E-letter No. 139: December 2014

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

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

There are less than 48 hours left in the 2014 US tax year! If you haven't made a donation to LYWA in 2014, take advantage of a charitable contribution on your 2014 tax return by making a donation on our website

As many of you know, we have launched our Year End Appeal for 2014, with a goal to raise $50,000 to end the year on a strong note and to start another year of doing this amazing work together. To date we have raised nearly $28,000 towards our $50,000 goal. To those who have made a donation or who have pledged their annual support, thank you so much!
And there is no time like the present to make your year-end tax-deductible donation to the Archive. Please continue your great support of our work into the coming year and join with us in sharing the precious Dharma with all beings everywhere. Click here to donate now!

\"As many of you know, we recently published the first volume of a new ebook series of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings: Practicing the Unmistaken Path: Lamrim Teachings from Kopan 1991. The book was edited by Gordon McDougall and Sandra Smith, and is now available for download from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Store, Smashwords and more; see our website for links.

The excellent series will consist of four volumes of lightly edited transcripts. The second volume, titled Creating the Causes of Happiness, will be out soon. Remember, if you are an LYWA Member, all our books are freely available to download as a pdf or in ebook format from our Members Area.

We are also happy to announce that we have just signed a contract with Audible to produce four LYWA titles as audio books: His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Illuminating The Path, Lama Yeshe's Becoming Your Own Therapist, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's How Things Exist and How to Practice Dharma. We are thrilled to be working with Audible on these audio books, and we'll keep you up to date as the project unfolds. 

Just posted to the LYWA YouTube channel! Check out the series of talks by LYWA editors given during the 2014 one-month retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion near Bendigo, Australia. In one of these you can listen to author Adele Hulse talk about the creation of Lama Yeshe's biography Big Love, forthcoming from LYWA.

We have been posting excerpts and images from this incredible book on our Big Love blog. Check it out to read some of the amazing stories included in the book, as well as view a sampling from the hundreds of images that we are planning on including as well.

\"We have just posted a short commentary on Lama Chöpa (Guru Puja) given by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Langri Tangpa Centre, Brisbane, Australia, in September 1991 and edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron. We have also included links to the Guru Puja text so you can easily follow along with the commentary.

We have also just posted advice from Rinpoche for practices to do for family conciliation and purification, which includes some simple practices and visualizations. This is very timely advice for the festive season, when some families may experience disharmony during holiday gatherings.

There is also advice on animal euthanasia and health care, including links to practices to benefit animals throughout their lives as well as at the time of their death.

Rinpoche also gives advice to a student who was worried about an upcoming exam. Rinpoche advises her to take the exam with bodhicitta motivation, so she will benefit regardless of the outcome. Rinpoche recounts a story of another student who lost millions of dollars in his business, but who gained spiritually from the loss:

It was a material loss, but his mind was gaining spiritually in the most important thing, guru devotion and second, renunciation. So actually, that is much more important than material gain. Material loss is nothing compared to spiritual gain.

There are many more new advices added this month; see our website for a list of all new advices added in December.

 Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, USA, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder

So, as another great year of spreading the Dharma, especially the teachings of our precious gurus Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, draws to a close, we rejoice at what we here at LYWA have been able to do thanks to you, our amazing supporters. As I often say, we’re in this together as partners working together for the benefit of all sentient beings. If you continue to support us with your compassionate and generous contributions, our pledge to you is that we will use your donations as best we can to bring the Buddha’s pure teachings to as many people as possible for the enlightenment of all. Thank you so much. And please keep your eye on this space for imminent news of our plans for 2015 and beyond.

A Happy and Dharmaful New Year to you and yours from all of us at LYWA.

Much love, 
Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: Creating the Causes of Happiness

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1991. Photo: Thubten Yeshe (Augusta Alexander or TY)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig
Institute, Australia, 1991.

The mind has all the potential to achieve the happiness of future lives, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment, everything—we can achieve all that and we can do any service for, cause any happiness for sentient beings. We ourselves can achieve any happiness we wish and also we can cause other sentient beings equaling the infinite sky, infinite space, to obtain happiness—temporary happiness, ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and peerless happiness, full enlightenment. We can even cause that one for other sentient beings.

