E-letter No. 88: September 2010

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Raleigh, NC September 2009 (Archive #1792)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche in LYWA's back yard, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2010.

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

I hope you are well. Thank you so much for your kind interest in the Archive.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche visits LYWA
We were blessed when Rinpoche accepted our invitation to stay at the new LYWA house when he passed through Boston early this month and Rinpoche was able to stay with us three nights. Although we had not yet actually moved into the house (see below), we were able to furnish it comfortably enough for Rinpoche, Ven Roger, Ven Sangpo and Ven Kunsang, who works for LYWA traveling the world with Rinpoche recording his holy speech, to stay there wanting for nothing! It really was a blissful time for us.

The first day Rinpoche was there he meditated in his room during the morning, then came out and did the Dzambhala and preta water offering practice. After lunch, Rinpoche went to Walden Pond and did an extensive blessing of the water there.

Photo: Wendy Cook

Photo: Wendy Cook
Lama Zopa Rinpoche with LYWA staff at Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2010. From left: Wendy Cook, Jen Barlow, Rinpoche, Ani Desal, Nick Ribush.

To see more images of Rinpoche's visit to LYWA's new home and the blessing at Walden Pond, see our Online Image Gallery.

Photo: Tsultrim DavisThat evening Rinpoche had dinner with the family of Damchoe, Kurukulla Center’s interpreter. The next day Rinpoche had lunch at Wisdom Publications, then visited with Geshe Tsulga at Kurukulla Center, blessed the Kalachakra stupa and gave a talk on the benefits of stupas.

For more photos of Rinpoche's visit to Kurukulla Center see Kurukulla's Facebook page.

The next day Rinpoche and his entourage left by car for North Carolina (see below).

Move-In Date
Since our new house is less than half a mile from where we are now, we have been gradually moving bits and pieces over, but the main move will be Thursday October 7. Accordingly the Archive will be closed Wednesday October 6 through Tuesday October 12, while we pack, move and regroup.

Thanks to the great kindness shown by many of you, we have been able to reprint five of our most popular titles so that we can keep sending them out all over the world, wherever wanted or needed. We’re approaching 600,000 free books in print. It is only through the kindness of our supporters that we are able to spread the Dharma in this way and we are eternally grateful to you for your generous help.

So soon we’ll have plenty of copies of these books and will be happy to send out as many copies as you like.

The Light of the Path Retreat
As mentioned above, after his Boston visit, Rinpoche drove to Asheville North Carolina, to lead the two-week Light of the Path retreat. I have just returned from it and it was wonderful and amazing. If you have not done a retreat with Rinpoche, you must! It’s a unique Dharma-packed experience morning to night...well, morning to morning, usually. It was broadcast live but you can see and hear the entire retreat via FPMT's Online Media Center. Last year’s too.

Online Image Gallery Feature: 1974

Portrait of Lama Yeshe on the roof at Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1974. This month we invite you to browse through two albums worth of some of our best images from 1974

There are many pictures of those who were ordained that year, and pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Zong Rinpoche and other high lamas.

There is also an album of a series of photos taken of Lama during a teaching a Kopan, showing his many varied expressions!

We have many more from images this time period, so more albums will be added from this year soon.

Thank you again to all our donors and photographers for sharing their personal collections.

New on the Web
Listen online to Rinpoche's teachings on bodhicitta given in Deer Park, Madison in July, 1999. The teaching includes advice on how to use depression and other problems to develop the good heart. We have also posted the edited version of this same teaching here

Read more excerpts from Rinpoche's teachings during the 9th Kopan Course in 1976:
The Certainty of Death, Practicing Patience with our Enemy, The Power of the Buddha and Buddha Nature and the Omniscient Mind. You can read the entire transcript of Rinpoche's teachings from that course here.

Kalachakra Stupa Update
I recently sent out a final appeal for the stupa I’ve been responsible for building at Kurukulla Center, where I’ve also been director for the past couple of years.

I would like to thank those of you who kindly responded. We still have a ways to go to meet our goal, so please contribute to this amazing project if you can.

Thank you so much. This time we leave you with a teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche from the 2009 Light of the Path retreat.

Much love,
Nick Ribush

Equalizing the Eight Worldly Dharmas

Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the beach in Adelaide, Australia, 1983. Photo: Wendy Finster. There are so many problems when you live life with attachment and worldly concern. You want comfort and happiness and therefore suffer and become unhappy when there is discomfort. You look for a good reputation, wanting many people to say good things about you, and suffer when that is not happening or the opposite happens and you have a bad reputation. You grasp at praise wanting other people to say good things to you and your mind goes down when that does not happen or you are criticized. You grasp at receiving things and are disappointed when nothing comes. First you advertise your birthday to other people, then when you receive no gifts or birthday presents from your friends, your mind goes down, down, down and you get depressed and unhappy!

These problems come because the mind is grasping. The mind grasping at comfort and pleasure, reputation, praise, and receiving material things is the root problem. It is because the mind is grasping that there is dislike and unhappiness when the things you want are not happening or the opposite is happening. Nagarjuna explained that we need to equalize these thoughts1:

Receiving and not receiving material things,
comfort and discomfort,
Good and bad reputation, praise and criticism—
Equalize these eight worldly dharmas
And banish them from your mind.

If you check the nature of your mind when it is grasping at these things, it is not peaceful but disturbed by emotional thoughts. There is no inner peace or calm. Grasping at these four objects of desire is a big problem in our lives and all the other problems come from that, but when these four are equalized and there is no more thought of the eight worldly dharmas, you have REAL inner happiness, the happiness of Dharma.

