Reflect on the Kindness of Others

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche sent this advice to a Dharma center which was having difficulties with the decisions and conduct of one of the people working at the center.

The letter was written at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, on July 20, 2020. Scribe Ven. Tenzin Namdrol. 

Portrait of Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, 2010. Photo by Roger Kunsang.

My most dear, most precious, most kind, wish-granting jewels,

Lozang Tenpai Gyaltsen said:

When the blazing fire of anger, the enemy of the life of virtue,
Burns the seeds of liberation without exception,
Please extinguish it with the strong continual water
Of the nectar of your great compassion, Arya Compassionate-Eye-Looking One (Chenrezig).

His Holiness the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, said:

In the view of the mind stirred by spirit possession and delusions,
Even though you feel that pride is good, it is like a dancing act of craziness.
However many collections of vices looked down upon by the holy beings you have done,
From the depths of your heart confess them individually with fervent regret.

The old mother sentient beings, who have guided me with kindness again and again,
Have fallen into the midst of a burning fire of suffering.
Since I don’t have the capacity to guide them now,
Please bless me to quickly achieve enlightenment.

On the basis of the teachings of the Buddha, the present founder of Buddhadharma, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said in his Seven Points of Thought Transformation,

Put all the blame on one.
Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Putting all the blame on one means to blame one’s own negative mind, the self-cherishing thought. This is what causes you to suffer; this is the creator of your suffering from beginningless rebirths up to now, and if you follow the self-cherishing thought, you will suffer continuously. You will continuously be stuck in samsara, experiencing suffering forever. The self-cherishing mind controls you; it has harmed numberless sentient beings in the past and continues to do so in the present. It has prevented you from achieving enlightenment, buddhahood, from beginningless rebirths up to now. As long as you follow this selfish mind, it will prevent you from becoming enlightened in the future and will continuously harm you and all other sentient beings. This is the great demon, the enemy—the self-cherishing thought.

What is the Self?

Even though there are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas, why so far have we not become free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings? Why do we suffer continuously? Why are we not yet enlightened? Why do we continue to suffer and suffer? We have followed our self-cherishing as if it were our best guide, a god, our best helper. We have been led by the selfish mind, the great demon, doing exactly what it says, thinking, “This is me. This is I. This is what I want.” That is totally wrong! That’s not you, that’s not me, that’s not the I. The body is not the I; mind is not the I; both together are not the I. Yet there is no I that exists separate from the aggregates.

Of course, I’m not saying that there is no I. There is an I. But what exists is nothing other than what is merely labeled by the mind. So what the I is is most extremely subtle. We ordinary beings, like myself, never think we are acting for the merely labeled I. If, for example, when we got angry we were able to meditate right at that time—“What is I? It exists in mere name”—then there would be no place for our anger. It would totally disappear. It doesn’t go anywhere; it just becomes not existent. The place from where that anger arises, the I, would no longer be there.

Similarly, the moment that you think the I exists in mere name, right at that time you see the real I is one hundred percent not there. That proves to your mind, or identifies to your mind, that the false I is simply an illusion.

In the first moment, the mind focuses on the aggregates, and then that same mind merely labels, or merely imputes, “I” upon them. That is how we create the I. Then, in the second moment, the I appears back to our mind as if it existed from its own side, as if it existed by itself, as if it were truly existent, or, in everyday language, as if it were a real I. It appears that way because of negative imprints left on our mental continuum from beginningless rebirths by the ignorance that holds the I as real, as existing from its own side, as existing by nature. That is projected, or decorated, by these negative imprints.

Then, in the third moment, we believe, or we hold on to, this concept of an I existing from its own side as one hundred percent true. Just to clarify, not a permanent I existing alone and existing with its own freedom. Also, not an I existing self-sufficiently. Also, not an I existing from its own side completely without depending on the substance, the imprint, left on the seventh consciousness, the mind-basis-of-all, and then experienced as both the object and the subject, the knowing mind. It is not even that, the gag cha, the object to be refuted, according to the Cittamatra school of Buddhist philosophy.

The view of the next highest school, Madhyamika Svatantrika, is that the gag cha is the I that is not labeled by the mind but truly exists from its own side. According to the Svatantrika view, there is some existence from its own side but it is also labeled by the mind. Even that is not correct, but this is what they falsely believe. This is their right view.

