Kopan Course No. 08 (1975)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1975 (Archive #089)

These teachings were given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Eighth Kopan Meditation Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal in 1975. The transcripts are lightly edited by Tsultrim Davis.

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

Section Three: Lectures 11 to15

LECTURE 11:  November 16, 1975

The great Lama Tsongkhapa, so like the second Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who benefited the teachings, explaining the ignorance of the sentient beings like the sun and moon, dissipating the darkness.

From his holy speech, “This perfect human rebirth is much more precious than the wish-fulfilling jewel. It is difficult to find again, like the lightning of the sky. The perfect human rebirth is difficult to find and easy to decay. By thinking this, it is necessary to take the essence day and night. I the yogi have practiced like this. You, who desire liberation, practice like this.”

This is Guru Tsongkhapa’s teaching from a short text, his experience of the gradual path taken in the form of song, in the form of hymn. As Guru Tsongkhapa said, from beginningless previous lifetimes until now, in samsara, there is not one suffering that we never have experienced, there is no pleasure that we never tried, that we never experienced, and not even one samsaric body we have not taken. However much we took the samsaric rebirth, none of them could take the essence. So, this time as we have received the precious, the perfect, human rebirth, rebirth with freedom, it is necessary to take the essence. Even though we received the precious, perfect human rebirth, we have no rejoiceful manner. We don’t feel happiness. We don’t rejoice. We don’t feel fortunate. We have no feeling, thinking, “Oh, I am fortunate, having received this precious human rebirth.”

First of all I’ll tell this: you put a wish-fulfilling jewel on a banner on top of the house and you pray. Then, whatever your wish is, food or clothing, temporal needs, you receive it without much effort. That kind of jewel is called a wish-fulfilling jewel. Even if we found millions of those, it could not compare to the success we have with our precious human rebirth. Even without talking about enlightenment, simply not being reborn in the suffering lower realms and so forth. Although we have received this incredible, precious human rebirth, we don’t feel this. We don’t feel happy. Also when we waste it we don’t feel loss. If you lost five rupees, you felt the loss. You buy some Tibetan things and you get cheated, someone took one rupee extra. Then you feel great loss. “Oh how terrible that person is, he took one rupee extra, it doesn’t cost that much.” For that bag, or mala, or piece of wood. If you get it for one rupee less you feel happy. Even though it’s not a wish-fulfilling jewel. But we don’t even have that much feeling with our precious human rebirth. This clearly shows we do not understand the value or meaning of human rebirth. It clearly shows how the mind is ignorant.

Among the meaningful works which can be obtained with this perfect human rebirth, in among these, the greatest work, the most meaningful, that is trying to reach enlightenment for the benefit of other sentient beings. So, to be able to do that depends on following the gradual path to enlightenment. So, without this gradual path, there’s no way to obtain this great practice. In order to follow this path, then it’s necessary to listen to the teachings on the gradual path. Before listening to those teachings, it’s necessary to cultivate the pure motivation.

Then, from that, only myself releasing from samsaric suffering is not sufficient. There are numberless mother sentient beings who are continually kind to me all the time, and who are continuously suffering without having Dharma wisdom and method. It is only my responsibility to release them from suffering and lead them in the most sublime happiness enlightenment. To be able to do this I must receive enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to listen to the profound teachings on the gradual path to enlightenment.

The subject for listening to is the Mahayana teachings, which lead the fortunate ones to enlightenment. It is well expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is a profound teaching, the essence of the great pandit, Atisha, and the Dharma king of the three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa’s infinite knowledge extracted. It includes all the important points of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. All these teachings are set up for the practice of one person. The gradual practice of one person’s achieving enlightenment. This is the only gradual path by which the past, present, and future buddhas have received enlightenment. This commentary on the gradual path has four outlines, four basic outlines. So, as for the second outline, that is describing the qualification of the teachings in order to increase devotion to the teachings.

It is very useful even just to understand, even just to have understanding of the qualification of the teachings, even just to have the understanding of the outline. Even just that helps a great deal to stop wrong conceptions rising and to stop creating negative karma. Even if the wrong conceptions do not happen now, they can rise in the future. So, for this reason it’s also useful to understand even just the outline. Briefly talking about this:

The person who shows the teachings we call, like Shakyamuni Buddha, semba, because he is the one who shows. So, what they’re showing, what he is showing is called semba because that’s teachings. A simple way of interpreting: one who desires the upper rebirth, nirvana, enlightenment, one who wants to escape from suffering, correctly showing the path, making the followers to release from suffering and to quickly realize the path, that’s what’s called the teachings, the teachings of the Buddha. If it is a wrong teaching, if it doesn’t function in that way, it’s not Buddhadharma. Even though it’s called Buddhadharma, since it doesn’t function in that way, it’s not Buddhadharma, that’s not called Buddha dharma.

There are two types of teachings: the words which explain the path, and the subject that is contained in the words.

So the verbal teaching, the teaching which explains, you know, the words, and secondly the teaching of realizations, realizations of the path. The divisions of the path are the Hinayana and the Mahayana, but within the Mahayana there are Paramitayana and then Vajrayana, so there are three divisions of path: Hinayana, Paramitayana, Vajrayana. In the verbal teachings of Hinayana, Paramitayana, and Vajrayana there are different practices.

Then the Vajrayana teaching has different verbal teachings, explaining different practices. When you look at the different practices, they look contradictory—if you do this one, you can’t do that. If you don’t check up and if you don’t have the understanding of the basic teachings of lam-rim, without doubt you would find contradiction. For example, monks can’t have the evening meal, or touch gold and silver, or touch women—these are in the Hinayana teachings. Even though the woman is suffering there, you can’t help. She’s falling down, she’s struck to the ground or things, you can’t help, you can’t touch, you know.

In the bodhisattva practice, then again if you don’t do that, then you break a vow. If you don’t help, or take what people offer—there are various things—you break a vow. In Thailand and other countries, they emphasize the outer actions, not so much the relation with the mind, whether there is attachment or not. But in the bodhisattva practice whether you should or should not do the action depends on the level of mind, whether the mind is involved with self-cherishing or not.

Then in the Paramitayana, you can’t have wine and meat. And in the Vajrayana, you must enjoy wine and meat, and also depend on females and do other thing which those various texts may find contradictory.

But all these are a gradual path that can be practiced by one person, according to the level of one’s mind. Like you tell someone when they are sick they shouldn’t eat a certain thing, so much discipline first of all. This is because he has a heavy disease, and you need discipline to get rid of it. As it gets lighter and lighter, he can have more and more strong foods. And it is not contradictory.

[Pipi time]

Like the question about eggs. If your health is poor, if you’re losing weight and things like that and, you know, there are other dangers, things like this, which distract your meditation and because of that you can’t meditate, you can’t practice Dharma, then better to have it, until you get cured, until you don’t have that problem, you know. When one takes the ordination, the eight Mahayana precepts, if you can wait for one day, you know, have a little bit patience and not eat for one day, for the one day ordination vows, that is beneficial. If that not eating doesn’t cause much danger, you know, to the health.

So the verbal teachings from the Hinayana, Paramitayana, and Vajrayana are not contradictory for one person’s practice to receive enlightenment. The realization that one receives from those vehicles, like the realization of the Four Noble Truths, all those things, each paramita, bodhicitta, the generation stage, realization of the fulfillment stage, all of these are not contradictory with each other. They are realizations that one person has to receive gradually in order to receive enlightenment.

Then, the second qualification. Through this lam-rim all the Buddhadharma appears as the teaching to practice for receiving enlightenment. That is the second benefit, you know, second benefit. The first benefit is not finding the teachings contradictory. The second benefit is all the oral teachings appearing as the holy words of the Buddhadharma, the teaching to practice for receiving enlightenment.