Asanga explained about the happiness of Dharma. There are eight or nine points in the Kadampa teachings comparing samsaric pleasure to Dharma happiness. I cannot remember all of them at the moment, but one is that samsaric pleasure is so small while Dharma happiness is unbelievably great; another is that samsaric pleasure is only in the nature of suffering while Dharma happiness is real happiness.

When your mind is living in Dharma with the thought of impermanence—that death is going to happen today— you do not have all those problems people suffer from in the world. You do not have all those problems that people have to go to see psychologists and many other professionals (I cannot remember all the different names!) to discuss, which makes life very expensive. Being a friend of attachment and the concept of permanence—which is not true—and living life that way brings a whole package of problems. It is exactly how it is shown in the movies or on TV. Life becomes exactly like that, filled with problems one after another.

It is like a spider’s web2; a spider makes a BIG web to catch insects and get happiness for him- or herself (I am not sure which one), then hides somewhere in a corner. One part of our life is like this, the normal one; it is nothing new. We have had this kind of life from beginningless time. This is not the first time. We think this is the first problem. No! We have gone through all these problems from beginningless rebirths. Here I am just introducing the subject without much elaboration.

Now when you are living with Dharma by thinking of impermanence and death, you make yourself free from all these problems. Freeing yourself from the concept of permanence, attachment and so on means also freeing yourself from anger and all the problems that come from anger such as jealousy. You make yourself free from all those sicknesses and chronic diseases of the mind and open the door for peace. It is amazing. You give yourself peace and from that great inner peace comes a healthy mind and a healthy body. That is how it works. Your healthy Dharma mind makes your physical body healthy also.

Wow! Then it saves a lot of money! Your healthy Dharma mind—living life with the thought of impermanence—immediately cuts out many unnecessary activities and expenses. It saves an unbelievable amount of money, and the money you have left can then be used only for meaningful things that are beneficial for you and beneficial for others. All the unbelievable expenses that go to feed attachment to this life are cut—thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions and billions spent for the emotional mind. Can you imagine? An unbelievable, unbelievable amount of money is spent for attachment, which is a wrong concept and in nature a disturbing thought; an unbelievable amount of money is spent for the self-cherishing thought, while the money spent to benefit other sentient beings sincerely from the heart or for your enlightenment, liberation or even for the happiness of your future lives is very little.

This is just a little elaboration to make things clear, to get the basic idea; an introduction to help us see life more clearly. Like using a telescope to see something very far away or a microscope to see atoms or tiny sentient beings, similarly here we use the Dharma to see our life and go beyond. Through Dharma wisdom we can see what is mistaken, what is correct; what is useless, what is useful; what is meaningless, what is meaningful; what is to be abandoned, what is to be practiced; what brings suffering and what brings happiness.

It is all to do with the mind. It all depends on the attitude, which way one thinks; whether one lives with the mind in the concept of permanence or impermanence. It makes a H-U-G-E difference in life, like the difference between the sky and the earth. It is amazing! When the mind is living in the concept of impermanence, suddenly you no longer have ALL those hundreds of thousands of problems.

Think in this way: 

There were the two sublime disciples of the Buddha, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana; the Six Ornaments, the pandits Nagarjuna, Asanga, Chandrakirti and so forth; and many other great Indian yogis such as Naropa, Tilopa and Saraha. They wrote many texts, taught and gave unbelievable, incredible benefit to sentient beings and to the teachings of the Buddha in this world. Now we can only hear their names and see the texts left by them and some caves and places where they meditated and achieved realizations. Therefore, there is no question that I myself can die even today. That is nothing. I can die even today…

After that, many great lamas appeared in each of the four traditions in Tibet, including Padmasambhava and Longchen Rabjampa; Marpa and Milarepa; the five great Sakya pandits; Lama Tsong Khapa and his disciples, and so forth. They completed the path to enlightenment and gave incredible benefit to sentient beings and to the teachings of the Buddha. Now we cannot see them, just the places where they practiced, like the caves of Lama Tsong Khapa and Milarepa, and their texts, nothing else. They all passed away. Therefore, I myself can die even today…

Now think of all the virtuous friends you have met, like Lama Yeshe who was kinder than all the numberless past, present and future Buddhas. In the past we were able to receive teachings from Lama and like the sun shining he gave incredible great benefit to this world, to sentient beings and to us. Lama was so entertaining as well! He brought such extremely worthwhile entertainment and incredible joy. Now that aspect does not exist.

Then, Kyabje Ribur Rinpoche, those who received teachings and initiations will remember him; Kyabje Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, for those who had the great fortune to receive teachings from him a long time ago; and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, the great, great pandit, scholar, highly attained yogi and enlightened being. Many virtuous friends came, but now we cannot see them. Think particularly of those virtuous friends with whom you made a Dharma connection and who have passed away. Now those aspects no longer exist. Therefore, I myself can die even today…

Each time cut the attachment.

Now think of your family members who have passed away. Think of your father and mother if they have passed away, then think of all your friends and the people you knew who have died. Therefore, I myself can die any time; I can die even today…

Then there were so many people born on the same day as you in this world, who were the same age and who have already died. Therefore, I myself can die even today…


1. Letter to a Friend, v.29.
2. Rinpoche actually uses the word “website.”

Excerpted from the teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on September 9, 2009 at the Light of the Path retreat held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Edited by Ven Sarah Thresher in a compilation titled Start the Day with Bodhicitta, forthcoming from LYWA.