E-letter No. 219: September 2021

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #163)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the Fourth Meditation Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1973. Photo: Lynda Millspaugh.

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for your interest in and support of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Please feel free to share our monthly eletter everywhere!

Our latest free publication, The Nectar of Bodhicitta: Motivations for the Awakening Mind, is now being shipped to everyone who has requested a copy! This book presents Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings on bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment, with verses and commentary on two inspiring texts, The Jewel Lamp: A Praise of Bodhicitta by Khunu Lama Rinpoche and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva. If you would like a copy in either print or ebook format, please order here!

We are offering a copy, with free shipping, to all IMI monks and nuns who want it. Please email [email protected] with your preference of either print or ebook format. If you want a print copy of the book, please include your address and contact phone number, and also mention if you are part of an IMI community. Thank you!

We are also happy to send boxes of The Nectar of Bodhicitta (44 copies per box) to FPMT centers who want them. Centers will only need to cover the cost of shipping. If you'd like to request a box for your center, please email [email protected].

Thank you to everyone who helped to support this project. Your contributions made a difference!

ON THE LYWA PODCAST: Making This Precious Human Rebirth Meaningful

Be very clever: "I should be very skillful with my life from now on. I should be very careful with my life. I must make it, without wasting the precious human body which I have received now, without wasting it, I must make it meaningful, highly meaningful as much as I can."
  —Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing puja, Manjushri Institute, England, 1979. Photo: Brian Beresford.This month on the LYWA podcast we invite you to listen to foundational teachings from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the great preciousness of our perfect human rebirth. Rinpoche gave these teachings in August, 1979 in Cumbria, England. Read along with the transcript here.

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: How to Cut the Root of Samsara

This month from the video archive Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains what binds us to samsara from lifetime to lifetime and encourages us to take advantage of this understanding for the sake of all beings. Rinpoche explains that in order to cut the root of samsara, we must first clearly and correctly identify its cause. These teachings were given by Rinpoche at Kurukulla Center in Boston, Massachusetts in September, 1990.

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.

Lama Zopa teaching at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, May 1975. Photo: Wendy Finster.This month we have posted Lectures 13 to 23, teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from a one-month lamrim meditation course held at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, in May 1975. The course was based on The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun, Rinpoche’s first lamrim book, and includes wonderful stories from the life of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and other holy beings. You can read an excerpt from this course below.
We have also posted advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche about bhikshuni ordination, excerpted from a teaching given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Bendigo, Australia, in May 2018.
This month in our featured short video from FPMT's Essential Extracts series, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains that depression and anxiety can be overcome by practicing the good heart and cherishing others instead of oneself. Rinpoche also recommends practices to purify negative karma and collect merit, instead of just feeling sad. You can find links to the video here, or visit FPMT’s Essential Extracts webpage to browse the entire collection.
We also have new additions to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book to share with you:
  • Advice for Death Row Prisoner: A student had been helping a prisoner on death row for about fifteen years. They had studied many texts and were reciting the sutras and reading commentaries. The student asked Rinpoche for advice on what they should study and practice next, and whether they should do a more direct meditation on emptiness.
  • Thanks for Your Wishes and Prayers: A family offered Rinpoche a special Padmasambhava thangka after he manifested a stroke in April 2011. Rinpoche thanked the family for their gift and advised that his sickness was a great teaching and an incredible way for people all over the world to collect merit.
  • Success for New Director and Center: Rinpoche advised these practices for a new director and the center to overcome obstacles.
  • Thanks for Ten Years of Service: A student offered practices they had done and also thanked Rinpoche for being able to work for the last ten years in the Dharma center’s office.

You can always find a list of all the newly posted advices from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on our website.

Archiving For the Future
The two main pillars of the Archive’s mission are archiving and dissemination. As a reader of our monthly eletter you know that it’s filled with all the ways we share the contents of the Archive with everyone around the world through our books, e-publications, website, podcasts, youtube and social media. We don’t often talk about all the work behind the scenes which make all this dissemination possible: the collection and cataloguing of recordings and transcripts that are the basis for all our publications.
The LYWA, in partnership with FPMT Inc., is in the process of moving our collections of audio and video recordings, images and transcripts into a fully integrated digital asset management system called AssetBank. This process includes verifying the relevant information about each file, identifying and weeding out duplicates, and assigning tags and categories that improve organization and make the files easily retrievable through browsing and searches. This shared system provides tools for improved communication and collaboration among archive administrators, transcribers and editors across the entire organization.
Our move to AssetBank helps ensure that the collection of all these assets – the words and images of our precious lamas – are protected and well cared for into the future. The system is safe, supported and well documented, making management of the archive collection transferrable to future generations of administrators. And, once the system is fully populated, we hope to be able to open up various collections of assets for viewing and searching by anyone in the wider FPMT community. We’ll keep you up to date on our progress!