For the person who understands lam-rim, all the different philosophical teachings can be put in the lam-rim. Even the person who is studying debate, and philosophy. For him everything appears as lam-rim. Like the logic about the evolution of mind and body, and the universe and beings and evolutions and past and future lives. All these things are in the subject of the graduated path of the lower being of the lam-rim. If you have the understanding of the lam-rim, even the newspaper information can be integrated. The gradual path of the middle being contains the shortcomings of samsara, the nature of samsara, the suffering of humans, the delusions, and how karma and delusions bind you. The gradual path of the lower beings contains meditation on impermanence, life, death. So many teachings come in the newspaper in a week. It’s very easy. There are many protests and fighting between parties, so many problems, poor people protesting, rich people, whatever. Very easily you can put this is the gradual path of the middle beings, the eight sufferings. Also problems of couples—one threw this, one threw that, one escaped away. All these are included. Everything goes in the lam-rim. Sometimes there may be something from the higher scope, love and compassion, someone who did beneficial actions. Many times the papers talk about karma—strange things happening in the world.

There is one Tibetan newspaper called she ja, which means object of knowledge. One part is on strange things that happen, surprising remarkable things. Like one mother giving birth to nine children at once. And a male becoming a female by operation. Also heart transplanting. But I didn’t hear about brain transplanting. This explains karma. We think that nothing happened before, but actually nothing is new. We have had many experiences in many past lifetimes. The whole newspaper talks about karma. Same with the television. Also many times they talk about children who can remember their past lives.

This time in California there was one student, I don’t know her name, who was very interested to go see a movie. So I said we should be sure that the movie would be very suffering, otherwise I wouldn’t go. We finally went, Lama Yeshe and the people in house we were staying. It was on the future earthquake that can happen in California. The big danger and the people don’t know what to do with that problem. It was very good.

The afternoon meditation is on equilibrium, meditation on equalizing enemy and friend, equalizing all sentient beings, starting from the present enemy and friend. First equalizing these two people, then second time, parents, then third time, you know, rest of all sentient beings. This equilibrium meditation is very, very important, very very important. How it is important, it’s like this. To receive enlightenment, to receive bodhicitta, love and compassion, to plant the crop, the field should be leveled, level and fertilized, you know.

To plant the crop of bodhicitta, if the mind is not level, we cannot plant those things. If there is a partial mind, the field is not leveled, or if there is discrimination, “This is my friend, this is my enemy,” arising attachment, and so forth. So to make the mind level and equal, that is through the practice of equilibrium meditation.

How does the equilibrium meditation make the mind level, fertilized? It makes you see all sentient beings as equal friend and enemy. It makes you see that. It makes your feeling for beings arise equally, starting with the present enemy and friend. It destroys anger and attachment. This makes the mind thoughtful, aware for the future. There is nothing to discriminate. There is no absolute friend, or absolute enemy. So in that way we don’t get any more anger or attachment. That’s how meditators control their minds.

[Ge wa di… Dedication prayers]

LECTURE 12:  November 19, 1975

From the holy speech of the great bodhisattva, the highly realized Tibetan Lama Thogme Zangpo: “During the time the great boat, the perfect human rebirth, which is difficult to receive, it is received.” Or another way of putting, more comfortable:

During the time while the great boat, the perfect human rebirth, which is difficult to receive is received, in order to release oneself and other sentient beings from the samsaric ocean without distraction, listening, understanding, and meditating is the practice of the son of the king.

...which means the bodhisattva.

The precious teaching called The Bodhisattva’s Thirty-Seven Practices is very, extremely helpful for mind. The way the words are formed, it is so much feeling. You can feel that also the person who wrote it had this feeling, you can feel the vibrations or you can feel the person who wrote this himself is living in that experience, not just in words, not just because he knows words and wrote this book, you know. Not like this. It’s fantastic. Each word, each verse is fantastic. It’s a fantastic taste. Sometimes tasting is very good.

Sometimes, you know, sometimes, instead of tasting always water, sometimes tasting things, like milk or honey. Anyway, whatever it is, if you have this food, it’s very good. Especially when your life’s collapsed, when your life is so miserable, no one can help. You have no method. Those times, if you have this book with these teachings, it is extremely helpful. You don’t need any person. You don’t need psychology. It’s extremely helpful, very helpful. It’s helpful for my mind. Maybe the material exchanges for this book don’t work even for one cup of coffee in the West, you know. But the value of the benefits is incredible; you can’t measure it.

So what he’s saying that, “During the time while we have received the perfect human rebirth,” is another way of saying, tan jor, Tibetan term, tan jor, the precious rebirth, which is released from the eight unfree states, and received ten richnesses. One can receive the ultimate happiness, enlightenment. With this rebirth, any happiness that one desires can be obtained. It is such a meaningful rebirth. And it is extremely difficult to find again.

So, while we have received this which is such highly useful and difficult to find again, without wasting it, day and night, we should use this perfect human rebirth to cross the samsaric suffering ocean. Not only oneself should cross the samsaric suffering ocean, but all sentient beings should cross their samsaric suffering ocean.

That explains how to make the perfect human rebirth meaningful. For the sake of oneself and for the sake of others, following the perfect teacher, then listening to the teachings and trying to understand and meditate, all the time. For that is the bodhisattvas practice. So this is quite briefly, the brief explanation of this quotation.

In order to obtain one’s aim, not suffering but happiness, is by following the guru, the one who teaches Dharma, who shows Dharma.

Also, in regards to the subject, people call it religion or people call different names, but the infallible teaching has no mistakes. It includes all the teachings. The most practical thing is the teaching on the graduated path.

So, in order to listen to this precious teaching on the gradual path it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation, necessary to think at least like this: “Only myself releasing from suffering is not sufficient. There are numberless other mother sentient beings who are extremely kind to me all the time and are continuously suffering without Dharma wisdom and method. It is only my responsibility to release them from all the suffering and lead them in the most sublime happiness, enlightenment. Therefore I must receive enlightenment. Therefore I’m going to listen to the profound teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment.”

The subject for listening is the Mahayana teaching which leads the fortunate ones to enlightenment. It is well expounded by great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is the profound teaching as if the essence of the great, unequaled pandit Atisha and Dharma king of the three worlds, Lama Tsongkhapa’s infinite knowledge was extracted. It includes all the importance of the 84,000 teachings shown by Shakyamuni Buddha. All these teachings are set up for the gradual practice of one person’s achieving enlightenment, and it is on this gradual path that all the past, present and future buddhas, they received enlightenment. The commentary on this gradual path to enlightenment has four basic outlines.


The second one, the third outline, that is how to explain Dharma and how to listen to teachings of the Dharma. So, even for the listening of Dharma, first of all understand the benefits of listening and, secondly, having respect or devotion for the one who shows the Dharma, the teaching itself. Then actually listening.

If one understands the benefits of the different Dharma, even if the person doesn’t understand the subject, still the mind doesn’t find that much confusion. Mind is happy. Even if the person doesn’t understand right away the subject, the mind doesn’t find confusion because he sees the benefits of listening are not completely empty, not completely useless. The person thinks, “Even though I don’t understand now, but that is because of my ignorance, because of my delusions, not the fault of the teachings. It’s my own fault that I do not understand this. And by listening, it will leave an impression. Even though I don’t understand, if I listen, I will profit. There’s always benefit. It leaves an impression on my mind, and by leaving an impression on my mind, if I study, farther and farther, more and more the understanding will gradually grow. Its potentiality will come out.”

In previous times in India when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was living there there were stories of 400 birds with long legs. They heard his teachings and in the future lives they were born as arhats and fully realized the absolute nature. There are many stories like this.

Also, not only that, by listening to Dharma, also what one does is one starts to avoid the useless actions. Because by listening to Dharma, one can understand what is meaningful, what is not meaningful. So one starts to avoid also meaningless actions.

By listening to Dharma, one understands all the important points, what is to be avoided, all the distractions to happiness, distractions to enlightenment, distractions to reaching nirvana. The thing that should be abandoned…the person has clear understanding of these important points. What is the thing that should be practiced, what is the benefit to gain happiness. And ultimate happiness, enlightenment. One can receive the Dharma wisdom eye. So that is actually the wisdom which understands the karma. This Dharma wisdom one receives by listening to Dharma and, more profound than that, the Dharma wisdom realizing the absolute nature of the self, nature of the self, by going deeper than that. By having the first Dharma wisdom, knowing the karma, realizing nature of self. That comes after that.

