Kopan Course No. 12 (1979)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kathmandu, Nepal November 1979 (Archive #350)

The following is a transcript of teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Twelfth Kopan Meditation Course. Included is a commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara (A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life). The transcript also includes a lecture by Lama Thubten Yeshe and the "Question and Answer" session that followed this lecture. Read an edited excerpt from Lama's lecture here. You may also download the entire contents of these teachings in a pdf file.

Section Two: Lectures 9-14

Lecture 9, November 16th am

…the mind of all buddhas in the form of Guru Shakyamuni, so Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the compassionate embodiment of all the gurus, all the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Visualize, like this, the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the power, have the ability, perfect ability to save oneself and the mother sentient beings who are suffering in samsara. “Therefore, I go for refuge to the guru and the Triple Gem, in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all the mother sentient beings.” Practice refuge with selfless motivation.

Chanting: Lama la kyab su chi wo…

Within one’s mind, the suffering or happiness won’t arise that much greater as we feel that much more of the sufferings, the confusion of sentient beings. As you feel very much more, see how they would have great happiness if they were free from attachment and hatred.

If all the sentient beings were to be free…

The sentient beings in the six realms: you watch live television then think how they have temporal happiness, how they are devoid of ultimate happiness. Think of this, then generate pure love, immeasurable love, and while you are aware of their suffering you generate the image of the sentient beings.

If all the sentient beings had happiness…
I will cause them happiness…

“To obtain happiness for other sentient beings, this is the work I’m going to do in my life, this is the work, to strive to free the sentient beings from suffering and to obtain happiness; this is my life, my life’s work, this is what I should do.” So like this take responsibility by oneself.

Please Guru Buddhas bless me to be able to do this…

By watching the suffering on television, how they are suffering, generate immeasurable compassion for all sentient beings, like when the child is sick the mother has incredible, incredible pain in the heart, she feels unbearable, her baby being sick. The mother feels unbearable as if it is her diseases and she wishes, she strives to recover the disease as if it were her disease. Like that, not just like looking at television, but as if it’s one’s own suffering, the other sentient beings. Like the example of how a mother feels with her child, with her only son, well then like that if one can, generate strong compassion like that. By feeling it as one’s own suffering, that the sufferings of other sentient beings is unbearable, the compassion that is generated is that much stronger within one’s mind.

If all the sentient beings were free from suffering and the causes of suffering how wonderful it would be.
May they be free from this, may I cause them to be free from this, please Guru Buddhas bless me to be able to do this.
If all the sentient beings were free from suffering and the cause of suffering, how wonderful it would be…
May they be free from this, may I cause them to be free from this, please Guru Buddhas, bless me to be able to do this.

Meditate on the Immeasurable Pure Joy.

If all the sentient beings were never separated from higher rebirths and the supreme bliss of liberation, how wonderful it would be, may they not be separated from this, I shall cause them not to be separated from this, please Guru Buddhas bless me to be able to do this…
If all the sentient beings were never separated from higher rebirths and the supreme bliss of liberation… how wonderful it would be, may they not be separated from this, I shall cause them not to be separate from this, please Guru Buddhas please me to be able to do this… If all the sentient beings were never separated from higher rebirths and the supreme bliss of liberation, how wonderful it would be, May they not be separated from this, I shall cause them not to be separated from this… I shall cause them not to be separated from this, please Guru Buddha bless me to be able to do this…

Cultivating Special Bodhicitta.

For the sake of all mother sentient beings quickly and still more quickly…

To listen to the teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment it is not sufficient just being virtuous motivation. Even if there is no uncreated bodhicitta, well then at least there should be created bodhicitta, effortful bodhicitta. So then, it is necessary to receive teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment. The mother sentient beings who have been extremely kind to me from beginningless previous lifetimes, who have been extremely kind now, and who will be extremely kind in the future, I must make them be free from all the sufferings and to have all the happiness, to have the highest blissful of enlightenment. I must do this, so in order to do this, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I am going to listen to the teachings of the steps of the path to enlightenment. It is necessary to listen by generating sufficient brief motivation.

After Lama Atisha handed down the teachings to his followers, the Kadampa Geshes, Lama Tsongkhapa received the lineage of the teachings from his guru Potowa Dorje Chang, one great yogi who is the embodiment of the wrathful aspect of Buddha Vajrapani, and then one of his gurus, Tawa Tenzin Chogyu Sangpo. He received all the lineage of the teachings of the profound path, not only the sutra but also the tantra, the teachings of Secret Mantra, which are handed down from Manjushri to Shantideva. Lama Tsongkhapa received all the lineages, all the sutras and the teachings on the Secret Mantra, all those three lineages from his gurus Potowa Dorje Chang and Tawa Tenzin Chokyu Sangpo.

When he was in the cave at a place called Reting in Tibet, near Lhasa, a cave which is called “Like a Lion,” when he was writing, in that cave, the requesting prayer which is called Opening the Door of the Sublime Path—this we don’t say here in the morning. That elaborate prayer written by Lama Tsongkhapa we don’t say in the morning, it is not in these morning prayers as it takes much time, and also, without much understanding to say those elaborate preliminary practices of the prayers is difficult; as there is not much understanding, it is kind of difficult to do all that. So, this special requesting prayer to all lineage lamas, written by Lama Tsongkhapa, which is called Opening the Door of the Sublime Path, is that elaborate prayer, Jor Cho prayer, the prayer of the preparation, in order to meditate on the steps of the path to enlightenment. Atisha passed away quite a long time before that, in Tibet, so Lama Tsongkhapa made requesting prayers to all the lineage lamas, in the cave. When he was writing this requesting prayer, he saw all the lineage lamas of the lam-rim. From Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, all the lineage lamas, Maitreya, Manjushri, all the lineage lamas, all the Kadampa geshes, they all appeared to Lama Tsongkhapa in his cave, and he had a conversation about Dharma with all the lineage lamas.

Lama Tsongkhapa saw Lama Atisha and his disciple Dromtonpa, who translated for Lama Atisha when Lama Atisha was giving teachings in Tibet, who is the embodiment of Avalokiteshvara, Compassionate Buddha. He saw Lama Atisha and Atisha’s disciples, Dromtonpa, Potowa and Sharawa, four of them, and Lama Tsongkhapa had conversations about Dharma for one month, in his cave, even though it was a long time ago that they passed away. Then afterwards those three other disciples absorbed into Lama Atisha, and Lama Atisha put his palm on the crown of Lama Tsongkhapa and told him, “You work for the teachings and I will help.”

So indirectly what happened was Lama Atisha persuaded Lama Tsongkhapa to write the great commentary on the lam-rim, the steps of the path to enlightenment. So he wrote the Great Steps of the Path to Enlightenment, the commentary of the text Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the commentary to Lama Atisha’s text, the heart of all the Buddhadharma, all the Buddha’s teachings. Lama Atisha summarized the heart of the sutra and tantra teachings in three pages.

Lama Tsongkhapa wrote the commentary to that text up to the point of shamatha, tranquil abiding, then he did not write on the next two sections, shamatha and higher seeing. Later, Buddha Manjushri, from whom he had received teachings on the subtle points of shunyata as a close disciple, directly appeared and persuaded him to write the commentary on higher seeing, voidness. Then he wrote the elaborate commentaries on shamatha and tranquil abiding. This commentary has great blessing because the one who persuaded him to write it was Buddha Manjushri, so actually it is like it was written by Buddha Manjushri.

Lama Tsongkhapa wrote three commentaries—first the text called The Great Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, the most elaborate lam-rim text. Then he wrote other texts, the middle one, which is the essence of the first. Then, for those of lower intelligence to have a clear understanding, he wrote a very short one, Hymns of Experience, on the steps of the path to enlightenment. I think this is translated into English by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala. That is the shortest one by Lama Tsongkhapa.

There are three ways of giving commentary. The practice one is explaining commentary with practice, by the guru, from his own experience of the practice. As it fits the disciple one can practice. I think nowadays they do this in Dharamsala in India, and the Tibetan lamas also do it in Tibet. So first the lama gives the teaching on meditation to the disciples then the disciples go back to their rooms and sleep until the gong… joking. They go back to their hermitage around the lama and try to complete the effortless experience of the meditation subject, such as perfect human rebirth, the eight freedoms and ten richnesses. Then they come to check with the guru. If the disciple has generated the realization the guru teaches the next meditation, then, after having received the complete advice on that, he goes back to the retreating place, and so on. This way of giving commentary is called commentary with experience.

The commentary with experience: after they have the experience they check with the guru, they live close around him and all day they retreat on lam-rim. Then they check with the guru who himself has the experience of the steps of the path to enlightenment and he sees whether they have generated the subject. If the disciple is making a mistake in the meditation, the guru clarifies this mistake, corrects the disciple’s understanding. So much happens for those who are making lifetime retreat on the lam-rim in Tibet.

When I went to Tibet, just on the way, I didn’t see much of the whole country but on the way through the mountains almost every mountain had a monastery on top. Some large, some small, holes everywhere, like ants’ nests. Many mountains are like that, when I was going to Tibet from Solo Khumbu. It was very late, just before Tibet was taken over by the Chinese, so many of the mountains were like this. This is just what I saw, all those hermitages on very incredibly high mountains. I don’t know how they managed. From far away I saw a lot of empty holes, ruined. Still there are a lot, in India, especially Dharamsala; they stay around the lama and complete the effortless experience on the graduated path of lam-rim and also the graduated path of Secret Mantra. There are many lamas, many monks and many people who are on their way to achieving enlightenment. They are on the road. Maybe some go by bus, though, some by jet, some by car, some walk, depending on their understanding, their skill.

Then the third one, in order to generate the realization of the steps of the path—actually this way, one doesn’t have to live in the hermitage. Even if one is living in the West, in the city, there is a way to have the same experience, the effortless experience of meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment. It is not a physical activity; just generating the realizations of the steps of the path to enlightenment is just mind work, not so much the physical work, whether you are in the Himalayan mountains or in New York. It doesn’t matter physically where you are. The whole thing is mind, so in the city, in the country, while one is working, there is a way to gradually generate the realizations of the steps of the path to enlightenment. There is a way to gradually generate the realization of bodhicitta mind, shunyata and also the teachings of Secret Mantra. In each day, while one is working, living with the family, living in the city, by leaving impressions of the stages of the path to enlightenment in your mind, by making sessions of one hour or half an hour each day, similar to those who live in the hermitage—first he tries to receive the effortless experience in meditation, put more effort in that. After he has received this he checks with the guru about what he has received, then when it’s proven that he has the realization of the meditation, he puts more effort into the second meditation until he gets the effortless experience of that one.

Having some sessions in the morning or evening, then in the daytime, in the break times, to be aware, constantly watch one’s own mind and watch the actions of the body, speech, and mind. As much as possible practice lam-rim in the break times; by watching the mind one knows what action the body is doing, what action the sleep is doing, what action the mind is doing, one is able to recognize. Then also one finds out when delusion is rising or not rising, one recognizes whatever the delusion is, it is going to rise, it is about to rise. While it is rising, remember the meditation, the teachings and the different meditations, and apply them. By applying it goes away. Each of the delusions is stopped. As much as possible during the break time, by always watching the mind, try to have a good heart. On the other hand try to remember bodhicitta, practice bodhicitta in one’s own experience. Whatever activity one is doing, try to relate it with the practice of bodhicitta. If the daily activities are not possessed by attachment, clinging to the happiness of this life; if you watch the mind, control the unsubdued mind with the meditation techniques; then the motivation is not possessed by the attachment clinging to the happiness of this life and all become Dharma the cause of happiness.

Then as you remember bodhicitta, as you relate with the practice of bodhicitta, any activity that you do with the practice of bodhicitta, all the work in the factories, in the ships, in business become the cause to achieve enlightenment, done with the motivation of bodhicitta. They become the bodhisattva’s practice.

So doing this, even if you live far from the guru, in the city, in the family, there is a possibility. It is just a matter of one’s own side, in order to generate the realizations of the stages of the path to enlightenment, it’s just a matter of whether one puts effort or not. A person who is going to climb the peak of the mountain prepares for several years, collecting money, spending much effort and time and energy in that, to make all the arrangements, thousands of dollars in order to get to the top of the mountain, just to get the reputation. If one is able to climb it, one gets the direct name, “Sir,” from London—one extra name, besides the normal one Richard or Bob or George. So at least if he is able to climb the mountain, what he receives is the direct name, “Sir blah blah,” like this, then maybe he might get some dollars. Then again he has a big worry about having all those dollars, what to do with it. How to enjoy it, how to have best enjoyment, great fear to lose it, and then even if one starts to do business, something like that, it will not become successful.

Maybe right after he receives the reputation, before the money gets in his hands, without having the chance to even receive the money in his hand, the person has left; death came before he received the money, he didn’t have chance to use it, didn’t have chance to enjoy it. At death time, when death occurred, the reputation into which he put much effort—so many years and much energy and time, much expense, much material expense—there is no benefit for himself. When death occurs, there is not one single benefit for him; there is no way to receive happiness in the mind from it. The materials he has received, that he gained, not having freedom to carry even one paisa with him, all those material possessions have to be completely left; only the consciousness, the bare consciousness has to go to the intermediate stage, by leaving even this body born from the mother. The bare consciousness alone has to go to the intermediate stage, so there is not one single benefit from the works done for this life, no matter what sweet, interesting name there is, the material possessions of the person, how rich the person is—there’s not one single benefit to his future lives from those things.

The conclusion is that as the person puts incredible time, energy and effort to make preparation to climb one mountain, just to get the feet on top of that, incredible time and energy, the whole life spent on that, the cause of much worry and fear about whether one is going to be successful or not, collecting money for so many years. The day of the death, when death occurs, even if he did have material possessions, all this is like last night’s dream—he made big preparation, climbed the mountain, received reputation, so many coming to see him, waving hands in the last night’s dream. Receiving millions of dollars, you put it in the bank right away, without delay put in the bank and then you woke up this morning—nothing! You found there was not one paisa left from that on your table, couldn’t find one paisa, completely empty; just like last night’s dream their lives are completely empty, not one single benefit was done for the life that comes after that, not one preparation was made. So that is how the works of this life are meaningless.

The works of generating the gradual path to enlightenment, putting much effort in that, not only frees oneself, makes this present life happy, it brings happiness in all future lives and not only that, it frees oneself completely from all the delusions of suffering, ignorance. Not only that, by achieving enlightenment one is able to do perfect work for each sentient being, free them from suffering and bring them to enlightenment—this is great work. Following the holy Dharma, the stages of the path to enlightenment, of course even if it takes three countless great eons, many billions of lifetimes, to accomplish this work, is great work, nothing, no time, is wasted.

So the conclusion is from our own side it is just a matter of having understanding of the teachings, just a matter of putting effort into it. Then even while one is living in the family, in the city, there is a way to achieve enlightenment.

Lecture 10, November 16th pm

Cultivate the motivation of bodhicitta: “Now I am going to listen to the teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment, in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all the mother sentient beings.”