But in the view of the highest philosophical school, that of the Madhyamika Prasangika, this is the actual gag cha, the object of refutation. Something that exists from its own side, even a little; something not totally from its own side but something from its own side, something small—that is totally non-existent according to Prasangika.

Realizing the total non-existence of that is the realization of the Prasangika view of emptiness. The wisdom realizing that is the only view that can directly eliminate the root of samsara, the ignorance that holds the I as real. Here I’m talking about the very subtle gag cha—that there is something from its own side, even though it is labeled by mind. Even that is totally nonexistent. That belief is the root of samsara, the oceans of suffering. From that, ignorance arises, attachment arises, anger arises, jealousy arises, pride arises, and doubt arises. From that, the six root delusions and the twenty secondary delusions arise, and then in all the details, the 84,000 delusions.

Thus, that wrong concept, the ignorance that believes something exists from its own side, is the true cause of suffering, the principal one. From that, delusion and karma arise, bringing about all the various samsaric sufferings: the heavy suffering of the hells, the heavy suffering of the hungry ghosts, the heavy suffering of the animals, the heavy suffering of the human beings, the heavy suffering of the sura and asura beings, the suffering of rebirth, the suffering of sickness, the suffering of old age, and the suffering of death. All that comes from there.

In Buddhism, a fundamental teaching is that on the four noble truths: true suffering, true cause of suffering, true cessation of suffering, and true path to the cessation of suffering. Why did the Buddha teach those? By realizing the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, we eradicate the seed of delusion and karma, the cause of samsara. In that way, delusion and karma completely cease. As a result, suffering ceases, is no longer experienced, and we become arhats free from death. If arhats are free from death there’s no question that buddhas, who have eradicated even the subtle imprints of ignorance and achieved buddhahood, sang gye, the total cessation of obscurations and the completion of all realizations, have achieved freedom from death.

Other sufferings that we cease include that of meeting undesirable objects, not finding desirable objects, and separating from desirable objects once found, such as receiving half your salary after three months of receiving a full salary without doing any work. And even if we get the objects we desire, they fail to satisfy us.

There are also the three kinds of suffering of the aggregates: suffering of suffering, suffering of change, and pervasive compounding suffering. All these come from the ignorance holding that things, including the I, truly exist. Even sufferings such as diarrhea, a stomachache from eating too many eggs, a headache, wind disease (lung), and so forth come from that ignorance, the ignorance that holds that something exists from the side of the I, even a tiny, subtle thing not merely labeled by the mind, that something exists from there.

In his Lamrim Chenmo (Great Treatise on the Graduated Path to Enlightenment), Lama Tsongkhapa explained that the ignorance that holds the I, aggregates, and so forth as real, as not merely labeled, as self-existent in nature, then exaggerates objects as good or bad. As a result, attachment and anger arise. So, attachments and anger hold objects as good or bad—not only good or bad but really good or bad, existing from their own side. Because valid reasoning proves that the way these wrong concepts apprehend their objects is wrong, these wrong concepts can be eliminated. I’m just elaborating what Lama Tsongkhapa said to make it clear so that you can understand.

This reasoning is excellent for proving how we can realize the way we perceive everything is totally false. It is a great meditation for seeing what is true and what is false, for seeing why we continuously suffer in samsara by not knowing the difference between truth and falsehood. We believe the false I we apprehend to be true and the true I—that which exists in mere name, that which we do not see—to be nonexistent. Thinking that the I that exists does not exist is nihilistic; we don’t see it, so we think it doesn’t exist. Talking straight, this is the point and the most important meditation.


I want to say that the FPMT is a religious organization, not a political one to hurt the world, to harm sentient beings. Buddhism differs from other religions in that it stresses compassion for all sentient beings in order to free them from suffering, and great compassion, where we take personal responsibility to do this by ourselves alone. The essence of Buddhism is not to harm sentient beings. That is so important.

Some person holding wrong views might seek to destroy the world because that is what they want to do, and since it’s democratic, if a majority supports that view we should let it happen, we should let that person do what they want, and it’s bad if we don’t. But at the same time, sentient beings want the world to last a long time and to live in peace, so we should protect them from that danger.

If, for example, a child is about to ingest a harmful substance that might even kill him or her, it’s the parents’ responsibility to protect the child and prevent that from happening. They can’t say, “Well, that’s what he wants, so let him do it.” You can’t do that; that’s crazy. While you want a long and healthy life, are you happy to be killed by someone who wants to kill you? Do you let it happen because it’s democratic? Is that correct? Generally speaking there are people in the world who think like that. Even if it’s rare, there are people in the world who, due to much suffering, are prepared to die.

