E-letter No. 114: November 2012

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

As another wonderful year of making the holy Dharma freely available to any and all draws to a close, we look ahead to the next.

Supporting the Spread of the Dharma
This year we published two new books, Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Bodhisattva Attitude, the first in our new Heart Advice Series, and How to Practice Dharma, the second in our FPMT Lineage Series. The former was so well received that we have already had to reprint it! We also reprinted the very popular Becoming Your Own Therapist, Virtue and Reality and How Things Exist.

However, perhaps the highlight of the last couple of years at LYWA has been the launch of our epublishing program. Although over the past fifteen years or so we have printed over 610,000 free books, we've found that since publishing ebooks, there's even more demand for them. Now each month we are distributing nearly as many ebooks as paper ones--about 2,000 per month through sites like Amazon.com and iTunes, plus the thousands each month that are read or downloaded for free from LamaYeshe.com.

While we will always publish print books, eDharma certainly looks like it will be the most efficient way to reach people for the foreseeable future. To that end we have we have put much effort and many resources into developing our website, our social media presence and our YouTube channel.

The number of teachings posted on our website continues to grow steadily. We now have over 30,000 pages of teachings and 430 hours of audio freely available on our site, with over 25,000 unique visitors each month. All of the teachings on our site are searchable, categorized and tagged, making our website an unparalleled tool for authentic Dharma research and study.

Our reach is also expanding on social media sites, where quotes, pictures and news are posted every few days. We now have about 5,300 "likes" on Facebook and nearly 5,000 followers on Twitter. There is also our amazing Big Love blog, where we post excerpts from the forthcoming biography of Lama Yeshe. And we have recently revamped our YouTube channel, where we have started posting previously unseen archival video of Lama Yeshe and some of our DVDs of him as well, and will soon be posting current video of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

We need to raise $50,000 by the end of the year to continue to archive, edit and develop new ways of bringing the Dharma to people around the world every day. Please will you help us reach our goal?

If you become a Member with your donation of $1,000 or more before the end of the year you will receive all the usual Member benefits plus a beautiful 16x20 matted print of Lisa Sawlit's spectacular portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. [Please note: As of 2020, the portrait is no longer available.] If you cannot commit to a membership at this time, please consider supporting us with at one of these levels:

♦ For your gift of $500 or more we will send you all our new free books for 5 years plus an 11x14 matted print of the Dalai Lama portrait. [As of 2020, the portrait is no longer available.]

♦ For $250 or more we will send you all our new free books for 3 years plus an 8x10 matted print of the portrait. [As of 2020, the portrait is no longer available.]

  • ♦ For $100 or more we will send you all our new free books for 2 years plus a copy of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's How to Practice Dharma.
  • ♦ For $50 or more you become a Benefactor we will send you all our new free books for one year.

Click on the "Donate Now" button to make your generous year-end donation. Thank you!

Note that you can always choose to receive our books as ebooks, instead of printed copies. Just let us know your preference when you make your donation.

Your past support has been so important to us, enabling us to accomplish so much in recent years. We are excited about our forthcoming projects, and hope that you feel inspired to join us as we continue to make the Lamas' teachings available around the world, in all ways possible. Thank you so much!

What's New On Our Website
Listen online to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings on making offerings, given during a Tara Puja in Singapore in 1992, on the day before Losar, the Tibetan New Year. In this teaching Rinpoche talks about mandala offerings and the seven-limb practice, especially rejoicing.

We have added an advice to Rinpoche's Online Advice Book to a student who had not been keeping her practice commitments. She apologized to Rinpoche and asked for forgiveness. Rinpoche gave her advice about her practice and wrote about the benefits of being a vegetarian. You can see a list of all new advices added in November here.

We have also just posted excerpts from Rinpoche's teachings at the annual Kopan lam-rim course in 1982:

  • How Guru Shakyamuni Buddha Guides Sentient Beings: "Even to guide one sentient being at different times, according to the level of that being’s mind, he will appear in different forms."
  • Blessings of the Merit Field: "Each time we generate a realization or our mind changes and becomes more subdued, at that time we are receiving blessings."
  • Four Outlines of Karma: "Karma is expandable, karma will definitely bring its result if it is not destroyed, we cannot experience the result of karma that we have not created, and the karma that we have created never gets lost."
  • The True Cause of Suffering: "The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in the Bodhicaryavatara, 'Whatever happiness there is in the world comes from wishing others to be happy. Whatever suffering there is in the world comes from wishing happiness for the self. What need is there to say more?'"

