E-letter No. 246: December 2023

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Nicholas Ribush
(Archive #1961)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe at Kopan, 1977.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for keeping on coming back! And please feel free to share our monthly e-letters with others.

As 2023 winds down we would like to thank each and every one of you for continuing to show up to support our year-end appeal. We are just over two-thirds of the way toward our year-end goal of $60,000. Please help us reach it!

Our team is dedicated to making the Dharma readily accessible to all. With your unwavering support, we have been able to publish new books and reprint the old ones that you know and love. We continue to reach interested seekers through our freely available website, ebooks, audiobooks, videos, podcasts, multimedia presentations and two auxiliary websites, Teachings From Tibet and Lamrim Year Companion. Thank you for helping us to make all of this happen! Please read on to see what we have to offer you this month.

LYWA New Publication: Silent Mind Holy Mind

Silent Mind Holy Mind is here and available to order from our website! The 2024 edition of Silent Mind Holy Mind: A Tibetan Lama’s Reflections on Christmas, by Lama Yeshe, edited by Jonathan Landaw and Nicholas Ribush, was first published in 1978 by Wisdom Publications and has been out of print for many years. LYWA recently published the second edition, which has been expanded to include the original collection of talks given by Lama Yeshe at Kopan Monastery on Christmas Eve, as well as another Christmas talk and a Cistercian priest’s tribute to Lama after he passed away in 1984.

You can also download a free PDF, access the entire book online and listen to a narrated preview on our YouTube channel of Silent Mind Holy Mind, Chapter 4 "Christmas, 1982," a discourse given by Lama Yeshe at Istituto Lama Tsongkhapa, Italy. Stay tuned for the forthcoming ebook and audiobook versions due out soon!

From the Video Archive: The Buddhist Path to Happiness and LiberatioN

This month from the video archive, we bring you the full set of filmed teachings of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a weekend seminar near London in September 1975. These were the first teachings the Lamas ever gave in Europe and are typical of the inspiring teachings that they were giving during this time. This video was first released on DVD by LYWA and the teachings were published in a free book by LYWA entitled Freedom Through Understanding: The Buddhist Path to Happiness and Liberation.

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: Make Your Life Worthwhile

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Ven. Roger Kunsang at Tse Chen Ling Center, San Francisco, California, October 2012. Photo: Chris Majors.Don't cheat yourself. Don't deceive yourself. Don't be distracted by sense pleasures. Exist where you are right now. Make your life worthwhile.
–Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This month on the LYWA podcast, we present a short spontaneous Dharma talk by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the importance of making this life worthwhile, given on April 20, 2000, while Rinpoche was traveling in a car through San Francisco on the way to FPMT's Tse Chen Ling Center.

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.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India, 1971. Photo: Fred von Allmen.We are happy to announce another audiobook installment of Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, written by Adele Hulse. Organized by Janet Brooke, 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.

This month we bring you Chapter 3. 1959: Flight to India, narrated by Keith Emmons. It describes how His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe and many Tibetans fled from the brutal and violent conquest of Tibet by the Communist Chinese government, the harrowing difficulties of their escape, and the many challenges they faced upon arrival in India.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing Lama Chöpa puja at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, June 2014. Photo: Piero Sirianni. This month we have posted a teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on taking care of the mind. Rinpoche explains that the mind is the creator of all our happiness and suffering, therefore it’s important to protect our mind in Dharma and to use this opportunity to actualize the path to enlightenment. This teaching was given at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, on June 28, 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:

  • The Best Thing to Do Before Retreat: A student wrote to ask Rinpoche about doing a long retreat. Rinpoche responded with this advice and quotations on thought transformation (lojong).
  • The FPMT Centers Need You: Rinpoche sent this letter to a student who had quit smoking and stopped using intoxicants.
  • The Real Prison: This advice was for a person who was incarcerated and would be going to court. Rinpoche recommended Kurukulla practice for success in the court case.
  • Animal Liberation, Projects in Ladakh and Practices for Deceased Father: Rinpoche gave this advice to a Ladakhi student who wrote that their group was reciting the Golden Light Sutra, as well as liberating animals and doing circumambulation (kora). The student had also asked how to help a deceased relative.

