; it mainly depends on your own mind, not so much on outside things actually.
If you have realized the impermanence of life and death, no matter even if you are in the West where there is everything going on, living in the city, living in the center of the city, like the center of New York, the center of London, where there is everything happening, where you can see everything around. Wherever you are then, if the evil thought worldly dharma is controlled by having realized the impermanence of life and death, there are no hindrances where you are. Wherever you go, you don’t have difficulty, you can easily practice Dharma. Also whatever you do easily becomes Dharma.
After that, once you have realized the impermanence of life and death, I think there is real happiness there, real happiness of life is there. Real happiness of life is there. Why? Because after having realized this, you are cut off from the root of the whole of the life problems, completely. You are cut off from the root of the life problems. So you see, I really think there is the happiness of the life.
Also, going back to West, it helps to energize to realize the meditation, to realize meditation. It strengthens the mind by seeing the problem. It helps because I feel without meditating, without experiencing the impermanence of life and death, there is no way to stop the life’s problems. But after you have realized the impermanence of life death, you dare not work anymore for the evil thought of worldly dharma, you dare not work anymore for that. You dare not do any more meaningless actions. So, even though the work you do is same as you were doing before realizing the impermanence of life and death, even though the work is same, but after having realized the impermanence of life and death, you no longer work for the evil thought worldly dharma, so the whole work easily becomes Dharma, if you do it for the happiness future life, if you do it for other sentient beings. Also, after having realized the impermanence of life and death, cherishing others is also very strong. The mind is purer; it is easier to dedicate the actions for the sake of other sentient beings.
I think, first I think pipi break.
It’s extremely important. If you don’t know the purpose of meditating on the impermanence of life and death, why the meditation is done, if you don’t recognize the reason, then what happens is you get fear or the thought of not wanting to meditate on impermanence of life and death arises. By making a meditation on the impermanence of life death, the thought of not wanting to meditate anymore arises. If that thought arises, in your mind, you don’t know how to meditate on the impermanence of life and death. If you get a thought not wanting to meditate any more on the impermanence of life and death, that means you don’t know how to meditate on the impermanence of life and death. It’s not because of the meditation. It’s because you don’t know how to meditate on the impermanence of life and death. Not knowing why, you don’t really like to meditate on impermanence you don’t see the point really clearly why you should meditate on the impermanence of life and death. You don’t clearly see that it is method to cut off life’s problems. to control the attachment.
If you know how to meditate on the impermanence of life and death, no matter how much you meditates on it, the stronger and stronger the wish arises to meditate more and more on it. Even though you experience fear, the wish to increase the fear arises, the wish to realize it quickly arises, the wish to make the meditation still stronger than before arises, instead of regretting it. When your mind is in such a state, that means you know how to meditate on the impermanence of life and death. That means you know the reason why you should meditate on the impermanence of life and death.
If you don’t know the purpose of meditating on the impermanence of life and death, if you don’t know the point, that’s the same as somebody in the West who has never met the Dharma, who knows nothing about the Dharma but who is afraid of death. It is similar to that. It is just the fear an animal has about death, It is similar to that.
Outside people, people in the West who know nothing about Dharma, who never met Dharma, who do not practice Dharma, for them remembering death is only remembering death; it is no use. It’s only the cause of fear, no other use. Why? Because they have no method. Because there is no method, remembering death only increases the fear of the death, there’s no use. It there is a method to prevent suffering at death, then there is a point to remembering death, there is a use. In order to attain that method, then there is a point to remember death.
There is a big difference between a person in the West who has met the Dharma and one who hasn’t. If you have met the Dharma, you have method. You see the other people who haven’t met the Dharma and it’s like this. Usually in the life they do not think so much about death, they try to put it off, to ignore the death as much as possible. Then unexpectedly, one day, when the death happens, all of sudden, when that person experiences the process, in that condition, there is unbelievable worry. Incredible worry, experiencing the suffering of death, so much. So when they have the worry of death, all these things, so much at death time, there is no life left to do anything, then at that time having fear and worry, there is no use. For outside people who do not practice Dharma, it is normally like this.
For a person who practices Dharma, before actually experiencing the danger to life, death, ahead of time, by constantly remembering death, by meditating on death and then by controlling attachment, you don’t get under the control of the evil thought worldly dharma. You not only obtain work for the happiness of the future life, for yourself and other sentient beings, not only that also by the way you obtain the work for the happiness of this life, without expecting it. You receive the happiness of this life without expecting it, by renouncing attachment. Even in this life it is like this. Especially in your mind you make preparation not have worry when actual death comes, to not have mental or physical suffering at the death time. To have freedom at the death time, to have a happy death. To have a happy death, to have freedom at the death time.
Like this, you guide yourself, you guide yourself. Even if you experience the danger of this life, there is nothing more dangerous than the death; it is the greatest danger of this life. Even though you experience this, you make yourself capable of guiding yourself. By practicing Dharma, you are making the preparation for death earlier, to not experience suffering at the death time and to easily receive the rebirth of the happy transmigratory being after death. Without any doubt whether or not you will be born in the lower suffering realms, you are able to guide yourself. This is more important than anything else. This is the most important thing. There is nothing more important than this, because this is the dangerous point. Experiencing death is, this is the most dangerous point. This is what ends this life. This is what to finishes this life, so that is the most dangerous point. This is the point at which you can go up or down; you can rise up or fall down, so this is very dangerous point. There is a choice not to fall down into the realm of the suffering transmigrator, not to trip up into the realm of the suffering transmigratory beings, not to fall down. Death is time where there is danger. Death is the point that decides whether you go up or fall down.
Therefore preventing that danger of falling down has to be arranged before experiencing the death, during the life, while you are alive. When you are experiencing death, it is finished, life is finished, so there is no time then, the mind is not capable. Even when you are sick, even when you have a fever, even when you have a headache, a toothache, you can’t meditate at that time. Even when you are sick, it is difficult to meditate, so of course it’s out of question when you are experiencing the death process. It is extremely difficult.
Generally in the world people have no idea when there can be a war, and atomic bomb destroying the whole city, the whole house and everybody inside it. They’re not sure which year, which month. They’re not sure but there is a fear that it might happen and so they build a place underneath the house and they make arrangements to be safe, before the danger happens. So, even though they are not sure when the danger will happen, they make preparations beforehand. When we see somebody doing that, we normally think of that person as a skillful and clever person.
Therefore, even if you are not sure, even if you are doubtful whether there will be future life or not, it is still worthwhile to make preparations for death. Even if you don’t believe, even if you are not sure whether there will be future life or not. Just like those other examples I just mentioned, like many of those example that people do, even they are not sure they make arrangement beforehand, so here to make preparations for death, to make preparations for the happiness of the future life, that is extremely important. Even if you are doubtful. whether the explosion of an atomic bomb will happen or not, but death is for sure. Death is for sure. Nobody can say, nobody can foresee that they will never die. Even if somebody says, “I will offer the whole world, but please don’t die, please don’t die, please live, please never die, please never die,” even of somebody asks,” please don’t die for long time. Please don’t die this year, you must live, you have to live, you cannot die this year.” Even if somebody asks, “I will offer the whole world if you can put signature guaranteeing that you will never die in this life, even this year.” Perhaps you might put your signature because you are craving the whole world, but deep in your mind, deep in your heart, if you check up, I’m not sure. Maybe the person thinks that he wants to own all the possessions in the world before he dies so he puts his signature guaranteeing he won’t die that year, but maybe he hopes the person giving him all the material possessions will die this year before he does so he won’t be able to complain.
Death is for sure, death is definitely going to happen. So even it’s worthwhile to make preparations for other dangers, for dangers of this life, such as sickness, such as other things, it is worthwhile to make preparations for things you are even not sure you will experience or not, then why not make preparation for the death, the one thing that it is definite you will have to experience.?
The point I am trying to clarify is this, the reason for meditating on the impermanence of life and death fits into talking about evil thought of worldly dharma. There is another thing, another reason.
For the explanation before, for a person who does not practice Dharma, who knows nothing about Dharma, the fear of remembering death has no use. But if you practice Dharma, even if it is only an intellectual understanding of Dharma, by meditating on the impermanence of life and death, when that fear arises, you use that fear as a tool, you use the fear as weapon to destroy the evil thought worldly dharma, you use this as a tool to obtain the happiness of this life and of future life. You use the fear to stop the fear. By meditating on impermanence life and death, even if the fear arises, that makes you practice the intellectual understanding of Dharma you have, to put it into action. In that way. you use the fear to completely cease the fear caused by delusion. That’s why living in samsara, there is always fear of samsaric suffering, because of the cause, the delusions. You use the fear to completely cease the fear. How? By completely ceasing the delusions, through practicing Dharma. Through practicing Dharma, by remembering to practice Dharma, how? By remembering the impermanence of life and death. So there is a big difference. Therefore you should know how to meditate on impermanence and death. If you don’t, then your mind gets confused. A person who doesn’t know the medicine is medicine, a person who thinks the medicine is poison, there is danger. Even if the correct medicine is given to him, if he thinks it is poison, he will throw it out without taking it. It happens. Not recognizing that it is the most powerful medicine to stop the disease, life’s problems, the disease of the mind.
But even if you don’t really practice Dharma, even if you know nothing about karma, nothing about any meditation, but just have an idea about some Dharma, if you know what can benefit at death time, what can benefit for the next life, by remembering death, that makes you practice Dharma. Even if you have an intellectual understanding of the whole of Dharma, the whole of sutra and tantra, the whole thing, if you don’t remember death you don’t practice Dharma. Even with all that understanding, you spend your whole life just working for happiness this life. Not remembering death, then even if you remember Dharma, you cannot practice. “No need to rush to practice Dharma. Oh, I can practice Dharma after I have everything, after I have a beautiful apartment and have ten children.” I am just joking. [RL] “While I’m having a good time, there’s nothing to worry about, everything is around.,” Like that you postpone doing Dharma practice. Even though you think practicing Dharma is good and you have to do it, but one year you don’t get the opportunity to practice Dharma, the second year he don’t get the opportunity to practice Dharma, the third year he don’t get the opportunity to practice Dharma, like this, the next year, the next year, like this. Twenty years pass, thirty years pass, fifty years pass, life just passes like that.
Even if you try to practice Dharma, because of not remembering death, what you practice doesn’t become pure. It doesn’t become pure because of the evil thought worldly dharma. Actually, I have already mentioned those examples before, so no need to repeat.
Even if you practice Dharma, that does not become pure Dharma, why? Because the intuitive thought that always rises, “I am not going to die, I am not going to die, I am not going to die, I won’t die today. I won’t die today, I won’t die in this year.” Like this constantly, having this intuitive thought all the time in the heart, all the time. “Because of this, because of this, I am not going to do, I am not going to die,” so all the time, completely believing, “I am going to live.” Because of this, your Dharma practice does not become pure. Because of believing, “I am going to live long, I won’t die, I won’t die,” this conception of permanence allows the evil thought of worldly dharma to arise So whatever you meditate on, it doesn’t become pure, it doesn’t become pure.
Many times we say this. “Oh, I won’t die.” Many times we say with certainty. “Oh, I won’t die in this year, I won’t die today, I feel it. I feel I am not dying, I am not going to die, I feel it. I feel it. My intuitive mind, I am not going to die today. I feel it, I feel it.” Right now, if you check up, right now if you just think of your own mind, whether it is thinking that “I am going to die today,” whether your mind has doubt or not. Without remembering the impermanence, without the intellectual understanding, just the usual conception what is already there, if you just check up, try to recognize that, what you have that right now, “I won’t die today. I won’t die, I won’t die, definitely I won’t die during this course.” [GL] “Definitely I will go back to my home.” Right now if you check up, the conception is there, but can you trust this all the time? Can you trust this conception of permanence, the conception that you get up in the morning with, the conception that you go to bed with. You go to bed with this conception. With this conception you get up in the morning. “Oh, for sure I am going to live, for sure I am going to live and do this, do that, do this.” You make a list.
