E-letter No. 236: February 2023

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #1413)
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche walking from Diamond Valley to Chenrezig Institute land, Australia, September 1974. Photo: Wendy Hobbs.

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, Losar, the first day of the Tibetan New Year, was on February 21. It kicked off the Fifteen Days of Miracles when Guru Shakyamuni Buddha showed miraculous powers in order to subdue those who lacked faith in him, and to inspire more faith in his followers.

All fifteen days are merit multiplying days, when the merit of virtuous actions performed on these days is multiplied by 100 million, as cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from the vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic. Please see Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice on how to make Losar and the Fifteen Days of Miracle most beneficial. A big thank you to everyone who donated to us over Losar. Your generosity and support is greatly appreciated!

Be sure to take a look at FPMT’s 2022 Annual Review and don’t miss out on Rinpoche’s great teaching on patience within it.

In this month's issue we have a new Lama Yeshe video, a podcast teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, many new Italian translations, two new lectures and advices by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, as well as a great discount on Big Love during the Fifteen Days of Miracles. Read on and enjoy!

From the Video Archive: Lama Yeshe and The Mind of Bodhicitta

This month from the video archive, Lama Yeshe discusses the mind of bodhicitta in practical and accessible terms. Ven. Marcel Bertels was present to translate the teachings into Dutch. These teachings were hosted by Maitreya Instituut in Naarden, the Netherlands in October, 1980.

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.

On the LYWA Podcast: We Are the Cure of Our Own Samsara

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Lawudo Retreat Centre, Nepal, 1990. Photo: Merry Colony.All our suffering is caused by our belief that even though the I is merely labeled on the aggregates, it exists from its own side. This sickness is the root of all our suffering and our cure is our wisdom.
  –Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This month on the LYWA podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives a short vivid explanation about how we circle in samsara, why we circle, and whose fault it is that we circle and suffer. This teaching is from the Fourteenth Kopan Course, 1981. Read along with the transcript on our website 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.


This month we have posted two more lectures by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Teachings at the Kadampa Deities Retreat held in France in 2003. In Lecture 16, Rinpoche explains that everything is a creation of mind and problems arise because we believe things are truly existent. In Lecture 17, Rinpoche advises that the purpose of our life is not just to accrue wealth or achieve power and fame. In these lectures, Rinpoche also gives commentary on the Thirty-five Buddhas, Namgyalma mantra, Lama Chöpa, and the Request to the Supreme Compassionate One.

We have new Italian translations to share with you, published by Nalanda Edizioni, a publishing house affiliated with FPMT. New translations include Lamrim Year by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Teachings From Tibet by various lamas, The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism by Lama Yeshe, and Virtue and Reality, Enjoy Life Liberated from the Inner Prison, and The Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

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 18 languages!

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.

  • Abandon Eating Fish: This letter was sent to the owner of a guesthouse where Rinpoche had stayed. Rinpoche said if she could stop eating fish, he would offer thanks from the bottom of his heart on behalf of all the fish, who cannot speak.
  • Thanks for Dedicating Your Life to the Animals: Rinpoche sent this advice to thank students who were helping with animal care at Kopan Monastery and in Australia.
  • Suffering Comes from the Mind: In this letter, Rinpoche advised that the current problems in the world, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, are the result of harming others. Rinpoche said he hopes that people can learn how to stop the suffering and achieve temporal and ultimate happiness.
  • Offerings to the Boudha Stupa: Advice on how to collect “the most unbelievable merit” when making offerings to the Boudha Stupa in Nepal. Rinpoche’s advice is applicable whenever offerings are made to holy objects.

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

Remembering Lama

Lama Zopa Rinpoche enjoying his copy of Big Love, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, April 2020. Photo: Ven. Lobsang Sherab.On Losar thirty-nine years ago our beloved Lama Yeshe passed away. He was forty-nine years old. For those of you who may have missed our Losar mailing this past week, we are sharing with you a scan of the unforgettable issue that Wisdom magazine published to pay tribute to Lama’s life shortly after Lama died in 1984. 

