Perfect Human Rebirth

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1087)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained that with a precious human body we have the opportunity to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. This teaching is excerpted from Lecture Four of Kopan Course No. 31, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in Nov–Dec 1998. Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

Long Life Puja for Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, 2010. Photo: Mikk Tamme.

We currently have this perfect human body, which gives us an unbelievable opportunity to utilize our buddha nature. As I mentioned before, with this human body we have the potential to achieve all the happiness of future lives, including being born in a pure land where we can be enlightened, or by receiving another perfect human body where, in that life, we can reach enlightenment and achieve the Buddha’s qualities.

With a perfect human body we can achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara. Not just that, but with this perfect human body we can achieve peerless happiness, full enlightenment, for other sentient beings. Not only that, we can cause every happiness for all our future lives. We can achieve all this with this perfect human body and by utilizing our buddha nature. This causes the happiness of numberless sentient beings, their happiness in this life and their happiness in future lives, including liberation from samsara and the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.

All this is stopped when we commit suicide. We lose the opportunity to use our buddha nature to cause the happiness up to enlightenment for ourselves, and the opportunity to cause the happiness up to enlightenment for all sentient beings. The opportunity to offer benefit like the sky to all sentient beings stops. That’s what it is when we think of committing suicide.

Since I mentioned this part of the subject, within the six realms—within the realms of the asuras, the humans, the hell beings, the hungry ghosts and the animals—we can achieve enlightenment in one life only as a human being, and even that is not all humans. Only in this one human world where we are, the Southern Continent, do we have the opportunity to achieve enlightenment. Not in the Eastern Continent, the Northern Continent or Western Continent, as in the mandala offering practice. No human beings in the other continents have this opportunity. Only we have this incredible opportunity to achieve enlightenment in this one life. How? By depending on practicing the Mahayana and the Secret Mantra, the Vajrayana. When I say “mantra” it’s not chanting mantras, not like that. It’s the whole tantra path to achieve enlightenment. Of course, the whole path is contained in mantras, the words we recite. Achieving enlightenment in one life happens only by practicing tantra. Through sutra we have to gather merit through three countless great eons. As I mentioned the other day, highest tantra gives us the ability to reach enlightenment quickly.

By practicing highest tantra we can achieve enlightenment even in a brief lifetime in these degenerate times. Our designated time is very short, like sixty or seventy years, even shorter than that, but humans born in the Southern Continent can achieve enlightenment within that time by practicing highest tantra. Why? Because to practice higher tantra we need a special body that is constituted of six elements, with three things from the father and three things from the mother. From the mother, there is blood, flesh and maybe skin (I’m not sure, I don’t remember!); then from the father there is sperm, bones and marrow. Our bodies are made up of these six things, and we need this body made of these elements as a vehicle to practice highest tantra. By using the tantric method to achieve enlightenment quickly, we are able to quickly cease the dualistic view, the subtle defilements and the subtle negative imprints.

On this foundation, we practice the highest tantra that helps to actualize, to experience the subtle wisdom called the clear light, which is like an atomic bomb. That is the quickest way to cease the defilements. If we are able to actualize that in this life, that means we can not only become liberated from samsara but achieve enlightenment in this life. Therefore, with this human body made of six elements, in the Southern Continent where the tantric teachings still exist even now—they have not yet stopped—there is an incredible opportunity to achieve enlightenment in this brief lifetime. This makes this human body unbelievably precious.