But can it be trusted? Can you really rely on that? This thought, this conception of permanence, this continues until the second of the death. Somebody who is going to die in a car accident today, in the morning when he gets up, at breakfast time, when he goes to market for shopping, for sure he expects to come back and to have a fantastic lunch or something, to have beautiful time. This conception that “for sure I am not going to die,” this continues until the accident happens, until the second that death happens. Therefore, there is nothing to trust. Even if we get up with this conception in the morning, there is nothing to trust. This is wrong a conception that we cannot rely on.
If you don’t remember death, you constantly create negative karma, you don’t observe karma with body, speech and mind, you never make preparation at the death time so therefore you never purify. The thought to purify negative karma never arises, then so what happens when you die, besides during the lifetime you makes yourself evil, creating much negative karma, not only that, at the death time you die with great fear, with great upsetness. If you have not purified your negative karma in the life, then at the death time, because there is so much attachment—to the body, to material possessions, to family and things like that—there is so much incredible worry, unbelievable worry. Even though we are not dead, usually in our life we have worry about separating from parents, from friends, so of course at the death time, you are completely leaving everything. Therefore, there is unbelievable worry; you feel you are leaving all, completely separating from everything, from people and possessions.
There is incredible worry, with fears coming out. At the death time, there is also so much pain, all sorts of physical pain, screaming, and also then because of the incredible fear, pipi and kaka coming out in the bed. Also at the death time, a person screams a lot, saying all kinds of things, like a crazy person, moving his hands. Even if he can’t see, he moves hands, like this. Even if he can’t communicate, can’t talk, he tries to say something, but it is not clear, because his tongue becomes short in death process. His feet move about; his face looks very fearful, very fearful, very unnatural.
Many people die in so much physical pain. Not only that, they have karmic visions, like when you take drugs, and see all kinds of things, very fearful things and they get very scared. The person sees karmic visions of all kinds of fearful things happening around and hears all kinds of fearful sounds, sounds of killing or beating, so many things being destroyed, like a whole bunch of people around, fighting or trying to kill each other. The person hears all kind of sounds and sees all kinds of things like fearful beings, human and animal, in the form of protectors, maras, with all kinds of weapons, killing and destroying.
As he dies, a person can scream so much, “I am suffering this, something is coming, I am going, I am this, doing this and this.” People around him think he’s crazy. People are around, the nurses, the family, can’t see anything at all but for that person it is real, in his view it is real. Just like a person who takes drugs and sees all kinds of things that other people not on drugs can’t see, for the dying person, this is real. At that time, there is no way for him to think what to do, how to stop the problem; there is nothing that has prepared him for death.
And also, sometimes blood comes from the mouth and nose and ears and he faces such incredible fear of fear of dying. When person dies, his mouth is open and his eyes roll back. Some nurses in America told of people who drink a lot of alcohol in their lives dying in incredible fear, screaming a lot at death time, incredible fear, unbelievable fear.
Then one time in Tibet this happened. A leader of a country, when he was dying, was screaming so much, saying that so many people they were beating him, attacking him. Screaming so much like this. Other people couldn’t see this. All the people in that country came at his body and beat him and attacked him so much. The reason why he got such a beating was because in his life he created the karma, he tortured so many people in his life when he was a leader. Because he did not purify his negative karma, at death time, that meant he was going to born in the realm of the suffering transmigratory being, such as a narak being. The signs already started, even before the mind had left the body, the karmic visions had already started. Even though there were no other people there, in his karmic visions he was being beaten by all the people he had beaten in his life.
There are many similar many stories like this.
Also in Dharamsala Geshe Rabten, who is our teacher, the one who meditated in Dharamsala, he went to see a man who was dying and who was screaming so much saying he was being attacked, having so much incredible fear. So what happen is when they checked up his life story, how he lived the life in Tibet when he was at home, he killed many sheep, so therefore this was the sign he was going to be born in the narak.
There are many examples, also good examples! There are many positive examples. An example of a good death was an old mother, a beggar, begging in the city. She didn’t know any Dharma, but what she normally did was recite the Compassionate Buddha’s mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, only doing this. She lived on the street, not owning anything, no material possessions, no car, no television, nothing. When she died, she didn’t die in a house, in a beautiful house, in a beautiful, comfortable bed, but in the street. But what happened at death time, so many beams of light came from her body at death time; incredible signs happened at death time, other people cried, even though they believed she was a completely ignorant beggar. There were also many signs like this, for somebody who does good things, practicing Dharma.
THE DISSATISFACTION OF WORLDLY LIFE
As a child you are dependent on your parents. Your life is playing, then you go to school and have to learn things. Then a certain number of years, thirteen of fourteen, you spent at school and university and the main aim is to make yourself competent, to look after yourself. As a child, you need your parents to look after you, but you do this to be self-supportive. However, this is to obtain the happiness of this life.
You go to school, you go to university, you spend many years studying there. After that, you have to work to obtain what you need for living. After you have the degree, you become a professor or you become different things you want to be. If you have the opportunity to complete the degree and do everything you want, you get a name that you want to get.
Then the result of those many years studying is what? To find job. So that you can make this life happy. This is the result of working many years, finding job after studying, with this degree. Then after having achieved all this, you find a job. Sometimes it’s difficult to find job even if you have received all those degrees. You can’t find it right away.
Then even when you find a job to take care of yourself and no longer be dependent on your parents, still you only do the job, living the life like that, having a property, a family, what you think of as the best. This is the best happiness that can be obtained, living that situation of life; this is what you think of as the best. This is what you try to obtain.
THE DISSATISFACTION OF WORLDLY LIFE: OLD AGE
Then after some time, the people in the office don’t accept you because of your age. Because you are getting old, you don’t have the capability of the body and more; you can’t work as hard as before. Then you have to, what do you call it? Resign. Retire. You have to retire. Oh, retired, I am forgetting, you see. Retired. “I am retired now,” that means [RL GL] showing something is about to close. Check what this means, “I am retired.” That means there is not so much life left. I am retired. When one is called that.
However, then you live on a pension. Usually it is very hard living on a pension. Sometimes you don’t get time to live on pension because you die before you get it. [GL] Many times, you don’t have chance to live on the pension. If you collect the money after working for many years, then you live on the pension.
You no longer capable of working in a factory as before, but you are still capable of going to supermarket, supermarket with the stick. [GL] By relying on a stick, even the body shaking, you are still capable enough to just go to supermarket, get things what you want, food, clothes and so forth, and then come back. If you can’t carry them, you put those things in the cart. Like that. If you’re a very rich person then maybe you have servant going to help carrying things. Normally it is like this.
Then in the holidays, the whole day, you just watch through the window outside the house. The young people are busy, busy going up and down, with much excitement, with much upset, so busy and sometimes very excited, going up and down, completely concentrating on something. Completely concentrating on something and also running for that. Cars passing away up and down, but you just watch. You just watch. Otherwise sometimes when you get so old also you get bored looking, because looking so much. You have looked so much in the life.
When I was going to old folks home in America, in Wisconsin, Madison, one student who lived there a long time, Laurie, she found job there in the old folks home. I wanted very much to see it because I heard about such things, so I thought I would be very useful for meditation on the suffering of old age, the lam-rim meditation on the graduate path to enlightenment, the suffering of old age. And of course now I’m experiencing it, but also to see. If I see with my own eyes then it is more terrible, more suffering. Then you see, it helps the mind to knock on the door, to tell oneself, “Now you, there are sufferings like this in samsara, so how can you always wander in samsara, taking a samsaric body, experiencing suffering like that again and again?” To persuade oneself, to remind oneself. However, we only went to see the worst parts, we didn’t want to see the better ones. This is not so interesting. So, we’re after the worse sufferings.
First we saw the men who couldn’t speak. They were having breakfast; it was breakfast time. Each one was in a wheelchair, with a table in front. Some can speak very slowly and they spoke a few words and many of them can’t speak, just like they’re dumb and deaf, like that can’t talk, can’t hear. Sometimes keeping the head on the table, like that. Just like…it doesn’t matter, I won’t give any example.
Then, we went to see the women’s part, there many of them, the body was just like wood, like a piece of log, put it there on the bed, like that. There is no control, no moment, the body has to be moved by a person. The body is so incredibly, unbelievably skinny, all the veins are outside. And then, some have different diseases, they have different kinds of the mental diseases like I have [GL] repeating the same words again and again. [GL RL]
One was 103, something like that. She had just received a card from the president, the previous one, Nixon? Nixon [GL] whose life example is just exactly like the lam-rim meditation. [RL GL] This morning, the six sufferings that I mentioned, at the end of the high one goes down. [GL] So then like that, that’s exactly meditation on lam-rim. Like this like example is completely remembering lam-rim meditation, like that. [GL]
So she spoke a few words somehow. Anyway like this, without talking much, these nurses have incredible patience. I have really great sympathy and rejoicefulness at their incredible great hard work, incredible patience. You need so much incredible patience. A person who doesn’t have patience wouldn’t do that, dare not do that. A person who is very nervous, who doesn’t have any patience at all, who is so much hung up with his own happiness, wouldn’t do that work.
There was one old woman, she kind of works somehow, I don’t know. She was in a wheelchair and she made a phone call there on the wheelchair. I think she missed the family and she made like phone call, I think to her daughter, she made phone call, “Hello, how is everything there, how are you?” something like this, she said. The other one said, “How are you?” And other one, she said, “is it okay?” or something like that, she was saying on the telephone. Then, I think that is experiencing the result of karma. So then like this, saying over and over “How are you.”
One lady was saying things like, “We came to see here,” and she said, “Oh, yes, right, there’s lots to learn,” she said, “There is lots to learn here” at the place, where they were. So the staff introduced us to her, saying we came from where Mt Everest is and she said, “It’s extremely far.”
Then also one lady we met downstairs, she was a missionary. She was saying, “We tried like this but this is not the best solution, we tried like this but it’s not the best solution.” That place was extremely helpful, extremely healthy for the mind.
Then after some time, day time you look through the window, they watch like this. In the morning, after the sun comes up they come outside, on the chairs, outside the door, then sit and watch the street, all the different things that are happening. If there are companions, an old mother or old father, then they talk something about life, maybe something about their children. They talk and sit on the chair like this and then after some time they go inside the house. Then, before the sun goes down, they come out again and sit on the chairs.
If a Tibetan lay person didn’t have work, if he could live on a pension, he would be extremely happy. Life would be unbelievable, extremely happy because there are lots of things to do, lot of things to make the life happy, to make the life meaningful. They have the worry of not finding enough time, not having time to do what they want. If they have chance like this that they can live on pension, then even if it is possible, even they can spend time practicing Dharma, reciting mantras or meditation, things like that. Even they don’t know much Dharma, like you do, even they don’t know all these meditations, even just refuge prayer, just a small understanding that the Buddha has such power, knowledge like this, to guide themselves, that can help at the time of death. Having lamas talking, hearing the texts, the teachings from those who can read letters, it can help at the death time and future life. Even if they know one mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, even one mantra, whatever they know they recite, the little Dharma what they know, they try as much as possible, making prostration, making offerings, reciting mantra, making meditation, whatever little what they know, they make time to practice.
Many people, even in business time, if there is no actual work, even in the shops they recite mantras, they say prayers, then they try as much as possible, especially morning and in the evening. Like this they do.
