E-letter No. 203: May 2020

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your interest in LYWA’s monthly eletters. Please share this one with anybody you think might be interested.

Well, unless you’ve just come out of strict retreat you’ll know that Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe is out and about! Eager readers in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States, Canada and elsewhere have received their copies; the shipment has arrived in the UK and is in the process of being transported to Jamyang Centre, London, for distribution; and the shipment to IVY, France, for pan-European distribution is expected to arrive on Saturday, May 30.

This is what people are saying already:

Thank you and congratulations! We received a copy of Big Love and are in love, swimming in an ocean of love, with the reading and learning about Lama Yeshe. The writing, layout and graphics are all exquisite — every aspect. Your care and attention to detail and accuracy are evident with every page. We are deeply grateful to you for your protective force-field and nurturing around this project of love. It will be a blessing of light and warmth to this world that is so desperately in need of love and wisdom.—USA

Although I've only just begun the reading, it feels like I'm going on a magical journey. —USA

There is no doubt that the sublime teachings embedded in these volumes will definitely help alleviate the sufferings of innumerable sentient beings, in general, and will become an elixir for those particularly affected by the psychological trauma and physical discomfort in this challenging and uncertain time of COVID-19. —Australia

Imagine my delight to receive a copy of Big Love today. My thanks to you all and to Adele. So much work and love has gone into this, it is just wonderful. I have been unwell in recent years and hoped that I would live long enough to see the completion of the Great Stupa and this publication. So I am overjoyed that I have lived long enough to see both. Winter is on its way here and with the COVID-19 restrictions, what better way to spend time than in a chair in front of the heater reading Big Love. As one who never met Lama but benefited enormously from his work I look forward to diving into these books. —Australia

When you get your copy we would love to hear what you think!

If you have not yet ordered your copy you can do so here, and soon you will be enjoying Big Love as much as the people above! Thank you so much.

ADVICE for the Coronavirus
As you probably know, Lama Zopa Rinpoche is giving special COVID-19-related teachings from Kopan these days. You’ll find the transcripts in four languages here. This month’s teaching is an excerpt from one given on April 21, 2020 at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. Transcribed by Joan Nicell. You can watch the video here and access all of the transcripts for Rinpoche's COVID teachings here.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that reciting the Arya Tara mantra can help others from falling ill. Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme) has also written a praise to Tara that we plan to share with you in our upcoming mailing on Saka Dawa, June 5, so keep an eye out for that!
From the video archive

We’ve added English subtitles to Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s 2003 teaching that we shared with you last month. These teachings are based on the life of Jetsun Milarepa, the great enlightened Tibetan meditator who lived in the 11th century. By devoting ourselves to Guru Milarepa, Rinpoche explains how we can free our minds and transform our lives.
We’re also delighted to share a playlist of video of Lama Yeshe with Italian subtitles translated by Siliana Bosa for the benefit of all our Italian-speaking friends.
Visit and subscribe to the LYWA YouTube channel to view dozens more videos freely available from our archive. See also the FPMT YouTube channel for many more videos of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings.
This month on the LYWA Podcast: The Nature of the Mind on the Path
Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing puja, Manjushri Institute, England, 1979. Photo: Brian Beresford.Taking refuge, now, becomes a very serious matter or serious practice, very fundamental, like the earth is used for many things, roads, houses, to grow food, crops, plants and so forth; the earth is used for so many things, for happiness. —Lama Zopa Rinpoche
This month's podcast highlights teachings on the nature of the mind on the path to enlightenment, including extensive teachings on refuge, given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Twenty-Eighth Kopan Meditation Course in November, 1995. You can read along with the transcript on our website.
The LYWA podcast contains hundreds of hours of audio, each with links to the accompanying lightly edited transcripts. See the LYWA podcast page to search or browse the entire collection by topic or date, and for easy instructions on how to subscribe.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching in Singapore, 2010. Photo: Tan Seow Kheng. We have just posted the eighth discourse from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Teachings at the Kadampa Deities Retreat, given at Institut Vajra Yogini, France, 2003. In this teaching Rinpoche begins with an explanation of the transitory nature of phenomena, and continues with the correct motivation, the purpose of our life and how we can benefit others. Rinpoche also shares stories about Gen Jampa Wangdu and Lama Yeshe, and about his own childhood in Solu Khumbu, Nepal. The teaching concludes with an explanation of the twelve links of dependent origination and how to use this in our meditation practice.

Also new this month is the Wheel of Sharp Weapons by Dharmarakshita, a ninth-century Indian scholar, translated from the Tibetan by Ven. Joan Nicell (Getsulma Tenzin Chöden) in December 2006. This text combines teachings on lojong (mind training) with the lamrim, especially karma. It is freely available for download as a PDF file, produced by Piero Sirianni.

Also this month we have new additions to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book to share with you:

  • Offering Service to Others, Who Are Most Precious and Kind: A student wrote about a friend who had impaired mobility and needed assistance with washing, eating and toileting. Rinpoche wrote this letter explaining karma and the importance of serving that person gently and sweetly, with compassion.
  • How Fortunate You Are: A student was going to prison for two years and asked what practices they could do there. Rinpoche advised how to use the time in prison to practice Dharma.
  • Depression and Suicidal Thoughts: A student wrote to Rinpoche about her twenty-year-old daughter, whose depression had become serious. The student requested Rinpoche’s help and protection.
  • Kindness and Generosity Will Bring Success: Rinpoche gave this advice to students whose business was struggling.
You can always find a list of all the newly posted advices from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on our website.
Thank you again for reading and sharing these monthly eletters. Please let us know if we can do anything for you.

