E-letter No. 154: April 2016

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche signing books in Malaysia in 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.

Dear Friends,

We hope you are all well and happy. As many of you know, Lama Zopa Rinpoche was recently in Triang, Malaysia at Rinchen Jangsem Ling Retreat Centre, leading a Medicine Buddha Retreat. The Archive offered 350 copies of Rinpoche's book Teachings From the Medicine Buddha Retreat to the participants there. We were very happy to receive this picture last week of Rinpoche signing a copy of the book for students.

Our Latest Multimedia Presentation: Lama Yeshe in 1975

Wow wow wow! We're also happy to announce our next multimedia title based on teachings by Lama Yeshe in our book Freedom Through Understanding and entitled How to Meditate. Lama tells us “Since our time together here is so short, I just want to talk on the practical level” and then shares with us his profoundly experiential understanding of:

•    How mantra is a tool for meditation
•    How improper motivation is the cause of obstacles
•    How right actions depend upon the wisdom from meditation
•    How dedicating to others protects us from falling into ego
You can also listen to Lama guiding a short meditation to purify our body, speech and mind in order to remove our obstacles to successful meditation. We hope How to Meditate helps you to experience Lama’s timeless teachings even more deeply through seeing and listening as well as reading. May this experience cause you to spontaneously connect with Lama Yeshe and his practical yet profound teachings. How to Meditate joins our growing collection of LYWA Multimedia titles.

Listen to Meditations from Bodhisattva Attitude

And speaking of multimedia titles, had you noticed that each of our Bodhisattva Attitude multimedia titles includes guided meditations to help you integrate Rinpoche’s teachings on the topic into your mind and daily practice?

These guided meditations are led by Ven Sarah Thresher with essential technical support from Roy Harvey and are located near the end of each multimedia title. Reflect upon how Everything Depends on Your Attitude, contemplate Cutting the Concept of Permanence, awaken to Give Up Stretching the Legs, and motivate your practice by contemplating the Four Wrong Concepts.

We also wanted to make these guided meditations even more beneficial and accessible to you. So now you can also find the full set of meditations on LYWA Soundcloud where you can listen over and over to these wonderful meditations and even download the meditations for later listening offline.  

New Advice and Teachings on our Website

We have posted many new advices to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book. Some highlights include: 

  • An Incredible Opportunity: After manifesting a stroke in April 2011, Rinpoche dictated this letter while still in hospital to a student who had written to him. The student was concerned about Rinpoche’s condition and sent wishes for him to get better.
  • The Best Leader of All: A student wrote that she was a feminist who strongly believed in democracy and women's power. Rinpoche said the best leader is the Buddha, or a bodhisattva who "cherishes everybody and is able to guide with wisdom and compassion, not with ignorance.”
  • Every Day, Prepare for Death: An old student had life obstacles. Rinpoche advised him to read the Diamond Cutter Sutra and do prostrations every day.  
  • Savings Lost in Stock Market Crash: A student had lost all his money in the stock market, and he had became dependent on someone else for financial help. He was very, very worried about his financial situation and he asked Rinpoche if there was anything he could do to improve his financial situation. 

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

In light of the recent earthquake activity around the world, including those in Japan and Equador, we wanted to remind you of the advices and teachings that Rinpoche has given for prayers and practices to pacify earthquakes. You can read Rinpoche's advice on earthquakes in the Online Advice Book, and read a teaching If One Wishes to Control Earthquakes given by Rinpoche in 2011. See also a advice posted in November of last year on the FPMT website regarding Practices for Pacifying an Earthquake in California that also provides links to related resources to practices.

We have also continued to add to the transcript published last month for Rinpoche's Heart Sutra teachings given in Australia in 2000. An excerpt from these teachings is included below as this month's eletter teaching. You can watch excerpts from the video of these teachings on our YouTube channel.

