Kopan Course No. 16 (1983)

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

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

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

Section Six: Lectures 29-34

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December 4



I thought to mention a little bit about the benefits of the precepts during these last few days, hopefully so you get some understanding of how this is so precious, how this has great profit, how this is extremely important. That means—how these precepts bring all the temporal happiness and perfections, and ultimate happiness and perfections. The more we understand the profits or the benefits of the precepts, the more faith arises. The more we understand what Buddha explained in the teachings, there will be less difficulties. Even though normally in the world it is very difficult to practice, but for you it is easy. Much happiness comes when one keeps the precepts, and a strong wish to take them again and again arises, even when one is working. Even while one is doing a job in the office or working in the family. This is not like retreating for one month, or three months, or three years, which needs a lot of understanding, a lot of things to be gathered. Even if one does retreat for so many years, reciting mantra and so on, if the mind is distracted it doesn’t have much of a result. It is said in the teachings, “Doing the recitation of mantra with the mind distracted by other things, even for eons, it doesn’t bring the result.”

There are three general benefits of taking the Mahayana precepts, in these times, in this age. First are the benefits according to time. It is said by Buddha in the sutra teaching called The King of Concentration, “Even if one makes offerings to many millions of buddhas”—offerings of food, drink, umbrellas, light offerings, various offerings such as padyam—I don’t know how to translate that—“Many offerings equaling the number of sand grains in the Ganges”—the Indian river Ganga and also the Atlantic ocean—“When the holy Dharma is extremely degenerated”—when there is less and less practice of the holy Dharma—“at the time of the ending of the teaching of the Gone-to-Bliss-One”—means Buddha—“if one practices even one precept, day and night, the merit is much greater.” That means compared with making offerings to millions of buddhas for that many eons in the previous times when the time was not degenerated, keeping even one precept for one day nowadays, which is a time of extreme degeneration of the teachings of Buddha, is of much greater advantage. There are greater benefits of making offerings now than during good times when the teaching wasn’t degenerated. So of course, if keeping even one precept for just one day is that advantageous, then no question if we take the eight Mahayana precepts for even just one day, let alone two weeks. The merit we get automatically equals the sky. We receive that much merit and we gradually experience the perfect happiness, temporal and ultimate, that we are desiring.

As you heard during the introduction, each precept has temporal benefits and ultimate benefits, and becomes the cause to achieve buddhahood. To take this ordination even for one day has much meaning and one is extremely fortunate. To have the opportunity, to receive the chance to take this ordination for even just one day in these bad, degenerate times, when there are more and more incredible problems in the world, when the life of sentient beings is getting harder and harder, has greater meaning than finding many millions of mountains of wish-granting jewels, or mountains of diamonds. If you look at the life of the millionaires, the rich people on this earth who haven’t got the Buddhadharma, who don’t practice, who don’t live even in one vow, who do not make any preparations for the happiness of future lives, even this life is terribly, terribly confused. You always see and hear that. They have much greater mental problems than the beggars in India or Nepal. The mind has so much more fear and worry, much more confusion than the beggars that beg in the street have.

Mahayana ordination should be taken with the motivation of bodhicitta, as Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the Hymns of the Experience of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment. I am not sure, but hopefully during these few weeks or few days maybe I will be able to talk a little bit about thought training, the Eight Verses of Thought Training, which explains how to train the mind to deal with problems. However, the whole lam-rim is an answer to what to do when there is a problem. It has all the answers, all the methods, if you can recognize them. From the beginning to the end, it’s all solutions to the problems. If it eliminates the cause then there is no question about the result. So, as a preparation for the thought training I thought maybe during the mornings, or at some time, to do a little bit; because at other times I am trying to finish the explanations of karma; to give more details.

Then, as Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the Experience of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, “If one doesn’t attempt to think of the shortcomings of true suffering, the thought wishing to achieve liberation will arise exactly. If one does not reflect well on the evolution of the true cause of suffering, the graduated entering into samsara, then one doesn’t know how to cut off the root of samsara..” Then Lama Tsongkhapa said, “It is important to practice the thought to renounce samsara”—aversion to samsara—“and to understand what has bound oneself to samsara.” You see, in the scriptures it says “which binds the samsara;” that means “which binds me to samsara.” Then, “The venerable guru did the practice like this. You who are wishing for liberation, I am requesting you to practice like that.” If one doesn’t understand, if one doesn’t reflect well on the shortcomings of samsara, the true suffering, then the wish to achieve liberation will not arise exactly, unmistakenly, uncreated, powerfully. That means not just saying these words with the mouth, “I want to achieve liberation, I want to be free from samsara”. The wish to achieve liberation arising uncreated from the depth of the heart, day and night, all the time, would not happen.

When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha turned the Dharma wheel he first taught the Four Noble Trusts, and first among those was true suffering. After that it came to the question, “What is the cause?” Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha revealed the true cause of suffering. Then comes the understanding: the cause needs to be ceased. This is the main liberation. Then the question comes, “What is the path to achieve cessation?” Then the true path is revealed.

All the true sufferings of samsara are abbreviated into the three types of suffering: suffering of suffering; the suffering of changes; the pervasive compounding suffering. The narak beings’ suffering of heat and cold; the preta beings’ major suffering, hunger and thirst; for the animals being extremely foolish is their major suffering; human beings have the eight sufferings; the devas who are in the realm of desire have sufferings such as signs of death and also fighting and killing each other; the asuras being jealous of the suras—those are suffering of suffering. Even the dogs have aversion to the suffering of suffering—such as pain, wounds, and infections.

Now, the suffering of change. Most of the samsaric pleasures are suffering of change. It is not saying suffering of suffering—there are differences. Most of the samsaric pleasures, our everyday life pleasures, are suffering. It is not that while we are experiencing pleasure it is ultimate pleasure, pure happiness and afterwards it becomes suffering. Just that feeling that we label “pleasure” itself is in the nature of suffering. That is what we should understand, what we should realize, we should be aware of. In reality it is only suffering; that is what we should be aware of so we don’t create the cause of the suffering of samsara; so that we don’t bind ourselves to samsara all the time by attachment and other disturbing thoughts and karma.

I think you might have meditated on the suffering of birth. Guru Shakyamuni explained this elaborately in the sutra called Entering the Womb. Entering the Womb was taught to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s—I think—younger brother Chung.ga.wo, “Gawo, you should understand that each of the actions—sitting, eating, walking and sleeping are in the nature of suffering. You should understand them individually. When a meditator examines, say, doing only the action of eating—not the actions of sitting, walking or sleeping—eating all the time, the person gets suffering—extremely rough, strong, very painful discomfort.” I think if you concentrate on the strong discomfort of eating a lot of food, you will see it is so unpeaceful, the opposite to comfortable and peaceful. Then it says, “Also, Gawo, like this with the other actions ...”

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When pleasure arises, that which you label pleasure, which you believe is pleasure or comfort, it is only that one suffering has stopped and another suffering has started. If you sit for one hour, then longer and longer, gradually the tiredness of sitting comes. Then, when you stand up, because of being exhausted from sitting for a long time immediately there is pleasure and comfort. As Guru Shakyamuni Buddha explained, as soon as you stand up the tiredness, the suffering of sitting, starts to decrease from being heavy, from being great; but immediately, the second you stand up, as you created the condition, the tiredness of stand up, as you created the condition, the tiredness of standing has already started. Now, on that feeling, on that base, the tiredness of sitting decreasing from being great and the tiredness of standing starting from being small, we label “comfort,” “pleasure.” It is only that. That is the base.

Now you can see that the base on which we label “comfort” is only suffering. There is no base, no feeling, which is not suffering. On this feeling we label “pleasure.” We are not aware of when the tiredness of sitting starts from its being small, like a disease that starts from small symptoms. Gradually, as we keep on standing this tiredness of standing increases. It is not that we stand for five minutes and then suddenly the tiredness of standing comes just like that [snap of fingers]. It is not our experience that it happens all of a sudden. The same thing, the discomfort of the stomach from eating a lot happens gradually. It’s not that there wasn’t a small discomfort at the beginning, when you started to eat, and only after eating one plate it suddenly starts. When it becomes more and more gross, then we feel it, then we are aware of it. It is heavy enough to make us aware.

Actually, it looks like while we are not aware that it is suffering, it is pleasure. Once we come to know, when we start to recognize the suffering, then it is suffering! It is sort of like that! This we can understand by analyzing, by examining; it is not just mere belief. So, when the tiredness of standing becomes bigger and bigger, the previous feeling of tiredness of sitting starts to decrease from being great and the tiredness of standing starts by being very tiny—on that feeling we label pleasure.

That’s why that which we label pleasure doesn’t last. What makes it not last is that when we change from one suffering action to another, another suffering starts. Now if this happiness, this pleasure were pure pleasure, pure happiness; if it were ultimate, not depending on the base, the feeling, which is suffering—then the longer we stand the more the happiness should increase. The longer we stand, for weeks, months, years and years, the happiness should become greater and greater. After one year there should be unbelievable happiness from standing! But we get bored with standing in one place, so we walk. As we become bored with being in one place we travel. Continuously standing for many years, there should be such unbelievable pleasure that one can’t imagine! The same with eating for days and days, months and months, years and years—after five years there should be unbelievable bliss if that is a pure happiness which does not depend on labeling on the feeling, which is suffering! The same thing—after feeling cold then being burnt by the sun or a fire, the pleasure should increase the longer and nearer the fire or the longer you stay in the hot sun. It shouldn’t decrease, it should only increase.

That is why Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is saying, “When it comes,”—the pleasure that we label—“it comes in the nature of compounding. When it stops, it always stops in the nature of compounding.” When the suffering arises it is compounding and when it stops it is compounding. You see, when we stand up after the tiredness of sitting, the action of sitting which compounds the pain, the suffering, is stopped. The suffering of sitting has stopped because the compounding action of sitting is stopped. Now, when another suffering arises—the compounding action of standing, the action of standing which compounds another suffering—it feels like pleasure because one compounding suffering has stopped while another compounding one has risen. You see, it makes great sense.
From this example you can understand that until we are free from this samsara, even when we are eating it is suffering; even when we are walking it is suffering; even when we are sitting it is suffering; even when we sleep it is suffering. Whatever we do, whatever life we live—“Wouldn’t it be better to live a farmer’s life?”—it is suffering, so many problems. “Now I am tired of being a farmer; wouldn’t it be better to live a business life?” Again it is suffering. “Wouldn’t it be better to trek in the mountains?” Again, it is suffering. A lot of problems! Even though one thinks it is pleasure it is only suffering. Even if one plays football, it is suffering; even if one has gone to watch football, it is suffering!; even if one acts in the theater it is suffering, there is much worry; then even those who do the job of making people laugh, on television, the people who make fun—what are they called?

Audience Member: Comedians
Lama Zopa: Yes I heard they also have problems and worries about becoming successful in the laughs, the jokes! Anyway, until we are not free from samsara whatever we do is in the nature of suffering. So, we are suffering like this. Even what we label pleasure, which we believe in, is suffering.

