E-letter No. 115: December 2012

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

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

Thank you so much for your kind interest in and support of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. We hope you’ve had a great holiday season and would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family and friends all the very best for the coming year and beyond.

Supporting the Spread of the Dharma
If you have already contributed to our 2012 year-end appeal, thank you very, very much. Your support is crucial to our mission of spreading the Dharma freely for the sake of all sentient beings.

We recently heard from one of our donors who said:

"Thank you so much for your warm message and attached receipt. I'm glad I am in a position to help... even though it's only a little, I do understand how it all adds up!

"LYWA is simply amazing and provides unbelievable Dharma nourishment and support both in print and so importantly online... the content is staggeringly beneficial! From my heart, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!"

Together we can bring so much benefit to so many around the world. If you have not yet made your donation, your generosity can bring us to or even past our goal of $50,000. We need this to balance our 2012 books and get 2013 off to a flying start. We have many great plans for next year and invite you to join us in helping fulfill them.

\"We have many amazing gifts for donors at different levels, such as free books and a print of the spectacular portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Check out our website for details.

Remember December 31st is the last day for our US donors to make a tax-deductible donation for 2012. Visit our website at www.LamaYeshe.com and click on the "Donate Now" button to make your generous year-end 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!

Update on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's health
Ven Roger Kunsang, Rinpoche’s assistant and CEO of the FPMT recently informed us:

"Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s health is good. The doctors seem satisfied with the blood pressure and sugar levels. Over the past couple of months Rinpoche hasn’t exercised as much (due to the busy schedule) so that has been disappointing and so not any noticeable improvement in the walking action. Now in Nepal Rinpoche has started again to do circumambulations of the stupa, which is very good and I hope this continues regularly while here.


"While in India Rinpoche attended an Ayurvedic clinic for 7 days, this seemed to help his health in a general way. The doctor wanted Rinpoche to attend a full treatment program which would be for 21 days. Rinpoche was very reluctant to do for that length of time. The doctor there and the staff were very good. Maybe sometime in the future this can happen. 

"Rinpoche’s speech in Tibetan is very clear, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche made this comment as well as other Lamas. English language is also clearer."

To read more updates on Rinpoche's health as they become available see the FPMT website.

Teachings From the Mani Retreat
Listen Online to an excerpt of teachings Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave during the 100 Million Mani Retreat at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, in December 2000.

In this teaching Rinpoche talks about the benefits of mani pills, the Thirty-five Buddhas practice, and the importance of purifying negative karma.

The teachings from this retreat were published in the book Teachings From the Mani Retreat. This book has since gone out of print, but was recently republished as an ebook, and is available for Kindle, Apple, Nook and many other readers. See our website for details

What Else is New On Our Website
We have just posted two teachings from Lama Yeshe. The first is from teachings given by Lama at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1975, titled Dissolution, adapted by T.Y. Alexander. The other is on Karma and Emptiness, a teaching given by Lama at Nagarjuna Institute, Ibiza, Spain, in 1978. Edited by Ven. Thubten Wangmo. Both of these teachings were first published in the book Wisdom Energy 2 in England in 1979.

We have added a number of new advices to Rinpoche's Online Advice Book including advice on Practices for Newly Ordained Sangha; instructions for doing Chenrezig practice; and advice to a student who wrote about her nursing work in which Rinpoche says:

"Giving medicine or any comfort that you can to a patient is the best offering to numberless bodhisattvas and buddhas; it is what makes them so happy. This is not just referring to patients, but to any sentient being. To give comfort or help to any sentient being is the best offering to the buddhas and bodhisattvas."

There is also a long response Rinpoche wrote to a student who was offering gratitude to Rinpoche as his guru in which Rinpoche addresses the sufferings of samsara, sur offering and the benefits of being vegetarian; it is excerpted below as this month's eletter teaching. As always, you can see a list of all new advices added in the past month here.

We have also just posted excerpts from teachings at the annual Kopan lamrim course in 1983:

  • Essential Mahayana Thought Training: "If we have a very luxurious life and great enjoyments or even if we see a beautiful garden, we should dedicate this to every sentient being. Think, "May all sentient beings have this enjoyment."
  • Motivation for Mahayana Ordination: "Living in ordination and offering one drop of butter like the tip of a needle to the Triple Gem has much greater merit than not living in ordination and offering as much butter as would equal the Atlantic Ocean."
  • The Dissatisfied Mind: "When the mind is satisfied, that is itself what is called 'practicing Dharma.' The benefit of practicing Dharma is immediate peace."