Then there are three divisions of teachings, as all the teachings are included in three baskets. The three divisions of teachings is called sometimes Tripitaka in Sanskrit, you know, the Vinaya teachings, the Abhidharma teachings—three divisions of teachings. So listening to the teachings that explain about moral conduct makes the person avoid the negative, immoral actions. And by understanding the sutra teachings, that makes the person be free from the distractions of concentrations. And avoid the useless actions. By listening to the Abhidharma teachings, that makes the person to avoid all the delusions and receive nirvana.

Why the Vinaya teachings make the person to avoid the immoral actions, the negative actions, is because it contains a subject about the training of the morality, the higher training of morality. And why the sutra teachings make the person to be free from the distractions of concentration and to avoid the useless actions is because that teaching contains the higher training in concentration. And the Abhidharma teachings avoid delusions because that teaching contains the higher training of the wisdom.That which destroys the darkness, by having the wisdom listening Dharma, which, like a lamp, destroys the darkness, the ignorance not knowing Dharma. Briefly, it is like this.

However, without talking about details, it’s like this: many people think, “It is about meditation. Why they need to listen so much? Why they need to talk so much, explain so much? Why don’t you just meditate, why don’t you start the meditation right away and just meditate?” Many people expect the meditation first, you know. Before explaining the meditation, do the meditation first, thinking that way, you know, to do the practice first you know, the meditation first, that is like expecting, like the previous gurus taught, as they taught in the teachings, you don’t have a single penny in the pocket, but you go to the place that sells expensive cars to relax and enjoy in. But you can’t buy a car, because you have not one penny. How can you buy the car? Impossible, if that car costs $30,000. So that’s useless. It’s childish. But this is the same as the people who think you don’t need to listen to practice meditation. How do you make perfect meditation with no understanding of the techniques? There is no way.

Now pipi time.

Meditation. Also some people think, this is important to understand, some people think meditation is like some kind, like football, football, you know. Meditation is like kind of football or like decorating the house, and something to hang. Something, you know, not that much important, not that much, if you had that, okay, even if you don’t have, doesn’t matter.

However, many people think meditation just one technique, just one meditation type, one type of meditation, just that is enough for life, so he can play with it. He can say to other people, “I have meditation. I practice meditation.” Just to make enough to say with reason. To say, “I’m practicing meditation, I am doing this.” Just to make talk but not really concerned with meditation, you know, not really concerned with one’s own mind. Many people try to satisfy themself with one meditation. They think it’s enough to solve the life problem. However, that is never enough.

For instance, to make one meal, lunch, you know, how many things are necessary? How many things? Salt and water and all kind of things, vegetables and, many things are necessary, you know, so many things needed. Many pieces. Then, like this, controlling mind. Like there are various problems, one for each delusion, there are so many. As there are many of the branches of delusion, there are many meditations. However, to completely control the mind, to have complete control on all these different delusions, there are various meditations. Just one type of meditation, like breathing meditation, can’t control the mind, can’t control even one delusion. To completely control all the delusions, we need perfect understanding. So there’s need to listen. Oh, like this.

The person who has wisdom of listening to Dharma, who has understanding, that is like a person who, if he wants to go in the jewelry shop, no matter how much expensive jewels there are, he has all the money ready to buy it. Having this kind of devotion—there is need to explain that.

And then, part one, actually listening, how to actually, the actual action of listening, to do that. Without describing so much, there is a simple thing, like a person would explain Dharma. From the side of the listener, to make beneficial to one’s own mind, think the person who explains the teachings as a doctor, and teaching itself as a medicine, and the person, oneself, listener, recognizing oneself as a patient. As long as one listens to the Dharma on the basis of this idea, oneself is the patient all the time, then any subject that is explained, everything goes in his mind. Everything becomes beneficial, very beneficial, for his mind. If he doesn’t think himself as a patient, he has a disease, he doesn’t recognize that he has a disease, he doesn’t recognize himself as a patient, he doesn’t recognize that he has disease, he doesn’t think, or he thinks “I am not a patient,” you know, then even if the doctor gives fantastic medicine to cure right away his disease, he doesn’t take the medicine.

The person who has this disease, what normal people call disease, is recognized as a patient, and the medicine that cures, that is recognized as the medicine, and the person who gives that is recognized as the doctor. If you don’t have delusion, there’s no way to increase disease, any disease. Without delusion, if there’s no delusion in the mind, there’s no cause of sickness, there’s no way to rise any sickness. Mental sickness, physical sickness, no way to increase, because there’s no cause. No cause. Even though there is the condition, since there is no cause, cannot happen, cannot happen, cannot happen. So actually, actually, sickness is not really, sickness is not that much terrible.

Actually sickness is nothing. Sickness is not the real problem. So, it is the cause of sickness, the delusions, that casue is the biggest problems. So, as long as we have this, we have the real sickness. And what the regular medicine does not cure? Delusions. So, what is the sole method, the only method which cures the delusions, the sickness? No external method can cure these delusions, so only the Dharma. The Dharma is the real medicine. Only the Dharma, only the Dharma. Only by taking the medicine of the Dharma you can be free from delusions, we can we can be free from all the suffering and in everlasting happiness. So the Dharma is the actual, real, the perfect, the real medicine.

Same reason like this, same thing with the doctor, the person who shows the Dharma, also same thing, you know, the real, the real, the real doctor. I’m not telling that I am doctor to cure, but speaking generally. I am not, not admiring myself, not like this, generally talking, generally, generally it is like this. Who shows the real medicine, the teaching, is the real doctor. So this is the most important, this is the most important thing.

Then also like this, one thing to understand is, you should have this kind of understanding, “Dharma is to destroy my delusions. Dharma is to destroy my delusions, my attachment.” If you are having surgery, if you are having an injection or something, you think, “This is medicine.” Even though you don’t like it, even though you feel pain temporarily, you think, “This is medicine to destroy my suffering, my disease.” When you think of that, you have the wish to take this medicine. You don’t care how difficult it is. So you don’t find difficulty to not accept that. So, like this, same thing, when you concentrate on this, “Dharma is to destroy my delusions, the great disease.” What Dharma explains is the nature of delusions, how the delusions are bad, how the delusions cause you problems, how to control the delusions. So, as you are continuously concentrating on the Dharma, if you understand like this, whenever listen to any kind of teaching, explaining the nature of delusions, everything goes in the mind. You don’t find any confusion between you and the Dharma. You don’t find any confusion. You think Dharma is like a prescription, so don’t see the Dharma as causing you suffering, causing problem. You cannot see that. You only see benefits, like this.

So the way of listening is very important in order to complete the rest of subject, you know. Like the doctor explains, “You have been smoking, and that’s why you got this cancer, that’s why you got all these things, the lung problems, all these things.” The doctor explains and the patient accepts what the doctor says because he’s supposed to understand. He doesn’t find confusion at all. He understands. So same thing with Dharma. It talks first about why you have this problem, because you haven’t done this and that. Then, how to control it, how to stop it, how to make it better. When someone complains about you, anger rises, and the mind is unhappy. When the person feels like that, it means Dharma is not going in the mind.

So this is just what we are supposed to be mindful of during the listening of the teachings. Just to make it beneficial for one’s own mind as, to make each thing beneficial, beneficial for one’s own mind.

Then after this, I think, the first meditation is on perfect human rebirth.

However, the whole thing is to practice Dharma. There’s so much distraction, it’s full of hundreds thousands of distractions. Stop distractions to make Dharma practice successful. That’s the real puja.

[Ge wa di… Dedication prayers]

LECTURE 13:  November 20, 1975 (morning)

The great, highly realized pandit who has the perfect understanding of the absolute nature of the whole of existence, Nagarjuna, said in his precious teaching, “The action which rises from non-ignorance, non-hatred, non-greed—that is the virtuous action. The action which rises from ignorance, greed, hatred--that is the nonvirtuous action.” As Nagarjuna said in the teaching, The Jewel Rosary, “This time, our purpose, having been born as perfect human rebirth, is to not create nonvirtuous action but to create virtuous action.” This is in order to have continual happiness, to make the life better and better each time, to make this life better. And, by making this life better, better then is the future life. And, better than that, that makes the other future lives better. The purpose of being born, that is to make oneself free from suffering, and also to benefit others, making them free from suffering and leading them to the most sublime happiness, to enlightenment.

