E-letter No. 192: June 2019

By Lama Thubten Yeshe, By Nicholas Ribush

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our June e-letter. Due to your kindness and generosity, we received $10,000 in donations during Saka Dawa. Thank you so much for all your support! Please read on to see what offerings we have for you.

The Enlightened Experience: Collected Teachings
The first volume of a new ebook series by Lama Yeshe, The Enlightened Experience: Collected Teachings, has now been publishedIn this book, Lama Yeshe gives an overview of the principal aspects of the path to enlightenment and offers general advice on relationships, educating children and a range of other topics.
This collection of teachings provides inspiration and guidance for new and experienced students alike, as Lama Yeshe encourages us to recognize our limitless potential and develop “knowledge-wisdom.” His dynamic communication style means that these teachings are as relevant and accessible today as when first taught.
These teachings have been published previously on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website and in other publications, including Mandala magazine. The purpose of this book is to gather the teachings into one central resource.
Visit our online store to order The Enlightened Experience from your favorite vendor. LYWA Members can download the ebook for free from the Members Area.
NEW TO THE VIDEO ARCHIVE: Be the Captain of Your Boat

“Be proud because you are; be humble because you belong.” In this video, Tenzin Ösel Hita encourages us to meditate at least a little bit each day because regular meditation is the key to realization. Ösel then discusses the mind and explores the paths of decision-making and purpose-finding in this excerpt from a Dharma talk given at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in New Delhi on April 7, 2019.

Visit and subscribe to the LYWA YouTube channel to view dozens more freely available videos from our archive.

1979, Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Murray Wright (donor-photographer), NepalDon't miss out on this month's new additions to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book:

  • Dolgyal Confession: After commencing the practice of Dolgyal (Skt: Dorje Shugden), a student confessed that they had not followed the guru’s advice and asked what to do.
  • How to Use a Stupa to Bring You to Enlightenment: Rinpoche gave this advice to a student who had a new stupa in their house.
  • Transforming Depression: A student wrote to Rinpoche about a sixteen-year-old relative who had severe depression. Rinpoche offered this advice.
  • Meditations for Anxiety: Rinpoche sent this advice to a student with cancer who wrote that her husband was hospitalized due to his severe anxiety.
As always, you can see a list of all the newly-posted advices on our website.
New Translations
Joyful Parents, Successful Children (Onnellisen elämän perusta) by Lama Zopa Rinpoche has now been translated into Finnish by the Biokustannus Translation Group. This book is available in print from Biokustannus and as a free PDF file
Biokustannus Translation Group has also been translating articles by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe for the Finnish magazine Bodhi Melong for many yearsA small selection of these articles is now available for download from our Finnish translations page.  
The latest German translation, What is Meditation? (Was ist Meditation) by Lama Yeshe, can also be downloaded as a PDF file from our website. This teaching was translated by Jürgen Koch is the first chapter of the book Freedom Through Understanding. Browse our translations into German here.

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 sixteen languages.

On Retreat with Rinpoche

Stacey Martin and Wendy Cook from LYWA with Dechen (Molly) Wiseman and Christina Lundberg. June 2019, Institut Vajra Yogini, France.Several LYWA staff had the great opportunity to attend the five-week Vajrayogini retreat with Rinpoche at Institut Vajra Yogini in the south of France that ended recently on June 15. It was a powerful retreat that went beyond any expectations and that had an overall feeling of great joy, harmony and devoted effort. LYWA staffers joined hundreds of retreatants from all over the world in receiving lamrim teachings and commentary on Vajrayogini practice from Rinpoche for over 35 days.

Some of the highlights included midnight tsog offerings; sipping hot chocolate and eating delicious French pastry together with Rinpoche after the teaching each night; and the pure-land like conditions at Institut Vajra Yogini--beautiful gardens, panoramic views of the French countryside, good food and warm-hearted volunteers and staff.

