Commentary on the Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta

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

Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche gave this commentary on The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta at the Eighth Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1975.

The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta is a text composed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche that combines the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation with Avalokiteshvara practice. Find links to The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta PDF in the FPMT Catalogue (listed in the Deity Practices & Prayers section). You can also download a PDF of the 1980 edition of this text.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, May 1975.
How to Practice the Thought Training Teaching Entitled The Everflowing Water of Bodhicitta

It doesn’t matter if I read this the wrong way since you have the paper, The Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta Annihilating the Demon of the Self-cherishing Mind.

“Annihilating” means slaying or destroying.

Here is shown a teaching in eight verses that includes the whole technique of training the mind in relative and absolute bodhicitta. It has been composed by Langri Tangpa Dorje Sengye, a disciple of the virtuous friend perfect in all knowledge, Kadampa Potowa Rinchen Sal, who was a disciple of the Holy Lamp of the Teachings, Guru Atisha.

Sorry, I jumped the next line,

Langri Tangpa Dorje Sengye was the only one of his guru’s eight heart-sons to receive the special instructions of the teaching on changing oneself into others.

The practice of these teachings has three divisions: the preparation, the actual practice and the completion.

The Preparation

Seated comfortably, generate a particularly virtuous motivation.

Maybe you can have a bed or seat which is warm and soft, as your seat is bumpy—I'm joking! “Seated comfortably…” could mean having heaters under the bed.

Then, either make a glance meditation on the lamrim teachings, from the beginning, from "Devotion to the guru" to the end, or with strong feeling, think as follows...

This means, if you have time to make all sorts of meditations from beginning until end, maybe from guru yoga or some other prayers or even by yourself, from your own mind, by going through outlines or whatever you are doing. You can do that first, then afterwards you can do this practice. Also, you can do as I did, after exchanging oneself for others, after this outline, then you can practice this, before the tonglen that is included in this practice. So after tonglen, what’s left is the great will [special intention] and bodhicitta, those two things. tonglen is here, it is included in this. Special intention and bodhicitta—only those two things are left. You can do like this. Either you go down to the bodhicitta, then say this prayer and do like this. If you don’t have the time to do this, then just follow the strong, short motivation which is here. Just think this, then practice this meditation. Like this you can do, depending on how you want to do it.

It is inadequate merely to ensure that I shall not be reborn in the suffering lower realms. I must release myself from the whole of the samsara. Yet neither is this enough. All sentient beings have been my mother; there is not a single one who has not. Each has been my mother times without number, and each time has been as kind as my present mother.

At this very moment, not only are these kind mother sentient beings in great and real suffering, but they are also running constantly to create the cause for more. There is not a minute nor even a second…

“Cause for more” means, besides that they are suffering now, which is the result of their previous karma, while they’re suffering, they’re also creating the cause, indirectly also they are suffering. How? They are creating the cause. While they are suffering, they’re creating again the cause of suffering which means they will continuously suffer in the future.

There’s not a minute nor even a second in which they can experience an instant’s happiness. If a mother’s suffering is not alleviated by her own son, then who else?

“By her own son,” me—putting it like this, “by her own son, me, who else will do it?”

“Even though it is up to me...” If you feel uncomfortable calling yourself “son,” then you can call yourself “daughter.” The name doesn’t matter.

Even though it is up to me alone to bear the burden of eradicating the suffering of all mother sentient beings, at the moment I am incapable of relieving the sufferings of even one sentient being. But if I were to receive the enlightened holy body, just one ray of its light could ripen the minds of countless sentient beings, leading them into a state of great peace.

Therefore, to release all mother sentient beings from suffering and lead them into the most sublime happiness of enlightenment, I must attain the stage of buddhahood.

The attainment of buddhahood is not without cause or conditions. The principal cause is the two bodhicittas. Therefore, I am going to practice the profound oral teaching on training the mind in bodhicitta.

“Visualize at the level of your forehead, at a distance of a body’s length, your root guru in the manifestation of and inseparable from the Thousand-arm Avalokiteshvara, standing on a moon disc which rests upon a lotus.