To create nonvirtuous action there is no need to be born as human being. No need to choose this rebirth in order to create negative karma. With any sentient being’s rebirth, especially the lower rebirth, is almost automatic. It’s very, very easy just to do without depending on much effort. It’s all the time there. So therefore there’s no reason, no reason to particularly create negative karma, no reason to take this particular rebirth, human life, the precious human rebirth. So, however, since this is the purpose, it is necessary to use in this way, in a meaningful way. However, the best way to make the life meaningful, beneficial for other sentient beings, besides oneself, is to listen and try to understand and meditate on the gradual path, the teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment.

Oh, therefore, even though there are 84,000 teachings, there are various teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the essential teaching is the gradual path, the teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment.

So, in order to do like this, in order to follow this teaching, it is necessary to understand… before listening this to the teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment, it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation, upon which it is extremely important to act right away. This is not something that today I’ll give it up and I will motivate tomorrow. “I will try tomorrow,” “Oh, in the evening time,” “Oh, after some more putting off,” like this, “I will do better day after tomorrow,” something like this. No, it’s not something like this; it’s something that we have to change right this minute, second. We have to change, as we have the capability, the wisdom, understanding, and ability to be able to put in action. There is something that has to be done right away within your mind. The main thing is the mind has to act.

Because receiving enlightenment or not receiving enlightenment, the whole thing depends on whether we move the mind or whether you don’t move the mind. The whole thing depends on the movement of the mind.

As the great yogi, Milarepa, who received enlightenment in one life-time said in his instruction, “If you can take care of the mind, enlightenment is in one’s own hand. If one can take care of one’s own mind, enlightenment is not far.” Enlightenment is not something that you have to definitely expect to receive after three countless great eons, very far. Enlightenment is just there. However, the whole thing depends on the mind acting, using the mind. The whole determination is on that, whether we use the mind to receive enlightenment or not. That’s all. However, only releasing myself from samsaric suffering is not sufficient. There are numberless other sentient beings who are extremely kind to me all the time, and they are continuously suffering, without having Dharma wisdom and method. It is my responsibility alone to make them released from all suffering and lead them to the most sublime happiness of enlightenment. To be able to do this, I must receive enlightenment first. Therefore I am going to listen to the profound teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment.


Oh, I must receive enlightenment by listening to the teaching that is the Mahayana teaching, which is well expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is a profound teaching, as from the essence of the great pandit, Atisha and the Dharma king of three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa’s infinite knowledge it was extracted, and it includes all the essence of all 84,000 teachings from Lord Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. All these teachings are set up as the path by which the three time buddhas have received enlightenment. The commentary on the gradual path to enlightenment has four basic outlines and so, also yesterday we did talk about the benefits of listening and how to listen. Then, in regards explaining all the ways to explain Dharma, there’s much discipline, there’s much discipline.

Anyway, no need to talk about details, there’s no time.

With what kind of mind should a person explain Dharma? With what kind of action the person should explain Dharma? To what object one can explain Dharma? To what object one cannot explain Dharma? There are all those details like this, details, in some other courses I have explained.

There are certain disciplines, certain precepts, how not to explain Dharma. A person who explains Dharma can’t explain Dharma like this—it is disrespectful. If the person is very sick, he can’t control his body, or if the person is laying, Dharma can’t be explained. One can talk about Dharma, but the person can’t teach the Dharma in that way.

And there are many details about the object to whom one should explain or to whom one should not explain. There is a kind of also precepts, like Vinaya precepts. There are details of these disciplines. The listener sitting higher, then the person who teaches sitting down lower, can’t teach Dharma in that way. The disciplines are not the whole purpose. There are disciplines from side of listener—all these things are mainly for one to not create negative karma, to not to start creating negative karma, for everything to become beneficial for the mind, creating good karma. The whole method is to become beneficial for the mind, that’s the whole point.

I think also other religions are also like that, they always seem so, like that. But, however, I’m not sure whether they have reason or not for those things, whether they have real, pure reasons, reasons based on creating good karma… I’m not sure. But, however, Buddhadharma is like this, there are these reasons.

Why it has to be in certain conditions like this, with certain performances like this, with these disciplines, precepts? Generally, from the listeners side, if he doesn’t check up, or from the person who teaches, if he doesn’t check up, and there is breaking of precepts, then there is non-virtue and things like this. From the listener’s side, if he doesn’t do the strict disciplines—but of course the whole thing’s in the mind, not so much important the body, the physical things—then there’s a way easily to create negative karma. To stop these things, there are disciplines like this. Anyway, no need to talk details of this now.


Then, how to lead the disciple on the path to enlightenment, the last outline. Then, that is, how to practice the guru devotion, which is the root of the path, and, by following the guru, how to train the mind. How to follow the guru is another way of saying, how to train the mind, another way of saying, how to subdue the mind. The gradual practice, how to subdue the mind by following the guru. There are two basic outlines like this, two basic outlines like this.

Then the making of the practice of the guru devotion, which is the root of the path, that has two outlines. How to do it in actual meditation times and in the break times, in the interval time. There are three things: preparation, actual action, and the end, the completion.

The preparation, this involves the preparation before the meditation. That is: cleaning the meditation room—it’s called the meditation room, but it doesn’t mean you can’t clean other rooms.

And then arranging the altar. It does not mean that you always, every day, move the statues, every day you move those things, but it means cleaning while arranging the holy objects of body, speech, and mind.

Then, find the right offerings. In the translation of the text it says without, which means find the offering which is not received by cheating, by cunning. Yer me pa means by cunning, means, not straight. Yer is usually kind of like table, not straight, kind of little bit moved., not quite straight. So that’s very clear, I don’t have to give details because that’s the five wrong livelihoods I already taught a little bit. For the second outline, find correct offering without cunning, cunning or cheating, by using the sneaking methods. So find correct offerings without cunning and then the offerings are to be beautifully performed, beautifully arranged.

These things, if you want to know little bit more details, then people may have notes, so maybe in regard these practices, you want to know details, then maybe, if you have met some old students and they have notes, you can go through those. I’m just going through the outline.

And then take a comfortable seat, sitting in the seven-point position of Vairocana—that was introduced in the beginning of the meditation course, I think? There are seven points, for the meditation, according to this Dhyani Buddha called Vairocana. The impure skandha of form, when it’s purified, then appears in the manifestation of buddha ,Vairochana, when we receive enlightenment. The benefits of sitting in this position, taking these seven points of position, are that it makes it auspicious to receive enlightenment in the essence of this buddha called Vairocana. In the teaching it said either seven or eight, and eight means the motivation.

Then, visualize the object of refuge, also called merit field. Any visualization of Buddha is always a merit field. This has much meaning. Like a corn field, or a papaya field, pineapple field, that field is precious, good. If one thinks of the meaning of this merit field, the merit field, it makes you automatically to feel the preciousness of the object.

The whole thing is due to your karma. All beings are living in different conditions, they eat different food. This happened according to their karma, according to their karma. In previous time they were another animal. In previous time they were people and eating poisons, and this lifetime born as another animal and can’t eat that poison, can’t have the same diet as he used to have in his previous life, like that. Those are all, those are all due to karma, the karma of that animal. Like this: certain animals have to go in such very cold climate, very high in the mountains, but other animals, they have to be in the very warm place, they can’t live in a cold place. Who made the determinations, who fixed this? All by the karma. There are certain animals who live on that flower, and don’t eat another plant. Those things are the explanation of karma. They are not freely chosen, no choice, no choice, no choice. For instance, simple example, there are many people in the world, also in Tibet, and the husband is terrible, so cruel and so terrible, never looking after the family, always running out, always becoming drunk, always fighting, creating some problem. Other people can’t stand it, but somehow their whole life they have to live together, something like this. Those things are explanations of karma. It’s not because one freely chose that situation, it’s the power of the karma that she has created in the previous life. There are many examples of this.