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

His Holiness the Dalai Lama inBoston
Photo: Cherrie CoreyAs you will recall, HH the Dalai Lama visited Kurukulla, the FPMT Boston center in October. During that visit His Holiness gave a long talk to the Tibetan community. We are very happy to now be able to offer you a translation of that talk. The video of the address is available here

Thank you again for your kindness and this month we leave you with a wonderful letter from Rinpoche to a student.

Much love, 
Nick Ribush


This Month's Teaching: Offering Thanks to the Guru

Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the veranda at Tushita Retreat Centre, Dharamsala, India, 1973. From the collection of Adele Hulse. A devoted student wrote to Rinpoche to offer thanks. Rinpoche responded with extensive advice on a range of topics including the sufferings of samsara, sur offering and the benefits of being vegetarian. [Note: The student’s letter is in italics.]

My very dear Mark,
Thank you very, very, very much for your kind letter. This is my reply, within some of your original letter.

Student: Every day I dedicate much merit that your health will improve to your satisfaction and that everything you wish for will come true. On this auspicious day, I wished to write something to share with you about me, but as you will see, everything I do is because of you. Thank you, Lama.

Rinpoche: If what you are doing is good, that’s because of your wisdom, your faith and your compassion. Thank you very much.

Student: I would like to explain, if you will allow me. With you as my example, I have helped tens of thousands of young, old and penniless people find and receive care from a doctor. Thank you, Lama.

Rinpoche: That is because your wisdom, compassion and faith opened your heart. Thank you very much.

Student: Because of you, I learned how to care for a beautiful Mahayana Buddhist shrine with many thangkas and statues of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. I have photos of the Dalai Lama on my shrines. I am asked to set up shrines for important Buddhist teachers that come to our community. Thank you Lama.

Rinpoche: WOW! Thank you. I can’t imagine!

Student: Over the years, I have sponsored teachings of Gelug monks in the area and have been a co-sponsor for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits on many occasions. Thank you Lama!

Rinpoche: It’s really unbelievable, really great. Amazing, amazing, amazing good luck, merit, but also awakening the sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment, causing them to stop being born in the lower realms and get a good rebirth, achieve liberation and full enlightenment. Amazing, amazing. Inviting His Holiness and the geshes—those who are really good in explaining Dharma—that’s really very good help, really needed. That’s really the best thing, real help, really needed by the sentient beings to develop the basic qualities of compassion and wisdom. Many people want to contribute and to invite His Holiness and the great lamas, but they don’t have the money to do so.

Student: Because of you, every day for over a year I have been reading the Exalted Sublime Golden Light Sutra. By doing this practice, I now understand the many teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha in relation to impermanence as well as having a deep understanding of my own personal bodhicitta. Thank you Lama!

Rinpoche: That’s excellent, excellent, that you have come to understand, awakened to the most precious teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha, the teaching of the Golden Light Sutra. This is more precious than the whole sky filled with wish-granting jewels. It brings great peace to the country and to the world. It is a great help for leaders to get power and it stops the country from being attacked or taken over by enemies. Reading this sutra is very good protection for the country, other countries cannot attack it and if they do, they lose their power. It is also mentioned that reading this sutra heals all the people in the city. This is really, really good for you. You get amazing, amazing benefits, as mentioned at the beginning of the Golden Light Sutra. You become an unbelievable precious object for others to make offerings to or serve, an incredible precious object for other sentient beings to collect merits. The Golden Light Sutra has so much benefit.

Of course, your bodhicitta is the source of happiness for all sentient beings including your enemy—temporary and ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, up to enlightenment. It is the source of all happiness for all the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras and asuras. Your bodhicitta is what brings the highest meaning in life. That fulfills why you are born as a human being this time. However many hours, days, minutes or seconds you live, bodhicitta makes your life most meaningful and beneficial for every sentient being, including all the insects you see in the road—all the birds flying in the sky, dogs, cats, mosquitoes, the tiniest animals you can’t see with the eyes just with machines, up to the largest animals like whales, and the Himalayan yetis, the abominable snow man.

Student: Because of you, I am reading Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, by the great Pabongka Rinpoche, as much as possible. Thank you Lama!

