E-letter No. 152: February 2016

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
(Archive #064)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Thank you for subscribing to and reading our monthly eletter. We’re happy to share with you all the new teachings we make available each month and to bring you our latest news. Please share this eletter far and wide.

This month we also bring you our 2015 Annual Report, which takes a look back at all we have shared with you over the past year and looks forward to what we plan to do this year. 

Happy Chotrul Duchen - Day of miracles!

Today we celebrate the end of the Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo), the festival of practice and meritorious activities that follows Losar, the Tibetan New Year, for 15 days. Lama Tsongkhapa chose the Monlam Chenmo to coincide with the anniversary of incredible events in Shakyamuni Buddha's life traditionally celebrated during the first two weeks of the lunar new year.

The fifteenth day this year, the Day of Miracles, falls on February 22nd. As cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic, the karmic power of all actions done on the anniversary of these events is multiplied by one hundred million! We rejoice in the activities of all those whose practice and work enables the Dharma to flourish and grow. We invite you to take advantage of this meritorious day by joining us to bring the precious teachings of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and many other great lamas to the world.

Make your donation today to partner with us in this amazing work, and read our annual report to learn about all the ongoing projects that we will be accomplishing together in the coming months and years.

Our latest multimedia title: The Four Wrong Concepts

Because of being under the control of these four wrong concepts, we have been suffering since beginningless time and if we continue to follow these wrong concepts, we will experience all these unimaginable sufferings endlessly.

-Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Four Wrong Concepts is our next title in the Bodhisattva Attitude Multimedia Series and follows Everything Depends on Your Attitude, Cutting the Concept of Permanence and Give Up Stretching the Legs. In this title Rinpoche looks clearly at our motivation for taking the eight Mahayana precepts and helps us see the four mistaken ways of viewing ourselves and the world and how these four wrong concepts keep us trapped in samsara.   

We also wanted to be sure you were aware of the guided meditations on these topics read by Ven. Sarah Thresher near the end of each of these multimedia titles. We hope that these guided meditations further support your contemplation of these profound teachings by Rinpoche.

Our multimedia presentations weave together all the assets found in the Archive: transcripts, enhanced as much as possible by images, audio and video from that teaching, plus informal video and advice on the same topic, and other related material that we may have in the Archive. We are also very grateful to our friends at FPMT for generously sharing their Light of the Path assets. Please check out all the titles in our multimedia catalog, if you haven't already. We hope they provide the means for you to engage in our study and practice in different ways, and deepen your experience of the teachings.

The World and Ourselves: Buddhist Psychology

We are happy to offer another fantastic ebook from Venerable Thubten Gyatso. In The World and Ourselves: Buddhist Psychology, Ven Gyatso presents the classic framework of Buddhist mind and mental factors, explains how they operate, offers insightful commentary based on personal experience and explores how Western psychological concepts such as the super-ego can work with Buddhist psychological concepts.

Ven Gyatso writes in the introduction of this book: "World economics, climate change, and terrorism are big problems today, but they are not our main problems. The biggest problems are in our minds: greed, ignorance, and hatred. In Tibetan, the word for a student of Buddha's teaching, dulja, means 'one to be tamed.' That which is to be tamed, or subdued, is our own mind, and my purpose in writing this book is to explain, as best I can, why this is so and what we can do about it."

This makes the third book of Ven Gyatso's that we have republished in ebook format, joining the previously published Perfect Mirror and Leaf in the Wind.

Note that the proceeds from the sales of all three ebooks will be offered to Ven. Gyatso's monastery, Thubten Shedrup Ling. So if you purchase these ebooks today you can rejoice in the merit of supporting Ven. Gyatso's monastery!

And if you are a Member, you can freely access all these ebooks in our Members Area.

Dharma for Prisoners

We just received the new calendar from the Liberation Prison Project, an essential must-have for the serious Dharma student. This excellent calendar, now in its seventeenth year, not only provides us with all the special dates we need to know, it also helps support the great work of the Project, bringing the holy Dharma behind bars to those whose lives don’t offer many other opportunities. 

We at LYWA have been very happy to support the LPP from its inception by providing our free books for them to distribute to inmates. At this point, tens of thousands of LYWA books have been sent into prisons, to wonderful effect.

As LPP does even today, we have sent books to individual prisoners in the past.  But postal costs and the sheer volume of individual requests has required us to revise our method for providing free books for prisoners. Now, with the assistance of cooperative chaplains, upon request, we provide a one-time set of our free books for prison libraries. To date, eighty prisons in thirty-four states have received this gift, which serves a greater purpose by bringing benefit to all the prisoners there.

One such chaplain wrote to thank us:

"I wish to express our warmest thanks and gratitude for your recent donation of Dharma books. I want to assure you that your donation is deeply appreciated and will be well used. We have about sixty Sangha members from various schools and traditions. Most of them are fairly new to the path, therefore having authorized Dharma teachings to guide us is especially important.

"On a personal note, you have my profound gratitude for sharing your compassion and generosity toward prisoners. Many people forget that we are just human beings who made some poor life-choices and are reaping the fruits of our negative thoughts, words and actions. But we are not in prison, really; we are in our life! We have the profound opportunity of seeing and experiencing the results of our actions in a very direct way and the means to change the course of our lives if we are willing to apply the teachings. Your precious gift is helping to affect this transformation and set us firmly upon the Dharma path."