Then, next is the seven-limb prayer. The summary of the importance of purification and creating merits, that is the seven limb practice. Prayer is not the main thing. If we chant like this with the virtuous thought, the virtuous thought itself becomes good karma, like offering to the holy objects. It becomes a method of creating good karma. Prayer is to remind us of the practice. However, the whole thing is to meditate. What are the seven things? [Homage, offering, confessing, rejoicing, requesting, beseeching, dedicating]. Each one becomes a remedy to destroy each delusion, like that.

The last thing is mandala offering. Then making a request. After mandala offering, you’re making a request, mixed with mind. It sounds funny, translating literally word by word, but it means not requesting from just from mouth while keeping the mind in some other place.


Oh, after this, then meditation, the actual meditation. According to Guru Tsongkhapa, the Guru Yoga practice comes first. Why it has to come first? It has much importance to talk about. As I explained before, the beginning, the devotion, it’s like this. Why did Atisha and Guru Tsongkhapa and the lineage of the holy gurus put this first? As they experience the gradual path, they see it is extremely important and extremely beneficial from the beginning of the path down to the end.

Tantra is called short-cut path. Whether it’s called shortcut path or long path, what makes it powerful is the power of the mind trained in the guru practice. Those who have received the Guru Yoga commentary, who have heard Guru Yoga commentary, that contains the whole answer, the whole explanation. However, just briefly explaining here.

For a person whose mind is trained, a person who has realization of this meditation, the rest of the realizations, how easily they come! For example, up there are snow mountains. So, for you to get water from that snow mountain by melting the snow, you need sun. You make the place, a comfortable place for the water to come to your house. The white snow mountain is like the guru who is the essence of the four kayas. Then, the sun reflecting into the white snow mountain, that is like the devotion. The melting of the snow, the water continuously running down reaching the house is continuously receiving realization in your mind, continuously receiving the path to enlightenment within one’s mind. Like this example, in order to receive the continual realization, that depends on developing devotion. So without guru practice, devotion does not rise. That is like not having a good place for the water to run to your house. The water runs away, runs in the other direction. So for one whose mind is trained in this practice, the Guru Practice, the rest of the realizations, starting from perfect human rebirth, are just like water flowing. It doesn’t take much time. The mind is so easy to control by using those other meditations.

Try to have some idea how important it is, even though I don’t go through the details of this meditation on the guru practice. It’s useful to understand. Also one lama said this example, “The guru who is the four kayas, the snow mountain, if the sun of the devotional respect doesn’t reflect on that, then the continual water of the blessing cannot be received.” So if the continual water of the blessing is not received, then even if you want to grow beautiful flowers in your field, without water, they cannot grow. So you can’t enjoy. So, the last one, this one, if you think about it, it has much meaning. It contains the importance of the guru practice, how it’s helpful for the realizing the rest of the path.

[Ge wa di… Dedication prayers]

LECTURE 14:  November 20, 1975 (evening)

According to Atisha and Guru Tsongkhapa, the guru practice comes first. Why does it have to come first? It has much importance, the guru has much importance.

If you ask people the techniques that have been taught, the method that has been shown, it is many times harmonious with delusions. That is, it’s something which the delusion likes. Delusion likes it, is interested in it. So the person thinks, “It is benefiting me.” The person believes it helps, “It helps me, it helps my mind, it benefits my mind. It’s fantastic.” Many people do practice like this, not really knowing their own mind, like this.

Many times it happened in India, in Tibet, people couldn’t make business, who were saving gold. They say, “I have gold to sell. Do you want to buy? Very cheap, very cheap.” Then the person takes it in his room, downstairs somewhere, not so much light, so the other person can’t see the gold. But the other person tries to act, “It’s real gold,” with so much emotion. They make business in the dark room. Then the other person is so happy, “Now I’ve got rich gold. What a good friend he is. So cheap.” Then his mind is extremely happy, so happy, so happy. Then he arrives at his house. Then he sees it to be fake. That’s all like this. Some other wrong guide, wrong guru, shows the path that agrees with your delusions. That makes the delusions happy. You don’t have to announce in the newspapers, many people will just easily follow. It isn’t exactly confusion, but a person doesn’t recognize their mind. Even though the mind is confused, he doesn’t feel it. But does the practice make the mind quiet, normal, with less anger, less impatience? Does it make your life more satisfied? If it’s questioned like this, it is difficult to answer. Because the person didn’t receive that result by following the path, it is so difficult to say, “Yes, I received those things.”

Is there any question on your Equilibrium Meditation? Any doubts? Did you find it’s not true?

Student: What if we can’t remember any past lives or any instances where the enemy’s been our friend or the friend’s been our enemy?

Rinpoche: What do you think? What do you think? What do you personally think?

Student: I… I can understand it intellectually or logically but I can’t feel that.

Rinpoche: Umm .. ah ya. “You don’t feel” means what? What kind of feeling? You mean you don’t remember clearly or ..?

Student: It’s like I’m telling stories to myself. Like watching a cartoon.

Rinpoche: I see. Like watching like a movie, that doesn’t prove. Do you feel your mind came from, before you were born in your mother’s womb, your mind came from somewhere, do you feel that way? You don’t remember clearly where your mind came from but do you feel something? Do you have that kind of heavy feeling? [Excuse me?] Quite difficult to pass from here, joking. At least, even you can’t remember even you can’t remember clearly the previous lives, where you came from, but at least do you feel something? At least, do you feel something, that the mind came from somewhere? [Yeah.] Mind, in mother’s womb, came from somewhere? [Yeah.] Do you have a kind of heavy feeling?

Student: I don’t know if it feels heavy but it feels like it came from someplace, yeah .. ..

Rinpoche: From South Wales? [I don’t know…] As long as you feel something, that’s very good. That much is very fortunate. So, similar to that, like that, you think about enemy and friend. Their mind has also continuity, same as you feel. They take different body, as the continuity of your mind is beginningless, your continuity of your life is beginningless, so also the continuity of their mind is beginningless, the continuity of their life is also beginningless.

So as your enemy, as friend, you all have countless, countless lives, so there has been always kind of contact. There has been always contact, meeting each other. Sometimes there has been relationship as enemy. Sometimes there has been relationship as a friend. Sometimes there has been relationship as a stranger, parent, like this. All the time changing, like this. But it doesn’t mean that there was contact in every one, in all your previous lives, because of course there are numberless other sentient beings. So, not in all your previous lives having contact with this present enemy and friend and stranger, not like this. We meet other sentient beings, we make kind of contact, one become friend. So always it has been changing, it has been changing like this.

So as we made the contact in such relationship, enemy, friend, there was some relationship made, there was some relationship already we had in other, other lifetimes. And also, the reason for that relationship also was because we met in the other previous lifetimes, because we created karma in other previous lifetimes to meet together, like this. Even though this present enemy, friend we hadn’t met together, meeting all the time, in all our previous lifetimes. The most important thing is the feeling that your mind came from somewhere, not from the parents. That’s the most important, first—the first thing is that, the most important thing.

Student: How does Buddhism deal with the relationship between the wife and husband and vice versa? Is it like, in the meditation we must see enemy and friend and wife and father and, and get them the same as equal. Can we still speak about love and can there be a sort of harmony, or how is it explained in Buddhism, the relationship and the feeling, if there is any feeling on that level? I don’t know… And is it worth while to have marriage and children at that point?

Rinpoche: That depends on the couple themselves, whether their love is pure love or impure love or whatever, that’s up to them. There’s nothing to make the same for everyone. It depends on them.

Student: That’s an easy answer. We check up in terms of yourself, but how does the Dharma teach you because that’s the main point really. When we get out from here we don’t become .. maybe some of them become nun or, or monk or go to a solitary place or so, but I think most of us go back to the west, our fantastic wheel of samsara and we like to have a little change, and how would you see love really? When practicing the Dharma? This may be difficult to answer, I know.