It is like this for all kind mother sentient beings who are in samsara. Many other sentient beings, such as lower realm beings, are devoid of temporal pleasures. Even those who have temporal pleasures are actually only suffering. The sentient beings who are kind in all past, present and future times, from whom we receive all our happiness and perfections, are devoid of ultimate happiness. “While I have the perfect human rebirth, as I have the opportunity, I must free them from all suffering and lead them to enlightenment. To do that is dependent on the cause; without a cause enlightenment cannot be achieved. Therefore, I am going to take the Mahayana precepts for the benefit of all kind mother sentient beings.”


Feel great happiness to be taking and living in the eight precepts. Each of them is more important, more precious than as many dollars as there are atoms composing this earth, or that many wish granting jewels. Taking and living in these precepts is like receiving more than eight times these piles of dollars or wish granting jewels. Remember the temporal and ultimate happiness that comes from this.

Think for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and also Lama Yeshe and all the rest of the holy beings to have long lives; all the sentient beings who equal the space, the sky, to receive happiness and comfort; and for oneself and all other sentient beings to be able to accumulate merit and purify all the obscurations completely and quickly achieve enlightenment.

“May I achieve Chenrezig, the Great Compassionate One, and lead every being in the Great Compassionate One’s enlightenment rapidly.”

December 4 am


Please make the request for the three great purposes:


Think that the nectar purifies all the wrong conceptions. Then a replica of Chenrezig is absorbed at one’s heart, generating all the realizations, especially bodhicitta. You can think bodhicitta, the truth of the all-obscuring mind, and the absolute bodhicitta, the wisdom realizing voidness. You can think both bodhicittas are generated—the very essence of the wisdom and the actual method, the bodhicitta—are generated in your mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.


Guru Chenrezig melts into light and is absorbed into one’s own heart. Feel the oneness—one’s own mind being completely transformed into Guru Chenrezig’s great compassion: feeling as so unbearable that other sentient beings are suffering because of being obscured and wishing to liberate them from the obscurations and sufferings immediately, by oneself.




The great bodhisattva Shantideva completely renounced the self, was one-pointedly concerned with working only for other sentient beings; was both highly-learned and highly attained—not just learned in the words, not just learned in general, common knowledge. I think, those pandits who lived at Nalanda, the great monastery, were not just learned in Dharma, but also in other knowledge such as the four different types of knowledge—poetry, handicrafts, hygiene and astrology. Lama Atisha and those great pandits were learned in logic and things like that, and expert in general knowledge. Just to get some idea about the great bodhisattva Shantideva, this is a small story of his holy actions, one of the essential stories about him. I don’t remember his time of birth exactly and those details. Shantideva was at Nalanda, the great monastic university in India. The external appearance of how Shantideva lived his life was very peculiar, different to the other monks and pandits. Normally other monks did work for the monastery, or they read scriptures in their own rooms or did various virtuous actions such as making offerings, prostrations, recitations and meditation practices. The monks of the monastery saw Shantideva as a kind of very lazy monk, doing nothing, always lying down; they didn’t see him reading scriptures or doing any virtuous actions. So, the monks thought that his being in Nalanda monastery was just wasting the monastery’s offerings and money. What they could see him doing was only sleeping, eating food and making ka-ka. So he was called “Busuku”—“The One Having Three Recognitions.” He didn’t appear to do anything except these three. So, they thought to kick him out of the monastery. They couldn’t kick him out without some reason, so they wanted to make some excuse. The monks thought if they asked him to give teachings he wouldn’t be able to and then there would be a lot of reason to kick him out!

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The monks put up a very high throne so that when Shantideva came to give teachings he wouldn’t be able to even climb on to it. When Shantideva came, then people somehow.... if I don’t get it mixed up with another story of the arhat “Small Path”! Those who have heard lam-rim many times must know this story.

“Small Path” was sent by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to give teachings to the nuns. He was quite famous at that time where he lived in India. For three months he could not memorize even one stanza, one verse, of the teachings. He had great difficulty memorizing even two words. When he was able to memorize “om” he forgot “bhu”, when he memorized “bhu” he forgot “om.” First of all he went to learn letters—maybe from Buddha—trying to memorize. He was taught two words but he couldn’t memorize even those. Then he was kicked out of the school by the teacher. He went to his elder brother, an arhat named “Great Path.”. Again he was taught two words; again he could not memorize them. I think “sidam” may be the first, “om bhu” the second phrase that was taught by his elder brother. However, the essence of the story is that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha let him clean the monk’s shoes outside the monastery. He was told to say “dhul.pang tri.ma.pang”, “avoid dust, abandon the stains.” “Stains” probably might be “smell” in the translation of “dhul.pang tri.ma.pang.” The first part refers the unsubdued mind, the obscurations. The second part means “she.drib,” the subtle obscurations which disturb one from achieving the fully-knowing mind. “Avoid dust, abandon the smell,” has two meanings. It includes all the obscurations which are the obstacles to generating the complete path to enlightenment. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha asked the monks to say this in his ear loudly whenever “Little Path” came in and went out, so that he would remember. Cleaning the shoes for the monks outside the monastery became purification. First of all, the monks are a higher object of devotion. Cleaning their shoes purified the obscurations, they became thinner, and then he was able to memorize these two words. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha asked him to clean the outside of the monastery. While he was cleaning one day he realized shunyata. After he finished cleaning the right side of the monastery he went to clean the left side. When he started cleaning the left side due to Guru Shakyamuni’s blessings, suddenly dust settled over the right side. Then, after he finished the left side and started cleaning the right side, suddenly dust came on the left side. So, like this, he cleaned all day. This is an example of the skillful way Guru Shakyamuni Buddha subdues, guides, the sentient beings. Then, while he was cleaning he realized the meaning of the four stanzas which he had great difficulty in learning over three months.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had to send a monk to give teachings at a nunnery. One time Guru Shakyamuni Buddha sent “Small Path.” The nuns had requested Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to send Kun.ta.wo, a great pandit, to give teachings. The nuns completely freaked out because they knew very well that this Small Path was very ignorant! The nuns thought that they were insulted, put down—“We are insulted; sending him, such a person, to our monastery to teach us!” The nuns put up a very high throne to teach him a lesson. Then “Small Path” the arhat came. I think this story might be where he stretched out his right arm and with his psychic power lowered it. Then he sat on the throne and gave teachings for six months on the stanzas that he had such difficulty in learning. Before he came the nuns announced all over that area, “If you don’t come tomorrow you won’t realize shunyata, you won’t receive the truth.” So 100,000 people had gathered the next day. The nuns wanted to tease him, thinking that he would not be able to give teachings. Anyway, 100,000 people gathered and he gave this teaching, and many of them even achieved the arya path, the higher path, the wisdom of directly seeing shunyata. So many entered the path, generated the thought of renunciation of samsara, generated refuge, and so many generated realizations. This is not the main point, but the story happened!

I think with Shantideva people couldn’t figure out how, although the throne was very high, he got onto the throne. I don’t remember one hundred percent—he sat without touching the throne or something. Shantideva asked the monks, “Do you want to receive teachings on something Guru Shakyamuni Buddha taught or on something Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did not teach?” The Monks said, “Something which Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did not teach.” Of course they would ask for something which Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did not teach! Then, from the heart, without any hesitation, without any effort, he taught the Bodhicaryavatara to the monks. When he reached the chapter on wisdom—I don’t remember the particular word—Shantideva flew away, getting higher and higher above the throne. He went higher and higher and became smaller and smaller, the size of a fly, then completely disappeared. Still the monks could hear the teachings as if he were still sitting on the throne.

In fact he was a hidden yogi. These kind of practitioners never show anything of their Dharma practice on the outside—on the outside they look very ignorant, knowing nothing, doing nothing. Inside they are very learned, having great realizations equaling the whole of space. These holy beings are called “hidden yogis.” Inside they have incredible knowledge—not only learned in all the teachings, but having realizations equaling the sky. In outer actions they appear very ignorant, not knowing anything, not doing any virtuous actions. There are many like this. Not only in India, but even in Tibet. Outside looking kind of crazy. Their behavior, their actions are outside the general peoples’ behavior. Sometimes they wear very torn, ragged clothes, with many holes, just piles of patches. Even living on ka-ka or eating outside in the dirty places where people make ka-ka. Carrying garbage—nothing very useful to other people. Sometimes they do things that ordinary people cannot do, showing incredible psychic powers, things like that. They do holy actions that ordinary people cannot do. Normally other people do not know, they believe that they are as they appear – completely ordinary, not knowing anything, crazy, sort-of foolish, not suiting the way common people live.

When they pass away, the people who believe that they are ordinary, not practicing Dharma, being foolish or crazy, get incredible devotion on seeing the incredible control and power that these yogis have. They have incredible control over the mind, especially at the time of death. They do amazing things and many wonderful signs appear. They go to pure realms; dakinis from the pure realms invite them and they go to the pure realms. The dakinis make prostrations to those holy beings. There are various stories. Sometimes their bodies completely disappear when the time comes to pass away. There are so many amazing life stories of great hidden yogis.

This great bodhisattva Shantideva said in the Bodhicaryavatara, “With actions such as these I won’t achieve even the human body.” “With actions such as these” means actions done with worldly concern; actions done with anger, with the three poisonous minds. It is very difficult to find actions that were not done with worldly concern from birth-time until now. It is very hard to find actions which were pure Dharma, which really became Dharma.

After I lived for many years in India in that place I mentioned yesterday, Buxa, I returned back to the mountains where I was born, where there is a cave, where the monastery school was built. Not the first time, but the second time, I found one text there. I think most of the scriptures that were kept there were hand-written because in the past it was very difficult to get texts in that area. The one who lived there previously was called the “Lawudo Lama.” I think he had a lot of energy—he got all the initiations of many practices, and teachings on the methods to achieve deities. So many scriptures were written by hand with much effort. I found one text among those normally practiced in the Nyingma sect, the collection of the Kadampa geshes advice, from their experiences, on how to practice Dharma—like those Kadampa geshes whose life stories I mentioned. That text put together their life stories and their advice—mainly about what the holy Dharma is; differentiating worldly dharma and holy Dharma—what we should give up and what we should practice.

It mainly talks about practicing holy Dharma—renouncing the eight worldly Dharmas: attachment to four desirable things—happiness, interesting sounds, praise and materials—and aversion to four undesirable things—unhappiness, uninteresting sounds, criticism and not receiving materials. In the West and in the East, all the confusion, all the nervous breakdowns, people becoming crazy, all the problems, the because of not having cut off the worldly concerns, not having equalized the four desirable and four undesirable things. Because of not having equalized these, the life is like a hell—not being born in hell, but hell experienced with a human body. That teaching explains what incredible peace and tranquility one receives by renouncing concern for the eight worldly Dharmas; how all progress in the practice, the lam-rim realizations, start from that. How that practice of equalizing the four desirable and the four undesirable things is great purification.