All these precious moments and conditions supported everyone in their effort to accumulate collectively more than ten million Vajrayogini mantras. The essence of the retreat was captured in this stanza of Merry Colony's praise to Rinpoche offered at the long-life puja:

While we may not have yet realized renunciation, bodhichitta, or emptiness,
There is one thing we do know without mistake or doubt:

When the kind and holy lord Guru is teaching,
There is nowhere else we ever, ever want to be.

Until enlightenment, may we always be among your foremost disciples fulfilling your every wish.

Big Love Update
I’m happy to report that our mammoth project, Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, is close to completion. The final design and proofing touches are being applied and soon it will be with our indexer. We hope to be printing in September. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be nearing the end of this amazing work, which began in 1992! This book really will be a milestone in Dharma publishing in the West, and I hope you all will buy a copy.
Our sincere thanks to all of you who have made a donation in support of the Big Love project. Donors of $250 or more will receive the books for free. If you would like to make a contribution, please do so here. Thank you for your support.
If you are unable to make a donation at this time, you can register your interest in purchasing a copy of the book when it is published by sending an email to [email protected]. When the book is available, we will email you with a link to place your order.
Thank you again for your interest in and support of LYWA. We couldn’t do it without you.

Much love,

Nick Ribush


Lama Yeshe teaching in the gompa at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974. Photo: Ursula Bernis.From Lama's point of view, Buddhism is about you. The subject of this meditation course is not Lama—Lama is not interested in talking about Lama—the subject of this meditation course is you; this course is about you.

So, learning Buddhism—learning about yourself—is that simple. It really is such a simple thing.

And Lama is not trying to be mystical, as written in some books, saying, "I am a magic Lama." We don't try to teach you that way. Actually, we don't need to show you how to make magic—your mind is already magic, isn't it? We've always made magic: for countless lives, and even from the time of our birth until now, we've been making magic, cheating ourselves. Nobody else has had to teach us—we've taught ourselves to cheat ourselves.

Our schizophrenic mind always blames others for our problems. From its point of view, "He is causing my problems, she's causing my problems, my parents are causing my problems, this society is causing my problems." From Lama's point of view, these are completely wrong conceptions; this way of thinking is schizophrenia, this is mental disease; with these wrong beliefs, misconceptions, you will never be able to solve problems.

We often think, "This is negative: that is negative." But we have a wrong conception about what causes negativity and the problems we experience are reactions to this wrong conception.

Therefore, you have to be determined that during this meditation course you are going to realize completely that the problem is your misconception and that the blame definitely does not lie with others.

We always think, "He makes my problems, she makes my problems," because our mind is not integrated. Our mind is split so we always blame this and that. We don't have straight understanding, right understanding, right view, right wisdom—that's why we're always confused.

But this time you have to decide clearly what really makes you happy and joyful and your life meaningful, and what makes you unhappy, sorrowful and depressed. If you come to this conclusion then your meditation course will have been worthwhile.

Don't think that meditation means merely sitting still trying to concentrate on only one thing. It's not just that—that's not nearly enough. If it were, that would mean that when you went back down to Kathmandu your concentration would disappear, and being left without wisdom there would be no benefit from having taken the meditation course. Rather, you should have great determination to develop discriminating wisdom by understanding perfectly clearly—at least intellectually—what really causes problems. In this way, even when you are not sitting cross-legged, trying to concentrate, but walking down a Kathmandu street or back in the West, you have something to hold onto, something that allows you to judge how your mind is interpreting things—you are aware.

Otherwise, if you don't have at least some intellectual method, how can you check yourself? There is no other way that you can check to see if your mind is on some illusory, samsaric trip, full of wrong conceptions or perceiving the right view. Without this, how can you know?

Why is it that many people say, "I"ve been meditating two years, six years, more ... but I'm nowhere. I've gained nothing!"? It's because they don't have understanding knowledge-wisdom; they cannot discriminate between right actions and wrong; they can't see.

