E-letter No. 176: February 2018

By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #285)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching in Singapore, 2010. Photo: Ven. Thubten Kunsang (Henri Lopez).

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you as we are in the midst of The Fifteen Days of Miracles, which began on Losar (February 16) and culminates on the full moon on March 1st, the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar, which is called Chotrul Duchen. This period commemorates the special time when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha showed miraculous powers in order to subdue the Six Founders, who lacked faith in him, and to inspire more faith in his followers. 

All fifteen days are merit-multiplying days, when the merit of virtuous actions performed on these days is multiplied by 100 million, as cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from the vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic. It is the perfect time to perform meritorious activities, such as practice, study, reciting texts and making offerings.  We are so grateful to all of you who partner with us in our mission with your generous support.

Read on for news of our freely-available offerings for the benefit of all.

From the Video Archive: How to Develop a Good Heart

This month we bring you another installment from a series of teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche during a lamrim retreat hosted by Vajrapani Institute in 2006. In this selection Rinpoche discusses developing the good heart and especially the importance of maintaining daily practice. Rinpoche impresses upon us that even if we are only able to practice a little bit each day, it is the steady continuity of practice that enables the development and deepening of our lamrim realizations for the benefit of all.  You can also read along the transcript of these teachings on our website.

You can watch more excerpts from these teachings on our YouTube channel. Be sure to follow us to keep up with all the precious video of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Tenzin Ösel Hita that we make available each month from our video archive. 

New on LYWA Podcast: How to Be Free of Stress

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1991. Photo: Thubten Yeshe.In this month's podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche discusses how to manage our stress by recognizing that stress is not forced upon us from outside but comes from within our own mind and is dependent upon the way we think. Rinpoche then explains how our own mind creates stress and how our own mind is also what can liberate us from stress.

This audio excerpt was drawn from a teaching Rinpoche gave over two evenings in Bendigo, Australia in August, 1991. You can listen to the entire teachings and follow along with the unedited transcript on our website. We have also published an edited version of this teaching, which you can read on our website as well.

The LYWA podcast features incredible selections from the hundreds of hours of audio recordings in our Archive of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and now Tenzin Ösel Hita. All the podcasts provide links back to our website where you can 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.

What's New On Our Website

We are happy to share with you three new Russian translations! Our Russian translator, Anastasia Stoliarova, has just completed a translation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's The Perfect Human Rebirth, and the pdf can be downloaded from our Russian Translations page.

Our friends at FPMT Russia sent us two translations, the first of which is a translation of Rinpoche's Kadampa Teachings. You can download this pdf also from our Russian Translations page.

And, FPMT Russia have also translated the FPMT publication How to Help Your Loved Ones Enjoy Death and Go Happily to Their Next Rebirth. A pdf of the Russian translation is available on our Russian translations page, and you can find links to this book and more on the Ganden Tendar Ling website.

We are grateful to work with so many amazing translators who make our publications and transcripts available in languages other than English. Please see our website for links to translations in 16 languages!

New Advice in Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.In Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book this month we have posted advice from Rinpoche on how Our Purpose is to Serve Others. In this letter, written in response to a student who worked as a nurse, Rinpoche explained the benefits of caring for sick people and the kindness of the mother.

We have also posted advice on what is a Real Retreat, given to an older student, where Rinpoche explains how it is more important that the mind be in retreat, not the body.

In the following advice, Rinpoche offered the definition of a holiday:

The definition of a holiday is:

• The mind abiding in correctly following the virtuous friend
• The mind abiding in renunciation of samsara
• The mind abiding in bodhicitta
• The mind abiding in emptiness
• The mind abiding in the tantric path—the two stages.

The completion of your holiday is when you cease all the obscurations and complete all the realizations.

As always, you can see a list of all the most recent additions to the Advice Book on our website.

Image Gallery on the FPMT Website

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Maratika Cave, Nepal, 2016. Photo: Ven Sherab.Don't miss browsing through the gallery of images of Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the FPMT website. This amazing collection, featuring images from 2001 on, provides a wonderful visual record of Rinpoche's activities over the years, and is continually growing. You can see precious images like this one, of Rinpoche inside one of the caves in Maratika, where Padmasambhava left a footprint and flew out the roof; Rinpoche is looking through the hole in the roof.