Rinpoche: No, the main, the main purpose, as I said at the very beginning, the main aim of giving this course is not to become nun, monk, or to receive enlightenment. It depends on what kind of love that you want, too. Do you want to change?

If the person doesn’t have the understanding how to do things, how to get rid of the problems…the person has to put into action. “Put into action” means training his own mind. As he has an understanding of the meditation he is trying to, trying to work within his mind, trying to train his mind, that’s all. And not only train in the understanding of the meditation, but the meditation practice or putting your mind in the training is putting it in the actual practice. This is the mind training. Not only one thing about impure love and pure love, not only that, this covers many things, this solves many problems. This covers many things, many other things. It stops from rising many other negative minds, like this, not just only one type.

How quickly the person can change his mind, and can control the delusions, depends on how strongly he practices, how strong is his meditation. In that way, as much he trains his mind in the meditation, that much he puts his mind into action. That much he puts effort. The meditation subject becomes clear and feeling becomes deeper. In that way, also, the energy of keeping the mind in the meditation in the practice in daily life increases. The way you think in the meditation time, in daily life keeping the mind in that way. This can happen. This energy will rise stronger and stronger and gradually your daily life changes by controlling the rising delusions.

Also, one thing, it’s not easy to control delusions, it’s not easy to control the delusion. Actually, if I say, “Choose between making a rocket land on the moon and controlling delusions,” controlling delusions is more important. That’s more beneficial and it is more valuable and more difficult. As it is more valuable, it’s more beneficial, to oneself and others, and it is that much more difficult. To make a rocket and land on the moon you don’t need to purify delusions.

With delusion you can land on the moon and you can go in the rocket. But with delusion you can’t go, you can’t receive enlightenment. There’s no way to receive enlightenment. With delusion there’s no way to even enter in the first path, even to experience the gradual meditations, to enter in the first path. However, you have to understand that it takes time. You should not expect that by a one month course, you just stop all the delusion, like this. Maybe from your side you also don’t need so much effort.

The kind of person who expects this to quickly happen like that, who doesn’t have a long aim, whose mind doesn’t have a strong will to face the delusions, with a one month meditation or kind of retreat like that, that person’s practice becomes up and down, up and down. It doesn’t go smoothly and doesn’t continue. That kind of person who expects this to happen quickly, who has that kind of mind, gets exhausted. Afterwards he gets disappointed. However, his practice doesn’t continue. It doesn’t become successful.

That kind of expectation is such a big distraction to the Dharma practice. The person who expects to receive liberation in such a short time… In three days’ meditation, maybe, or something in a day, one may receive a mind like that, that has become very high after three days meditation. The mind becomes very high, but doesn’t have long energy, perseverance. Like the cooked potato, if you cut it there is no energy. It just breaks there. There’s no energy which stretches out, like the rubber, like the chewing gum. Then his practice disappears after some time. Then, then after some time, maybe when something bad happens, then again he remembers Dharma. “Oh I must make some purification, I must do something, do something.” He starts again for a few days, then again disappears. Up and down, like this.

As I said at the very beginning of the course, this negative mind, delusion, has been living in my mind from the beginningless previous lifetime and has been giving me harm from the numberless previous lifetimes. Even the buddhas cannot count how many times the delusions have been causing us to suffer. There’s no beginning. The continuity of that has no beginning, no beginning at all, no beginning, no beginning, no beginning.

But however, having the energy like this, having the long, long perseverance, even if it takes eons to completely destroy this delusion, think, “In this way I am going. Since I recognized my enemy, this delusion, even though it takes one hundred thousand eons, I am definitely going to face it. I’m continuously going to work to destroy the delusion.” You have to have a long plan like this. “However difficult it is to control, no matter how much difficulty there is, I’m going to face to this delusion, I’m going to destroy this, continuously work to face to this delusion. I’m going to destroy this, continuously work by concentrating one-pointedly on that.”

If you have that much strength in your mind, if you have such strong strength like this, incredible strength like this—like the politicians, how they do. If you want to take over one country, you make plans for many years. Even though it takes thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years, you write in books how to do the policy, how to take over that country, how to destroy that country. You make plans. Even though it takes forty, eighty, many years, you do it. Then when that period comes, so easily right away, that they take the country.

Even in the worldly activity, having a little mind is a distraction. For instance, Hitler was just one person, you see. But look at how much he caused danger to other countries. If he thought, “I wouldn’t , I couldn’t do that. I’m one person. I couldn’t do that,” if he had the very little mind, he couldn’t do. This is talking just about worldly activity, according to what makes peoples’ minds. So without question if you have such strength, energy like this, continual energy, strength in the Dharma, thinking “Even if I have to spend one hundred thousand eons, I’m going to work, continuously work to destroy the delusions,” if you have plan like this, if you have that energy, you can be free from samsara, receive enlightenment after three or four lifetimes, or in one lifetime.

The whole thing depends on his present action, his continual action, continual Dharma practice, the mind understanding that the delusion is difficult to control. It takes time. I have to make the delusion non-existent because this has been living in my mind from the beginningless previous lifetime. Feel it is unbearable living with this delusion.

What is your question?

Student: In the Equanimity Meditation when we visualize a friend, does this also mean to include spiritual fiends as well, like people who helped us get into Dharma?

Rinpoche: If the person doesn’t have attachment, then the person sees all sentient beings as parents, all sentient beings in beauty. Like this. It is not necessary to practice Equilibrium Meditation and visualize friend.

Equilibrium Meditation is to destroy the attachment and anger. That’s the whole point. In the future there will be continuously other people, new people. But the meditation is to control one’s own mind. So therefore you visualize the worst enemy, whom you dislike, whom you so strongly hate, and a friend whom you so strongly get attached to. That’s necessary to visualize. Then some people may think, “I didn’t find any enemy. Maybe I am holy, maybe I don’t need Equilibrium Meditation, maybe I’m beyond that,” but they’re not really checking what’s in the mind.

Even if you don’t have, at the present time, that does not mean you’re free from attachment and anger. So therefore the practice, the technique, is this: In order to train, make the mind ready, in order to stop from increasing delusion in the future, when you meet the future objects, of anger or attachment, you just create, you visualize, you create… What is the most harmful thing for you, in regards to actions that people do? Are they criticizing, you’re selfish or ignorant or something? If you have some specific thing that you have in the present time, someone who hurts and someone whom you’re strongly attached to, then you visualize them here. But if you don’t have this, use the person who is sitting there in front. If the most harmful thing for me is the words, think this person iscomplaining, criticizing, saying how you are so this and how this is terrible. He is saying, he telling me like this. You create a situation in your mind. Then, then watch… You then think that the person in front of you is really saying it. Then check up how your mind reacts.

Student: In the situation where we say a person becomes a friend, becomes both attachment and anger, is it useful to place him both in the situation of enemy and friend?

Rinpoche: Anger and friend, you mean at the same time he’s friend and anger?

Student: The same person can become both.

Rinpoche: Yeah, at different times it can happen.

Student: Is it useful to put them both as enemy and friend?

Rinpoche: You can, sometimes you can do with two persons, or sometimes just with one person.

You can do the Equilibrium Meditation with just one person. “Now I now I call him a friend.” At first we will look at him like that. Then you question, “Why friend?” But besides just calling friend, what feeling is there? Besides just calling friend, there’s something. Clinging. There’s clinging. The problem is the clinging. Then we think, why clinging? What’s the reason? Because he likes me very much and he talks about very good things and he gave me this and that. He benefits my happiness. So I’m attached.

So for this reason I’m clinging and discriminating him as friend. But before, he harmed me. You remember that, you put that reason. If you remember this experience that you had with him, changing always the relationship, changing always this way, friend, enemy, friend, enemy, then you remember all these things.

Then check back, go back to previous life. He’s been like this since the beginningless previous lifetime. He’s been, numberless times, my friend, helping me, helping my happiness numberless times. And he’s been my enemy because he’s been disturbing me, he’s been giving me harm numberless times.

Equalize them. Then what feeling arises? When, when you have equaled both reasons, there’s no clinging. There’s no dislike. It becomes very free, very loose, the mind feels light. He becomes indifferent. That’s the point.

