Practicing Bodhicitta (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
(Archive #1072)

A teaching on how to use depression and other problems to develop the good heart, given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Deer Park, Madison in July, 1999. Click here to read the edited transcript.  

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in LYWA's back yard, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2010.
The Importance of Bodhicitta

[Preliminary prayers]

So, good morning everyone. So again Mickey Mouse is going to chat. Some chatting.

So I would like to mention, beginning with this, what I mentioned last time. So purpose of our living is no other than benefiting others, to eliminate the sufferings of others and to cause the happiness of others, nothing else than that, the purpose of our living. Other than that is meaningless. Other than that is complicated life, confused life, suffering life. Confused life, nothing clear, complicated life, confused life. Nothing gives fulfillment in your heart other than that. Nothing gives fulfillment in the heart, then that you can really think of worthwhile, worth of living or worth of doing something, whatever the activity is. The best satisfaction also it gives this way. [pause]

So now every one of us has the responsibility of the happiness of every single living beings, who want happiness and who do not want problems, sufferings. One reason as often I mention, if one has good heart, compassion, then with compassion one doesn’t harm others, compassion does not produce actions harming others, only we stop giving harm others and benefit others. These two things, that whole entire Buddhism is involved. How to do that. How to stop giving harm others, how to accomplish that and how to benefit others. So the whole entire what Geshe Rinpoche has been talking about, the three Dharma wheels and all that, however, the Lesser Vehicle teachings and the Great Vehicle teachings, the Mahayana Paramitayana teachings and the Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana, teachings, all that comes into these two instructions of Buddha, to not harm others and to benefit for other sentient beings.

The 84,000 teachings taught by Buddha and as well, that which is integrated into lam-rim, the graduated path of the lower capable being in general and graduated path of the middle capable being in general and graduated path of the higher capable being, the whole lam-rim, so this comes also the lam-rim that which is the heart of the whole entire Buddhadharma also it’s integrated, or it is condensed in the two instructions given by Buddha, two main instructions that contains the whole entire Buddhism, it contains the whole lam-rim. So the graduated path of the lower capable being in general that part comes in the section to not harm others, as well as graduated path of the middle capable being in general goes into that section to not harm others, and the instruction benefiting others that includes the graduated path of the higher capable being, so whole lam-rim comes in there, in these two instructions.

So compassion does not produce harm others, stops giving harm others what it does and benefit to others, frees others from the sufferings. Not only that, even the cause of the sufferings, the defilements. So what it does is, what responsibility it takes is enormous, it is like sky, or even for one sentient being, what compassion does, even one sentient being, to liberate from oceans of sufferings of the samsara, oceans of sufferings, problems of human beings, oceans of problems of sura, asuras, hell realm, hell sufferings, hungry ghosts, animals, the oceans of sufferings of animal beings, so compassion what it does, it liberates that sentient being from all those skies of sufferings, which continuation has no beginning.

So compassion helps to end that one sentient being’s suffering, oceans of samsaric suffering which continuation has no end. So that’s unbelievable. So now here we are talking about numberless others, your compassion benefiting to numberless other sentient beings. So it’s unbelievable. So therefore, it’s the most precious thing to have in the life, the most precious, it brings all the wishes, fulfills all your wishes for all the happiness. Fulfills wishes of happiness of every single other living being, your compassion. So this most precious thing.

Among the realizations...many people are interested in tantra realizations, very high tantra realizations like Six Yogas of Naropa, chakra, wind meditations, generating heat in the body from tummo meditation, so forth, kundalini, the bliss, the kundalini bringing up and down, which even Hindus can do that. So nothing particular. Without compassion these things can become cause, not only cause of samsara, but even the cause of the lower realms if it’s done with attachment clinging to this life. So without the motivation of compassion even one do get some experiences, some powerful experience of those in the section of the graduated completion path but without compassion it becomes nothing special.

So it’s like, [pause] Tibetans always use the example this cheese, the dry cheese with lots of butter, so real taste is from the butter. What makes ice cream delicious is by what, cream or by sweet? [Student: Both.] Anyway, whatever makes the ice cream delicious. So, without that. Or like cake, something, butter and those sweet, whatever it is, that makes flavor, interesting the flavor, so like that. So the compassion makes everything worthwhile and rich, all those experiences rich, meaningful, cause of enlightenment. It protects you, yeah, protects you falling into the lower nirvana, falling, become cause of reincarnating in samsara again and even particular the lower realms.

Also, as I mentioned last time, I gave a few examples how this is the answer for everything, all the problems that one has in the life, I said bodhicitta, good heart, is the solution for everything.

So you see, normally I explain to somebody who has depressions, one main answer, one best, most powerful method, antidote, method, to make the depression beneficial, to transform the depression into happiness, that is, what makes the depression, having depression most beneficial, worthwhile, is when you use the depression to develop bodhicitta, loving kindness, compassion thought, bodhicitta. So here the same. There are numberless of other sentient beings who have depression, and there are numberless other sentient beings who has the karma to experience depression, so therefore, how wonderful it is that, think like this, I am just one person, others are numberless. Maybe put the other way around, sorry for the change .

