E-letter No. 252: June 2024

By Lama Thubten Yeshe, By Nicholas Ribush
Lama Yeshe teaching at Les Bayards, Switzerland, 1975.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter. Feel free to share it with others!

In this month's issue, we have exciting updates for you:

  • A new video and podcast from our archive
  • The latest installment of the Big Love Audiobook Heart Project
  • A new translation of Lamrim Year
  • New advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book
  • Updates on how to support His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • News about Big Love author Adele Hulse
  • A new teaching by Lama Yeshe

Read on and enjoy!

From the Video Archive: Skillful Means In Action

This month from the video archive please enjoy another session of intimate teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Boston, Massachusetts in 1990, hosted by Kurukulla Center. In this session, Rinpoche addresses a challenging question from a courageous student, guiding them from confusion to clarity on the path to happiness and enlightenment. You can see all published sessions on the LYWA YouTube channel.

Visit and subscribe to the LYWA YouTube channel to view more videos freely available from our archive. See the FPMT YouTube channel for many more videos of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings.

On the LYWA Podcast: Where to Find Happiness

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Bern, Switzerland, 1990. Photo by Ueli Minder.Happiness comes from a positive attitude and action motivated by that.
—Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This month on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive podcast, Lama Zopa Rinpoche answers a student's question about the relationship between the mind and the heart when practicing bodhicitta, how to be authentic in the practice of compassion, and where to locate happiness. This teaching was given by Rinpoche in 1990 in Boston, Massachusetts, and hosted by Kurukulla Center. You can also watch Rinpoche give this teaching on the LYWA YouTube channel.

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 Chowkidhar, Kathmandu, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1978.We are happy to share 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), one of Lama Yeshe's earliest students.

This month the Big Love Heart Project brings you Chapter 9: 1971: The First Kopan Meditation Course, narrated by Arwen Brooke. Chapter 9 describes how the Lamas began to teach in English, how Lama Yeshe began to acquire land to build Kopan, and how Westerners started to gather at Kopan and devote themselves to the Lamas.


Nick Ribush delivering a request for Lama Zopa Rinpoche's long life at Light of the Path retreat 2016. Photo: Kalleen Mortensen.This month we have a Czech translation of Lamrim Year to share with you, now available for free download as a PDF file. Translated by Vladimír Hajduk, with Ven. Tenzin Palmo and Ester Vincotte. We are grateful to work with so many amazing translators who make our publications and transcripts available in languages other than English. Visit our website for links to translations in eighteen languages.

We've also posted some new advices for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book. Every year we add more than 100 entries on a variety of topics, there are now more than 2,200 of Rinpoche’s advices currently available on our website.

  • Practices for Long Life and Motivation for End of Life: A longtime student was having a major operation. Rinpoche advised the motivation for the death time and explained various practices we can do to prolong our life.
  • Confessing a Mistake: This advice was given to a student who confessed that she had made a mistake at one of the centers.
  • Everything Depends on Karma: Two students wrote that they had been trying to sell their house for many years. Rinpoche sent this advice about karma and the importance of lamrim study and practice.

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

Medicine Buddha Mantras for His Holiness

Medicine Buddha thangka by Peter Iseli.As many of you are aware, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is currently in New York City for knee surgery this month. FPMT shared this announcement inviting students to recite the Medicine Buddha mantra for the successful outcome of His Holiness's procedure. You can also find commentary on the Medicine Buddha mantra from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on our website and more updates and information in FPMT's June newsletter.

Honoring Big Love Author Adele Hulse

Adele Hulse at the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia, Melbourne. 

Adele Hulse, author of Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe has been honored with significant recognition in Australia. She was recently awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division for her extensive community service. This recognition acknowledges her contributions, including her management of the Holocaust Memories Project at the Lamm Jewish Library, her longstanding leadership at the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, her role as a successful columnist and community organizer, and her dedicated service to Buddhism as an FPMT board member, author, and volunteer.

As always, thank you so much for all your support. We truly couldn't do it without you! Read on for this month's teaching by Lama Yeshe on understanding and realizing the absolute nature of all existence, an excerpt from the forthcoming Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2.

Big love,

Nick Ribush

THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: The Total Reality of All Existence

Lama Yeshe teaching at Manjushri Institute, England, 1976. Until we realize the absolute nature, shunyata, we won’t be able to see the complete unity, the totality, the absolute nature of all existence. That is exactly what Lord Buddha said. You can understand that, right? You need to understand totality nature, which we sometimes call shunyata or, in English, the total reality of all existence. Now, totality nature is simultaneously existent within the relative good and bad. Relative good and bad are like waves on the ocean. Ocean waves come and go. Sometimes they go this way, sometimes that, but it’s still all water, isn’t it? It’s still water energy. Similarly, when we say good and bad, women and men, all kinds of other different things, if we have seen totality, we can see that there’s some totality absolute nature existing equally in all of nature: living things, nonliving things, organic things, nonorganic things, every kind of energy, human beings, animals, the sky, the four elements, whatever—it doesn’t matter. You can see that within everything some totality nature exists.

