E-letter No. 206: August 2020

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #1441)
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1978. Photo by Robin Bath.

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your interest in LYWA. We're delighted to be sending you our 206th eletter! Please share it far and wide.

I'm really happy to report that Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe is being extremely well received. After the decades of work that went into it and the ego-breaking support of countless benefactors, large and small, it is very gratifying that the book came out so well. Thank you so much everybody! Recently we heard from the great lama H.E. Loden Sherab Dagyab Kyabgoen Rinpoche:

The two volumes of Lama Yeshe's biography got to us yesterday. We thank you very, very much for sending this monumental work. It covers the period of time when Tibetan Buddhist teachers attracted people from all over the world. Of course, Lama Yeshe was one of the most prominent teachers of this revival. Our congratulations and gratitude to all involved in this mammoth publication.

To see what other people are saying, go here!

New book coming

Not to rest on our laurels, in collaboration with Ven. Robina Courtin, founder of Liberation Prison Project, we will soon be publishing a book of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice to prisoners, compiled and edited by Ven. Robina.

Enjoy Life Liberated from the Inner Prison: Then the Outer Prison Won't Become the Real Prison is a compilation of advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of LPP, in response to letters from more than one hundred prisoners, mainly in the USA, edited into a coherent narrative. Rinpoche’s advice is that, actually, their prison “is nothing in comparison with their inner prison — the prison of anger, the prison of attachment, the prison of ignorance.” That prison, Rinpoche says, they can change. And why should they? Because, simply put, happiness and suffering come from the mind, not the external world. 

More news about this exciting project in next month's eletter.

The LYWA Podcast: The Power of Positive Attitude
When we protect our mind, we protect our life.—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche in front of the Lawudo Lama's cave at Lawudo Retreat Centre, Nepal, 1978. Photo: Ueli Minder.This month on the LYWA podcast we bring you teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche given in June 2008 at the White Eagle Conference Center in Crestone, Colorado. In this excerpt, Rinpoche explains that when we practice a positive attitude, the good heart, we cause ourselves and everyone around us to be happy and healthy. Rinpoche notes that the good heart is so powerfully protective that a person doesn’t necessarily need a Buddhist motivation for their actions to become Dharma. You can read along with the transcript here 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.
From the Video Archive: Lama Yeshe on Tantra

This month from the video archive is Lama Yeshe's wonderful introduction to tantra given at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Pomaia, Italy, in October 1982, during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's tour through Europe. Lama also answers questions from the students and leads them all in gales of laughter.  Produced by Geoff Jukes, photographed by Roland Stutz, edited by Brian Beresford, subtitled by Megan Evart. While watching Lama give these teachings adds immeasurably to their impact, you can also read an expertly edited version of them here on our website

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.

We have now posted all 18 lectures by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from the 36th annual meditation course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2003. Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall. Rinpoche teaches on a range of topics, including refuge, motivation, Medicine Buddha and seven-limb practice, the purpose of our life, emptiness and much more. Other highlights of these teachings include Rinpoche’s inspiring dedications at the end of each session and his advice on how to continue Dharma practice after returning to the West. Visit the Index Page for an outline of the topics discussed in each of the lectures.

Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme)Also new to our website is a message from Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme) explaining the purpose of a series of ritual practices she initiated in order to pacify and extinguish the COVID-19 pandemic. More than forty fire pujas have now been completed by a group of lamas, including Lama Zopa Rinpoche, in various locations in Nepal. Khadro-la's message, with Tibetan, English and Italian translations, is freely available as a PDF, produced by Piero Sirianni, for viewing on your mobile device or computer. Visit FPMT News to see photos and videos of these events.

New to our Heart Sutra webpage is a freely available PDF of the Heart Sutra, with Tibetan, English and Italian translations, produced by Piero Sirianni, for viewing on your mobile device or computer. You can also visit this FPMT webpage to find more Heart Sutra resources, including translations into several languages.

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

  • Depression After Bereavement: A student had become depressed and unwell following the death of a close relative. Rinpoche offered this advice about experiencing sickness for sentient beings.
  • How to Achieve Real Happiness: Rinpoche sent this long letter to a prisoner who requested advice on how to think while incarcerated.
  • It Is Best to Live in Morality: A student wrote to Rinpoche about his relationship problems and his search for true love. Rinpoche responded with this extensive advice on karma, using the example of sexual misconduct.
  • Medicine Buddha Practice to Pacify Problems in the World: This letter was sent to a student who had been in retreat for several years and was about to start Medicine Buddha practice.
You can always find a list of all the newly posted advices from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on our website.
Offering Up Big Love

Lama Yeshe having tea at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1978.Due to the kindness of generous sponsors, we have been able to offer a free copy of Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe with shipping included to each International Mahayana Institute (IMI) Sangha member who wants one. So far nearly one hundred copies have been distributed to IMI monks and nuns all over the world. Thank you to all who stepped forward to make this happen!