Rinpoche: There are great, very deep and vast to understand lamrim teachings by Lama Tsongkhapa: the Great Lam-Rim, Middle Lam-Rim, Small Lam-Rim, Three Principals of the Path and any teaching by him. The Middle Lam-Rim is not yet available as a book but it is in our study program, the Basic Program. For you, because you are very intelligent, it’s very good to study this Middle Lam-Rim, but Liberation has many stories and it’s quite simple, so it’s very good to learn that first and afterwards read Lama Tsongkhapa. Liberation gives you the basis to understand Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. So thank you very, very, very much.

Student: Because of you, I am meditating for thirty minutes every morning and evening on emptiness and compassion. Recently, I have started a dzogchen practice. Thank you Lama!

Rinpoche: This means two very, very, very basic Buddhist realizations; compassion and right view. Lama Tsongkhapa said that if you only have the realization of emptiness you can’t achieve enlightenment, but if there’s compassion then it’s possible to achieve enlightenment. So these two are very, very, very important. Without realizing emptiness you cannot be free from samsara and without compassion you cannot achieve enlightenment.

I have no idea about dzogchen but ultimately this could be mahamudra, the extremely subtle wisdom understanding emptiness and experiencing infinite bliss.

Student: Because of you, I am able to be a member of the FPMT center where I first met you. I received the Medicine Buddha sadhana from you and received your blessings. I still keep my vows and mantras every day, as I promised. I stopped eating meat on that day in your honor. Because of your example, I support the Animal Liberation Fund, Kopan monk sponsorship and other Buddhist charities all over the world. Thank you Lama!

Rinpoche: I’m not sure if you received my blessings. I’m not sure I have blessings. I will have to look for that! Ha ha. I don’t think so. But thank you very, very much. This center has a very learned geshe, so people receive correct teachings. The fact that you kept your vows and precepts means you are sincere and a person who can be trusted.

Because you stopped eating meat, I say thank you with my ten fingers together at my heart. Thank you from all the numberless animals, the cows and sheep and frogs and spiders, the jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, dogs and snakes, and all the animals. I thank you on behalf of all the numberless animal beings that are living under the ocean where there is no light. There are many millions of animals under the ocean that eat each other; the big ones eat the small ones and the small ones eat the big ones. Thank you very much because they can’t speak. They can’t demonstrate. Ants are too small to march in the road and demonstrate. No matter how many come there, they would get crushed under the shoes and the cars.

Of course when one person stops eating meat but the rest are still eating it, that doesn’t make much difference to the amount of meat being eaten. But if more and more friends stop eating meat because they are inspired by that one person, when it becomes hundreds and thousands of people who stop eating meat, then less and less animals are killed. Therefore one person eating meat does harm animals. And of course you have to understand that if a buddha, bodhisattva or great yogi eats meat there is incredible benefit for that animal to be liberated. It purifies the animal and its consciousness is liberated from the lower realms to the pure realm or to a higher realm.

When I was in hospital I saw on the TV so many hundreds of animals being sold to Indonesia to be killed. I think the business had been going on for many years, but this was the first time it was exposed. In Indonesia the goats were standing in line waiting to be killed. They didn’t show the slaughterhouse, just the line. They showed one cow tied up with ropes and they were dragging it down to the place to be killed although they didn’t show the actual place. I didn’t see, but I heard somebody say that they killed the cow by hitting it on the head. The cow didn’t want to go down, it had great difficulty. I thought, “I can’t stop this. I don’t have that power. But in the future wherever I go to teach, even if the subject is tantra, I will request people to try to be vegetarian. I will try to announce this all over the place and in some places the number of animals killed may become less if more people become vegetarian. It may become less.” I thought that if more people become vegetarian, it means the people who do the killing will have less opportunity to create negative karma and also less animals will be killed.

You may have seen that one young girl in Singapore decided to take precepts every day of her life when she heard that I got sick. I didn’t know her before, but later she came to Kopan and I met her. I told her to be careful when she is travelling. Sometimes she sends different soft toys from Singapore.

I want to say thank you with my two palms together on behalf of all the animals for helping with animal liberation. Thank you on behalf of all the animals, then of course also the hell beings, pretas, human beings, suras, asuras and all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. This is so good, so fantastic. Wow, wow! Ha ha. I hope to see you very soon. Thank you very much.

Excerpted from an exchange between a student and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. You can read the entire letter in the Online Advice Book