Living Well, Dying Well (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Theosophical Society, Brisbane, Australia (Archive #293)

A public talk by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Brisbane, Australia in April 1991. Rinpoche spoke about the purpose of life and developing the correct attitude toward death.

Click on the audio links to listen online and read along with the unedited transcript. 

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Root Institute, Bodhgaya, in 2000. Photo: Todd Moore.
What is Mind

[Preliminary prayers]

I'm very happy to meet all of you and as we are responsible to obtain happiness each other, as each of us is responsible to obtain happiness, cause happiness for others, others' happiness depends on us, our happiness dependent on others, so that's what I'm saying.

So, the main subject that we are going to reflect or what I try to practice a little bit and sometimes when I'm not lazy, when I can remember, to share our understanding or the essence that I learned a little, that which is a little from the teaching of the Omniscient One, the teaching of the Buddha. So if there's something practical, if there's something useful one find by analyzing then that is to apply to one's own life.

So first I thought maybe to mention a little bit about what is mind. Without the mind, if this body doesn't have mind, then there is no way that it experiences happiness. So there's body and mind. Body has gross body, subtle body and extremely subtle body, there are three. So gross body is easy to understand and then the subtle body, the essence of the liquid, the essence of the body. Then there is extremely subtle body, that which is the vehicle of the extremely subtle mind. So, that which is abiding, the extremely subtle body that which is abiding in the, inside the body at the heart, by measuring from the two breasts, in the center. Then there's, as far as the mind, there's gross mind and subtle mind and extremely subtle, so there are three, as far as the mind there are three types like this. So where is the extremely subtle mind abiding? That is also at the heart, by measuring from the two breasts, in the center, at the heart.

So now, what is the mind? The phenomenon, that which is shapeless, colorless, formless, non-substantial, that which nature is clear, perceiving objects, like the mirror that things can reflect, the mirror can give clear reflection of things, of whatever is in front. So like that, the mind able to clarify the object, to that mind the object is able to be clearly appeared, whatever the object, the phenomenon is, to the mind the object clearly appeared. So, perceiving this object like this. So this is the conventional, there are two natures of the mind, one is conventional nature, one is the ultimate nature. So this description that is the conventional nature.

Now, the mind it exists by depending on cause and conditions. Today's mind exists because of yesterday's mind. Yesterday's mind exists because of the day before yesterday's mind, so like that, it goes back. Today's mind is caused by yesterday's mind and today's mind will result the tomorrow's mind. Same thing, this minute's mind is caused by the previous minute's mind and this present minute's mind causes later, the next minute's mind. So dependent arising, the mind is dependent arising each other like this.

So any thought there is, also dependent on the object, so by having, by existing the object then there is a thought of that object. When the object is perceived then there's a thought, so thought is a dependent arising dependent on cause and conditions. So that's how we can remember, because there is continuation of thought from yesterday, today, so we can remember what we did yesterday, what we saw yesterday and what we did last year, so forth. So, similar, through, first of all, we have to check, we have to analyze, we have to study, we have to discover through our own experiences that when the consciousness happened on the fertilized egg, we have to analyze that whether it came from, we have to study, we have to analyze whether that consciousness came from a previous continuation of consciousness or not. So we have to study, we have to analyze, we have to discover with our own experience, by using one's own wisdom, by developing one's own wisdom, then one has to discover through one's own experience whether there is another consciousness that which is continuation of that consciousness, that which started in the fertilized egg, in the mother's womb. It has to be proved with our own wisdom. So however through analysis.

However through meditation many people, many Western people who meditate, many students who meditate also those who have very clear mind, those who have less obscurations, who have more clear mind then they can remember when they were coming out of mother's womb, some can remember when they were coming out of mother's womb, they could remember from those times. Some can remember. So through meditation, that is without meditation. Through meditation they can remember life before this, when they analyze, when they go back to, through meditation when they go back to womb then the, go back to the very first time consciousness started, consciousness that which is associated with the fertilized egg, the very first time that is associated with the fertilized egg. So before that second when they analyze through meditation so some have very clear pictures of, memories of past lives. Some lived in Tibet, could remember even the kitchen, Tibetan kitchen, could remember plainly even inside the room.

