E-letter No. 121: June 2013

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Grizzly Lodge, California, 1980 (Archive #038)
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. As you've most likely seen by now, we are in the midst of our mid-year appeal. Thanks to all of you who have already donated!

We still have a ways to go. Please join us in our common goal of ensuring the happiness and welfare of all sentient beings through offering them the Dharma. We are grateful for your support.

Spreading Peace and Happiness Together

Between now and the end of the year we're hoping to publish four more books by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Fortunately, these books have all been sponsored. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that allows them to happen has not. So we are again turning to you with our mid-year appeal for $50,000. We need this money not only to pay crucial staff but also to invest in the technology that, behind the scenes, is the backbone of the Archive.

As new technologies emerge, we endeavor to take advantage of the latest tools to preserve, catalog and publish the precious teachings of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. And of course there are the ongoing costs of continually updating and optimizing our website to make all these amazing teachings freely available around the world.

In addition, there's our annual financial review and our annual liability and property insurance, and the salaries of essential staff members not directly involved in book preparation.

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said about supporting the Archive:

When you contribute to the Archive, you create the charity of Dharma, the highest form of giving. Moreover, when you donate money to the Archive, you accomplish material charity. And since the Dharma teachings show readers how to protect themselves from suffering, you also accomplish the charity of saving others from fear. Thus, by the one action, supporting the Archive, you achieve all three forms of generosity. If, on top of that, you give with bodhicitta--the determination to attain buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings--your donation becomes the cause of enlightenment.

\"If you are able, please consider becoming a Member of Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive with your donation of US$1,000 or more. See our website for details on the benefits of Membership. If you make your US$1,000 donation today, 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.]

We've just decided to offer donors of $100 or more to our mid-year appeal a free copy of Lama Yeshe's When the Chocolate Runs Out. If you've already made a donation in June and want to receive the book, send an email to Jen.

Donors of $50 or more will automatically receive the next free book we publish, most likely Rinpoche's next book in the Heart Advice Series on refuge.

Visit our website at www.LamaYeshe.com and click on the "Donate Now" button. Thank you!

What's New On Our Website

Listen online to a talk Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave before a Refuge ceremony at Amitabha Buddhist Center in Singapore in 2009. In this talk Rinpoche teaches about the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the kindness of all sentient beings upon whom we rely.

We have also posted the following excerpts from Rinpoche's teachings at the 27th Kopan Course in 1994:

Positive Intention: "Positive intention is virtuous karma. Our own positive attitude or positive intention is the positive karma, the virtuous karma."

Remembering Renunciation and Bodhicitta: "By living in the attitude, by leaving the mind in lamrim-either renunciation or right view, and especially bodhicitta-then no matter how much wealth we have, with bodhicitta, with the thought of benefiting other sentient beings, everything becomes meaningful."

The Hallucinating Mind: "If they were true then all these things we see in the dream--the things our own hallucinating mind actually sees--after we wake up from our sleep... Whatever we saw in the dream should exist; we should see all those things even after we wake up from the sleep."

Training on the Tantric Path: "It is on the basis of the common path that we practice the higher tantra in order to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible."

You can also read the entire transcript of Rinpoche's teachings from the 1994 course. And see this list of all the Kopan Courses we have posted on our website--24 so far-- dating from 1972 to 2002.

Letters and Advices from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Read a letter from Rinpoche to a student from Texas who lives with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and is almost completely paralyzed. In order to write to Rinpoche and formally request Rinpoche to be his teacher, Bob used a computer that allowed him to type using just his eyes. In his letter to Rinpoche, Bob writes that his introduction to the Dharma in 2007 was "transformational." Rinpoche sent him a long letter in response, giving encouragement and sharing some spiritual advice.

Rinpoche later gave Bob the bodhisattva vows over Skype, as you can see in the picture here. You can read more about Bob in the latest issue of Mandala Magazine, and on the Mandala website.

We have just posted advice from Rinpoche to students going on a pilgrimage to Tibet in June and July of 2002. Included is advice on practices that will make pilgrimage to the holy places in Nepal and India as meaningful and beneficial as possible. Rinpoche talks specifically about circumambulating the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Stupa, and the benefits of circumambulating stupas and making prostrations. 

In Rinpoche's Online Advice Book we recently posted a lengthy advice on purifying and collecting merit through nyung nä practice. Other new advices include a letter to a student who was having a baby; a letter to a long-time student about how to study and practice the Buddhadharma further; advice on creating merit for business success; and general practice advice where Rinpoche says: 

To bring sentient beings to full enlightenment, the basic path, the root, is bodhicitta. The root of the Mahayana path to enlightenment is bodhicitta, and that depends on great compassion to all sentient beings. So in order to generate great compassion for all sentient beings, first we have to realize our own samsara, our own deep oceans of samsaric suffering. Then it is very easy to generate real compassion for others, otherwise our compassion is very limited, it is just on our lips.

As always, you can see a list of all new advices added in the past month here.

