E-letter No. 147: August-September 2015

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
(Archive #858)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Welcome to the August-September issue of our monthly e-letter!

We took a bit of a hiatus as we were putting the final touches on our newly redesigned website, which launched in mid-August. We hope that you have had a chance to visit the new and improved site. If not, please check it out.



Here at the Archive we were very sad to hear the news of His Eminence Choden Rinpoche's showing the aspect of passing away at 1:30 am on September 11, 2015 in his Labrang (house) at Sera Jey Monastery in India. Two weeks prior Rinpoche had met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama who bestowed blessings and advice. The moving conversation and photos are shared here.

Rinpoche remained in clear light meditation (thukdam) for several days before His Holy body was cremated on September 16. During all this whole time Rinpoches, Geshes, and thousands of monks and nuns and students from around the world have been performing practices such as self-initiations, recitation of sutras and texts and making heartfelt prayers for Rinpoche’s swift return. It is recommended that all of Rinpoche’s students continue to recite Chanting the Names of Manjushri and other dedication prayers. We expect the collecting of holy relics will begin soon.

It is extremely rare to come into contact with a master such as Rinpoche. Although Rinpoche may have externally appeared to some as a very quiet, elderly monk, his inner qualities and life’s practices were amazing and unbelievable, the activities of a realized master. Mandala Magazine published a series of inspiring articles and interviews about Rinpoche’s life and you can access links to these articles on the FPMT website

Although it is sad news that Rinpoche has passed, we should rejoice in Rinpoche’s unbelievable life and make prayers to meet with and be guided by him in future lives. The great Kirti Rinpoche once gave this advice

It is not enough to simply say: “I wish to meet such and such a teacher again.” Rather you should be praying along these lines: “I wish to meet this teacher again, as early as possible in life. I wish to be among the guru’s first disciples. I wish to be present as soon as the guru begins teaching again and I wish that I will remain connected to the guru for a very long time. I wish that the guru will teach for a very long time and that my mental capacities will be active for an equally long time."

As His Holiness said to Rinpoche during their last meeting, “Rinpoche remained in the beginning, middle and end a sincere lama and forthright disciple with a pure altruistic intention and without any duality between his speech and his innermost intention. Rinpoche should have no regret with his activities he has done while alive. He has made his life deeply meaningful.”

What's New on the Website

 Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1991.

We have lots of new content to share with you! We have just posted the transcript of a talk given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1991, at Buddha House in Adelaide Australia, titled Transforming the Mind. In this talk Rinpoche advises how we can transform problems into happiness by defeating the self-cherishing thought and cherishing others. He also discusses how Dharma practice in everyday life can help us at the time of death. Edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron. An excerpt from the transcript is our featured e-letter teaching below. 

Also from 1991, we have posted a talk by Rinpoche about the benefits that will result from the contruction of the Maitreya statue. This talk was given in Katoomba, Australia, in September 1991. Interview and transcript was done by Owen Cole, and was later edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron and Sandra Smith. You can read the latest news about the Maitreya Project on the FPMT website.

We have posted the transcript for a video that we had previously posted on YouTube: an introductory talk on tantra by Lama Yeshe titled The Experience of Transformation. The talk was given at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Pomaia, Italy, in October 1982, during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's tour through Europe. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. Check out the video on our website, or on our YouTube channel.

And we are beginning to integrate our multimedia titles into our new website! Check out the first entry, Lama Yeshe's Three Principal Aspects of the Path.

More New Video

Speaking of video, we have just made available some more archival video from the early 1970s. Several months ago we received a surprise package at the LYWA office. Inside was an assortment of old super-8 films and no note. We digitized these and are happy to be sharing them with you.

We have just posted two videos from this collection. The first includes video featuring scenes of the young monks of Kopan Monastery helping build the new office, library, kitchen and dining room complex in 1974. The second is from August of that year, when Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche begin the first one month Kopan-style lamrim course in Queensland, Australia. These both provide incredible glimpses into those early years with the Lamas.

We brought you the first videos prepared from this collection in our last two eletters (June and July): video from Lawudo, Solu Kumbu, Nepal in 1974, and video from the January 1975 enthronement of Yangsi Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery. Be sure to check these out as well, if you haven't already.

