E-letter No. 162: December 2016

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

"We can achieve any of those ultimate happinesses. We can create the cause with this perfect human body, even in each second in our everyday life."

Dear friends,

As we near the end of 2016, we find we have so many reasons to rejoice! Our most precious Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues to provide blessings upon blessings with flawless teachings, inspiring actions and perfect example. We are grateful for the opportunity to act as stewards for the collected recordings of the teachings of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and every day we endeavor to prepare them to share with all of you.

We could not accomplish our mission without you. Your support enables us to bring together a team of Lama's and Rinpoche's students from around the world, each with the unique skills to catalog, transcribe, edit and publish the precious teachings in the archive. To date we have raised $37,000 of our $50,000 year end goal. Thank you to all who have supported us thus far, and please help us reach our goal.

Of all the gifts you can give or receive this year, the greatest gift is the teachings of our precious gurus, which transmit their unconditional love and peerless wisdom and provide the means for us to accomplish the same.

Read on for more about our work this year and next, and for news of the latest offerings of video, audio, teaching and advice from the archive.

2016 Year End Appeal: A Living Archive

The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive is a living archive: ever-changing and always growing. We are constantly evolving to take advantage of emerging technologies for cataloguing and sharing the timeless teachings the Archive contains--both classic and contemporary--to everyone around the world, every day.

Last year, we updated the LYWA website to make it easier to use, simpler to navigate and more beautiful to engage with. This year we are seeing the benefits of this work, as readers old and new are visiting the site more frequently and staying longer. Recently we have seen an average of 100,000 unique visitors to the site each month – 100,000 individuals who are making or cultivating their connection to Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche through the text, images, audio and video offered on the website.

For many years now we have been making full use of all available electronic publishing means:

In recent years we have also been publishing multimedia titles, bringing to life the Archive’s varied resources of text, images, audio and video. By weaving Archive resources together in this way we hope to provide the means for you to deepen your experience of the teachings—the next best thing to having attended the teachings in person.

We are now working to bring you many more new teachings and publications and can’t wait to share our new projects with you in 2017. We plan to publish:

We invite you to be part of this living tradition. Celebrate 20 years of accomplishing our mission with your donation to the Archive.

We could not do it without the support of each and every one of you. Together we offer the gift of precious Dharma to thousands of people every day. These teachings are the antidote to the fear and negativity so prevalent in our world today, allowing us to take their wisdom in our minds and hearts and live our lives with greater love and compassion.

NEW TEACHINGS AND ADVICE ON OUR WEBSITE

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Milarepa Center for a retreat, Vermont, 2010. Photo by Jim Hagan.We have just posted a rich, extensive transcript of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings on Taking Refuge. Rinpoche gave this teaching at a refuge ceremony held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, on April 1, 1995. The teaching was transcribed by Ven Ailsa Cameron and lightly edited by Sandra Smith.

In this teaching, Rinpoche discusses the purpose of our life, how to make this precious human rebirth meaningful and how to actualize refuge in our own mind. The teaching also contains extensive advice on experiencing illness such as cancer for the benefit of others and how to establish a bodhicitta motivation in daily life. Rinpoche concludes with advice on the power of the objects of refuge. We have included an excerpt from this transcript as our featured e-letter teaching below.

We have also added new advices to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice book, including:

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Cherish You:  Rinpoche gave this advice to a student who felt that no one liked him.

Patience Brings Success and Happiness: A student asked Rinpoche for advice on what to do about one person was always angry and unkind. Rinpoche typed this reply himself. 
 
The Greatest Purification: Advice given to a student who was doing many, many nyung-näs.
 
Dharma Becomes the Most Important Thing: This is a hand-written card with advice for volunteers and students at a Dharma center.
 
Skies of Thanks For Your Sincere Heart: Rinpoche wrote this card to thank a student for their devotion and dedication, despite many difficulties.

As always, you can see all the newest additions on our View and Search Online Advice Book page.

OUR LATEST PODCAST

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1991.The audio we share with you in podcasts and on our website offers you the capability of listening to the precious words of our teachers any time, anywhere
 
Our newest podcast episode features Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching on the nature of samsara and the practice of refuge and precepts. These teachings were given in 1992 at the Jamyang Meditation Centre in London just before Rinpoche offered a refuge ceremony to the students. The teaching was transcribed by Ven Ailsa Cameron and you can follow along with the unedited version on our website. 

The new LYWA podcast regularly adds archival teachings from Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche on a wide variety of Dharma topics. Learn more about the LYWA podcast and how to subscribe here.

NEWLY-DIGITIZED ARCHIVAL VIDEO

The newest living gem from the LYWA video archive is an incredible video of Lama Yeshe at the Bhagsu Hotel in Dharamsala India in 1982. Lama was answering student questions about the practice of mahamudra after His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings on the topic, explaining how to meditate on the clean clear nature of one's mind and how to apply mahamudra to tantra. Lama's loving warmth, infinite patience and experiential style are, as always, profoundly powerful to watch.

This one hour and twenty minute question and answer session was part of the First Enlightened Experience Celebration, hosted by International Mahayana Institute, and was filmed by Robyn Brentano and Roland Stutz. The video was transcribed by me and is fully subtitled.

Visit our YouTube channel to view all of the videos we have published so far. Our ongoing mission is to protect, catalog and organize this ever-expanding collection so that it remains an unfathomably precious resource into the future.

LYWA STAFF NEWS

I'm writing this from Australia, visiting family for first time in nearly nine years. This photo of Wendy and me was taken at Wendy's brother's place near Ballarat.

If you haven't already done so, please make your donation to LYWA today to help us reach our year-end goal. Thank you again for all your amazing support as we work together to preserve and share the gifts of this precious Dharma lineage.

