E-letter No. 135: August 2014

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal 1991 (Archive #872)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

Thank you so much for your continued interest and support. We couldn't do what we do for the benefit of all without you.

New Ebook in the Works
\"Our editing team has been hard at work on an ebook-only release of a new series: Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings from the 24th Kopan lam-rim course from 1991. The series will consist of four volumes and the first, titled Practicing the Unmistaken Path, will be available for download by November.

These are lightly edited teachings that we hope will convey the feeling of attending Kopan's one-month course in Nepal. We have 26 other Kopan course transcripts currently posted on our website, which you can either read online or download as a pdf. You can see a list of all course transcripts here.

This month's eletter teaching, on Universal Responsibility, is excerpted from this first volume.

New Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Read an extensive advice from Rinpoche on Taking Care of Your Child With Compassion. In this advice, Rinpoche begins with a concise outline of the Buddhist paths, and explains how compassion for all sentient beings is the pure motivation for practicing on the path, and how all happiness up to enlightenment is received from every sentient being, including one's child. Rinpoche goes on to say:

So take care of this child, this baby, not by thinking, “This is my baby,” not with attachment, but as a sentient being, then in this way, with this mind, with a compassionate mind, taking care of him. Day and night, every single action that you do with this mind becomes virtue, good karma, it becomes Dharma... If you do one small good karma just one time, the happiness and success is experienced for 500 or 1,000 lifetimes. If you do many actions like this in one life, then, wow, wow, wow! Then you experience happiness, success—wow, wow, wow, wow wow!—a million, billion, zillion times. Wow, wow, wow, wow! If it is done with bodhicitta, then it becomes the cause of enlightenment, so the stronger compassion generated to even one sentient being, the quicker you will achieve enlightenment, so that means you are quicker to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and it is quicker for them to achieve enlightenment. So you should know this. 

Read also a letter Rinpoche wrote to a student who was an alcoholic, explaining how alcohol reduces our ability to bring as much benefit to others as possible.

You can read all new advices added in August here.

CPMT in Australia
\"Next month is the FPMT's international meeting, CPMT, at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia from September 13th to the 19th. Lama Zopa Rinpoche will also be attending CPMT, and the meeting will be followed by a public talk by Rinpoche on "The Bodhisattva Attitude" on September 20th, and a month-long retreat with Rinpoche, from September 25th to October 23rd. 

If you are interested in keeping up to date with the events at CPMT, you can tune in to FPMT's livestream page to watch Rinpoche’s opening and closing talks live, or follow Mandala Publications editor Laura Miller's blog on the Mandala website. 

Our own Wendy Cook will be attending CPMT and representing LYWA. She will be posting candid photos from the meeting to LYWA's Instagram account, which we will also share with our Facebook community and with other social media communities. We have sent over two pallets of our free Dharma books to be distributed during the meeting, including 800 copies of The Bodhisattva Attitude to be available to everyone during Rinpoche's public talk. We are grateful to our famly of LYWA supporters who make it possible to offer Rinpoche's teachings so far and wide.

Special Appeal: Support Our Book Printing Fund
\"As many of you have seen, we have launched an appeal for our book printing fund. You can read more about it here.

We are happy to be able to send this limited edition print of Lisa Sawlit's spectacular portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to those who are able to offer US$1,500 or more. [Please note: As of 2020, the portrait is no longer available.] Remember that your donation would also make you a Member of LYWA, with all the associated benefits, such as access to the entire LYWA library in digital format. 

Please make your donation to LYWA today to help to produce these books which bring benefit to so many. Thank you so much for your generous support.

Much love,
Nick Ribush


This Month's Teaching: Universal Responsibility

Lama Zopa Rinpoche visiting Chenrezig Institute with Osel, 1991. Photo by Thubten Yeshe. If we generate compassion, we become a friend to everybody and everyone becomes our friend. With this positive attitude, compassion, toward everyone, others also become friendly toward us so we receive no harm from them, only benefit, only help. This way, there’s success in our life. Happiness and peace depends on others helping us. Our day-to-day life’s happiness is dependent on others, on others having love and compassion toward us, not giving us harm but benefiting us. Others love us, they have compassion toward us, so they help us. That is dependent on what kind of attitude we have toward others in our everyday life and how we behave toward others. 

