E-letter No. 119: April 2013

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kurukulla Center, MA, 2012
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

Greetings from Boston and thank you for reading our monthly eletter. As I’m sure you know, we've had a pretty torrid couple of weeks around here. Thank you, too, to the many people who expressed concern about our welfare at this time. Fortunately we’re about twenty miles from where the Boston Marathon explosions occurred, so we were not in any danger.

Nevertheless, it was a very difficult time for many people and will continue to be for some, probably for the rest of their lives. Our prayers and good wishes go out to them all. Geshe Tenley, from FPMT's Boston center, Kurukulla, participated in many of the public prayer services (see the picture from the Boston Globe below) and some were conducted at the Center too. The sad event brought to mind this timeless teaching from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book also offers relevant guidance and ways to think when such violence occurs.

Practices for Rinpoche's Health and Long Life
Ven. Roger recently wrote:

Lama Zopa Rinpoche's health still continues to improve very gradually, there is still no interest from Rinpoche’s side to do any exercise but that seems to be the way Rinpoche has chosen.

At the beginning of every year I usually check with one or two high Lamas if there are any prayers or pujas we need to do to remove obstacles for Rinpoche’s health and long life. This year I have received the advice to do many prayers and pujas. These are being organized at Kopan Monastery, Sera Je Monastery, Ganden Shartse Monastery, Jangchup Choling Nunnery, Kopan Nunnery and also Ganden Jangtse Samlo Kamsen.

\"Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme) is advising FPMT centers, projects, services and students to also help. I would like to support Khadro-la's request for students and centers to do the following as much as you can so that we can continue to have Rinpoche with us for a very long time to come.

Khadro-la specifically mentioned the following: "as much as possible if FPMT centers and students can please do":

  • Liberate many animals
  • Hang Tendil Nyersel prayer flags in all FPMT centers, projects and services
  • Recite Most Secret Hayagriva mantra
  • Offer long life pujas to Rinpoche with the 5 dakinis

Khadro la said "The most important is good samaya from the students' side. Whoever is doing the puja, prayers or practice, it should be done well, with good motivation and meditation."

Please see the full list of pujas and practices to do on the FPMT website, and then please can you send in what you have done to Claire at International Office at the end of each month and we will offer that to Rinpoche.

These prayers and pujas done sincerely from the heart do make a difference … please help.

Love roger

Heart of the Path Republished
We are very happy to announce that we have updated and redesigned the ebook version of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's The Heart of the Path: Seeing the Guru as Buddha. See our website for links to order a copy for your ereader.

Heart of the Path has been available for some time as an ebook, but had not been revisited since we updated our ebook formating to take advantage of the many ereader features. Kudos to our ePublishing team of Megan Evart and Sonal Shastri, who have endeavored to make all our ebooks look so professional and beautiful.

Remember, if you are a Member, you can download Heart of the Path, and almost all our other publications, in ebook format for free from our Members Area. If you are not a Member, we invite you to become one with your donation of US$1,000. If that amount is too much to manage all at once, the donation can be spread out over 4, 10, or 30 monthly payments. See our Membership page for details.

As a Member, not only would you be supporting the Archive's mission to make these incredible teachings available all around the world, but you would receive other tangible benefits such as free Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche books from the Archive and Wisdom Publications, a year's subscription to Mandala, a year of monthly pujas by the monks and nuns at Kopan Monastery with your personal dedication, and access to the Members' Area on our website containing the entire LYWA library of publications in electronic format. Please join us.

New Lama Yeshe Teachings
Photo: Robbie SolickWe have just posted teachings from Lama Yeshe which were given at the 7th Kopan Lam-Rim Course in 1974. This is one of four teachings given to new students by Lama Yeshe at that course. This lightly edited transcript was first published as a booklet titled "First Clear Step" by Manjushri Institute for Wisdom Culture, England, in 1977.

Lama Yeshe's teachings have also made a second appearance in the online Elephant Journal. Please check it out and help us get to 1500 views!

What Else is New on Our Website
In July 2008, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave an historic six-day teaching on The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo), Tsongkhapa's classic text on the stages of spiritual evolution. This event at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, marked the culmination of a 12-year effort by the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center (TBLC), New Jersey, to translate the Great Treatise into English.