Thank you again for your ongoing interest and support. We leave you with this timeless teaching from Lama Yeshe from 1974.

Much Love,

Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: The Dangers of the Discriminating Mind

Lama Yeshe on Saka Dawa, Chenrezig Institute, Australia, May 1975. Photo: Wendy Finster.When we are not really wise but are instead narrow-minded, we generally think that what our mind is interested in is good whereas what our mind isn’t interested in is bad. Even if we don’t actually put this thought into words, this attitude instinctively comes into our mind. So we should be careful.

Also, actions that arise from totally negative reactions are ignorant actions. However, the same actions that we do from thoughtful consideration, slowly, not hastily, can be beneficial and lead to freedom. They can be a method, even though the action itself may appear outwardly to be totally ignorant. For example, every day, in the morning you should wash your body. According to some, by washing the body the traces of negativity are purified. For a person who is devoted to the Buddhist path, that kind of method is a totally wrong conception. How can you wash away negativities by taking a bath?

You can let go of your belief, or devotion, in that kind of doctrine by using your knowledge-wisdom. But in the case of a person who only practices morality—that is, who creates positive action at the present time—then there is no need to cause such a person to let go of his devotion to this method. Many times it seems that European people always tell others whatever they believe, because they think that is the only way. For example, saying that the Mahayana Yoga Tantra path is the only way to liberation. They always share these views with other people without checking others’ minds. “This way is the only way; not your method.” This is extreme; sometimes European people are extreme. They just go “boom” on others. They tell others whatever they believe, as if that alone is right.

My point is that this is wrong, unless you have a good understanding that it will result in a good reaction in the other person’s mind. Then it is OK. Otherwise, you make other people more crazy. Instead of a good feeling, it becomes something negative, doesn’t it? You know this. We cannot say that any one action is good for everybody. For example, what if you were to say that actualizing the wisdom of right view shunyata is the only way to reach perfect liberation? It is; this is true. But you should not communicate that kind of information to a person who isn’t ready for it. Instead of being beneficial it becomes totally negative, even though the information is completely correct. That’s why we say that what is right and what is wrong depends on the individual mind.

So you see, with narrow-mindedness, when you ask anyone, any samsaric sentient being if something is good, if it is something outside their experience, they will often say it is bad. That’s how you can understand the human mind. You see, the small mind is always complaining; it blames other people. Because it has little understanding, it is always judging. It will always judge another person who behaves differently from you as wrong. That causes great problems. This is a kind of discrimination. This is similar to how samsaric society thinks that everything should be uniform: everybody should sit the same, act the same, think the same. If you believe that way, then when someone acts differently, that person is criticized. He or she is seen as wrong. But there is no way that we can make samsaric life completely uniform in this way. We cannot; it is impossible. Why? Because every individual’s mind is different. Even you try for such uniformity, it is wrong. You are hopeless.

This kind of samsaric society’s thinking is hopeless. You cannot think like this, because if you do, you are no different from samsaric society people. You are no different because you still have narrow mind, and that has nothing to do with being a Dharma person. What is the purpose of judging he does this, she does that? There is no purpose. What purpose is there, for example, for the people of Kathmandu to talk every night about what people of other societies do or don’t do? You check up! Every night they only talk about other people’s actions. What is the point? It is a waste of time. It is really simple. I’m not complaining; just check up your own experience.

Therefore, according to Lord Buddha’s teaching the discriminating mind is really the greatest cause of our problems. You should change that attitude. It’s better that you go with reality, the middle way. If you do not change your mental attitude, then what purpose do you think there is in practicing the Dharma? You should be especially careful regarding ideas about religions: this religion is good, this religion is bad, and so on. How do you know what is good and what is bad? Especially, how do you know what is good or bad for the person you are talking with? Is it possible to judge whether this religion is good because this man in this religion is good? Be very careful.

Excerpted from a teaching Lama Yeshe gave on tantric vows in Bodhgaya, India in 1974. Edited by Adele Hulse for inclusion in Lama Yeshe's biography Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, forthcoming from LYWA this year.