Sentient Beings are Like Wish-fulfilling Jewels

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #089)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching on the kindness of sentient beings at the Eighth Kopan Course held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1975.

This teaching is an edited excerpt from Lecture 35 of the course.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Tarzana, California, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

In the teaching it says, “Sentient beings are as precious as wish-fulfilling jewels.” After taking the wish-fulfilling jewel out of ocean, if it is dirty, we clean it and put it on top of the banner, on top of our house, then we make prayers to receive the temporal needs, such as the enjoyments, reputation and other things. By praying like this with the wish-fulfilling jewel, we easily receive all the temporal enjoyments. Just as we can receive all the temporal enjoyments from the wish-fulfilling jewel, like this we can receive the temporal enjoyments from mother sentient beings. Therefore, sentient beings are like the precious wish-fulfilling jewels.

After finishing the checking meditation on the benefits of cherishing others more than ourselves, then emphasize like this, “All our happiness and perfection is received from bodhicitta—cherishing others more than myself. This bodhicitta is received from each sentient being.” As I gave this example in the checking meditation, bodhicitta is received by depending on other sentient beings. Just as we did the checking meditation on the enemy, think like this about each sentient being and generate the same feeling.

It is written that all our happiness necessarily comes from bodhicitta, and bodhicitta is received by depending on each sentient being. Therefore, it is reasonable, it is worthwhile, instead of taking care of ourselves, to take care of other sentient beings. After checking, our conclusion is like this. This is main reason why we are checking and trying to understand—to help, to strengthen our heart and our mind to take care of other sentient beings instead of just taking care of ourselves.

Secondly, like the wish-fulfilling jewel, all our temporal perfections and happiness are also be received from other sentient beings. We can remember like this, “Without depending on the mother sentient beings, I wouldn’t have this body. I wouldn’t have any chance to receive pleasure. Enjoying the sense pleasures is also due to the kindness of sentient beings.” An example of an object of enjoyment of the senses is a house. When a house is built, many creatures are killed and in the foundations of that house, many insects are killed. They die when it’s built and without their suffering, there is no way to enjoy that house. Many people work very hard building the house, so it also depends on their hardship.

It is like this with all our possessions—cars, televisions, furniture and all the possessions that are made in the different factories. Many people work in those factories—they use their mental and physical energy, and they go through much hardship. Usually, we think, “I have a beautiful property and garden, a beautiful house and all these possessions only because I am educated or because I worked. I can make so much money, and without that money, how would it be possible that this is built? I did it.” We only think, “I did it,” in the depths of our heart and we completely forget about those other people who worked and those other sentient beings who suffered for that. We always think only about ourselves, “I did it, ” or “It happened because I make a lot of money.”

However, even if this thought comes into our mind at other times, money is not something that we make only by ourselves, money is not something that we make without depending on the kindness of other sentient beings. We think, “I worked, I made a lot of money, I am educated,” but if there are no other sentient beings, how can we work? If there’s no employer, if there’s no person who gives us a job, how can we make money? It’s impossible to make money. If we are alone and there are no other sentient beings, how can we make money? It’s impossible. There’s no way to receive money, no way to work, no matter how much we’re educated. It is received by the kindness of other sentient beings—even finding a job is due to the kindness of sentient beings.

So this includes money that we have to pay to the workers, to buy our possessions, other furnishings, cars and vehicles, all these things, our house, everything. All our possessions and enjoyments are received by the kindness of many different sentient beings. Not only human beings, but also many other non-human beings died or suffered so much for that.