Practices for Rinpoche's Good Health and Long Life

In our April eletter we told you about the special practices recommended for Lama Zopa Rinpoche's good health and long life. All students of Rinpoche's are still strongly encouraged to do these practices and to report their totals to the FPMT International Office. See the FPMT website for details -- which, by the way, has undergone a complete redesign and looks fantastic. Check it out.

We leave you with a wonderful teaching from Lama Yeshe on meditation. Thank you so much for your kind support. We could not spread the Dharma without you!

Much love, 
Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: Meditation on the Clarity of Mind
 by Lama Yeshe

Lama Yeshe meditating with his dog Drolma at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1971. Photo: Fred von Allmen. What is meditation? Meditation is simple. It means maintaining memory of the object you’re focused on; here, the clean clear nature of mind. It means keeping your focus on one object without spinning or reacting.

For example, when you’re filming something, first you check that your object is in focus and once it is, you let go. That’s a good example. First you set your mind on the object and once it’s clear, let go. The cameraperson’s goal is to maintain focus. That’s meditation.

At the same time, you comprehend, or are aware of, what reflections enter the mirror of your clean clear consciousness. Remain aware, but don’t react to what appears; don’t engage it in conversation, “Hello, how are you again?” Just be aware, don’t converse, because when you start a that-this conversation, superstition arises.

Another example is when you and a friend are walking down a track. Part of you is watching the ground to make sure you don’t trip over anything; at the same time you’re chatting with your friend, “Blah, blah, blah.” That’s why the human mind is powerful; that’s why human beings are buddha. Yes; as a matter of fact, buddha is within you. We can do two things at the same time and comprehend both simultaneously.

Also, the way you should develop comprehension is without forgetting your focus. You’re walking continuously and at the same time talking. Similarly, in meditation, you keep your mind focused on the object of concentration and at the same time, without shifting from there, your comprehension, or awareness, functions as a spy, watching what’s going on without reacting. The perfect spy watches without reacting.

Another thing to remember is to let go and not be greedy: “I want more; I want more.” That’s no good. Stay away from that. When you want more you start exerting unnecessary effort. That’s a hindrance to good meditation. Be careful.

So, being a meditator isn’t an easy job. How much effort should you exert and when? Take the middle way. Too much effort makes you tense. When you get tense you get tired. Then the quality of your meditation deteriorates. That’s its nature. So be reasonable. It’s like human relationships. When there’s tension between a couple they start grabbing at each other and when that happens you know they’re going to crash. You can see. Meditation is similar; so you have to be very skillful in the way you apply effort.

The other thing you need skill in is applying the antidotes to sluggishness. There are two forms of sluggishness, gross and subtle. It would take too much time to go into detail here but I just want to warn you to look out for it. When you’re contemplating the clean clear nature of your own thought and a slight impression of darkness enters your mind, that’s a sign that sluggishness is arising.

It’s a bit like when you’re outside in the sun and a light cloud quietly moves over the sun making your surroundings a little less bright. So watch the brightness of your meditation and if it starts to dull, put in a little effort to clear it up. But don’t then keep trying to make it clearer, clearer, clearer with more and more effort. If you do you’ll just get totally distracted again. So be careful.

When you’re contemplating the clarity of your thought you can get an experience that your body no longer exists, or perhaps you can see your subtle body in such great detail that feel you could count the number of atoms in your body. Such things happen. Another point you might reach is where you feel you could count all the atoms in the universe; or perhaps there are none—everything has disappeared. No matter what you experience, don’t react; don’t make conversation. Just be aware but do not shift from the main point of your meditation; comprehend what’s happening but keep going.

When you bring your meditation to an end you might feel as if you’re a new being that has come from space, that your body is also new. I’m not talking about what’s actually happened—just the way you feel, what you might experience.

This kind of meditation can also help you overcome negative feelings about your body; that it’s sort of old and damaged and kind of heavy. If you think of your body that way then that’s how it will appear. Instead, you should recognize it for the valuable, precious mechanism that it is.

We’ve all had that experience. Sometimes, for no apparent reason—you’re eating well, sleeping well—you always feel tired, heavy. This means that somewhere within you’ve decided you’re heavy. Your mind has decided you’re heavy, so you feel heavy. You can overcome that by applying the antidote—decide you’re light, run a bit and perhaps that heavy feeling will disappear. It can happen; sometimes the mind is very strange.

When you do this meditation well and have a really clean clear experience, especially if you develop deep focus on the clarity of our consciousness, you will feel much bliss and joy because your superstition, ego conflict and dissatisfaction have dropped out. When they’re absent, bliss automatically arises.

But to get there you have to start small and deep. Small and deep is much better than pushing for a sudden explosion of energy. That coupled with a lack of wisdom leads to further uncontrolled samsaric trips. So, start deep and small.

Bliss arises through meditation and concentration; bliss is the result of proper meditation. Blissful sensations start in your mind and gradually extend to your body so that you experience physical bliss. However, again, when that happens, don’t engage your bliss in conversation: “Oh, I’m so happy! How are you?” That will just cause superstitions to arise once more. Instead, be aware, but maintain perfect mindfulness of your object of concentration.

Lama Yeshe gave a commentary on the Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) yoga method at Grizzly Lodge, California, in May 1980. This talk on meditation is excerpted from the series. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.