The Mosquito is the Cause of Our Enlightenment

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #092)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching on the kindness of the mosquito at the Tenth Kopan Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1977.

This teaching is an edited excerpt from Lecture 23 of the course.  

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 1989. Photo by Ueli Minder.

Think that all our past, present and future happiness—all the three times’ happiness, all our temporal and ultimate happiness—everything is received from each sentient being. Visualize the mosquito, whose body looks very ugly, with long legs. When it comes onto our body we want to kill it and we don’t even want to see the ugliness of its body. It is very undesirable because it harms us, but it is good to visualize this harmful creature. Maybe it is different to think about the mosquito instead of thinking about a person, but it’s useful to think about an object that we dislike.

So think, “The mosquito is biting me and taking my blood, but all my past, present and future happiness, including ultimate happiness, everything is completely received from each sentient being, including this mosquito.”

Now, concentrate on this mosquito. Maybe visualize the mosquito on our knee or on our leg, taking blood. Think, “How can I receive all this happiness?” Now check how we have received all this happiness. It is by creating good karma and that itself is how the Buddha guides us—that itself is the Buddha’s holy action. We create good karma by understanding the teaching that is explained by Buddha, so the opportunity that we have to create good karma is because of the Buddha; it is received from the Buddha.

Now, concentrate on the mosquito that is biting us and think, “The numberless buddhas are born from bodhisattvas, and the bodhisattvas are born from bodhicitta. The loving compassion thought, bodhicitta, is received from each sentient being. It is received from this mosquito who is biting me now.” So now, think, “My entire happiness is completely received from this mosquito.”

If we think like this, it is unbearable to kill the mosquito. It cannot drink all our blood, it cannot eat all our body; it just takes a small, tiny, tiny drop of blood, that’s all it takes. But, you see, with incredible anger we want to kill this holy, precious object, from whom we receive all our happiness, all our enjoyment, everything. When we kill the mosquito, enlightenment, everything, is completely destroyed, but we harm the mosquito as much as possible—as soon as we see it, we kill it. So, meditating like that is useful.

In fact it is like this with all sentient beings, it’s just that we don’t realize it. Due to our ignorance we don’t see how kind, how precious they are. That’s why we should cherish others.

Think, “Without sentient beings there is no way to become a bodhisattva, no way to be born a buddha, no way to receive the teachings. There is no way that I can create good karma. There is no Buddha, no teaching like this, so there is no way that I can receive all my past, present and future happiness. All my temporal and ultimate happiness is completely received from this mosquito.”

So meditate like this. Think, “Even if I want to receive the Hinayana path—the mind renouncing samsara, or the wisdom of shunyata, all the five Hinayana paths that leads to nirvana—it depends on this sentient being, this mosquito. Again, for the same reason, if I want to receive nirvana and all these things, I have to depend on this mosquito. Buddhahood is received from this mosquito, bodhicitta is received from it. Even if I want to attain nirvana, the whole path, the mind renouncing samsara, the wisdom realizing shunyata, all the five Hinayana paths, I have to receive it all from this mosquito.”

Then also, think like this, “If I leave out this mosquito, is there a way that I can actualize bodhicitta? Is there are a way I can actualize the loving, compassionate thought, the precious thought of enlightenment, if I leave out or give up this mosquito? Not by giving up any other sentient being, but just by giving up this one sentient being, this mosquito, is there a way that I can actualize the loving, compassionate thought of enlightenment? There is no way, no way.”

“So from this sentient being, I can receive bodhicitta, I can actualize the whole five Mahayana paths, all the bodhisattva’s ten levels, even the whole Vajrayana path, all the realizations. This all comes from this mosquito. Ultimate happiness, the complete cessation of all samsaric suffering, the cause of all the delusions— the disturbing negative thoughts— the cause and the result, the suffering of the narak, preta, animals, humans, suras, asuras—everything comes from this sentient being, this mosquito.”

Feel how unbearable, how unimaginable the suffering of the preta is—how for five hundred years it can’t get even one drop of water or one drop of food. Such suffering of hunger. Think how incredibly unbearable it is. Even if we don’t have dinner or breakfast, we feel so hungry. Even if we don’t have food for one day, we feel the hunger is unbearable. Feel this. Then there is toothache, how unbearable it feels to us. Even just a small suffering, when there is fever, is it comfortable or not? Think, feel it. Is it comfortable or not?