“Root guru” may be a little confusing. If you have many gurus, actually, whenever you visualize Avalokiteshvara, the essence you have to think about is the whole guru, all the gurus. Even though it says “root guru,” you have to think the essence is the whole guru. Even if it is the root guru, there’s no such thing as the root guru separate from other gurus. There’s no such root guru. Other gurus are also oneness with the root guru. Generally it is like this. Therefore, that is what you should think. Among the gurus, whoever is more beneficial and more effective to change your mind, think of that one as root guru. Atisha's root guru was Lama Serlingpa. Although he had 157 gurus, he received bodhicitta from Lama Serlingpa, whose teachings were so effective for his mind. It is not separate, but that doesn’t mean you’re not visualizing other gurus. You also have to think of the others as the same manifestation of Avalokiteshvara.

Now perform the seven-limb practice:

Phag chhog thug je chhen pöi ku chhag tshäl
Ngö sham yi trül chhö trin ma lü bül
Thog me nä sag dig tung tham chä shag
Kye phag ge wa nam la je yi rang
Khor wa ma tong bar du leg zhug nä
Dro la chhö kyi khor lo kor wa dang
Dag zhän ge nam jang chhub chhen por ngo

Whether you say the seven-limb practice in Tibetan or not, the English meaning is important.

I prostrate to Guru Avalokiteshvara,

That is the prostration.

Each and every offering, including those really performed and those mentally transformed.

That means I prostrate to Guru Avalokiteshvara and make offerings that are mentally transformed and actually performed. That is the offering.

Every negative action collected from the beginninglessness of samsaric life is confessed.

That is the confession.

I rejoice at the ordinary beings’ and noble beings’ actions.

These actions where you should feel rejoicefulness should be virtuous actions, not negative actions. “Noble being” means the person who has received the path and the beings who have received enlightenment. “Ordinary beings” are those who have not received the path, any ordinary sentient beings who have created merit. “Ordinary beings” means not only other sentient beings but also yourself. You are also the object of rejoicefulness—you can feel rejoicefulness for your virtuous actions done in the past, present and future, so you are also included in this.

Please, Buddha, by living as our guide until samsara ends, reveal the teachings to sentient beings.

That includes two things— requesting the Buddhas to live long and beseeching them to turn the Dharma wheel.

Because of the merits created by myself and others, may the two bodhicittas ripen and may buddhahood be received, for the sake of all sentient beings.

That is dedicating the merit.

Now make the following heartfelt request:

Precious guru, please bestow upon me your blessings. Help stop any wrong conceptions from ever entering my mind, make my mind one with the Dharma, bring me correct realizations of the whole path, from guru devotion to the completion of training, the undefiled Vajra state, the undefiled, unified Vajra state.

The request is to receive the blessings from guru devotion up to enlightenment, and to not have any distractions for the mind to become oneness with Dharma. To go on the path and to not have any distractions from the path, to actualize the path. There are also other prayers like this which usually come from the lamrim and from the Jorcho text also, after the mandala offering. You can also put another prayer like this here, if you know one. But this request as it is, this is also okay, this is not wrong. It’s okay.

And please bestow upon me special blessings, so that I shall receive immediately the loving, compassionate bodhicitta.

Guru Avalokiteshvara is extremely pleased by your request.

Think, “By my request, Guru Avalokiteshvara is extremely pleased.”

Together with the lotus and moon he descends to the crown of your head.

First visualize it here, then second time you bring it down, after the request, then seated on your head, like this, on the lotus and moon disc.

The Actual Practice

First verse:

Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit from all the sentient beings who excel even the wish-fulfilling jewel, may I hold them most dear at all times.

When you say this, concentrate on the meaning and say it slowly, don’t rush. Put your concentration there and say it slowly. “The greatest possible benefit from all sentient beings” includes the temporal perfections, samsaric perfection and happiness and also ultimate happiness and perfection —everything that is received from sentient beings. “Greatest possible” means temporal, samsaric perfection and happiness as well as ultimate happiness and perfection—enlightenment. Enlightenment is also received from the sentient beings. “Who excel even the wish-fulfilling jewel” I explained before. Most of this is easy to understand because I have already explained the shortcomings and the benefits of these two different thoughts, so it’s easy to understand. “May I hold them most dear at all times.” Like this.


