E-letter No. 50: June 2007

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
various locations
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear LYWA Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to our fiftieth monthly e-letter…over four years of news and teachings. Thank you so much for your interest. To see our past issues, please go here.

Thanks to the extremely kind and generous support of many of our benefactors we are currently engaged in several projects:

New Books in the Works
As mentioned in the last couple of e-letters, we will soon be reprinting Lama Yeshe’s Becoming Your Own Therapist combined edition with Make Your Mind an Ocean. We would like to thank the kind LYWA members who have contributed so far; it’s not too late if you want to join in! The book is in the final stages of redesign.

Lama Yeshe’s Universal Love: The Yoga Method of Buddha Maitreya is in final editing. We hope to print this and Becoming Your Own Therapist in about a month’s time.

Ven. Ailsa Cameron has edited a collection of Rinpoche’s teachings on emptiness. We hope to also publish this soon.

We are in the process of editing Lama Yeshe’s and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s weekend seminar near London in 1975, a wonderful introduction to Dharma practice and the lam-rim. We'll be releasing both a book and a DVD.

We are checking the transcripts of the Lamas’ weekend seminar in Geneva 1983, the last time Lama Yeshe taught in the West. Lama’s teachings were once published as a transcript entitled Life, Death and After Death. This newly edited version will also contain Rinpoche’s teachings from that weekend. As with the London teachings, we'll release both a book and a DVD.

Forthcoming DVDs
We are finalizing a couple of interviews with Lama Yeshe in Italy, 1982. And, as mentioned above, we're working on the DVDs of the London and Geneva seminars.

Much of the above is already funded but if you would like to contribute to any of these projects, please let us know. Thank you so much.

Foreign Language Translations
Many of our teachings have been translated into various languages and we are going to start posting these translations on our Web site. So far we've posted links and PDFs for Becoming Your Own Therapist, Make Your Mind an Ocean, and Virtue & Reality. They've been translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, German and other languages, with more in the works. If you know of any translations of Archive publications, please let us know.

Transforming Stock into Dharma
At this time of record market highs we thought you might like to take advantage of the tax benefits of donating stock directly to the Archive. For example, if you wanted to donate $10,000 to LYWA by selling stock first, you’d have to sell around $13,000-14,000 and then donate what was left after tax. By directly giving us stock worth $10,000 you’d be able to claim a deduction for $10,000 without having to sell more than that amount.

If you would like to donate any amount of stock to the Archive, please contact us.

Advices from Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Our friends at Kasih Hospice Service just sent us a document with advice from Rinpoche titled: Caring For the Dying: A Collection of Advice For FPMT Hospice Services.

In our 26th e-letter, from May of 2005, we mentioned Rinpoche's Advice on Daily Practice. This has just been updated with two new sections at the end: Rinpoche’s advice on reciting the Golden Light Sutra and a note from Rinpoche explaining why he gives students many preliminary practices to do, sometimes hundreds of thousands! These two new additions comprise this month’s teaching below.

For more advice on daily practices from Rinpoche, there's always the Daily Practice section of the online Advice Book, as well as the section on Preliminary Practices.

Thank you again for your kind interest and support,

Much love,

Nick Ribush

\"Golden Light Sutra recitation for World Peace

Those who want world peace should read the Golden Light Sutra (Ser-ö dam-päi do wang-gyi gyäl-po). This is a very important practice to stop violence and wars in the world. The Golden Light Sutra is one of the most beneficial ways to bring peace. This is something that anybody can do no matter how busy they are. Even if you can read only one page or just a few lines a day, if you do so continually you eventually finish reading the entire Golden Light Sutra.

The holy Golden Light Sutra is the king of the sutras. It is extremely powerful, fulfills all your wishes, and brings peace and all happiness up to enlightenment to all sentient beings as well. It is also extremely powerful in promoting world peace and protecting you, your country and the world. It also has great power to heal a country’s people.

For those who desire peace for themselves and others, this is the spiritual, or Dharma, way to bring about peace in a way that does not require you to harm, criticize or even to demonstrate against others. Just reading it can still bring peace. Also, you don’t have to be Buddhist for reading this Sutra to bring peace. Even non-Buddhists who desire peace can read it to good effect.

The Golden Light Sutra also protects individuals and countries from so-called natural disasters—disturbances of the wind, fire, earth and water elements—such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones, fires, tornadoes and so forth. Actually, such events are not natural because they derive from the appropriate causes and conditions—people’s past inner negative thoughts and actions meeting certain external conditions.

Thus the benefits of reading this Sutra are immeasurable. It is said that you create more merit by reciting a few lines of the Golden Light Sutra than by offering infinite buddhas precious jewels equal in number to the atoms of sand in the Pacific Ocean.

Reciting this Sutra directs your life toward enlightenment—it’s an unbelievable purification, it creates enormous merit, everything gets taken care of, your life becomes very easy, you receive whatever you wish for—and you also liberate numberless sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

So here, with my two palms pressed together, I request you to please recite the Golden Light Sutra for world peace as much as you can.