So, if they had such time like this to live on a pension and didn’t have to work, their life would be extremely happy. Full of things to do with their life, very happy. And even if the death happens, they have some idea what can be done, what can help at death time, to not worry all these things, what can save from sufferings of the lower realms.
When I check up, those people have no opportunity to recite even one mantra, to collect merit by reciting even one mantra in one night, let alone doing meditations, all those things. Forget about that. While they are capable in their body, sometimes they go from this house to the park and sit on a chair all those hours. After some time then they slowly come back. After some time, they can’t even do that. They can’t even go to supermarket, going outside to pass the time. They can’t do it. Then, after some time, they can’t even go to the toilet. Then, it’s time to go. There is no helpers, sons, daughters, helping. Usually in Tibet the sons and daughters take care with so much incredible respect. When the parents are in trouble they respect, they help so much, remembering the kindness. It is not so much like that here. People don’t help each other, nothing. They are completely left out. The sons and daughters enjoy doing their own things for their own life, completely concentrating on their own life. Sometimes maybe they go to the old folks home. When a person goes to the old folks home, that is sort of like dying, another way of dying, of leaving the house, like dying.
REMEMBERING THE DEATH PROCESS
Then one day, death happen. Life ends and there is dead. When death happens, then there is nothing to do. No matter how much fear there is, how much worry there is, then no method. Without method, the mind is completely ignorant of Dharma. At that time, at death time, even if you feel about by karma, during your life you don’t believe at all reincarnation, just believes in one life completely, but at the death time, there is no time to make preparation. Even if you worry at death time, it’s finished, there is no time, no method, there is no time. Even the person feels that by karma. At that time, the mind full of fear and worry, and suffering, all the things. At death time, seeing all the karmic visions, the fearful karmic visions around you, hearing all kinds of fearful sounds, the mind full of worry, fear, in such a state, in such a state mind has to leave the body. That can happen. Such an experience of death can happen to you.
When death happens, it happens like this. “Now, now I am dying. Now the person who is called Zopa is dying.” If I am me, “the person who is called Zopa.” “I am dying now, I am dying, now I am dying.” Kind of very tired, very exhausted, very tired mind, very upset, extremely upset, seeing all of life like a flash, from birth time until now, whole life just passing, having vision of the whole life, like you have dream. In that time, the whole life, how many apartments you had, how many friends you had, all the enjoyments, whatever you did, just like last night’s dream. Essenceless: just like last night’s dream, in a flash everything comes, appears. Like this, the mind is so upset.
One knows oneself is dying, the breath is double, breathing out stronger and very little power to breathe in. The breathing out is very strong with a very strong noise. One person who saw another person dying can remember this. Breathing out so strong with much noise, breathing in is so weak. And all the time thinking “What can I do, what I can do? What can I do?” Keeping the family busy, worried, crying, nothing else to do, nothing else to do. Yourself is crying, also other people crying, then making busy, even at that time, doctor who was invited leaves. That time is out of the hands of the doctor. At that time there is no method, even if the mind is extremely upset, even if there is great fear. These things can happen at any time, can happen to you. Today, at any time it can happen.
At that time this body is called a corpse. Then this body is called a corpse. To your name the word “dead” is added. Your name has additional name, dead. If it is my name, Lama Zopa is dead. Zopa is dead. Zopa, then after that the word “dead”. With the name, “dead.” The corpse is taken to the cemetery and left.
The consciousness is in the lower realm. It has left all the family, left all the material possessions, the house, all the thousands of clothes, thousands of cars, whatever there is, the jewels, the ornaments, everything is left there. You left all those material possessions, those surroundings, completely separated. All the family is left there, crying. All the family is left there in the cemetery crying, all the relatives.
Then after some time, your material possessions which you cling so much, this is mine, this is mine, that is mine, or you try to take care, you put in a box, you fight with people who come to steal, who try to fight. This is mine. At that time, the material possessions belongs to someone else. It is someone else’s material possession. Then someone else is wearing your clothes.
This can happen at any time; it can happen at any time. This year, this month, this week, today—it can happen at any time, you’re not sure. It can happen at any time. Whether your business is finished or not finished it’s ended by death. Even if your case is in court, whether it is finished or not, it’s ended by death. Even if you’re taking medicine it’s ended by death, whether you have finished taking it or not. Even if you are making business, whether you receive profit or not, it ends up by death.
Even if it is a happy life, even if it is not happy life, it’s the same, it is ended up by death. Even if you study, whether you finish your study, whether you not finish the study it is ended in death. Whether you have finished collecting material or not, at that time it is ended up by death. Then your living will, thinking in case you might die, whether it is finished or not, whether it is completed or not, whatever you wanted to say, it is ended by death, before completing what you wanted to say. At that time, the whole thing, the whole worth of this life completely ended up totaled, like you make number, you make total, one billion dollar, you know, something like that. The whole thing is totaled at the end, how much you are busy this life, it is ended up by the death.
When death time happens, when death time happens, when what it is called death happens there is no greater fear than death in this life, there is nothing more difficult. Death is the most difficult thing in life, there is nothing more difficult than this, than you experience in your life.
So like this therefore, therefore as I said before, planting feet by thinking of death, by remembering all the time, you feel the great danger what is going to happen, by remembering this, by keeping this in the heart all the time. Then it is necessary to not let yourself always be under the control of the disturbing negative thoughts, the evil thought of worldly dharma. Practice Dharma without being lazy. Practice Dharma as much as possible.
If you can observe your karma, the essence of Dharma practice is observing karma, so observe karma as much as possible, however difficult it is, no matter how difficult it is try to observe. Such as taking the one day ordination has incredible unbelievable benefit. There are many things, reciting mantras, there are many things, all kinds of different methods, there are things, making meditation on graduate path to enlightenment, meditating on bodhicitta, there are many things like this you can do.
This is something that you can do to not feel upset at the death time, to not to be upset, to have no doubts. Not to have difficulty at death time, at least you should try to make this. This is the meaning of life, the purpose why you are born as human being.
I think I’ll stop here.
I thought to give some mantras maybe to recite or to remember at death time, some holy names of Buddha, which protect from rebirth in the lower realm, but I think perhaps in the afternoon session.
Student: It’s already afternoon.
Rinpoche: You have your mantra, the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha mantra. [GL] In case you die, if you die before lunch. [GL]
THE MEANING OF SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA’S MANTRA
Reciting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra has great benefits. Reciting once has the power to purify the nonvirtuous karma produced by disturbing negative thoughts that you have collected in 40,000 previous lifetimes. Reciting it just once has power to purify all that nonvirtuous karma, which would be the cause of the suffering all the problems that would be experienced in this life. Even though you have experienced so many problems in this life that does not mean that all your nonvirtuous karma collected in all your previous lifetimes has been used up. The resultant suffering of the previous negative karmas is not finished yet. However, reciting this mantra has the power to purify the negative karma that has been collected in 40,000 previous lifetimes.
Without question, if you recite the mantra with the motivation of bodhicitta, the special thought of enlightenment, it purifies so much of the obscuration and negative karma that has been collected in previous lifetimes. It is impossible to talk about all the benefits of the mantra.
Leaving aside purifying all the negative karma we have collected in one life, to even purify one negative karma, even one nonvirtuous action—the cause of problems and suffering—even if we can purify one nonvirtuous action completely, making it impossible to bring a result, that is extremely good.
Say, we get cancer, a disease that is so difficult to cure. We have to see so many doctors, and it is so expensive. Even after spending many hundred thousands of dollars, and having great difficulties, it still doesn’t get cured. We see how when we get it is so difficult to cure. By remembering this, it’s something that we should be happy to stop, to purify the cause of the sufferings. If we purify one nonvirtuous action, all the various suffering results of that one negative karma are stopped; they never have to be experienced again. We especially don’t have to experience them by taking the body of a lower transmigratory being. Purifying that one thought stops that terrible result.
Therefore, purifying negative karma, the cause of so much suffering, actually should be extremely enjoyable. If you think when we experience the problem, how difficult it is, how unbearable it is, then to stop its cause, to purify it cause so it can’t happen again, of course it is something that we are so happy to do. If we can use different methods to purify even one nonvirtuous action, that is really very good. So it is something that we can be happy to purify. The negative karma collected in one life, or in two or three lives, three lives, in 40,000 or even 84,000 lives—if we think of the numberless previous lives that have happened, and also the nonvirtuous actions, karma, produced with the delusions, then to be able to purify all this is a cause to feel so joyful.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra is TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA.
TADYA THA means “like this.” It is my understanding that it can mean Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has got the knowledge, the freedom, “like this.” Then comes the mantra.
OM contains the infinite knowledge of the buddhas. You can think of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha or all the buddhas, it is the same thing. Just that word OM contains the infinite knowledge of their holy body, holy speech and holy mind. Just to achieve the meaning of what is contained in OM is to complete the whole gradual path to enlightenment.
The first MUNÉ means freedom or control. It refers to any person having freedom from rebirth in the realm of the lower transmigratory beings. By control over delusion and karma, they never have to experience the body of the lower transmigratory being.
The second MUNÉ means having received complete freedom from samsara, from the cycle of taking a samsaric body again under the control of delusions and karma. The person is completely free from that.
MAHAMUNA-YE means “great control.” Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is completely free from the bondage of being bound even to the state of great peace, of nirvana. If you are bound to the blissful state of peace, with self-cherishing thought you cannot attain enlightenment quickly for the sake of all sentient beings, to work for other sentient beings. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is completely freedom from that.
There is also another meaning of this mantra, where the first MUNÉ refers to being free from the ignorance grasping the I, believing the I to be truly existing.
SVAHA means, “may the blessings take root in the field of my mind.” That means the whole path to enlightenment. “Blessings” means to achieve all Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s knowledge, enlightenment. To achieve that you have to attain the whole path, from beginning to end, so here we are asking that the blessings—the root of the path, the whole graduated path to enlightenment—be rooted in the field of our mind.
And SVAHA also has the meaning of the infinite knowledge of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind os Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
Now, for a short time we’ll meditate.
DEATH IS CERTAIN
If you don’t remember the meditation on impermanence and death, you cannot practice Dharma purely. If you don’t remember this then also you can’t control the disturbing negative thoughts. If you wish to practice Dharma, if you wish to control disturbing negative thoughts, the source of the whole of life’s problems, it is necessary to meditate on impermanence and death again and again. The best thing is actually realizing impermanence.
Death is definite. There hasn’t been one sentient being on this earth, one human being who has not died. The very first original human being had to die. There is nobody alive who has always been alive. It’s impossible to find anybody who has been living without dying. Even in our present experience, many of our friends and people around us are dying, gradually. Just like a water bubble. Even the family group is like this. That shows that death is definite. It also shows it can happen to us. We know something like that can definitely happen to us. That’s how death is definite.
Also, there is no place to escape death. How many huge rocky mountains we surround your body with, even made from diamonds, even if we put them around us to protect us, we will still die. We cannot stop death. There is no place in samara where we never experience death, where we can escape death.
No matter how powerful our body is—like a tiger, an elephant or a snow lion—we can’t escape death. This is hard to understand because I don’t think there are snow lions in the West. However, no matter how powerful we are, like a snow lion or elephant, how pompous-looking, we have to die, we have to experience death, we cannot prevent death. There is no medicine which completely prevents the death, which means we never have to experience death. That’s how it is. Death is definite to experience, so therefore we must practice Dharma.