I think it doesn’t matter, whichever way, that, I am just one person, one living being, how much I suffer, how much happiness I achieve, even I achieve liberation from, total liberation, that which is free forever from all the sufferings, including cycle of death and rebirth, all the sufferings. When you, if possible, when you say suffering, in the mind think, suffering of pain and suffering of changes, even the temporary samsaric pleasures, and pervasive compounding sufferings, the [Tibetan], pervasive compounding sufferings, so when you mention suffering in the mind think, get the whole idea of suffering of samsara, so then it becomes very deep, very profound, not just thinking of only pain, or poverty or something or some toothache or stomach ache, stomach pain, or something, not just that, diarrhea, , not just that. [pause]

So, even I achieve total liberation from the whole entire suffering and causes, it’s nothing. I’m just one person, it’s nothing. There are numberless others. If they are free from all the sufferings and have all the happiness, even free from depression, even just free from that suffering, depression, how wonderful it is, if I can do that, how wonderful it is, take their suffering on myself, I experience all their suffering, depression, and let them have all the happiness. If I can do that, how wonderful it is. That’s the most exciting, best achievement in the life, the highest achievement, the highest success in my life. So, how wonderful.

So it’s by number. By number, others more important. The other thing is, even one sentient being, you and another person, another sentient being or another person, who is more important? By number it’s same, one, one. Even by this, this one sentient being is more important, more precious because all the sufferings, problems comes from my ego, obstacles, all comes from my ego.

So far, what kept me in samsara, experiencing the problems over..., the problems of samsara that makes one to experience again and again, it obliges me to experience numberless times in the past lives, so again this life same problem again and again, so by this self-cherishing thought. [long pause]

Is there any relationship between self-cherishing thought and the concept of inherently existent I, the root of samsara, the concept of inherent existence and the self-cherishing thought, are they friends? Student: Yes. Rinpoche: Are they best friends? What is the connection between these? What is the connection? What is the relationship? Student: One depends on the other. Rinpoche: Both? Both each other? Student: Self-cherishing depends on self-grasping. Rinpoche: Uh huh. You mean the ignorance, the concept, you mean self-grasping is the concept of inherent existence?

So, anyway, how does the self-cherishing thought affects like this, also by connecting to this concept of inherent existence. However, that the self-cherishing thought it interferes to realize emptiness. So that makes to continue the concept of inherent existence, so all the problems, all the obstacles came from my self-cherishing thought, the self-centered mind cherishing the I, so that means all the problems, the sufferings, all the undesirable things came from the I, came from me. And all my past, present and future happiness came from bodhicitta, came from compassion, the root, the great compassion.

All my past, present, future happiness came from the root, great compassion, and great compassion is generated by depending on the existence of the suffering sentient beings so even this one person, whether it’s a person or whether it’s a non-human being, animal or whoever, whatever type of sentient being, even this one sentient being is the source of all my past, present, future happiness, so therefore even this one sentient being and myself, by comparing like this, this other one sentient being is most precious one. So therefore the I is forever, is object forever to let go.

And even this one sentient being is object forever to be cherished, forever to be cherished. If I cherish this one sentient being, there is enlightenment. If I don’t cherish this one sentient being, there’s no enlightenment. I cannot achieve all the realizations of the Mahayana path, cannot achieve. All the five paths, ten bhumis, all the rest of the tantra realizations based on this, bodhicitta, cannot achieve. The infinite Buddhas, the bodhisattvas and arya bodhisattvas they have infinite qualities, all these paths have so many qualities and Buddha’s holy body, holy speech, holy mind each one has infinite qualities, so cannot achieve. But if I cherish this I can achieve all those qualities.

So even this one sentient being is most precious one in my life. Especially person who hates me, who doesn’t love me, who has no compassion to me, who hates me, the motivation, no compassion, doesn’t like me, only hate, and in the action only harm, so especially this one. Why especially this one? Most kind, most precious one? Why especially this most kind, precious one, because with all others you cannot, no opportunity to practice patience.

With all the rest of others, either friend or stranger, with the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, no opportunity to practice patience with them, they have only compassion, loving kindness towards me, no opportunity to practice patience with the friends, while they are friend, no opportunity with the other sentient beings, while they are stranger, no opportunity to practice patience, only this person, so therefore now here you can see this one become kindest one, dearest, most precious one. By adding this reason of it’s the only person left, it’s the only person left, is there available for you to develop your mind, particularly patience. He or she is the only person among the numberless other living beings, including Buddha.

So anyway, so if I don’t cherish this one sentient being there’s no realization of the whole Mahayana path, including tantra, those that are based on this, which can be achieved on the basis of this, full enlightenment. So that means I cannot do perfect work liberating sentient beings, numberless sentient beings from all the sufferings and causes and bring them to full enlightenment.

So all that, all these skies of benefit that I can offer towards numberless other sentient beings, skies of benefit even to each sentient being, I cannot do this, I won’t be able to do this without cherishing this one sentient being. So if I cherish this one sentient being, what this sentient being offers to me, the advantage what this sentient being offers to me is unexpressible, cannot be finished explaining any time, the kindness, all the benefits what this person gives to me, can never be finished explaining.

After you become enlightened then you continuously, spontaneously, naturally work for others, liberate others from suffering, bring them from happiness to happiness to enlightenment. So the benefit what I get from this person even Buddha cannot finish explaining that. So therefore, most precious one in my life.

So that’s the reason why in the thought transformation practices such as Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, that, if somebody, motivation jealous mind, not positive, not compassion motivation, motivation is negative, jealousness, then in action, criticize, insult, criticize, blame, when this happens, I will practice to take the loss on myself and offer the victory to others.

So that’s the reason I think, why His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, if Tibetan people in Tibet, if they are happy then no need to fight or to work for freedom, independence, if the Tibetan people in Tibet if they are happy. So now, applying this, this is another example, another way of applying this work ?thought transformation practice towards that. So that’s why His Holiness says, If they are happy, if they have freedom, then it’s okay. But because they don’t have freedom, because they’re not happy, so that’s the main reason to get freedom or independence, whatever. So that’s using this teaching relating to a country...