Big love,

Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: No Choice But to Develop Compassion and Bodhicitta

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching from Kopan, May 2020. Photo: Ven. Tenzin Tsomo.Bodhicitta, so every single animal—we are talking about animals because animals you can see—every single ant, there is not one single ant not covered by your bodicitta, by that, who has bodhicitta. They are completely covered by your bodhicitta. Every single ant, not one ant is left out, not one fish is left out in the ocean, lama khyenlama khyen,not one tiny insect, no matter how tiny it is, bodhicitta is on that, great compassion and bodhicitta. Lama khyenlama khyen. So whatever you do, everything, even breathing, everything you do with that, as we are talking animals, every single animal, not one tiny animal, physically with this eye you cannot see it but through a machine you can see it, so tiny one, amazing is bodhicitta, really, really, really, if you have realization. Then, of course, even [people] like us, if you generate the motivation of bodhicitta, most lucky, most lucky to be able to do that. We are the most lucky to be able generate bodhicitta, the motivation of bodhicitta at least.

Then to have the time to develop bodhicitta, lamrim, guru devotion, correctly devoting to the virtuous friend, then there is the graduated path of a lower capable being, perfect human rebirth and so forth; then after, karma... How it is highly beneficial, difficult to find, then nine-round impermanence, impermanence-death, then the lower realm sufferings, then the power and qualities of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, then karma. Then the graduated path of a middle capable being, how samsara is the nature of suffering, like the three different sufferings, the four different sufferings, the six different sufferings, like that, the sufferings of each realm, how you suffer in samsara, totally. The graduated path, then depending on that, because of that, then practicing the three higher trainings. Then on the basis of that, renunciation. Then generate compassion to sentient beings, then bodhicitta, the graduated path of a higher capable being. 

Bodhicitta Covers All Sentient Beings No Matter Their Nationality or Color

So even if you meditate on bodhicitta, like that, even if you meditate on bodhicitta, it covers all sentient beings. Numberless human beings, there is no nationality, there is kind of no color, all those, there is nothing like that. It includes your enemy, friend, stranger. If you have an enemy, they are included there. Can you imagine? So if you are meditating on bodhicitta, doing motivation, generating the motivation, you can see you are the most lucky person. You are the most lucky person. It is amazing. This is really amazing, your life, ah-hah, you can see. What I was going to say?

Given the Current World Situation There is No Choice but to Develop Compassion

What I was going to say is, this situation, the world situation of the virus, as I mentioned how many people are dead in the world, and just even in America, then in other countries like Italy. That, for us, by thinking well, even if you don’t know karma, it came from the mind, the negative mind, even if you don’t know karma, but still if you think of others, there is no choice—you have to develop compassion, no choice. You have to feel compassion, no choice. There is so much suffering, even if you don’t know karma, it is like that. Then, of course, if you think of karma, the cause... It is not kind of dropped the virus by the God, without causes or conditions. It is not like that. The karma is deeper. The cause, you have to think of the cause. It is due to ignorance not knowing Dharma, not knowing karma. It really makes you feel deeper compassion to others. Then, then, that helps you to abandon negative karma, the cause of suffering, and the cause of happiness, virtue, to practice. It inspires you to do that, to do that to help others. So that is incredible. Okay.

The Doctors and Nurses who, Having Dedicated Their Lives to Others, Die will Never be Reborn in the Lower Realms

So what I’m going to say is, I mentioned it already before, all those doctors and nurses who dedicate their life... Even though there is the danger that you may get the disease, the contagious disease, but then they dedicate their life. Really they want to serve. From the heart they want to serve, to take care. Oh, then that, if they get the disease and die, if for that they die, oh, they will never get reborn in the lower realms. Never. And that is the best. It is the best thing—it saved them from the lower realms and they go to a pure land, opportunity to go to a pure land, to be born in a pure land, like Amitabha. Or then the other people, [opportunity] to get a higher rebirth, deva and human body. It is like that for those who sincerely want to help. Because anyway you have to die, anyway. Not only you. [Thinking] you never die in this world, you are born in the world but never die, only by the virus, oh, that, not like that. That is totally, that is totally wrong. It is not like that, that you never die. So it is better... To die with some negative mind, anger, attachment, heavy negative mind, negative karma, something terrible, then you die, oh, that is very bad.  Oh, with that you have to be reborn in the lower realms. You have to watch, we have to watch our mind. That is the main meditation. That is the real practice Dharma, to protect the mind from suffering, from the non virtue to protect the mind, and to keep the mind in virtue, the cause of happiness up to enlightenment, not only the happiness of this life, not only the happiness of this life, but liberation and enlightenment. Wow, wow, wow. There are many levels of happiness. 

Anyway you have to die. Then dying with these terrible things, negative karma, woooow. So then it is better here, you feel compassion to help, wow, so much, so much suffering. That is a very good death. His Holiness often says that dying with bodhicitta is the best death. Think like that.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching on April 21, 2020 at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. Transcribed by Ven. Joan Nicell. You can find and read the entire teaching here.