These transcripts were kindly provided to LYWA by TBLC, which holds the copyright, and the audio files for these teachings are available from the TBLC's Resources and Links page. The transcripts have also been published by Shambhala Publications in a wonderful book, From Here to Enlightenment, edited by Guy Newland, which is available directly from Shambhala Publications.

I modified this caption from the nodeWe have also just posted more audio recordings of Tenzin Osel Hita giving teachings at the 45th Kopan course this past November-December at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. In these talks Osel covers many lamrim topics such as guru devotion, Dharma, the sufferings of samsara, our five senses and love, all from a contemporary viewpoint. We're very happy to be able to share these wonderful talks with everyone on our website.

Nothing More Important Than Helping Others
Take a look at the FPMT's Annual Review, which highlights all the amazing activities in the past year of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and all the myriad projects that span the globe. The subtitle of the report this year is "Nothing More Important Than Helping Others". As it says in the report's Introduction:

Identifying this year's theme for our Annual Review was fairly straight forward. All we had to do was look at Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s activities and advice from 2012 and it became clear that nothing is more important to Rinpoche, and thus the entire FPMT organization, than helping others. Rinpoche proved, as he does time and again, that nothing can stop him when the goal of helping others is concerned: not his health, not external obstacles, nothing. With Rinpoche, everything is possible and the actions of his life document what unstoppable bodhichitta looks like. Rinpoche said the following at Kurukulla Center in Boston in October, “What else in the world is there to do that is more important than helping others? To help ourselves, to help others, what else is more important?”

We leave you with an excerpt from these very teachings that Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave at Kurukulla Center. Rinpoche spoke to Kurukulla Center students after they had just hosted a very successful visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, emphasizing the great benefits of inviting His Holiness no matter how many hardships it might involve and the great benefits of working for a Dharma center in general. You can read Rinpoche's entire teaching on line. Here is an excerpt, which explains the benefits of making the guru laugh!

Thank you for your kind and generous support.

Much love, 
Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: Offering Service at the Center

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greets Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kurukulla Center, Boston, USA, 2012. Photo: Devin Jones.I just want to tell a story; it might be good to know the story, but I’ve got a very bad memory, so I don’t know.

Anyway, the direct disciple, Pandit Losang Dhargye Gyatso was giving the she-lung, the oral transmission and some explanation of the Drang-nge-legshe-nyingpo, The Heart of the Good Explanation of the Interpretive and Definitive Meaning, Lama Tsongkhapa’s very, very, very, very important teaching which presented the four schools: the Mind Only school, Cittamatra, and the Rang-gyur-pa and Thal-gyur-pa, the Prasangika school’s view. This is a very, extremely important teaching by Pandit, (which means ‘great learned’) Losang Dhargye Gyatso, who was a direct disciple of Panchen Palden Yeshe, the sixth Panchen Rinpoche. There’s a whole lineage, which starts from Gyalwa Ensapa, who achieved enlightenment in one lifetime, not only this life…

Milarepa went through so much hardship, but as His Holiness Zong Rinpoche advised in many teachings, Gyalwa Ensapa received enlightenment by eating comfortable food, having comfortable bedding and a comfortable life, then he achieved enlightenment in one brief lifetime. Why did Rinpoche say that? Because of the quality of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings; he experienced that. So starting with Gyalwa Ensapa, there are many Panchen Lamas who are the incarnation of him, so this one is Panchen Palden Yeshe, the sixth Panchen Lama. Losang Dhargye Gyatso was a disciple of this lama. When he was giving the she-lung, the oral transmission of the Drang-nge-legshe-nyingpo, The Heart of the Good Explanation of the Interpretive and Definitive Meaning, he explained this.

I’m just telling a story, but we have to know in our heart the benefits of practicing guru yoga. We have to keep the benefits of guru yoga in our heart, then we can see how important guru yoga practice is. We can get the general idea from that.

There is a story, in the past, about Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso, the omniscient Seventh Dalai Lama. There was a geshe who was like a friend, somebody he liked, as well as being, of course, a disciple. So usually the Dalai Lama was very happy with this geshe. Then one time the geshe went to see the Seventh Dalai Lama, and asked, “Where I will be reborn?” He asked for this prediction and the Dalai Lama said, “Right after you die, you will be born as an ox with blue horns. You’ll be born as an ox having blue horns.” So then the geshe laughed and laughed and laughed. Then Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso, the victorious omniscient one, the Seventh Dalai Lama, asked, “Why are you laughing?” The geshe explained, “Oh, we are debating the characteristics, we’re analyzing and debating, so we’re following the path of logic.”

