E-letter No. 245: November 2023

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #1587)
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in front of the cave of the Lawudo Lama, Lawudo Retreat Centre, 1981. Photo by Peter Kedge.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for subscribing to our monthly e-letter. Feel free to share it with others!

We launched our 2023 year-end appeal last month, as many of you already know. We aim to raise $60,000 by December 31. So far we have raised nearly $10,000 and we have all of you to thank for it!

If you haven't already donated, please do so today. And if you can, we invite you to give monthly to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the Archive. Your support makes a difference! Read on to see your contributions at work. And thank you so much!

In this month's issue we offer video of Lama Yeshe teaching on how to get out of our heads and into our hearts; a new podcast with Lama Zopa Rinpoche explaining the essential power of the good heart; a new chapter of the homemade audiobook version of Big Love; new advices by Rinpoche posted on our website; and a monthly teaching by Rinpoche on The Unimaginable Qualities of a Bodhisattva.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Knowledge-Wisdom book, March 2023. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.We continue to make the Lamas' legacy of unique Dharma instruction accessible in myriad ways through our website, ebooks, free audiobooks, videos, podcasts, multimedia presentations and through two auxiliary websites. Our free books in print, that so many of you know and love, continue to be in popular demand. Our customer service manager Venerable Ani Desal manages dozens of shipments of our free and for-sale books to individuals and centers around the world, and also looks after the LYWA membership program, which continues to grow under her expert management and is a major source of support for us.

This year we published a new Lama Yeshe free book, titled Knowledge-Wisdom: The Peaceful Path to Liberation. Collected Teachings, Volume 1. Compiled by Sandra Smith and edited by Uldis Balodis and me. Our next publication will be Lama Yeshe’s Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2, containing extensive teachings from Manjushri Institute, England (1976) and Maitreya Institute, the Netherlands (1980) and more. This volume, too, will be free.

It is only through your kind and generous support that we have been able to do all this beneficial work for the sake of all sentient beings. Thanks again to all of you!


This month from the video archive we offer an excerpt from Part Four of Lama Yeshe's commentary on the sadhana of  Thousand-arm Chenrezig. First, Lama observes that Westerners are stuck in our heads instead of our heart. Then Lama explains how to transform our ideas into compassionate action through tantric practice at the heart. These teachings were given in Grizzly Lodge, California, in May, 1980, and hosted by Vajrapani Institute. You can also watch the full set of teachings here on the LYWA channel.

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.


Beggars' banquet, Bodhgaya, India, 1982. Lama Zopa Rinpoche feeding people on the street. This month on the LYWA podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains why practicing the good heart is so extremely important, the basis of all action. This excerpt is from a four-day course given at FPMT’s Tilopa Center, Decatur, Illinois, in August, 1997. These teachings were published by LYWA as Virtue and Reality. You can read along with the edited 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.


Lama Yeshe with Sharpa Tulku in front of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, 1982. Photo courtesy of Wisdom PublicationsThis month we are happy to announce another installment of the homemade audiobook version of Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, written by Adele Hulse and read by people who were there as the story unfolded. This heart project is comprised of narrations recorded by personal friends of the late Åge Delbanco (Babaji), who was one of Lama Yeshe’s earliest students.

Chapter 2. 1941-1958: Living a Monastic Life, narrated by Elaine Jackson, describes life at Sera Monastery in Lhasa, where Lama became ordained and engaged in intensive study and debate, despite the increasing unrest across Tibet due to the Chinese Communist occupation.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche blesses a rescued goat, Maratika, Nepal, February 2016. Photo: Holly Ansett.This month we have posted a talk by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on how to benefit animals by becoming vegetarian. This teaching is excerpted from the Light of the Path retreat held in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May 2014.

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. More precious than ever, there are now more than 2,200 of Rinpoche’s advices online. Here are a few more:

  • Abandon Carelessness: A longtime student wrote to Rinpoche confessing their mistakes. Rinpoche responded with stories of the Buddha’s disciples who had created heavy negative karma but later collected virtue and attained liberation.
  • Highest Yoga Tantra Practice: In this letter, Rinpoche explained that by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra we can achieve enlightenment more quickly.
  • The Essence of Guru Yoga: This advice about guru devotion was given to a student who had asked Rinpoche about their personal deity (yidam).
  • Enjoy Your Life for Sentient Beings: This letter was sent to a nine-year-old child who had been coming to the local Dharma center.

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

As always, thank you so much for all your interest in LYWA and for all your continued support and generosity. Read on to find this month's teaching from Rinpoche on the mind-blowing qualities of an arya bodhisattva.

Big love,

Nick Ribush


THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: The unimaginable qualities of a bodhisattva

Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing puja, Bodhgaya, India, 1982. Photo: Dieter KratzerThere is no solution other than the Dharma. If we practice Dharma, if we actualize the path and remove the cause of suffering, karma and delusions, and if we ourselves are liberated from suffering, we don’t have to be reborn like tigers or snakes and cause all that harm to other sentient beings becoming our food. If we actualize the path and are free from samsara, we don’t have to do that; we don’t have to continuously harm other sentient beings by eating them. And then, after we are liberated, we can liberate other sentient beings. We are able to do perfect work for sentient beings, especially leading them to enlightenment.

Even before enlightenment, even as an arhat, who has skies of qualities such as psychic powers, clairvoyance, we can benefit others so much. Then, when we become an arya bodhisattva, with each bhumi there are unimaginable qualities. When we achieve the first Mahayana bhumi, we can manifest into a hundred different bodies and give a hundred different teachings to sentient beings. We can go to a hundred different pure lands and do prostrations and make offerings, collecting unbelievable merit. There are a hundred meditations we can do and about eleven other things we can do.

Then, when we achieve the second bhumi we can do everything a thousand times: manifesting into a thousand bodies, revealing a thousand different teachings to sentient beings, and so forth. We can offer unbelievable benefit to sentient beings.

When we achieve the eighth, ninth and tenth bhumis, even before we become enlightened, the benefit to sentient beings is unbelievable. It is unimaginable what capacity the bodhisattvas at this level have. It is explained in the Madhyamaka commentary. I don’t remember exactly, but for those bodhisattvas, before they even become buddhas, what they can do is unbelievable, amazing, mind-blowing. It is very difficult for us to imagine because we are new. On their pores are many worlds. I don’t remember the whole thing, but they are amazing things. They can manifest as a bridge or as water; they can manifest as all sorts of things for sentient beings; it’s just mind-blowing. This is before becoming a buddha. The benefits sentient beings receive are like the sky, unbelievable. And especially, after achieving enlightenment, we can offer deeper and deeper ways of benefiting sentient beings.

When we ourselves practice the Dharma and actualize the path, we can reveal the Dharma to other sentient beings, showing them the path, liberating them from karma and delusions, the cause of samsara. In that way, they don’t have to reincarnate as all those different beings that harm others.

So, the conclusion is two things. First, we ourselves have to actualize the path to liberation and enlightenment; and second, we can then educate others in the Dharma, reveal the path to others. In this way, we liberate others from the cause of suffering, karma and delusions, and from the oceans of samsaric suffering. That is the only solution that will help. That is why the refuge practice is fundamental.

This teaching is excerpted from Kopan Course 39, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal in November-December 2006. Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall. You can find the entire teaching on page 78 when you download the PDF of the entire course here.