E-letter No. 168: June 2017

By Nicholas Ribush, By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
(Archive #1955)
Lama Yeshe with (l to r) Steve Carlier, Nick Ribush and Francesco Prevosti, at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, 1983. Photo: Merry Colony.

Dear Friends,

We are truly humbled by your generosity and dedication to helping us perserve and disseminate these precious teachings. We received over $17,000 of donations during Saka Dawa and we are in deep appreciation of your support. Thank you!

New LYWA Multimedia: The Nature of the Mind by Lama Yeshe

Come explore The Nature of the Mind, our first title in the new multimedia series based on Life, Death and After Death. In The Nature of the Mind, Lama Yeshe explains how our mind is structured, reminds us that our senses and intellectualism can only go so far and encourages us to “let go, just be.”

These teachings are from a weekend seminar on death Lama gave in Geneva, Switzerland in 1983. They are among the very last teachings Lama gave in the West before Lama taught death and impermanence directly by disappearing once and for all in 1984.

As with all our multimedia titles, the written teachings are accompanied by audio, video and images intended to help deepen your experience of and connection with these profound teachings. To access more links to all our multimedia titles please see our website.

From the Video Archive: Freedom More Precious Than Skies Filled with Gold, Diamonds and sapphires

A star, a visual aberration, a flame of a lamp, an illusion, a drop of dew or a bubble, a dream, a flash of lightning, a cloud, see causative phenomena as such.

In this excerpt from the extensive Golden Light Sutra Weekend teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in San Jose, California in 2011, Rinpoche encourages us to take advantage of this precious and rare opportunity to study the profound meaning of emptiness. These teachings were hosted by Gyalwa Gyatso Center and attended by many FPMT Sangha including LYWA’s own dear Venerable Kunsang.

You can access the unedited transcript of this precious teaching on our website

Osel on the Podcast: How to Find Our Real Potential

Tenzin Ösel Hita with Geshe Lobsang Tengye at Institut Vajra Yogini, France, February 2017.Tenzin Ösel Hita recently visited a number of FPMT centers across Europe and offered very fresh, spontaneous and practical Dharma talks. Ösel is the incarnation of FPMT’s founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe. We are happy to offer on the LYWA podcast this month Ösel’s talk on how to find our real potential. This talk was given on February 11, 2017 to the fortunate students at the Center for Wisdom and Compassion in Denmark, Copenhagen.

You can also read along with the unedited transcript on our website or watch the talk on video here.

The LYWA podcast features incredible selections from the hundreds of hours of archival audio teaching by Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and now Tenzin Ösel Hita.  All the podcasts provide links back to the full teaching from which they were drawn and you can also listen to the podcast while reading along with a lightly edited transcript. You can download previous episodes and find out how to subscribe on our podcast page


Lama Yeshe's and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings have been translated into 17 languages thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many inspiring translators. This month we are happy to share with you our latest Spanish and Russian publications. 

Felipe Ángel from Centro Yamantaka, FPMT Colombia, has kindly offered the following translations of teachings by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche: 

• The First Clear Step. An introductory talk about Buddhism and the mind, given by Lama Yeshe to students at the seventh Kopan meditation course, 1974.
• The Real Hero. Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises that the real hero is the person who can fight anger, in this excerpt from the fourteenth Kopan meditation course, 1981.

You can access all our Spanish translations on our website.

And thanks to Maya Malygina who offered a new Russian translation of The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training, a core lamrim text written by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for use during the Kopan Meditation courses.

To freely download a pdf of this text, you can access a link on our Russian translations page.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 2010. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.We have just posted a second chapter on Where Is the Real I? from teachings given in May 2014 at Kadampa Center, Raleigh. Rinpoche discusses the emptiness of the I and other topics, including his mother's incarnation and the benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM.

Also this month, new additions to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book include:

· Your Gift to Sentient Beings: Rinpoche wrote this letter to thank a Nepalese shopkeeper for selling buddha statues. Rinpoche explained the unbelievable merit of just seeing a buddha statue, and advised that well-made statues allow devotion to arise more easily.

· Advice for a Mother and Son: A student wrote about her son, who had been in a serious accident and was now paralyzed and in a wheelchair. The mother asked Rinpoche how she could help her son, who was very angry.

· Benefits of OM MANI PADME HUM: Rinpoche sent this advice on the benefits of the precious mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, along with a gift of the mantra banner.

