E-letter No. 157: July 2016

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much, everybody, for reading our eletter. We are grateful for the opportunity 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.

The Passing of Ven. Thubten Kunsang (Henri Lopez)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Ven. Thubten Kunsang, Sera Monastery, India, January 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Ven. Kunsang (Henri Lopez) in India on Sunday July 24th. Ven. Kunsang traveled with Lama Zopa Rinpoche for many years, recording Rinpoche’s talks and spontaneous teachings for LYWA and taking thousands of photos that have been shared on FPMT and LYWA websites and social media, and in Mandala magazine. He was a dear friend to us all.

Rinpoche said in a letter to the IMI Sangha: 

We believed there was real Kunsang and now that real Kunsang is not there, but that's the reality, and like that all the phenomena, yourself, action and object, all phenomena, samsara and nirvana are like that.

You can read more about Ven Kunsang's passing on the FPMT website.

Our Epublishing and Social Media Manager Megan Evart recalled seeing clips in video that Ven. Kunsang recorded of Rinpoche where Rinpoche is saying Ven. Kunsang's name with incredible affection and energy. Megan put together a montage of these clips which you can view on our YouTube channel.

New Translations of LYWA books and articles

We are pleased to report that our Russian translator Anastasia Stoliarova recently completed a translation of Lama Yeshe's Universal Love. You can download a pdf for free from the Russian Translations page on our website. Ana also worked with volunteer Anastasia Makarova on translations of a selection of teachings given by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the annual Kopan meditation courses held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal; you can download pdfs of these as well from our website.

We were recently contacted by Felipe Ángel from Centro Yamantaka in Colombia  with an offer to share his Spanish translations of teachings from our website. You can find links to them on our Spanish translations page.

We also just received a print copy of the Chinese language version of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's How to Practice Dharma, published by Business Weekly Publications, a division of Cite Publishing Ltd., in Taiwan. BWP are also working on a translation of Rinpoche's The Perfect Human Rebirth.

Also forthcoming is a Tibetan translation of Rinpoche’s How to Practice Dharma, translated by Tenzin Rigsang, which is now undergoing a final copyedit and will be published for free distribution throughout the Tibetan community. Tenzin is now working on Rinpoche’s The Perfect Human Rebirth

What's New on our website

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Taos, New Mexico, 1999. Photo: Lenny Foster.We have just posted a new excerpt from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Teachings on the Heart Sutra series. In this excerpt, which concludes the first discourse, Rinpoche explains the correct way to meditate on emptiness.  

This month we added the following new advices to Rinpoche's Online Advice book

•    Compassion Brings Us Closer to Enlightenment: Extensive advice and suggestions on how to care for animals, given to a student who had dedicated her life to helping others and now had cancer. An excerpt from this advice is our featured e-letter teaching below.

•    The Cause of Real Happiness: Rinpoche handwrote a card for a young student at a center.

•    Remember Impermanence and Death: Rinpoche sent this card to remind a student of impermanence, so that his actions become Dharma.

•    The Real Responsibility: Rinpoche wrote to thank a student who had decided to purify past negative karma. He also commented on the plight of Tibet.

•    Vows After Rinpoche Manifested a Stroke:  A student sent this heartfelt letter to Rinpoche a few days after he had manifested a stroke in April 2011 and was still in hospital. Rinpoche asked that the letter be published so others can rejoice.

As always, you can see a list of all the latest additions to the Advice Book here.

Online blog and journal

Lama Yeshe at UCSC, USA. Photo: Jon LandawWe hope you have all been keeping up with posts made to our Big Love blog! Every 2 weeks our intrepid blog editor Sunitha Bhaskaran adds excerpts from the forthcoming biography of Lama Yeshe. The latest post includes an excerpt from Lama Yeshe’s teachings on Discriminating Between the Middle and the Extremes at Kopan in December 1980. Visit the blog regularly to read the latest excerpts and see a selection of some of the amazing images that will be included in the book.

Work steadily continues on the biography. Right now we are in the midst of image selection which, when trying to select the best from the tens of thousands of images we have in our collection, is no small task!

Sunitha also posts regularly to the online magazine Elephant Journal, where the Lamas' teachings are reaching new audiences. Thousands of readers have been introduced to Lama Yeshe's engaging and accessible style, and to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's timeless wisdom through these articles. 

New posts to the Big Love blog and the Elephant Journal are always publicized on our Facebook page and Twitter. Be sure to visit these posts to read, like and comment, which will help raise the visibility of the Lamas' teachings and reach new readers.