Oh, this is purification, how to make purification.

From the seed syllable letter HRIH...

HRIH is the seed-syllable at Avalokiteshvara’s heart. Guru Avalokiteshvara’s omniscient mind is manifested in this letter HRIH.

On the lotus and the moon at the heart of Avalokiteshvara, much blissful white nectar streams down the center of your head, filling your whole body and purifying all obscurations, especially those that prevent you from holding others most dear, and bringing all realizations, especially those of holding others most dear.

This is how to think during the visualization time. After you say this prayer, make purification thinking this.

Now, second verse:

When in the company of others, may I always consider myself the lowest of all and from the depth of my heart hold them dear and supreme.

After that, again make purification. Repeat the visualization of the nectar, especially purifying the obscurations that prevent you from holding others dear and supreme and again bringing the realizations of how to do this. Bringing the realizations in the mind, the power and the realization, especially to always keep others high. Besides other realizations. If this is a little bit complicated, then visualize as you did for the first visualization. You can do this similarly, if the second visualization is too complicated.

Third verse:

Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears endangering myself and others, may I confront and avert it without delay.

As one of my gurus, from whom I received this teaching, told me, this means that when a thief or enemy is outside your door, and you know he’s nearby, then you just avert it—you smash him, you destroy him. As soon as you recognize that he is coming to your house, you destroy him. You do not let him come inside your house. Just like this, don't let the mind generate a delusion; avert the delusion. It's as if a thief or someone else is coming, and you are holding a very, very heavy, big hammer and waiting, then as soon as the thief comes, you completely smash his head, breaking his brain into hundreds of pieces by hitting him once. If your meditation technique is powerful enough, you can destroy the delusion like this.

Fourth verse:

Whenever I see beings of wicked nature who are overwhelmed by violent, negative actions and sufferings, may I hold such rare ones dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.

You may find this verse is a little bit difficult to understand. Other verses may be easier. “Negative, the wicked nature in the mind” doesn’t mean physical things. “Wicked nature” means very, very cruel, incredible cruel, negative action. These negative actions are the worst karma. The five heinous actions, including killing an arhat, killing a holy being or killing one's parents, create the worst negative karma. There is great suffering and besides that, the mind is so negative and incredibly cruel, and also, so negative and selfish. Besides creating the worst negative karma, people also become physically sick and the whole body is full of epidemic disease or sores that spread around, like leprosy. People suffer from the worst, most dangerous diseases, like leprosy. “May I hold such rare ones dear as if I had found a precious treasure” means like that kind of person. Anyway, I will talk a little bit on this. You may have the question, “All sentient beings are precious, why is this specific person precious? Why should I think this person is precious, specifically?” It is very good if I talk a little bit on just this point and not explain the others.

By seeing this person with all three things like this—having a wicked nature, by all his actions he has created incredible, unbearable suffering, so he becomes the object of your compassion. Compassion easily rises and from this, bodhicitta arises. You receive bodhicitta and from this, you receive enlightenment. So, this is like the other explanation that I already did. But if you’re not introduced, you cannot understand the meaning of this. So therefore, think, “My receiving enlightenment, all my realizations come from him.” For example, bodhisattvas and arhats— those high bodhisattvas who have not received enlightenment are sentient beings, but you don’t feel compassion for them. Holy beings who have not received enlightenment, for example, arhats who are out of samsara, although they are still sentient beings, you don’t feel compassion for them. You find it easy to feel compassion for suffering beings, like wounded dogs. Even the terribly wounded dogs that are almost dying and can’t move their body, they have broken legs, it is easy to generate compassion toward these beings, more so than towards that other person who has many possessions, who has everything. It is difficult to generate compassion towards that person, but it is easy to generate compassion and bodhicitta on the basis of these suffering sentient beings.

