Healing Course (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Melbourne, Australia, 1991 (Archive #874)

The first part of a series of teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia in August 1991. This series formed the basis for the book Ultimate Healing, published by Wisdom Publications.

The second part of the series can be accessed here.

 Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Lawudo Retreat Centre, Nepal, 1970.
Rinpoche's Early Life

I would like to thank everybody, all of you for coming here and that to, to us, together, to help each other. Us all together to help each other to develop our mind and, the most important thing in our life, to develop our good heart, the good heart, the method and wisdom. So that we can benefit more to other living beings, we can help better and more depth. So I would like to say thank you very much for giving this opportunity. Okay, yeah, yeah then we can start, introduction. Yeah, short.

Bob: Me to start, Rinpoche? We did mention to people, Rinpoche, that we would be doing this in this session, to say who we are and what brought us here and what we're dealing with in our lives and whatever. Perhaps a little bit about our background. I guess I'll start.

Rinpoche: Do I have to give my story? My story begins with the yeti, snowball man. Snowball man? In the snow mountain.

Audience: Yeti.

Audience: You met him?

Rinpoche: No, I have one retreat cave, hermitage in the Himalayan mountain at 14,000 feet. So this snowball man this, this animal it comes it has one trail, it comes close next to the hermitage, near the hermitage, come, I think, when it gets colder I think it comes down from the high snow mountains, then it comes down to live in a warmer place down below where there are trees, in the lower place. But then I think when it gets warmer, I think goes up to the snow mountains so, where there's the hermitage, where I go sometimes there. So the, I think that mountain is the trail the snowman goes.

So, I didn't see because I didn't spend enough of my life there, but my uncle's so, my uncle, I have a, actually I have quite a number of uncles and one uncle, there are two or three uncles who are born from my grandmother. So one of the younger uncles, who is very good hearted and took care of my grandmother for many years. She become blind, could not see. So my uncle was staying in the hermitage up on the, between the rocks, the very high mountains. So he was doing retreat. While he was doing one practice, one very powerful practice called the pure, the prostration, very powerful purification, so as one very powerful practice for development of the mind to, for quick realizations of the path. So my uncle was doing retreat, then at the same time he was taking care of my grandmother, who's very, very old, completely blind and could not see. So, he was cooking food and taking, bringing her out, bringing her out for peepee, kakas, to bring inside. He served for seven years while he was doing the practice. So he is still alive.

So he used to look after animals, so much of his life spent early times looking after animals. Not yaks, yaks but most of the animals that we have up there are not quite yaks, it's the wife of the yak, huh? [Dzo] No, not dzo, it looks like a yak but it's not yak. Yak is the male, and they're similar to yak that which produce milk, which gives milk and gives birth. Yak is the father. But usually we say yak milk, yak butter but it's not quite right.

So my uncle, this younger uncle when he was looking after animals he saw this snowball man on the mountain. But if you don't harm, it doesn't disturb you. It's huge kind of very, very powerful being. It didn't, you don't, it doesn't, there's no stories that harm people or animals very much. He saw and a lot of people see footprint in the snow, huge footprint and maybe also the dung and things like that and it makes a lot of noises. I think especially winter times, when it starts winter, then I think it comes down. So even if, my uncle said that even though they were in the house, in the high mountain, piled up stones, it's a very primitive place, piled up stones just square house, and so even though he was in the house but he could feel the vibration when the yeti was coming closer. There was a very, very strong vibration, even the, so the people who look after animals they have huge dogs, the Tibetan, very vicious huge dog, mastiff? Mastiff dogs, so even usually they don't not so much scared but when the yeti comes even the dog gets, try to come in the house. And so the animals they run away, yaks and all those. And so I think that people they make, seems they make fire and somehow it maybe helps.

So it makes a lot of noise. It able to make like people talking, just passing through like people talking, all kinds of noise it makes. One family has a head, I think found some dead body, found a head of the yeti. So sometimes when I was going back to Solu Khumbu, this is called Solu Khumbu, so when I was going to this hermitage so I meet sometimes tourists when they were coming down, I meet some tourist, so they say hello and then they, I have very surprising thing for to show them because some tourist they got a few hairs from this family, the hairs of the yeti, so they were taking away as a very precious thing. So they, Look what I've got and take back home. I think very precious souvenir. And then I think some, quite a number of my uncles they saw this, they saw the snowball man.

So I was born this place called, in Nepal, the Himalayan ridge, near Mt Everest, very close to Mt Everest. I think maybe it's one day, maybe one and half days to the base camp, at the root of Mt Everest, and very cold. So I was born, in Solu Khumbu, there's two places, lower and upper. Lower is little more hotter, upper is very cold one, next to the snow mountains. There's forest mountain and also snow mountain. And there one village called, one small village called Thangme. Very, very primitive place.