Not only that, we can’t add to our lifespan at all. For instance, even for a person who can live for one million years, that million years depends on a certain number of years, those years depends on a certain number of months, those months depend on a certain number of days, those days depend on a certain number of hours, those hours depends on a certain number of seconds. So it is certain, even if a person can live for a million years, there are only so many seconds, which can be counted. Based on that number of seconds, that lifespan is labeled one million years. As soon as he is conceived in his mother’s womb, right from that first second of time, each second is finished so quickly. Just like that sound of the watch hand or the big clock that goes slowly, [GL] the sound of small watch, each second ticks past so quickly. Just like that, there are a certain number of seconds and it is incredible how quickly it finishes. Each second of that life finishes so quickly, each second that person’s life gets shorter and shorter, from the day he was born, it becomes shorter, shorter, shorter. Life becomes shorter. Each second that person is getting closer and closer to the death.
So, if you check up like this, even a person who lives one million year is nothing, is nothing. Every second finishes and his life becomes shorter and shorter, shorter, shorter, like this. So when you check the details like this, clearly if you try to see it’s not long. If you don’t check up, if you just think of a million years, it feels kind of very concrete, a real million years. Just like that example, the same thing is happening to our own life.
We can all guarantee that we won’t live for a million years, we can all put our signature on that, right away, without one single doubt. Even a hundred years is beyond us. How long we might live is normally sixty or seventy years. Very few people live to eighty. That is rare.
We are just not sure how long we will live. It can be years. Maybe it’s twenty years. If we’re fortunate, it may be sixty years. Let’s say that we might live for fifty years from the time we are born. Those fifty years have a certain number of months. How fifty years happens is because of certain number of months. That certain number of months has a certain number of days. And that has a certain number of hours, a certain number of seconds, like this. So this fifty years, from this moment until death, there are certain number of seconds. This quickly, spontaneously finishes. It does not stop. Life becomes shorter and shorter without stopping. Life becomes shorter, racing towards the death , without stopping even for a minute, even for a second. Every second without stopping, we are coming closer to death, and life is becoming shorter. This race to death does not rest even for a minute, for a second. Just like the second hand on the watch goes fast, the sound of each second of the watch hand, like that. As it finishes, each second of our life finishes. As quickly and spontaneously as this, and we are getting closer and closer and closer as the seconds finish.
We are constantly, constantly running towards death. Constantly running towards death. Just like the criminal who is put in a police car and they are driving him towards a place where he is to be punished, where he’ll be killed. From the first second the car leaves his house, each second he gets closer and closer to the place where he’ll be killed. Our life is exactly like this—just like the criminal in the police car. But still that car can be stopped. Maybe if the person shot the police and escaped. We can’t escape.
This meditation time, relate this to your life. Meditate on how life is continuously decreasing in every second. Relate your life to the time, the sound of seconds of the time, relate your life like this.
If you throw stone in the air, the stone will drop back down on the ground, without stopping even a second. As soon as it finishes climbing, it constantly comes down, getting closer and closer to hitting the ground. Think that this also relates to our own life. We are like the stone falling down from space, come closer to the ground.
If our negative karma is not purified, making us to be born in a realm such as the animal or narak realm, just like the stone falling, think of yourself like the stone falling down, closer, closer, falling down, closer, closer, closer to the suffering place, the narak beings, the hot burning iron ground. Like the stone falling, coming closer, closer, closer, closer like this, to fall down there. As long as the negative karma to be born there is not purified, it is like this. A person who is definite to be born in those realms, who is not going to the purify negative karma to be born there, as each second finishes, he is a second closer to the naraks. So also meditate like this. This is very effective, this is very powerful way to control the negative mind. The reason for this is that death will definitely happen.
Then also think of dying without having the chance to practice Dharma while you are alive. Each day, each hour, each minute, each second closer, closer to the death without practicing Dharma, without having the opportunity to practice Dharma. Even though you have the opportunity. Each day, each hour, each minute, you are getting closer to the death, but you don’t practice Dharma.
If your lifespan is sixty years, half is spend in sleeping. At night, normally you sleep, so half your life is finished in sleeping, only part of the daytime life is left. During your childhood you did not have opportunity to practice Dharma, so that part of your life has finished. This is gone.
At the present you have the opportunity to practice Dharma. You have met the teaching and you have the opportunity to practice Dharma but even so, even in one day, the time you spend practicing Dharma is so little and time you spend doing meaningless actions is so big. Like this, you can figure out in a year, not just the present but in the future, how many years you can practice Dharma. Even if you might live, it is difficult to say whether you can practice Dharma continuously. Even if you live a long life, it is difficult to say you will always have the opportunity to practice Dharma.
REMEMBERING IMPERMANENCE AND DEATH
[Break in tape.]
[Dreaming that gold is stolen under the influence of drugs] … when the power of the element of the drug is gone away, then person recognizes that is just a dream. The incredible worry that he had, that his gold was stolen, that was childish, that was a useless worry, a childish, useless worry. So, that makes him laugh, when he recognizes the great worry he had before, believing it was real gold and it was stolen, then afterwards when he remembers, when he recognizes that it was not gold, that makes him laugh. All the great confusion, the worry that he had before is completely cut off, it completely disappears. It makes him laugh that he was worried about real gold. It was crazy, it was childish.
Like that, it is good to meditate on impermanence and death, the same thing like that you can see with worldly problems that you believe are great problems. Just like this you sees that it is childish, useless.
I think pipi break.
When you have great anger, when you are getting angry or when you are in situation where there is danger for anger to arise or you have incredible great confusion, with attachment, also pride and many other things, where there is danger to create negative karma or while you are creating negative karma remembering like this, remembering impermanence and death like this, it is extremely beneficial, very powerful like this.
Let’s say, for example, if you are very angry to a person, maybe he has stolen your money and there is danger to create negative karma by getting angry, there is danger of creating many other negative karma. Things like that. To harm him, things like that. This is just an example. Think, “If there is such danger like this then which is more definite, that I die today or don’t? Is it more definite that I die today, more definite that I die in this minute. It is more definite that I die in this minute. So if I die in this minute, all of sudden if I die with this anger, it’s more definite that I will be born in narak. It is more definite that I get born in narak.” Visualize at the same time what you remember of the narak, visualize the suffering places, the karmic suffering place of the narak beings.
Visualize the karmically created suffering place, the cold place or the hot suffering, the red-hot burning iron base, the ground. Think, “If I die this minute, that is the place where I will be born and suffer.” As you are seeing the suffering place while you going to be, when you will suffer, also think in this large pot of hot water being boiled, you even can hear the noise, the water bubbling, boiling. Remember like in the hotels, not only hotels, many times the animals that we eat for food, we use for food, we put in a pot of boiling water, while it is boiling so incredible, we can’t put even our finger in it, we put a living animal in it. Visualize like that. “That is place where I am going to suffer in that life, like another country, like that. This is the place where I am going to suffer. Why? Because I am creating negative karma now. I am creating negative karma now. So if I die now, where will I be born? This is the place where I am going to be thrown.” Like this you visualize. It is very effective to not just think this but first if you can to visualize it. It is very powerful.
Then after that, put the question to yourself is good. Do I want to be born in those suffering places? Do I want it? Question yourself. I don’t want. The answer comes without question, without question. “I don’t want it. So therefore I should not create the cause. If I don’t want this, I should not create the cause, negative karma.”
Anyway, whether or not that thief steals your money, it is more definite that you have to be separated from it anyway. You leave the money, the material possession leave you, you leave them. It is more definite to happen. It is definite to separate. The same thing as this is example with the stolen money and the person whom you are so angry with, it is the same with the person you are incredibly attached to. Besides there being no reason to be so angry, there is no reason to be so attached. “That person will not always live with me. Right at this moment, it is more definite that I will separate from her and she will separate from me. It is more definite that I will leave them, to have separation, that is more definite.”
To separate is definite what is going to happen. It is more definite than not separating from her, than not leaving her. It is more definite that you leave them. “Therefore, because she will be leaving me or I will be leaving her—we won’t be together forever—what’s the point of becoming attached? What’s the point of getting angry.” Like this, especially when you remember the narak, especially if you have visualized the suffering places, at that moment your anger goes away. Your unbearable anger, that is like putting water on the fire. While the flame is coming up, if you put water on it, it stops. So like that, like that big flame which can cause much danger coming up, by putting water on it, in that minute, it is completely destroyed. That is exactly what happens. Like that, you can control anger and the same thing with attachment.
After you strongly think like this, exactly like this, remembering the result of negative karma and remembering that separation is more definite, then the incredible anger disappears, right after that it disappears, because you don’t see it. Same thing with attachment, it disappears. Because you don’t see it, after thinking this you don’t see the point why you should be attached, you don’t see the point, you don’t see there is a purpose to get angry, you don’t see. Therefore the confusion goes away.
If you practice like this, if you remember like this, when you have confusion it definitely benefits. There is definite benefit. If you don’t practice, if you don’t meditate, then there is no way to receive the benefit of doing the meditation of remembering impermanence and death. If you practice, definitely you can receive the benefit. You control the disturbing negative thoughts. Like this you can familiarize yourself with the practice without problems.
Remembering the impermanence and death, it is extremely important at the beginning of Dharma practice, to purely practice Dharma. For the Dharma you practice to become pure, it is extremely important to remember even at the beginning, even to continue, the pure Dharma practice it is important to remember it. Even to accomplish your Dharma practice, to attain enlightenment, it is extremely important to remember impermanence and death.
By remembering impermanence and death, you practice Dharma. Remembering impermanence death is the method to practice Dharma before coming to death, before coming to death. So then, at the death time, even if you experience death at that time, your mind is extremely happy at the death time. You can die with great happiness. Instead of great worry, incredible suffering, you can die with great happiness.
You should make preparation to not suffer at the death time. Even if you can’t make to not experience death—which means separating the mind from the body—even if this cannot be prevented, this cannot be stopped, what you should stop before experiencing death, you should stop to experience of suffering at the death time.
The best thing, the best thing, that is to escape from the death.
The great yogi, Milarepa, says,
Because of fear of death I escaped to the mountains. Now I have realized the nature of the mind, emptiness, so even if death comes I have no worry.
If possible the best thing in your life is to be like the great yogi Milarepa, who escaped from death. Even by remembering impermanence death and practicing Dharma, that is the best thing. Even if you cannot do that much, at least when death comes you should make yourself not feel difficulty of experiencing death.
Then at least, the preparation you should do is to not feel upset when the death comes, to not have worry. That is the lowest thing you should do, what we should prepare, by remembering impermanence and death and by practicing Dharma.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha became completely free from the cycle of the samsaric suffering, the cycle of death and rebirth completely. He received complete freedom from that by remembering impermanence and death. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha realized the four noble truths. What made him to realize the four noble truths is by remembering impermanence and death. When he was living in the palace, he saw samsaric suffering, old age, he saw a person dying, a corpse being carried. When he was in palace he saw this through the four gates. After this, by this cause, he saw the nature of samsaric suffering. By remembering impermanence and death he realized the four noble truths.
The great yogi Milarepa received enlightenment in one life also by remembering impermanence and death. Many of these great yogis who achieved enlightenment in one life, such as many of those Kadampa geshes, followers of Atisha, so many of them completed the graduated path to enlightenment, all that was also by first, at the beginning, remembering impermanence and death.
Even if you have collected much negative karma, before experiencing death, remember death without being lazy, and purify your negative karma as much as you can. Like this, practice Dharma. Practice Dharma and then, when death comes, you don’t have to be scared, you don’t have to worry. If you can make preparation before the death in this way, this is what is called competent person, a skillful person, a wise person.
