Kopan Course No. 03 & No. 04 (1972-73)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1972-1973 (Archive #022)

Notes taken during the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Third Kopan Meditation Course, October-November 1972, and the Fourth Kopan Meditation Course, March-April, 1973.  These notes sincerely attempt to present Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s comments and explanations given during these meditation courses as he read through the course text, The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought Training. Additional notes of a lecture given by Lama Thubten Yeshe during the Fourth Meditation Course are presented in Appendix II. You may also download the entire contents of these teachings as a pdf file.

Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa RInpoche and students at the Third Kopan Meditation Course, Nepal, December 1972. Photo donated by Adele Hulse.
Kopan Course Nos 3 & 4 Index Page

These notes are a somewhat paraphrased version of notes taken at Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche's discourses during the Third and Fourth Kopan Meditation Courses, predominantly the latter, by Brian Beresford and Nick Ribush. These discourses mainly consisted of comments and explanations made as Rinpoche read the course text, The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun of the Mahayana Thought TrainingThe page numbers referred to herein relate to the work copy of The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun used at the Fifth and Sixth (March-April, 1974) Meditation Courses.

Unfortunately, it is certain that what has been presented in this book and what was originally meant by Rinpoche resemble each other as closely as earth does sky. This is the result of the infantile clumsiness of those who attempted to interpret his holy speed while taking and rewriting these notes. For this the compilers sincerely apologize and humbly request that the holy guru will overlook these inadequacies and bless this work that it may somehow benefit each and every mother sentient being, bringing immediate release from suffering to all.

This book was first published by the students of the International Mahayana Institute, an organization of Western monks and nuns dedicated to learning and teaching Guru Shakyamuni’s Holy Dharma for the benefit of all beings. 


The Mind is Beginningless

  •  Introductions
  • The Mind is Beginningless
  • But How is it Possible to Receive Enlightenment?
  • The Lineage of the Mahayana Teachings
  • Morning Prayers  


  • Ecstatic Prostrating Meditation
  • The Visualization of Guru Shakyamuni
  • Guru Shakyamuni Prayer
  • Guru Shakyamuni Mantra
  • The Seven Branches
  • Mandala Offering
  • The Teachings of the Direct Meditations
  • Meditation  

Meditation One: Part I: The Perfect Human Rebirth 

  • The Eight Freedoms and Ten Endowments
  • The Perfect Human Rebirth: How is it Useful?
  • Wasting the Perfect Human Rebirth
  • The Eight Temporal Desires
  • The Perfect Human Rebirth: Is it Easy to Receive? 
  • How Should I make this Perfect Human Rebirth Highly Meaningful?   

Meditation One: Part II: Impermanence and Death

  • How Long is the Lifespan? 
  • Impermanence
  • Is Death Definite?
  • Is the Time of My Death Definite? 

Meditation One (conclusion) and Meditation Two (Parts I and II)

  •  The Enlightened One's Understanding of Evolution...
  • A Brief Explanation of Death...
  • The Intermediate State (Bardo Body
  • Prayer to be Said After Meditation One
  • Meditation Two: Part I: Three Lower Realms
  • The Hells
  • The Realm of the Pretas
  • The Animal Realm
  • Meditation Two: Part II: Refuge
  • The Knowledge of Buddha  

Meditation Two: Part II (conclusion) and Part III

  •  The Knowledge of Dharma
  • The Knowledge of Sangha
  • Instructions in the Practice of Refuge
  • The Benefits of Taking Refuge
  • Meditation Two: Part III: Karma
  • The Ten Immoralities of Body Speech and Mind
  • Karma is Definite
  • Karma is Expandable  

Meditation Two: Part III (conclusion) and Meditation Three  

  • It is Impossible to Experience the Result...
  • The Result of the Karma Created is Never Lost
  • Confession
  • Prayer to be Said After Meditation Two
  • Meditation Three
  • The General Sufferings of Samsara
  • What is Nirvana
  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The First Noble Truth: True Suffering  

Meditation Three (conclusion), Meditation Four, Meditation Five (partial)

  • The Second Noble Truth: The True Cause: The Delusions
  • How Delusion and Karma Bind Us to Samsara...
  • Prayer to be Said After Meditation Three
  • Meditation Four
  • The Three Upper Realms of Suffering
  • The Mahayana Equilibrium Meditation
  • Prayer to be Said After Meditation Four
  • Meditation Five
  • The Seven Techniques of Mahayana Cause and Effect
  • Prayer to be Said After the Third Technique  

NOTE: Rinpoche did not cover the text past this point.

Appendix One: The Eight Mahayana Precepts

Appendix Two: Lama Yeshe on Ordination