And my family was very, very poor and I think when my father was alive, I think that time they had a little bit more wealth. But after my father died, and when I was born or in my mother's womb at that time a lot of disaster happened to the family. Many animals what my mother had died and a lot of troubles happened. And then I think my father must have died maybe when I was in mother's womb or just came out or maybe when she was carrying in the basket, around that time. So I don't remember, I don't have visualization how my father looked like. I don't remember, I don't think, maybe when I was very small baby but I don't remember at all what my father looks like. But his dress, but his dress is Tibetan dress even though, because the Sherpa, these people are called Sherpas, they were originally from Tibet, from lower place of Tibet. And I think there have been some disunity in the lower part of Tibet so then some group of people I think they escaped to the border of Tibet and Nepal. And I think they stayed on the Nepalese area and they, possibly they brought a lot of, they came with lots of animals, so they lived on animals, goats and sheep like that. Then later they finished and so they didn't have food, so they went in the forest to try to find some plants to eat, so they lived on plants.

Then after some time somehow, due to the some past, some good action then the potato, this potato I think maybe came from west, or from somewhere it came, and so our main food is potato, main field is potatoes. So then they became Nepalese citizens, though originally they are from Tibet. Then they became Nepalese citizens. I think they became a little bit violent at the beginning and they destroyed the forest, then I think Nepal developed the law, Nepalese law. So I think sent the Nepalese army to control them, to fight. Then later they all surrendered to the Nepalese government, then they became Nepalese citizens.

So this place, this area is called East, of Nepal. East. So in Tibetan language Shar, so the people are called Sherpas, the trekking, climbing over mountains, portering or guide, bringing the tourist on the mountains and things like that. I think there are a few Sherpas who climbed Mt Everest.

So, what I didn't, so what I remember was, we were very poor. So in my family there was only my mother who take care because all of us are very small children, and myself, my brother, and sister, so sister's a little bit, before me there's one girl, she's a little bit, she could help a little bit to look after the animals, take the animals out and put in the forest, mountain and to bring back in the evening times. So she was a little bit able to help my mother, but otherwise rest of us just small children and playing in the house and the field. Spending the whole day playing in the field. And that's all. Just mother make food, then we eat, then go to play - that's all.

And then so, nighttime the blanket that we wear, there was no other blanket so what we wear is father's coat. That was only the dress that we, father's coat is our blanket, like the sleeping bag, nighttime to wear. So the whole family is covered by father's coat. My mother and myself and then brothers, sisters, everybody under the father's coat. Father had I think maybe, I think sheep, animal, sheep coat, called a chuba. So I remember in the mornings we don't get up early and then while we are laying down together, then talking, looking at the father's coat and talking, Oh, this is father's coat, like that. This I remember.

So, my mother had a lot of difficulties. So she was a lot in debts, first father passed away then she was the only that's left who could take care, who looks after all of us the family. Everything, food, everything and so somehow she owed a lot of money. So I remember when I was a small child that people used to come to get money from her. Tax, people get tax and many things. So my mother didn't have money so she makes alcohol, potato alcohol. The very small potatoes, in our country these very small potatoes people don't eat, so they give to animals, yaks, cows or they make alcohol. But this alcohol is very, very strong alcohol. Very, very strong. So my mother used to make alcohol time to time. So, many hours, so there's one big pot then a small pot, then another small pot, another small pot. So it's like, look like a stupa. So on the top, there is another small pot. So what happens is, you make firewood for many hours then here, the first pot is filled with potatoes, then the vapor goes up on top of that small pot then it creates drops then that, inside this big container there's another small container. By vapor going up there the drops that is collected up there it drops down one by one. So this is the alcohol how it is made. It's very, it takes a long time. So many, many hours making fire.

So she does this sometimes and then she offer, my mother offer, while the person is there offer alcohol, that, and then after the person leaves, when the person is left from the upstairs, most of the house has two stories, downstairs you collect, you fill up with tree leaves so the animals can live warm, downstairs, and then there is steps going up. Then upstairs people living, that's the style of house.

So after the person left outside then, as I remember, my mother used to, my mother was throwing dust from the floor, the man was, probably the man scolded or demanded very much. So I was playing around the fireplace and then after the person left then my mother picks up dust from the floor and then throws it behind the person. Saying, I don't know, maybe the person dies soon or something, I'm not sure what. Because I think the person gave a very hard time to her, asking for money.

So anyway and, but poor, but we had a few fields, potato fields, so there's always enough food from the field. And she was the only one who take care of all the children, and, sometimes, so our fire, we make fire with wood collected from the forest. So no other children has the capacity to do that, so my mother was the only one who goes to the forest. Spend the whole afternoon to cut, to cut dry wood or cut wood then sometimes she's unable to come back early at home so already become dusk and so three or four of us who are waiting for the mother to come back to get food and we were waiting at the door, at the gate, sitting and waiting for the mother. So then after a long time, but there was moon so we look at the moon and we talk about the moon and that, , so after a long time then mother comes with a big, with a huge pile of wood from the forest. And then, then again she has to make food, she has to make fire and make food for us.