Anyway, the FPMT organization’s function is, on the basis of not harming others, to benefit them as much as possible; to bring them happiness. That does not mean allowing everybody to just do what they want, to destroy the world. We cannot allow people to create the five extremely heavy negative karmas without break (tsam me nga): killing their father, killing their mother, killing an arhat, drawing blood from a buddha, and causing disunity within the sangha and create the cause to be born in the lower realms, in the hells, for numberless eons, which according to the sutra and tantra teachings is what will happen, just because they want to.

Say there are children at home and they don’t want to go to school. They want to stay home and play. Do the parents let them do that because that’s what they’d like to do? No. They get the children to go to school by cajoling them with sweet words and presents or by speaking wrathfully or punishing them, but out of heartfelt loving kindness and compassion. Parents do whatever they have to because it is important for the children to get an education so that they can get a job, make money, and survive in this world.

The Practice of Patience

As above, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said:

Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Say, for example, a person is angry with you and tries to harm you with their body, speech or mind. When the Buddha explained how to attain enlightenment through the practice of the six perfections, he gave complete teachings on patience. Then, as a representative of Shakyamuni Buddha, our guru taught us how to practice patience ourselves. But we don’t practice patience with the buddhas, nor with friends or strangers. The only person who gives us the opportunity to put the teachings on patience into practice, to complete the practice in order to attain enlightenment, is the one we consider an enemy, the angry person trying to harm us. That’s the only one.

By practicing patience with our enemy, we can overcome our anger, complete the perfection of patience, and attain enlightenment, buddhahood, the total cessation of all obscurations and the completion of all realizations. In doing so we achieve the infinite qualities of a buddha’s holy body, speech, and mind. And even before we get there, we become higher bodhisattvas on the eighth, ninth, and tenth levels; for us, they are like buddhas.

The One We Call “Enemy” Gives Us the Infinite Qualities of a Buddha

But when we become enlightened, we become omniscient and can directly perceive all past, present, and future simultaneously. We can read every single sentient being’s mind at the same time, and there are numberless sentient beings in each realm. We also have perfect power to reveal to them the methods that will free them from suffering and lead them from happiness to happiness, all the way to enlightenment, and we have complete, infinite compassion for every sentient being, with nothing more to develop. We are able to benefit them by freeing every single sentient being from all suffering and, ultimately, bringing them to enlightenment! Wow! Wow! Wow!

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha already did this for numberless sentient beings, is benefiting them now, and will continue to do so in the future, and we can do the same. We, too, can bring all this limitless benefit, as vast as the sky, and achieve all the infinite qualities of a buddha from the person we call the “enemy.” The one who is angry with us gives us the opportunity to gain all these enlightened qualities. The enemy’s kindness can never be repaid, even if we offer them skies filled with dollars, diamonds, even wish-granting jewels, all the material goods you need in life. We can never repay that unbelievable kindness; it’s like skies of kindness. Wow! Wow! What that person gives us is unimaginable. That person is most kind, most precious, most dear, our wish-fulfilling one.

So, everyone, please understand this. Read this letter carefully and think over its meaning well. This is the time to think well and not just breeze over it as if it’s some blah, blah, blah. Just this one time, think well, think well. Then you will realize what is really hallucination, false, and what in your life is the truth. What you are doing.

Your Enemy is Your Teacher of Patience

Now, in Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, the practice of patience with that person, the enemy, is regarded as the practice of seeing the enemy as the guru who is helping you complete the paramita of patience and making you achieve enlightenment. The enemy is your teacher, practically, your teacher of patience.

You can see now how that practice of patience is so priceless, how it changes your mind from negative to positive, into patience. And what happens from that? What can you achieve from that precious thought? You can achieve a healthy mind. We always seek to have a healthy body, but that comes from a healthy mind. A healthy mind is most important. So now, everybody, please think that you need a healthy mind.

Nowadays, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasizes very much to the world that it is not enough to be physically healthy; that really, physical health has to come from a healthy mind. We need a healthy inner world, and His Holiness emphasizes very much how we need to take care of our mind by taking care of our emotional hygiene in order for it to be healthy. Please everyone, practice that.