Book news and this month's e-free offering

Thanks to the generosity of all of you, we are reprinting three of our free titles: Lama Yeshe's The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind and Ego, Attachment and Liberation, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's The Joy of Compassion. We now have well over 700,000 copies of our books in print, including those printed in other countries and languages, reaching readers all around the world. In addition, our distribution of ebooks is still going strong, with an average of 1,000 titles ordered each month through various ebook vendors. And, of course, many of the 50,000 visitors to our website each month can read our books and download pds of each title for free.

And announcing this month's eFree! Each month the Archive has been offering the chance to download a different ebook title for free from any of our ebook vendors. This month's offering is Rinpoche's Virtue & Reality filled with methods for transforming everyday actions into the cause of enlightenment, anger into patience, and the ordinary view of phenomena into the wisdom realizing emptiness. And if you feel so inspired, please also consider adding your review of Virtue & Reality to our Amazon page. When you offer your review of this or any other LYWA title, you definitely create the cause for many more people to meet the teachings of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Review, rejoice!

We are also working on a print-on-demand version of Geshe Jampa Tegchok's The Kindness of OthersThis book is out of print, but soon you will be able to order a print version made just for you. This print-on-demand title will join the other LYWA titles that are also available through print-on-demand: Rinpoche's Teachings from the Vajrasattva Retreat and Lama Yeshe and Rinpoche's Advice for Monks and Nuns. We hope to add more titles to our print on demand collection very soon.

Saka Dawa 2016

Thank you so much, everybody, for reading our eletter. It is a joy for us to communicate with you in this way—to share news of our activities and to offer you a new teaching every month. And we do this for the ultimate benefit, enlightenment, of all sentient beings. Thank you for your support, which allows us to do what we do.

Next month, May, is the month of Saka Dawa, when we celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment and parinirvana (and, according to some, his birth as well). The actual day is May 21 and merit created on that day is multiplied by one hundred million. As I mentioned above, at this time we are reprinting three of our most popular free books and will dedicate the merit to the benefit of all sentient beings. Please rejoice and do the same. Thank you again.

Much love,

Nicholas Ribush

This Month's Teaching: Make the Mind Wet

Lama Zopa Rinpoche holding a photo of Lama Yeshe. If we have very strong guru devotion to all the gurus from whom we have received a Dharma connection, even an oral transmission of a mantra or whatever, so to everyone, we look at them as a buddha from our side. From their side whether they are a buddha or not; from our own side we look at them as a buddha, using the quotations that the Buddha explained, that Buddha Vajradhara explained. We can also use our own personal experiences, the special experiences that we have had, that support the quotations and the reasoning.

By looking at the guru as a buddha, then we see him as a buddha. We look at the guru as a buddha, using the quotations by Buddha Vajradhara and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and the reasoning that is explained in the Buddha’s teachings. We can use the reasoning of Lama Tsongkhapa and those valid lamas from other traditions, such as Milarepa and so forth. We can use the experiential explanations of guru devotion of those very highly attained valid lamas, so our mind enters that kind of state.

It’s not a dry mind where there’s no wetness of devotion. It’s not like a desert, a hot desert place where there’s no water and nothing grows. It’s not like that. Our mind is filled with devotion by seeing everyone that we have a connection with as a buddha. Our mind is very much in a positive state, it’s a positive mind toward them, a pure mind toward them, like that.

The stronger devotion there is, then the experience of other meditations—whether it’s emptiness, whether it’s compassion or whether it’s impermanence, anything—is very easy to experience, very easy to feel. When our mind has strong guru devotion then also the prayers like Guru Puja and so forth, any prayer, any meditation or lam-rim prayer, that we didn’t have any feeling before; when our mind is in a great devotional state toward the guru then the same prayer that we have been saying for many years, for a long time now, with every single word we find great taste. With every single word we find great taste, great meaning, it’s very rich. While we’re saying the prayer, we feel the meaning in our heart.

