E-letter No. 99: August 2011

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal 2011
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear LYWA friends and supporters,

Thank you for receiving our monthly e-letter. And thank you for your kind support of our work. 

Dagri Rinpoche
We were very honored to have Dagri Rinpoche and the Kurukulla sangha visit the Archive for tea August 1. We showed Rinpoche our setup and he kindly blessed our library/shrine room. It was a great visit.

While at Kurukulla Center Dagri Rinpoche gave commentary on Je Tsongkhapa's The Foundation of All Good Qualities. You can watch video of these teachings on the Kurukulla website.


Our Mid-Year Appeal
As we talked about in our July e-letter, we are in the midst of our 2011 mid-year appeal. Thanks to all who have contributed so far! We need to raise $50,000 to help us cover our staff and infrastructure costs. These are costs which are not directly related to any particular book or project but rather are costs for staff computers, archive storage, core staff and other overhead costs.

As we mentiond before, in recognition of donations of $100 or more, we will send you one of our new DVDs, a copy of a sutra, or another of our publications that we haven't sent you previously -- a surprise gift! Now, we also have a special gift for donors of $250 or more: we will send you an 8x10 archival photo of your choice, professionally printed and matted in an 11x14 mat. Check out the choices in this special gallery.

We would be most grateful if you would help us reach our goal as soon as possible -- we still have more than $30,000 to go. Please visit our Donations page and indicate that your donation is a "General Donation." Thank you so much for your kindness and support; we couldn't do this work without you!

Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche
We recently received new advices from Rinpoche that were compiled at Kopan Monastery, where Rinpoche is recovering from his stroke. One is a collection of quotes on compassion; these were also compiled into a colorful pdf that you can download, print and display anywhere you need a reminder of the importance of developing compassion.

Rinpoche gave extensive advice to his physiotherapist at Kopan about what differentiates Buddhism from Christianity. And Rinpoche also spoke with him about the how the good heart is the root of all happiness, which is this month's e-letter teaching below.

Altogether there were more than 20 new advices added to Rinpoche's Online Advice Book in August. Read a letter Rinpoche wrote to a homeless man who was spontaneously practicing tong-len; an extensive Q&A between Rinpoche and a monk in retreat on studying lamrim; a teaching on karma given to a student who wrote to ask about her experience of many personal obstacles; and much more.

You can see a list of all new advices added in August here.

New eBooks Available
We have recently published eBook version of two of our out of print titles: Teachings From Tibet and The Yoga of Offering Food. Click on the titles to see links to the vendors who are now carrying these eBooks, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.

Speaking of eBooks, we have just updated some of our Initiates Only publications. Lama Zopa Rinpoche recently requested that we change the titles of our popular "Chats" books to A Teaching on Heruka and A Teaching on Yamantaka. These books have been out of print for a while but you can find information about how to order newly-updated pdf versions of each by clicking on the title links above.

What Else is New On Our Website

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1976.View more amazing photos from 1976 in our Online Image Gallery. A couple of months ago we posted our first series of photos from this very active year of travel and teaching by the lamas. Included in this second volume:

• Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute in Australia giving teachings and hanging prayer flags;  

• Views of Manjushri Institute in England, with images of the lamas teaching there; and

• Group photos taken at the end of a course given in Taceno, Italy.

We have also recently posted excerpts from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings from the 8th Kopan Course in 1975:

Finding a Spiritual Guide
Sentient Beings are Like Wish-fulfilling Jewels
The Three Poisonous Minds

You can read the entire course transcript from the 8th Kopan Course here.

Thank you again for all your kind support of our work. As mentioned above, we leave you with this recent advice from Rinpoche on the importance of developing a good heart.

Much love,
Nick Ribush

This Month's Teaching: The Good Heart is the Root of Happiness

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Manjushri Institute, England, 1976.Since I had a stroke, I started to see a physiotherapist in Nepal. Suddenly my physiotherapist asked questions while doing physiotherapy, then at the very end he said, “not so many people in the world have a good heart.” Usually when we say that, it means being rough and tough to others.

Here is my answer to that question, my way of thinking about that. Usually it is regarded as less important in the world to have a good heart, instead we are very tough and uncaring, we cheat and hurt others, we tell lies and cause loss to others to get our own happiness, profits and so forth.

Even if other people don’t practice the good heart, still we should practice the good heart because we want happiness and we don’t want suffering. Even if other sentient beings don’t practice the good heart or they try to harm us, cause us loss, kill us and so forth, if we practice only the good heart from our own side—if we are kind and only benefit others with our body, speech and mind or at the very least we don’t cause harm to other sentient beings, then we will experience happiness.