It is not saying that one should not have comfort, shouldn’t have happiness, shouldn’t have materials, shouldn’t have admiration or shouldn’t hear interesting sounds. The problem is not so much the object—the problem is having worldly concern. The problem is clinging to those objects. Renouncing this life shouldn’t mean that one doesn’t have those, because that is not the problem. The problem is having clinging to those objects.

For those Kadampa geshes and ascetics like the great yogi Milarepa—the pure Dharma practitioners—there is no clinging. They have cut off the worldly concern, the evil thoughts of the eight worldly Dharmas, the clinging to the object. They have equalized comfort and discomfort. Whatever happens it doesn’t matter. An interesting sound or an uninteresting sound—whatever comes it doesn’t make a difference for their mind. They don’t care. The same thing with receiving materials or not receiving materials, admiration or criticism—whatever happens it doesn’t make any difference to their mind. So, wherever they go, wherever they stay, there are no obstacles for their Dharma practice. They are always able to continue their Dharma practice and they always have much happiness; there is no confusion because the evil thought of the eight worldly Dharmas is cut off.

Even if a person has leprosy disease it can get cured by pure Dharma practice, cutting off the evil thoughts of the eight worldly Dharmas. One Kadampa geshe got leprosy disease at the beginning of his Dharma practice. He was living in the family, but somehow he got leprosy disease and then none of the family looked after him. He got so upset. Then he thought, “Anyway, it doesn’t matter if the family doesn’t look after me. I will sit in the road and recite Chenrezig mantra. It doesn’t matter what happens with my life. I will just live as a beggar in the road and recite Chenrezig mantra!” So he gave up the worldly concern, the evil thoughts of the eight Dharmas, and left home. He stayed in the road and at night time he slept on a rock. He had a dream that night—again I got mixed up with another story! I think it probably might be this: he had a dream that much strong rain came, and his body and clothes became completely wet. When he awoke from the dream all the pus was coming out of the infections on his body and he became wet. His leprosy disease started to recover from that time. The water and pus came out on the night of the day that he cut off worldly concern. There are many stories in this scripture called...

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“Opening the Door to Dharma.” The whole teaching is very effective, so useful for the mind. It gives a lot of encouragement to practice Dharma, to defeat and cut off the worldly concern, the confused mind. So, when I saw that text I checked back—this many years ago. I had read and memorized many scriptures but I couldn’t find any Dharma to practice. After I read this, I saw what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. After I saw this scripture, after I read these Kadampa Geshes life stories, I checked back on my life. I had done many things—saying prayers, reading texts and all these things—in the monasteries. I checked back but it was very hard to find anything being dharma. I was kind of shocked! Before that I just believed, without checking, “Oh, I am practicing Dharma.” Anyway, this text is very beneficial for the mind. After I came from the mountains I did the sixth meditation course. I think the people who attended that course would understand! Anyway, like this, “With a mind and actions such as this I cannot find even a human body. If I can’t find a human body there is no creation of virtue, only non-virtue. I haven’t been accumulating virtue and have been accumulating non-virtue for millions of millions of eons, so I won’t hear even the sound “the body of the happy transmigratory beings.” What Shantideva is saying is this: having accumulated much non-virtue for millions and millions of eons, he will be born in the lower realms, not even getting born in a place where one can hear a human voice. I think “even the sounds of the body of the happy transmigratory beings” might have this meaning. Besides not hearing teachings, not hearing even a human voice for that many eons.

It’s very difficult to find a human body. Like in the example of the wooden ring which is floating on the surface of the ocean, that is moved about, and a turtle comes from underneath once after a hundred years—I think the turtle is blind. This ring is taken over the ocean by the wind so it is very difficult for the ring to go on his neck. Like this, it is difficult to find a human body.

Because of just the negative karma accumulated in one second, one has to be in the unbearable heaviest narak suffering state for eons. No question that one will not go to the realms of the happy transmigratory beings. It means that because of just one negative karma created in one second one has to be in the heaviest, unbearable suffering states of the naraks for eons; for example, because of the anger that arises for one second. Even if a new bodhisattva gets angry for one second with a higher bodhisattva, one who has received the prediction, then the experiencing of his merit is postponed and he will be in the naraks for one thousand eons.

Shantideva also said—the straight translation is, “After having found such a body having freedom, if I don’t train in virtue, when I experience suffering in the lower realms I will be always ignorant.” “Always ignorant” might have a different meaning. “Always ignorant” means how, for example—what is the lowest animal? It doesn’t matter, turtles or pigs or chickens—they have much suffering no matter how long they live—a thousand years or a hundred years—always ignorant with no way to be liberated from that while having that body. Not only unable to understand Dharma, they cannot understand even a language, even just general things like that that human beings can learn. I think “in many ways ignorant” might also have that meaning. So, at that time, what can I do? At that time when I don’t like suffering because of that body, ignorant all the time, no opportunity to be free from that body – what can I do? No opportunity to purify even with the recitation of just one mantra. No way to understand Dharma. At that time what I can do? Nothing. The last sentence, “At that time what can I do?” implies there is nothing that one can do.

While we have this perfect human rebirth, whichever great purpose that we wish to accomplish we can accomplish in one day, within one hour, a minute, even one second. Even in a second we can create the cause for happiness beyond this life, up to enlightenment. We should not waste it but make it highly meaningful. Even if we live in the west doing jobs, by remembering before going to bed to get up a little bit earlier in the morning, in the morning we can plan to practice Dharma, to practice lam-rim, to make the perfect human rebirth highly meaningful by practicing for the benefit of all sentient beings. One should plan this at night-time. If you plan to sleep until the time of work, until breakfast time, then get up, have breakfast and go to work, then only that happens—nothing else happens, only that.

Thinking from the heart about death and its uncertainty—that it can happen tomorrow, can happen even tonight—is very useful. Many times during the day we hear about and see lots of dying, in various ways. You hear those machines to stop fire—fire-engines. Every day on television you see people dying in various ways—in car accidents and many different ways. You see it in the newspapers. We should always relate this to ourselves. Using that information, one should make it into lam-rim teachings on impermanence and death. When we see all those sufferings on television, or hear about it or see it by eye, or in the newspaper, we should think about the Kopan course where we meditated on lam-rim, the suffering of samsara, impermanence and death and all those things.

I am talking about impermanence and death at this point. Generally, you can utilize anything in any of the lam-rim practices. When you see others’ sufferings, it becomes a teaching on compassion for others. It emphasizes, it tells you, that you must practice bodhicitta to help others, to free others from suffering, to lead them to enlightenment. It is a teaching telling you that you should hurry up to generate the realization of bodhicitta, hurry up to develop your mind to help others. You can actually relate it to shunyata. It becomes advice to practice lam-rim—any part of the lam-rim: shunyata, bodhicitta, renunciation of samsara, perfect human rebirth and its difficulty, impermanence and death, karma and refuge. One can relate it to any of the teachings, any of the meditations.

However, the point I am talking about is death. So, always, when you hear somebody is dead, when you see or when you hear, you should relate it. Same thing in regard to time—“I might also die this year, this month, even today. At the moment, this time, it is my turn to hear about others dying; but not sure, even today it might be others’ turn to hear that I am dead!” You should think all the time like this. Impermanence should be related to not only death, but related to karma. Otherwise just to be aware of dying doesn’t mean much. When you think of death and relate it to karma, then it makes sense. Then it stops laziness and one gets encouraged to practice Dharma. Think like this all the time, as much as possible.

The Kadampa geshes, those who actually practiced Dharma, their everyday attitude is determined by completely deciding, “I am going to die this year; I am going to die this month; I am going to die even today.” This is their everyday attitude, every day thought, the fundamental thought. You see, the reason why is that actually there is much more happiness, even in each day’s life, if one lives life with this thought of death, “I am going to die today.” So much worry and fear are cut off. It is said by Lama Tsongkhapa in the lam-rim teachings, “If I decide that I am going to die today, if death happens it is excellent, it is the best thing if I die on that day.” Why? Because, you see, by thinking “I am going to die to-day”, the person gets so much preparation done for the happiness of future lives. He is able to practice much Dharma. If death happens he has got so much practice done and much preparation done for future happiness. He doesn’t die with an empty life. He didn’t become a failure. Lama Tsongkhapa didn’t say this last thing, but I am just clarifying, emphasizing. It is best if death happens because he dies having done Dharma practice. Even if he doesn’t die that day it is good because then he can make many preparations for the happiness of future lives. If one can do like this it is the best thing to control, to stop, the distractions.

Having the thought “I am going to die today” stops the distractions to Dharma practice. Otherwise the mind gets distracted so much by sense pleasures. Even if one doesn’t have a job, it can be like this. If one doesn’t have this thought, but the thought, “I am going to live long”, many distractions come. Even though there are no other people distracting one, even if one is alone at the house, so many distractions come from one’s own mind. Then even though there is time to practice Dharma, even if one doesn’t need to be busy, unnecessarily one makes oneself busy. So it is important to practice the way Lama Tsongkhapa explained.


December 6 pm


I mentioned this morning, as Lama Tsongkhapa said in the commentary on the graduated path to enlightenment, the advantage of having a complete determination of dying. In the morning in everyday life, getting up with this determination—instead of rejecting death which is definitely going to happen. Actually it is more definite to happen than not to happen this year. It is more definite to happen this year, this month, this week, to happen even today. So, if you live life with this practice impermanence and death, each day deciding, “I am going to die today,” for your mind you are not a person who is going to stay, who is going to live for a long time at this place, in this city, and within this body. Automatically you make preparation for departure for the next life! When you make the determination that “I am definitely going to die today,” naturally there is the thought to make preparation for the happiness of future lives; there is thought for the preparation for death.

What to think to not have obstacles when death comes—to have success with the meditation at the time of death, whatever the meditation technique? There are five powers to practice explained in the Seven Points of Thought Transformation. This integrates the various practices, the various meditations, to be done in one life. All these are integrated in five. That is good to know if you are wishing to practice, wishing to really make life meaningful. If you want to know some kind of integrated practice, these five are very important: the power of attitude, the power of training, the power of blaming—blaming the selfish attitude. Whatever trouble happens, whatever problems you meet in the life, always use that to blame the selfish attitude. As these various problems came from the selfish attitude put all the blame on the selfish attitude.

Those who do not practice the thought training of the great vehicle, the worldly people, whenever there is a problem they point out or blame the kind sentient beings from whom one receives all happiness and perfections, all the desirable things. They put all the blame on that, the originator of happiness. Practitioners of the thought training of the great vehicles put all the blame, all the problems, whatever confusion happens—by knowing that it came from the selfish attitude—onto the selfish attitude. They give back all the problems to the selfish attitude, put all the blame on the selfish attitude. This is an essential method to stop creating negative karma which harms oneself and harms other sentient beings. A very profound method. In this way so much negative karma gets stopped. When there is a problem, various negative karmas are created—this is one practical, essential method to stop the negative karma.