While we’re saying the prayer we feel the meaning of it in our heart. While we’re doing the prayer, our mind feels the meaning of the prayer. Before it was just words, but now with this strong guru devotion, while we’re saying the prayer our mind feels the meaning of the prayer. We experience the meaning of the prayer. Then we feel the prayer that we have been reciting is so precious, such a precious one, we feel that.

Any meditation we do, it’s easy to feel, so there’s no gap between the lam-rim prayer or any other meditation or prayer that we recite. In our heart there’s no gap, there’s no separation. There’s a connection, we can feel oneness. Our heart and the prayer that we say are oneness, our heart is transformed by the meaning, so our mental state is like that. At the same time, with this strong guru devotion we’re collecting extensive merit, and it’s a very powerful practice of purification.

With this positive mind, with this devotional mind, we are correctly devoting to the virtuous friend with thought. Then the other one is action. Obtaining advice is the main thing; then there are actions such as doing service, physical service, for the virtuous friend. With body, speech and mind, whatever, doing service. Of course, with that devotional mind there is no heresy, no anger arises, no negative thoughts arise, so we don’t create heavy obstacles or negative karma to achieve realizations. We don’t create heavy obstacles to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment. So it becomes unbelievable protection in our own life, unbelievable protection for our own mind and our life.

However, if not that, the main thing is obtaining the advice, then doing powerful, intensive purification by doing Vajrasattva practice, prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names and so forth. It’s unbelievably powerful purification. And also by doing mandala offering and so forth. With this strong devotional thought then making mandala offering and so forth is a method, a means to collect extensive merit. When all these things are done, they are the cause, all these are necessary conditions to collect extensive merit and purify the defilements, the negative karmas.

When we do all these things, it’s like pouring water on seeds which we have cultivated in the ground. We are making them wet, so then they can produce the stems. That is devotion toward the virtuous friend and it makes the mind wet by the devotion. The devotion causes us to receive the blessings of the guru, so that is making the mind wet, like pouring water on the seeds. So we are receiving the blessings of the guru to our own mind.

When all these things are happening, then the words don’t have to be very many pages or something. When our mind is ready, even two words expressing what is false, what is the object to be refuted, what is false, the false object in our view. Even just two words can easily affect us when our mind is like this. If all the cause and conditions, if all these things are together, then change is very easy. The change of the mind, the transformation of the mind is very easy due to the blessing, the wetness, the blessing received from the guru, which comes from our own devotion.

For example, even two or three words, if we can click; [Rinpoche snaps fingers] it’s a question of click, clicking the mind. The defilements, not having devotion, at other times the difficulty is not having realization, our mind is not having that strong, pure devotional thought, not that. The mind is very dry, so then there’s nothing to receive blessings, nothing to become wet, and there’s no intensive collecting merit and purifying the defilements. So nothing clicks, however many teachings we read or texts we read, it doesn’t click.

What we have to realize is empty, we see all the time. What we have to realize is empty is always there in our view. Wherever we look, when we think of I, twenty-four hours when we think of I, it’s there. Twenty-four hours when we think of I, it’s there, twenty-four hours it’s there, what we have to realize is empty. On the aggregates and form, sound, smell, taste, tangible object, on the five aggregates, on everything, twenty-four hours what we have to realize is empty, the false object, or the object which is to be refuted, the gag-cha, so when we look at form it’s there, on the form. When we hear sound it’s on there. When we smell, it’s on the smell. When we smell that false smell or the object to be refuted, gag-cha, it is there on the smell. And on the taste, when we taste, the false taste which doesn’t exist, the object to be refuted is there. When we contact the object, again the false object of contact, which doesn’t exist, that which is to be refuted, is there. So even the mind, even the phenomena which are not the object of other senses but only the mind, again on those phenomena there’s the false object, there’s the object to be refuted.

From the extensive teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the Heart Sutra in in March, 2000 at Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia. You can read more transcripts from these teachings on our website, and view more video excerpts on our YouTube channel.