The main thing is at this time, this is the one time you have received the precious human rebirth, you should try to receive a better and better rebirth. Once you have received this, where there is great opportunity, so many possibilities, you should try to receive a better and better rebirth, in order to become closer and closer to enlightenment. It is like a heavy rock that you have pushed up to almost the top of the mountain. This time you have received a precious human rebirth is like this. If you fall into the lower realms it is like letting that heavy rock slip and it slides all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. It so difficult to push it back up again after it has slipped down. If we fell down, we would have incredible difficulties, many lifetimes of creating good karma, until we came back up. Again, if we fell down, it is extremely difficult, it’s like the rock that sinks under the ocean, it is so difficult to come back up. This is how difficult it is to come up back to the realm of the happy transmigratory being.
If you just watch the example of the chickens I mentioned this morning. In everyday what karma they create. If you just watch the animals, if you just watch a dog, if you just watch a bird, if you just watch, you can understand how difficult, how impossible it is to create good karma. From this you can understand how difficult it is, even for a human being it is difficult. Even if the person has met Dharma, even if the person knows the teachings, knows Dharma, it’s difficult to receive a human rebirth again in the next life, so it is out of question for those beings born as lower beings to quickly be rebirth in the happy transmigratory being, it is extremely difficult. Unless you can make preparations now to receive another rebirth as a happy migratory being, not even a perfect human rebirth but just as a human being, then your life is completely wasted, completely empty. It doesn’t have any meaning at all that you are born as a human being. It doesn’t make any difference whether you are born as that or as a mouse. If you don’t create any good karma to receive another human rebirth after this life, it becomes the same.
As a human being, to be able to practice the Dharma and prepare for another perfect human rebirth by creating good karma, that is not surprising to me. What is really surprising is after leaving a human body and taking the body of a lower realm being, a narak or a preta or an animal, where there is no possibility to create any good karma at all, that somehow any being at all manages to again attain a human body, that is so surprising to me.
Check the possibilities of creating good karma, whether there is the possibility to practice Dharma as a nonhuman being, who can never understand the meaning of the teaching, who constantly has only delusion and constantly creates negative karma. How much possibility, how much opportunity is there to practice Dharma? For a nonhuman being, it almost impossible to practice Dharma, to create good karma. With a human rebirth, because of this perfect human rebirth, having met teaching, there is so much possibility. So of course if you don’t receive a human rebirth after this life then it is silly, very silly, completely foolish, stupid. While you have the incredible possibility like this, completely wasting it and, after having taken this beautiful body like this, using this to create the karma to have a body with thousands or being born as dog or chicken in the next life, that is really foolish. There is nothing more foolish than that, there is nothing more crazy than that.
Death is definite, it is definite to happen but that is not the reason you should worry about death. It’s not just death, the mind separating from the body, it’s not only that. The main problem is what comes after. Even after the body has disappeared, the mind does not disappear, the mind continues after death. At the moment you don’t have the freedom to receive a perfect human rebirth because you haven’t finished creating the cause. So you can’t be sure what body you will receive. This is the main problem, what comes after death.
The mind ceasing at death time, the consciousness disappearing at death time—this is the object of nobody’s knowledge. Nobody with a clear, undeceptive , non-deluded mind has ever seen that the consciousness ceases as death. It continues. In the same way, it has never been anybody’s knowledge that any person has never died. Since this world began, there has never been a person who hasn’t lived forever, who hasn’t had to die. There isn’t one person who has been existing from the first eons when the first human being start to live on the Earth, there is no one sentient being you can point out. So, this shows clearly that death is definite.
Even in your own country, even in the city where you live, many people die each year, each month, each day. Sometimes in New York they put in the newspaper how many people died; they have a list in the newspaper who died in that week. This is very good for person who meditates on impermanence. Even in one day many people die.
Think of the people you have known in your life. Probably, many of your friends have also died. Many times this is our experience. Just recently a friend was doing something, was planning something, just recently you talked with her, you stayed with her, you went for picnic, and she spent much time planning things to do things in the future. But, today she doesn’t exist anymore. You cannot communicate with her, there is nowhere to see her. This has been everybody’s experience, many times. While they are walking, while they are doing something, all of sudden unexpectedly they are told that a friend, whose name is called Fred, is dead by accident. One day that friend is doing something, having a vacation, then suddenly he is drowned near the beach somewhere.
People you see every day, people you have contact with, suddenly, from being busy doing something, suddenly they are dead, like a water bubble. On the surface of water you see many water bubbles, but they so easily burst, first one and then another, bubbles disappearing all over the surface of the water, and you can’t know which will pop first. You can’t tell.
I think there is some devil inside, in my heart! [RL]
So, exactly like this, this exactly how it happens, how it happens around you, to family and friends. That person is dead, that friend dead. You believe that they’re going to live long, for a long time. You believe that they are going to live a long time. When you see them you never have any idea that he will die soon. He is very strong, he is very healthy, he is working very hard, eating well, you never had a thought that he might die after a month, you never have a suspicion. You have the complete belief that he will live for long time, you will see him again and again.
Also you make plans with many friends, to go on pilgrimage together, to have a vacation together, maybe to do meditation courses. Sometimes, even after one hour someone tells you, or you receive the telephone call, all of a sudden the call comes, it’s about somebody deceased, an accident or a fire danger or something. So like this, it’s not sure. In the same way, so far you have been hearing about your friend dying, so far it’s been your own turn to hear they are dying. One day, just like water bubble, unexpectedly, just like it happened to other friends, it will happen to you, unexpectedly, any time, any hour, any minute. Doing something and not finishing it. Drinking coffee, even though the coffee is not finished yet, while you are drinking it, even before having a chance to finish that one cup of coffee.
So one day it will be other people’s turn to hear that you yourself are dead. If it is me then “that crazy young monk called Zopa, the boy Zopa, he is dead.” [GL] One day, it will be other friends’ turn to hear that. One day also, you will be like a water bubble, puff like this. In your own family, four or five people, however many people there are in the family, who will go first, who will leave first, who will leave the family first, who will separate first? It’s not sure. It can happen quickly, and the one who leaves first can by you.
I think I stop here.
So the conclusion is, therefore the only thing is Dharma. So Dharma should be practiced right now because death is not sure when it will come.
BEING KIND TO THE ENEMY
There are two things, the thought of seeking work for others and thought of seeking enlightenment. In order to see the object sentient beings, for whom you work, in aspect of beauty, of the two things, the shortcomings of self-cherishing thought and the benefits of cherishing others, the self-cherishing thought is what has to be avoided and cherishing others is what has to be practiced. This is the second thing, the benefits of cherishing others.
It is said in the root text:
Meditate on the great kindness of all.
As I mentioned yesterday afternoon and I repeated again this morning, just trying to make it clear, the meditation is seeing the kindness of the sentient beings, how numberless other buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats have actualized the path by depending on the kindness of the sentient beings. So one way to think is like that, that other beings, buddhas and bodhisattvas and arhats actualized the path by depending on kindness of the sentient beings.
So without need to repeat it again, when you make the meditation on the benefit of cherishing others like this, it’s not specifically mentioned in the text but it is extremely important when you visualize to include this life’s enemy and keep him in front of you. If you want you can sit him on a throne in front of you, in beautiful a place, a beautiful, comfortable seat, have him sit there. [RL GL] I am joking. If you want, you know.
It’s the opposite of what you want to do with the enemy. You want to give him harm, you don’t want to give anything. It’s good training, giving lot of things to the enemy you dislike.
One of my teachers, Geshe Rabten, one who was abbot in the Tibetan monastery in Switzerland, when he receives people who criticize him, who complain about him, Geshe Rabten makes a very delicious lunch. [GL] He makes Tibetan food, momos. [GL] People who go to Tibetan restaurants know momos. [RL] Whatever is there in the kitchen, whatever is possible, he makes very delicious food, makes good offerings, with tea and food. He makes many offerings to people who complains, who criticize him.
For normal ordinary people in the world, who do not practice thought training, when somebody criticizes you, then you criticize back with anger. Then you meditate on the bad things about that person, on what bad things you can say about that person, what mistakes that he did. [RL] If you can’t find something, you exaggerate, you make a story up. I think many Western people do this. If it is a person who you dislike, you make up all the mistakes even though he didn’t do them. “He did this and that,” you know. You make up a long story. Normally people do like this, they try to give harm, by criticizing, by harming or by fighting.
Practicing thought training, such as Geshe Rabten Rinpoche does, what he does, that’s really practicing. Remembering the kindness of the person who criticize you, how kind he is. Instead of getting angry, having compassion and love, and you offer things, especially, you can invite to your home, or even if he comes, instead of screaming to him. “Why on such and such a day did you talk to me like this, did you criticize me, I didn’t do like that,” then making another long story, and then the other person saying, “I didn’t do, he did that and he did this…” [RL GL] Instead of saying that, maybe you can thank him very much, saying it is extremely kind that he talked to you like that. [GL] You bow down your head. This can be done. You can respect the person and remember the kindness of the person who criticizes you.
In that remembering the kindness, it gives you the opportunity to practice thought training. Otherwise you don’t practice thought training. You don’t practice patience, you don’t practice thought training. So use the opportunity to practice thought training. So remember the kindness like that. That’s very worthwhile object to respect, to bow down. You can even make a prostration. [GL] It doesn’t have the sense of making a prostration to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha; it doesn’t have the same sense, which means taking refuge to be completely free from samsara. It doesn’t have to be like that.
It is worthwhile object to respect, for his criticizing, for his doing those things and giving you the opportunity to practice thought training like this. By remembering that kindness you can offer tea, offer lunch. That’s very good, instead of the mind becoming uptight. When the person comes into the house your mind is uptight, your face becomes black, your face takes a dark aspect, showing the nature of the mind through the face, through the body. You can’t actually see the mind but you can see the mind through the body, the nature of the mind, personality of the mind. Your mind is uptight, unhappy, until that person has left home. That is no use; that is only suffering.
There is one monastery in Swayambhunath, down below the stupa, not all the way down but on the hill where the car stops, there is one monastery down below. There is a very highly realized great lama there, that one is the previous great yogi Marpa or Milarepa, or Naropa, Tilopa, who has completed the experience of the whole Vajrayana path, whose holy name is Serkong Rinpoche. Western people have translated it from the “mad saint;” the original translation is “mad saint.” [RL] Mad. A yogi but crazy! [GL] That isn’t what the translation is. The Tibetan term is Drup-tob, meaning having attainments, but this gets translated as “crazy saint.” Drup-top means like arhats, saints, who are completely free from samsara, such as bodhisattvas, who don’t have the self-cherishing thought, who have the attainment of bodhicitta, the higher bodhisattvas, who are close to attaining enlightenment. Ordinary people see this as a sort of crazy aspect. Some of the things these beings do can’t be understood by ordinary people, even those these beings are close to enlightenment, so they are called crazy.
[The next section is too poorly recorded to transcribe.]
…. Instead of harming back, trying to please the person, instead of telling police and putting him in prison, all kinds of things, trying to please him by remembering his kindness.
The most important I was going to say to you is that the Serkong Rinpoche who is at Swayambhunath, whose holy name I just mentioned, actually is embodiment of the great yogi Milarepa’s guru, Marpa. So, no need to hear other stories of this Rinpoche.
MEDITATION ON THE ENEMY
So, it is extremely important to visualize the enemy in front of you. If you don’t have an enemy, if you can’t find an enemy, if you can’t think of a single person, in case you don’t have enemy, [GL] if you don’t have an enemy what can you do after the meditation session? [GL RL] You need somebody to be an enemy. Even if you can’t find a present enemy [RL] there are so many numbers of enemies we have had in our life, so you can remember last year’s enemy, you can remember the previous enemy who gave you harm. Remember that. Remember that. Or if you don’t see him as enemy, that enemy that changed, became friend by now, all the enemies become friend by now, like this you can visualize, you can create an enemy, if you don’t remember specifically, then you visualize a person and then as he is criticizing, that he is telling you all the mistakes you have done. Then you visualize like that you the person complaining about you.