(end of tape)

Maybe I should mention the power of the attitude. In the morning, as the very first thing when one wakes up from sleep, instead of the thought of coffee, or the thought, “Today I’m going to work: If I don’t go I won’t have happiness” suddenly arising, one should think, “I’m going to die; I’m going to die this year; I’m going to die this month.” Make the determination, “I’m going to die this week—I’m definitely going to die this week; I’m going to die today—I’m definitely going to die today.” When you make the determination like this you automatically don’t see any purpose in working for this life. It’s meaningless. To your mind works for this life are meaningless—it doesn’t make sense. So, automatically, the thought to practice Dharma arises, to prepare for the happiness of future lives up to enlightenment. For a practitioner of lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment, that thought comes automatically. You see, the thing which benefits the future life, which benefits at death time, which benefits one’s happiness beyond this life up to enlightenment, is only Dharma—nothing else. So, automatically, the thought to practice Dharma comes powerfully. You feel the work of this life to be essenceless, meaningless.

The lineage lamas of lam-rim often give this example: a person who won’t be staying—in our case who is going back to the West tomorrow or the day after tomorrow—wouldn’t make much arrangement at the house where he is staying. He wouldn’t see the point of making a huge garden, building a kitchen, swimming pools, making many decorations outside and inside the house—doing much work fixing it for comfort. If it’s definite that you will soon go back to the West, within one or two days, what you would do is only make preparation to go back! Buying things you need there in the West—those broken antiques from the curio shops! What you do is that you only make preparations. You don’t think to live here, and therefore you don’t make preparations to live here.

If you make the determination, or if you have realization of impermanence and death, especially the indefinite time of death, then it is like this example—like you are going to the West within a few days. You don’t do so much in the place where you are staying. If there is something wrong, something that you don’t like, something bothering you, it doesn’t matter, you are going. It’s not so important. Even if the room is very uncomfortable, in bad condition, even if the toilet is bad, it doesn’t matter. “I’m leaving. It doesn’t matter for one or two days!”

If you are able to make a strong determination, “I am going to die today,” if you keep on thinking that the lifespan is very short, for your mind the appearance of this life is very short. Maybe you will live for one hour, maybe a minute, that’s all. So, you see, there is no time to get angry, not time to cling to this life. You don’t see any point in clinging to this life. Same as in the example you don’t see any point. Even when you see other persons working so hard, making much preparation for this life, you see it as kind of funny. If you have realization of impermanence and death, especially the indefinite time of death, when you look at others they seem kind of childish, having nothing else to think about except this life.

Even if they accept, have faith, or understand that there is a future life, they think the happiness of this life is so much more important than the happiness of the next life. So, thinking only of the happiness of this life they put all their effort, spend all their life, just working for the happiness of this life—for food, clothing and reputation. Especially reputation. The most difficult one to give up is reputation, then food and clothing. It might depend upon individuals, but generally the most difficult to give up out of these is the worldly concern for reputation. That is the most important thing to cut off. A person can fast without eating food for many days for reputation; a person can wear ragged clothes and even have a naked body for reputation—“The other people might think that I’m a yogi or I’m this and that ...” People do some peculiar things for reputation. One can live in a cave, in an isolated place, where there is nothing, to have a good reputation.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense for you. For you, people who are seeking only the happiness of this life, putting all their effort and time, their whole life, into only this life are foolish, completely childish. You even feel uncomfortable when you see others not practicing Dharma, not doing any preparation for the happiness of future lives, having nothing else to think about except the happiness of this life which lasts only a few years or months, or even a few days. You even find it uncomfortable to see this—them not knowing what is going to happen after this life, what is in the long run, in future lives. It’s like knowing that somebody is climbing or skiing on a very dangerous mountain, for example. Some fall down, get damaged, get broken legs. It’s very steep on the ice mountains and so you feel kind-of uncomfortable about the danger of them falling down and damaging themselves. Even if you are just watching it is very painful for your mind, even though you yourself are not falling down, are not in danger, but that person is. Like the people in the circus walking on the rope; I heard that sometimes they fall down! I guess that is why there are people down below, maybe to help. Even though you are not walking on the dangerous rope, you yourself are not falling down, when the other person is in danger of falling you feel very uncomfortable. Like that, when others are creating negative karma, having nothing else to think about except this life, no thought for the next life, no thought to make preparation for the happiness of future lives, it is very uncomfortable. All those actions done with worldly concern are negative karma, all non-virtue. So, when you look at others it’s very uncomfortable. They don’t know what is going to happen after death. They only believe in the period from birth until death, just this one life. That’s what they have in their minds. That’s all.

I’m a very lazy practitioner, not a good practitioner—the thought of Dharma comes very rarely in the mind—but when I think a little bit about the next life.... Sometimes the thought comes in airplanes; when I was flying in the West—when the thought of future lives sometimes comes in the mind, when I become a little aware of the future life—I see the business people on the airplane, who have nothing to think about but this life. When they talk, when they think, when they eat, whatever they do, there is nothing else—everything is just for the happiness of this life. That’s all, nothing else to think about while they are talking, drinking, smoking, calculating, dieting!

For themselves it looks kind of comfortable, because they don’t know that there is a life after this. Now it’s okay; they’re well-dressed, they drink and eat well. They themselves feel comfortable. But I kind-of feel a bit uncomfortable: after this life, what’s going to happen to them, what kind of life are they going to have after this? It’s kind-of uncomfortable.

Also, they are very much an object of compassion—they don’t understand Dharma, they are completely ignorant, their mind is completely dark, having no understanding of karma at all. Even if someone has a little bit of faith in karma and reincarnation, he is unable to practice. They finish their life doing only works for this life, unable to practice Dharma. Without choice, compassion has got to arise.

First of all think of death, then make the determination, “I will practice Dharma until I become enlightened, until death.” Generate an attitude like this, even if you cannot make the decision to practice true bodhicitta. Before saying this it is good to think: “Dharma is the only thing which can benefit at the time of death, which can benefit beyond this life up to enlightenment. The greatest benefit for myself and for sentient beings is the dharma.” Then think: “Whatever I do today I’m going to make it become the remedy to the disturbing thoughts.” That itself means, “I’m going to transform all my activities into Dharma.” The definition of Dharma, the meaning of holy Dharma is: if it becomes the remedy to the disturbing thoughts, it is Dharma; if it does not become the remedy to the disturbing thoughts, if it becomes supportive to the disturbing thoughts, it’s not holy Dharma. That’s the definition. Something which develops the disturbing thoughts is not the holy Dharma which we should practice; that is what we should abandon.

If you have some understanding of shunyata, and if you wish all the activity that you do—jobs, everything, the work that you do in one day—to become the remedy to cut the root of samsara, you should think, firstly, that ignorance is the root of samsara. That while the “I” is empty of existing from its own side, ignorance believes that it exists from its own side. Look at the ignorance that you have, now, here, and the object of refutation, the “I,” the object of ignorance, and think: “This is it—the root of samsara which causes me to be born in the narak to suffer; in the preta realm to suffer; in the deva realms to suffer—that is this one. From this moment, in every type of activity I do, I’m going to practice seeing everything as being like a dream. Whatever happens—happiness, entertainment, confusion, any problem, whatever activity I do—I’ll see it like my last night’s dream. I’m going to look at the whole thing as a dream.” While you are experiencing happiness or problems such as starvation, confusion with other people; while the confusion is going on, while the trouble is happening; while hundreds of people may be shouting at you or scolding you, whatever. Make a determination in the morning like this, then during the day, at the actual time, in circumstances where there’s need of the meditation—in circumstances where there is danger of anger or depression arising, danger to create negative karma; when you have entertainment, pleasures and the mind gets confused, clinging so much, again becoming a cause of samsara; especially in those serious dangerous circumstances—meditate without the mind being distracted. While you are receiving all these scoldings, beatings, bothers...

(end of tape)

…as a dream.

However, if this doesn’t make much sense don’t think it. In reality it is like this, but it does not appear to us that way. It appears that the whole thing is existing from its own side without being merely labeled. You see, it appears to us that the whole thing here and now—living beings, non-living beings, everything – exists from its own side only. In fact the whole thing is completely empty, like in that dream of the Kopan course when you go back to the West. Exactly like that, completely empty, empty as is the Kopan meditation course in the dream.

Thinking this might not make much sense to you; you might not get a clear idea of what I’m talking about. So, you see, on this point, if you meditate, “I’m dreaming; all this is a dream,” when there is a problem, even now here, what comes in the mind automatically is the understanding that actually all this appearance—yourself, the subject, and the object, action, everything—which appears to exist from its own side, is empty. When you recognize this precisely that the whole thing is a dream the result that comes to the mind is that it is empty. You recognize all this appearance of existence as a dream. I’m not saying it’s actually a dream, but that if you think, “I am dreaming,” the result that comes is seeing all this as empty. It hurts, it harms, the root of samsara, the ignorance holding the true existence of things.

Think, “I’m going to practice emptiness of true existence.” If that doesn’t make much sense to you, think, “I’m going to look at everything as merely labeled. I’m going to look at everything’—subject, object action, everything—’from this moment on, in whatever activity I do, as merely labeled.” Make this determination. If one practices awareness as much as possible every activity becomes the remedy to cut the root of samsara. As the whole thing—subject, object, action—is in reality merely labeled, when you look at it as merely labeled all the activities that you do—eating, working, sitting, sleeping, all that—cut the root of samsara.

One should make a determination in the morning like this, but one should not be satisfied with just having done the motivation and then not doing the practice—relaxing comfortably and completely forgetting the practice! Not just generating the motive in the morning then not being aware of the practice for the whole day! One should remember it again and again. If one can, and if one has the wish for all activities to become the remedy cutting the root of samsara, one should practice like this. Other people giving you a hard time—scolding and beating, whatever—is not a dream. It is not that yourself, the object, and the others who are giving you a hard time, the subject, are a dream. It is not a dream. If it is a dream it doesn’t exist. If it’s a dream, then there’s no subject, other people; there is no action of giving you, the object, a hard time; there’s no object, you yourself. The dreamed human being is not a human being. The dreamed car is not a car. If the child you get in the dream is a child, you should have it in the daytime. If the beautiful, expensive care that you’ve got in the dream is real, you should be able to go inside it in the daytime. If thinking, “I’m dreaming,” doesn’t make sense, then don’t think it. It’s not a dream, but think, “I’m dreaming’, to yourself when people give you a hard time. “The whole thing is a dream”—meditate like this. If you understand, you don’t need to sit with crossed legs!