So therefore, the teaching mentions that this person is “precious like a jewel.” As it’s explained in the teaching, the jewel itself is dirty when we first take it from the ocean. The jewel itself cannot remove the dirt, but after you clean it and you pray, you receive all the temporal perfections and happiness from that. Like this, sentient beings cannot help themselves get out of the suffering, but they become the basis from where you receive enlightenment and all your realizations and happiness. They are the basis of your compassion and bodhicitta. Similarly, when you find a wish-fulfilling jewel, because of the preciousness and the benefits, you don’t throw it out. You take care of it as best as possible, because of the benefits. Just like this, when you see a sentient being suffering like this, you should not run away. You should not consider him as an enemy and run away. You should not think, “Oh, I will get his disease. Oh, he is terrible. I can't look at him. I can't help him, I can't go nearby.” You should not feel he is the enemy. Don’t run away. Take care of him and hold him most dear. When this person is found, hold him most dear, like a difficult-to-find jewel.

For a normal person, receiving all the temporal pleasure and perfections, whatever he wants to receive easily, is very difficult. That’s why finding a jewel is so precious. It’s very difficult to find and precious. Like this, receiving enlightenment, bodhicitta, all these things, is very rare, very difficult. The best person from whom we can receive compassion, bodhicitta—this person on whom we can easily generate and receive these realizations is also very precious. So we should hold this person as the most dear.

The way of helping this person is, first, if you can help through words, through communication. And if there’s no way to help through communication, there may be another way to help with materials, food or other things. Even if that is impossible, then make tonglen practice and take his suffering. Make tonglen practice, the mental practice, dedicating your happiness and merits, everything, for his happiness, for his receiving enlightenment, for his release from samsara— and take all his present and future suffering and all the negative karma, everything. Try to help him in this way and mentally try to benefit him with your pure thought of bodhicitta.

Fifth verse:

When out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insult or dislike, may I accept the defeat and offer the victory to others.

This includes many other things besides abuse and insults.

Sixth verse:

When someone I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, may I regard him as my holy guru.

These are very powerful words and there is also much to say about this verse. By depending on the guru, you receive teachings and you receive realizations and enlightenment. You can look at this sentient being in a similar way as your guru, because by depending on this sentient being, by training the mind like this, on the basis of these sentient beings, you can learn patience. You can learn the six paramitas from them. On the basis of them, you can develop your practice, you can receive bodhicitta, you can receive the whole path and receive enlightenment. So they are also, in another way, like the guru and you can look at sentient beings as the guru, like this. Whatever is said here, I am directly explaining it like this.

Seventh verse:

In short, both directly and indirectly do I offer every benefit and happiness to all my mothers. May I secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and sufferings.

“Secretly” can be “indirectly” —there are different meanings explained in the teachings. “Directly” means present happiness, so you are dedicating for all the present perfections and happiness. “Indirectly” means although you have created karma now, the resulting perfection and happiness is not received yet, but also even the future happiness that will be received, you are dedicating this for sentient beings indirectly. “Indirectly” can also be understood in this way. “Secretly” means tonglen practice done by mind. You can also help physically as best you can, to release others’ suffering. But secretly, also mentally, you can do the tonglen practice, taking other sentient beings’ suffering mentally. If physically it can’t be done, then secretly take their suffering like this. If you can really stop other beings’ sufferings with your physical actions, then do that. If not, then secretly, mentally, take their suffering by practicing tonglen—taking other sentient beings’ suffering. Also this means that tonglen practice is very secret —it is only an action of your mind and it does not depend on the body. Your body can be doing anything, not looking like it is practicing Dharma, but your mind is living in Dharma practice. Other people can’t see tonglen. They can’t see if another person is practicing Dharma. Making prostrations and mandala offerings is different from tonglen. tonglen is a very good practice because it’s very difficult to get involved with the self-cherishing thought, the evil thought of worldly dharma, and because other people cannot see your mind's action.

Eighth verse:

Undefiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight worldly dharmas, by perceiving all dharmas as illusory, may I be released from the bondage of attachment.