Normally when you remember other people who gives you harm, who criticizes you, the more you think about it the more anger arises, stronger and stronger and stronger. Normally, when we think of a person who gives us harm, then we see that person more and more as the enemy. Create the person giving you harm like this, thinking of the terrible things that we dislike, the worst things. Think that this person is giving these worst things to us, by criticizing us and so forth.
Then visualize your father and mother and friends back side, with the enemy in front. In the teachings, usually the friends are friend is front and the enemy back side but I just put the enemy in front and the friends back side. And the parents like this, and all sentient beings around like this. You sit the enemy in front so it is very good to meditate on, to point out, how he is a precious holy object. It’s very good when you do the meditation on this, the benefits of cherishing others. Meditate like this.
[Break in tape.]
ENLIGHTENMENT IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT THE ENEMY
So that’s how the bodhicitta is actualized, by depending on all the sentient beings, including the enemy. Then the Mahayana path, the bodhisattva’s path, such as the five paths, the ten levels, the six perfections and four methods to ripen the minds of other sentient beings. Also the Vajrayana path, all these are received on the basis of bodhicitta. Now we understand very clearly that bodhicitta is received by the kindness of all sentient beings, that’s very clear, including this enemy. So now all these buddhas’ five path, ten levels, the Vajrayana path, all these perfections, the bodhisattva’s six perfections, the four methods to ripen other sentient beings’ mind, all these things are received by depending on sentient beings, including this enemy. The result, enlightenment, is received from sentient beings, including the enemy.
So the Buddha’s infinite knowledge, holy body, holy speech, holy mind, whose knowledge cannot be finished explaining at any time, all that is received from sentient beings, including the enemy. All the buddhas’ intuitive, unceasing, works, which equal the infinite space, that is done for other sentient beings, all that knowledge is received from these sentient beings, including this sentient being, the enemy.
So now you see all the numberless bodhisattvas and numberless buddhas have actualized the path based on this.
Before mentioning that, also think of the arhats. After thinking of the whole Mahayana cause and result, enlightenment, everything is completely received from this sentient being, including the enemy visualized in front. Then after thinking those numberless buddhas, how they receive their path from the sentient beings, then think of the arhats. How did it happen that the Arhats actualized their path to become arhats. Without depending on sentient beings, there is no way. They have actualized t the Hinayana path, received nirvana, by listening to teachings, by listening to the teachings from Buddha. Buddha was born from a bodhisattva and bodhisattvas are born from bodhicitta, and bodhicitta is born from sentient beings. You can see clearly, how bodhicitta is received by depending on sentient beings. If you think the fundamental realization of bodhicitta, great love, great compassion, which is received by meditating on sentient beings, that’s how the bodhicitta is actualized from the sentient beings. So now you can see completely, even the arhats, their nirvana, the whole path they completed, it all came from the kindness of sentient beings.
It is impossible without depending on this enemy, without depending on this it is impossible. It is impossible to actualize any of these paths, impossible—the Hinayana path, Mahayana path, the Vajrayana path, nothing is possible. It is extremely important to understand this point, how it is dependent on each sentient being. Actualizing the whole path, all this ultimate happiness, how it depends on this sentient being.
As it is said in the great bodhisattva Shantideva’s teaching, all the offerings, all the offerings offered to the one who has a loving thought, that is also the qualities of sentient beings. A loving thought means loving kindness. It’s not the same as what you normally say, “I love you,” not that one. “I love you,” then after, if you wait a few hours then… [RL GL] You can wait. [GL] All the offerings offered to the one who has loving thought that is also the qualities of sentient beings. How much offering that is offered to one the who has loving thought or even just thought of loving kindness, that is also the quality of sentient beings. It is very good to think about what he’s talking about. Let’s say, without talking about sentient beings, just talking about this front enemy, without depending on him, is there a way to actualize great compassion?
You see, it’s like this. The meaning of great love, the meaning of Mahayana love is love without excluding one sentient being, without leaving one sentient being out. That means all the sentient beings—including this enemy—who are devoid of temporal happiness and who are devoid of ultimate happiness, the great blissfulness, enlightenment. This is the object of love. So, the person sees the sentient being devoid of temporal happiness and devoid of ultimate happiness, great blissfulness, enlightenment. What they wish is happiness but they are devoid of this happiness. Seeing this, by realizing this, then you think, “I must, myself, make all sentient beings have all the happiness. I myself must make each and every sentient being have happiness—those who are devoid of temporal happiness, have temporal happiness, those who are devoid of ultimate happiness, have ultimate happiness. However the main thing is the sublime happiness, enlightenment. This I will make sentient beings receive by myself.” This is the way of meditating on Mahayana love.
The arhats, the followers of the Hinayana path, have love, infinite love, they have infinite love but the Mahayana love is not only having the love, not only having the love to each and every sentient being, not only wishing each and every sentient being to receive happiness, not only that but “I will, I shall,” making the determination in the heart, “I shall make all sentient beings receive all this happiness by myself.” That is the way to meditate on this Mahayana love. The object of this love is each and every single sentient being, including the enemy. Then aspect of love is wishing them to have happiness.
So it’s also like this with Mahayana compassion. Arhats, those followers, have compassion, but with Mahayana compassion, the object is all sentient being, each and every sentient being, including this enemy. The aspect is wishing sentient beings to be devoid of suffering. This is the aspect of the Mahayana compassion. This is the general object and general love is like this, pure love. With compassion, the object is all sentient beings, like general love, but the aspect of compassion is wishing all sentient beings to be devoid of suffering.
I am not sure whether it is real compassion if your friend wants to renounce attachment, but if you don’t let him renounce attachment out of what you feel is compassion for him. With Mahayana compassion, the object is all sentient beings and the aspect is wishing all sentient beings to be devoid of suffering. So with Mahayana compassion, seeing each and every sentient being does not wish suffering, and feeling unbearable the suffering that sentient beings are experiencing is, feeling it is unbearable. Feeling unbearable, other sentient beings’ suffering is just like your suffering, is much more than your own suffering, feeling very unbearable, feeling very unbearable the sufferings other sentient beings are experiencing.
Besides wishing sentient beings, including this enemy, to be devoid of all the suffering, having determination in mind, the strong thought, “I must make the sentient beings to be relieved from all the sufferings, by myself, by myself.” Having thought like this, feeling unbearable, feeling the suffering of other sentient beings is more unbearable than your own sufferings; it is like your own suffering. When you have such a thought, feeling how incredible, unbearable are the sufferings they are experiencing, just like one’s own suffering, that thought is the Mahayana compassion. Mahayana compassion. On the other hand, wanting to make the sentient beings have all the happiness, “by myself,” like this, just like this—you want other sentient beings to have happiness more than you want happiness for yourself—that is Mahayana love.
So Mahayana love and Mahayana compassion are generated, are received by depending on the object, sentient beings. If there are some sentient beings left out, some you dislike, if your compassion is not for all the sentient beings, if your love is not for all the sentient beings then it is limited compassion and limited love—its object is not all sentient beings. So it doesn’t become Mahayana love and Mahayana compassion, great compassion, great love. This is the fundamental cause from which bodhicitta comes.
So now you can see bodhicitta is received from each sentient being, including the enemy you dislike visualized in front. This point is extremely important. If you can see this point clearly, how it depends on each sentient being, then the rest of the other things are easy understand, how all the happiness, the whole path, all the realizations, depends on sentient beings—all that is very easy to understand. If you don’t understand clearly this then how much we talk it’s difficult to feel it.
So I’ll just try to finish this quotation.
How much offering that is offered to the ones who have the thought of loving kindness, that is also the quality of sentient beings.
What he is talking is this. What makes bodhisattvas receive all these offerings, to become the objects of sentient beings’ prostrations, that is not received only from buddhas and bodhisattvas. It is received from the kindness of sentient beings. They receive all these offerings, why? Because they couldn’t attain bodhicitta without attaining the thought of loving kindness. And without depending on sentient beings, they wouldn’t attain love, the thought of loving kindness, and so they can’t actualize bodhicitta. Then there is no way they can become bodhisattva and buddhas, and so there is no way that they can receive offerings from sentient beings and become the objects of prostrations and offerings. So receiving offerings and admiration, prostrations, all these things, that is because of the sentient beings, that’s the qualities of the sentient beings.
One way to think of it is this. You purify negative karma, the cause of the suffering, by depending on holy objects, buddhas and bodhisattvas and arhats. You purify your negative karma, the cause of sufferings. And also, by depending on them you make purification, you collect merit. You collect merit with these holy objects, by making offerings, by making prostrations, by admiring, and so you actualize the path. Having the opportunity to do all this, to purify and create merit by prostrating and making merit, to actualize the path and be free from all suffering depends on taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, freeing you from rebirths in the lower suffering realms. Entering the teachings relies on you taking refuge in the holy objects, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, including the bodhisattvas and the arhats.
But without sentient beings, including this enemy in front of you, it’s impossible to actualize love and the compassionate thought and therefore to attain bodhicitta and become a bodhisattva. Therefore, without sentient beings there is no way you can have holy objects and without holy objects there is no way you can purify the cause of your suffering and collect the merit to actualize the path, to enter the teachings by having refuge. To not be born in the lower realms, to be free from samsara, there is no way all these things can happen without depending on each and every sentient being, including this enemy. There is no way.
So you see, each time when you collect merit, each time when you purify each negative karma, there is no way to receive this opportunity without depending on this enemy in front of you. There is no way without depending on the kindness of this enemy. No way, it is impossible. So you see, all these great opportunities of ours to be able to do like this, to collect merit, to actualize path, all these things, that is due to the qualities of sentient beings, it already is received from these sentient beings, including this enemy in front. Checking like this you can see how extremely kind all sentient beings are, including the enemy in front of you, this person who gives you harm, who you discriminate as an enemy. That is really a precious holy object.
THE ENEMY IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN A UNIVERSE OF JEWELS
Even a whole universe filled up with jewels, a whole universe filled up with jewels, which is more precious? Which is more precious, that a universe filled up with jewels or this enemy in front of you who gives you harm, whom you discriminate as enemy. Which is more precious?
Normally, ordinary people think a jewel is so precious it is silly to destroy it. [GL] One jewel, one piece of jewel, to put in a ring, the person will think, “Oh, this is extremely precious.” He will keep it in a big box, then a small box [GL] with many keys. You know, one tiny jewel, so crazy, so incredible. Why? Because an ordinary person who doesn’t understand, who hasn’t met the Mahayana teaching cannot understand, cannot see the benefit. He can only see that he benefits from the jewel, that piece of jewel, that he can use to beautifully decorate the ring. He sees the benefit like that but he doesn’t see the benefit of sentient beings even that much. However much value the jewel is, he sees that as far more valuable that sentient beings. Normally, this is how we look at things.
As long as you are thinking what I am talking, is meditation. [GL] If you are not thinking, if you don’t concentrate, if you are not thinking even you are meditating, not concentrating in the subject, then even if you keep quiet, even you sit straight, it doesn’t become meditation. So if you are concentrating what I am saying then that’s meditation, especially if you are feeling, that is the best.