We extend those thanks to all of you who support the Archive and help us to produce these books that can be shared with all, far and wide. Make a donation on this special day to help us reprint more free books to send to those who request them, like these prison chaplains; just enter a note during checkout that you'd like your donation to be directed towards our book printing fund.

Long life puja for Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Sera Je Monastery, India, 2013. Photo: Bill Kane.Last month we told you about this important puja, to be held at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, March 13. At the time I expected to be going to represent the Archive but circumstances have dictated against that, so our wonderful web editor Sandy Smith will be our official representative. LYWA editors Ven Sarah Thresher and Gordon McDougall will also be there, along with countless other FPMT center students from all over the world. 

Rinpoche has just written a letter to all his students, which we are happy to share with you here. You’ll also find there a link to the FPMT’s Annual Report.

Thank you so much everybody for all your support, and let’s dedicate the skies of merit we create together in working for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.

Much love,

Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: You are Loving Kindness Wisdom Energy

Lama Yeshe at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, 1983. Photo: Merry Colony.Many young people today have lost their identity. They have difficulty understanding who they are, so they try to identify with different roles, different ideas. But then, not finding their identity in any of these roles, they become lost. Disturbed, they lead meaningless lives doing whatever comes to mind, without much thought. Such things are happening in this world. 

From the moment we were born until now, each of us has tried to emanate in many different ways. Many of us have emanated as hippies and movie stars or as terrorists or politicians, capitalists or communists. We have tried almost everything, only to discover in the end that whatever we have tried to identify with has turned out to be illusion, not reality. 

These are good examples. You can see how your concrete concept of “me” tries to identify with some outer philosophical viewpoint, thinking, “I am this; I am this.” But then “this” is not what you find that you are. Instead, today you have discovered that you have loving kindness wisdom energy. You know you have this within you. You should trust this energy and identify with it instead of trusting outer projections. Your loving kindness wisdom energy must be cultivated, fertilized, protected, and tended well, like a garden. It can be nourished and developed and unified as the deity Gyalwa Gyatso.

We carry within us a heavy blanket of concepts and projections about ourselves. Over time we have constructed a kind of concentration camp within us, one iron bar, then another and another and another—so many concrete projections. In order to break through these projections, we need a profound vision of method and wisdom. We need to clothe ourselves in the very finest image: the union of great compassion and nonduality. This is your identity—your identity and your reality. You should wear this image in order to break through your limited, closed projections of who you are. 

In our twentieth-century world there is so much hatred, disunity, and conflict. People are fighting for material possessions, are trying to conquer each other, never feeling love for one another. You can see this going on everywhere. It is incredible. Sometimes, even with a beloved friend, when you are both angry, you can’t feel your friend’s love and you can’t feel love for them. So we all understand how much the world needs peace and love—each individual and mankind as a whole. Therefore, we can easily see how logical and how worthwhile it is to practice such a profound yoga method. With this practice there is no need for hesitation; there can be no philosophical objections. It is very scientific, very down to earth.

When we talk about loving kindness, we are just using words. But mere words do not help. We may know the words, but if we don’t actively energize loving kindness in our nervous system, then we have achieved nothing. This yoga method unifies loving kindness with our nervous system. This is exactly what we need, and this is why I am requesting you not to waste the time and energy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We should put concentrated effort and dedication into our retreat, then at least we will have been telling the truth when we promised, during the initiation, to engage seriously in this practice. And, of course, we will be doing something worthwhile. 

Love and compassion come in different forms. There is pure love and pure compassion, which manifest in the form of Gyalwa Gyatso. But there is also selfish love. If we think about it, we can see that selfish love can be either positive or negative. It has both qualities. On the one hand, selfish love and selfish motivation are based on mental projections that fixate on their objects, such as family, husband, wife, or nationality, as “mine.” While the love you feel is, in fact, selfish, at the same time because of it, you give and share something. You give to your brother, your sister, your husband or wife thinking, “Because they are my relatives, because we Italian people are the same, because we all eat pizza, I therefore have an obligation to give them what I can.”

Selfish love, although limited, does have a kind of manipulative power to give, to serve. It has power that can aid in transforming you into a better, warmer person. For example, many men say, “Oh, I am not a bad man. I take care of twenty children and my wife. I send them to school, I give them good food, and I love them. They have a good home, and I do everything I can for them. Because of this, when I die, I shall die happy and satisfied.” There is some satisfaction in this. Do you understand? The motivation may be selfish and limited, but one’s actions bring benefit to others, and as a result a kind of transformation takes place.

Even though selfish love does have these positive attributes, it is clear that pure love and pure compassion serve in a much more profound, more dedicated way and bring about far more profound and far-reaching results. By practicing the profound highest yoga tantra method of Gyalwa Gyatso—the pure vision of the Dalai Lama—we are engaging in a mental exercise to eliminate the selfish mind completely. Through this profound practice of transformation, we can develop pure limitless love and compassion and thus experience directly their effectiveness in our own lives. We can experience this pure vision for ourselves. Because we so often see each other as objects of anger and hatred due to our mental projections, we are sorely in need of this pure vision. It is genuinely worthwhile and, happily, there is no doubt at all that we can achieve it.

This teaching by Lama Yeshe is excerpted from a commentary on the yoga method of Gyalwa Gyatso given at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, in September 1983. Edited by Constance Miller.