All these practices include praying to not be possessed by the eight worldly dharmas. De dag kün kyang chhö gyä kyi / Tog päi dri mä ma pag shing / Chhö kün gyu mar she päi lö /Zhen me chhing wa lä dröl shog. “By not seeing the existence as illusory,” perceiving this as truly existent, as absolutely existent, makes you generate attachment and clinging to yourself, your possessions and to others. So, that is the bondage of the attachment and wrong conception that binds you in the samsara. So, then pray, “By perceiving all dharmas as illusory, may I be released from the bondage of attachment.”


The Completion

Then request: "Precious gurus, please bless me and all mother sentient beings to attain the precious guru’s enlightenment stage."

Extremely pleased by this request, your guru descends through the crown of your head to your heart. Much blissful white light emanates from the seed syllable HRIH at the heart of the Guru Avalokiteshvara, passing through infinite space in all directions, purifying all sentient beings. Then visualize all these beings as...

One thing to clarify is, as I explained yesterday, I think it is more comfortable to visualize Guru Avalokiteshvara down at the heart. And then send much radiant, blissful light, like the sun's rays. All the obscurations and impurities of body and mind—everything is completely burned. The obscurations completely disappear, they do not exist. The whole body becomes light and you become very blissful—just a formation of light, like a rainbow.

Then what happens is, as I explained, to absorb here, but I think this way is more comfortable, by checking. Then think, “My speech, body and mind become oneness with Guru Avalokiteshvara’s holy speech, body and mind.” Guru Avalokiteshvara is at your heart but he becomes oneness with you, instead of absorbing to you, which is maybe not so comfortable. So think, “My body, speech and mind become oneness with Avalokiteshvara.” At the same time, Avalokiteshvara is at your heart, there is no separation. Before there was separation, but now there is no separation, you are completely oneness and your whole body is completely in the pure manifestation of the Thousand-arm Avalokiteshvara. Then from there, again there are the six realms’ sentient beings around you, so purify all the other sentient beings so they, too, become Avalokiteshvara.

Finally make this dedication prayer:

May the suffering and the causes of suffering of all sentient beings ripen on me now, and may all sentient beings receive the results of my virtuous actions and bodhicitta.

This dedication is very, very, very good. It’s very, very good. It’s very strong. It’s very good.

The final thing I’m talking about is the extra things that you can just leave out. I am just reading the final part of the instructions.

It is essential to wish and pray like this always to create such merit constantly, and to find such virtuous gurus, and meet such virtuous friends in all future lives.

This is just talking about how to think. You should usually desire to be able to continuously generate bodhicitta or to receive bodhicitta, and to create the conditions for receiving bodhicitta.

This teaching was dictated by Thubten Zopa, who is possessed by the devil of the self-cherishing mind and the pride of being a Mahayanist…

This is completely true. There is not one single mistake. “Possessed” means the self-cherishing thought mind is living inside.

The translation was done while coming on the direct flight from Rome to Delhi in October, 1975, and it was completed at the residence of Mrs Danielle Rouch in New Delhi, India, soon after. This translation was started in Rome, actually in the morning time. We had planned to translate it a long time ago, but we didn’t. We have somehow been very lazy, so all of a sudden we started it there.

It has been done not only for my own benefit, but with the thought that it may help those intelligent, young Westerners of today, who have found that their lives are full of problems for which they can find no solution. These seekers are greatly fortunate, merely being able to see a teaching such as this, the bodhicitta thought-training, that contains the method of transforming any of the present day’s sufferings into happiness, while leading the practitioners to the ultimate happiness of enlightenment.

What this means is that by practicing this, you are not only creating the cause to achieve enlightenment—ultimate happiness. But, even in the present, even now in this life, whatever temporal, samsaric suffering and problems there are, you can turn or transform everything with your mind. Not with your physical body, but only with your mind. All these problems that you experience in the West or in the East, whatever, wherever, alone or with people. All this you can make into medicine, it can become path to enlightenment. All this suffering, any problem that you experience can become the path to enlightenment. The mind can change; the mind can make problems the path to enlightenment. So, as you make your suffering the path to enlightenment, as you’re using it, as you’re making it the path to enlightenment, at the same time, instead of becoming suffering, it becomes pleasure. What you’re suffering now, all the life problems that you usually experience, instead of being problems, for you they are pleasure. Maybe other people may think you’re suffering, but for your mind it is pleasure.