Wheel Turning Day Approaches

August 6 is one of the year's four main Buddhist holy days, Chokhor Duchen, the Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma, celebrated as the day Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave his first teaching. Seven weeks after the Buddha attained enlightenment five disciples asked him to teach, and in response he expounded the four noble truths. 

Chokhor Duchen is a Buddha Multiplying Day, when, as Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said, karmic results are multiplied one hundred million times, citing the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic as his reference. Therefore Chokhor Duchen is an amazing time to make offerings, and what could be better than contributing to the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, thereby helping us make available the teachings of our amazing teachers, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche? August 6. Don't worry, we will remind you!

You'll be helping us publish teachings such as the revised edition of Rinpoche’s Bodhisattva Attitude or his extensive nyung-nä commentary, both coming in the not-too-distant future. Thank you so much.
As Lama Yeshe would say, "Let do!"

Much love,

Nick Ribush, Director

This Month's Teaching: Compassion Brings Us Closer to Enlightenment

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with a water buffalo, Kopan Monastery, Nepal,  1976.A student had dedicated her life to others, caring for animals in desperate need and also doing healing work with people for many years. Many years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and asked Rinpoche for advice. Rinpoche responded with extensive advice and suggestions on how to care for animals in the ultimate way.

I have some things to suggest to you on how to help the animals ultimately. It’s OK to help their bodies, but it’s more important to help their minds. The body disintegrates but the mind continues. It is without beginning, from beginningless rebirth up to now, and again it continues from life to life, endlessly in samsara, if we do not meet Dharma, if we don’t get to actualize the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. If we don’t cease the cause of suffering, we will have to endlessly suffer in samsara, which is much more terrifying.

There’s a story about an eighty-year-old man. After he entered into the Mahayana path, when the time ripened he became enlightened and did perfect works for sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment. That means all the perfect works—enlightening all the sentient beings—came from being enlightened himself, and that came from having entered into the Mahayana path. Before that he was an arhat actualizing the path to liberation, which started with being a monk. He was able to be a monk because inconceivable eons ago he was a fly following some cow dung around a stupa, so it became circumambulation, one circumambulation. All these benefits—being an arhat, becoming enlightened and enlightening all sentient beings—all these depended on the small merit created by following the smell of cow dung around a stupa, which became a circumambulation.

From this example you can see how holy objects such as stupas are so powerful, therefore this is one way you can really help animals. In India we have one project called Maitri Charitable Trust. In the past it was mainly focused on treating leprosy but that part was given back to the government to run, so now there are schools, as well as treatment for TB and different sicknesses, and also many treatments and care for dogs.

I advised building eight stupas so that the dogs and also people can go around them and in that way they can purify the heavy negative karma collected since beginningless rebirths, which is the cause of all the suffering, and they can collect extensive merits.

The last time I went to Maitri I also put a special mantra on every animal’s body, also on people’s heads. This mantra purifies many eons of negative karma. Now at Maitri there are almost one hundred dogs, not only the ones being taken care of but also dogs from outside, so some dogs got the blessing twice. I ended up going twice as some more animals came after the first blessing, so I went back to bless the new dogs and then again I blessed the ones that were already there. They also play the Arya Sanghata Sutra through a loudspeaker so that all the animals and dogs who are sick can hear it. This plants the seed of enlightenment.

At Root Institute in Bodhgaya we also have animals that have been liberated (saved from death) such as goats and cows. We built a large stupa for them to circumambulate, also I went there to put the mantra on their body. I don’t know how many animals are there now, however, last year we had about fifty. We had finished building a house for the people looking after animals and we also finished the stupa for the animals to go around, but I didn’t get to check it recently as the road was not so good. I hope all the animals are going around the stupa three times a day—that was the idea, my plan, in order to purify their negative karma collected from beginningless rebirth, so that they can be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and achieve enlightenment.

In Singapore they made a small recording that plays Buddha Namgyalma mantra, which is unbelievably powerful for long life and to purify obscurations. Whoever hears the mantra, even animals, will never get reborn in the lower realms and also their life goes toward enlightenment, they never go down [to the lower realms] and they will always have buddhas and bodhisattvas around them. This is even just by hearing the Namgyalma mantra, but also especially if it is recited. In Singapore the students made a recording of my chanting and there might be some other mantras included at the end.

Excerpted from a letter of advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche written in January 2016. You can read the complete letter here.