Maybe you can say intellectually, "Oh, what is right? What is wrong? Right and wrong are the same thing." I'm sure many people in the West say "Oh, what's right? What's the use of saying this, Lama? It's all the same thing. Samsara is the same as nirvana." But this is a wrong conception; everything is mixed up. They cannot discriminate between what is reality and what is false, and all they are doing is using the terminology of Dharma wisdom in the wrong way.

Of course, in absolute terms the ultimate reality of right and wrong, or samsara and nirvana, is the same thing. But when somebody makes you agitated or angry and you get red in the face and start to tremble, can you say your peacefulness and your anger are the same thing or not? That example shows you reality and you should not get hung up on some intellectual point of view that is way up in the sky, while you are stuck down on the earth all tied up by that. It does not help because the words that you say are not true.

If somebody says to you, "Oh you are such a bad person," and someone else says, "Oh you are so good," it should never affect your mind. Good and bad come from within you and other people cannot make you good or bad. You have to realize this and once you have, you cannot be moved by what people say.

But, if somebody tells you how good you are and you say, "Oh yes, yes, yes," grasping at it, and somebody else tells you how bad you are and you say, "No, no, no," getting depressed as a result, that shows that the words you say—"Good and bad are the same thing"—come from merely intellectual garbage rather than from the realization of reality. If you really realized reality, it is reflected in your actions, which are not in conflict with your words. So whatever situation you are in, it does not matter—your mind is not moved, you always have control.

We usually think that our point of view is correct. Yet if somebody comes along and says, "You're completely wrong," we get nervous because we've picked up his idea—and that's all it is—and believed what we are doing is wrong. The idea alone makes us freak out. So our becoming agitated and freaked out does not come from absolute reality, does it? All we have picked up is the relative idea, yet we have become confused and upset. So this shows how we are, how our relative mind functions in normal, everyday life.

Checking this is much more interesting than talking a lot about some philosophical point of view, some higher subject. This isn't interesting—it does not help us because it is merely intellectual, it is still an idea. So when you get angry? Your anger is not an idea! Your jealousy is not an idea!

And also, you should know that Buddhism is not a diplomatic religion. Lamas are not diplomatic people! Without hesitation Lama will tell you about dirty things and kaka. It's true!

We always talk diplomatically, saying "Oh you're nice, you're nice," or "How are you today?" and so on. Of course, this is necessary in everyday life when we contact other human beings; being respectful to others is worthwhile. But when talking about the truth, Dharma wisdom, being diplomatically nice cannot help. You have to check up the nature of negativity; you have to check up the nature of positive. You should check up everyday. But I'm sure you people—all European people—always want to see only positive things in their life and the negative side gets hidden beneath your sweater!

But this is not the character of Lord Buddha. This is not the character of Buddhism. Really! Buddhism tells you exactly the way you think, the way you lead your daily life. Therefore, when you really communicate with Lama or with a Dharma book or whatever, you can correct your actions. It is fantastic for your mind—you can solve your schizophrenic mental problem. And then, whether others tell you you are right or wrong, it does not matter. Your being right or wrong does not depend upon the words of other people.

So you can see how much we're suffering from schizophrenic mental disease. Somebody will tell you that you are good: "Oh yes, yes—I'm good," you're up. Somebody tells you that you are bad: "Oh no, no—I'm bad," you're down. So that's really our mind's nature. That mind is samsara. Lama thinks that is samsara. Lord Buddha thinks that is samsara.

So what I am saying is that you should have perfect determination, knowing that understanding knowledge-wisdom is the only solution to problems, the only source of happiness and joy.

So that we call Dharma. Understanding wisdom is Dharma. Dharma is not this robe! And actual Dharma has nothing whatsoever to do with the culture of a particular country: it is not the culture of Western people nor the culture of Eastern people. Culture is the point of view of the ordinary people, the unwise majority who spend their whole time grasping at sense pleasures with attachment. Dharma wisdom has nothing whatsoever to do with the point of view of the foolish common people. Perhaps you could say that your understanding knowledge-wisdom is your own culture!

Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching at Kopan Course No. 7, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in Nov-Dec, 1974. You can read the complete teaching here on our website.