You see, we cannot say, “I’m dreaming here, now, during the course,” but actually it’s like that. You see, when you go back home, if you have dreams about doing the course at Kopan, it comes from your hallucinating mind, it doesn’t exist. But you see, in the dream you’re not aware of that; in the dream you see the Kopan course and that Kopan exists completely from its own side, the people there exist from their own side. Then, what do you call it? Lama Zopa exists from its own side; the meditation place exists from its own side, the voice giving the teachings exists from its own side, the voice giving the teachings exists from its own side. In the dream, you see, it appears like that and we believe it completely. There is no Kopan existing on this hill—house, trees, dogs, people, mountains—without labeling “Kopan” on this. Without labeling “Kopan” on this, there’s no Kopan. The Kopan that exists is only what’s merely labeled on the houses, mountains and all these things. Also, without labeling “Lama Zopa,” there’s no Lama Zopa on the aggregates of Lama Zopa that you see. You see, the Lama Zopa that exists on these aggregates is only that which is merely labeled. There is no other Lama Zopa.

It is similar in regard to yourself doing the course, listening to teachings, “I’m doing the course, I’m listening to the teachings.” Without your thoughts labeling this I, there’s no I that exists on the aggregates. So, the I that exists on the aggregates is only that which is merely labeled. The ear consciousness is paying attention to the words of the meditation subjects that are being taught, paying attention to the different sounds; on that is labeled “listening to teachings.” There is nothing other than what is merely labeled “listening to teachings.” In fact the whole thing that we see, that we hear, everything—the sense objects, the subject, the whole thing—is nothing else, or nothing more, than what is merely labeled.

The most important thing is to remember death and the next most important is to think, “I won’t let myself come under the control of selfish attitudes. Without being under the control of a selfish attitude I’m going to practice bodhicitta, from this moment up to enlightenment. Especially from this moment until my death. Especially in this year; especially this month, this week; especially today.” Make it stronger, stronger and stronger in order not to let yourself come under the control of the selfish attitude and to continuously practice bodhicitta. Make the stronger decision especially for today. That’s the power of attitude.

Then, the power of blame. Before talking further, a little about the details of this. It’s good to think about this because of our own power of blaming. It’s good to pacify our attitude by practicing bodhicitta. It’s the attitude which makes one’s life meaningful. This is the way to dedicate one’s life to make it more peaceful; one thinks: “All the undesirable things, all my non-successes came from the selfish attitude.” Think this way: “All this came from me, from following the selfish attitude. All the undesirable things, all the non-successes, came from me. How? By following the selfish attitude Think: “All the desirable things, all successes, all good things—temporal and ultimate happiness, everything—comes from other sentient beings. Every good thing comes from other sentient beings. So, all the three times happiness, past, present and future, everything, comes from other sentient beings. What is for “I” is the object to be renounced forever. What is for others is the object to cherish forever.”

Make a complete determination like this, “What is to be cherished is all others. How I’m going to practice bodhicitta, how my life should be lived is by cherishing nothing but others, the sentient beings. There’s nothing else to cherish but all the other sentient beings. Also, my activities, the work that I have to do, is for nothing else but for others. In my mind I’ll cherish, think of, be concerned with, nothing else, only others. In work that I have to do—nothing else, only others. This is how I’m going to live my life.”

One should make a determination like this in the morning. Otherwise, just to say, “I’m going to practice bodhicitta,” is maybe not so clear. For a person such as me, just saying, “I’m going to practice bodhicitta,” is not so clear. So, to make a determination like this is particularly good. I’m emphasizing that one should not live only on the motivation, the decision of the morning, but that it should be put into practice in the rest of one’s life, the rest of one’s days.

Practicing the power of the white seed is as much as possible accumulating extensive merit by depending on the merit field, the holy objects, and by depending on the field of the sentient beings. Knowing the preliminary teachings, the lam-rim well is the most skillful method. The quick way of accumulating extensive merit is by practicing the merit of transcendental wisdom and the merit of fortune. Merit of transcendental wisdom is meditating on emptiness, such as in the example I mentioned before: looking at all activities as merely labeled, as only a dream. Accumulating merit to generate and develop bodhicitta is called the “power of the white seed.” With the practice of the power of the white seed you should practice the power of attitude—the attitude generated in the morning to do with how one is dedicating one’s life. As one creates the cause of the power of the white seed, the mind has no choice—it’s got to change, got to develop. It doesn’t have freedom, the power, to always be like that, you know.

(end of tape)

..the minerals, the heat, everything. If you plant a seed and the conditions are together, without choice the seed has to grow, it doesn’t always stay like that. Like this, mind is a causative phenomena, it cannot stay the same, it cannot change, to transform. The realizations have to be generated when the conditions are right. When you have skillfully perfected the cause, the mind has no power to remain in the same nature; it’s got to change. One Kadampa Geshe To.ro.wa, said—the advice of his experience is very inspiring—“While one is training the mind in the actual body of the path, the lam-rim, and also during the break times, if one strongly attempts to accumulate the necessary conditions”—accumulating merit and purifying obstacles—“because causative phenomena cannot always remain in the same nature, it is possible to achieve realizations within seven years.”

What he is saying is that that which we think might take a hundred years, or is not possible even in a hundred years because of thinking, “My mind is so selfish, how can it be transformed into exchanging myself with others, into bodhicitta? I cannot understand even the meaning of the word ‘shunyata,’ so how can I realize it?” is possible. He is saying if one attempts to train the mind in the body of the path—in the break times, as much as possible; day and night, while one is eating, while one is walking, at every single possibility that one can think of; while one is speaking, any time—and to accumulate the necessary conditions, accumulate merit and purify the obstacles to generating the path, the realizations come. Without taking even a hundred years, the realizations come quickly. This is the experience of the Kadampa geshes and the lineage lamas of the lam-rim. If we try like this for one day, two days, three days, four days—with nothing else to think about except sentient beings; nothing else to keep busy about except to be busy for sentient beings; nothing else to work for except for sentient beings—as much as possible day and night, then sooner or later it happens. If we practice as the Kadampa Geshe To.ro.wa said, then without effort it happens naturally that one is able to generate bodhicitta. Every single action, even breathing in and out, every single movement, becomes work beneficial for sentient beings.


December 5


In regard to time, taking ordination in such extremely degenerate times as these has much more merit than keeping many precepts in the previous, fortunate times. Keeping even one precept in these extremely degenerate times has greater merit.

Then, regarding place: in an impure realm such as this, the merit of accumulating virtue, such as by keeping one vow for even the shortest time like a snap of the fingers, is so much greater than practicing pure virtue for eons in the pure realms. This place where we have been born, where we have taken the precepts, is much more degenerate, is much more impure. So, by taking the eight Mahayana precepts and keeping them for even such a short time as the duration of a finger snap has infinite, immeasurable merit. If that merit were materialized it would be kind of difficult to fit even in the three realms. This second point was the benefit of keeping them in an extremely impure place.

The third is the incredible benefit in regard to the nature of the precepts. One doesn’t get harmed by spirits. Without talking about the story that is mentioned in this text, here is just one simple example: here the boys at night go to a river down there. Before, for some months there was a Nepalese man who was watering the gardens here. He and his children went there to sleep in order to look after that house where there is the pump. When they were sleeping there it was not quiet; there was lots of noise at night, a lot of talk outside. In the middle of the night there were sounds of stones being thrown into the water and of people coming to wash, and the sound of the Nepalese way of cleaning clothes. They were all frightening noises, very scary, disturbing the quite. I think they slept there for three months. Now there are two boys who go to guard the pump at night. I think they go alternately, one night one boy, the other night another boy. One boy is called Namgyal, the other boy is Thubten Dorje. When they go they don’t hear anything—no talk, no throwing of stones, nothing—completely peaceful. There are no frightening things. The difference is their having refuge in their minds and living in the precepts. The other person was not living in the precepts. Those two boys are gelongs, having full monk’s precepts and also having refuge in their minds. Their having refuge in their minds, and the precepts themselves, are protection from spirit harms. There are uncountable stories of how spirits are unable to give harm to one who is living purely in the precepts.

One way that the precepts are the best protection for the life is because keeping the precepts is itself abstaining from creating that number of negative karmas. Creating negative karma with the disturbing thoughts, with one of the three poisonous minds, also harms other sentient beings. The nagas and different types of spirits such as “day-stars,” the different types of planets, at times cause harm such as epilepsy or paralysis. Such beings as the spirit kings. There are different types and they find ways to bring harm. The negative karma allows one to receive harm. Receiving harm from others is also the result of negative karma. Such as the harm from a spirit king—falling unconscious with saliva bubbling from the mouth.

Some people get sick on certain days; for example, when Sunday or Monday comes, they get sick. When the person is doing something he suddenly falls down unconscious. Nagas and different types of spirits find ways to give harm, such as internal infections, leprosy disease, contagious and other types of infections, pains in the bones—many things. Also there are female spirits called “mamo”—I heard this story—who send poisonous breath and then the person who has the karma receives it. The poisonous breath goes inside and pollutes them, and cancer or T.B. or something comes. But the person living in the precepts from his side hasn’t created the karma, the cause, so even if others are harmed, he doesn’t receive harm. Also, as it is said in the sutra teaching “having Pure Moral Conduct,” even the most dangerous poisonous snake, called the Great Black Naga, cannot harm a person who is living in the precepts. Even if it is there it is unable to give harm.

The person who is living in the precepts will meet the descending buddha. Living in the precepts is the best, most beautiful ornament. When one looks at the Tibetan or the Theravadin monks and nuns who are living in the precepts, among a bunch of many other people, even who have a religion, they are kind-of different. In a gathering you can see the differences from Hindus. You can see many differences even in outside magnificence or power. Even on the outside the power, magnificence, the glory, is different. That is the power of the precepts—the best ornament. Material ornaments aren’t suitable for some people such as small children. Moral conduct, the precepts, are like cooling water when one is feeling hot and having much suffering of heat—when tortured by many disturbing thoughts, by strong flames of anger as well as other disturbing thoughts, torturing, burning oneself. Even physically the precepts are like cooling water.

One who is living in the precepts is admired by all other worldly beings; devas and other worldly beings admire and respect such a person. Even though one does not except a good reputation, by living in the precepts one receives that happiness. If one lives in the precepts, wherever one goes, wherever one stays, there are always white devas who guard one. The white devas, such as the protectors, protect one all the time without being distracted. Wherever one travels, without choice they have got to protect—their commitment is to protect those who practice Dharma by correctly living in the precepts.

Living in the pure precepts is the best ornament, the best perfume. The scented smell of living in pure moral conduct reaches very far; it covers many countries. Even though no perfume has been put on by the person, there is a naturally very scented smell from him. I have met many like this, even very small boys, reincarnated lamas—nothing was applied but there was a natural scented smell.

Also the place where one is in this life is happy because there is no confusion. The more one is living in pure morality, the less confusion. If one is always creating the cause for enlightenment, always making preparation for the happiness of future lives, one has much trust, confidence. Even when death comes there is trust and confidence that one won’t be born in the lower realms. There is trust and confidence, so that makes the mind very happy, without fear.

To take these eight Mahayana precepts which have incredible benefits, one should have the motive of bodhicitta. Even the Hindus generally see this samsaric pleasure as being in the nature of suffering. Generally people have aversion to old age, sickness and things like that. When difficulties come they have aversion for the suffering of suffering, but they cannot see how the samsaric pleasures are in the nature of suffering. It is difficult to see. So, aversion to samsaric happiness and perfections does not come; renunciation does not come.

