E-letter No. 221: November 2021

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #1096)
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche making Chenrezig tsa tsas on the rooftop at Kopan Monastery, 1973.

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!

And again, I really want to again thank everybody who has ever contributed to the Archive. Your support is the only way we can keep doing what we do. Thank you so, so much.

As you probably know, we have just launched our annual year-end appeal. This year our goal is $50,000, and so far we have received about $10,000, for which we are extremely grateful. If you possibly can, please help us to reach our year-end goal by making a contribution today so that together we can continue preserving and disseminating the Dharma in 2022.

This month, and every month, we bring you a new video, a new podcast, new teachings on our website and more advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. We especially love Robyn Brentano’s interview with Lama Zopa Rinpoche. All this and more is what you support. Thank you.

And finally, check out our Big Love offer!

From the LYWA Video Archive: An interview with Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This month from the video archive we bring you an historic interview of Lama Zopa Rinpoche conducted by Robyn Brentano during the first Enlightened Experience Celebration (EEC1) in 1982. In this interview Rinpoche gives intimate meditation advice for beginning Buddhists, explains emptiness in detail and describes what happens when the object of emptiness is mistaken or rejected. Interview transcribed by Thubten Munsel & Marta Łuczyńska; edited and subtitles by Megan Evart.

Visit and subscribe to the LYWA YouTube channel to view 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: Subduing the Mind

If one practices mindfulness in the reality of these things, which is impermanence, there is liberation from samsara.
—Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Sydney, Australia, 1975. This month on the LYWA podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains how subduing the mind by meditating on the reality of impermanence is the method by which we can become liberated from samsara. Many of the powerful and poignant examples Rinpoche uses to illustrate impermanence are also used as classic illustrations of emptiness. These teachings were given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Sydney, Australia, in 1993. 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 and Zina Rachevsky at Lawudo Retreat Center, Nepal, 1969. Photo: George Luneau.This month we have posted teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the 30th Kopan Meditation Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 1997. Rinpoche discusses many essential lamrim topics and in the final discourse he advises the importance of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend and gives a detailed explanation of the refuge merit field visualization.

Every month we share new advices for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book, adding more than 100 new entries every year on a variety of topics. There are now more than 2,200 of Rinpoche’s precious advices online. Be sure to read the short and simple advice that Rinpoche gave to students on a lamrim retreat at Lawudo Retreat Center in Nepal.

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

Give the Gift of Big Love

Big Love, at FPMT International Office, Portland, Oregon, June 2020.  We are extremely fortunate to be able to be dedicating our time and resources to the spread of Dharma, the actual solution to all the world’s problems. It is only through your kind and generous support that LYWA is able to do this. 

In gratitude for your support of our work, we are making a special offering to all donors:

  • If you contribute $125 or more to our year-end appeal, we will send you or any person or center you designate a copy of the sensational Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe.
  • If you would simply like to buy a copy of Big Love, from now until the end of the year we are offering it for only $48 plus shipping and handling. That’s a $37 discount!

Please take advantage of this special offer and help us make our year-end appeal a success by making your donation here.

And please enjoy this month’s teaching, an excerpt from teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the 30th Kopan Meditation Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 1997. 

Big love,

Nick Ribush


Long Life Puja for Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, 2010. Photo: Mikk Tamme.Because many of us are beginners, just starting out fresh, it is very important to know as much as possible about the teachings of guru devotion. Why? By knowing the teachings of the practice of guru devotion well, we make less mistakes from the beginning and then there will be less problems, less shortcomings and more success.

The real success that comes from this is achieving realizations. So much of the success in the world, what ordinary people regard as success, is success in creating negative karma. It’s how much you can defeat others, how much you can destroy or kill your enemies. That is the common people’s definition of success, those who are not practitioners of Dharma, but in reality that is only success in creating negative karma.