So therefore, even… [pause] [GL]
So a universe full of jewels, even numberless universes full of jewels, [GL] even if you have that much, you cannot develop patience. You practice patience with sentient beings, you receive patience depending on sentient beings and particularly the enemy, the sentient being who gives you harm. We don’t receive patience from the jewel. The great, the loving compassionate thought of bodhicitta, that is received from the sentient beings, not from the jewel. You cannot receive loving compassion, the thought of bodhicitta from a jewel, from a material object. Even from the numberless universes full of jewels it is impossible to receive the loving compassionate thought of bodhicitta, the thought to achieve enlightenment, there is no way, no way. So, therefore, there is no way to receive enlightenment from the jewel, by depending on the jewel. Enlightenment is not received from the jewel. So, you see, you cannot receive the loving compassionate thought of the enlightenment from the jewel but you can receive it from this enemy in front. You receive this depending on the sentient beings, specifically the enemy.
Before I explained, all these numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas and arhats, the holy objects to whom we make purification with and collect merit from to actualize the path, to whom we take refuge, from whom we receive all our temporal and ultimate happiness—they all came from the sentient beings, they are born from the sentient beings, including this enemy. So this sentient being in front of you who gives you harm, his kindness is unbelievable, inexpressible. The kindness cannot be finished at any time, the kindness of this person who gives you harm, whom you recognize as an enemy, actually you can never finish explaining his kindness. The value of this one sentient being is unbelievable, by comparison the value of the jewel is lost, the value of a universe full of jewels, even if you had that much, that value of that is lost, when you think of the value of even one sentient being who gives you harm.
So, meditate like this.
First, the buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats, how they came from the sentient beings. Secondly, the great opportunity of making purification and collecting merit, taking refuge, listening to teachings, to not be reborn in the lower realms, to be free from samsara, all these things—how that is again the quality of sentient beings. It is done with the holy objects, depending on holy objects, but basically it came from sentient beings, because all these holy beings came from the sentient beings. So. the benefits we receive from sentient beings, it is the quality of the sentient beings. Think like this.
Then again, check up like this. Again, meditate like this. Meditate like this.
Now it is easy to understand, once you understand the point. Concentrate on the enemy you dislike, whom you harm and who harms you, keep that in front of you. Then on the basis of that, you think like this.
THE MOSQUITO IS THE CAUSE OF YOUR ENLIGHTENMENT
“All my past, present and future happiness, all the three times’ happiness, besides temporal happiness, all the ultimate happiness, everything, the whole thing I have received from each sentient being.” Visualize the mosquito whose body is kind of very ugly looking, kind of long legs, kind of ugly looking, as it comes on your body. You want to kill, you know, you don’t even want to see the ugliness of its body, and also because it harms you it is very undesirable. Also, it is good to visualize harmful creatures. Maybe it is different to think of the mosquito. I just changed from the person, I just changed it to an animal but it’s the same thing. It is useful to keep the object that we dislike.
So think, “The mosquito who is biting me here, who is taking my blood,” think, “all my past, present and future happiness, including the ultimate happiness, everything is completely received from each sentient being, including this mosquito.”
Now concentrate on this mosquito. Maybe you can visualize mosquito on your knee, on your leg, taking blood. Think, “How can I receive all this happiness,” now, now checking, “how I have received all these happiness? That is by creating good karma, by creating good karma. My creating good karma is, that itself is how the Buddha guides me, that itself is the Buddha’s holy action; my creating good karma is Buddha’s holy action. I create good karma by understanding the teaching that is explained by Buddha. So the opportunity that I have to create good karma is because of the Buddha. It is received from the Buddha.”
Now you check up, concentrate on the mosquito that is biting.
“The numberless buddhas are born from bodhisattvas, the bodhisattvas are born from bodhicitta. Without talking much, the loving compassion thought, bodhicitta is received from each of sentient being; it is received from this mosquito who is biting me now. It is received from this mosquito who is biting me now.” So now you can see, now think, “So that’s how whole my entire happiness is completely received from this mosquito.” If you think like this, it is unbearable to kill it. It cannot drinks all your blood, it cannot eat all your body; it just takes a small, tiny, tiny drop of blood, that’s what he takes. But, you see, with incredible anger you want to kill this holy precious object, from whom you receive all your happiness, all your enjoyment, everything. Enlightenment, everything, completely, that is killed. You destroy, you harm as much as possible, as soon as you see it, you kill it.
So meditating like that is useful.
I stop here.
In fact it is like this with all sentient beings, it’s just a matter that you don’t realize, with ignorance you don’t see how kind they are, how precious they are. So that’s why we should cherish others.
Think, “Without sentient beings there is no way to become a bodhisattva, way to be born a buddha, no way to receive the teachings. There is no way that I can create good karma. There is no Buddha, no teaching like this, so there is no way that I can receive all my past, present and future, all the temporal happiness, all the ultimate happiness, there is no way that I can receive this. So all this completely it is received from this mosquito.”
So meditate like this.
“Even I want to receive the Hinayana path, the mind renouncing samsara, or the wisdom of shunyata, all the five Hinayana paths that leads to nirvana, it has to depend on this sentient being, this mosquito. Again, for the same reason, who I want to receive nirvana and all these things, I have to depend on this mosquito. Buddhahood is received from this mosquito, bodhicitta is received from it, even if I want to attain nirvana, the whole path, the mind renouncing samsara, the wisdom realizing shunyata, all the five Hinayana path, I have to receive it all from this mosquito.”
Then also, think like this. “By leaving out this mosquito, is there a way that I can actualize bodhicitta? The loving compassionate thought, the precious thought of enlightenment, is there are a way I can actualize this, by leaving out, by giving up one mosquito? Not by giving up any other sentient being, but just by giving up this one sentient being, this mosquito, is there a way that I can actualize the loving compassionate thought of enlightenment? No way, no way.”
“So from this sentient being, I can receive bodhicitta, I can actualize the whole five Mahayana paths, all the bodhisattva’s ten levels, even the whole Vajrayana path, all the realizations. This all comes from this mosquito.”
“Ultimate happiness, the complete cessation of all samsaric suffering, the cause of all the delusions, the disturbing negative thoughts, the cause and the result the suffering of the narak, preta, animal beings, human, sura, asura—the whole thing comes from the sentient being, this mosquito.”
Feel how unbearable, how unimaginable the suffering of the preta is, how for five hundred years it can’t get even one drop of water, one drop of food. Such suffering of hunger. Think how incredible unbearable it is. Even if we don’t have dinner or breakfast, we feel so hungry. Even if we don’t have food for one day, we feel the hunger is unbearable. Feel this. Then there is toothache, how unbearable it feels to us. Even just a small suffering, when there is fever, is it comfortable or not? Think, feel it. Is it comfortable or not?
This is just talking of small things. A tiny stone hitting the face, how painful it is. Even just small scratch, such a tiny suffering. Like a narak, a sword or knife going through the body or even human beings killing another, cutting the body to pieces, think whether that’s unbearable or bearable. Where does the complete cessation of all these sufferings, all these disturbing negative thoughts and results, the whole entire samsaric suffering come from? It comes from this mosquito. From this mosquito. This is how precious this mosquito is, how unbearably kind it is.
Think, “My attaining enlightenment also comes from this mosquito. When I become a buddha, having infinite knowledge of holy body, holy speech, holy mind, I can manifest for each sentient being, millions, millions of manifestations. With the holy speech I can do many different activities for even one sentient being. Similar with the holy mind. Think about many different things you can do, even for one sentient being. So think, when I become a buddha, with the infinite knowledge of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech, and holy mind, I can work for all the sentient beings without effort, incredible work which equals infinite space. All this knowledge of a buddha is received from this mosquito. Where does all this ability to show the teachings, all the way to enlightenment, to numberless of other sentient beings, comes from? From this mosquito.”
Think, “Actually the kindness of this mosquito is something which even the Buddha cannot finished explaining. So think, actually, even I give my numberless bodies, making charity of them to this mosquito, it’s nothing. It’s nothing. It’s nothing compared to the kindness that the mosquito gives me. It’s nothing.”
Also think, “The numberless times I have drunk the blood from this mosquito, how much blood I have drunk from this mosquito in previous lives is like infinite space. If it could be collected, it would fill the whole space, there wouldn’t be any space left, infinite space. The bones of this sentient being, this mosquito—not the mosquito bones but the bones of the body of the previous continuity of this mosquito—the bones that I have chewed, if they were piled up, they would fill the whole of space. The meat that I have eaten, if it could be piled up, it would fill the whole of space. The skin of this mosquito, this sentient being’s skin, that I have used as clothing, if I could count the bodies I have taken that skin from, it would be numberless.
“This extremely kind sentient being, this mosquito creates negative karma by taking each person’s blood like this. That is also caused by me. I led the mosquito to create negative karma because in previous life I did, I let him to create the cause of that. In my previous life I have created the cause, I harmed, taking blood from other sentient beings such as this sentient being. That’s why I am experiencing the result now. If I did not create the cause before, this sentient being would not create negative karma by biting me. I wouldn’t experience the result. So it’s my own fault.
“This sentient being who is extremely kind, from whom I receive all my three times’ happiness, ultimate happiness, everything, all my perfections—how dare I kill it? The precious holy object, from where all the buddhas, the bodhisattvas, from where all this is born, how dare I kill it? Besides not giving even it a tiny drop of my blood—how dare I kill it? This is completely a mistake. If I kill this, what I am actually doing is completely the wrong thing, destroying this base, this precious holy object from where I receive all my happiness.”
You can think like this. You can meditate on how all the three times’ happiness, including ultimate happiness, everything, is received from this one mosquito. This is just one example, with the mosquito. The cause of creating good karma, that is teaching received from the Buddha, the buddhas and bodhisattvas, bodhicitta is received from this mosquito. That’s the way to think of it. Then, specifically also think about all the paths. Think, actualizing all the Hinayana paths, all the Mahayana paths, actualizing bodhicitta, enlightenment, all the knowledge of buddhas, everything I receive is by depending on kindness of this sentient being. Again, think like this.
When you remember the kindness of the mosquito like this, even if it is biting you, even if it is taking your blood, maybe before there had been a little bit of anger—you wanted to kill it, you couldn’t stand it without moving hands—but when you remember the kindness like this, when you meditate like this you don’t even feel the pain anymore. Here you feel pain, but after you remember kindness, you feel great rejoicing, you feel happiness, because you see it as a precious holy object, you see it as extremely kind. You feel it is helping you to make charity, but helping it like this is nothing compared to this sentient being’s kindness. You don’t feel pain, you feel happiness. You feel a blissful comfortable kind of happiness.
ALL SENTIENT BEINGS ARE THE CAUSE OF YOUR ENLIGHTENMENT
This is just an example. You can make similar meditations with any other sentient being, with people who beat you, with other animals, with other sentient beings who harm you. That’s how we cherish others—this mosquito, as well as all sentient beings. Shantideva said in his teachings that you should look at sentient beings with more than your eyes, you should look at sentient beings with loving and sincerity.
Sincerity means without having a cruel mind, a mind wanting to harm sentient beings. With sincerity, sincerely, remembering their kindness. So when you remember the kindness of the sentient beings, the mind sincerely wishing sentient beings to be happy naturally arises, like a when a good son looks on his loving mother, seeing how incredibly kind she is, and how the mother looks on her son. Even when you look at the sentient beings with your eyes, you should look at them in form of loving and sincerity. Thinking, “By depending on these sentient beings, I become enlightened.” Thinking like that. It is extremely effective for the mind to remember this teaching, especially when other sentient beings give you harm. Think, instead of looking with an angry expression, with a cruel mind, look at in them in the form of loving kindness. Even if the other person is stealing, beating, making wounds on your body, or scolding you with his speech, remember by depending on this person you receive enlightenment, you become enlightened. Remember like this. Remember the kindness, that you receive all your happiness from this.