These teachings are not just for listening by ear, not only for listening by ear. No, not that. We need to use these teachings for practice. If we don’t practice patience right now, right now, we will lose the opportunity, because that person’s anger won’t last for a long time, and when it’s gone we will have lost an opportunity that is a much greater loss than losing skies of jewels, skies of gold, diamonds, or even wish-granting jewels. Even that is nothing. It is nothing because with that alone we can’t achieve all the numberless qualities of a buddha’s holy body, speech, and mind and the possibility of benefiting sentient beings in the highest possible way.

On the other hand, if we practice patience with a good heart, we will achieve all that, and it is something we must practice right away. If we do not accept Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses or what the Buddha taught, that’s okay. It’s a totally different matter if you don’t want to practice Buddhism. But if you are thinking to practice Buddhism, yes, you must practice what I have said.

Then, just to finish the quotation, by depending on that sentient being, the enemy who’s angry with or harming us, whose mind is obscured, we generate great compassion. From great compassion, we generate bodhicitta. With bodhicitta, we become a bodhisattva, and from there we become a buddha. A buddha has two holy actions: one is in the buddha’s own holy mind and the other is in us sentient beings—all the virtue that we sentient beings create. From a buddha’s holy action comes all our virtue. That brings all happiness—all our past happiness from beginningless rebirths, all our present happiness, and all our future happiness, including that of enlightenment, the peerless happiness. Therefore, all our past, present, and future happiness, including enlightenment, even the happiness we experience in dreams, the happiness of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and even worldly happiness, every happiness that we experience is completely received from the person we call an enemy. So, that is how kind that person is. There is no limit. The sky has no limit in terms of measuring the kindness of that sentient being. So toward that sentient being, we should give the best of everything, like our own life. Just as we do the best for ourselves, likewise we should do the best for our enemies.

The Source of Suffering and Happiness

All suffering comes from the I, from cherishing the I, and all happiness comes from cherishing others, as I just explained. Therefore, renounce the I and cherish other sentient beings most of all. Even that one sentient being. Like that, every sentient being—the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, including the mosquitos and ants, every human being in the numberless universes, all the asura beings, and all the sura beings—is most precious, most kind, most dear, most wish-fulfilling; every single one. Also, from every sentient being, from a tiny insect on a rock or in moist wood, come all the numberless Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They all come from this one.

When we take refuge at the beginning of any practice we do, the numberless Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha in which we take refuge all came from this one sentient being. So, this sentient being is most precious, most kind, and wish-fulfilling. Therefore, for that one we do our best. This is our motivation and how we offer service to them.

With the mind, there’s always attachment to our own side and hatred toward others. On top that we have jealousy, pride, and so forth, ignorance and self-cherishing. Day and night, we create so much negative karma with our body, speech, and mind.

How it seems is that for many lifetimes we practiced morality and prayed to be reborn human, but now that we’ve received a human body, all we do is create negative karma. It’s as if our purpose in having been born human is simply to create the cause to be reborn back into the lower realms, our permanent residence. This is how the state of our life appears. It looks as if we’ve prayed to create much heavier negative karma than even animals do so that we’ll be reborn in the lower realms and suffer greatly for many more numberless eons.

The Unification of Dharma and Politics in Tibet

About the Tibetan government, I think all the people who serve in it should first of all learn the lamrim, the graduated path to enlightenment, and realize especially how to follow the guru perfectly, how to see the guru as a buddha. Then, with that devotional mind, they should follow every single advice exactly, taking it as the happiest path, not feeling it as a heavy burden and giving rise to anger or heresy toward His Holiness. They should feel most happy to do this in order to collect the highest merit and achieve the greatest purification, seeing it as the quickest way to attain enlightenment. They should see that following His Holiness’s advice is the happiest path to follow. That is what I think.

They should all have the perfect view of their guru and generate renunciation, bodhicitta, and the right view of emptiness. In that way, they would abandon attachment not only to this life but to even future lives in samsara. They would be free of self-cherishing and be motivated by bodhicitta, cherishing others more than themselves. They would have the wisdom realizing the emptiness of the I and be free of the ignorance holding the I as real. Of course, on top of that there’s tantra, but at least that.

Then their service to His Holiness, the Tibetan people, and all sentient beings would be completely pure, completely free from the self-cherishing thought. They would have strong devotion to accomplishing His Holiness’s advice no matter how difficult the service they were asked to offer might be. There would be no thought of difficulty, only the utmost enjoyment in following his advice.

