E-letter No. 237: March 2023

By Lama Thubten Yeshe, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #376)
Lama Yeshe at Disneyland, CA, 1977. Judy Weitzner (donor)

Dear Friends,

Thanks for keeping up with our monthly eletters, and feel free to share it with others!

And thank you to everyone who donated over Losar, the Tibetan New Year, and on Chotrul Duchen, the Day of Miracles. We are consistently amazed by your steadfast support and generosity. Amazing!

In this month's issue we have a new video, podcast and advices by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, as well as updates on Rinpoche's upcoming teaching and retreat schedule for 2023. You also don't want to miss the monthly teaching on bodhicitta by Lama Yeshe, included in the forthcoming Lama Yeshe book, Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2.

From the Video Archive: Examining the Nonsense Mind

This month from the video archive, Lama Zopa Rinpoche undermines our perception of inherent reality with an examination of the emptiness of the I, actions and objects. Rinpoche gave these teachings at Kadampa Center in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2008.

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: Karma in Everyday Life

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Bern, Switzerland, 1990. Photo by Ueli Minder.We are released from confusion while we are aware of the reality of things. -Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This month on the LYWA podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche encourages us to live our life with a mind that is aware of the reality of things so that we avoid the confusion that leads to negative karma. Rinpoche also recites in English the Heart Sutra and Lama Tsongkhapa’s lamrim text The Foundation of All Good Qualities. These teachings were given by Rinpoche during a lamrim course hosted by Maitreya Instituut in August, 1990. 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 with Tara statue prior to installation in the courtyard, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1976.This month we have posted the 38th Kopan Course, lamrim teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2005. In the first lecture, Rinpoche remembers the early times at Kopan, when conditions were primitive and students endured many hardships to practice Dharma. Rinpoche also teaches on the merely imputed I, refuge and lay vows, Tara and Vajrasattva practices, and other topics. You can read these teachings online or download a PDF of the entire course.

As you know, 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.

  • Meditate on Emptiness Every Day: A student asked Rinpoche what practice they should do in order to purify negativities on their mind stream. Rinpoche recommended bodhicitta and emptiness meditation.
  • Burdened by Obstacles: Rinpoche sent this letter to a student who felt overwhelmed by obstacles and possible spirit harm. Rinpoche advised how to use the problems and undesirable things to destroy the inner enemy, the self-cherishing thought.

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

Upcoming Teachings with Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal, December 2015. Photo: Bill Kane. As you may already know, this year’s Light of the Path (LOP) retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche will be held at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. The retreat will be held from September 3 to September 17, 2023 and registration will open on April 1, 2023 at 8 a.m. Nepal time. Following the retreat, a FPMT Foundation Service Seminar will be held from September 21 to September 26 for anyone wishing to offer service in the FPMT.

Rinpoche will also be visiting Singapore and Malaysia in June, July and August to give teachings and initiations at Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore and Losang Dragpa Centre, Malaysia. You can find more information on these upcoming teachings here on the FPMT website. For those of you on Facebook, you can access more information on the FPMT East & Southeast Asia page.

We are also happy to share that in conjunction with the upcoming events in Singapore and Malaysia, the FPMT East & Southeast Regional Office will be hosting a MANI retreat, which will be held completely online. Everyone is invited and encouraged to join as it is not a strict retreat. The retreat will be launched by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on July 6, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday, and finish on August 19. Further details will be shared in the upcoming months.

As always, thank you so much for all your support. Please enjoy this month's teaching on bodhicitta by Lama Yeshe, included in the forthcoming Lama Yeshe book, Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2.

Big love,

Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: Lama Yeshe on Bodhicitta

Lama Yeshe at Maitreya Institute, Bruchem, Netherlands, 1981. Photo: Ina Van DeldenThe enlightened attitude of bodhicitta is internationally accepted by any religion’s philosophy and is understandable to everybody, so it’s very useful. Therefore, we should try to actualize bodhicitta as much as we can. This attitude is the vehicle to carry our life, to lead our consciousness, into enlightenment. It is the right path to liberation and buddhahood. In fact, Lama Je Tsongkhapa said that bodhicitta is the essential path to enlightenment and the foundation of all higher realizations.

In these, our twentieth-century lives, we’re beset by an explosion of ego and delusion. Tremendous negative force energies are strongly developed and that’s the kind of environment we have to deal with. To counter all this, we need a powerful antidote, and that’s just what the universal attitude of bodhicitta is. With it we can cope with our situation and transform the negative energy forces of contemporary life into positivity and the path to enlightenment.

Because of our current situation, every time we come into contact with the sense world we energize more ego, more delusion, more superstition, more wrong conceptions, and this is the way we’ve always been. But if we have this universal attitude, which sees the universal characteristics of all living beings and has sympathy for their plight, by dealing with city life and life in general, we can develop and integrate into our life mindfulness, compassion and the dedicated attitude.

Otherwise, just trying to develop single-pointed concentration isn’t going to work. Western life is not made for that. We can’t take a two-year holiday in order to develop concentration. Western life isn’t easy; if we go away to some isolated place to meditate, we’ll probably starve. Therefore, we have to learn to integrate and not be afraid of dealing with society. If we have the enlightened attitude of bodhicitta we can deal with this kind of thing.

Lama Tsongkhapa likened the power of bodhicitta to that of alchemy. Through the power of alchemy, iron can be transmuted into gold. Similarly, through the power of bodhicitta, mundane actions can be transformed into transcendent experiences.

For example, if you possess that attitude, you dedicate your life to serving other people. That makes you feel your life is worthwhile, which in turn causes you to take care of your life by attending to your health, your diet and so forth, feeling that doing so is in the service of others. You look after your health for others rather than yourself. At present, we have an attitude of self-pity. Everything is me, me, me, me, me. Sometimes you even get fed up with “me” and don’t take care of your health. That’s wrong. You should recognize your profound qualities, feel proud of them, be dignified and feel your life is worthwhile and take care of it.

With bodhicitta, even when you face difficult circumstances, you have the energy to rise to the challenge. You feel it’s worthwhile to face difficult situations. With bodhicitta, situations you would normally consider difficult mean nothing.

The root of bodhicitta is medicine, so every action arising from that becomes medicine. Bodhicitta is always helpful, and nothing arising from it is ever mixed with impurity. That universal attitude leaves no room for impure, negative energy.

Also, the profound aim of bodhicitta gives you energy. For example, and this is a good one, many young people marry without really knowing what their aim is. They just come together. Maybe that’s their aim. But, first of all, they don’t understand the meaning of life; that’s why they have no aim, no destination, no desired achievement, not even from the samsaric point of view. Perhaps all they know is the good feeling of attachment. With this limited aim it’s easy for conflict to arise. This example is clean clear.

But many married people do stick together. They’re the ones who know their aim is not just attachment, comfort. They know coming together has to mean more than that; that they have to achieve something. And when difficulties arise, even worldly ones, they have the energy to work together to meet the challenge.

It’s the same thing with bodhicitta. You can see that you can achieve the highest destination of enlightenment by solving the problems presented by ego conflict, dissatisfaction and loneliness, even though they are not easy problems to solve. You know that to reach beyond all that, by continuously working hard, step by step you can attain your goal, and you have the energy to do that.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching in the Netherlands in October 1980. Edited from the Lama Yeshe Archive by Nicholas Ribush for the forthcoming Lama Yeshe book, Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2. The video of this talk may be found on the LYWA YouTube channel.