I’ll try to go a little quicker without talking much in the beginning, except some for emphasis.

The third commentary, commentary of explanation, means the lama explains the teachings, just giving the explanation on that specific commentary, explaining the commentary. What we are doing here is more or less, if the disciple generates the realization, the meditation that was explained, he remembers later and meditates on that. Trying to remember in the same day the explanation that was given, so they can meditate on that, is the commentary of the practice. The lama explains with his experience and then the disciple practices; this is the commentary of the practice. If after the explanation one meditates on that it becomes the commentary of explanation. If one has meditated on the explanation that is explained, then it becomes the commentary on practice. Generally it is like this. Here from the side of the lama there is not even the smell of experience of practice but let’s pretend there is.

The listening subject is the Mahayana traditional teaching that releases the fortunate being into the state of enlightenment. It is well expounded by the teachings of the great propagators, Nagarjuna and Asanga. This teaching on the stages of the path to enlightenment is extremely profound advice, like the incomparable great bodhisattva Atisha, and Lama Tsongkhapa, who is the victorious Dharma king of the three realms, as if the essence of their holy mind is taken out. This teaching on the steps to the path to enlightenment is an extremely profound teaching, as it contains the essence of the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha without missing anything, and it is set up for the graduated practice, for one person to achieve enlightenment.

So to give a brief commentary on this, on the steps to the path to enlightenment: the way to give commentary—you should follow the outline and, on the basis of one outline, one should understand the numbers, the outlines, the visualization, the form of meditation. There are explanations and quotations. There is logic, there are stories and there are the techniques, particular advice, techniques of the lamas. So when one meditates on lam-rim one should meditate like this, by understanding as it was explained. If one meditates without an outline, just anything that comes up, or listens that way without any outline, just mixing the whole thing, it’s difficult to benefit the mind.

Just mixing without following any outline, the previous and later, everything mixed up, if one meditates on that it is very difficult to benefit, to transform the mind. If one meditates like that it is very difficult to generate the realizations, like you mix everything, salt, butter, sugar, tea, rice and dhal, vegetables and coffee. Without having a container for each one you mix everything, you mix the whole thing in one pot; then eat it. When you listen like that, then you meditate on death, it is difficult to benefit the mind, difficult to generate the realizations.

There are different texts of lam-rim by Lama Tsongkhapa that are very elaborate, having its own outline set up separately, just the outline, and there are other shorter lam-rim outlines also. This one is not as elaborate as Lama Tsongkhapa’s outline. This is the shorter one, the more abbreviated outline. Such is this abbreviated lam-rim outline, which is compiled by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, the root guru of our root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who is His Holiness Dalai Lama’s tutor, and many other high lamas. So this lam-rim teaching is his teaching, his commentary, it was not done by His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, from whom I received teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment the first time in my life.

The first time I received lam-rim teachings was from the incomparably kind, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. These are his notes from when his root guru explained the teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment, three, four texts together, three, four lam-rim texts, which have hundreds of pages, which he explained together. This is the abbreviated outline.

According to whatever capability of mind or intelligence one has, either one meditates on the lam-rim, the steps of the path to enlightenment, if one is able, the outline of Lama Tsongkhapa’s great commentary, or, if one cannot do that, one can meditate on the steps of the path to enlightenment by following this abbreviated lam-rim outline, written by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. Then there are shorter lam-rim outlines than this. So, those who can’t follow even this, then they can manage the short one, or you can make it. I was just joking.

This is the way the meditation is practiced. Every day the meditation on the lam-rim is done, is practiced, on the basis of the outline. As you follow the outline, when you meditate on each outline, remember the lama explained each point of the visualization, the way to meditate like that, quotations like this, stories like this, according to that subject, that point, then the reasons. As one meditates, try to remember those things and also the examples. At that point the lama has given examples like this. When the lama explains the lam-rim, as much as possible the lama should explain the lam-rim with all these forms of meditations, and then the reasons, quotations, examples and stories. With many of these different methods, reasons and examples, it makes it very clear, it helps quickly to generate the realization of the meditation. So the skillful highly learned lamas, the well experienced lamas, explain the teachings like that.

The commentary of the steps of the path to enlightenment has four outlines, four basic outlines:

1. The qualities of the author, in order to show the pure reference of the teaching. How the teaching is pure; explaining the qualities of the author.

The root text is the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, written by Lama Atisha. So the quality of the author is the qualities of Lama Atisha. This is in order to show the pure reference, how these teachings are pure.

2. Qualities of Dharma, the pre-eminent qualities of the Dharma, in order to bring up devotion to this oral teaching.
3. How to listen and explain these teachings, which has two qualities.
4. How to lead the disciple in the graduated steps of the path to enlightenment by revealing these oral teachings.

So there are four basic outlines like this. “The pre-eminent qualities of the author,” in order to show the pure reference of the Dharma, has three outlines. The first is how the author himself was born in a perfect caste. Then, with that holy body, how he found the qualities of the realizations. Then the third one: after having found the realizations how he did the work for the teachings.

In regards Lama Atisha’s work for the teachings and sentient beings, after having found the realizations, how he did great, extensive work for the teachings in India and in Tibet: I think at the beginning of the course one of the monks here, Bob, read Lama Atisha’s life story, which is part of Lama Atisha’s biography. I’m sure everybody might have heard of, everybody can remember, Padmasambhava coming from India to purify the land of Tibet, in order to establish Buddhadharma in Tibet. Then the king of Tibet and the great translator, Pema Sambota, they spread Dharma in Tibet the first time. It existed for quite a long time, then there was degeneration of the holy Dharma in Tibet, the various pandits came from India, wearing blue robes—they came to buy gold in Tibet, and by the way they spread in Tibet all kinds of wrong conceptions, like sexual intercourse is the path to enlightenment, and magic kind of things. I think that during those times people in Tibet could not…

…together, they can’t understand that sutra and the teachings of Secret Mantra are the graduated practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. They can’t put together the practices of sutra and tantra. The person who practices sutra can’t practice tantra, and a person who practices tantra can’t practice sutra. Like this, they recognized those two practices, those two teachings, like hot and cold—there was confusion like this in regards to the different teachings, not knowing how to practice them by one person. So the Tibetan king, Lha Lama Yeshe O, was so concerned, terribly upset that the teaching was degenerating, the Tibetan people were so ignorant and suffering, not knowing how to practice the sutra and tantra teachings. So from all of Tibet he picked twenty-one of the most intelligent boys and sent them to Nalanda to be educated in the language of Dharma, in order to spread the pure Dharma in Tibet, to revive the Buddhadharma.

Only two boys survived, the rest died of the heat in India. They returned back from India and went to see the king and explained everything, and they suggested to him that there was one great pandit, holy being, highly realized pandit called Atisha that everybody says if he went to Tibet, could be of benefit. So when the king heard the name Atisha, unbelievable, doubtless devotion arose; the hairs on his body rose up—unbelievable. Anyway, right away he decided to invite Lama Atisha and he sent one translator, called Detun Seng with many gold offerings.

However, he could not invite Lama Atisha to Tibet, so the king himself went to find gold. He reached the place where an irreligious king lived, called Kalogabo. He knew the Dharma king wanted to spread holy Dharma in Tibet and he didn’t like that, so he captured the king of Tibet, Lha Lama Yeshe Ö and asked him to choose: either give up his life or give up Buddhadharma. If he didn’t give up the Buddhadharma he had to stay in prison. So he was put in prison by the irreligious king. His nephew, called Janchub Ö came to take the king out of prison, and the irreligious king told him, “If you bring gold the size of the king’s body I will release him from prison.” So he went to search for the gold, and brought gold the size of the king’s body up to his neck. He offered it to the evil king in exchange for the release of the Dharma king Lha Lama Yeshe O.

But the evil king said, “I still need gold the size of his head—that is missing.” The nephew couldn’t find any other method. He went to the prison and called the king. The great king said, “If I’m at war with an irreligious king, it only creates the karma to go to the lower realms.” The irreligious king said, “Don’t invite Atisha.” The nephew told king Lha Lama Yeshe O, “I am going to find more gold since he wasn’t satisfied. While I do this please remember it is your karma to be in prison and pray to the Triple Gem to have a strong heart.” Like this he advised the king.

But the king told him, “It’s very good for me to die for the Dharma, but don’t give the irreligious king even one handful of gold. If he is dissatisfied with gold the size of my body, how can he be satisfied with gold the size of my head? Don’t give him any gold, take it all and go to India and invite Lama Atisha.”

The king gave the message to his nephew, to tell Lama Atisha, “I have given up my life to the irreligious king for the Buddhadharma, so please guide me with your compassion in all my future lives. My principal idea, the only thought that I had, is that you come to Tibet and spread the holy Dharma here, and beyond this life please grant me blessings to meet you. I can’t meet you this life so please grant me blessing to be able to meet you beyond this life.” This is the message that was given to his nephew, to explain to Atisha. So the king told him, “Don’t question me, you should only think of Buddhadharma, the teachings of the Buddha.” The king was in prison, very skinny, not having strength of the body and even the speech very poor, not having strong speech, very suffering speech. So his nephew left, even though it was unbearable to leave the king in prison, even though it was unbearable for him to separate. So by thinking of the sentient beings in Tibet and the teachings of Buddha, thinking of Lama Atisha, having a very strong heart he went to India to invite Lama Atisha there.

The Tibetan king’s nephew, Janchub Ö made many observations and requests to the Triple Gem. He checked with astrology and made observations with the deities, asking who has the karma to invite Lama Atisha. From astrological observations and by requesting to Triple Gem, the result came that the person who could invite Lama Atisha is the Tibetan translator called Ngatso Lotsawa.

So the Tibetan king’s nephew went to see the translator Ngatso Lotsawa, and explained everything—how the Tibetan king has given up his life in prison and all these things. The nephew cried in front of the great translator Ngatso Lotsawa, his legs became all wet, while he was explaining, all his front clothing became completely wet by crying tears of emotion, the table in front of him became completely wet by so much crying. How the teachings were degenerating and how people were suffering, like this. So the pandit, the great translator Ngatso Lotsawa’s body was shaking because the nephew of the Tibetan king was crying so much—and the Lama himself was unable to look at his face and his body shook and his eyes were full of tears. So right away, even though at that time there were no roads to travel on, it was very wild and there were lots of wild animals on the way, very dangerous, and he himself didn’t have any experience of traveling in India or anywhere, even though there were lots of difficulties, without the concept of the happiness of this life, bearing all these difficulties, he accepted to go to invite Lama Atisha.

So the nephew gave him all the gold and told the translator where to go. He watched him go and from very far away he was still calling and saying, “Gelong, this time please do my work, even though it is very difficult, with much hardship, even if you have to give up your life, however difficult it is, please do this work and I will repay you.” The nephew also called to him from very far away to make requests to Avalokiteshvara.

The translator could not see Lama Atisha right away, he had to wait. When he was finally able to see him he offered the gold and explained the whole problem that was happening in Tibet. How the king gave up his life completely to invite Lama Atisha to spread Dharma in Tibet. Lama Atisha did not give an answer right away—he returned the gold and said he would check whether going to Tibet with compassion, to do the work for sentient beings there, would be beneficial or a hindrance to his life. He made an observation with Avalokiteshvara, the Great Compassionate One and Tara, the female aspect of Buddha. Both of them advised him that if he should go to Tibet, it would be extremely beneficial to the teachings and for sentient beings, and especially for one disciple, an upasika living in that ordination, Dromtonpa. But they also both said that if he went to Tibet his life would become shortened. He asked them by how much and they said, “If you don’t go to Tibet you will live for 92 years; if you do go you will live only 73 years.” So it makes it 20 years shortened.

Lama Atisha thought, if I’m beneficial for sentient beings in Tibet, it doesn’t matter if my life is shortened, I won’t be concerned with that. He didn’t tell the pandits or the monks that he wanted to go—if he had told them, they wouldn’t let him go to Tibet. He went to see the Abbot, to get permission, and was given permission for three years. So secretly Lama Atisha and his surrounding disciples left from Nalanda, pretending he was going to make offerings around Bodhgaya, the holy places. This way he came to Nepal, and from there to the border of Nepal with Tibet. There Jangchub Ö and all the other pandits and lamas came to hold a reception. They explained all the problems happening in Tibet, the degeneration and the confusion. Jangchub Ö requested Atisha, “Atisha, the great compassionate one, I am not requesting very profound or wonderful Dharma for the ignorant beings in Tibet. Please teach on karma, cause and effect, please give the teaching that benefits all, which is easy to practice, which contains the essence of the Buddhadharma, the path, without missing anything, and which will benefit all Tibetans.”

He made several requests, and as there was confusion in Tibet, he offered these questions to Lama Atisha—is there need for Pratimoksha ordination as a foundation to take the bodhisattva ordination, and can a person receive enlightenment missing one of the two paths of method or wisdom? Also, can a person who has not received initiation take tantric teachings, or not? And can a person living a celibate life, in ordination, be given the actual initiation of transcendental wisdom or not? Also, can a person do the actions of Secret Mantra without having received the initiation of the vajra guru? These were the confusions in the minds of the people in Tibet at that time.

Lama Atisha was extremely pleased. Because of these questions he wrote the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, which contains the essence of the sutra and tantra teachings, the whole path, the essence of the Theravada teaching, the Abhidharma teaching, the tantric teaching and so on. In three pages he set out all the teachings of the gradual practice for one person to reach enlightenment.

This is how he started, that is how Lama Atisha started to write this text:

“I prostrate to the buddhas of the three times, the victorious ones, all the buddhas, and that Buddha’s Dharma and the Sangha with much respect, with much devotion. Because the good disciple, Jang-Chub-Ö persuaded, I will clarify the layman’s path to enlightenment.”

That is how he started to write the text. Why he called the Tibetan king’s nephew a good disciple is not because he is a noble person, from a rich family; Lama Atisha is not complimenting him because he invited Lama Atisha. Lama Atisha is not flattering or complimenting the Tibetan king’s nephew, it is not that but because he has a good heart, not because Lama Atisha has received much offering from him but because he has the good heart, bodhicitta. Also the way he put the questions, the teaching he requested is on karma, the essence of Dharma, for the sentient beings in Tibet. If Lama Atisha was asked to give the Tibetan people initiations, things like that, Lama Atisha would not be pleased, so because of the way the question was asked, the teaching that was asked of him, Lama Atisha was extremely pleased, and that is why he called him a good disciple. So he wrote this teaching and then he, Lama Atisha, lived seventeen years in Tibet. And right after he wrote this Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, all the confusions were stopped and all the wrong conceptions were destroyed.