Previously, Tibetan paper money had printed on it “The Joyful Palace Unifying the Secular and the Religious.” The secular meant politics, religion meant Buddhism. I used to think that no other country in the world had that designation of the government: the unification of Dharma with secular (political) life. Firstly, of course, one had to understand what Dharma was in order to be able to unify it with politics. Without understanding that, people would not know how to unify the two.

Ascetic monks who live in isolation and have renounced the eight worldly dharmas have no attachment to this life. For them, everything becomes Dharma, not only their meditation retreat but also their listening to and studying Dharma, eating, sleeping, walking and everything else. Their way of living life, of finding the means of living, of figuring out how to do everything is unified with the Dharma. So for them, politics is also unified with Dharma.

But the person who knows the best politics is the omniscient one, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He knows politics the best. Politics doesn’t have to be negative; negative politics are those done with the eight worldly dharmas. But Tibet was so fortunate. Even the currency was printed with the advice to unify politics with Dharma. Everybody was supposed to live their life and offer service unified with Dharma.

Of course, there were many holy beings, bodhisattvas, and high lamas in the Tibetan government, people who had renounced attachment to this life and the eight worldly dharmas, so everything they did was Dharma. But there were also others who renounced this life and the worldly dharmas and offered service to the Tibetan government, so their politics became Dharma as well. So, when thinking about how to work for the FPMT, I think this can serve as the best example. Not only studying the lamrim but gaining realizations. That’s the best way. Then we know how to live our life, how to sleep, eat, walk, talk, meditate, and everything else.

First, whatever we do does no harm to others or ourselves, so everything becomes virtue. When we add the right view of emptiness, nothing becomes the cause of samsara. It becomes an antidote to samsara. Then, with bodhicitta, everything—eating, walking, sitting sleeping, doing our job—becomes a cause of achieving enlightenment for other sentient beings.

So at the very least, people who offer service should learn the lamrim. That is so important. It is so important to understand the lamrim. Then we know how to live our life. That is the way to start.

Do Not Harm Others

Now you know that the numberless sentient beings are most kind, most dear, most precious, and totally wish-fulfilling. Now you know what I said at the beginning—this is the realization. I don’t mean I have the realization; I’m not saying that, but this is the realization that we all should have if we really think of Dharma. Not blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah—not that. If you want to be a really good human being, a better human being, at least do not harm others. Do no harm in this world. Do nothing harmful to others or yourself.

The most important thing I want you to know is that the real, the best Dharma practice is to hold others as most precious and to offer them the best of everything. Even if a child creates so many problems, the child’s mother loves that child the most; more than her own life. She will do the best for her child that she can.

That example shows us how we should be toward every sentient being. That is what allows us to attain enlightenment quickly. Otherwise, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, our mind just follows delusion and by living with delusion, jealousy, attachment, ignorance, and so forth, we continuously create additional negative karma to remain in samsara and the lower realms.

The mind that always follows delusions and wrong concepts, the hallucinated mind, is like, for example, the many hundreds or thousands of birds that land on trees and just make noise all day long, chirping incessantly. Some people are like that. Or they are like children who, in the view of their parents, fight with each other all day and night over nonsensical things.

Normally we create negative karma day and night and then, on top of that, we create additional negative karma as if it were in short supply. It’s as if we are worried that there is such a scarcity of negative karma that we need to plan to create some more, like pouring rain, by following delusion.

The conclusion is that we must stop, or at least cut down on, creating negative karma. Otherwise, instead of causing others to practice virtue, we will cause them to collect more negative karma and as a result everybody will continuously suffer in samsara, go to the lower realms, and suffer for eons and eons to come.

Last year, in one FPMT center, a small fight broke out between two students and this led (after further issues) for one student to be banned from coming to the center for a period of time. Much later I heard that the student who had been temporally banned wanted to bring a lawsuit against the center. I said it was a total waste of money for everybody: for that person, for the director, and for the center. That money would be better spent making charity to people who were homeless, hungry, or in need of medicine, and there were so many other places in the world where it would help. It could be used to make offerings to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha or to other holy objects. It’s unbelievable what you could do with that money. I didn’t go into all that detail, I just said that it was a total waste of money.

