Kopan Course No. 33 (2000): Audio and Unedited Transcripts, Continued

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal. (Archive #1257)

The following are excerpts of the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Thirty-third Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 2000. Included is an oral transmission of the Medicine Buddha mantra and portions of the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

Lectures 6-10 are below; the first five lectures can be found here. You can also read the entire lightly edited transcript here.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Long Life Puja, Kopan Monastery, Nepal.
Day 6: How Things Appear to Exist from their Own Side

...as they are in the reality transitory, not looking at them in their nature – that which is transitory. Looking that they last long time, permanent, apprehend that way, then the result is only suffering. The concept of permanence becomes basis to arise discriminating mind: attachment, anger, all these disturbing negative emotional thoughts. That makes immediate disturbing one’s own mental continuum. Instead of giving peace to one’s own mental continuum, it only causes disturbance to one’s own mental continuum. And, also, it makes oneself to engage in negative karma and leave negative imprint back on the mental continuum and that creates samsara. These, attachment, anger, ignorance, and then motivating karma, creates, produces samsara. Like this, result is only suffering.

Without realising, without meditating impermanence, death – not looking at these phenomena’s impermanent nature, the result of this wrong concept leads oneself only to suffering, endless suffering of samsara.

Die and reborn, die and reborn, continuously, and experience suffering of samsara. Now think: not only these causative phenomena, all the rest, the uncaused phenomena, un-produced, the permanent phenomena – all these phenomena, all the existence, that which comes in two divisions, two types of phenomena - impermanent and permanent phenomena. So all these phenomena, including ‘I’, action, object – all, what they are, is what is merely labeled by the mind.

So you analyse, meditate this way. This is a good example, to meditate on emptiness. So there’s year

So when we think of ‘year’ there’s, in our mind, how that appears is a real year. Not this ear. Not this one. ‘Y-e-a-r’. not ‘e-a-r’. Year. Later you can meditate also on the ear.

Anyway, by the way, as we meditate on the emptiness here, impermanence, then meditate on emptiness. So, ‘very powerful’ means to cut the delusions, the cause of the suffering. The true suffering, the true cause of the suffering – by ceasing that, the true suffering ceased.

So when we think of ‘year’, how does it appear? The year is something inherently existent year, really year. In other words, real year appearing from there. Real year. If you put it in the simple explanation, according to how it appears to our mind and the way we apprehend ‘year’, the way we think of ‘year’ is as a real year, not merely labeled by the mind.

The meaning of ‘real’ for us – for us, when we use the word ‘real’ in our daily life it means, actually, we should know, actually people are talking, yourself is talking, the false, the real ‘I’. When you say ‘me’, ‘I’m really there’ or ‘I’m really here’ or ‘I’m something’, ‘I really did it’ or something – whenever we use those words, actually, if one can understand, if one can relate to teachings on emptiness, if you can relate to the teachings on emptiness, that time we are talking about false ‘I’. Whatever object when you think real, we’re not talking what exists; we’re talking what doesn’t exist. Believing it exists, what doesn’t exist. What appears doesn’t exist. The way things, the way the ‘I’, the way phenomena appear to us, to our hallucinated mind, not merely labeled by mind. As long as it appears to you that way – not merely labeled by mind - they don’t exist. They’re totally empty there. They’re totally empty right there. From where it is appearing, it is totally empty there.

So, usually, I say. I was introducing this is my mudra, to express the object to be refuted, the false object. That which appears from its own side, it doesn’t exist from its own side.

So like this mandala here, something real, really real, that gold and stones, whatever, this bright blue, bright red, this blue is blue from its own side – everything from its own side. Clock from its own side, appearing, existing from its own side. This one existing from its own side - these flowers, all this yellow, all these existing from its side. All these: existing from its side.

And this one existing from it’s side. [Rinpoche rings bell.] When you hear the sound, you don’t hear the sound – you don’t hear merely labeled sound, you hear sound not merely labeled by mind. When you hear the sound back, not merely labeled by mind, so that’s false. False sound. That sound is totally empty there. Even though merely labeled sound but you don’t hear that way. Because [pause] definition of the sound: object which the sense of the ear, what the sense of ear hears, what the sense of ear listens or hears. So this is the definition of sound. That which is explained the very first debating subject, the dura, the very beginning path. So that definition, object that your sense of ear hears or listens to, hears, what it hears – that is the base. That’s the base.