So, the teachings were degenerated in Tibet and Lama Atisha revived them. Some teachings that were spread in Tibet, Lama Atisha increased and spread more. However, the degenerated teachings Lama Atisha completely cleaned, he made the teachings, the Buddhadharma in Tibet, stainless, completely pure. Then, Lama Atisha gave the steps of the path to enlightenment to his disciple Dromtonpa. Dromtonpa asked Lama Atisha, “For other disciples you gave teachings on the Secret Mantra, the tantra teachings. Why do you give me lam-rim teachings?” It doesn’t seem to be a new question. Lama Atisha told Dromtonpa, “I didn’t find any other people to whom I could give the lineage of the lam-rim, except you.” So he gave the lam-rim teaching to his disciple Dromtonpa in secret. Then Dromtonpa gave them in public. From that these three lineages arose—the different Kadampa practitioners.

The practitioners of the extensive scripture came from the Kadampa Geshe Gompawa. The linage of the advice came from Kadampa Geshe Chengawa. The three lineages happened like this. From the Kadampa geshes, gradually they came to Lama Tsongkhapa, then Lama Tsongkhapa handed them down to his many disciples. His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche and Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo gave this lam-rim teaching. When they give this teaching, they explain the biography of each of the lineage lamas. Actually there is a whole text containing the biography of each of the linage lamas of the lam-rim. It is very interesting explaining how they practiced lam-rim, how they generated the realizations of the path to enlightenment, all the signs, all their qualities—there are books explaining the biography of each of the lineage lamas. From Lama Tsongkhapa up to Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, then from Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s tutors, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche and His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, to those other incomparable gurus from whom I received the teaching on the steps of the path to enlightenment.

The reason that the elaborate biography of Atisha was read at the beginning of the course—you see the teaching that we are going to study, practice and talk about came from Lama Atisha, the root text, the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. So if we have some idea, some understanding of these qualities, and the incredible knowledge and realization that he had, and the works he did for sentient beings, for the teachings, there is some devotion to the author, the one who wrote the teaching. In that way, when we hear these teachings, when we read the steps of the path to enlightenment, as there is devotion already to the author of this teaching, hearing the teachings, reading the teachings, there is advantage, one receives the blessing. In that way, one’s mind gets transformed quicker, in that way realizations of the meditations get generated, one generates quicker the realization of the meditations; so there are advantages, there are benefits like this.

There are four qualities of the teachings of the steps of the path to enlightenment, and then another three qualities that make the teaching on the steps of the path to enlightenment more extraordinarily special than other teachings. The four qualities are these:

1. The quality of realizing all the teachings without contradiction—I don’t know how it is translated here.
2. The second quality, all the teachings of Buddha appearing in the advice.
3. The third quality—the pre-eminent qualities of the four divisions, all aspects of the Buddhadharma are perfectly consistent, every Dharma teaching is an oral instruction. However, as I mentioned before, immediately finding, realizing the pure view of the buddhas, the victorious ones.
4. The fourth quality of the lam-rim teaching—the great vices, the negative karmas naturally get stopped.

By understanding the lam-rim teachings one realizes all the teachings of Buddha without contradiction [short soft aside with member of audience inaudible on tape]. You see, by understanding lam-rim teachings, the benefit, the first advantage is that one realizes all the teachings of Buddha have no contradiction, are not opposite to each other. That means one person who has understanding of these lam-rim teachings, he sees all the teaching of Buddha: the teachings of the lesser vehicle path, the Theravada teachings, the Hinayana Teachings, the Mahayana teachings, the Paramitayana teachings and the teachings of the Secret Mantra, the tantra; even though it talks about a different subject, one teaching says one cannot do this, one says it can. The person who has understanding of lam-rim feels all these practices are for one person, the graduated practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. All this is for one person to practice at different times, the graduated practice for a person to achieve enlightenment. It is not opposite for one person to achieve enlightenment.

The subjects that I mentioned, which I always give in the teachings, the Hinayana, Mahayana, sutra and tantra, say it is not opposite for one person to achieve enlightenment. So even though in the words of these teachings, the Mahayana, Hinayana, sutra and tantra, even though there are words that look opposite, in fact the whole thing, the whole practice is mainly for one person to achieve enlightenment. Like in the sutra teaching, according to the Hinayana teaching, the Vinaya, one should never have women, one should never have wine. In the Mahayana teachings, if it is a bodhisattva’s action, if one has great compassion, great love, completely renouncing oneself, cherishing others, not having one single stain of self-cherishing, that becomes work for other sentient beings. If it becomes a bodhisattva’s action, then it is allowed in the Mahayana teaching.

According to the Theravada teaching, the Hinayana teaching, if one does not keep those precepts of not having contact with women, it is dangerous for the life. They emphasize this. So according to the capability of mind it is to be practiced like that. Then, in the tantric teachings it is emphasized that one must enjoy meat and wine. In other teachings we can’t have it but in tantra the one who has realizations must drink. One must have meat, wine and the consort. To receive sublime enlightenment, sublime bless, one must not renounce these things. One must have it.

After having generated the mind to renounce samsara, bodhicitta and the wisdom realizing voidness, and completing the realization of the graduated path of generation—tantra has two paths, the graduated path of generation and the graduated path of completion, in order to receive the unified state of Vajradhara. So after having generated bodhicitta and the wisdom realizing voidness, they practice the graduated path of generation, then after that the graduated path of completion, the second tantric path. The path of generation has gross and subtle levels. After having accomplished all the realizations of the gross, subtle and most subtle, then one practices the graduated path of completion. Then after having opened all the chakras, the air, the vehicle of the mind enters the middle artery, abides and is absorbed. The chakras are able to function; one can even bring the bliss up and down, all these things. But still one is not at the level of practicing tantra with a consort. Still there is a lot more practice.

After some time, having accomplished those other practices, those who wish to achieve enlightenment with the help of the perfectly qualified consort, practice tantra and achieve enlightenment in one brief lifetime. So all these tantric teachings are very important—it is very important that the practitioner should have all these things—follow this according to the capability of mind. Even though from the side of the words it looks opposite to each other, for one person to achieve enlightenment it is not contradictory. All these are practices for one person to achieve enlightenment. By understanding the lam-rim teaching, one understands all these teachings shown by Buddha, how they are not contradictory for one person to achieve enlightenment. So, one doesn’t find confusion.

Lecture 11, November 17th am

“To save myself and all the mother sentient beings from all the suffering of samsara, I am going to take refuge in the guru and the Triple Gem, in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all the mother sentient beings.” Practice the meditation on refuge with this motivation.


If the motivation with which you listen to the teaching is possessed by the thought seeking only the happiness of this life, then listening to the teaching does not become Dharma. In order for the action of listening to the teaching to become Dharma, the cause of happiness, which benefits this and future lives, the motivation of the Dharma is to be devoid of attachment, the thought seeking the happiness of this life. If the motivation of listening to the teachings is not possessed by the thought of renouncing samsara, wishing to liberate from samsara, if the motivation is possessed by the thought, the attachment seeking the samsaric happiness and perfections, then it doesn’t become even a cause to achieve nirvana, liberation. If it is possessed by the thought seeking samsaric happiness, then the action of listening to the teaching does not become even the cause of nirvana.

In order for the action of listening to the teaching to become the cause to achieve liberation, it should not be possessed by the thought seeking samsaric happiness, the perfection of even the future life. If the motivation listening to the teaching is possessed by the self cherishing thought, then it does not become Mahayana Dharma, it does not become a cause to achieve enlightenment. Even if the teaching itself that one is going to listen to is a Mahayana teaching, one’s own practice, action of listening does not become Mahayana Dharma, it does not become cause to achieve enlightenment, because the motivation is not possessed by bodhicitta, to achieve enlightenment for the sake of the mother sentient beings. No thought to reach enlightenment, no thought to listen to the teachings, to practice Dharma for the sake of all mother sentient beings, for the sake of others. Since there is not this thought, since it is self-cherishing thought, listening to the teaching does not become a cause to achieve enlightenment. So, in order to become the cause to achieve enlightenment, the motive should not be possessed by the self-cherishing thought.

Therefore, one should cultivate the best motivation, the precious thought of bodhicitta. At least the created bodhicitta should be generated within one’s mind in order to listen to such teaching on the steps of the path to enlightenment.

“At any rate I must achieve enlightenment and free all the sentient beings from all the suffering and lead them to enlightenment.” Make determination like this. “At any rate, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how long it takes, I must achieve enlightenment. After having achieved enlightenment, I must free each sentient being from all the suffering of samsara and lead them to enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to listen to the commentary on the steps of the path to enlightenment.”

The first quality is realizing all the teachings of Buddha as consistent, not having contradiction. Even the Vinaya teachings, such as wine and these things—normally one can’t drink even a drop, even one drop, but when it becomes medicine there’s an exception. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave permission when the monks get sick, the wine becomes medicine; when the disease is finished, then it is no longer necessary, when one doesn’t need any more medicine, then it doesn’t become medicine any more and at that time one should stop. Anyway, things like that.

Also in the Paramitayana teaching, the seven actions—the three actions of body and four actions of speech—due to the motive those seven actions become virtue. Such as taking another’s life, such as stealing, such as sexual misconduct—even though from the side of the action itself it looks like a negative action, due to the motivation these actions becomes virtue.

As I mentioned yesterday, when it becomes special work for other sentient beings, one has the capability to transform it into virtue, not having one single stain of self-cherishing thought, seeking happiness for oneself; having incredible great will or heart. Cherishing others, having such strong loving compassion bodhicitta... completely renouncing oneself to save the sentient beings from creating heavy negative karma and experiencing suffering for eons; instead him being born in naraks and experiencing suffering for many eons, well then, oneself instead of him being born in naraks for hundreds of eons. Oneself preferring completely kind of change, completely, one can completely renounce oneself in order to save him from creating heavy negative karma and experiencing the suffering result for hundreds of eons in the naraks. Instead of him experiencing this, creating negative karma, for the sake of him oneself to be born in narak, to experience so many hundreds of eons of suffering is like being in a beautiful park, like going to a beautiful park, having great pleasure of mind to suffer. Even if one has to experience many hundreds of eons of rebirth in the naraks, it is like being extremely happy, being in a beautiful park, without need to create heavy negative karma, without need to experience the heavy suffering of the naraks for hundreds of eons; it is like that for one who has incredibly strong bodhicitta, completely renounced oneself, only cherished others.

Well, something like that—there you can see, because of the motive, the action does not become non-virtue. First of all, permission was given by the motive. Lord Buddha gave permission and permission was given by the motive. So doing the three actions of body: killing, stealing and sexual misconduct; the four non-virtuous actions of speech: telling lies, slandering and speaking harshly, for the bodhisattvas who have great will, who have incredible compassion, those actions only become a cause to be free quicker from samsara and to receive enlightenment. Bodhisattvas doing these actions accumulate more merit; they accumulate incredible extensive merits; so that’s how all the actions become only the cause to achieve enlightenment quicker. In previous times there have been many kings who were bodhisattvas, who had hundreds of sons, who had hundreds of wives, thousands of children, hundreds of children, like that. There were many bodhisattvas like that, doing the work for other sentient beings.

However, in accordance to tantra practice as I mentioned yesterday, when the person reaches that level, when he has received that ability to use the perfectly qualified wisdom female being on the path to enlightenment, when he has that ability to utilize the perfectly qualified wisdom female being, instead of becoming dangerous, a cause to be born in the lower realm, it becomes a cause only to achieve enlightenment quicker. Utilizing attachment as the path to enlightenment, on the way, one is able to receive enlightenment soon.

For example, the person who is sick: the doctor tells the person who has much fever not to eat any of the food that disturbs his disease, such as meat, wine and things like that, which harm him. Then afterwards, when he’s recovered from the fever, the body is weak so there is more air; afterwards when there is no fever the doctor tells him to have that other strong diet, like wine or maybe meat or those other things. Before the doctor tells the person it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t benefit, only harms; then when he is better, the words are opposite but both are practice for one person.

Like that, all the different teachings of sutra and tantra, the words which are found to be are opposite to each other, all those are practices for one person to reach enlightenment. The Hinayana teachings, the Four Noble Truths and, when the person’s mind is more developed, the Mahayana teachings on the six paramitas and bodhicitta. When the person becomes a vessel for the tantra teachings, then what is explained in the Vajrayana teaching, those two graduated paths, is consistent, is practiced to achieve enlightenment.

However, there are two ways in regards realizing all the teachings of Buddha as not being contradictory. The teachings of Buddha are divided into the oral teachings and the verbal teachings, and one is the realization. All the oral teachings, not finding contradictory, one has all the realizations. By understanding the lam-rim teachings, all the teachings, the three divisions or baskets of teachings, the holy tantra teachings, all the teachings of Buddha, realizing all these are practice for one person to achieve enlightenment. Nothing becomes a hindrance for one person to achieve enlightenment, nothing becomes a hindrance. This is the way of realizing all the teachings of the Buddha, not seeing them as contradictory.

Then, realizing all the teachings of Buddha, such as moral conduct, the ten non-virtuous and virtuous actions, are not contradictory with each other; the ten virtuous actions, the realizations of the lower capable beings, and the three high trainings: moral conduct, wisdom and concentration, which cause one to achieves nirvana; and the six paramitas, which are the path to achieve enlightenment. All those realizations, also the two stages of the tantra graduated path, all those realizations are part of the graduated path for one person to achieve enlightenment, all those are contained in the path of the higher capable beings, all those different paths are contained, are abbreviated in the higher capable beings’ path. So like this, it is not contradictory for one person to achieve enlightenment. This is how one realizes all the teachings of Buddha; the realizations are not contradicting each other. The second quality: the quality appearing in all the teachings, in all the oral teachings, in the advice.

If one has not met these teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment, then one does not see, all the teachings of Buddha do not appear as the advice for the person to achieve enlightenment, the oral instruction to achieve enlightenment.

When I was in America this time, I heard a lot of people talking, “Buddhism needs to be changed.” Of course, in regards presentation, there might be some changes from the Tibetans, but there is no way to change; I’m not sure what kind of Buddhism they want. If they want to change the path, if they don’t want the mind renouncing samsara, if they hate this, there is no way to receive liberation; there is no way to receive nirvana. If they hate to generate bodhicitta, there is no way to receive enlightenment, if that needs to be changed. However, the basic lam-rim is the mind renouncing samsara; bodhicitta; and shunyata. The teaching is like this.

Without realizing shunyata, there is no way to be liberated from samsara, no way to cut off the root of samsara; there is no way to change the path. Without generating the mind renouncing samsara, there is no way to cut off the attachment to samsaric happiness, the perfection which ties to samsara, there is no way to cut it off without generating the mind renouncing samsara; without practicing bodhicitta, there is no way to renounce self-cherishing thought, no way to cut; and without meditating on shunyata, there is no way to eradicate, eliminate the ignorance believing in true existence. Only if the listener himself has already generated the mind renouncing samsara, bodhicitta and wisdom realizing voidness, then that is something else. The listener himself has these realizations already, otherwise there is no way.

But in regards to presentation there can be changes from the Tibetan, certain things in the Tibetan traditional way. It is said in the tantra teachings, Maitreya’s teachings called Gyu Lama, it is said by Maitreya Buddha, “In the world, there is no more expert, no more learned than the Victorious One who shows the oral teaching to achieve enlightenment.”