When he said, “We are following the logic,” this means he didn’t believe what the Dalai Lama said. The geshe said, “To be able to be born in the next life as an ox, first you have to go through the intermediate stage, then you have to meet the father.” Ox is male, right? Do you know? [Student: Yes.]

OK, because in the West, people say ‘yak cheese’, but yak is male, so a yak doesn’t produce cheese! So the female is dri; it’s similar to the yak, but it’s called a dri. In Solu Khumbu we have dri, and they produce cheese and milk. But yak is male, so there’s no yak cheese. Otherwise there would be men producing milk; there would be human male milk, like that.

So the geshe said, “Then you have to meet the ox, and the male ox has to meet the female cow. Then the consciousness has to enter inside the womb; then flesh has to develop, the body has to grow hair and the horns have to grow. It needs all this. So, after my consciousness transfers from here, there is no time to do all this and immediately be born as an ox with blue horns. How do I quickly become that? How? I laughed at what you said. What you told me, I laughed.” That’s what the geshe said.

After the geshe laughed, the seventh Dalai Lama said, “Without any time for all this, just immediately you will become a blue ox.” So the geshe laughed and laughed and laughed, and he said, “I laugh at this.”

Then Kelsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama, laughed and laughed and laughed, and he told the geshe, “Oh, now you will be born as a gelong, and you will be born as my entourage.” The Seventh Dalai Lama even said “entourage.” Can you imagine? So the Seventh Dalai Lama said that. Then the geshe realized what he said. The reasoning path, the logical path, the conceptual, reasoning path didn’t fit with what the Dalai Lama said. Now suddenly, before becoming an ox, he would become a gelong, a bhikshu and in the Dalai Lama’s entourage.

“It doesn’t fit to our mind,” the geshe said. “The conceptual, the reasoning path, doesn’t fit to our mind. And I’m worried about what you said just now. Before I was becoming that ox, but now I will be a gelong.”

So the geshe said, “How is it possible to be born a gelong, a bhikshu? I didn’t do any confession and I didn’t collect any merit. How can that be; how can I suddenly become a gelong? How is it possible? I was going to be an ox!”

“Oh,” the Seventh Dalai Lama said, because the way the geshe said that made His Holiness laugh and laugh and laugh. So then that purified the geshe’s negative karma to be born as an ox. Right at that time, that made His Holiness very happy, so he just laughed and laughed. Just that—just during that minute, just during that second, he purified the negative karma to be born as an ox. So that’s why I’m telling you this story about His Holiness the Seventh Dalai Lama. The geshe had the karma to be born as a human being, as a monk in the entourage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

That’s what I was telling you before, particularly during these months when you worked so hard [to bring His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to Kurukulla Center]. You have to realize that so much unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable negative karma is purified, so this can change your rebirth. If you were going to a lower realm, to a no-good rebirth, as I was saying, that can change. So this quotation is proof, so, like that.

Just being able to make His Holiness laugh and laugh, that is collecting the most amazing merit. The geshe said, “I didn’t purify, I didn’t collect merit. How will I become a monk?” He complained to His Holiness. So just by making His Holiness happy, just at that minute [snaps fingers], that’s the merit, that’s the unbelievable merit he collected, so then he would become a monk. The reason is that.

So then His Holiness explained, “For the two of us, you and me, I am the special object. I am the special object and I’m blessed by Chenrezig, the Arya Compassion Buddha, I’m blessed by the Arya Compassionate Eye Looking One.” The geshe made him laugh; he played. The way the geshe expressed himself made His Holiness laugh, so by that, his karma to be born as an ox was purified, just within those seconds it was purified [snaps fingers]. By making His Holiness laugh, he collected unbelievable, most unbelievable merit, so that became the karma to be born as a monk in those seconds. So it made auspicious dependent arising. So, I thought just to mention that. So that’s the reality; the reality is like this. So it’s great, great, great.

Rinpoche spoke to Kurukulla Center students after they had just hosted a very successful visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and emphasized the great benefits of inviting His Holiness no matter how many hardships it might involve and the great benefits of working for a Dharma center in general. You can read Rinpoche's entire teaching here.