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

Our Latest Audiobook Offering: Knowledge-Wisdom

Liberation through listening! Many of our most beloved books by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche are also available as free audiobooks. This month we are happy to announce that Knowledge-Wisdom: The Peaceful Path to Liberation by Lama Yeshe has been added to the LYWA free audiobook catalog. You can listen to Knowledge-Wisdom on Google Play or on the LYWA YouTube channel.

As always, thank you so much for all your interest in LYWA and all your continued support and generosity. If you haven't done so already, please consider donating today to help us reach our year-end goal. 

Big love,

Nick Ribush


This Month's Teaching: Taking Care of the Mind

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at IMI House, Sera Je Monastery, Mysore, India, 2014. Photo: Ani Thubten Pema. Emptiness, tong pa nyi, shunyata—even if we don’t have the actual realization but we have correct understanding and do effortful meditation, just meditating on that is protecting ourselves, taking care of ourselves. That is taking care of ourselves. This is very, very, very, very, very important.

Taking care of ourselves, looking after ourselves, taking care of our mind, our life, is to end samsaric suffering which has no beginning. It has no beginning, but we can end it. Can you imagine? To end the oceans of suffering of samsara, to end that. So it helps for that.

Then there’s tantra, taking care of ourselves. I just explained what I thought. It’s even more transcendent—we abandon impure view and impure mind. We live our life in that [pure mind and pure view] with tantra; we work with that.

So I think we will do the meditation that was supposed to be done before, this morning.

A star, a defective view, a butter lamp flame,
An illusion, a dew drop, a water bubble,
A dream, lightning, a cloud:
See all causative phenomena like this.

I, action, object, all the phenomena—what exists is merely imputed by the mind. What exists is what is merely imputed by the mind, therefore, I, action, object, do not exist from their own side. No phenomena exists from its own side, everything is totally empty from its own side.

It’s like a star in the daytime—there’s a star, but it’s covered by sunlight. It exists but it is empty of existing from its own side, therefore it exists in mere name. Therefore, dependent arising and emptiness are unified. There’s a star even though we don’t see it because it’s covered by sunlight.

Everything is empty. As I mentioned this morning, it’s not nihilism; the emptiness here is not nihilism. Tong pa nyi means “emptiness only.” Ignorance leaves a negative imprint on the mind and projects [true existence.] Right after things are merely labeled by the mind in the first second, then in the next second that is projected onto merely labeled things. I, action, object, are merely labeled by the mind, then in the next second the negative imprint left by the ignorance projects true existence.

It’s like a magician, who by using substances or mantras hallucinates the audience, their senses, so the magician makes them see something which doesn’t exist. Something appears real and people believe that which doesn’t exist. The magician person can do that.

There’s emptiness, but it’s like the emptiness is covered, hidden. It’s covered by the hallucination. There’s a star there but due to the light of the sun, the brightness, we don’t see it. There’s the illusion of true existence, truly existent appearance, but it has never been there. I, action, object appear to exist from their own side, as truly existing. Things appear to exist by themselves and we actually one hundred percent believe in that.

We live our whole life, not only from this morning until night, not only from birth to death, not only that, but from beginningless rebirths up to now and also in the future, endlessly. Not sure when we will realize that everything—I action, object—is empty.  Not sure when we’ll realize that everything is empty from its own side.

So karma is emptiness. Think everything is empty. I is empty; action is empty; object is empty; things do not exist from their own side, they are totally empty. Meditate a little bit on that.

Rab rib is the hallucinated view, the defective view. The example given in the text is that it’s like while we’re eating food, there appears to be hair dropping in the food. We have a vision like that. It’s not happening, but we are seeing it like that, rab rib and so forth. Maybe also it is sometimes due to defective eyes, then we see the wrong visions that are not happening in reality. This is rab rib.

Like that, the I, action, object, everything [appears to] exist, everything [appears] real. We think everything exists from its own side, we think everything appearing is real, but that’s wrong, it is totally a hallucination. They do not exist at all. That never happened from the beginning.

Excerpted from a teaching given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, on June 28, 2014. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith. You can find the entire teaching here on our website.