Why Preliminary Practices Are Important

1) Because you have received a perfect human rebirth

You have received an extremely rare, precious human body just this once. Not only that—you have received a perfect human rebirth, which is rarer still. This perfect human rebirth gives you the incredible opportunity to experience happiness in your present and future lives—such as rebirth in a pure land where you can become enlightened very quickly—or to again find a perfect human rebirth, meet a perfectly qualified guru, receive Mahayana teachings, train your mind on the path, and achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

By doing these practices you create the merit to enjoy a long life, find happiness, get whatever you need now and in future lives, eradicate all mistaken states of mind, gain all realizations, and attain the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara and full enlightenment. You also bring happiness into this and the future lives of numberless other sentient beings, causing them, too, to gain the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.

All this comes about because you now have this perfect human rebirth, which is more precious than all the wealth in the world, even a wish-fulfilling jewel. The wealth of the god realm is nothing compared to the value of this precious human body. And you can create the cause of all these incredible results every second of your life; every moment you don’t practice Dharma is irrevocably lost along with the profound benefits you would otherwise have gained. This is like losing limitless skies of billions of dollars, diamonds and even wish-fulfilling jewels. Yet even were all this inconceivably vast wealth to be lost, it would be nothing compared to the loss of wasting this most precious human body. Wasting even one second is a great loss.

2) Because worldly attainments alone do not bring suffering to a complete end

We have achieved all worldly qualities and psychic powers numberless times in previous lives but are still not free from the suffering of samsara because worldly attainments do not eradicate the cause of suffering and we have not gained the realizations of the lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment. To escape from suffering we have to actualize the four noble truths and develop renunciation of true suffering by recognizing what suffering actually is. Then constantly, day and night, we will seek liberation from samsara, realizing that its perfections are, in fact, in the nature of suffering, finding not even a second’s attraction to ordinary, worldly happiness.

Only the five paths to liberation—the paths of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation and no more learning—can bring all the defilements to an end, destroy all distracted thoughts and obstacles and their seeds, and make it impossible to ever be reborn again or experience suffering, sickness, relationship problems and death. Until we realize the four noble truths and complete these five paths, we will have to suffer in the beginningless samsara without end.

3) Because the purpose of life is to benefit others

The greatest way in which we can benefit sentient beings is to free them from suffering and lead them to enlightenment. In order to do that we first need to achieve enlightenment ourselves. That means actualizing the Mahayana path, and that means practicing the lam-rim. Thus the purpose of practicing the lam-rim is as vast as the limitless sky and we should dedicate our lives to actualizing the stages of the path to enlightenment. Ultimately this is the best way of benefiting sentient beings—liberating them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.

4) Because these practices benefit the practitioner

The purpose of the preliminary practices and meditations on the lam-rim and the reason for doing so many of them is for you to fulfill your own purpose—eradicate all your own defilements and mistaken minds and gain all the realizations of the path—and be able to work perfectly for the benefit of numberless sentient beings so that they, too, can actualize the path and achieve enlightenment. In other words, to fulfill your own purpose and that of others you need to purify all your obstacles, negative karma and defilements and create all the necessary conditions, that is, complete the accumulation of merit. You also need to receive blessings from your guru and for that you need to practice guru yoga. So that’s why all these practices are given—for you to purify your mind and accumulate merit.

If you do the practices as advised will not waste your life and, little by little, over time, doing some every day, they will gradually all get done. Practicing like this every day, you will collect skies of merit and purify many eons of negative karma, especially if you do your practices with bodhicitta.

5) Because life is short

Life is very short. This most precious human rebirth is very short, much shorter than a thousand years or even hundreds of years; and it’s constantly getting shorter. Furthermore, death can arrive at any time—any day, any hour, any minute, any second. Therefore you must do your best to engage in beneficial actions all the time, in other words, practice Dharma: meditate on the path that leads to bodhicitta and then live with bodhicitta, the cause of enlightenment; learn about and meditate on emptiness in order to develop the wisdom that directly eradicates all your defilements; and while living your daily life in all these meditations, you need to abide in correct guru devotion, a proper relationship with your virtuous friend. This is the essence of Dharma practice.

6) Because it’s hard to meet the right teacher

It is difficult to meet the right lama. Even if you do meet a qualified lama, he may not speak English. Then you have to find a reliable translator and that can be quite difficult too.

Sometimes a lama with many students doesn’t get to meet many of them very often to discuss the practices being done, so that’s why these are given all at once. In this way you’ll know what to focus on and will have your practices laid out for some years to come. Thus you’ll be able to make your life most meaningful and create the cause of all happiness, from now up to enlightenment.

Rinpoche’s advice scribed by Ven. Holly Ansett, 2007, and edited by Nicholas Ribush.