I mentioned the other day that I think, probably, clearest example is the one that I gave one day – the letter ‘A’. You remember? First, you see the design. You don’t – you see the design like this and then, afterwards, when you’re introduced that is ‘A’, and after you believe and follow that person’s explanation. You believe and then your mind labels ‘A’ and believe in that. Then there’s appearance that this is ‘A’. Then you see this is – then you see, only then, you see this is ‘A’. You don’t see ‘A’ as ‘A’ at the very beginning. At the very beginning you don’t see that this as ‘A’. When you see this design you don’t see this ‘A’ at the same time. You don’t see ‘A’ before the design. Before seeing this design you don’t see ‘A’. You don’t see ‘A’ together. You don’t see at the same time. You don’t see this is the ‘A’ at the same time as seeing this. You don’t.

I think I might have mentioned before already I think. But, anyway, it’s useful to bring it up again anyway – very important logic; very important analysis to realise emptiness. So if you think you’re seeing this design at the same time you’re seeing the ‘A’ [pause] – well, first you know that from the evolution that I explained. You don’t see ‘A’, that this is ‘A’, at the same time when you see the design. Together doesn’t happen. Seeing this base, this design, which is the base, and seeing this ‘A’, that this is ‘A’, doesn’t come together; doesn’t happen together.

Even you can understand from the experience when you were in kindergarten or child time when you’re not taught, yet, that this is ‘A’. That time, you see only this design but you don’t have this appearance. You don’t have the appearance that this is ‘A’ and you don’t see that this is ‘A’. Having the appearance that this is ‘A’ only comes after somebody introduces to you, taught you, and you believe in that and your own mind also labeled it as ‘A’ and believed in that. Only after that then appearing as ‘A’, seeing that this is ‘A’ comes.

So, from the experience when you learn alphabet, you can see very clearly, you have to see the base first, and then, that makes your mind to label ‘A’ and then appear as ‘A’, then see as ‘A’. So from the experience, if you – from the experience, it’s like that. And that is how we see everything in daily life. Not only just this ‘A’, not only the alphabet, but this is how we see everything. This is the evolution. This is the evolution to see anything. So all these phenomena that we see here – the statues and pillars, everything, lights – all these phenomena, everything that we see here, the procedure is like that. Everything is like that - the procedure.

The light, for example - the phenomena which functions to dispel darkness. You see that first. That’s the base. You see that first then, by seeing that, that thing which dispels darkness, then your mind make up, that causes your mind to make up the particular label ‘light’; name, the particular label ‘light’. By seeing that particular phenomena, which has the function of dispelling darkness, that causes our mind to make up the label ‘light’. What is ‘light’ is that’s all – merely imputed because base does function of dispelling darkness, so ‘light’. Relating to that, you’re relating to that, so then due to existence of that base, you made up label ‘light’. And then same: what function that base does then, also, you label to the ‘light’; light dispels darkness. Labeled.

Like whatever the mind does, whatever the conscious mind does, our mind makes up the label ‘I’ - ‘I am thinking’. Or when the mind is unhappy, even though mind is not ‘I’, but when the mind is unhappy, our mind make up the label ‘I am unhappy’. When the mind is happy our mind make up the label ‘I am happy’. So like that.

Same thing with the body: even though the body is not ‘I’, depending on what function the body does, activity what the body does, continuously, our mind make up the label ‘I am doing this and that’. So like that. Same. Also, yesterday, Geshe-la mentioned, so same thing. Even though collection of those two, even though that’s not ‘I’, but because that’s the base which can receive the label ‘I’, valid base, because the base is there mind made up the label ‘I’, include ‘I’. So like that. Then, whatever activity the aggregates does, the base does, then we make up the label ‘I am doing this and that’. Like that.

So you can see here, very clearly, how it is merely imputed by the mind. It is not non-existent. It exists. But it exists in mere name; merely imputed by the mind. So same thing here: light. So like that.

In reality - I think, maybe, I just go back, better go back. I want to clarify once more why you don’t see it together. When you see the base, this design, ‘A’, this design like this, why you don’t see the ‘A’ at the same time; why you don’t have that, why you don’t see the ‘A’ at the same time. I mentioned about experience, how that gradually comes seeing the ‘A’. The other thing that, when you see this base, this design, if you’re seeing the ‘A’ at the same time you can understand from the evolution that I explained before. To be able to see that this is ‘A’ there has to be appearance that it is ‘A’. In order to have the appearance that this is ‘A’ one’s mind also has to label ‘A’ first.