The real success in our life is how much we can practice Dharma, how much we can benefit others, how much we can achieve realizations. That’s the real success. The best success is being able to achieve the realization of bodhicitta. Among all the realizations, that is the best success. Of realizing emptiness or realizing bodhicitta, the one we regard as more successful is realizing bodhicitta, because with even a direct realization of emptiness the highest we can achieve is arhatship, not enlightenment. We cannot even become a Mahayanist; we cannot even enter the Mahayana path without bodhicitta, therefore we cannot do perfect work for sentient beings.

So coming back to what I was saying about real success, the greatest success is having realizations of the path to enlightenment, therefore this is the most important thing in life for us and for other sentient beings. Making mistakes in relation to the gurus becomes the heaviest obstacle to our inner development, and the most important thing in our life is having realizations on the path to enlightenment in order to be able to benefit other sentient beings.

Therefore, it is very important, especially as we are just beginning to follow the path, to start from the beginning correctly, with as many teachings on guru devotion as possible in order to avoid making mistakes. Otherwise, if from the beginning there is no understanding of how to devote to the virtuous friend—all these incredible advantages of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend and all the unbelievably heavy shortcomings of making mistakes in our relationship with the gurus—without understanding from the beginning how important it is, there is no opportunity to put it into practice. But if we can put it into practice, everything goes very smoothly. Life goes very smoothly; it is very stable and there is so much peace and happiness in our heart. We achieve so much satisfaction. It is very easy to have realizations without hardships, with very little effort. We might think that gaining realizations requires so much hardship and takes so many years, that we have to overcome so many obstacles, but it not like that. Even by doing a very short meditation, even just thinking about the subject a little bit, then it becomes very easy to have a realization. Just thinking about that subject for a very short time, the effect is so strong—everything goes very smoothly and it is very easy to have realizations.

Then not only this life, but also from life to life, we progress even more; it becomes so much easier in the next life. We are able to meet gurus like Lama Tsongkhapa, like Manjushri, like Maitreya Buddha, like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; we are able to meet gurus like that in the next life and in our future lives, gurus who have all the qualities. We are able to meet them and see all these qualities, and we are able to achieve enlightenment quickly.

If we don’t understand the great advantages of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend and the heavy shortcomings of making mistakes in our relationship with the virtuous friend; unless we understand the entire teachings on guru devotion, knowing how to devote correctly to the virtuous friend, we make mistakes with one guru and then, when we meet another guru, we also make mistakes. In that way, we become habituated in making mistakes with other gurus.

Then, the rest of our life can become very messy; it can not only be very difficult to achieve realizations but many problems can happen in this life. Because the object, the guru, is the most powerful object among the powerful objects, a small negative karma in relation to the guru, such as showing a little disrespect, becomes so heavy that we start to experience its results in this very lifetime. Conversely, even a small positive thing we do in relation to the guru, such as showing a little respect, becomes very powerful positive karma, so powerful we start to experience the positive results, the happiness, in this life.

It is not only difficult to have realizations when we make mistakes in our relationship with the guru, we also encounter so many problems in this life. Besides there being no happiness, even the little experience of meditation we might have had, the little understanding of the Dharma, degenerates completely; we lose it completely. Our mind becomes very hard, like a stone in the ocean which, however long it has been in the water, never becomes soft. It remains hard for a hundred thousand years. The mind is always hard, completely blocked; nothing is working, nothing is happening in the mind.

Therefore now, because many of us are beginners, before we make all those mistakes, we need to start correctly from the beginning. If our relationship is good from the beginning, all the rest of the realizations up to enlightenment become successful, and then all the work we do for sentient beings becomes most extensive, most successful; we can be of great benefit.

If in our guru devotion practice we make mistakes in correctly devoting to the virtuous friend, as I mentioned before, it becomes a blockage to all the realizations up to enlightenment. We are then unable to benefit sentient beings; it becomes a blockage to being able to offer great benefit to sentient beings. All the other successes are dependent on this one. That’s why guru devotion practice is called the root of the path to enlightenment.

This teaching is an excerpt from teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the 30th Kopan Meditation Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 1997. You can find more of this teaching here on our website.