The oral teaching, which is practiced in order to achieve enlightenment, who understands completely the whole of that, the whole teaching perfectly, is only the omniscient mind; it is only by the omniscient mind, it is not by others. So, just a little bit as it is explained by the omniscient mind, “Don’t stir it up, don’t mix it, just leave it as it is. As oneself doesn’t have omniscient mind, leave it, don’t mix it up. If one mixes it up, it destroys the teaching of the Buddha, it harms the holy Dharma,” this is said by Maitreya Buddha. However much one listens to Dharma, however much one has heard Dharma, always the person has poverty of Dharma; however much one has received teachings, the person always has poverty of Dharma, always thinking, “The reason why I don’t have realization is because I haven’t received some profound teaching,” always thinking like this. “It is not my mistake. The reason why I haven’t developed my mind, nothing changed there, nothing transformed. That is because it is not my mistake; it is because I haven’t received the profound teaching. The Guru didn’t give me any profound teaching, so that is why nothing happened to my mind.” Always appearing like this, the thought coming like this. Always thinking it is due to not having received some special teaching, some profound teaching or some profound meditation. Even if one has received a profound meditation, even if one has received all the tantra teachings, still something is missing, “Still I haven’t received the profound, what is the best method, best meditation for me? What is the most profound, is there any profound meditation teachings for me? For my mind?” Still asking, even if one has received teachings on all these profound, lam-rim meditations, even tantra, still asking questions like this.

As Lama Tsongkhapa said in his teaching, “Even one has listened much, but still having poverty of Dharma, still thinking that I haven’t heard any profound teaching.” Thinking like this is a mistake mainly due to not understanding the teachings of Buddha, the advice. Even if one has received all the teachings on the lam-rim and Secret Mantra, still thinking why one’s mind hasn’t developed is due to not having heard a profound teaching. It is due mainly to the mistake of not understanding the advice in the teachings of Buddha.

Similarly, many people who do not understand lam-rim think that such a thing as debating, this way of studying, is just analyzing the subject, checking the meditation subject, checking the path, analyzing the reasons, trying to find and understand the purity, the actual meaning, by cutting off the doubts, by destroying the ignorance of not understanding the meaning of the teaching, the meaning of the path, the subject of the meditation, destroying the ignorance and cutting off doubts on the meditation subject, the graduated path to enlightenment; trying to get a deep, clear understanding of the meaning of the path, or the meaning of the teachings. So, many people who do not have understanding of lam-rim do not see this way of studying Dharma, debating and such, as a meditation.

They think that analyzing the meditation subject, the analytical meditations, is not meditation. One-pointed meditation, just focusing on one object without analyzing, without checking, or the mind being blank while doing this meditation, that’s the way to meditate—just the mind being spaced out and doing nothing, not moving—I’m joking—thinking like this, thinking meditation has to be this way, like that.

However, shamatha, tranquil abiding, meditation is mainly done with the method called fixed meditation or one-pointed meditation. Beginning from guru devotion up to shunyata, all those basic lam-rim meditations are done with this method. The form of meditation is mainly analytical, the checking meditation; those realizations of the path are generated mainly with the analyzing meditation.

Similarly, when you meditate on shunyata, how the “I” is dependent, you analyze; it does not exist. Also analyze where is it, the object of the ignorance of the truly existent “I,” where is it? Whether it is oneness with this body, whether this body is the truly existent “I”; whether it is oneness with this body or whether the truly existent “I” exists separately from the body, or the aggregates. The meaning of selflessness is realized by doing sharp, accurate analytical meditation on the right view.

Similarly, as we meditate, by sitting like this, the mind analyzing, same thing those debating techniques, one extra thing is involved with the physical body. The person who by sitting does the analytical meditation is the same. So in fact, the whole debate, if the person understands lam-rim, the whole debate is a meditation, an analytical meditation to understand the infallible meaning of the path, the base, path and goal, enlightenment. One has to understand the infallible meaning to cut off the doubts and from that, as one has perfect understanding, the practice comes very correct and then actualizes the realization.

Then one who understands lam-rim, whatever the subject that one debates, the whole thing is debating on lam-rim. But one who doesn’t understand the lam-rim is just playing a game, not practicing Dharma, not practicing meditation, just talking words and not practicing meditations. One who understands the lam-rim teachings, whatever the extensive scriptures of Buddha, whatever he sees, whatever he hears, the whole thing he sees as lam-rim and he knows how to put it into the whole entire practice.

Even when one hears the debating on the colors, the different types of colors, definition of different colors, of atoms, analyzing the different phenomena, the cause and effect relating with the plants; for one who has understanding of lam-rim, those subjects are seen as talking about shunyata, or talking about karma, cause and effect, so right away he can relate with the lam-rim, he sees the whole thing as lam-rim, the steps of the path to enlightenment. Even a few words one sees from the scriptures, the person who has understanding of lam-rim sees the advice to achieve enlightenment, so that is why Atisha’s followers are called Kadampa.

The reason they are called Kadampa is that among all the teachings of Buddha, all the commentaries of Buddha’s teachings, there is not one single syllable that they can omit. The whole thing, all the teachings of Buddha, all the commentaries, even one syllable they see as advice, the whole thing is advice to receive enlightenment. Because of this quality, followers of Atisha are called Kadampa. Ka is the teaching of Buddha, dam is the advice, so Kadampa. From all those teachings and commentaries they don’t find one syllable to omit, which is not advice to receive enlightenment.

Just like the example, that a person who has various food in the kitchen, rice, wheat, beans, then tea, vegetables, whatever different food the person has in the kitchen, then whatever extra food the person receives, the rice, dhal whatever extra food the person receives, then puts in the same pot where there is already rice, whether there is already dhal, whether there is already beans, where there is already tea, where there is already vegetables. So the person who has already has understanding of lam-rim, whatever other teachings he hears, he knows how to integrate with the lam-rim, without any confusion.

The third pre-eminent quality is immediately realizing the pure view of the Victorious One, the Buddha. The Buddha’s teachings and the commentaries of Buddha’s teachings written by pandits, by Tibetan lamas and the Indian pandits are all the best oral teachings. Those do contain the utmost pure view of the Buddha but, without depending on the guru’s advice, one cannot find the utmost pure view of Buddha from those extensive scriptures. Even if one is able to find the pure view, able to realize the pure view of Buddha by studying those extensive scriptures, it takes much time, and also, one has to go through many difficulties and hardships. So, by depending on the lam-rim teachings, one finds immediately, without any difficulties, the pure view of the Buddha. As the lam-rim is abbreviated, it has all the essence of the teachings, so one immediately realizes, without any difficulty, the pure view of Buddha through lam-rim.

What is the pure view of the Buddha? That is the three capable beings, the lower capable, middle capable and higher capable beings, those three paths, particularly the three aspects. And the three principle aspects of the path: renunciation of samsara, bodhicitta and the right view, those three. From those three again, what is the utmost needed pure view of Buddha? That is the right view; that is the utmost needed, pure view of all the Buddhas. From those three, the right view. So, by studying and practicing lam-rim, one immediately realizes the three principle paths, one generates the principle, the three principle paths, which are explained in the extensive scriptures. Also one finds the pure view of Buddha without depending on much difficulty. So that is how, by depending on lam-rim, one immediately finds the pure view of Buddha.

For example like this: the basic, extensive scriptures, such as the five great treatises, five great texts. In the monasteries the monks study for forty/fifty years. These extensive scriptures are like the ocean, the three principle paths are like the jewel in the deep ocean, the lam-rim, the steps to the path to enlightenment is like the boat, without a sailor, the guru who guides the person by taking the boat in order to get the jewel. So even though there is a jewel in the ocean, without a boat, or ship, if one goes to get the jewel in the ocean, there is danger for the life, there is great difficulty, so that’s the pure view of Buddha, through the great scriptures. If one enters the boat, the steps to the path to enlightenment, by depending on the learned, skillful guide, the lama, then one finds immediately the jewel, the pure view of the Buddha, in the ocean, the extensive great scriptures.

The fourth pre-eminent quality is that the great vices, the heavy negative karma naturally get stopped, this heavy negative karma naturally gets avoided. What is actually shown here is particularly the negative karma of renouncing Dharma, negative karma or avoiding Dharma. Of course, this includes all other negative karma, but particularly, directly what is shown here, the heavy negative karma that naturally gets stopped is the heavy negative karma of avoiding Dharma, which is extremely important to avoid because the negative karma of avoiding Dharma is one of the greatest hindrances to understand Dharma. It is extremely harmful to understanding the Dharma and also to generating the realizations of the path.

If one does not understand the above three qualities of the lam-rim teachings, if one has no understanding of these, not having contradictions, all the teachings of Buddha appearing as advice for the person to achieve enlightenment—if the person has no understanding, then he discriminates the different teachings of Buddha. If one is saying the Theravada is no good and Mahayana teaching is good, or saying the Mahayana teaching is not Buddha’s teaching, the teachings of Secret Mantra is not Buddha’s teaching. What the Tibetan lamas practice is not Buddha’s teaching—many people who have not taken lam-rim teachings say this—the teachings happened only later. They do not practice the Mahayana teaching but say one should practice the Paramitayana teaching, one should practice the Vajrayana because you can do everything. Saying the Theravada teachings are so strict in the moral conduct; with the Theravada teachings, you will have very difficult life, living in moral conduct, very difficult practice, better to practice the Vajrayana or to practice the Mahayana teachings, things like that, not respecting one part of the teaching, discriminating like this. All these kinds of things are avoiding Dharma. These teachings are the same, they are all the same, Buddha’s teachings, but not understanding this as a graduated practice for one person to receive enlightenment, discriminating, “Theravada teachings are better than the Mahayana teachings,” or saying the Vajrayana teachings are better than the Theravada teachings, discriminating with ignorance like this.

Also within the four sects—there are four sects in Tibet: Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug and Sakya, four different sects. So with ignorance, not having understanding of lam-rim, not having understanding of the real Dharma, discriminating that the Gelug teachings are much better than the Nyingmapa teachings, or the Nyingmapa teachings are much better than Gelugpa, or Sakyapa teachings are much better than Gelugpa. Like this, with ignorance, not having understanding of the lam-rim, not having understanding of the real path, not having understanding that they all have the same essential path to enlightenment; not having understanding of this, discriminating like this. That is also the heavy negative karma of avoiding Dharma.

This kind of obscuration of avoiding Dharma is very heavy. Saying like this also, “I don’t like this teaching: I don’t like the teachings of Buddha,” discriminating like this. “These teachings are very bad, very bad.” “It bothers me.” “I was very happy before, but now it has made me unhappy.” “Before I read that, I was very happy, but now it has made me unhappy.” So thinking that some of the teachings that came from Buddha are bad, some teachings are good, “These teachings are not for me; this teaching is not for me.” Even though it is hard to understand one should not think like this. If one thinks, “This is not for me,” then what happens is that you find it difficult to understand, by that reason. If one thinks, “This is not for me,” then what happens is it creates the karma not to meet the teachings in the future.

Even if it is something that one can’t practice or one can’t understand, one should keep it, “I can’t understand, I can’t do, I can’t practice, I can’t understand now, but I will do it in the future,” then it should be kept for the future. If one has completely decided that it is not for me, then it becomes a hindrance to realizing the path that explains those teachings.

By avoiding Dharma, saying, “This Dharma is bad,” recognizing like this, in that way also one criticizes the Buddhas. It is explained that Dharma is Buddha, so that way one criticizes also Buddha, and the Sangha. Buddha himself is Sangha, and also the practitioners of the teaching, the Sangha. Also saying, “These teachings can be practiced, these teachings cannot be practiced,” like that. “These teachings are explained only for bodhisattvas, these teachings are explained for the followers of the Lesser Vehicle path. This is not what the bodhisattvas practice,” saying like this, avoiding Dharma.

The karma of avoiding Dharma is much heavier than killing arhats equaling the number of sand grains in the river Ganga. But by doing the guru devotion practice, all the negative karma that one has accumulated in relationship to the guru gets stopped, and by meditating on the perfect human rebirth, the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, impermanence and death, the attachment of clinging to this life, this attachment gets stopped. By meditating on the bodhicitta, the self-cherishing thought gets stopped; by meditating on shunyata, the ignorance believing in true existence gets stopped. That is how the delusions, by practicing and understanding the pre-eminent qualities of lam-rim, besides avoiding Dharma, all other negative karmas get ceased. Those negative minds get ceased. The negative minds of attachment clinging to this life, self-cherishing thought and ignorance of true existence, as they get ceased, so the karma, actions that we accumulate with this negative mind, get ceased.

Lecture 12, November 18th am

“Only the Triple Gem, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have perfect ability. So therefore, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all the mother sentient beings, I am going to take refuge in the guru and the Triple Gem.”


If one is offered a job to clean the office, if that is a job which is offered to one, then if there is any dirt or garbage there, when you see it is dirty, it reminds one, “Oh, it is my job to keep the place clean.” You don’t think, “Oh, those people who are sitting at the desks, they should clean; they make it dirty, they should clean.” “Those people who are eating ice cream, they make dirty so they should clean.” From the very beginning you have decided and the problem doesn’t arise, why? Because from the very beginning, you have decided, “To clean this office is my job.” You see, you made determination already, from very beginning, about a month ago. So if anybody comes and makes a mess, it is kind of pleasure to clean it because other people in the office see that you are working, that you are not lazy, not hanging around. Maybe you might get a tip.

However, when we take this work, when we receive this work, it is very important to make determination like this, so you remember the suffering of the sentient beings who are in the six realms; when you make determination like this during the meditation session or when you do prayers, then when you meet sentient beings having problems, physical and mental sufferings, also it reminds you, “It is my responsibility to free these sentient beings from the sufferings of samsara.”

This is very practical for the mind; it is very helpful for your mind. Also, if a person says very nasty things to you in the office, with angry or jealous mind, with pride, especially at those times, you can remember; if you have made strong determination in the morning when you recited the prayer, you will remember this at a time when other people treat you badly or say nasty things that you dislike.

Where there is danger you might get angry, when you are put in a situation where you could accumulate negative karma, at those times it helps you to remember, “It is my responsibility to make mother sentient beings free from the sufferings of samsara, from delusion—to free them from the causes of suffering: delusion, anger, jealousy, pride. It is my responsibility.” The thought comes, instead of rising anger and retaliating, getting angry or being jealous, the thought of compassion rises. “It is my responsibility that these mother sentient beings be freed from the cause of suffering, delusion.” So it doesn’t give time, the point of retaliating, rising anger, doesn’t happen, only compassion rises, to help the other person who badly treated oneself, who did nasty things to oneself.

Also it makes one aware, “If I have been angry, if I have retaliated, this is not the job that I am supposed to do, this is not the work that benefits other sentient beings.” By not letting the disturbing unsubdued mind rise, it also doesn’t let other sentient beings accumulate negative karma, have more anger, accumulating negative karma with body and speech. It helps them and oneself; remembering like this becomes practice, it becomes the door to peace for oneself and other sentient beings.