Now here is the question. Seeing the base of ‘A’ and you see the ‘A’, seeing this base, this design, and the ‘A’ at the same time, then the question comes that – to go into details then, appearance of ‘A’ happens. If you think the appearance, also, at the same time, appearance, seeing, labelling – all happens at the same time: you see this base, this design, then, however, in that case, the big question is here. By seeing this design like this you don’t label ‘A’, it doesn’t cause you to label ‘A’.

For your mind to be able, for your mind to choose this particular label ‘A’, you have to see something first. You have to see something first which causes, you have to see something first, the design, which causes your mind to choose the particular label ‘A’; which causes the mind to decide this particular label ‘A’. The preliminaries – you have to see something before.

So this design, like this, or this design like this, without any of those designs which can receive the label ‘A’, which can be imputed label of the ‘A’, without seeing these designs, these particular designs, either this way or this way, however, any other design than that doesn’t cause your mind to choose the particular label ‘A’. So have to see either this one or this one. However, this particular design, that which causes the mind to choose the particular label, ‘A’. Have to see something, particular design, which causes the mind to give this particular label - ‘A’.

So, therefore, this is the evolution. Before you put the label, before you see the label, you have to see the base first. That’s the preliminary. First base comes into existence and then the label comes into existence by imputing. So, therefore, seeing the ‘A’ comes after seeing the base. So, now, this also, one can meditate on emptiness like this. After your mind imputed the ‘A’, the reality is by seeing that your mind merely imputed ‘A’. That’s it. So now, here, after the imputation, after your mind imputed ‘A’, after that, when the ‘A’ appears back to you it doesn’t appear back to you merely imputed by mind.

It appears to you the ‘A’ there. ‘A’ is there on this design. You see the ‘A’ on that design. You don’t see the ‘A’ merely imputed by your mind when it appears back to you. You see the ‘A’ there. I’m not talking about the blackboard or the paper. You see the ‘A’ on that design, on that drawing or the design, like that. You see the ‘A’ on that design. You see ‘A’ there. ‘There’, in the sense, on that design, on the base. That’s what’s wrong. That’s false view. That’s the object to be refuted. That’s example of object of refutation – what we have to realise is empty. Absence of that, is emptiness of ‘A’.

So now, here, now you see the real ‘A’ on that design. Now you analyse: where is it? So like that. Anyway, like that. You visualise the other one. I try to make ‘A’ or here or here. Anyway, this little bit longer maybe. Anyway, I’m joking!

Well analysis is the same. This line is not ‘A’. This line this is not ‘A’. So this line is not ‘A’. You understand? This piece is not ‘A’. This piece is not ‘A’. All together is not ‘A’. All together, the design, is not ‘A’. That is the base. That’s not ‘A’ because that’s the base to be labeled ‘A’. As I mentioned before, you see the base first, you see the ‘A’ later. You see the ‘A’ afterwards. They’re two different – they’re not one. They’re two different phenomena. They exist differently. As I mentioned the other day, ‘I’ and aggregates, they don’t exist separately but they exist differently. So, therefore, this design is the base to be labeled ‘A’ so it’s not, itself, ‘A’.

So, where is the ‘A’? So where is the ‘A’? There’s no ‘A’ there. There’s no ‘A’ here. There’s no ‘A’ there on this piece. There’s no ‘A’ on this. So where this is drawn on blackboard or paper, on that paper there’s ‘A’. Where this design, where the blackboard, paper, where is this design, there is ‘A’. But on this design there’s no ‘A’. On the base there’s no ‘A’ but on the paper, on the blackboard, there’s ‘A’. What is that ‘A’? It’s nothing but what is merely imputed by the mind. That exists. What is the ‘A’? What is the ‘A’ is what is merely labeled by the mind, what is merely imputed by the mind. Why ‘A’ exists, why it exists is because there’s the base, the design is there. Better to think this way: why, in the first, why it exists, because there is the base exists. Then after the question, what it is? Nothing, ‘A’ is nothing except what is merely labeled by mind. And then third question is where is it? Wherever there’s a base. Not on the base but wherever there’s a base, there’s ‘A’.

So like that the answer comes. Three important questions that help, three important questions that makes clear how the phenomena ‘A’ is never the ‘A’, which we believe, and the way it appears to us. Never that one; is not that one at all. That’s totally false. If you look for, cannot find there. Looks like there. Looks like you can find ‘A’. Looks like you can find ‘A’ there on the design but, if you look for, cannot find. If you analyse cannot find.