However so very strong feeling, as one remember yesterday, like that one get very strong feeling, so also it is possible to remember through, it is mentioned through hypnosis also remembers However then through development of the mind in meditation, through meditation developing the mind, then when one reach the mind on certain level of path, after achieving the meditation that is called calm abiding, that you can concentrate for years of for eons, as long as one wishes, that one can concentrate on one object without any obstacles, without any distraction, without breaking the concentration, that wherever you put your mind, wherever one places one's own mind able to stay on that object like a mountain, like having put a mountain on there, so able to stay the mind on that object. Which is combined with, such this one-pointed concentration combined with rapturous ecstasy, extremely refined body and mind, the rapturous ecstasy, great joy or bliss, so combined with that, able to do this concentration with such experiences.

So however then after having achieved such as this calm abiding meditation then there is power to be able to see future and past, so also those times there's possibility those meditators can remember and then higher, as one actualize the path higher and higher then can see more and more past, more and more future, then also by practicing tantra, the secret mantra, there is a method to, there is a practice called Six Yogas of Naropa, it is a method to actualize, to stop the gross consciousness, gross thoughts and to actualize the extremely subtle consciousness, then able to use this extremely subtle consciousness to meditate, to actualize the path, However able to do extensive benefits for other sentient beings, for other living beings. So the practitioners, the meditators, who actualize this, the extremely subtle mind then also especially after having achieved these realizations, then able to have these mind powers, capacities. Can remember thousands of lives before, thousands of years ago, where you were in the world, which country, like that you were, that oneself was disciple of, thousands of years ago, one of those saints or those holy beings who happened on this earth, so one can remember such as the great yogi Milarepa, who became fully enlightened in one life, within a few years, in a brief lifetime of degenerated time.

So some meditators who actualized this, there happened meditators who actualized these realizations then through the tantric practice, path, then one can remember that that person was existing that time or in such-and-such a place. So However can see future and past. So this is just talking how the mind, the capacity of the mind gets developed higher and higher then able to see these many other phenomena, which weren't able to see before when the mind wasn't developed. But then when the mind is developed higher and higher then able to see more and more past and future, those many other phenomena, which this present ordinary undeveloped mind cannot see.

Similar, before one went to university one does not understand, one has no understanding of all those subjects, those phenomena, but by going to university, studying then one is able to understand, see all those other subjects, all those other phenomena. Similar, through meditation, like this gradually then those who are fully developed the mind in wisdom, understanding then can see, can directly see all the existence, all the phenomena, every single existence, past, present, future, everything that which exists in the past, that which will happen in the future and all the phenomena that which are existing now.

So however [pause], that time when the mind is fully developed, the understanding is fully developed, that time one's own mind can see everyone's, every living being's mind, in every second can see directly, can see perfectly, during that time, there is no resistance, that the mind can be everywhere. At the moment our consciousness covered only this body, we cannot cover our consciousness other than this body, our consciousness cannot cover all other objects. Other than this, our consciousness cannot cover. So there is much limitation, so while one is here, while we are here, our consciousness at the same time cannot be at home, cannot be at the beach, or cannot be different countries where one wishes to be. Our consciousness cannot be at the same time in Greece, while we are here in Australia at the same time, America or Bali or Indonesia, Bali beach, our consciousness cannot be everywhere where one wishes to be. So in order to be there, the body has to go there, the body has to take the trouble, the body has to go there.

There's much limitation in the power, there's much resistance, there's much limitation in the capacity. So that time, there is no limitation, there is no resistance. That time there's no gross body, there's no gross mind, only subtle. So therefore, there is no blockage, there is no resistance. So that the consciousness can pervade everything. The consciousness can see everything and the consciousness can pervade every phenomenon. Like the consciousness of our body pervaded at the moment our body, so like that, the consciousness sees everything and it pervades everything that time. So, that time then one is able to see all the sentient beings, all the living beings their different characters, different levels of mind, everything, so then one is able to see every single method to bring them in, to free them from problems, causes and to bring them in happiness, from happiness to happiness, to the ultimate happiness, the highest, the peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind, the fully knowing mind. One is able to lead the living beings like this from happiness to happiness to the highest happiness. So one is able to see every single method that it fits to their mind, so all the different guidance what should be given, one sees exactly.

So, then also that time, as one has complete power, perfect power, so able to manifest…