Student: Rinpoche, is there a stronger method to go back to past lives, because we’re doing it so quickly. Is there a stronger method to really feel the past lives rather than just, say, use totally imagination? Because we, we go back so quickly with friend and enemy…

Rinpoche: That is the first thing you do. Firstly you feel this. First you think this. Try to feel this. Then secondly you think also the friend/enemy, their life, continuity in their life has also no beginning. Think like this. “Why does one become friend, one enemy? Why do I have this kind of relationship? That is because of my karma that is created in previous lifetimes.”

One way is to think about the karma. Think about your own mental continuity, and the attachment, uncontrolled, starting in just this life, the delusion of this life. “Why is it here in this life? Because my previous life’s mind was under the control of delusion, so it is still here in this life. This has no beginning.” This can help. As you feel this, once, twice, a few times, four times, five times, six times, like this, try to feel this more and more. Gradually it will clear up. The feeling will become stronger, stronger.

Student: Is the desire itself a negativity, or is just the attachment and the craving which are born from, or rise from, the desire negative? I mean, if I feel a desire, is, is this feeling itself considered to be..

Rinpoche: Desire? [Yeah.] There are different type of desire. Wishing, desire. I wish to be free from samsara. I wish to receive enlightenment for sentient beings. That’s still desire, but it’s different than the desire that is attachment. The effect is different. Generally samsaric attachment has the nature of clinging strongly, exaggerating the object with superstition. That is to be avoided. This is the cause of samsara and rebirth in the suffering realms. The wish to be free from attachment, samsara, to make pure practice is not samsaric attachment.

Then also same thing with a friend. If you don’t find any specific friend, then you also create similar way, whatever thing you are most attached to then. The technique is like this. Then afterward, when you have the equal feeling with all sentient beings you don’t see, “This is more of a friend, this is more enemy,” then all sentient beings are same thing, being friend, being enemy, equal. When you have the equal feeling, not clinging, not having feeling of dislike, then you just hold onto that feeling, just concentrate on that feeling as much as possible.

By doing this more, after some time, in the future when you meet the condition, you can easily control your mind, even when the delusion arises, even before the delusion starts to arise. You can feel the equanimity with that person, his being friend, being enemy, in same number. You can easily get the equal feeling, easily, very easily. You can have the feeling of the equanimity. You can see him in equanimity right away.

LECTURE 15:  November 21, 1975

As it is in the guru yoga prayer that we have said this morning—this prayer that was written by the lineage of the lam-rim teachings, the very highly realized guru, called Dagpe Kelsang Jambel Lhundrub—as it is said in this yoga prayer, the glance of the lam-rim meditation, “Please grant me blessings, please grant me blessings to increase unceasingly the thought of taking the essence all day and night, by understanding that I have received perfect human rebirth. It’s extremely difficult to find and it’s highly meaningful.” So, as it is said in the prayer, this guru yoga prayer, if you check up, you recognize to be so precious, that it has many good qualities. If we check up with ourselves, we have, this time, received it, that which is difficult to receive again, and it is highly meaningful. If we check up by opening by opening our wisdom eye, if we turn it to look at ourselves, whether we have received that precious human rebirth or not, if we check up we find, it is received this time.

However, even at this moment, even if one realizes one has not received it, even if one finds that one hasn’t received all the eight freedoms and all the ten richnesses, we can discover definitely that we have received more than what is missing. You have received that much freedom, that many number of richnesses. This precious human rebirth is that much highly meaningful or precious. So without wasting this, the purpose, the meaning or the purpose of receiving this life, is to take the essence, not to waste it but to take the essence and make it meaningful. How to make it meaningful is to take the essence, to use it in order to take the essence.

So the highest essence is receiving enlightenment for the benefit of other sentient beings. That’s why it is said in the prayer, “Please grant me blessings to increase unceasingly the thought of taking the essence all day and night.” To have this energy to persuade oneself to continuously follow the path, that depends on receiving blessings. So therefore the prayer is made in the form of request like this.

With this perfect human rebirth, to take the highest essence, that depends on the gradual path to enlightenment. That depends on the listening and the understanding, the meditating on this path, the teachings on the gradual path. So therefore, before listening the teaching it is necessary to cultivate the pure motivation. It is not enough just performing the action of listening to Dharma, it is necessary to become the cause of receiving enlightenment. In order to become the cause, that depends on cultivating bodhicitta.

Only releasing myself from samsaric suffering is not sufficient. There are numberless of mother sentient beings who are extremely kind to me all the time, and they are continuously suffering without having Dharma wisdom-method. So it is my responsibility, alone, to release them from suffering and lead them in the most sublime happiness, enlightenment. In order to do this I must receive enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to listen to the profound teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment.

The listening subject is the Mahayana teaching which leads the fortunate one to enlightenment. It is well expounded by great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It’s a profound teaching, the essence of the unequaled Atisha and the Dharma King of the three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa’s infinite knowledge. It contains all the importance of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. All these teachings are set up for the gradual practice of one person achieving enlightenment. This is only the gradual path through which all past, present, future buddhas have received enlightenment.

The commentary on this gradual path to enlightenment has four basic outlines. The last one is how to lead the disciple of the actual teaching. And that starts by following the guru, how to train the mind in the gradual path to enlightenment.

The first outline of this fourth basic outline includes the actual schedule—the preparation, the actual meditation session and the completion.

So yesterday we were talking, and many people think like this, to practice Dharma, to meditate, to practice meditation, to be free from suffering, there’s no need for a guru. If you read a book, that’s enough. Many people have this idea. However, that is talk of those who don’t have understanding, who don’t have real understanding of the Dharma. They are guessing, you know. They have no experience of even one meditation, nothing, no control, not one single controlled mind. If you want to learn how to make a watch, you have to learn from a teacher. Even to learn a language, you have a teacher. You have to have a teacher. Even for ordinary knowledge, you have to have a teacher. Why do we have to depend on a guide? Because of one’s own ignorance. Even to learn language, those external things, one has to depend on a teacher.

Many of those experiences are not something that we didn’t do in the previous lifetimes, you know. But even if we lived in New York in our previous lifetime, if we go to New York again now we have to depend on a guide. So, why not on this new path of which we don’t have any experience? Of course we have to depend on a guide. It’s a new path, and we have to depend on a guide who can lead us in the path. The whole point is, it’s a new path we never had experience of, first of all. Secondly, we’re ignorant. So without a guide, someone explaining the road, trying just to walk a few hours, during just a few hours we will make a mistake, you know, even if it’s very close. So there’s no question that without a guide, there’s a definite danger that we will make a mistake, that we will receive wrong understanding. So like this, it is impossible to receive enlightenment without depending on the virtuous friend, the guru. Without depending on that, impossible to receive enlightenment. There are many reasons, it’s full of reasons. The whole commentary comes then again. By not having met the virtuous friend, one cannot receive enlightenment.

In Tibetan it’s called the virtuous friend, the literal translation from the Tibetan term, gewa shenyen. Gewa is virtue, she is a friend or relative. Friend. Nyen means, there are two words nyen, two types of words nyen. One nyen means just like relative, common thing you know, he is my relative. But one nyen means like upasika the five precepts, name of that ordination called upasika. In Tibetan term genyen, gen nyen—like that kind of nyen, genyen. Person who’s living in eight precepts is called nyen ne. However of that, of that nyen, also the teacher has the function of that nyen. For instance, relating to the names of the ordinations, ge nyen, like the five precepts, ge is virtue, nyen has meaning, ge nyen, so that is the person who is keeping precepts is virtue. Nyen means becoming closer, means for a person who is keeping precepts, that virtue makes him closer to nirvana. Makes closer to nirvana—so ge nyen. it has much meaning, it has very, very tasty meaning. Ge nyen means this, that what he does for keeping his virtue makes him closer to nirvana. Ge nyen, just by name it means—very interesting name. So, like that also, virtuous friend also has that function. Virtuous friend, nyen, gewe she.nyen, virtuous friend makes oneself close to nirvana.