This is just talking about small things. A tiny stone hitting the face is so painful. Even just a small scratch is such a tiny suffering, but narak beings have a sword or knife going through their body, or human beings kill each other, cutting the body into pieces. Think about whether that’s unbearable or bearable. Where does the complete cessation of all these sufferings—all these disturbing negative thoughts and results of the whole entire samsaric suffering— come from? It comes from this mosquito. This is how precious this mosquito is, how unbearably kind it is.

Think, “My attaining enlightenment also comes from this mosquito. When I become a buddha, having infinite knowledge of holy body, holy speech and holy mind, I can have millions of manifestations for each sentient being. With the holy speech I can do many different activities for even one sentient being. Similarly with the holy mind.”

Think about the many different things we can do, even for one sentient being. So think, “When I become a buddha, with the infinite knowledge of a buddha’s holy body, speech and mind, I can work for all the sentient beings without effort; I can do incredible work that equals infinite space.” All this knowledge of a buddha is received from this mosquito. Where does all this ability to show the teachings all the way to enlightenment, to numberless other sentient beings, comes from? It comes from this mosquito.

Actually, the kindness of this mosquito is something which even the Buddha cannot finish explaining. So think that even if we give our numberless bodies, making charity of them to this mosquito, it’s nothing compared to the kindness that the mosquito gives us. It’s nothing.

Also think, “The numberless times I have drunk the blood from this mosquito, how much blood I have drunk from this mosquito in previous lives is like infinite space. If the blood could be collected, it would fill the whole space, there wouldn’t be any space left. The bones of this sentient being, this mosquito—not the mosquito’s bones, but the bones of the body of the previous continuity of this mosquito, the bones that I have chewed—if they were piled up, they would fill the whole of space. The meat that I have eaten, if it could be piled up, it would fill the whole of space. The skin of this mosquito, the sentient being’s skin, that I have used as clothing, if I could count the bodies I have taken that skin from, it would be numberless.

“This extremely kind sentient being, this mosquito, creates negative karma by taking each person’s blood like this. That negative karma is also caused by me. I led the mosquito to create negative karma because in a previous life I let him create the cause of that. In my previous life I have created the cause by harming others, I took blood from other sentient beings such as this mosquito. That’s why I am experiencing the result now. If I did not create the cause before, this sentient being would not create negative karma by biting me. I wouldn’t experience the result, so it’s my own fault.

“This sentient being who is extremely kind, from whom I receive all my three times’ happiness—ultimate happiness, everything, all my perfections—how dare I kill it? The precious holy object from where all the buddhas and bodhisattvas are born, how dare I kill it? Besides not giving it even a tiny drop of my blood—how dare I kill it? This is completely a mistake. If I kill this mosquito, what I am actually doing is completely the wrong thing—I am destroying this base, this precious holy object from which I receive all my happiness.”

Think like this and meditate on how all the three times’ happiness, including ultimate happiness, everything, is received from this one mosquito. This is just one example. The cause of creating good karma that is the teaching received from the Buddha, the buddhas and bodhisattvas—bodhicitta is received from this mosquito. That’s the way to think about it. Then, specifically also think about all the paths. Think that actualizing all the Hinayana and Mahayana paths, actualizing bodhicitta, enlightenment, all the knowledge of buddhas, everything we receive depends on the kindness of this sentient being. Again, think like this.

When we remember the kindness of the mosquito like this, we don’t feel pain even if it is biting us, even if it is taking our blood. Maybe before there was a little bit of anger and we wanted to kill it—we couldn’t stand it without moving our hands, but when we remember the kindness like this, when we meditate like this we don’t even feel the pain anymore. Here we feel pain, but after we remember the mosquito’s kindness, we feel great rejoicing and happiness, because we see it as a precious holy object, we see it as extremely kind. We feel it is helping us to make charity, but this is nothing compared to its kindness. We don’t feel pain, we feel a blissful, comfortable kind of happiness.