The motivation possessed by just any kind of virtue is not sufficient. The motivation for listening to teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment should be possessed by at least the creative bodhicitta. “I must achieve enlightenment quicker and quicker for the sake of the mother sentient beings. Therefore, I am going to listen to the commentary on the steps of the path to enlightenment.”

By understanding and practicing lam-rim, as I mentioned yesterday, all the heavy negative karma, what is directly mentioned here in the lam-rim teachings, of avoiding Dharma, such as some people discriminate, creating heavy negative karma by avoiding dharma, without understanding how to practice Dharma. Even now Western people who have been around the places where there are Tibetans are discriminating, criticizing and judging, due to not having understanding of how to practice Dharma, not understanding the whole lam-rim. Saying Nyingmapa teachings are not pure, like that, Gelugpa teachings are very pure. Criticizing like this due to ignorance. Saying Theravada teachings are bad, Mahayana teachings are good, the best—criticizing these teachings of Buddha, recognizing one as good, one as bad. Those mainly do not know even the practice of refuge.

If the person knows well how to practice refuge, the very basic practice, the fundamental practice of refuge, if the person knows, then it is avoiding Dharma and one is accumulating such incredibly heavy negative karmas. If the person doesn’t know this very fundamental practice, if the person doesn’t know refuge well, only knows the refuge words, doesn’t know the details of how to practice refuge, they are avoiding Dharma, creating negative karma due to ignorance, not even having understanding of the practice of refuge, mainly not having understanding of lam-rim.

It might take a little bit of time, but I think it is good to have understanding of the different levels of teachings, the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, the whole entire teachings explained by Buddha. All beings, who have different levels of intelligence and compatibility, all disciples who are objects to be subdued by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha are shown, the disciples who have different levels of capability. The methods in the teachings of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana are different, but the main goal is to bring the one result, enlightenment. The whole purpose is to bring the ultimate one result, enlightenment.

In Thailand or even here in the East, there are many people who say that the Mahayana teachings are not the Buddhadharma, it happened later. Some who have little bit of an idea say it came from Nagarjuna; before that it did not exist so it is not Buddhas’ teaching. However, as His Holiness Dalai Lama explained, even during Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, most of the people who were objects to be subdued, were vessels of the Theravada teaching, the teaching of the lesser vehicle, the Hinayana teaching. They are not receptacles of the Paramitayana teaching. Most of them do not have the capability to listen to the Paramitayana teaching—the Mahayana teaching, especially, of course, the teaching of the Secret Mantra. So you see, in public, what was mostly spread in Guru Shakyamuni’s time, was the Theravada teaching, the Hinayana teaching. That was most common.

At the same time Guru Shakyamuni was giving higher level teachings, Mahayana Paramitayana teachings, teachings on the bodhisattva’s path, then teachings on the Secret Mantra. As he was giving Hinayana teachings at one place, such as in Sarnath, a holy place, turning the Dharma wheel, at the same time he was at Rajgir, close to Bodhgaya, that holy place for sentient beings who have a higher intelligence. At the same time, Guru Shakyamuni, another manifestation or transformation, was turning the Dharma wheel, giving teachings on the Prajnaparamita for those who were receptacles to receive the Mahayana teaching. Then at the same time, at another place called the southern mountain, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was in the form of Vajradhara, revealing [the teachings] by transforming the whole mandala. The few sentient beings who had the highest intelligence, who already had the three principal paths generated within their minds; to those few fortunate sentient beings, those who had already generated bodhicitta, those fortunate ones, for them he appeared in the form of the deity Vajradhara by transforming the mandala, and gave the initiations, the tantra teachings, like this.

Even during those times, the teaching was revealed only to ones who were receptive, the right vessels to receive the Mahayana teaching. Even the Mahayana, as well as the Tantrayana teachings were secret from the majority of people. The majority of the people didn’t know about the Vajrayana teachings, the teachings of the Secret Mantra and the Paramitayana teachings; what was popular for them, for their minds was the Hinayana teachings, what was familiar, what was shown to them, what was common in the country. So people during that time did not have any idea about the Paramitayana teachings and the teachings of Secret Mantra.

Because those teachings have not been made public from those times, people who are only familiar with the teachings of the Hinayana criticize and say that the teaching of the Secret Mantra and the Paramitayana are not Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching, or some people might say that Tibetan lamas’ are magicians and the teaching of Secret Mantra is the Tibetan lamas’ trip, which has nothing to do with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha or the previous pandits. It is only because these teachings have not been common for the majority of people, that is the problem and why they can’t understand—what they say and what they believe is that it is not Guru Shakyamuni’s teachings.

Also, during the time of Nagarjuna, he wrote many commentaries on tantra and especially Mahayana teachings on shunyata, incredible clarification. He wrote many commentaries so they became more common from that time, so that is why people say it started from that. If we understand these things, when we hear other people strongly emphasizing this, it helps oneself also not to accumulate the karma of avoiding Dharma, explaining to the person to be aware, to understand this point. Otherwise what happens is that we think that is the only teaching that fits all sentient beings, that is the only teaching given by Buddha for sentient beings. Then in that case sentient beings wouldn’t have different levels of mind, different capability of mind, everybody should have the same capability of mind, but it is not like that. Either that or Buddha has no capability. If that is the case, what happens is Buddha himself doesn’t have perfect power, or he doesn’t have compassion for all sentient beings, or he doesn’t have omniscient mind; he doesn’t understand so he gave only one method, only one teaching. Then in that case, there would not be any possibility, nobody could have what Buddha, who has omniscient mind, achieved. It is impossible to achieve, that the mind become omniscient.

Again it comes to the same point, which I mentioned in the beginning, regarding reincarnation, “Because I have no understanding, because it is not object of my knowledge, I don’t understand, there is no such thing.” Finally it reaches this point in the person who says he doesn’t believe in it, you see. Still even now, it is just because of how much obscuration we have, whether we have pure vision or not.

One very highly realized bodhisattva, Khunu Lama Rinpoche, from whom I have received teachings on bodhicitta, the Bodhicaryavatara and also blessings of the reading, who has been extremely kind. He said, “Even nowadays in Bodhgaya and Rajgir, those places, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is giving teachings at that same place.” For us, ordinary people, when we make pilgrimage there, we just see the rock, just ordinary mountain, a very hot, dry, small place, small ground, nothing else, completely empty. Still the teachings are continuously given there at that place—Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is turning the Dharma wheel; for the highly fortunate beings, the bodhisattvas, the sentient beings, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is still giving teachings there, so one who has pure vision, one who has very thin obscuration, is able to see. Even if the place is very small, but in their view, in those fortunate beings, those holy beings’ view, the place is not like that. Even though in our view, just small rocky mountain, completely dry, completely empty, nothing happening.

Their vision of mind, view of mind, is very interesting. According to the different levels of mind, different levels of realization, how thin the obscuration is, how thick the obscuration is, how much thin or thick obscuration the mind has, depending on the kind of vision, the way things are perceived, the way the objects are perceived is also different.

Normally, in our daily life, just mentioning ordinary things without mentioning many other stories, which will take much time, just at this point, just a simple thing, like one hundred people look at one person, object is one person, ten or five people look at one person; some people find that person very beautiful, others see that person as terribly ugly, even not wanting to look at them with eyes; unable to look at the person.

As long as we are here in this tent… there is nobody who is hungry; that is good! When they look at the same time, one hundred people eat that one food, one type of lunch; some find extremely delicious, some find ridiculous, they prefer not to have; some, disgusting, not so delicious, just indifferent, like this. Same thing, one country—Kathmandu, some people see it as clean and beautiful, some people can’t stand even to spend one night—they want to fly back right away, it makes them vomit. The pig’s place, where they live, the pig sty, in our view, is a very dirty place. We don’t like even to make steps there, but for them it is like a mandala.

Like moths, the reason they jump is not because they understand it is a hot flame, thinking they are useless, born as moths and useless and better to make offering—it not because of that; they don’t understand that it will burn them, that it will kill them, they don’t understand this. According to their karmic obscuration, they don’t see this, they see as a beautiful mansion, very transparent, kind of place, a mansion, and they think that by being right inside of that, there will be incredible bliss. Due to their karmic vision, due to negative obscuration, due to ignorance, they see like that. That is why they insist on jumping in like that, not only around, but right inside the flame, the reason why they push so much, even if nobody tells them to jump right inside the flame. Even though by being close, even though they feel hot, there is still too much clinging to pleasure, due to dissatisfaction, due to their karmic obscuration, they see it as a beautiful mansion. So they want to get right inside of that, even though they feel hot by being close, still due to their karmic obscuration, the dissatisfied mind clinging so much to pleasure, they try to get inside of that—so what happens is they kill themselves, also, it stops the light in the room, makes the room completely dark, it disturbs the person.

The interesting thing about the karmic vision is that it comes according to the level of the mind, like the projector. The projector, inside are the films. If it is a color one, very nice negatives, very beautiful, then also outside what comes there is very beautiful color. If inside negative, what is contained on the negative, what is taken there on the negative, if what is on the negative is terrifying, the outside projection is also terrifying; because what is there on the negative is also terrifying. What was taken there. So like that, if the negative is ridiculous one then also the projection comes out ridiculous, similar example, like that. You see, the negative is like the mind—karma, the mind—individual sentient beings’ karma, level of mind. The machine is the sentient being himself, the negative, the different pictures taken in there are the different karmas, the different impressions of karma, which were planted on the mind.

The conclusion, all these four sects have the teaching that leads the person gradually in the path to enlightenment, which the sutra and tantra path makes possible; by following that one can receive enlightenment. In all the four sects, there is the teaching of the gradual path to enlightenment. Those teachings that make it possible to achieve enlightenment are all Buddhadharma. From the side of the practitioner, it can be possible that whatever he practices is the teaching of the Buddha, whether it is Gelugpa, whether it is Nyingmapa, whether it is Sakyapa or whether it is Kagyu. From the practitioner’s side, whatever he practices is all pure teaching of Buddha—that doesn’t happen but in all four sects, there are pure teachings which show the gradual path to enlightenment; the person can receive enlightenment.

In regards to the practitioner...it can be possible to practice the wrong teaching, which is not taught by Buddha. It’s possible. We cannot generalize that all practitioners are good or that their practice is the right teaching. That doesn’t happen, not necessarily.

However, for such a thing as avoiding Dharma, the karma is very heavy, more heavy than destroying all the stupas in the world, in this continent, destroying completely all the holy stupas; for avoiding Dharma, the negative karma is more heavy then destroying all the stupas; this is explained in the sutra teachings by Buddha. However, by understanding and practicing lam-rim, all the causes of suffering, the disturbing unsubdued mind, all the delusions, all the result of suffering, the negative karma, also the resultant sufferings of samsara, completely get ceased, even the subtle obscuration—that is the conclusion regarding the fourth quality.

There are another three qualities of the lam-rim teaching:

1. Nothing is missing. The lam-rim teaching contains all the subjects of sutra and tantra.
2. The lam-rim teaching is shown mainly to subdue the mind, to transform the mind. The way it is set up, the way it is presented, is concentrated to gradually subdue the disciple’s mind. So therefore, it is very easy to practice.
3. These lam-rim teachings are adorned with the advice of the true learned lamas, who are learned in the teachings of the vehicle of the two great propagators, Nagarjuna and Asanga.

These three are the particular qualities of the lam-rim teachings. Besides the elaborate lam-rim teaching, just even the lam-rim teachings that we recite every morning, the subject on which we do the direct meditation, just even this short abbreviated prayer, from this lam-rim teaching which we recite every morning, all the subjects of sutra and tantra are contained in that—all the Buddhadharma subjects, the whole subject of Buddha’s teaching are contained in this very abbreviated lam-rim teaching. All the words of Buddha’s teachings and the commentaries written by the pandits cannot be contained in that, but all the meanings which are contained in Buddha’s direct teachings and the commentaries written by the pandits are contained even in this abbreviated lam-rim teaching. All the meanings of the Buddhadharma, the root and all the commentaries, are summarized in these three Dharmas, the graduated path of the lower, middle and higher capable beings. The whole thing is summarized in the gradual path of the three capable beings.

So the advantage of reading once even this abbreviated lam-rim teaching as we do, just reading once, by concentrating on the meaning of the teaching, by concentrating on that, reading it just once becomes one complete meditation, and by doing that one finishes one complete meditation on the lam-rim, sutra and tantra both, one has finished meditating on the whole path—doing the direct meditation on the whole path. The person has practiced the meaning of the whole Buddhadharma in a few minutes. Lama Tsongkhapa said, one time listening to the abbreviated teaching of the essence of the whole Buddhadharma, one receives the great multitude, great benefit; having explained the whole Buddhadharma, having listened to the whole Buddhadharma. Therefore, one should think of these benefits. By listening to the complete lam-rim teaching, thinking, explaining and listening, it becomes like having studied, having listened to the whole Buddhadharma, even if it is a very short teaching like what we recite in the morning.

All the meanings of the Buddhadharma, Buddha’s teaching, are contained in the teachings of the lam-rim. The lam-rim teaching is like the key which opens hundreds of doors of all the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha…sutra and tantra teachings.

The person who has an understanding of the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha, including sutra and tantra, has a great advantage. One who doesn’t have much time or much intelligence cannot follow the elaborate lam-rim text but, even though one cannot follow the elaborate lam-rim text, it is important to follow an abbreviated teaching which has all the meditations, which is complete with nothing missing. If one of the meditations is missing from that text, if one follows that text which has no complete meditations on lam-rim, then even though other meditations are elaborately explained, the whole thing from beginning to end is not complete, for instance like medication for a fever. If there is a tablet compounded of twenty-five different ingredients, and if the person doesn’t have that to recover from his fever, but he does have a big sack of each of those ingredients separately, he doesn’t have the completion of the ingredients mixed together. Even though he has big sacks of those other ingredients, that doesn’t help him recover from his disease. But if he has small tablets which have tiny bits of each ingredient, which makes it perfect with all twenty-five ingredients, and he takes that, he recovers. Even though it is small, it is complete, with nothing missing and by that power it aids his recovery.

Likewise, it is very important that the text of lam-rim that one normally follows should be complete, with no meditations missing. Even though it is short, maybe one page or even three lines, like the morning teachings we recite, but it should have all the meditations with nothing missing. That has the power to help one recover from the disease of the afflicted state of the mind, like the attachment seeking samsara pleasures, which tie one to samsara, self-cherishing mind or the impure vision or conception. By practicing such a short meditation as that, which has all the meditations, one can recover from all those diseases.