In regard to names, like this, it makes sense, even in name, even by understanding the name, it makes sense. The purpose of that, even just the name contains the purpose of that person, just the name contains the purpose of that.

Pipi time. Thank you very much.

John asked the question about, if one is attached to the guru whether that can be used as the object for equilibrium meditation. If that is used in the equilibrium meditation, has been giving harm numberless times, helping me numberless times, I think that becomes the opposite of the guru practice—opposite to the guru practice because he never does that, that is never his function. This is opposite to Buddha’s work, so it’s not guru’s work, so it’s not guru’s function, harming to oneself. With others, we actually, it is true, we had the conditions many times for them to give harm, and for them to help, it’s not just imaginary, we’re not just making it up, but this is not something that we can understand right away—right this minute.

About the point of the guru, the very first thing, as I said before, it is not necessary someone is the right guru for you because he has the right reputation, because he has many followers who respect him. Not necessary that is proof that he is the right teacher. That he is guru. Many times it has happened in previous times, stories about the wrong teacher who takes the wrong path and has more followers, millions and millions of followers. Easily he is followed, easy to accept that path. Even the great yogis with perfect accomplishments, realizations of the path, attaining enlightenment in this lifetime, who sees all the absolute nature of existence, realizing absolute nature of one’s own mind, who can show the right path, have very few followers. They cannot see the other person’s knowledge. They see whatever their mind projects, that’s all.

Some other, wrong guides, show the path that agrees to your delusions, which makes delusions happy, attachment happy—I’m not saying anger is happy!—show the path that agrees with your delusions, which develops delusions rather than decreasing them. That guide says, “Oh you can do this, you can do that, doesn’t matter. You can do everything, all the actions of delusions you can do,” and so many people come, you don’t have to announce in the newspapers or radio or television! Easily, many, many people just easily follow, easy to accept. It is confusion but person don’t feel this, due to ignorance. Even though it is confused, doesn’t feel it. Easy to listen, but difficult to realize this confusion.

If you question “Why are you doing this? For what benefit? What benefit do you expect? To give solution to life? Happiness in the life? Just this life, without talking about previous or future lives? Does it help the mind to become more and more quiet? Less anger, less impatience, does it help? Does it make your life more satisfied?” If the wrong path is questioned like this it is difficult to answer. Then even the person himself says he didn’t receive any effect by following that path, and it is difficult to say yes, I received the benefits, more satisfaction, becoming less impatient, to have more benevolent thoughts. If you question, the person shuts up, goes completely silent. I have had this experience from other people. This is my feeling I am talking about now.

Most of the sentient beings’ minds are not aware, not free from ignorance, so it is natural that it happens like this. Also many times people do like this, because techniques that have been taught, it doesn’t matter what path has been shown, it is according to, harmonious with their delusions, something which the delusions like and have interest in. So the person thinks, believes, it is benefiting him, helping him, “It helps my mind, benefits my mind. It’s fantastic!”

Many people do like this, not really knowing their own mind. Many times it happened in Delhi, people who make business, selling gold. They say “I have gold to sell, do you want to buy very cheap?” He takes the other business man to his room, downstairs in a dark room where there is not so much light, so the other person cannot see well, then he pretends it’s real gold, how he has to be careful with it, showing much emotion, trying to show that it’s real gold. So they make business in the dark room, and the other person is so happy, “Now I have a good friend, he sold me so cheap.” Mind extremely happy.

While it is in his pocket he believes he has real gold, he is very happy. Then he arrives at his house. In his room, the gold which he has been carrying very secretly and very carefully, without letting other people know, he checks up, and it’s brass, not gold! [Laughs.] Having similar kind of appearance, you know, but not gold, brass. Then, the conclusion, you know, then so much crying, then so much worry, so much worry, so much upset, then life becomes terrible. Then like this, like this.

What I’m saying is you know, what I’m saying is many people are doing like this, because it is harmonious with delusion, because delusion, because it is something that delusion likes so the person thinks “It is benefiting me.” For a while he gets a surprise, for a while he has so much excitement, surprise you know, “How fantastic it is,” you know. However, just like this, that does not continue. So that kind of person who’s happy like that, that is just like the person who believes the false gold is real. How the person gets betrayed is like that. I’m just clarifying my experience. So it’s good for the future to be careful.

So, like this, in order to control the mind, to find a teacher who just knows this, just to know this one technique, just one meditation technique, is not enough, not sufficient, it is not sufficient that he knows just one technique, you know, not sufficient for you to receive nirvana, for you to receive enlightenment. Without talking much, for you to receive enlightenment, the guide, the spiritual guide, the teacher knowing only one technique of meditation, that’s not sufficient, not sufficient, that can’t make one to receive enlightenment. That can’t make you complete the practice of the graduated path. The person who knows only shamatha meditation, just knowing only that technique is not enough.

Student: Can I ask a question? What about more profound teachings of a teacher, like, for instance Sri Aurobindo? “The mother?” Things like that, what do you think about them?

Rinpoche: I see. I can’t understand, I have no power to see her mind, so I can’t say, I can’t say, okay? You check up. Yeah, alright.

For oneself to receive enlightenment one has to complete the realizations of the gradual path. There are many levels of realizations, you know, that one has to receive, there are many delusions that one has to control, one has to exhaust. So to be able to make this aim successful, it is not sufficient just one teacher who knows just one technique like shamatha meditation, but no idea of other meditation, who knows only how to teach breathing meditation but no idea of others, it’s not sufficient. It’s not sufficient, like this.

Without talking about the details, without making much talk, to be able to follow the gradual path to enlightenment, the teacher, the virtuous friend, the virtuous guide, besides that he can lead the disciple in the lower gradual path by showing the teaching on the gradual path, to show the teaching he, himself, must have perfect correct understanding. For the teaching on the gradual path, first the teacher himself has to have understanding, at least perfect understanding at least, at least perfect, at least correct understanding, no misunderstanding. The most perfect thing is having experience himself.

Then secondly, who shows the gradual path to enlightenment, who leads oneself in the gradual path to enlightenment, besides that he can lead the disciple in the lower gradual path, he can also lead in the middle path, the gradual path of the middle being shown correctly, correctly. To show that, he, himself, must first have a correct understanding, perfect understanding at least.

There’s a final thing, an understanding, a last thing, to be able to lead others in the gradual, in the higher gradual path to enlightenment, the guide himself has to show that he is reaching the higher gradual path. In order to show this, himself has to have perfect understanding of that. Like this, at least like this, or it is not sufficient.

Then if that leader, if he doesn’t have perfect understanding, the teacher of the higher gradual path, if he doesn’t have that, he can’t show it. In that way he can’t lead oneself in enlightenment. If he doesn’t have perfect understanding of the teaching of the gradual path for middle being, if he doesn’t have that understanding, he can’t show the teaching and he can’t lead oneself even to the cessation of samsara in nirvana. Even the lower nirvana he can’t lead. He can’t make oneself, the disciple to be free from samsara. He can’t make it happen. And if the leader doesn’t have the perfect understanding of the teaching of the lower gradual path, if he doesn’t understand those teachings, these basic teachings, then he can’t teach, he can’t show, so he can’t lead—that leader who doesn’t understand the basic teachings of the lower gradual path, he can’t lead, he can’t make the disciple even receive perfect human rebirth in the future life. He can’t make it, the one who doesn’t have that basic understanding even of that. The basic understanding, the teaching, on the lower gradual path, starting from meditation on perfect human rebirth down to the impermanence of life, death, then the sufferings of the lower realms, then refuge, karma, those basic things. If he doesn’t have even these things he cannot lead, he cannot make it happen.

Among these most important things is understanding refuge and karma. If he doesn’t have those basic understandings, teachings on lower gradual path, there’s no way he can save the disciple from the suffering of lower realms, not to be born in sufferings lower realm. If what he does is opposite to good karma, the virtuous action, moral action, if that’s the path that he shows, there is no way to make the disciple even in the present life to be happy. Like this, briefly talking like this. I think I stop here.

So I think the reason why I lingered little time here without going straight into the meditation. I think it is quite important at present time and also future time to stop dangers.