Still, even if one has renunciation of the samsaric pleasures, that is not complete renunciation of samsara. Even Hindus, who don’t have refuge in the Triple Gem, practice shamatha, tranquil abiding, the nine stages of meditation. This meditation of the nine stages, tranquil abiding, is not particularly Buddhist—it is also Hindu, it is a general thing. Even the Hindus get bored by and get aversion to the sense pleasures. They get renunciation and they seek inner pleasure derived from meditation, such as the first stage of stable concentration and then from there....

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Even they get bored……..they get renunciation of even the inner pleasure. They get born in the formless realm called “Infinite Consciousness.” Probably it is like thinking that everything is made of consciousness. “Infinite Sky,” “Infinite Consciousness”—it might be similar—everything is kind of empty, everything looks like the nature of space. Maybe nothingness, nothing exists. It is the very peak of samsara. At that time they don’t have visible disturbing thoughts—anger and dissatisfied mind—arising; for a while they don’t have the suffering of suffering; they don’t have a lot of problems. Because they have not realized shunyata the root of samsara is not eliminated, so there are still disturbing thoughts and karma. The disturbing thoughts are latent; they are stopped from visibly arising for a while. When they have finished their karma there, they again have to be born in the lower realms. That is a lack of renunciation of the whole of samsara—not having renunciation of the samsara of the form and formless realms.

They have renunciation of the samsaric pleasures but they don’t have renunciation of the third suffering, pervasive suffering. That can be translated another way—I think translations have a meaning—as either pervasive compounding suffering, or pervasive suffering of karmic formation. Because of not having much realization of shunyata they lack renunciation of this third, the main, fundamental suffering and because of that they do not enter the path of liberation, even though they have reached the formless realm and don’t have visible disturbing thoughts arising, don’t have suffering of suffering. They have pervasive compounding suffering.

First try to understand this, then it makes it clear: ignorance is that while the “I” is empty of existing from its own side, one is holding that the “I’ is existing from its own side. Because of this ignorance, these disturbing thoughts arise—attachment, ignorance of karma, anger. Particularly ignorance of karma; thus they accumulate non-virtue.

Now, just talking about our present human body: out of attachment, the desire to have this perfect human body, we accumulated good karma and planted the seed on the consciousness. Then, during the life before this, at the time of death, the craving and grasping of wishing to receive a human body was the strongest. Like when we go to a shop; first of all we wish to buy, afterwards there arises the very strong determination, then the actual decision to buy is made. So there is strong determination, grasping, to receive a human body. There might also be other ways to explain the difference between craving and grasping. However, at the time of death in the previous life, out of the twelve links related to this present human body, the link of craving and grasping, which comes from ignorance, arose. The karma to be born as a human being was created and craving and grasping met the seed which was planted on the consciousness before by the compounding karma. “Compounding” means creating the seed of samsara. What compounding action or karma does is compound the seed of samsara, the next life’s deluded aggregates which are caused by that karma and the disturbing thoughts. The craving and grasping arose and met the seed when we were near to death, near to the time of the breath stopping. That made the seed that was planted before by ignorance and karma ready to be experienced.

That karma to be born as a human being was the strongest karma among all other virtuous and non-virtuous karma. That karma was the most powerful, closest, most familiar or was accumulated first, before other karmas. Then consciousness took place on the fertilized egg in our mother’s womb. Then name and form arose. Name is the mental factors; form is the physical part. Then the six sense bases; then contact; then feelings were actualized in the mother’s womb. When the consciousness took place on the fertilized egg, rebirth happened. Now what is left of the seven results that have to be experienced in this life, is death.

You can see from this how these aggregates, body and mind, are created. The mind came from the past life and joined to this body, beginning with the fertilized egg, due to ignorance. The very root is ignorance. The disturbing thoughts, craving and grasping, arose at death-time and caused the seed on the consciousness planted by karma to become strong, ready to give birth, which is called “becoming.” So that is how these aggregates are under the control of karma and disturbing thoughts. That is how karma and disturbing thoughts have bound one to samsara.

So, it is not only that these aggregates are caused by karma and disturbing thoughts, but they are the contaminated seed of disturbing thoughts. Therefore, even if we want to practice virtue, even if we want to meditate for two hours, even if we want to do many prostrations, it is difficult to use the body to practice virtue. It gets exhausted soon and many other obstacles happen physically. Pain and many obstacles arise so one is unable to persuade it to practice virtue. The same thing with the mind; we can’t keep it continuously in virtue. It does not stay one-pointed—even thought we wish to concentrate, we cannot. We cannot keep the mind in the nature of patience or in the nature of compassion continuously. We can’t keep the thought of loving kindness continuously. It is difficult to transform the mind—that is because of having the seed of disturbing thoughts. Because the seed of the disturbing thoughts has contaminated the aggregates, even if we don’t have any anger now, anger suddenly arises on meeting an undesirable object; and by meeting desirable objects suddenly attachment arises; ignorance arises suddenly on meeting an indifferent object. Like this we create karma.

With these aggregates, when there is a suffering feeling—hunger, thirst, feeling hot and cold, the suffering of suffering—or even a pleasant feeling, even that is in the nature of suffering. With these aggregates, not only suffering feelings or pleasant feelings, but even indifferent feelings, are suffering because these aggregates are contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts.

As long as we don’t stop the continuation we will circle because of the previous deluded aggregates caused by karma and disturbing thoughts—which created the karma of this, today’s, present samsara. The past life’s aggregates joined with this present life’s aggregates. With this present life, this samsara—these deluded aggregates caused by karma and disturbing thoughts—we again create karma each day. Because we create karma with ignorance and disturbing thoughts, these aggregates again circle to the next life. These then circle to the next life and the next—like this, without end. As long as we don’t eliminate the disturbing thoughts and karma there is a continuous cycle: aggregates from this life join to the next life, next life’s join to the next life and so on, without end. Like this one continuously suffers in samsara. The base on which we label “I,” especially the consciousness, joins from this life to the next life, and that joins to the next life and from that life to another life. I’m not talking so much about this physical body circling—this cannot circle, cannot join.

Until we stop the continual circling in samsara by eliminating the disturbing thoughts and karma we will suffer continuously, wherever we are born, in whichever realm. Whichever aggregates we take—devas’ aggregates, human beings’ aggregates, lower beings’ aggregates—they are deluded aggregates caused by karma and disturbing thoughts, and are always suffering. Feeling is one of these, so all feelings are in the nature of suffering.

Because of this samsara—the deluded aggregates caused by karma and disturbing thoughts—the suffering of change arises, and the suffering feeling—the suffering of suffering. Without these aggregates, this samsara, there is no way to experience the suffering of change and the suffering of suffering. So that’s why these aggregates, this samsara, are called “pervasive”—because they become the foundation of the two other sufferings. “Pervasive compounding” suffering: “compounding” because with this we again create karma for the next life’s samsara and aggregates. It is called “pervasive suffering of formation” because this present samsara is formed by past life’s karma and disturbing thoughts. So, this is pervasive suffering of formation—this is the fundamental suffering of samsara. This is the main suffering that we should keep in mind, the fundamental suffering that we should be liberated from.

As oneself is suffering like this continuously, so other sentient beings are suffering. There is not even one minute, one second, that one does not suffer because of having this samsara, these aggregates. There is no break, not for one hour or one minute. Like this, from beginningless rebirths until now, there has not been one single break from samsaric suffering. One has to continuously experience suffering. Like this, all the kind sentient beings equaling the sky, from whom one has received all the happiness and perfections in the past, present and future, who are extremely kind all the time, are suffering in samsara without a break for even a minute or a second.

“As I have the opportunity, it is my responsibility to free them from all the suffering and cause of suffering, and lead them to enlightenment. Therefore I must achieve enlightenment. Without creating the cause I cannot achieve it, therefore I am going to practice virtue; I am going to take the Mahayana precepts.” It became quite long! It you have difficulty you can go for pee-pee; otherwise we can start!

December 5 am



Please make the request for the three great purposes to the Great Compassionate One:


Request to be able to pacify the particular obstacles—ignorance of heresy, the obstacles to having a stable understanding of karma, and the selfish attitude—the obstacle to generating bodhicitta.


Particularly the stable understanding of karma and bodhicitta.


Nectar rays flow from Guru Chenrezig and purify all the wrong conceptions—yours and all the sentient beings. Then a replica of Chenrezig, the Great Compassionate One, is absorbed to one’s own heart, generating all the realizations of the path to enlightenment; especially the stable understanding of karma and bodhicitta: the two types of bodhicitta—the wisdom realizing shunyata and the altruistic mind of enlightenment—the very essential wisdom and method.


(end of tape)


The Great Compassionate One melts into light and is absorbed to one’s own heart. One’s mind becomes completely in the nature of great compassion, feeling as so unbearable other sentient beings’ suffering and their being obscured, and wishing to liberate them immediately, by oneself. Also the Great Compassionate Ones that are visualized above the crowns of each sentient being melt into light and are absorbed into their hearts and they are combined into complete oneness with great compassion, the holy mind of Chenrezig.


Please generate at least the effortful bodhicitta, thinking, “It is not sufficient that the teaching being listened to is a Mahayana teaching; the motivation should be bodhicitta for the action of listening to become the cause of enlightenment.”

This morning I thought to go straight into karma, to try to finish it! If there is time we can do the five powers for integrating the practice into the life and the thought training practices this afternoon.

Yesterday I meant to mention the five powers at the time of death—just to give the titles. But without choice, my talk got longer! Also the five powers for integrating all of the practice into five points.

As I mentioned another time, if you are going to America from here, without watching the road for precipices and thorns, without being careful, just thinking, “I’m going to America,” you may not make it to America! Similarly, the first thing to watch in Dharma practice is karma. If we are not careful in this, even if we wish to achieve enlightenment, to generate the realization of the generation and accomplishment stages of tantra, it will not be possible. There have been unskillful practitioners who, even though they did retreat on deities, were born in the narak. When Lama Atisha was going to Tibet, I think as he was going over a bridge, he suddenly turned back and told his servant who was accompanying him, “Even a meditator on the deity Hevajra was now born in the narak.” Also one meditator on Vajrabhairava was born as a very terrifying and mischievous preta—hungry ghost—having so many hands and heads, and came to Tibet from India. Lama Atisha said that if it is allowed to stay it will give a lot of harm, so he gave a gift to the spirit and ordered it to return back to India. The spirit returned back.