So actually, this part, in the beginning outlines, even though you didn’t get it yet, it is actually the subject of meditation…

Actually, I did finish one whole course, within three days or four days. Like weekend courses, there was time to rest. You did get one whole essence. It’s just a matter of elaboration. Actually, even the outline is extremely important; by the understanding of this outline one can stop a lot of hindrances to the practice. It helps very much to make the practice successful. From the very beginning of the outline, it’s very useful to see all the hindrances, to fully generate realizations on the path to enlightenment and how to practice Dharma. It all comes from the beginning of the plan, and is very useful. Then this, I’m not sure. Perhaps Guru Shakyamuni Buddha might come.

Lecture 13, November 18th pm

“I must achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, therefore I’m going to listen to this commentary on the graduated stages to enlightenment.”

It is extremely important that once we meet such teaching on the graded steps of the path to enlightenment, like the king of all the teachings, king of all the advice of the Buddha; at such time, that we have found the fortune to meet the king of all the advice of the Buddha, it is extremely important not to have two-pointed mind in this, but to completely concentrate. It is extremely worthwhile to put the whole energy, the whole time, into practicing the teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment.

Second quality: this is extremely easy to practice because it is mainly shown and presented to gradually subdue the mind. Experiencing the various hindrances of suffering in samsara, receiving nirvana, receiving enlightenment, all these, the creator or the doer of all these, the one who creates the samsara, the suffering, the one who experiences, who actualizes the path, the one who receives enlightenment, achieving the supreme bliss: that is the mind. The whole creator achieving the supreme bliss: that is the mind. The creator of all is the mind. So, there’s no other special method than remembering, in order to subdue this mind. The creator of all is mind.

So, because this lam-rim teaching and the way it is mainly presented, explained, is in order to subdued the method (Rinpoche laughs—I think it’s going backwards, instead of subduing the negative mind, the purifying mind, subduing the realizations, going backwards, which is extra work, because it doesn’t have to be done!) lam-rim teaching is explained mainly to subdue the mind; the main method is to subdue the mind. So therefore, it is very easy to put the lam-rim teaching into practice.

Third quality: this lam-rim teaching is done with the advice of the lamas who are learned in the teachings of the two great propagators Asanga and Nagarjuna; therefore, this lam-rim teaching is extra ordinary. It’s more special than other teachings. The two lamas, one of Lama Atisha’s gurus who is highly learned in the teachings of Nagarjuna, and Lama Serlingpa, who is a highly learned realized being in the teachings of Asanga; this lam-rim teaching is adorned with the advice of these two lamas. So therefore, this teaching excels, becomes more special than other teachings. It excels beyond the other teachings, this lam-rim teaching devoted to, adorned with these two lamas’ teaching; so the teaching is more effective.

About the teachings of the graduated extensive path, which was received from Lama Serlingpa, from Maitreya to Asanga to Lama Serlingpa, and the teachings on the graduated profound path from Manjushri to Nagarjuna and then to Lama Atisha. It is perfect. It condenses both paths, method and wisdom, like the two wings of the eagle which enable it to fly; with one wing they can’t fly; likewise, by missing one of these two paths of method and wisdom, one cannot receive enlightenment. So this lam-rim teaching is perfect with those two paths of method and wisdom, which is from the teaching that has been handed down from those lamas.

When we have the fortunate time to listen and understand, to study such as the graduated path to enlightenment, which has the four qualities and these three qualities, without putting effort, the energy and time that there is, but just being satisfied with one single meditation, with one ordinary advice, which is not a complete teaching or complete advice but just one part of it, such as talking about only the four noble truths, or only wisdom. Being satisfied with ordinary advice or teaching which contains just one meditation, like for instance, receiving teachings of shamatha, having received those teachings, just being satisfied with that, not practicing, not listening, not studying or meditating. Or, just being satisfied with the teachings on shamatha, just the concentration, not studying teachings about bodhicitta or renunciation but being satisfied with just one part of the path. However, when we have such fortunate time to be able to listen to, study and meditate on the complete graduated path to enlightenment, with nothing missing, which has the four and the three special qualities, it is extremely important to put the whole energy into this.

By thinking it is too much, all the teachings on these different meditations on the path, “This is too much for me, why can’t I practice just one meditation, just something to do in my life? As long as I have a meditation, then it’s okay, something to do in my life, which I can call meditation; why should I do all these complicated things, just keep it very simple, just one thing, one kind of practice.” Thinking like that, being satisfied with just one meditation for the whole life, is actually due to not understanding Dharma. Being satisfied with one small, very simple meditation technique and spending the whole life in that; such as being satisfied just with breathing meditation, just being satisfied with that: “This is very easy; this breathing meditation is very easy, easy to understand, simple. I don’t need any more other meditations, this is enough.”

However, while you have the time and while you have the intelligence, you are closing the door on Dharma wisdom, not letting yourself progress in Dharma wisdom, you are purposely closing the door on the Dharma wisdom, door of the realizations on the steps of the path to enlightenment; very unskillful.

Even if one has generated the realization of shamatha, at least, by receiving only that teaching, even one has generated that realization of that, only that problem is temporarily stopped. Still there is self cherishing thought, still there is ignorance; the root of shamatha is still there. For some time the person has one-pointed concentration, not having the hindrance of meditation: scattering thoughts and sinking mind, for some time. Delusions do not rise for some time, for a certain period and if the person has realized shunyata, as long as he has eliminated completely the root of samsara by realizing shunyata, even he has generated the realization of shamatha, he still has to be reborn in samsara over and over, which the person did numberless times before, had that realization, circled in samsara numberless times in past lives; like that.

It is not very skillful practice. Satisfied with one single method and spending the whole life in that. As I mentioned before, relating the example of medicine, as the person has different disease, then the person should have different medicines. He has hundreds of diseases and if he takes fewer medicines, it doesn’t stop the other diseases.

Then the next outline, the qualities of Dharma: how to listen and explain the Buddhadharma having these two qualities. So, this is a very important point that everyone has to prepare for, from the part of the person who is listening to Dharma, also from the part of the person who is attempting to explain the teaching. From the beginning, if it doesn’t become pure, then the whole rest, the study, the meditation, the practitioner, all the rest doesn’t become pure, it doesn’t go in the right way. It doesn’t go to the right point, doesn’t become cause to achieve enlightenment.

I am just very briefly telling these outlines: how to listen and how to explain, and at the end, how to do together.

How to listen to teachings has three outlines; thinking of the benefits of listening to Dharma; respecting the holy Dharma and one who explains Dharma; and the actual body of listening to teachings. If one has reflected well the benefits of listening to teachings, then how much heat there is, how much one feels cold—those temporal problems become insignificant for the person himself, he doesn’t feel, it becomes insignificant. By reflecting on the benefits of listening to Dharma, the happiness...

...one doesn’t get bored, one doesn’t get tired when you hear it one, two or four times.

It is said in the teachings, in the text maybe written by Maitreya Buddha, I’m not sure—I think I’m not going to mention the quotation because it takes much time. The benefits of listening to the holy Dharma, receiving the teachings are that it is like the lamp, listening to the holy Dharma is like the lamp. What the lamp does is dispel the darkness, so listening to the Dharma dispels the ignorance. How many Dharma words one hears, that much the ignorance lessens; each time as one understands, as one hears the Dharma words, the ignorance becomes less. For instance, as one hears teachings on the eight freedoms, that much ignorance becomes less; as one hears teachings on the ten richnesses, that much ignorance becomes less. Same thing, the usefulness: as there are three ways to reflect on the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth, as one understands, the ignorance becomes that much less. Example is like this.

As much as one hears the teachings on bodhicitta, that much the ignorance becomes less; same thing with the teachings on shunyata. One can understand before you heard the holy Dharma, how much ignorance there was; after you have heard the holy Dharma, how much ignorance becomes less. Like that. After how many days of the course, how much ignorance becomes less by hearing the holy Dharma. If one hasn’t heard, then the ignorance is still there. Like, example, one’s own relatives, brothers and sisters, those who are at home, those who haven’t heard Dharma, still have the same ignorance.

In a very dark house, completely dark, there are many useful, necessary materials but however much you open your eyes, however big you make your eyes, you can’t see one single material. Similarly, how much wisdom eye one has, if one has no listening to Dharma, like the lamp, one cannot understand at all the vital points, what is to be renounced or avoided, or what things should be practiced; one doesn’t know at all the points. Even one opens the eye very big, without the light cannot see one single material; so even one has much wisdom, but one has not listened to the holy Dharma, there is much wisdom; even though one is very intelligent, there is no way to know any points of importance, any point of virtue, what is non virtue, what is to be practiced, what is to be renounced. In that completely dark house, if one puts lights, with the eyes that one has one can see very clearly whatever material is in the room, one can see very clearly. So like that, by listening with the lamp, the holy Dharma, by depending on the lamp, listening to the holy Dharma, then one can see all existence, one knows the whole Dharma, with the wisdom eye. One can know all existence, which is absolute nature, all existence, which is absolute truth and all existence, which is all-obscuring truth or conventional truth; one sees the whole existence with the wisdom eye.

Listening to the holy Dharma is the best possession, because the material, worldly things are possible to get stolen by thieves and robbers, confiscated, possible to be robbed by an enemy. But this possession, listening to the holy Dharma, such as these supreme seven jewels, or these qualities of being learned—this means strict in moral conduct, strict in pure actions—such qualities of having good hearing, such qualities are received by listening to the Dharma are impossible to be stolen by thieves.

Also you can’t carry material possessions everywhere; you can’t take everything, whatever you have in the room, even if you like to have them with you all the time wherever you go, you can’t carry; even if you carry them, it will be very expensive, the airplanes charge more money. Or you will be very exhausted by having so many, eight, ten pieces around you. So there is much difficulty in regards the materials. The material possessions cannot come always with oneself, even in this life. Then especially after death, the material possessions do not come, do not follow. There is no way to send by post office. The jewels, rings, which are kept in small box… what else? The money, the purse, there is nowhere to send, by person, by post office or anything. Nothing that one can carry oneself when one dies. But the qualities that one has accumulated, the impressions that are left on the mind by listening to the holy Dharma, the teachings of the steps of the path to enlightenment, the impressions of the steps of the path to enlightenment, such as bodhicitta and the merit that has been accumulated, how much Dharma wisdom one has, how many realizations one has, there is no difficulty to carry, not like materials—they are heavy. One doesn’t need many suitcases.

It comes with oneself from this life to the future life, from that future life to another future life, many lifetimes it is with oneself. Also it increases because even one small impression of listening to the holy Dharma, such as the teaching on the steps of the path to enlightenment, the next life the impression comes; as the consciousness continues, the impression continues to exist. Then, in future lives again that makes to meet with the Dharma, the teachings of the steps of the path to enlightenment, and that makes to hear more, it makes to understand clearer and deeper. Then one finds the freedom to practice the steps of the path to enlightenment; again hearing the teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment in that life leaves more impression on the mind. The next life you meet again the holy Dharma, and it is that much easier to understand the holy Dharma and that much easier to generate the realizations on the path. Like this, gradually it makes to be better in this life, to make more progress in this life, like this gradually one receives enlightenment.

Listening to the holy Dharma is also the steps to destroy the ignorance, the enemy, ignorance. Why? Because by listening to the holy Dharma, one can completely eliminate the whole enemy, the disturbing unsubdued minds, the six root delusions and the twenty secondary delusions; all the 84,000 delusions, including the very root, the ignorance of true existence, the ignorance believing in true existence; so that is how listening to the holy Dharma is like weapon.

And listening to the holy Dharma is also the best friend who gives the infallible advice to oneself. How is it the best friend, listening to the holy Dharma? Having listened to holy Dharma, how is it the best friend? For instance, if one is going to do work, any action of the body, speech or mind, it gives advice, the teaching that one has listened to before, it gives advice to oneself. The teaching to which one has listened before about the shortcomings and the benefits such as about karma, teachings about karma, which are virtuous karma, which are non-virtuous karma, how the actions become virtuous karma, how they become non-virtuous karma. Such as having listened to teachings on the 10 non-virtuous actions and the 10 virtuous actions, teachings about karma, the different karma, how one accumulates merit with certain actions that are done in relationship to the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; which type of actions become negative, cause of suffering, done in relationship to the holy objects, Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The teachings of karma, things like which actions can be done, which actions cannot be done, those negative actions of the disturbing unsubdued mind, how those can be prevented.

So, having heard the teachings that explain these things, when one is in the action, about to do the action, the listening of the teachings from before advises one regarding what can be done and what cannot be done; how to stop the negative action, or the negative mind from rising. That is how listening to the holy Dharma is the best friend.

You see, even one is poor materially the best friend, having listened to Dharma, does not change to one, it is the unchangeable friend, not like worldly friends. When one has material wealth, apartment, money, cars, when everything is perfect, when one has perfect material possessions, when one is wealthy, at that time worldly friends become harmonious, they try to be friends to oneself; but when suddenly, one day one becomes poor, not having a single dollar in the pocket, completely poor, that time the outside worldly friends pretend they don’t know you, because they have nothing to get from you.

Why they don’t come anymore when one is poor, has no money to buy one cup of coffee, completely rags, broken, the purse is empty having only the smell of money? When one is poor like this, having much difficulty in the means of living so that one needs help from them, when one has difficulty to live, at that time they don’t come to oneself anymore, they don’t come round even though before when one had apartment, gardens, when there was everything, lots of money, having good job, that time maybe they come almost every day, they come round to circumambulate, like stupas.

When one becomes completely poor, having not one single penny, not having food and clothing, even in outlook, the aspect of the body is very poor looking, very upset looking. That time all these outside worldly friends don’t even look, not even coming to see one, to give help. When one has big problems like this, even if they see oneself in the street by chance, they know that you are poor, nothing to get from you, nothing to get, they don’t respect. Even if they see from afar, they turn back, they go somewhere else, even though they were coming this way, they turn and go somewhere else. There is nothing to trust in this outside worldly friend. When one has incredible suffering, he doesn’t help; when one is terribly sick, difficult to benefit, to come and look after. Specially at the death time, no way to benefit, how many friends one has, they can’t benefit, maybe except disturbing, to cause more worry to oneself, at the death time.

But by having listened to the holy Dharma, specially it is beneficial when one has incredible suffering, when one has great difficulties in one’s own life, especially when one is sick, especially, more than that, at the death time it is incredibly beneficial, that is the only thing, only thing that can benefit, when one has the greatest problem of his life, the death. When one is going through this, at that time nothing else benefits; only if one has listened to the holy Dharma during the life time that is the only thing that can benefit at death time, after death, in all the future lives, up to enlightenment, until the person achieves enlightenment. So therefore, having listened to Dharma is the best friend to benefit oneself, the unchangeable friend.

Before I left for Tibet, when I was on the mountain, the family I was born into was very poor, very poor; poor, but didn’t have many sufferings like somebody in New York, having to live on sandwiches or having to live on apples, one apple each day, having to live on one sandwich each day. Not that poor, but that country is a very poor country. I don’t know, they say that before I was born when the father was alive (I don’t remember the father; I’m sure he made me, he formed my body, he made my body, but I have no idea of my father; I think he had a beard. I think he was able to read quickly the texts,) anyway, when the father was alive and before I was born, they had a lot of animals and a lot of goats, and kind of recognized, according to that country, as not poor. So after the father died, my birth made the family very poor. It made the family very poor, to lose things; after the father died, other rich families came, somehow they were in great debt, my mother was in great debt and people come to confiscate, chasing her to pay money, or if there is no money, to take away material possessions. I think it is a very long story.