Where had these videos come from? Some minor detective work revealed they’d been recently discovered at Yangsi Rinpoche’s parents' house in Kathmandu and sent to us from Portland OR. Three of the videos were filmed by Bradley Dobos (Australia cinematographer is unknown) and all digitized and enhanced by Laura Haughey, to whom we are so grateful.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book

Our new website includes new features in the Online Advice book to make it easier to browse, find and share Rinpoche's precious advice on so many topics. Visit the View and Search All Advices page to see the latest additions to the advice book, and to search for individual advices. Also, when reading an advice you will see a link to related teachings on our website, connecting you to all teachings on your topic of interest. Please check it out and let us know what you think.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with koala in Adelaide, Australia, 1983. Photo: Wendy Finster.We have recently posted a beautiful letter written by Rinpoche to a family who is planning to build an animal sanctuary. Rinpoche mentions similar efforts around the world to bless and protect animals, and there are links to resources we can all use to benefit the animals around us.

Rinpoche has recently spoken about the need for students to now put effort into developing realizations on lamrim

We have achieved a lot in Dharma education and study. Now we have to put effort into attaining the path. I don’t mean just doing a three-year retreat and counting a certain number of mantras, but the attainment of the path through the lamrim.

Realizations don’t have to come from being in formal retreat, you can achieve them while working and studying with meditation on the lamrim. You can be doing business and studying and meditating on the lamrim. You can have family and a job, and be meditating on the lamrim. The main thing now is attainment.

Other newly posted advices include one from Rinpoche about the practice of bodhicitta with tong-len (taking and giving) for a meaningful, happy and beneficial life, and advice to a student with breast cancer about the benefits of reciting the Vajra Cutter Sutra. See our website for a list of all the new advices that we have added in recent months.

Visiting with Lama Zopa Rinpoche in New York

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Nick Ribush in New York City, August 2015.At the end of August I had the great pleasure of driving down to New York City for some of Rinpoche’s recent teachings there, hosted by Shantideva Meditation Center—a couple of nights at Tibet House and then the Most Secret Hayagriva long life initiation two days later organized by former Kopan monks living in New York. And as you can see, I got to spend a little time with Rinpoche, working on a text of praises to Chenrezig that he is translating. 

You can watch video from the teachings and events from Rinpoche visit to New York on Shantideva Meditation Center's YouTube channel.

Thank you all for your incredible support. We are excited about the new initiatives underway to make these precious teachings available everywhere, all due to your kindness and generosity. 

Much love,

Nick Ribush

Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Inner Winning is the Real Winning

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at IMI House, Sera Je Monastery, Mysore, India, 2014. Photo: Ani Thubten Pema. What is normally regarded in the world as a victory is when you win and others lose. Normally for us victory means that we take the profit and other people take the loss. In reality, if you give the loss to others and take the victory upon yourself, which is what is normally done in the world, you lose. However, if you take the loss upon yourself and offer the victory to others, in reality you are the one who wins.

If there's a choice between victory and loss, if you offer the victory to others and take the loss upon yourself, in reality you are winning because you are able to destroy your selfish mind, you are able to win over your selfish mind. That itself develops your mind. You are able to defeat the self-cherishing thought, which constantly harms you and interferes with your happiness, especially with your obtaining the highest happiness of full enlightenment. Your selfish mind never gives you any rest or any freedom, not even for one second. It constantly harms you.

So, you are able to defeat your selfish mind, which harms you and every sentient being, directly or indirectly, and which doesn't allow you to develop your mind so that you are able to benefit others more. Since your selfish mind interferes with the generation and development of altruism, of method and wisdom, it interferes with your ability to offer more and more extensive benefits to other sentient beings. It brings all the obstacles, all the undesirable things in your life.

By offering the victory to others and taking the loss upon yourself, you are able to defeat every single unpleasant thing that you experience, from a bad dream up to the greatest obstacles that don't allow you to have all the realizations and to achieve the peerless happiness of full enlightenment in order to enlighten all sentient beings. By offering the victory to others and taking the loss, you are able to defeat the real demon, the chronic mental disease of self-cherishing thought, which brings all the obstacles: criticism, bad reputation, failure.

Defeating selfishness is the best kind of winning. This inner winning is the real winning. Then through this you are able to generate the altruistic thought of bodhicitta toward all sentient beings, which makes it possible for you not only to realize your buddha nature but to enlighten all sentient beings, freeing everyone from all suffering and bringing them to the peerless happiness of full enlightenment. Since it enables you to develop your mind, in reality you win.

So, the best competition in life is between you and your delusions. The best achievement is to defeat your delusions, especially your self-cherishing thought. This is the best, most profitable thing to do; this is the way to make your life most meaningful. The more you defeat your selfish mind, the more open your heart is to other sentient beings and the more useful you become to them. The more you are able to free yourself from your self-cherishing thought, the more you are able to open your heart to the Guru-Triple Gem and all the kind, precious sentient beings, who are the source of all your own past, present, and future happiness. You are able to open your heart to everybody and to sincerely offer your own life for the happiness of others, temporary and ultimate.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching in Adelaide, Australia, in July 1991. Read the entire transcript here.