How to be an FPMT center director

As I mentioned about offering service to the Tibetan government, it’s similar with the FPMT. The best way of being an FPMT center director is to study and practice the lamrim before taking the job. Don’t just study the lamrim intellectually but practice it. Then you’ll be able to offer service to the FPMT and sentient beings correctly. Not only will you not harm sentient beings, you’ll benefit them as well. The more you understand the lamrim, the more you practice it, the more you realize it, the better you’ll be able to benefit sentient beings and serve the organization. You will purify your negative karma accumulated since beginningless rebirths, collect the greatest, most extensive merit, and attain enlightenment more quickly.

Of course, in general, I must stress how important it is for everybody to know the lamrim, but it is an essential prerequisite for an FPMT center director.  We have a director’s manual to which I have added my own advice.

Before you become a director, you need some training. Even before becoming a waiter you need to be trained somewhat. You need to learn to be friendly when people come to the restaurant. Greet them nicely, “Hello, how are you?” Say some nice words, kind words. That makes people happy. Chat with them, and when they leave tell them goodbye, wish them a nice day, that sort of thing. Smile a lot. All these small things make people feel good. It’s also important for directors to be nice.

Here’s another story. At Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in New Delhi in 1982 there was a Tibetan translator who disrobed and ended up in Australia. While there he got a job in a shop owned by a Japanese man. He was never taught how to behave when customers came into the shop, but it’s similar to a bodhisattva’s actions. Of course, it’s not for Dharma; it’s to make money for the owner, but still, when customers come in, he would think of them as precious and offer them tea, be sweet and kind, and make them happy. Then they would spend money and buy things. And that’s why he acted the way he did.

Similarly, as the director of a Dharma center you have to learn how to do this kind of thing. You have to change your mind; you have to have a good heart. You have to have compassion for sentient beings and pay attention to the Buddhadharma, to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. You have to have patience. Then your service becomes correct.

If your motivation is self-cherishing based upon the root of samsara, the ignorance holding the I as real, a total, lifelong hallucination, attachment and anger arise, as Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the Great Treatise, as I mentioned above. If you live your life with self-cherishing and all those other delusions, nothing you do is pure; nothing becomes Dharma. Whatever you do—even if you attend teachings or study Dharma or meditate—when you offer service, nothing becomes Dharma. That is terrible, terrible, terrible—nothing becomes Dharma. Even if you are doing something, it doesn’t become Dharma. In your mind, you do not cherish others, you don’t have even effortful bodhicitta. All you have is strong self-cherishing thought and everything revolves around you: your happiness, your power, your wealth. Then, so many problems arise. You try to defeat others, bringing them anger and suffering and making them upset. There are problems at your center. Everybody is unhappy with you, everybody criticizes you. Like that, it is very sad.

It’s also possible that you don’t care about the center. All you care about is your own happiness, your own reputation. You pay no attention to the center. It’s like certain people who work for the government who care only about their own power and reputation. They don’t care about the government or the health and happiness of the population. They just care about themselves. When it’s very much like that at the center, only problems arise. When someone becomes a president or prime minister, many people become unhappy with that person. It can be the same with an FPMT center director.

I’ll tell you another story. One student who became a director of a large center, as soon as he became director then many people criticized him. It’s always like this. That’s why I say, when someone becomes director they should expect criticism. They should say to themselves, “I’m the person everybody is going to criticize.” Prepare yourself for that. Since that is going to happen, be ready for it. Then it won’t bother you. You won’t get emotional. It’s also very good for your Dharma practice; very, very good. And as a result, you become very kind to others. As a director, you have to be kind to others. As I said, with compassion for sentient beings, serve them. With devotion to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, serve them. That’s what an FPMT center director has to do.

If someone is untrained, they will create many problems, like presidents and ministers who run a country but are only in it for themselves. They work in politics only for their own happiness, reputation, and wealth, while so much of the population is unhappy. Then, they don’t like these leaders, they suffer, and eventually they rise up against them. Then there’s a civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people get killed. We’ve seen this happen in many countries. That’s the big one.

Thank you very much. Why I have to appeal to you is in the example I gave of many hundreds of birds coming to a tree and going blah, blah, blah, all day and night. It is so that you won’t create downpours of negative karma. So, with palms pressed together at my heart, I thank you all for not doing that. Thank you very much.

I hope everyone has gotten some clarity from my blah, blah. It’s quite long. I’m sorry for that but I have to clarify everything for you. When things don’t get solved, then there is a lot of blah, blah, blah, and so much negative karma gets created with one’s body, speech, and mind due to attachment, anger, and ignorance, just like rain falling.