I remember when I was very small, when I was living with my mother, people come from outside to ask for money then she used to make wine all the time, a little wine, and she offered wine in a cup on the table in front of the person. I don’t know, she was talking something maybe saying she would pay later or something like that, then after the person left, downstairs, after they reached downstairs, then she was criticizing, she was saying wrong prayers, very bad prayers—she would take the dust from between the wood planks in the floor, in the cracks there was dust and she would take the dust and throw like this, and I think she was kind of saying, “May he die soon.” “He ought to die soon,” because he was pushing very much to get the money. So she was praying very hard after he left downstairs. I think there were many animals before, all of those gradually died, goats and yaks, the female, not yak but similar to that.

The conclusion of what I am saying is that I left for Tibet and I spent eight or nine years in India. After the first return back home, then all those people come because, I think, of the reputation that I went to a monastery and studied, things like that, so many people came in my mother’s house. “Oh, I’m your uncle,” one person comes. One woman comes, “Oh, I’m your aunt.” Males who come say uncle, I’m not sure in English whether they are different or not; in Tibet they are different, uncle we call apo, from the father’s side. So each person comes and says I’m your this, I’m your that, I’m your this; woman comes, “I’m your aunt.” I mean, what to say? What to do? So one thing, my mother comes with these people and she says, “Oh, this is your something,” “Oh, this is your something,” Something relative, blah, blah father’s father, mother’s mother, things like that. One day I told her that the relatives have no number. Not from a Dharma point of view but worldly point of view, normal point of view. You see, normally, in worldly talk, worldly customs, there is a certain number; it is not numberless. How far they can see, how far they can recognize, that is the number according to worldly custom. So I told her, “There is no number of our relatives, everybody’s our relative.”

When people came she was around the fireplace, cooking food or something like that; then when the people come she says, “Well, now if I introduce to you this and this, you are going to say ‘Our relatives are numberless’, so I can’t introduce.” Because of the reputation, people come and say, “I am this and that,” but when the family was terribly poor, like that, there was nobody who would look after it. So like this outside worldly friends are changeable, not to trust.

In a previous time one beggar, when he was a beggar, there was nobody who said, “I’m your relative,” and then this beggar made business. He collected some money, got some money from the business. Then when he got some money, there happened many people, “I’m your uncle, I’m this and that. I’m your relative. This and that. How devoted, this and this,” Then one day, this man, this beggar, who got little money by making business, he invited all those people who say “I’m your uncle, I’m your this and that.” He invited all those people to sit for lunch. Then he put the money which he got from business on the table. He put the table up there and business on the table. Like altar, like this. He put the table up there and put the money on that. To the left of the seat all the people said, “I’m your uncle, I’m your this and that.” Then he made prostration to the money that was left on the table. He said, “I have received uncle. Without having uncle, I have received uncle. So I prostrate to you, the concrete one.”

In the teachings, the best friend is the unchangeable friend; if one wants a friend whom one can completely trust, who always benefits oneself all the time—that is listening to the holy Dharma, understanding and meditating on the path. So, better to rely on this friend.

Also in the teachings it is said, “By listening to the holy Dharma, mind becomes devotional, becomes happy and firm. The wisdom rises and ignorance becomes non-existent. It is worthwhile to buy this, even with the flesh, even with one’s own flesh.” What it is saying is by listening to the holy Dharma one understands the qualities of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, then devotion arises, and as devotion arises, you see, one attempts to accumulate merit, such as making offerings to the Buddha; then also mind becomes very happy, mind so happy, faith in karma rises and with that mind is so happy to do the avoidance and practice. One has to renounce non-virtue and practice virtue; mind is so happy to do this. Also, infinite benefits are received. By understanding the shortcomings, and the qualities of the four noble truths, from those one receives the body of the happy transmigratory being all the time, and receives enlightenment. So therefore, because of all these infinite advantages and benefits that one receives from listening to the Dharma, even one has to buy the listening to the holy Dharma by cutting off one’s own flesh, it is worthwhile to buy.

What it is referring to is previous times, such as when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, in one of his previous lives, listened to the holy Dharma by putting thousands of nails in his body, by using the skin as a table to write down, using the bones as a pen and the skin as kind of writing paper. There are many biographies that explain how Buddha, when he was a bodhisattva went through many hardships to receive the holy Dharma from his guru. There have been many stories like this, how it happened in past lives. However, with us we don’t have to buy the listening of the holy Dharma by cutting off our own flesh. Having an easy time, one can easily receive teachings on the holy Dharma. But it is important that one be clever, wise and skillful to attempt as one can, to put the whole effort in this.

Lecture 14, November 19th am

As I explained during the meditation on recognizing the sentient beings as the mother, generating compassion, like the visualization that was explained at that time, father at the right, mother at the left, enemy in front and friends at the back. In the teachings it says enemy behind and friends in front, but I thought it was nice to put the enemy in front, so you can see more clearly!! And the friend at the back side. Then one is surrounded by all the rest of the mother sentient beings of the six realms, in the form of human beings but in essence suffering, whatever suffering they have now, whatever they are experiencing now, hot or cold naraks, pretas or animal sufferings. The essence is whatever they are now, whatever suffering they are experiencing now, but in the form of human being, and ageless. Like if you are sitting in front of hundreds of people and you are in the center. And you look at, you see only the heads, kind of ageless, like that. The whole earth is like the heads of the mother sentient beings. However, whichever is more effective. In the teaching it is explained like that.

As you are the leader, you persuade, lead all the mother beings to take refuge with you, to receive enlightenment and be free from samsara. As you are the leader, as you say the prayer everybody says it, all mother sentient beings say the prayer of the refuge, like that. Purifying together, oneself and all sentient beings, receiving realizations.

As we start like this, from the very beginning of refuge, the same thing with all the rest of the purification and receiving realizations, during the time of the direct meditation, the practice of visualization that is done with the lineage lamas. As we make request, as we say the requesting prayer, same thing with absorption; it is explained, I’m not going to repeat. The visualizations of the different prayers is explained, what to think when this prayer is said is in here, so I’m not going to repeat. So all the rest is the same, when we purify, not only yourself but purify all sentient beings; when we do the visualization, having generated the realizations of the path, extensive and the profound path, same thing, all sentient beings; one has to think all the time. It’s very easy to think when there are a lot of people around. On the basis of them we can put all the sentient beings around, so kind of, not only purifying yourself but also purifying your friends who are around at the same time, like that. Not only the sentient beings who are round oneself but actually, also the rest of sentient beings.

[Refuge Prayer]

It is very effective, particularly, to remember whom you dislike, who hates you, particularly to remember that enemy while generating the thought. When you wish others to be free from attachment and hatred, things like that, that thought is in the nature of compassion, wishing others to be free from delusion. How much you feel, how strongly you think, how deeply you feel to be free from delusion, from attachment and hatred, that thought is the personality of compassion.

By the way, when one is thinking that, even though normally there is anger, you see, when you think like that, when one generates the thought like this... normally there is always anger when you remember that person but at that time the anger becomes smaller and doesn’t arise, or disappears. The anger, hatred, the thought that hates the person, either it becomes smaller or it disappears. So this is the way one generates… how the thought arises, by not rising attachment and hatred, by cutting off the attachment and hatred, which are within one’s mind. “If all the sentient beings were to abide… to help them to be free from attachment and hatred…” When this thought continuously rises, whenever I remember this is my responsibility, this is my job.

For instance, as one has made the complete determination in one’s own mind, in the day time if somebody gets angry, if somebody criticizes oneself, if somebody with much anger, incredible anger, almost he is going to shake the whole world, the person screams violently, almost he is going to destroy the whole world; whatever terrible thing he says or he does to oneself, at that time it helps very much to see like your mother. When one’s own present life mother becomes crazy, no control over herself, all the violent actions she does, she says all kinds of bad things to one, being very violent hurting oneself, saying all kind of rude words, you see it is not the mother doing it to oneself purposely, she has no control; she is possessed by the spirits; she is not doing it to oneself purposely, herself has no control at all. So, it is all object of compassion; it is only object of one’s compassion. Because it is not that she did it purposely, from one’s own side it is all object of compassion and, instead of retaliating, getting angry, from one’s own side, from the side of the son, one should help the mother to recover from the craziness, from being possessed by the spirit, or devil or whatever it is. As much as possible, being possessed by the spirit or devil or whatever it is, as much as possible to help to be free from that possession.

Same thing, exactly the same thing, these sentient beings who have incredible anger are completely crazy by being possessed by the spirit or the devil of the disturbing unsubdued mind, the anger. No matter what terrible things he says or does, no matter how much he hurts oneself, completely crazy, there is no choice; the person, this mother sentient being has no choice; so it is only object of one’s own compassion. There is nothing to get angry about. There is no point, nothing to retaliate, except to help as much as possible with compassion, as much as possible to calm his mind, to free him from the craziness, from being crazy by the devil, or the spirit, the disturbing unsubdued mind, the anger.

What I’m saying is from this practice, making complete determination like this all the time, to train the mind in this, when one is in a situation like this with a sentient being, it only causes to rise compassion instead of retaliating. Instead of rising ill-will, rising anger, negative mind, only compassion rises. Cause for oneself to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of mother sentient beings; oneself to achieve enlightenment quicker and quicker. The situation benefits oneself to achieve enlightenment quicker and quicker, to be able to give extensive benefit for the sentient beings; instead of retaliating, only help, whatever one can, whatever capability one has to free him, to calm his mind, to free him from that possession, the possession of the disturbing unsubdued mind; with speech, with body, whatever one can. Very beneficial, very helpful is this practice; most precious method even to the worldly way of thinking. Even just very ordinary thinking, even just concerning this life, this practice is a very helpful, precious method, which brings great peace in the life for oneself and for the surrounding sentient beings. By calming one’s own mind it helps to calm the surrounding sentient being’s mind.

[Reading Immeasurable Pure Equanimity]

Among the virtuous motivations, the best, the highest virtuous motivation, even though there is no realization of bodhicitta, at least one should generate the creative bodhicitta. Thinking, “At any rate I must achieve enlightenment in order to free each sentient being from all the suffering and lead into enlightenment, therefore, I am going to listen to the profound commentary on the steps of the path to enlightenment.”

I mentioned yesterday evening, at the very end of the discourse, I translated one stanza. One of Guru Shakyamuni’s previous lives, when he was a bodhisattva called Moon, he was born as the prince of one king, at that time. The for each of the four lines that I translated last night, the bodhisattva who was born in Guru Shakyamuni’s previous life, who was prince of one king, for each line paid a thousand golden coins.

The more extensive listening to the holy Dharma we have, the more understanding there is; the result is more extensive, understanding comes. As there is more understanding of the Dharma, as we have more understanding, when you practice meditation you experience quicker, you generate the realization of the meditation much quicker, it doesn’t take much time. The reason why it is quicker, when you practice meditation, why it is much quicker to generate the realizations, why? Because you make less mistakes in the meditation practice, because you have more understanding. You listened much, you received extensive listening on that meditation subject, that teaching, so there is more understanding, and so you are able to recognize exactly what are the mistakes and what are the correct subjects, the correct way to meditate. As one has extensive, clear understanding, the mistakes do not arise. If one makes a mistake, one is able to recognize all the mistakes, when the hindrances arise, what to do, how to handle, like this, so for the person who has much extensive listening to the holy Dharma and extensive, proper understanding, it’s very easy to generate realization of that meditation.

The person who hasn’t done much study, the person who doesn’t have much extensive listening of the various teachings, as he had very little hours listening to the holy Dharma, the result is that he has very little understanding, very limited understanding even if it is lam-rim. He has very little understanding, doesn’t have wide understanding of lam-rim. Then, even by going to a solitude place, making retreat in the lam-rim for many years, because there’s very little understanding of lam-rim, very limited understanding of the teachings, even if he meditates on the lam-rim, he doesn’t have skill. As he doesn’t have any extensive understanding, there is no skill to quickly generate the realization of meditations when there are hindrances rising, when there is confusion rising. When hindrances rise, when he is making the meditation, he doesn’t have the understanding to recognize and to prevent it.

So, with a very limited understanding of the holy Dharma, it takes much time to generate the realizations of meditation. Of course, generally how quickly one person can generate the realizations of the path to enlightenment, depends also on past lives, how much the person has left impression on his mind in the past lives, how much contact he left of the Dharma, the teachings of the lam-rim in the past lives. Depending on that, he finds it that much easier to understand and to realize in this life. Generally, if the person has very limited understanding of the holy Dharma, it takes much time, even if the person meditates for many years it takes much time to generate the realizations of the steps to the path to enlightenment

The person who has much extensive listening to the holy Dharma knows all the skills: how to quickly generate, how not to let rise the hindrances, the mistakes, and to quickly generate the realizations to the path. When, for instance, studying the extensive scriptures as Tibetans do, what the person learns, the definitions and the meanings in one day, in this form of study. Then the person who never studied those debating subjects and those extensive scriptures, who lived in the solitary place, and just keeps silence and makes retreat, for so many years; even if he makes retreat for six or seven years, he still doesn’t know what is the definition of form, what is the meaning of mind, what is the meaning, the definition of consciousness.

This is an example of many other important things. There is no understanding. The person who studied debating subjects or those extensive scriptures, what he learns in one day, and the person who meditates for ten years in the Rocky Mountains, even with a mouse, I’m just joking, with a family of mice, (just joking), who doesn’t have much understanding of Dharma, who has very limited understanding of Dharma, very small, even after ten years he hasn’t achieved the understanding of the person in the monastery who studied those extensive scriptures, what he studied in one day.

As one has great intelligence one should not waste it, one should study, one should have extensive listening. As there is this possibility to have extensive understanding of Dharma, one should take the opportunity. However, even if one has little bit intelligence, the fundamental thing is, whether one studies those extensive scriptures or not, one should study the teachings on the lam-rim, one should understand the whole completely, from beginning to the end.

For instance, the fundamental lam-rim, from the beginning of guru devotion, the perfect human rebirth, all those meditations, bodhicitta, bodhisattva practice, the six paramitas, shunyata, the basic lam-rim. One should have complete understanding; one should have correct understanding. By listening and studying one should have understanding of the whole thing, on the basis of the outline. That is what is called when one has complete intellectual, even if there is no realization, but intellectual understanding. On the basis of the outline from beginning of the guru devotion, meditation of the guru practice, up to the shunyata, the highest thing, one has complete intellectual understanding. Even if there is no realization, that is what is called having understanding of lam-rim.