First of all, our happiness, our peace is dependent on others, what they think of us, how they act to us, and that is dependent on how we think toward them, how we behave toward them. This second reason is the fundamental one, why even for our own success—having happiness ourselves and not having problems—we need to practice compassion toward others.  

I quite often say this. Historically it happens that there is one person in the world who has power. If that person who has power lacks compassion, then millions of people can be killed. Many millions of people are killed or tortured. This is without counting the animals that are much more, on the land and in the ocean, that are killed and suffer; there are so many more than human beings. This is without counting them.

If this one person who has power and influence were to practice compassion, instead of harming many millions of people, it would be the opposite, the complete opposite. He could bring incredible benefit, peace, so much happiness, to many millions of people. It’s the complete opposite. Because of compassion, that one person’s power could be used for unbelievable benefit and happiness, for thousands and millions of sentient beings.

When there is power, it makes a huge difference, it makes a huge difference if there’s compassion, what it can do to the world. But if there’s no compassion, what danger there is. This one person’s power can bring such danger to the world. It makes a huge difference, not just to one country but to the whole world.

Similarly, if we don’t practice compassion, if we don’t generate compassion, there’s a danger that we harm other humans and other sentient beings from birth until death. Because of the self-cherishing thought, many other disturbing thoughts arise: ignorance, anger, attachment and so forth. We do many harmful actions toward others. From birth until death we give so much harm to others—and like this from life to life. From life to life we give harm to all sentient beings, like the example of this one person. 

Now if we ourselves have compassion, we benefit others, starting from the family, starting from this one person we live with in our everyday life, those we work, eat and live with at home, to the people in the office, then all the people in the country—however many millions of people there are in the country—then all the sentient beings on this earth, then even the sentient beings on the other planets, in other universes. However, starting from the nearest sentient being to all the rest of the sentient beings, if we have compassion, none of them receive any harm from us. If there’s compassion, whatever action we do, we stop giving harm. Even if we gave harm before when there was no compassion, now that harm is stopped. Therefore, starting from the nearest person, that sentient being, to all the rest of the sentient beings, they don’t receive harm from us. And that absence of harm, if they’re not receiving harm from us, that is the peace. That is the peace they receive from us. That peace they receive is dependent on us. 

If we have compassion what comes with the action is benefit. When we do something, it not only stops giving harm but on top of that, we try to benefit others and we do something for others, either directly or indirectly. The very least thing is we stop giving harm but out of compassion we benefit others, therefore, from that all sentient beings receive happiness, success and peace. The peace and happiness that they receive by us benefiting them is dependent on us.

Each of us here is completely responsible for everybody’s happiness, for every sentient being’s happiness. Not only human beings, not only that, but for all the rest of the sentient beings. Each insect we see on the road, each fly, each bird, each dog, each worm we see on the ground, we are responsible. Each of us here is responsible for the happiness of every single sentient being that we see around us in everyday life, starting from that to all the rest of the sentient beings. So, if we don’t practice compassion, if we only follow the ego, the self-cherishing thought, there is danger to others, starting from the family, starting from the people nearest us to all the rest of the sentient beings. They receive harm from us, directly or indirectly, from life to life. 

Therefore, it is completely in our own hands whether we want to cause this peace, to give this happiness to all sentient beings or whether all sentient beings receive harm from us. That’s completely in our own hands. It’s completely dependent on our own attitude, what kind of attitude we generate. 

Excerpted from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings at the Twenty-fourth Kopan Lamrim course in Nepal, 1991. These teachings will be included in the forthcoming ebook Practicing the Unmistaken Path: Lamrim Teachings from Kopan 1991, due out in November.