As always, you can read the entire course transcript or download it as a pdf here.

More New Teachings From His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Last month, on the heels of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Kurukulla Center, we told you about two interviews we posted, a question-and-answer session with students at Tushita Center, Dharamsala, 1989; and an interview with His Holiness from November 1988.

This month we have added another question-and-answer session with His Holiness at Tushita Centre, Dharamsala, in November 1990, where His Holiness discusses a range of topics, including karma, other religions, depression, Buddhist tenets and the mind.

And we have also added a teaching by His Holiness on Vajrasattva Practice, given in Washington, New Jersey, on September 23, 1984.

Interview transcripts were kindly provided by Ven. Thubten Wongmo, and edited by Ven. Thubten Chodron and Sandra Smith.

Thank you once again for your kind interest in and support of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

Much love, 
Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: The Dharma Path to Happiness

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Portland, Oregon, 2006. Photo: John Berthold.People get excited about strange things. I recently saw a group of men kicking a ball into a big net and hundreds of thousands of people were cheering and throwing their hands up in the air, while millions were watching on television. Everybody was totally out of control with excitement, in fact their faces were so distorted I couldn’t tell whether they were happy or in great pain. This World Cup seems very important to so many people, but it also brings misery and jealousy, as well as anger and hatred when your country beats my country.

On the other hand, a real cause for excitement and happiness is simply having this human body. This body we take so much for granted is the most precious thing in the universe. If we could really understand even a tiny part of its value to us, we would have a million times more reason for jumping in the air and shouting for joy, the way those soccer supporters do. Every day—every second—we should have such a feeling of joy in our hearts that we have this precious thing that gives us the opportunity to do whatever we want. We can achieve anything we want to benefit ourselves and to benefit others.

In sports and in worldly activities, people are always chasing the best and trying to be the first at whatever they do. Winning at the Olympics, climbing Mount Everest, whatever people consider to be an achievement, is really nothing. There is nothing new in running faster or singing louder. We have all done these kinds of things innumerable times, in past lives if not in this one, and they certainly haven’t made us any happier. Perhaps the team that wins the World Cup are elated now, but has that cup brought them all real lasting happiness?

In fact, in all our previous lives we have achieved states we can’t even imagine. We have been born in god realms where the pleasure is billions of times greater than the pleasure all the money in this world could buy and where there is no obvious suffering. We have achieved great powers in concentration, a concentration so profound that, as the great master Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains in the Three Principal Aspects of the Path to Enlightenment commentary, even a big drum beating right next to our ear could not disturb us. And we have even attained high psychic powers such as clairvoyance and the ability to fly. All this is nothing new. Things like this only seem special because we don’t understand reincarnation and therefore know that with our countless rebirths we have done all of this again and again.

In fact, although such things might sound wonderful, they are really just mundane achievements that mean very little in the long run. They cannot assure real happiness for us and they cannot free us from this cycle of dissatisfaction that we are trapped in called samsara. They have no power to eliminate or even diminish our delusions, which is the only real way of destroying our suffering and becoming happy.

None of these samsaric things, whether it is excellence at sport or psychic powers, can even last. That is their very nature. To achieve them we have had to go through so much hardship and then we have them for a short while and they are gone, leaving us discontented again. Furthermore, everything of this nature is achieved through a motivation that longs for the mundane pleasure of this life, and, as we will see, that is a nonvirtuous motivation that is the cause of future suffering.

But now, with this precious human body, we have just the right conditions to see beyond this and to understand what suffering is and how to overcome it, and conversely to understand the cause of true happiness and be able to attain it. We have the Dharma.

The Dharma is whatever leads us towards happiness and away from suffering; it is whatever destroys the roots of that suffering, delusion and karma. It is the path we all must take, whether we consider ourselves Buddhist or not. Only by renouncing the causes of suffering, such as attachment, and developing compassion and a correct understanding of the nature of reality—what is called emptiness in Buddhism—can we truly liberate ourselves. This is the new experience we should strive for, not golden cups or mountain tops. This what we have never achieved in the past.

Excerpted from the third book in our PFL Series on the perfect human rebirth by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, edited by Gordon McDougall, forthcoming in 2013.