As always, thanks for all your support. Please enjoy this month’s teaching, an excerpt from a teaching given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the one-month lamrim course held at Chenrezig Institute, Australia in 1975.

Big love,

Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: Stories of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s Powers

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in meditation on Saka Dawa at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, May 25, 1975. Photo: Wendy Finster.The Buddha is a worthwhile object of refuge because Buddha himself is released from all suffering and fears. For instance, in the example we talked about in the morning, he fought thousands and thousands of maras only with his pure thought, love, the great Mahayana love. Just even thinking of this, it is unbelievable, it's unbelievable. The highest person in the world, such as the king, no matter if their position is of the highest rank, it is nothing compared to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's knowledge. No matter how much material power, even the whole world, even the whole universe, all the material power of countries, all the weapons, all the different countries’ material power—there's nothing to compare with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's mind, the power of his pure thought, nothing to compare.

In the world, even those who are recognized as very knowledgeable and very powerful, who have a higher rank, instead of having pure thoughts and controlling others or subduing their enemies through the power of love, they have anger and pride and other negative minds arising, and then they harm others. So, it’s completely the opposite action.

There are so many other stories and examples from previous times. Ajatashatru always competed with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, all the time. He tried to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and to stop him in many different ways. When Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did something, Ajatashatru was always competing. One day this Ajatashatru—who actually was a king who had murdered his own father—sent a mad elephant, a very crazy elephant, while Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and hundreds and thousands of his disciples, those who also had high psychic powers, many arhats, were coming to beg in the village. This king, who was recognized as the evil king Ajatashatru, sent a crazy elephant from the field onto the road. This crazy elephant ran and killed many people and made much damage.

As they were coming to beg in the town, carrying bowls, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's disciples, who were arhats, who had very high psychic powers, couldn't stand the crazy elephant, so they all flew into space! They all flew into space! Only Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was left on the road. The king aimed to destroy, to harm, to kill Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, something like this. However, the crazy elephant, the foolish animal couldn't give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha at all. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had no fear, not a single fear. All the rest, those arhats, the other followers who had very high powers, all flew away. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had not one single fear of the crazy animal.

Instead of the crazy elephant giving harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, when in the presence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha he could not do anything, his rage completely subsided and he gave respect to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Then Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who has such incredible powers and understanding to guide the sentient beings, subdued the crazy elephant and explained the teachings. Although this king tried to give harm Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in many ways he couldn’t harm him.

There was not one single fear. There was one person called Angulimala, who was the person in previous stories who killed 999 people, almost one thousand, except for one person. Except for one person it would have become one thousand! During the time of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, he was one person who was recognized as a very evil person. So, this person called Angulimala was trying to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going to make holy works for sentient beings, when he was begging. But even though Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was going so slowly, so slowly, and Angulimala was trying to run so fast, however fast he tried to run, he never reached close enough to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. He was running so fast but somehow he didn’t reach even though Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was walking so slowly, not so fast, just there in front. So afterwards, he asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, “Why is it that I run to give harm, but no matter how much I try to run so fast, I never catch you? What caused it?” Afterwards he asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha this.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has incredible powers and cannot be given harm by evil sentient beings. Also one benefactor invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to his home, actually not with pure thought but in order to give harm, to destroy Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. The family arranged to give harm to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, so before inviting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha they made holes in front of their door. Where there was a path to enter the house, they dug many very deep holes. They filled the holes with hot coals and the big holes were covered with dust on the surface, so that when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha walked there he would fall down. This was what they were expecting.

So they invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who accepted the invitation. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples were coming on that day and beforehand Guru Shakyamuni Buddha had told his disciples he would go first. The families who invited Guru Shakyamuni Buddha were thinking that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha didn't know anything, because that was the way they saw Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, their mind projection. They didn't see Guru Shakyamuni Buddha as enlightened, as he has complete power of the knowledge of omniscient mind. They saw him as an ordinary person who didn't know, so they invited him with the projection that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha would fall in the hole with the fire. Of course, there was no problem for Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, he clearly sees, he's a holy being who sees all past, present and future. He has no problem seeing any existence.

So they were coming and when they were near the house, before walking on this road, underneath which there was a hole and fire, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha told his disciples that he would go first. As Guru Shakyamuni walked on this path, on each step, instead of falling in this hole on the path covered by dust, on that road, there were lotuses appearing as he was taking steps. He took steps on the lotuses. Just as there are lotuses on the water, like this, lotuses appeared and he walked on the lotuses instead of experiencing the suffering of falling down in the fire. Then all his disciples came and walked on the lotuses. They also walked on lotuses. So that family couldn't give harm, anything.

This teaching is an excerpt from Lecture 19 given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche during the Lamrim Meditation Course at Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Australia, in May 1975. You can find more lectures from this course here on our website.