When we do not analyse [pause] as we haven’t realised the emptiness of the ‘A’, the ultimate nature of the ‘A’, that’s one thing. And as we do not recognise, practice mindfulness, the appearance of ‘A’, that there’s a real ‘A’ un-differentiable with the design, with the base, ‘A’ appearing from its own side above this design, on this design there’s ‘A’ appearing from there. However, first of all, not having realised ultimate nature of the ‘A’, that this is empty there, that this real ‘A’ appearing from there is empty. It’s empty there. It’s totally empty there. It’s non-existent there. Not having realised that the ‘A’ is empty of existing from its own side, not realising this and not practising mindfulness that this an hallucination – the ‘A’ appearing from there, un-differentiable from the base or from above the base, the design, that particular design...

[Tape change]

So here, this is only point of view of the hallucinated mind. This appearance is only from the view, from the perception, of the hallucinated mind. It is according to the view of a hallucinated mind – not according to our wisdom. Not according to your wisdom realising the emptiness. This is the view according to your mind that which is the ignorance, not according to your wisdom. The other mind is wisdom. Not according to that. According to that, this is totally non-existent. This ‘A’ is totally non-existent, totally empty there.

So appear like this, as if it is findable on that base, on that design, when we do not analyse that. So, here, I’m saying that [pause] so now you can get some idea when we say ‘alphabet’, when we see ‘A’, in our view there is a real ‘A’ there on that design. There’s a real ‘A’ there appearing from there. What I was trying to say before, for example, as I introduced those analyses, when you look for that real ‘A’, which means appearing from there, existing from its own side. When you analyse you don’t find there.

Neither the merely imputed ‘I’ nor the real ‘A’; neither the merely imputed ‘A’ nor the real ‘A’, or ‘A’ appearing from its own side, it doesn’t exist there when you look for. When you analyse, it’s not there. When we do not analyse it appears as if it is there on that base. Anyway, that real ‘A’ appearing to us, that is another example of object to be refuted, what is called in Tibetan gakja. For example, [pause] to be able to realise the emptiness of the ‘I’ through this analysis, the reasoning ‘one or many’ – put it this way, by reasoning, by using the logical reason of either it exists as one or it exists separately. [pause] The logical reason which proves that is not one-ness, neither one-ness nor it exists separately. I think, maybe, at this point of reasoning neither is one or no exist separately, so we have some rest. we have some rest in emptiness.

[Rinpoche has discussion in Tibetan]

So, what I was saying before, there is among the many reasonings, [fourfold reasoning?] there are different logics to meditate on emptiness. The one basic common one is meditating on emptiness by reasoning that nothing exists either one-ness – in the Tibetan, chik du dorje tentsik.(?) It sounds many but is not. If you just think of only the word of translating then it looks like many, then it will create confusion. That’s not what you start first; whether ‘one or many’ comes later. That analysis comes later. [Tibetan] Whether it exists, the reasoning that it doesn’t exist either one-ness or separately [Tibetan] it sounds many but is not. There’s a reasoning, ‘one or many’, but it comes, the second part, that actual one, comes second part. So sometimes if you only think of the Tibetan word [Tibetan] usually means ‘many’. But if you translate just without thinking of the meaning, without thinking of the way of reasoning, without knowing that, without thinking of that, then can be, it will be wrong translation. But the second part then correct.

So, for example, any example, anything which exists has to be either one-ness or exist separately. For example, this mug it exists not one-ness with the aggregates with my body, with aggregates of body, speech and mind. The mug doesn’t exist, how to exist – it has to exist either one-ness with the aggregates or separately. The aggregates itself is one. For example, the mug, of course aggregates itself doesn’t exist separately from that. The mug exists not oneness with the aggregates but it exists separately, like that.

If the ‘I’ is inherently existent, what is saying here, the way the ‘I’ appears to you is something real one, in a sense appearing from its own side, existing from its own side, not merely labeled by mind. If this is true, if such an ‘I’ does exist, if this is true, then it should be, it should exist either… so like this. Maybe I mention the outline, the analysis of the four vital or important points.

So four very important points – analysis of the four, I think, important points: first one is the important point of recognising the object to be refuted. Important point: recognising the object of refutation, object which is refuted – object which is to be refuted. ‘Object of refutation’ - same meaning? Same meaning? [student] ‘Object to be refuted’ - same? In Tibetan, gakja: object which is to be refuted. So, ‘object of refutation’ is the same.

Important point is recognising object to be refuted, gakja ….