You see, their being born as a spirit or even in the naraks was because of trying to practice tantra but not being careful of karma and not controlling anger. What the mind wants is to be suddenly very highly realized by practicing tantra meditations without the need to follow the steps, the fundamental lam-rim realizations, the essential Dharma, which is karma. Somewhere in Pem.bo, in Tibet, there were three meditators who did many years of deity retreat. I think one of them died and was born as a very powerful preta because he had been visualizing a powerful wrathful-aspect deity. There is a practice of making charity to the pretas, who live on the small of food—such as by burning food like tsampa flour in a fire with maybe some special ingredients, and reciting prayers. His friends, who hadn’t died, were doing this practice every day in the evenings. He came in the evenings to eat the smell of the offerings. There are so many stories.

A person may be careless, thinking, “I only like shunyata; I’m going to meditate on shunyata,” without knowing how to practice, not knowing how important the practice of karma is. Not knowing the details of, for example, the ten non-virtuous actions, not knowing this classification which is to make it easy for ordinary people to practice. The heavy negative karmas have been roughly classified into ten to make it easy for people to practice karma by pointing out what one should and should not do. Without knowing these one cannot protect karma. The person wants to meditate on shunyata, but never tries to protect karma by controlling the dissatisfied mind and anger, ignorance, jealousy and pride—all those things. He does not try to stop creating negative karma in relation to sentient beings as an object, or in relation to the merit field, the Triple Gem. His not protecting karma is itself an interference to realizing shunyata, bodhicitta, renunciation, and the graduated path to enlightenment, as well as the tantra path.

That’s why there are so many vows of different levels. It is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s psychology for sentient beings to practice according to their capability. He made five refuge precepts of which one can take any number; the eight precepts; the two hundred and fifty; the three hundred and sixty-five; and the eight Mahayana precepts for one day, which are very easy to keep and have incredible benefits. This was Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s skillful method to guide the sentient beings. So, that’s how Guru Shakyamuni Buddha guides them from happiness to happiness, by showing them how to protect karma—from this life to better next life, from there to a better following life, up to enlightenment. Firstly, to create temporal happiness, then ultimate happiness. That’s why there are bodhisattva vows and tantra vows. All this is to achieve enlightenment. The bodhisattva vows are to accomplish extensive works for other sentient beings. Why? Because by taking and living in the bodhisattva vows all the obstacles which disturb the achievement of enlightenment are stopped. By living in the tantra vows, all the obstacles which prevent the achievement of enlightenment in this life—or within sixteen, or three, lifetimes—are stopped. Enlightenment can be achieved in this brief lifetime, which is sixty or seventy years long, in these degenerate times. The purpose of living in vows such as tantric vows is that it is a method to prevent the obstacles to the achievement of enlightenment quickly.

When you receive vows—bodhisattva vows or tantra vows—you can see why that? Why this? When you check each vow. If you check like this you can see that the root vows are to not do actions which are the heaviest obstacles. Otherwise, no matter how much meditation we do, even if we spend eons and eons, there is no attainment. We don’t stop these obstacles, so there is no attainment, no success, no progress.

Negative karmas are an obstacles to our happiness. That’s why if one can transform these three non-virtuous actions of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct and the four of speech—telling lies, speaking harshly, slandering and gossiping—into virtue, they should be transformed. If not, one should abstain from them. One should try to protect oneself in this way. Therefore, in order to protect karma, one should understand how they become non-virtue. Like, for example, the details in regard to sexual misconduct, which I mentioned before and which are explained in the teachings—such as the object not to be entered, the “limbs” not to be entered, the places and times when it should not be done.

There are many details such as not having sexual contact with one’s own parents, or even bodyguards or guardians—if they are police! If one has sexual intercourse with the wife’s or husband’s parents it becomes sexual misconduct. For example, the wife having sexual intercourse with the husband’s father, or the husband having intercourse with the wife’s father or mother—both! Woman-to-woman is not specifically mentioned here, but man-to-man is mentioned, it comes later. I think it would be the same thing for woman-to-woman. One time when we were in Spain, I think the second time, with His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, Rinpoche gave the refuge precepts. There were a lot of people. I don’t remember that anybody gave an explanation, and right after Rinpoche finished we came out of the dome they had built. It was very nicely made! It looked a little bit like something on the moon! One girl came outside and she mentioned this. In Tibet it was not something one hears about. I couldn’t ask Rinpoche when were getting in the car, so I thought to ask Rinpoche later. I don’t remember exactly if I asked Rinpoche or not! However, here is the teaching there are many points like this.

The whole thing is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s method, or psychology. Many of these things mentioned here, such as having physical contact with a wife belonging to somebody else, create a lot of confusion. It is not only that the action becomes negative karma because it is done with attachment and disturbing thoughts, but it brings a lot of confusion and creates disharmony between the husband and wife, jealousy and anger between oneself and that couple. It can even become a basis for killing each other. Also, from that come many negative karma such as telling lies. From this one thing many other negative karmas come—anger, jealousy, lying, harsh speech, slandering, ill-will and physical harm, covetousness—wishing that one could have him or her for oneself. Then, if one can’t accomplish what one wants, one kills oneself. The final solution is that! One can’t control them, so one kills oneself. That’s what happens—one becomes completely crazy and wild and destroys one’s life. You can see from this example that unbelievable problems come. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is so skillful at guiding sentient beings to stop them from creating negative karmas and so much confusion. Many of these points are those actions from which confusion comes—they make life very complicated, with many problems. To lessen the confusion those details are mentioned in the teachings. This is just talking about confusion and problems in this life, without talking about the suffering result of negative karma experienced in the following lives.

So many of the unbelievable problems in the West would be stopped if everybody practiced the ten virtues, even if just sexual misconduct were abstained from. So much of the violence and the need to go to court and pay a lot of money for lawyers! The dissatisfied mind makes life very expensive! If makes a lot of unnecessary expenses—even if you don’t have money, you’ve got to make money because you are in debt. That causes you to keep more busy and be more worried—if there’s not enough time to work in the day, you have to work at night also! You have to make money because you owe a lot because you needed to spend so much!

The ‘limbs’ not to be entered were explained by Lama Atisha as these: the mouth, the anus, the front and rear holes of the legs of a boy or girl and one’s own hand—masturbation. If these limbs are entered it becomes sexual misconduct. Then, there are places where if one has sexual intercourse with one’s own wife it becomes sexual misconduct. That is where there is....

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………Like that place where there is a stupa down there—a place near a stupa such as Swayambhu or Bodhgaya where there are precious stupas. It doesn’t mean just on the stupa! Disrespect at these holy places, where the guru is, or where there is a stupa, is negative because of the power of the object making the karma much heavier. The karma is heavier, that’s why Buddha gave this method: so sentient beings create less heavy negative karma. Then, also, where many people can see! Doing it in front of many people would cause social confusion, that’s why! I’m not quite sure about this—it doesn’t come clear in my mind, I don’t remember from when I was listening to the teaching: also on kind of hills, uncomfortable, pointed hills! There’s another one I’m not quite sure of: certain places which harm the country! If one has sexual intercourse even with a person that one owns, or is married to, it becomes sexual misconduct at these places. The purpose is not clear in my mind.

One pandit, an Indian, was very learned in the Hindu religion. I don’t remember what caused him to change, but later he became an “inner being,” and took refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. I don’t remember the story, but later on he become a learned Buddhist pandit and wrote a scripture in admiration of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha called “Exalting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.” This text is very interesting. Before, he was a great follower of the Madyara. He wrote about the differences between the propounders of Madyara and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha—that Guru Shakyamuni has no stains of attachment or so many other things which those others had. This text of admiration is very beneficial for the mind. It makes one see Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s qualities clearly and it causes faith to arise without choice. He also said, “One shouldn’t have sexual intercourse near Dharma scriptures, stupas, statues of Buddha, near bodhisattvas, abbots, virtuous friends and parents.” If one has sexual intercourse in front of an altar it is sexual misconduct.

There are certain times when sexual intercourse becomes misconduct. When the woman is having a period or is pregnant. Also, it is said, right after the child is born—here it says, “Milk coming and having a child.” It doesn’t specify, but it might be that sexual intercourse right after the child comes out becomes misconduct. Then, Lama Tsongkhapa says those times when the husband or wife is living in the eight precepts. Then, one shouldn’t have sex when there is disease. Probably that might cause a problem for health—it doesn’t specify, but maybe that, and also because it can spread the disease to each other. Then, also, more than five times! I cannot say one hundred percent. But I think it might be the action of intercourse itself more than five times in one day. Probably it might be on the first occasion but I couldn’t say for sure. Also this great pandit says, “When the person doesn’t not have the wish or their mind is not happy because that makes them more unhappy.” Lama Atisha’s explanations are also similar to this pandit’s. One extra thing that Lama Atisha mentions is that having sex in the day time is sexual misconduct, but I think Lama Atisha is more strict—others didn’t mention about the day time. Even having sexual contact with one’s own wife’s other limbs becomes sexual misconduct. It’s the same thing with other people.

Regarding the thought, the recognition has to be unmistaken. If it is mistaken, if it’s not the person one thought it was, whom one planned, the recognition is missing so the action is not complete! For those who are living in celibacy there is no question of recognition or non-recognition! In the Abhidharmakosha commentary there are two explanations: it says that if another person’s husband or wife is recognized wrongly as “my husband” or “my wife,” it does not become the path of sexual misconduct. What it is saying is if the object is not correctly recognized. Then, recognizing another’s wife as somebody else is again mistaken recognition. Actually it’s another’s wife, but due to not having seen clearly the recognition is that it’s somebody else—I think it might mean somebody who doesn’t have a husband! There are two ways for this happen explained, that it does and does not become misconduct. However, as was mentioned above, I think it means mistakenly thinking it is somebody who doesn’t have an “owner.”

The disturbing thoughts are one of the three poisonous minds. The motivation is wishing to have sexual intercourse. The action is the two persons’ sexual organs meeting. Completion is when one experiences sexual pleasure.

Also one example regarding stealing, I remember, is this: if I bought fruit from the market and paid five paise for it and I tell a person, “Oh, I paid ten rupees,” of course there is no question that it is telling a lie! But I think if I do actually get ten rupees it might become stealing, because the way I got ten rupees is kind-of by cunning. If I say, “I paid five paise but I want ten rupees,” it is up to whether the person wants to pay or not! That’s straight!

If one borrowed money from another person many years ago and he doesn’t ask for it, but he has not given it up, and one makes the decision: “I’m not going to return it back,” then stealing is completed. But if before one thinks this the other person gives it up, even if one thought to not return it back, I think it does not become the complete action of stealing. Lama Tsongkhapa says, “By cunning, and also other cunning.” It could be by means such as loans, when people give their possessions into your care, and you don’t return those because of cunning. Other cunning ways could be as in the example of saying you paid ten rupees for the goods—when one thinks, “I’ve got it,” and, “I will not give it away,” the action of stealing is completed. I think I will stop here.