When you reach that level of insight, you don’t have too many hallucinated fantasies flashing in front of you: “Oh, this is fantastic!” Presently, everything the relative mind perceives is kind of flashing, giving off a strong vibration, so you have to run after it. You can’t liberate yourself from it, in other words. It’s like somebody has laid some powerful vibration on you and you can’t escape it without paying strong attention. Similarly, all relative phenomena attract our attention. “Oh, this is fantastic, this is good, this is bad.” Our mind has to pay too much attention, “Oh, this-that, this-that,” and be liberated, seeing some absolute nature of equality. We have too much overwhelming superstition.

Sometimes, if you have a good meditation session, you can experience totality, a kind of universal energy pervading both yourself and the outside world. You can see this through meditation. You can feel this totality strongly rather than the usual movement of the surface waves.

It’s especially important to check what you think you are and your everyday thoughts: “I need this, I need that, I’m this, I’m this, I’m this, I’m this….” We spend all our time thinking, “I need this, this, this, this…,” there’s a billion things we need because we have the fixed idea, “I am this, therefore I need that.” We have a fixed idea of what we are. We make ourselves bigger than this entire building through our imagination. Our imagination constructs us with the bricks of wrong conceptions. We lay one wrong conception on top of another, then add another wrong conception, another wrong conception and so forth until there’s this huge edifice bigger than this large building we’re in: “I am this.” From “I am this” comes “therefore I need this, I need this, I need this.” It’s all too much. And then the grasping attitude begins.

This fixed idea, this imagination of what you are, is extremely important to know. It’s so simple. Check up right now what you think you are. I don’t mean your profession or whatever work you do. Just investigate what you think you are, your fantasy idea, “I am this, therefore this.” You make a kind of frame for yourself, like the brocade around a thangka. You think, “This is me; this is me.” It’s a completely false conception.

I’ll tell you why it’s a false conception. The minute you think, I am this,” the very next second you’ve entirely changed. We’re not talking about your absolute nature but the relative, “This is me.” Your relative nature changes minute by minute, second by second. One moment you’re like this; the very next moment you’re not the same as you were the first one, even though your conception of permanence thinks, “I’m like this. I’m always the same. I want to live in the world permanently. I have lived, I am living, I will continue to live.” It’s interesting.

The entire you of yesterday no longer exists within you today. Nothing of yesterday remains in your body today, does it? The energy that moved through space yesterday does not exist today. It’s different. It’s the same with the energy movement within our body’s nervous system. It may be similar, but yesterday’s does not exist today at all. It’s entirely different. Yet our conception of permanence still thinks, “I’m the same person that I was yesterday. I am. I’m yesterday’s me.” Which is totally unreasonable.

It’s not right. I’m not just talking from the religious point of view. Scientifically, it’s absolutely wrong. I can demonstrate that to you right now. I’m not talking from the religious point of view or about something that’s just Lord Buddha’s or Lama’s idea. I’m talking from exactly the Western, scientific point of view. Exactly.

You have been carrying the fixed idea “I am this” for such a long time, but it’s totally unrealistic in describing the entirety of yourself. Nevertheless, you still think “I am this.” It’s completely silly, isn’t it? As you think “I’m this,” if I were to say to you “I’m this cup,” you’d think that was pretty silly. But it’s exactly the same thing. Perhaps I’m joking too much! Well, check out what I say. It’s a good thing to check and never too late to do so. It’s true. You can’t imagine what we’re doing now.

It's also so simple. What I’m talking about is not some extreme you have to believe. Just meditate and check what you think you are. “I’ve always thought I’m this, and I’ve thought the same thing for year after year, but after checking up scientifically now I see I’ve been completely hallucinating the whole time.” It’s true, right? For example, say you’re twenty now. If I were to ask you if the twenty-year-old you existed when you were five, what would you say? You’d say no, it didn’t exist then. If you understand that clean clear, you can see that the entire you of today did not exist yesterday.

So my conclusion is this. As soon as you fix the idea “I’m this,” how can it change? If your fixed idea were true, how could you not be the same a second or a minute from then? That would need a change in nature, a change in reality. That shows your fixed idea is a wrong conception, and it’s this wrong conception that causes you all the trouble that you find and is the basis of your entire evolution. It all starts from that.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching at Manjushri Institute, England, September, 1976. Excerpted from Clean Clear: Collected Teachings, Volume 2 (forthcoming from LYWA), edited by Nicholas Ribush.