Old students who know Dharma may understand what I am saying, all this blah, blah. When one’s motivation is not pure, when the eight worldly dharmas reign, then there’s anger and jealousy. Even if it’s a correct situation, you may think that it is wrong. Then you make wrong decisions. This happens many times in life, due to anger, the dictator of the self-cherishing thought, and so forth.

Unlike the buddhas and bodhisattvas, who totally serve sentient beings, we do not let the people of the center use us. Buddhas and bodhisattvas just let others use them, whether it’s with praise or criticism. They just totally dedicate themselves to others’ happiness. While we become a slave to the dictator, the self-cherishing thought, bodhisattvas who work for sentient beings have unbelievable peace and happiness. Compare this with using self-cherishing for power and so forth, which in reality is simply working for oneself.

Thank you very much for understanding! If what I have said causes anyone lung, I apologize with folded hands.

In conclusion

When there’s a problem, one has to research both sides to establish what is right and what is wrong. If one considers only one side, one gets stuck in a quagmire that is hard to get out from. Many times both can be right and many times both can be mistaken.

Problems come from a wrong motivation, self-cherishing, and anger. Problems arise from delusion and karma. They are created by past karma and present delusion. Even if what you are doing is good, virtuous, past lives’ karma can be experienced because it was not purified well. One result is eons of suffering in an unfortunate realm or in some other form of chaos.

Kadampa Geshe Garab Wangchug said:

Experiencing the present small suffering purifies heavy suffering.

That means that for a long time, one will experience happiness like the sun shining and from life to life things will get better and better. You can look at it as negative but you can also look at it as positive. That’s why the Kadampa geshe said, “Rejoice. Be happy with suffering.”

Then, with the motivation of compassion and actions done for sentient beings, if there’s limited wisdom, mistakes will be made because of not having full understanding. I want to say, buddhas are the ones who know politics best. Like His Holiness, they have omniscience, no ignorance. We are ignorant; therefore, we make mistakes and have suffered since beginningless rebirths. If you really think and feel that, not just the words, that’s the most frightening thing—how long we have suffered.

When people criticize you, it doesn’t mean that they are right. We carry past lives’ negative karma, give rise to heresy, and lack devotion. There are people who criticize His Holiness and there were six heretics who criticized the Buddha. You have to know that. One thing is that you can be evil, but others can look at you as positive, pure, and enlightened, even if you are a demon. The other is that you are a buddha, but people don’t see it.

For example, the Buddha’s attendant Legpai Karma always criticized him. One day the Buddha went out for alms and a girl offered a handful of grain into his begging bowl. As a result, the Buddha predicted her enlightenment as Sangye Tsema. Then the Buddha’s attendant thought, “Why is the Buddha saying that? He is lying.” For twenty-two years, he believed the Buddha had lied and in his next life he was born in hell for eons.

This example is brought up in the root text of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment. Therefore, you have to make an effort to make your mind pure, positive. You have the responsibility of becoming enlightened. Like you have the responsibility of getting better if you are sick, take care to keep your mind healthy. His Holiness emphasizes this, the hygiene of the emotions. Get sick with attachment and great negativity will ensue all day long. This happens with the five poisonous minds. We do take care of our body, but the best thing is to make sure you have a healthy mind; that’s what makes a very healthy body.

One final point

FPMT center and project directors should be good human beings and, like a bodhisattva, have less attachment. They should not be partisan, should not abandon others, and so forth. When attachment increases, fighting follows.

This is the attitude of buddhas and bodhisattvas: every sentient being is most kind, most dear, most precious. Each is a wish-fulfilling-gem mother, as the Buddha taught in his sutra teachings and as integrated in the lamrim. Or, you can become the most loving mother toward all sentient beings, like when someone is suffering, a mother cherishes that person as if it were her most suffering child.

The more you understand Dharma, the better decisions you can make. Like when running a government, the more the motivation is pure, the better the result. The essence is understanding the Dharma, otherwise you’ll make many mistakes and put yourself into great suffering. Better than that is to have the clairvoyance that knows what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. And best of all is to have omniscience.

The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in Bodhicaryavatara:

If I can’t bear even
This much present suffering,
Why don’t I avert anger,
The cause of hell suffering?

And the glorious pandit Chandrakirti from Nalanda said:

Think: “This is not the mistake of sentient beings,
But the mistake of the disturbing thoughts.”
By examining, the Learned Ones don’t get angry with sentient beings,
But reflect on their kindness and don’t criticize them.

Thank you.

Thubten Zopa