December 5 pm

Please listen to the teachings, generating again the motivation of bodhicitta, thinking, “At any rate I must achieve enlightenment…”

I mentioned before a little about the power of blaming, but I want to emphasize a bit more the various ways to think about the selfish attitude, in order for you to get some basic idea. Then, on this basis you can amplify, thinking of more details. You see, the essence is this: relating what is appearing and which we now believe to be the real “I”—if it is expressed in words the “I” appears to be, and we believe that it is, existing from its own side. We believe that is the real “I.” While the “I” is empty of existing from its own side, our connotation is that the “I” is existing from its own side, and we cling to that. This is the ignorance holding true existence—that there is an “I” existing absolutely, one hundred percent from its own side. In fact, in reality, it is merely labeled, but being ignorant of that, we see that which is merely labeled as existing from its own side, and believe that this is one hundred percent true or real. Because of this, the selfish attitude cherishes this “I.” That’s the evolution. You can see from this that the “I” which the selfish attitude cherishes is something which doesn’t exist.

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This ignorance holds that this “I” which appears to exist is one hundred percent true. Then the selfish attitude holding that it’s the most important, the most precious, arises. In fact it is completely non-existent. Actually, if we watch, if we are able to recognize the object of refutation, the “I” that we are cherishing right now as the most important, more important than anything or any living being, is completely a dream because it doesn’t exist. Believing in it is completely childish. I think as a child I played in the sand with other children. We used to stretch out our feet and put sand around them and then take them out so there remained a kind-of house! I don’t remember if this house collapsed and whether I cried!

It is said in the teachings, maybe the Bodhicaryavatara, “Worldly people completely cling to the “I” which is empty of existing from its own side, believing that it exists from its own side.” Then comes much worry and fear that something is going to happen to the unlabeled “I” existing from its own side. There arises much expectation, doubt, much worry and fear about the “I.” It is just like children crying when their house made of sand collapses. In the teachings that is used as an example. It is kind-of childish, sort-of crazy, or nonsensical. When people talk about things which do not exist in reality, other people regard them as crazy, as having lost their mind!

Those who have realized shunyata see the unity of emptiness and dependent arising in regard to this “I.” They see the “I” as illusory as well as existing. When buddhas, who see things as illusory, look at us, they see us as completely crazy, completely hallucinating, childish. Before one realizes that the “I” is a dependent arising, at the time one realizes that the “I” to be refuted—the truly existent “I”—is non-existent, one gets shocked, “For so long, until now, what I have been believing doesn’t exist at all. Even the slightest atom of what I have been believing about how I am doesn’t exist.” I think one gets a great surprises, a great shock, at that time.

Before that one has no idea at all that the “I” is like that; that this which one believes is actually doesn’t exist. Even if one says the words “non-truly existent,” “empty of existing by itself,” one is thinking something else; the two are never related. One does not even suspect what “truly existent” means. There is not even the suspicion that the “I” that one believes is now might be what it is called “truly existent.” One believes that of course the truly existent “I” is not there, however, the appearance of it is still there. The appearance of true existence exists—something that one doesn’t have! Even though one speaks the words, but to oneself it seems like one is not talking about one’s own wrong conception, the simultaneously-born ignorance holding true existence. In one’s own mind one feels that the truly existent object is not something that one is believing in now, but that it is something else. However, I don’t what to speak on this point—I think I have wandered!

The selfish attitude cherishes a truly existent “I” which ignorance believe to be absolutely true. It believes that this “I” is the most precious, more important than anybody. Because of this selfish attitude other disturbing thoughts arise and we create negative karma. That is like the stem, and the result is the fruit, a suffering rebirth in the narak realm; a suffering rebirth in the human realm; or suffering in the sura and asura realms. As a human being, at present relating to this realm, there are hundreds and hundreds of problems. So, you see how the selfish attitude tortures oneself like this at present in the human realm and at other times in each realm. It is that which brings disharmony to relationships; it is so clear how that comes from the selfish attitude.

The whole problem is the selfish attitude. What the selfish attitude does is it cherishes oneself and renounces other sentient beings, and that is how all the problems come. Because of it whenever one’s parents, or virtuous friend, or friend, or one’s own companion—wife or husband—do something like say even one or two words such as, “You are so selfish,” “You are not nice,” or, “You are ugly!” There is an incredible disturbance in one’s mind. Even if a person whom one met before passes with his nose on the sky—nose in the air!- with a kind-of unpleasant face, or an undesirable way of walking—his steps a little heavier – or walks by without talking, without saying hello, there is a great disturbance—incredible, unbelievable pain!

Whenever some undesirable thing happens, it hurts you; you feel incredible pain in the heart. It is very obvious how this comes from the selfish attitude. The selfish attitude clings; it thinks this “I” is most precious. “What I want, my happiness,” is the most important. What one wants and what one doesn’t want are so important to this “I.” The pain comes when something undesirable disturbs the happiness of the “I,” when there is some disturbance to what the selfish attitude is expecting for the “I.” The small, so tiny, nothing, it brings greater pain. What the selfish attitude wants for the “I” is peace and quiet. Anger comes while one is sitting on the meditation cushion. One is supposed to control anger at least while one is sitting on the meditation cushion! Or, even if a dog barks anger arises although he on patience, anger can suddenly come when there is even s small distraction!

The mind becomes unhappy so easily. Even if it is a small thing great anger comes. Even because of a flea moving around under your legs and biting, in your warm sleeping bag! He is not even biting, just moving around, and incredible anger comes! He is so tiny! Not even the size of apple, not even the size of your finger, but your anger is as great as the mountains or like a house on fire! Or, if you help some person such as by giving one rupee to a beggar and he does not say think you—keeps a serious face, doesn’t smile—again there arises great pain in the heart! I think the more one cherishes oneself, the more one expects happiness for the “I,” the greater the pain.

From this it is obvious how much self-cherishing disturbs oneself, and how great pain comes when an undesirable thing happens. It depends on how strong the selfish attitude is. Just the pain coming into your heart itself is a shortcoming of the selfish attitude. Then, you see, anger comes from that. The stronger one cherishes the “I,” the stronger and longer in duration is the anger. When it arises, it doesn’t stop immediately, but lasts longer. The dissatisfied mind is greater and lasts a longer time; also the jealous mind is greater; also pride is stronger.

So now you understand that all the disharmony, all the fighting, all the quarrels—beating each other, all these things that we have suffered so far in this life—come from the selfish attitude. One is obliged to experience all these problems by the selfish attitude. One is obliged to experience all these problems by the selfish attitude. We should think of the shortcoming of by the selfish attitude. We should think of the shortcomings of the selfish attitude like this. Also we should think that if we really want mental peace, really want happiness in everyday life, the best solution is to be aware of the shortcomings of the selfish attitude and keep away from this inner enemy, not be friendly with it. Separate yourself from the selfish attitude instead of living your life in oneness with the selfish attitude like you keep away from a bad person who always cheats you, who always gives you problems. Also you should think, all unhappiness and distractions come from the selfish attitude. It’s so clear.

(end of tape)

Instead of all the time giving freedom to the selfish attitude, allowing yourself to be under its control, the selfish attitude should be under your control. Give yourself liberation, freedom. If you really want peace in your everyday life, that’s the most essential method. If you want to accomplish all desired things, all your wishes, to have harmonious relationships, this is the only way. You should think like this to control the selfish attitude.

So many times the dissatisfied mind has arisen from the selfish attitude. Not only the problems of dissatisfaction with the present wife or husband with whom one is living, but the selfish attitude wants somebody else; “I might be happier if I live with this other person.” Then the selfish attitude causes so much expense preparing to be with the other person, and much fear and worry because of being unable to leave one’s wife or husband. Then one day he or she finds out, and then there is hell! One receives a scolding or is beaten. There is even the danger of being killed! Again, much fear and worry for the wife and husband that their possessions will be taken away, not leaving anything for themselves! Also, much confusion is created for the other couple. The other wife or husband gets angry at oneself and at one’s wife or husband, and they get angry at the person one wants to go to. You see, besides one’s own disturbing thoughts arising, one’s selfish attitude obliges many other people to create the negative karma of the ten non-virtuous actions through anger, jealousy and other disturbing thoughts. Even after one leaves or kicks out one’s present companion and lives with the other person, after a few days or months again the selfish attitude is not happy, and things, “I might be more happy if I stay with this other person.” What the selfish attitude does again is what it did before, and the same set of problems start! Like this, on and on, on and on!

Now you see, by cherishing the “I,” one leads other people to create negative karma and makes even this life so unhappy and disharmonious for so many people, without talking about the future results of negative karma. We were born to help others, to stop their problems, but as long as we follow the selfish attitude it looks like we were born only to confuse others and to throw them into the lower realms! It comes to this, which is a very sad life. We should know this, then we can control the selfish attitude.

Also you should think that first of all cherishing oneself creates disharmony between other persons and between yourself and your companion. You should remember the many problems experienced everywhere, in all the ten directions! You can’t breathe, you feel suffocated. Because of following the selfish attitude so much disharmony and confusion is created all around for so many people. Many times one almost becomes crazy and feels suffocated like one can’t breathe or move. You should remember those things. Also you should think that many times one almost came to the point of killing oneself—because of the problems, fears and worries, thinking, “It may be best if I kill myself.” One is even prepared to commit suicide! To remember those things is very good for controlling the selfish attitude.

When one sees somebody who has more wealth, more success or more knowledge, jealousy arises. What the selfish attitude wants is that oneself be the most rich, the most famous—not infamous! Having the best reputation, the best education. That oneself should have everything that is possible, everything that exists. So, if somebody has a better car, better apartment, more swimming pools, a more luxurious life, more knowledge, is better looking, the jealous mind arises and there is much pain in one’s heart. If the person has the same status and equal wealth there is competition. When one sees somebody who is poor or poorly educated, or even looks more ugly, pride arises. Whether we meet someone who is higher or lower, there is pain. All these are the shortcoming of the selfish attitude. I think I will stop here.

So you see, it is very good to think about this. This is still without talking about the shortcoming of the selfish attitude of interfering with the practice of Dharma. Even somebody who hasn’t met Buddhadharma, who doesn’t have the practice of refuge and has no interest in it, wants happiness, but, having no idea of what Dharma is, he may think, “I don’t like religion; I don’t need to practice Buddhadharma. I have no interest in the Buddhist religion.” He wants the happiness of peace of mind in everyday life, but there is no way to gain it without doing the practice of controlling the selfish attitude. There is no way to have harmony in relationships or in the family; no way to have success without he himself turning against the selfish attitude.

So, to control the selfish attitude, the person should know how the selfish attitude is harmful. Even if the person is not interested in reincarnation and the happiness of future lives—cannot understand or accept this—he has to see that the selfish attitude is harmful. Even if he believes in only one life and thins only of this one life’s problems, if his mind turns inside instead of being always concerned with the outside, and watches the mind and its attitudes in relation to the life’s problems—checking whether the problems come from the selfish attitude or not—it is so beneficial and powerful to control and destroy the selfish attitude. Thought this practice there will be much success fewer obstacles to his happiness the more he can control the selfish attitude—wherever he lives or goes, whatever work he does, with whomever he lives. I will stop here. Hopefully tomorrow I can finish some of the five powers!


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