First of all, the mind has the full potential to do this, but we can’t do it without a human body, without this precious human body, which gives us the opportunity to listen and to be able to speak, to communicate. With this body we are able to understand the meaning. Because we have taken this body, we are able to understand the meaning of the words. On top of that, we are also able to communicate. The main thing is to be able to understand the meaning of the words, especially Dharma, the teachings of the right path that can cease the whole, entire suffering and causes. We can understand the meaning of the teachings by having this human body.
If we don’t have this human body, even though the mind has the potential, there’s no opportunity. It’s extremely rare and difficult. For example, the mind has the full potential but the body is a pig; it’s a pig body or a crocodile body or an octopus body. An elephant’s or even a goat’s, a chicken’s, even an animal that people keep. If our body is something else like this, first of all I’m not sure if we are even able to hear the Dharma or not, even the words, or even the sound of the Dharma. I’m not sure; it’s extremely difficult to hear the sound of the Dharma.

Then, the most important thing is we can’t understand the meaning. There’s no way to understand. However many billions of eons we explain to a goat, or we explain to a duck or to the dog that we keep—to those dogs that we have here—however many billions of eons we explain what is the meaning of nonvirtue, what is the meaning of virtue. What is the cause of happiness, what is the cause of suffering. What is the definition of virtue, nonvirtue. The cause of happiness is virtue, the cause of suffering is nonvirtue. However many billions of eons we explain that to them, there’s no way they can understand the meaning. There’s no way they can understand the meaning. And in the same way, we can explain the meaning of virtue, the action, the intention, that brings the result of happiness, that is done with a positive motivation. The first thing is that which brings the result of happiness and the second thing is it is done out of a positive attitude. That’s the definition of virtue: the action which is the intention, which is our own mind, karma, the action, the intention, which is our own mind. However many millions of eons we explain this to these dogs outside, there is no way they can understand the meaning.

How can we help others? How can we help others’ minds? The best help to others is helping the mind, helping them transform their harmful mind into beneficial, virtuous thoughts, to change the mind. By changing the mind, then they can change their actions, then this way, only this way, they can create the cause of happiness and they can eliminate the cause of suffering. Through this they can be liberated from samsara; they can achieve liberation. Then they can also achieve full enlightenment by ceasing all the obscurations, by actualizing the path.

There’s no way to really help, to give real benefit to others, without benefiting their mind. But although the mind has all this potential, on top of that, only if this consciousness takes a human body, has a human body, that human body gives us the opportunity not only to hear the Dharma but also to be able to understand the meaning and to communicate. We are able to practice, able to experiment, able to achieve realizations.

Therefore, the human body is so precious, unbelievably precious. It’s more precious than this earth full of diamonds, than this earth full of dollars, however many atoms there are in the whole, entire earth, even that many dollars...

Even the whole sky filled with billions of dollars, diamonds and gold, even with wish-granting jewels—jewels that by praying we can get any material possession, any enjoyment we want—even the whole sky filled with wish-granting jewels compared to this precious human body is nothing. When we compare the value of that much wealth and the value of this precious human body, all that is nothing compared to the value of this precious human body.

Without this precious human body, even if we owned that much wealth, we couldn’t benefit from it; we couldn’t achieve whatever happiness we wanted, including enlightenment. There’s no way to do this. And especially for other sentient beings. Without this precious human body, even if we owned that much wealth, we couldn’t cause all the happiness for all sentient beings. We couldn’t do that.

But, even if we didn’t have the tiniest amount of gold, diamonds, these possessions, if we have this precious human body, we can practice the Dharma and develop the mind. If we have this precious human body we can do all this. We can cause any happiness for other sentient beings, including peerless happiness, full enlightenment. Therefore, this human body is unbelievably precious.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching at Kopan Monastery, Nepal during the 24th Lamrim course in 1991. Edited by Gordon McDougall and Sandra Smith. Forthcoming as an ebook on early 2015. Dozens of transcripts from Kopan courses from 1972 to 2010 are freely available on our website.