As a result of one act of kindness, the good heart, we will experience the result, happiness, for thousands of lifetimes. From that one act of kindness, benefiting someone with our body, speech and mind or at the least not harming another, the result is happiness. This is the result, even if we are looking only for our own happiness.

Generating the good heart helps all sentient beings, and at least not harming sentient beings purifies instantly our negative karmas and defilements created from beginningless rebirth and we collect unbelievable merit.

It is mentioned in the Bodhicaryavatara by the great holy being, the bodhisattva Shantideva, that even thinking about healing the headache of sentient beings has benefit. No question if we are actually working for the happiness of all sentient beings. There is no need to mention the benefit from that, the most unbelievable, unbelievable great benefit that has.

By having a good heart, and at the very least not harming others, it brings us happiness and by the way brings happiness to all sentient beings. If we harm someone, whether an animal or human being then we receive harm from others for many hundreds and thousands of lifetimes, and we can’t benefit others for that length of time. When we can’t benefit others, then the purpose of our life becomes meaningless, the purpose of our life is lost and we become totally lost, like being stuck in a quagmire of mud or in the ocean.

By generating compassion, the good heart and loving kindness to someone—to even one sentient being—it brings us to full enlightenment. We achieve not only liberation from samsara, but also full enlightenment, buddhahood—the complete cessation of all the defilements and sufferings and the complete realizations, omniscience.

So, the purpose of generating the good heart is incredible. We can gain all the realizations—whatever we want to achieve and we will have no obstacles, no blockage to benefit ALL SENTIENT BEINGS, to free them from all the sufferings and causes of suffering, and to be able to give them all the causes of temporal and ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.

It is common knowledge even in our own lives, that someone who has a good heart not only makes himself happy, but also makes his family and parents happy. He can even make someone who doesn’t know him happy, without even mentioning being able to bring ultimate happiness, enlightenment, to all sentient beings. Definitely that person can bring peace to this world. Living life with the good heart is the most important thing, and even animals become happy with us—even the birds and dogs, everybody.

We must care for this tiny sentient being, this ant, that has been our brother and sister in the past. All these ants have been human beings before, like us, then due to ignorance and not knowing the I, not knowing Dharma, from anger and attachment they are born in the lower realms as an ant and so forth, due to delusion and karma. We can’t imagine falling into the lower realms and being born as an ant after we die. It’s hard to imagine. By not understanding Dharma and not practicing Dharma, then due to delusion and karma we may be born as ant. Can you imagine?

We have been born like that numberless times, after being a human then we are reborn in the lower realms as an ant. We have been exactly the same as this ant or another insect so tiny that we can only see it through a microscope. We have been exactly the same as this tiny sentient being, or as a being with a body as huge as a mountain.

Since I had this stroke, paralysis, it gives an idea how it is possible. We can’t imagine being born like this, as an ant and so forth—we can’t imagine the suffering. We can’t even stand the human being’s problems and sufferings, so no way can we stand the sufferings of the animals, hell beings, pretas and so forth. This is why we must understand Dharma and practice the good heart now. Iit is very important.

Buddha taught 100 volumes called the Kangyur, and then the great scholars and many Indian pandits—the six ornaments and the two sublime disciples and so forth—gave commentaries on these texts. The commentaries are called the Tengyur and there are more than 200 volumes. Then there are also the great scholars and holy beings in Tibet and all their teachings.

Buddhism came from India, from Buddha, and then went to Tibet and Nepal. Buddhism became well established in Tibet, so many people practiced and served and so many became bodhisattvas and buddhas in Tibet. Tibet is unbelievable; there are so many holy places, also in Nepal. When Buddhism in India degenerated, then in Tibet it became like sunshine.

Buddhism is not made up or created by Tibetan lamas, without a lineage from ancient times. In the early days Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as Lamaism but it is totally wrong to call it that.

With Buddhism, the more we learn, the deeper our knowledge. Buddhism goes deeper and deeper, but with other religions that have just a little learning, we touch the bottom. Buddhism is like an ocean and the real understanding is when we achieve omniscient mind, when we become Buddha.

Therefore, generating the good heart to everybody—towards insects, hungry ghosts, hell beings, human beings, suras and asuras—is the very essence of life. The good heart is the real meaning of life and the most important education; it is the root of our happiness and the happiness of all sentient beings. 

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche Rinpoche gave this advice about the good heart at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in June 2011. Scribe, Ven. Holly Ansett.