· The Main Purpose of Your Life: A couple wrote to Rinpoche about their life plans, retreat, study and practice. This was Rinpoche’s reply.

As always, you can view a list of all the recently added advices to Rinpoche's Online Advice Book on our website.

Coming soon: Abiding in the Retreat

Work steadily continues on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's nyung nä commentary Abiding in the Retreat, edited by Ailsa Cameron. The book is going to the printer this week, and we should have it in-house in early September. If you are an LYWA Member, you will automatically receive a copy, either electronically or in print, whichever you prefer. Please send us an email to let us know your preference, and send an update of your address if you have recently moved.

Thank you again for your incredible support, and please enjoy this teaching from Rinpoche.

Much love,

Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching:  Where is the Real I?

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Italy. Photo: Piero Sirianni.The body, the aggregates, are not the real I; neither the body nor even the mind is the real I. Even the group—the association of the body and mind—is not the real I. The association of body and mind, that together, even that is not the real I. The real I cannot be found. If you look for it you can’t find it; from the tip of the hair down to the toes, it cannot be found anywhere.

Many people might think that the mind is I. They think the mind is the real I that we believe in one hundred percent, but it’s not that. If the body is the I, the real I, then all the limbs would be I, and however many atoms this body has, all that would be I, and there would be billions, zillions of I's here. This wouldn’t be one person; this would be a billion, I don’t know how many atoms my body has, I don’t know.

So for someone with a taller body or who is fatter, then there would be so many Is, so many, so many I's. [Laughter] When a person becomes thinner by exercising, by taking medicine or whatever, then there would become less I's.

When the person shaves the hair, there would be many I's, there would be many thousands of I's that fall off. Then the many thousands of I's would have to reincarnate. Therefore, the mistakes would arise. So many mistakes would arise, it’s a continuation.

Also, there are six [sense] consciousnesses and 51 mental factors. There would be six I's for the six sense consciousnesses and for the 51 mental factors, there would be also 51 I's and so there would be all that.

And then one year has 365 days, so there would be all those consciousnesses—there would be 365 I's. Then one day has 24 hours so there would be 24 I's. And how many minutes, 60 minutes, therefore in one hour there would be 60 I's during that time, so there would be 60 I's or consciousnesses. And then how many seconds, there would be that many I's. So many mistakes would arise.

Also, the I would have no color. The mind has no color and no shape, therefore the I wouldn’t have any color, the I wouldn’t have any shape. The I would not have any shape of male or female; I would not have any shape—fat or skinny or all that, or short or long—there wouldn’t be any shape because the mind has no color, no shape. We can’t say, “Oh, that person’s mind is too long,” or “Oh, that person’s mind is short.” The mind doesn’t have shape; the body has that, but the mind doesn’t have it. If the I had shape we could say, “Oh, that person’s I is too long” or “Oh, that person’s I is too short.” There’s no such thing; it’s not like that because there’s no color and no shape.

So then you wouldn’t need food. Why? You don’t have shape, you don’t have a stomach. You don’t have a shape, so why do you need food? Why do you need to work? What do you work for? What? Why do you work? You don’t need food, you don’t need a house, because you don’t have shape. You don’t have a shape so you don’t need a house and you don’t need food. So then many mistakes would arise. [Rinpoche laughs]

The other mistake is if the I is one with the aggregates, and there’s only one I, there would be only one aggregate. There wouldn’t be five aggregates, there would only be one aggregate if there was one I, so that mistake would arise.

Also, when the consciousness leaves the body, there would still be so many I's. When the body’s there and the consciousness has left, there would be so many, there would be billions of I's. I don’t mean ice, I don’t mean the ice, snow ice, I don’t mean that, I’m not talking about that [Laughter] Don’t misunderstand! I’m not talking about the ice; I’m talking about the I.

Even when the consciousness has left [the body], there would be—I don’t know how many atoms—billions or zillions of I's there, even when the consciousness has left. The person’s not dead—there are still many Is living—the person’s not dead as long as there’s a body. Even though the consciousness has left, as long as there’s a body there are many, many I's or people living there. There are so many I's, so many people, that’s a billion, zillion, I don’t know, a trillion or however many atoms that make up a person. So it becomes very strange, like that. Then mistakes arise.

The teaching was given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kadampa Center in North Carolina in May 2014 and was edited by Sandra Smith. You can read the rest of this teaching on our website.