"I and other Sangha are deeply appreciative of those whose generosity is enabling us to experience this amazing perspective of a truly holy being revealing Buddhism in Lama's unique life. A legacy and beneficial achievement that will last forever."
— Ven. Lhundup Chonyi

Recently the FPMT center Tse Chen Ling in San Francisco hosted an online gathering for old students to share their memories of Lama Yeshe. You can watch and listen to the gathering on Facebook as they continue to add to the oral history of this extraordinary teacher. Their stories give a taste of Lama Yeshe's unique skills in expressing wisdom, compassion and humor. 

And if you find yourself on Facebook, consider joining the celebration of Lama Yeshe happening in the Lama Thubten Yeshe Group. Share how Lama Yeshe inspires you now and forever, every day and in every way!

Some updates on shipping options: we still have a discounted rate for Australian orders of Big Love, and a discounted rate for Europe and UK is in the works. And, we’ve had to take Media Mail off our website as a shipping option for US orders since it is no longer reliable.

We would also like to remind you to please add an enthusiastic review of Big Love to the Big Love Amazon page. By adding your review, you help create the causes for Amazon to recommend Big Love to more and more people. Please help us to offer up Big Love to all beings everywhere (or at least those that find themselves on Amazon!).

Big love,

Nick Ribush



Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the 12th Meditation Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1979. Photo: Ina Van Delden.Whenever we have taken another body, those aggregates are also in the nature of suffering—experiencing rebirth, old age, sicknesses and death, worry, fears, not receiving desirable objects and so forth. Even after putting so much effort into that, we are still unable to find a desirable object, or even if we do find one, there is another problem, we still can’t find satisfaction. We can’t find satisfaction, our mind is still empty, our heart is still empty. We are still crying, there is unhappiness inside. There is a hole in our heart, always wanting more and better, always. There is no end to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the biggest problem in our life. The major sickness of our mind is dissatisfaction.

We can say that the major problem, the greatest sickness of the mind, is dissatisfaction, or we can say our major problem is desire. They are two ways of putting it. For some people, maybe, it’s possible maybe to have more anger than desire, I don’t know, maybe not, but I think more anger. Desire will be there all the time, but on top of that there is more anger. It is more suffering, being more impatient or angry. So much of the problem is desire; it is really the whole world’s problem.

When there is stronger desire, then there is also anger. When somebody interferes with that desire, anger will arise very easily. I think it’s kind of related. Whenever somebody interferes with our desire then anger arises. Desire doesn’t get what it wants because somebody interferes with that, then anger arises.

Even many of our health problems come from desire. That has been discovered by a number of scientists who studied it. Among people who have a more angry character, a more impatient nature, among those people, there are more heart attacks. Through scientific analysis, there have been studies showing that there are more heart attacks among people who are impatient. And that is due to desire, basically it is due to desire. Immediately, when there is anger, why? Because of desire, we didn’t get what we want, so anger rises.

[Desire causes] so much of the sickness we experience, no question about AIDS, cancer. For so much of disease, the main cause is related to desire. If we analyze the action created out of desire, we harm others but we first harm ourselves. First there are those delusions of desire and then karma, those actions, and then we experience the result, all those many sicknesses.

In the case of business, business problems come from desire. For example, the more profit a businessman makes, by following desire, it is never enough and he always wants more and more. If he makes a thousand dollars profit, then he wants ten thousand dollars profit; if he is able to make ten thousand dollars profit, he wants to make one hundred thousand dollars profit and then a million dollars profit. If he succeeds in making a million dollars profit, then he is not happy until he makes a hundred million dollars profit. If he gets one hundred million, then he has to make a billion dollars profit. If he is able to get a billion dollars, then he wants to get a zillion dollars profit. If he gets a zillion dollars profit, then it’s a trillion dollars profit. Then I am not sure.

Of course after some time, because life is not permanent, death ends his business. Not that death ceases the desire, but his life is ended by death. Otherwise, there would be no end to it. No matter how much profit he made, no matter how much he was able to gain, he would always want more and more. This is how it happens if we just follow desire. If we live life only with desire, this is how life goes. Of course, after some time, there is no choice. Life is in the nature of impermanence, so it’s ended by death.

By following desire, we will also want more and more. Because of desire, by following desire, we will also want more and more, more than others. And more than others, we have worries and fears—worry and fear that others might become richer than us—and jealousy and all that. So when we become wealthy there is a different kind of suffering.

First, when we are poor we have suffering, the suffering of poverty, but when we become wealthy there is different suffering. As long as we are in samsara life is like this, only in the nature of suffering, whether we are poor or whether we are rich.

Living life only with desire, not practicing contentment, satisfaction, we try so many ways to make more money, to have more wealth. Then we get involved in illegal things in order to get more. Then, after some time we end with a bad reputation in the world, and after some time, we get exposed. Somebody exposes our mistake and at the end of our life we have a bad reputation, and we end up in the jail, in prison. After all that, our life ends in prison. That’s how life ends, turning out like that. From being famous, the end of life is something very bad.

So all those things—including bad reputation in the world and worries, fears for the family and all those—are shortcomings of desire, all those are shortcomings of following desire.

This teaching was given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 36th Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2003. The transcript was lightly edited by Gordon McDougall. You can find the entire teaching here on our website.