We are also offering the epic Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe at a discounted price of $48 throughout the Fifteen Days of Miracles. If you haven't purchased a copy or you'd like to buy it as a gift, now is a great time to do so!

We'd also like to share with you the Lightroom album that Venerable Pende Hawter from the archival team at Chenrezig Institute created in remembrance of Lama Yeshe over Losar. The montage includes photos of both Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche during the first meditation course at Diamond Valley in 1974, soon to be named Chenrezig Institute for Wisdom Culture by Lama Yeshe. It also includes a short video of the beginnings of the institute, which can also be found on the LYWA YouTube channel.

Thank you so much, and enjoy this month's teaching on the purpose of our life by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Big love,


Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: The Purpose of Our Life 

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing students at Manjushri Institute, England, 1976.The purpose of our life is not just to have wealth, to have money—that alone is not the purpose of our living. Life is not just surviving for the wealth; the purpose of our sustaining the life or living the life is not to become a servant of material [things], just taking care of materials, for money, not that. Not that. That’s totally opposite the meaning of life. This precious human rebirth is not just for that, taking care of material things or being the servant of wealth. The purpose of our life is also not just to achieve power. Why? 

Without a good heart, the thought of benefiting others in our own mental continuum or in our own heart, without that, then however much wealth we achieve, we can never get satisfaction from that. We can never achieve peace and happiness in our heart; we can never achieve fulfillment in our life. Without the good heart—the thought of benefiting others—the more wealth we achieve the more our life becomes miserable, the more [our misery] increases. Then after a thousand or tens of thousands, then one hundred thousand, then millions, billions, zillions, trillions, then what, trillions, then many trillions, [Rinpoche laughs] zillions, did I say zillions? Maybe I left out zillions. Zillions, trillions or trillion zillions, anyway, the more we achieve, the more misery.

Our inner life becomes more miserable and our dissatisfaction and suffering increases more and more. We have more worry, more fear, more unhappiness, definitely more and more unhappiness, more and more dissatisfaction; it increases. In our heart or our inner life, we become more and more miserable. Even though the external looks very rich and everything is the best in the world, our inner life is empty. We are always crying for peace and happiness, but we are unable to achieve that, so like this.

No matter how much power we achieve in this world, without the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, then that power becomes very dangerous. Without the good heart benefiting others, power is used by the self-cherishing thought, the selfish mind; power is used in the wrong way and then we harm ourselves and we bring harm to the world, to other sentient beings. Like the recent stories, like the recent world news, like that.

As it happened historically in this world so many times, one person had influence, power, but missed out the education of the good heart, education of the mind. Education of the good heart, that is missed out, that practice of the good heart is missed out, the experience of the good heart is missed out. So there is a lack of that, then the influence, the power they have achieved in this world is used [to harm others.]

In that person’s heart, if there is the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, that person could have brought unbelievable peace and happiness to many millions of people, to millions and millions of people and to this whole world, not only in their own country. They could have achieved so much fulfillment, so much satisfaction, in their own heart, but they lack the good heart to benefit others, so therefore no matter how much influence and power is achieved it ends up causing harm and they kill others.

If they were used by the self-cherishing thought to achieve power, to achieve happiness for themselves, then according to the politics of the self-cherishing thought, according to the methods of the self-cherishing thought, coming from self-cherishing thought, then that only brings harm to the world and to other sentient beings. Then they are trying to achieve happiness by harming others, by killing many millions of people, torturing them, so in that way they are trying to achieve happiness for themselves by harming so many human beings, without counting the animals.

Animals are not counted normally—how many get killed by bombs and so forth, in the water, in the ocean, underground, they’re not counted—only human beings are counted. Human beings are a small number, so they are easiest to count. Human beings are a small number, a very small number, so it’s easy to count them. The insects, the animals, are numberless and we cannot count them.

Anyway, therefore, all this alone, the achievement of all this is not the meaning of being human. It’s not the purpose of our human life, just having this achievement alone.

Excerpted from Lecture 17, Teachings at the Kadampa Deities Retreat given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Institut Vajra Yogini, France, from 18 April to 11 May 2003. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith. You can read the first seventeen discourses here on our website.