So, and then sometimes, one time I remember my mother was, my mother went to pick up firewood and she came back and she could not make food. There was no fire. So we used to sit round the fireplace, there was no fire because we could not make fire, so small, could not make even fire. So my mother was, because she was, after she brought the firewood then she had headache, she was very, very sick so she was laying down next to the fireplace and then she was calling Ama, she was calling Ama, Ama is the mother, she was calling my grandmother. Ama, so I think she was having much pain. So I remember that time, so at home, so there's a fireplace, square fireplace, there's iron, iron like this with four legs so we put a pot there. So usually my seat is here, then the other brother and sisters they stay there and my mother is always that side. So she was laying down there and no fire, cold, and she was making noise calling her grandmother.

Then I went there next to, I went to see mother, next to mother, but nothing that I could do.

And, so anyway, so when I was very, when I was very small, very small, that time I, when I was young, when I was staying at the home I did have very natural interest to, monastery or to be monk or to take that kind of life.

And even when I was very small, I had many other children that we play together. So even the, even most of the plays, we used to play as giving initiations or, even children time in the field, giving initiations or doing prayers or just, we didn't know any prayer, but just imitating. Just doing things.

And then my mother, when I was over five, my mother put, my mother send me to monastery, there's a monastery next to my home and in that monastery there was one of my uncles there. So she asked somebody to carry on the shoulder and put in the monastery, to learn Tibetan alphabet from my uncle. So I was very naughty, I was, I stayed there one or two days again escape, I escape down, because there I don't have many friends to play in the monastery. So my uncle, the alphabet teacher, he teach, then as soon as he goes in the room to cook, to make tea or to cook and then while he went in the room, in the kitchen to cook, then I escape to home. So that I can play. And so I did that quite a few times.

Then I was very small so I used to be very scared, the rocks, dark, rock, where there's darkness, rocks or kind of dark, kind of dark inside the rocks, something in the road. So I used to run down from the monastery until I reached my home. Straight without resting, just straight right down.

And then one time I think, one time it was full of snow, the whole place was full of snow. So I think I had a very simple dress, very simple my mother made, very, very simple cloth, very strong cloth that trouser, trouser and shirt all together, just one. So I think I didn't know how to open that, so I think I did toilet inside. So from the monastery with the toilet inside I  went to my mother's home. Then my mother was outside, then she took off, because of course she could smell, so she took off my clothes. There are many, there were other people, so she cleaned everything and then I stayed one or two days, then again she sent me back to the monastery.

So I was, it was very near to home so kind of the intention, even though the alphabet wasn't difficult to learn, I think my teacher said I learned very fast, I remember when I was learning the alphabet there was one syllable, there was one syllable I had difficulties, one syllable I had difficulties to learn. So the, our custom, when we read, you point, you read with a stick, pointed stick like this. So I created some heavy action, heavy negative action because the syllable which I could not memorize so I, with the stick I made a hole. The letter which I find difficult so I made a hole. So created some, very heavy actions there.

Then, because I was very disobedient, didn't stay in the monastery, so then my mother sent to another place, you had to cross snow mountains, it takes two, it takes sometimes two days, one day, depending how you travel or depending how the road is. So another place, my mother sent, there's also one of my uncles there, so you have to cross snow mountains, very steep snow mountains, you have to cross, and then very dangerous mountains, water coming down, stones falling down. Stones, rocks, falling down constantly, with rurrh, rurrh. Then some small stones they fall down, tiiing, tiiing, it hits down there. So constantly like this noise happens, so there's also water comes down. There is no extra trail to pass. So you have to cross, so when you go to other place you have to cross down and when you come back you have to climb up that.

So like this, and the other place I lived seven years, so from there I could not escape to home, it is very far. So seven years. That time, the Tibetan Mahayana sect there's four, the Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug and Sakya. There are four sects. So at that time most of the monasteries in that area are Nyingma-pa. So that's the prayer what I memorize, recite. Then, so with my teacher, we came to see my mother and take initiations from other lamas from this same monastery where I was, where I stayed before. So then went back and come back, went back, passed, four times traveled, this all the dangers, peaks but I never, somehow I never got killed by these stones or the, that's quite amazing because there's one very dangerous mountain where this, where a lot of stones comes down. In the past, west, one to two Sherpas and I think some Western person got killed. Stones fell down and they got killed.

But always before you cross this, everybody stop here everybody stop here and—drinking alcohol is very common in our country, the Sherpa country, very common. This is the main, this is the main thing what gives them inspiration. What makes them to, for anything, to work or for mostly whatever, there are a few people who don't drink, some monks, but there are many monks also it becomes habit or custom in their country, also drink.

So however, so before they cross this mountain so everybody drink the potato alcohol, this very strong one, they drink this and then they rub hands making warm, and then they carry very, very heavy loads, huge square butter tins, tins full of butter, so two or three like that they carry. Huge loads and then sometimes they push animals, they also bring animal, yaks. So somehow, so people pray very, very hard until they reach to this other end, they, constantly everybody pray whatever they can until, until they reach here. But as soon as they reach here then prayers finished. Everybody is relaxed. Sure, yes, yes, that's right.

Okay, we stop here. My story went too long.