Having understanding of lam-rim, that is the whole meditation, the whole explanation; having the understanding of the whole outline is what is called having understanding of lam-rim. That is necessary first, having the whole understanding. First, one meditates, like we do in the course, we follow straight, know all the different meditations. One first makes meditation in that way to try to understand on the basis of the outline. Then, after one has complete understanding of the whole thing, when one’s mind is in the level, like, “Now if I try to get effortless experience of the meditation of guru practice, the whole meditation, I can, when I get some confidence. Now I can’t generate the realization if I try to complete the effortless experience of the meditation.” When one gets this certainty in the mind, then you start to generate the realization of each meditation, such as perfect human rebirth, the eight freedoms and the ten richnesses.

The most skillful way to meditate on the lam-rim, in order to quickly generate all the realizations of the fundamental path, the most skillful way to meditate is one day doing three types of meditations, training the mind in three types of meditation; whichever meditation one does first, first of all one has to do the preliminary practice like we do in the morning, following the prayers, which becomes cause to generate the realizations and which is the method to prevent hindrances to generating the path to enlightenment. Practice one of these Jorchö or preparation practices; elaborate or short, whatever one is able to do. Then one does the meditation on the guru, the meditation trying to realize the essence of the guru in Buddha, one trains the mind in this. I am not going to talk any more details; I am just maybe going to make brief. Train the mind in this meditation. Then after that, train the mind, put more time—spend a little bit of time in this, this first meditation on the guru, trying to realize the essence of guru as Buddha—then put more time, spend more time meditating on the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, this first meditation. Then some time in the evening or when you are sleeping in bed, one other time, in the evening or one other time, train the mind in meditation on shunyata. However, one other time you meditate on shunyata.

So, besides doing the direct meditation like we do in the morning, concentrating on one of the subjects of abbreviated lam-rim teaching, going through, remembering the whole other meditation. Remembering just quickly, glance, glimpse the lam-rim; the teaching what we read is very short, but remembering, hearing the whole subject that one has heard or read, like that.

What happens is this, each day mainly training the mind in three types of meditation; trying to get effortless in three types of meditation. Each day, what happens is, if one does continuously like this, within one year, even if one hasn’t generated the realization seeing the essence of guru as Buddha, one is able to generate the first meditation, the eight freedoms and ten richnesses. One is able to generate this realization. Even one is unable, within one year to generate this realization, one is able to generate the realization on shunyata. There is hope, you see. There are many hopes.

Within one year your mind is close to one of those realizations, even if you haven’t generated completely any of these realizations, it is close. The mind is close to one of the realizations. For sure the next year one will finish one of them. Like that, within ten years, until the death. In this life, by doing like this, by training the mind like this, by opportunity, or fortunately, it is possible before the death that one has generated all these three realizations—which is incredible, you know. Even if not, then one of them; even if there is not one single realization of the steps of the path of enlightenment generated in the mind, one’s mind is close to one of these realizations, so definitely next life.

Listening to the teachings on the lam-rim, one should not be satisfied even if one has understanding. Of course, how can you be satisfied without having complete understanding? “I don’t need any more, I listened once, I don’t need any more to listen to teachings to lam-rim.” Of course, even if one has complete intellectual understanding of lam-rim, from the beginning up to the end, still there is no way to be satisfied, “I have received enough.” The geshes, the great lamas, the geshes who made extensive study for so many years, all their lives, of the basic and the extensive scriptures, memorized the debating studies, commentaries, even though they are very learned, still they listen to lam-rim; when the high lama, when the gurus give lam-rim teachings, they go to take the lam-rim teachings. During the time they study these extensive scriptures, the meanings, also when there is a possibility to receive teachings on the lam-rim, they take the teachings. Because each time they listen to the lam-rim teachings, each time it kind of cleans the mind, even though they study their whole life, they spend their whole life in the study of the Dharma, but each time when they listen to teachings, the practice makes them stronger. The practices that were degenerated become alive, or comes back, becomes stronger. The practice progresses: one is able to have a better practice than the last year. However, each time they listen it makes the mind more and more pure, even though every day in life they are studying and developing their understanding. The way the lam-rim teaching is set up, it is to listen to lam-rim teachings.

Even after they have completed the whole study, even they listened many times before, they still listen to the teachings on the lam-rim, even though they have generated the realizations of the lam-rim. They are on the way, making the effortless experience of the meditations. Still they listen to the lam-rim teachings from their gurus. Even one has complete understanding, each time one hears the lam-rim teachings, from different lamas, at the end of that teaching—there is nothing in regards teaching they don’t know, so why these high lamas and geshes still listen to the lam-rim teaching, why? Because, each time they hear it from different lamas—there is no new subject to know about, there is nothing new that wasn’t known before—but the same subject, which one did not understand before, kind of new understanding comes in one’s mind. It is the same subject one knew before, so many years, but something within that subject, somehow one gets new understanding.

However, each time one receives great benefit for the mind; as one receives that much great benefit, one becomes closer on the path to enlightenment. That isn’t what is like in the universities. Generally, if you have the understanding of the words, that is enough, it’s not on the concentration of the practice, or something to actualize. This, the holy Dharma, is not enough to just have intellectual understanding; you can’t survive just with that. The main thing is the practice, and to actualize the path; that’s the main goal.

I didn’t complete the previous subject before the peepee break: the skillful way to meditate on the lam-rim, to quickly generate the path to enlightenment. If one meditates like this, spending more time on these three meditations, enough time to get the effortless experience, then even if no realizations are to be achieved in this life, you see, the mind becomes that much closer to the realizations. So in the next life, definitely, one is able to generate the realizations to those meditations in which the mind is trained in this life. Think gradually, gradually progressing in each life, like this. That’s how one goes to enlightenment. You see, if you meditate on only one thing, if you train the mind only in one meditation, like the perfect human body, the eight freedoms and ten richness, what happens is in all that life, thirty, forty or fifty years, however long one lives, in all those years, perhaps, you might not even get the realization of that one meditation, the shamatha, the tranquil abiding meditation, the practice of it, perhaps you might not even get the realization of that in this life, you might finish the whole life, just doing that meditation, on the other hand you…

It’s the way skillful meditators practice, like this. Then you see when you have generated the realization of the perfect human body, eight freedoms and ten richnesses, then you try and gain effortless experience of the next meditation, ‘usefulness,’ then ‘difficulty,’ like that, gradually. Some meditations are very easy, some meditations one is able to generate realization within seven days, within two or three days, very easy. Some meditations the realizations take months, years or maybe several lifetimes. They are different, like this. According to which teachings and how much one has contact from past times. When you meditate on the path, which teachings you have received more, studied more, the realization is easier to generate within one’s mind.

Like the meditation realizing the essence of guru as Buddha, this meditation is one of the hardest ones to realize, generally talking. Then shunyata, for some people, nothing difficult, nothing difficult; just one hour, just by hearing the teaching one time during the session, while sitting on the same cushion one generates the realization of shunyata. Before the session there is no realization of shunyata, after the session, after the break the person’s mind is rich with the realization of shunyata. Like that, this is nothing particular, this is nothing definite.

While one is training the mind, following meditations, like for instance the mind renouncing samsara, impermanence and death, also remember sometimes those other realizations we had before, not to lose.

However, the most important thing, you see, from the beginning of the path, the practice of the guru, up to no-more learning, enlightenment—it is extremely important that the meditation that one does, the teaching one uses to meditate on lam-rim, to have the complete teaching, the complete meditation of lam-rim from the beginning up to enlightenment. Having all the meditations, all the teachings, whether very elaborately or very condensed, one page, that is extremely important. The teaching one uses, the text one uses to meditate on—to have complete meditation on lam-rim from beginning up to enlightenment. You see, if some meditations on the lam-rim are missing, not having complete meditation, even if some of the meditations are well expounded, elaborately explained, what happens is, its like the room, like the house that has a lot of plates and no food; kitchen, which has a lot of plates and no food, no food in the refrigerator, nothing; or no beds, a lot of rooms but no bed, no water or no electricity. It’s like the kitchen that has a lot of flour, but there’s no vegetables, no other things, so if you want to make pizza, you can’t make it because there’s only flour, a big sack of flour. But there’s no tomato, no cheese, or maybe there’s a lot of cheese, but there’s no flour. This is extremely important. Usually, teachings that we use to meditate on lam-rim, following the outline, have complete outline on lam-rim meditation.

Secondary outline here is concerned with how to respect and serve the holy Dharma, and one who explains Dharma. It is said in the sutra teachings by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, in the sutra teaching called the Heart of the Earth: one-pointedly one should devote oneself, with respect to listening to the holy Dharma.

One should not criticize or make fun of the teacher. The explainer of the holy Dharma, one should recognize as being similar to Buddha, and make offerings. It isn’t that you should make offerings to me; I’m just saying what is there. The listener’s mind, the mind that is listening to the holy Dharma should be a mind without disturbances or unsettled, without having these five points arise. Not having disturbing unsubdued mind like pride. If one listens to the teachings with pride, then even though the teaching may be very pure or profound, one doesn’t listen for that reasoning. One should listen to teachings with six of these things, without pride.

Listen to teachings in the right times. This means when the guru’s mind is relaxed, when it is his time, according to that. This means, not according to the time of the disciple himself, but one should listen to the teachings in the teacher’s time, not requesting teachings.

Then offering respect, like prostrations and standing up when the lama comes and leaves, and so forth. Also during the teachings, like watching where one puts the feet, listening at the right time, offering respect and service without an angry mind, whatever the work or service that must be done, bringing that work to completion without an angry mind.

Then third is offering service, fourth is not having anger, fifth is doing the work as has been advised and sixth is not displaying.

Like if you’ve done a great work, given a great help or made a big offering, then after that if one shows some display, saying, “I did that,” showing the importance of oneself. “Remember when I gave that great offering, when I gave that great help,” kind of showing, not with sincere intention but with a kind of pride, negative mind. I don’t know how to put it exactly in English. Like showing how I can count, not with sincere pure mind, but with impure motive, that’s the main point.

However, one must do all six points without pride, with the five points not arising in the mind, not pursued by the negative thought, like the kind of thinking and discrimination that arises when negative mind thinks, “Oh, this guru (from whom one has been taking teachings) talks like this, but he himself doesn’t live in pure moral conduct; he himself is not pure. Or, his caste is very low.” Or thinking how terrible his manners are; his nose is running, his clothing is dirty, he is never clean and his body is very black from not washing. In general thinking the outside is kind of ugly, discriminating like that and thinking how terrible it is. Or perhaps thinking how terrible his way of speaking is. Things like that, the reason he speaks like that, these are methods, if these five points arise, this is what disturbs for the teaching to affect one’s mind. In that way also, it disturbs for the teachings so that they do not generate realizations of the meditations. Not only do they affect the benefits of the teachings to one’s mind, but through that door it disturbs the generation of the realization of meditations. Through that karma, it is difficult to generate realizations.

Then, as for the way of listening to the teachings, the actual body of this teaching has two things; renouncing the mistakes; the hindrances of the three pots; and practicing the six recognitions, the conditions necessary for the six recognitions.

Going straight to the three mistakes of the pot: one is like the pot that is upside down. What happens is that no matter how much nectar you put in, it doesn’t go any higher. So like that, even if one is in the light of the Dharma, in the glow of listening to holy Dharma, but one doesn’t pay attention to the Dharma, if one sits there and his mind is distracted, there’s no way to know the teachings, what the Lama has explained. Even if the person is sitting here in this tent, or whatever it is, this hut, but actually it’s like the person is sitting in New York. One should listen to teachings like the animals, like deer being attached to the sound. You know, the animals, when they’re attached to the music of sound, kind of put their ears up, keep their necks very straight, like the horses. So, one should listen to the holy Dharma with complete mind, not half and half. Not half distracted and half listening, half in Kathmandu, but like the animals, like the deer when they are attached to the sound. Even the hunters, when they shoot, are unable to feel, to recognize. Something like that.

The second thing is, even if the pot is not upside down, if it is dirty, if it has poison inside, even the nectar, once it is poured in that pot, gets mixed so one cannot enjoy. So, even if one listens to the teachings but motivation is impure, motivation like, “I’m going to listen to the teachings so that in the future, soon, I can be one of the gurus, one of the babas,” or things like that. If the motivation is in attachment, clinging to the happiness of this life, this is called the mistake of the pot having stain.

The third one is, even though it’s not upside down and even though it’s stainless, it’s not dirty, but it has a hole inside, so that no matter how much one pours in, it doesn’t stay inside, it just runs out. Even though one’s motivation is pure, trying not to remember, leaving and forgetting right away, not remembering what Lama has talked about, the meditation instruction and so forth.

I think this is the only time I have talked a little more elaborately about the outline. Since the very first course, this meditation course, mostly only the part of the meditations outline; those important things beginning the path, not like that. Somehow this time it happened, this happened reciting the prayer, the refuge subject, perhaps. However, tomorrow I’m not so sure.

One of my gurus, His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche, came from Dharamsala because a disciple of his father, the reincarnation of His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche’s, father, who lived at Swayambhu, what we call the monkey Temple, Swayambhu, who has a monastery there and who normally lives there, who is His Holiness Serkong Dorje Chang, passed away a few days ago. Normally I used to go to see him often when I came back from the mountain or someplace, but this time, somehow, I didn’t go. The thought came to go anyway. They didn’t announce to the people that he had passed away because the people would be worried and they would disturb his voidness meditation. For three days, or something like that, he was in meditation, in the clear light, in the meditation on the clear light. His previous life was a married lama, one of the Gelugpa lamas, a married lama, one who has completed all the stages of lam-rim, the path to enlightenment, even the great path of tantra, the Vajrayana.

So, Serkong Rinpoche, who came from Dharamsala, his previous life’s son, this one who passed away, in this life the son became his teacher, who taught him Tibetan alphabet and many other things. Without talking much, Serkong Rinpoche came [to Kathmandu]; he couldn’t come at first, before they offered fire to the holy body of Serkong Dorje Chang, because it was very far. So, after the meditation was over, they offered fire, then they keep the ashes, hiding them for a certain number of days, seven days or something like that, and then a special sign comes after that. Day and night, there’s a monk who looks after them all the time. Then, they take the ashes back to the monastery and again they do prostrations, the monks, some arrangements. Probably Serkong Rinpoche might come here tomorrow. I have requested to send a message to him asking if he has time to come here, to give some teachings, or even just a mantra blessing...just to have some contact, everybody to have some contact with such as him, a real Tibetan Lama.

Normally, Western people think a Tibetan lama is anybody who wears red robes; anybody who wears Tibetan robes—that is a Tibetan lama. But this is a real Tibetan Lama. So it is very important that we have some contact. His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche is recognized as the son of Marpa, the great yogi, Milarepa’s guru, Marpa, whose original name is Dharmadhote. The other one, His Holiness Serkong Dorje Chang, who passed away, is the embodiment of Marpa. There is one young incarnate lama who is embodiment of Milarepa. So probably he might come tomorrow, I’m not sure. But I’m sure he’ll come.