Much love,

Nick Ribush
Director

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: Each Second of Our Everyday life

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, 1994.  The ultimate goal of our life is to free all sentient beings from all the sufferings and to lead them to happiness, especially full enlightenment, the peerless happiness. That is the ultimate goal of our life.

To be able to achieve this goal, to be able to do this perfect service for others, we need to achieve the omniscient mind, knowing all the past, present and future, being able to see everything directly. Being able to see directly and being able to read the numberless other sentient beings’ minds, all the different characters—being able to see the different wishes that they have, their intelligence, the different levels of karma, their potential and the various methods that can fit to them.

We have to know everything; we need to know the numberless methods to benefit other sentient beings and we need to have perfect power to reveal the various methods. Not only that, we need to have completed the mind training in compassion toward all living beings. We should have all these qualities. These are the basic qualities and there are also many other qualities. We should have all these qualities to be able to do perfect work, service for all sentient beings.

Without bodhicitta realization all this is not possible. Without bodhicitta we cannot enter the Mahayana path and without entering the Mahayana path we cannot achieve all these qualities. In this particular human world where we are born now there is suffering, therefore we can easily generate very strong renunciation of samsara, renunciation of samsaric suffering. Then because of that we can generate very strong compassion easily and because of that, we are able to actualize bodhicitta very easily and strongly. Because of that very easy, very strong and very powerful bodhicitta, we are able to achieve enlightenment very quickly. The conclusion is that with this human body in this southern continent we can achieve enlightenment easily and quickly.

In the six realms—the sura, asura and human realms and the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms—the only realm which has the opportunity to become enlightened within one life is this human realm. Not even in other human worlds, but only in this one, our human world, this southern continent. This is the only one. Human beings in the southern continent are the only ones with the opportunity to achieve enlightenment within one life. In one lifetime we can achieve enlightenment, therefore, we are extremely fortunate that we are born as human beings and we are born in this southern continent where we receive this human body. This human body that we have received in this southern continent is regarded as very precious because it has so many qualities and so much opportunity.

With this human body we can achieve liberation from samsara and we can achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings. These two are ultimate happiness. Not only in each day, but even in each hour, each minute and each second, with this perfect human body we can achieve any of these happinesses, any temporary happiness of future lives, such as reincarnating in a pure land and so forth. Also, we can achieve any of those ultimate happinesses. We can create the cause with this perfect human body, even in each second in our everyday life. Therefore, this precious human body, which is qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses, is extremely, highly meaningful. Even in each second it is very precious, even in each second in our everyday life. 

As I mentioned before, if the attitude is just seeking happiness for oneself, to resolve our own problems; if we live our life with this attitude it doesn’t transcend, it doesn’t make our life anything special. Our life is nothing special, it is nothing higher than ants, insects or worms, or those very vicious animals, tigers or poisonous snakes. It is nothing special from them, nothing special from their attitude. Even those tiny insects and even those very vicious animals live their life with this attitude, only seeking happiness for themselves. They are constantly looking for protection, constantly looking for food and constantly only looking for happiness for themselves. That’s it. There is no thought of obtaining happiness for others, to benefit for others. 

Without bodhicitta we do nothing special from them. Externally we have the human body, which is something very precious, but internally we do nothing special. Just having that attitude doesn’t give meaning to this life. It doesn’t give the special purpose why we have taken this precious human body at this time and why we have not taken the body of a crocodile, a lobster, a frog, a spider, a scorpion, a jelly fish or an octopus. 

Anyway, there has to be a special purpose for having this precious human body. That attitude doesn’t fulfill the purpose of why we have taken this precious human body. In other words that attitude only becomes an obstacle to making this life, this precious human body, beneficial even for oneself, leave aside making it beneficial for other sentient beings. This attitude becomes an obstacle blocking even that this precious human body could be beneficial to achieve happiness for oneself. This attitude becomes a blockage for making this human body useful to achieve happiness even for oneself. Like that, as I mentioned before.

The ultimate goal of our life or the real purpose of our life is to eliminate the sufferings of others, to obtain happiness for numberless other sentient beings. To free others who are numberless, to free each and every one of them from all the sufferings and to lead them especially to the peerless happiness, full enlightenment. That is the ultimate goal of our life. That is the purpose of our living. 

Therefore, it is an extremely good practice for the twenty-four hours to keep the mind in this attitude from when we wake up in the morning. Think, “My life is to benefit others, the numberless sentient beings without discrimination, without leaving even one exception, including the enemy who harms me, including that.”

Think, “I am here to serve others, to cause happiness to others.” Live the life with this thought. Also feel the responsibility, the universal responsibility, that, “I have the responsibility to obtain happiness for all sentient beings. I am responsible for all sentient beings’ happiness.” Usually the reasoning is that if we have compassion toward other sentient beings, then they will not receive harm from us. They will receive peace and happiness from us, and on top of that, by developing compassion, by having compassion, we benefit others. Not only do we stop giving harm, but also we benefit, we do something for others, we cause happiness to others.

All the peace and happiness that numberless other sentient beings receive from us, that is dependent on us and that is in our hands. Whether we want to offer this happiness and peace to others or not is in our hands. Why? Because it’s up to our mind, what we do with our mind, what kind of attitude we have toward others, whether we have compassion, the thought to benefit others; whether we have this attitude toward others or not. Whether all the numberless other sentient beings receive happiness, what they receive from us, depends on our having compassion toward them. Therefore, it’s very logical that each of us clearly has universal responsibility. We have responsibility for their happiness, to obtain happiness for every living being.

Excerpted from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings at a refuge ceremony held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, on April 1, 1995. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith. You can read the full transcript on our website.