But if you just keep this paper and do not practice, it doesn’t help. That is just like having a house full of books or a prescription for medicine. You know how to take medicine and there are piles of books in the library, but if you don’t take the medicine, if you don't follow that prescription, your delusions cannot be cured. The same thing with this practice.

This precious bodhicitta teaching is priceless. The benefits it brings could never be bought by even countless galaxies full of wish-fulfilling jewels.

Actually, we usually say that even if you want to sell the teaching or even the explanation—that teaching which is in the form which you can see—because of the benefits of this teaching, the text is priceless. The benefits of the teaching itself are incredible, there is not enough time to count the benefits. Usually for materials that we value, like diamonds or jewels—according to how useful they are, we make a price. Like this, in regards to the benefits of this teaching, it’s incredible, unbelievable. All your ultimate and temporal happiness comes from this teaching. It's so unbelievable. So therefore, even if you pay to buy this teaching, even if you pay a world or a universe full of jewels for this book, still you cannot buy the benefits of the teaching.

Generally we have a saying like this in Tibet. Even one small text, which has a few lines of teaching, actually we can’t make a cost, there’s no way to make cost. It’s costless, costless?

[Student: Priceless]

Priceless. And if you practice, if you really learn by heart and practice, then it is really worthwhile that I translated this teaching and also explained it briefly tonight. It is mainly for your benefit. There are many other thought trainings, but this is the essential practice. This is the body of the thought training, the main essence of thought training. Although there are other thought trainings, this is the main practice. If you understand and practice this, then you are also doing the other thought training practices.

There are other teachings that are not yet finished. At retreat time, if I’m not lazy, then I am thinking to continue, slowly. If you want, if you think it’s useful, then perhaps you can ask for copies of the translation and the commentary. Anyway, I tried to explain the difficult parts a little bit. There are two bodhicittas—the absolute and relative bodhicitta—and both are contained here. It’s not a simple subject, it’s a very broad subject. It can be expanded so much. Anyway, the whole instruction is to constantly pray to be able to receive bodhicitta soon. If you wish and pray to receive bodhicitta, if you train your mind in bodhicitta, just by that, you automatically become beneficial for all the sentient beings, just by training the mind. By training the mind in bodhicitta, you automatically become beneficial for other sentient beings all the time, besides yourself.

Helping others, benefiting others, is at the same time benefiting yourself. Although you are not working to relieve your own suffering, you’re working for other sentient beings to relieve their suffering, you’re caring more for others. You renounce yourself and take care of others. At the same time, psychologically, how it works, how it benefits you, taking care of others is also taking care of yourself. It's the best way of taking care of yourself. Your motive is not trying to cure your own suffering, it is trying to cure other sentient beings’ sufferings. That is the best way of stopping your own suffering. It is quicker, more powerful. Like this, anyway, I explained the benefits of bodhicitta before. That’s the most important thing in the life.

Then, whatever your work, continuously have the wish to practice Dharma. Continuously have the wish to train the mind in bodhicitta. Continuously even having the wish is so lucky, so lucky, even if you have no time to meditate, just having the strong wish, always thinking, “Oh, how wonderful if I can receive bodhicitta. Oh, how good it is, it can be beneficial.” Just even that is incredible, very lucky. Then if you pray like this, you can definitely or quickly receive bodhicitta.

I think that’s all. Dharma practice, bodhicitta and thought training are the only things that you can carry with you to the future life. When you die, you can carry this to your future life, it can benefit your future life. You can only carry Dharma to the future life and only this can benefit. Worldly activities and your body and possessions cannot benefit your future life. When you die, you can’t carry even one single atom from this body to the future life. There is no choice. The mind has to go, like pulling a hair from butter, the mind alone has to leave.

[Ge wa di… Dedication prayers]