Then, as soon as you remember this, your anger all of a sudden goes. Just like a water bubble pops, the anger disappears, your mind becomes quiet. If your mind gets changed, becoming quiet from a violent mind, at the same time your violent actions of body and speech change. Your violent physical actions and your hurting speech, your rude words hurting the other sentient being, as the mind calms, right away they stop. It’s extremely good.
Not reacting back with violence, keeping calm, makes the other person surprised and helps him change his mind and afterwards he learns from your example. He learns the benefits of not getting angry, of keeping the mind quiet, of trying to control the mind.
You can see how a farmer takes such good care of his field. This is where he receives all this benefit, so he has to plant well and tend the crops, fertilizing them and watering them. Then, he will definitely get a good harvest and he can enjoy his life. Seeing how important his field is, he takes really good care of it. It is so precious to him.
Another example, you can see easily and clearly the advantage of having a huge, real diamond. By selling it you will be able to experience so many enjoyments. And so, seeing the advantages of having this diamond, you take the best possibly care of it, locking it up in a safe in your house where nobody can steal it. Similarly, in the field of sentient beings, if you plant the seed of the loving compassion thought of enlightenment, with the six perfections and the four bodhisattva methods for ripening other sentient beings’ minds, you can attain enlightenment. You can then take the best care of all sentient beings, and so you see how important it is to take care. Just as a farmer takes care of his field, you need to take care of all sentient beings, as it is this field that you receive all the happiness, including enlightenment.
Sentient beings are the objects that you should take the most care of. Even if you have to give up your life for them, it is worth it. Giving up your life to save your possessions is utterly worthless, whether it’s a universe full of jewels or a pile of garbage. The real objects of worth, the things that are worth giving up your life for, are sentient beings. These are the field from which all happiness comes, and therefore to see them as objects of great beauty and great preciousness is not unrealistic at all. They deserve your deep respect.
The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in his teaching because of that, the field of the sentient beings is the field of Buddha. Shantideva is quoting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha here. Attaining the bodhisattva’s perfections, all the way to enlightenment itself can only happen by serving other beings. Similarly, attaining the realizations of the Dharma can only come through serving all sentient beings. Therefore, Shantideva says, if you can respect the Buddha, the Victorious One, why can’t you also respect all sentient beings? Why not the sentient beings? The realizations you received through meditation it is not received only from oneself.
What the great Bodhisattva Shantideva is saying is that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha came from sentient beings. Where did the Buddha—who guides us from suffering, from whom we receive all our happiness—come from? He came from the field of sentient beings. So sentient beings are the field of the Buddha. Only though sentient beings did he develop all the qualities he needed to become a buddha, and so as you obtain the Buddhadharma by depending on the Buddha, you accomplish the practice of the Buddhadharma also by depending on sentient beings. Without depending on sentient beings you cannot obtain the Buddhadharma. So therefore, normally, as you respect and make offerings to the Buddha, thinking he guides you from suffering and you receive all happiness from the Buddha, why don’t you respect sentient beings equally, seeing they are equally responsible for your happiness.
I think we’ll stop here.
IGNORANCE AND SELF-GRASPING
Usually there is a word in the refuge prayer, “the merit that has been collected by me,” then the word from the side of the teacher, “the merit of my explaining Dharma” is replaced from the side of the disciple what has to be replaced is, “the merit of listening to this teaching,” it is dedicated or motivated in that way like this.
[Long break in tape.]
… deep in our heart, my happiness is more important than any other sentient being’s happiness, than any other sentient being, I am more important. If there is one plate of food, then thinking that I should get it, I should get it, I am more important, my happiness is more important than his. You don’t intellectually say it but that is the feeling there is in the heart. You don’t think that he should have it. You have a very strong mind in the heart, “If I don’t get that I will lose my happiness, so I should get it for myself.” The self-cherishing thought is like that. Cherishing oneself more than others, you know, being careless of others, like that. And ignorance grasping the I.
For instance, right now, you’re believing there is a real “me” here. Just now you are thinking, “I am writing, I am making notes. The real me is writing, I am writing.” Just that belief, “there is a real me.” What’s your name? huh? Can I ask?
Rinpoche: John. “I am the real John.” That is ignorance grasping the I. Generally where the self-cherishing thought came from, from it is derived from, it is from the ignorance grasping the I, the ignorance believing in the truly existing I. It’s just like mother and daughter. I think the self-cherishing thought can also cause to build up the ignorance grasping the I, just like the daughter is born from mother but again the daughter is married, if she gets child, she becomes mother to the daughter, if she gets another daughter.
The self-cherishing thought disturbs, prevents you from realizing the absolute nature and destroying the ignorance grasping the I. The self-cherishing also makes you have wrong view, causes wrong conception, incredibly wrong conception, believing things as truly existent, even intellectually. Because of having met the strong theory, the self-cherishing also causes you to have wrong view even intellectually. You accept the concept and even intellectually believe such as things are truly existent. Those also are cause by self-cherishing thought because in previous times you have created the karma with the self-cherishing thought to have such wrong views. Even though things are not truly existent but even intellectually, besides the intuitive belief, you believe it is truly existent. So there are different ways like this.
Rinpoche: The real root of samsara is the ignorance, grasping the I, the ignorance, believing things as truly existent. That is the real root of samsara. And also the other ignorance also caused by that.
Student: You said ma-rig-pa of true existence?
Rinpoche: Yeah, the other ma-rig-pa. The delusions are caused by that.
Student: If one destroys the self-cherishing thought, it can weaken self-grasping but not… [the rest inaudible.]
Rinpoche: Just merely actualizing, itself, just by that alone cannot make this ignorance grasping I less, but bodhicitta for sure is a quick method, realizing bodhicitta is a quick way. Actualizing bodhicitta is a quick way to realize shunyata because that itself is method. If a person has that realization, that person makes incredible purification and collects incredible merit. So it’s very easy, so quick to actualize shunyata.
But I wouldn’t say, without any understanding, if you have no understanding, recognizing emptiness, nothing at all, just having the bodhicitta, just that alone would make it a little bit less.
Student: Once one really understood the nature of the world, wouldn’t it be almost automatic to generate compassion and bodhicitta?
Rinpoche: That depends on the self; that depends on the individual. I would say that depends on individual. Like this example. There are many people in the world who suffer. Somebody can see that all the rest of the people are in so much incredible torture, having so much incredible problems and so much suffering, but that person himself is not involved in that. He’s free and he has all the enjoyments, whatever he wants he gets, everything, all the enjoyment, whatever he want. Despite everything around, and he alone is happy. He thinks, “Those other people are suffering but it doesn’t matter, I am happy, I am happy,” and he has so much attachment to his own pleasures that, to the pleasure he receives from those material enjoyment. He has so much attachment, he has so much clinging, he doesn’t want to lose his pleasure, he doesn’t want to lose it. The mind thinks, “I am happy, I am not suffering.” And even though he kind of knows that those other people are having suffering but he doesn’t care so much. This is a similar example. He doesn’t want to lose the pleasure. He doesn’t want to lose it in order to dedicate his life for others, to do something, to bear the difficulties, in order to guide others. So like that example, people who do like this, who have such minds like this. He doesn’t feel the suffering of others so much, as a bodhisattva feels it.
Rinpoche: Are there people like this, are there examples like this?
Rinpoche: You don’t understand that? Because I don’t understand emptiness, that’s why. I don’t understand the emptiness! I am just joking.
It’s giving an example. Okay? Food and kaka. Then that person while eating food, it’s like eating kaka, you know. That is so clear. Food is not kaka. It’s very clear. Poison is not medicine. Medicine is not poison. You are not your mother. Are you your mother? Are you your mother? Huh?
You are not your mother? Or are you? Okay, all right. Completely I believe, you are not your mother.
Okay. Then if you understand this that you are not your mother then that shows everything is not oneness. That is the example. Are you the German president? So you see, what you intellectually say and what you intuitively feel are opposite. It’s contradictory to your own experience, saying things like that, “everything is oneness.” Things like that, I am you and everything is oneness. You see, that is contradictory. If you don’t check up with your experience, you don’t see it’s contradictory to your own experience, the intuitive experience what you feel in your heart. It doesn’t happen together. Even your intuitive experience, what you intellectually say is contradictory to that, so unless you believe in like this, that only causes confusion to arise, it does not help.
First, if you think carefully about the intuitive way it is existing, in fact how things exist and how you experience them is contradictory. So by checking like this you can understand. Actually if everything is oneness, then why there should be problems? There is no reason why there should be problems, why we should be angry with each other, why there should be fighting.
In fact if it like this then where there should be, “this is your property” and “this is my property,” this would not happen. It’s about the meaning of human life.
THE BENEFITS OF THE LAM-RIM
A Kadampa geshe whose holy name is Purchungwa asked Kadampa Geshe Tsengawa, “What would you prefer, the mind following the graduated path to enlightenment or having achieved all the five psychic powers, the eight realizations, the eight siddhis and the unshakeable concentration which lasts for eons. Which one would you prefer, just the mind following the graduated path to enlightenment or having all these five psychic powers, all these unshakeable concentration, all these eight siddhis?” Then Geshe Tsengawa answered, “I would much prefer even just thinking, even just thinking about how the graduated path to enlightenment is. Even just thinking this. Not even actualized it but just thinking about how it is. Why? Because so far what I haven’t experienced, experiencing the graduate path to enlightenment, but these five psychic knowledge, the unshakeable concentration which lasts for eons and all these things, I have gone through this experience numberless times.”
So this advice from these great meditators is an answer to our questions. So therefore, to be able to make a retreat on graduated path to enlightenment is, even if you can only make it for fifteen days or one month in each year, that is extremely fortunate.
[Break in tape.]
THE BENEFITS OF BODHICITTA
One day a lama, a Rinpoche, came to see our holy root guru Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo and offered his realizations of one-pointed concentration that can last for years to Pabongka Rinpoche. Pabongka Rinpoche took the small bowl of pak in his hand and replied, “Your realizations can never compare to me eating this bowl of pak.” Pak is roasted barley flour mixed with tea, which Rinpoche was having for dinner. What he meant was that with the bodhicitta that he had actualized, even a simple act of eating when done with bodhicitta brings so much more merit than the most profound realizations done without bodhicitta. Every action becomes only work for sentient beings. So the benefit of the other lama’s realizations can never compare to each time he eats food, even eating one small bowl of food. He added, “If possible, it’s excellent if you can try like that.” Each action benefits all sentient beings in that way.
If you think, “Why it is highly meaningful? This doesn’t matter. I can do whatever I want in this life; there is no need practice Dharma. I have already received the perfect human body and in my future life I will receive the perfect human rebirth with the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, so I can practice in a future life, sometime in the future, with one of those perfect human rebirths. What’s the point of rushing?”
Then question comes, do you know for sure, do you really know, are you really confident that you definitely will receive a perfect human rebirth having eight freedoms and ten richnesses after this life? It’s not certain. It cannot be received without creating the cause. Even in external things this happens. If you don’t plant crops this year you cannot receive crops next year. Receiving crops next year depends on planting crops this year. Even external things are dependent like this. So, to receive a perfect human rebirth depends on depends on creating the cause and the cause is purely observing the moral conduct and charity, creating charity and making prayers. It depends on this. You have to check up, whether you have created the cause or not in this life. If you have created the cause then you can receive a perfect human rebirth in the next life. If you have not created the cause then you can’t receive it. So, the whole answer whether you will be born as human being or not, whether you will receive a perfect human rebirth or not, in the future life, the answer is within your own mind. The answer is within your mind. You don’t have to ask somebody else. The answer is just within your mind. You can get the answer to that question by understanding the cause.
Whether you can buy a cake from a hotel depends on whether you have money or not. That is very easy to understand. If there is no money in the purse, there is no cake.
I think I’ll stop here.