Teachings from Guadalajara (Edited)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Guadalajara, Mexico (Archive #1700)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught lam-rim for eight days in Guadalajara, Mexico in April 2008. The teachings are edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron. You can also listen online to the eight-day series of teachings.

Rinpoche also gave a public talk on the lam-rim which you can read and listen to here.

Day One: Ignorance, the Root of Suffering

First I want to say welcome, welcome to everybody. Thank you for coming here to do this retreat. From my side, I’m very happy to be here, and I hope you’re also happy to be here. I would like to thank very much all the organizers here in Mexico, who put in so much effort to make this retreat happen. Thank you to everyone who helped to organize this retreat and invited me here. I’m not sure what I’m going to do here—we’ll see what happens. I hope there will be some benefit in my coming here to join you.

The purpose for which we have gathered here is something that most people in the world don’t think about and don’t do. It is something extremely rare and extremely precious, the most precious thing in life. It is something that most people in the world don’t see, don’t understand and don’t practice. They practice the opposite. They practice the opposite day and night, but what do they get from that? Nothing. If you think about it, it’s very sad. The result they get is only suffering, only dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the very basis of their life, and from that foundation of dissatisfaction they then get so many problems, hundreds, thousands of problems. Dissatisfaction leads to many, many problems in life. So, life goes like that, and then one day death happens. Since you are born under the control of karma and delusion, there is then death, which is caused by karma and delusion. You’re born totally without control, totally under the control of karma, actions done in the past motivated by wrong concepts, what are called delusions, hallucinated minds such as ignorance, anger and attachment. Of course, taking a human birth wasn’t caused by anger. A deva or human rebirth isn’t created by anger, but only rebirth as a hell being, preta or animal, in dependence upon the heaviness of the karma. This human birth didn’t come from anger, but it could have come from attachment, though not from the attachment grasping that life’s happiness, which is a total nonvirtue. It could have come from the attachment seeking future life happiness. In our past life, there could have been attachment to receiving this present human body that we have now received.

There can be attachment that is born from ignorance. Of course, the very root cause of this birth is ignorance. There are many different types of ignorance, and this ignorance is the ignorance not knowing the meaning of selflessness, the selflessness of the person and the selflessness of the aggregates. This is the ignorance not knowing the very nature of the self, the I, which is emptiness, as well as not knowing the ultimate nature of the aggregates, the base on which the self, the I is labeled, which again is emptiness. This ignorance is the very root.

What I’m trying to say is that we are born totally under the control of karma and delusion. Karma, a Sanskrit word, means “action,” and can be translated as “action and result,” where result refers to the effect of the action. And delusion is what motivates that action. So, you could say that we are born from ignorance, the wrong concept apprehending the I, the self, in the wrong way. Day and night, all the time, we talk about the I, but we apprehend and totally believe in an I that doesn’t exist at all, that is not there. The problem is that we don’t see the I that exists, the I that is merely imputed by the mind, existing in mere name. That I is the one that exists but ignorance doesn’t see that I. The I that ignorance apprehends is something that is the complete opposite to the reality, the complete opposite to the I that exists. Ignorance believes that that I is a hundred percent true. That it’s there on these aggregates, this association of body and mind. I’m talking about the aggregates that we have, this association of body and mind, the collection of the five aggregates of form, feeling, recognition, compounding aggregates and consciousness. Ignorance believes that there’s a real I there on this collection. Ignorance trusts the way the I appears to the hallucinated mind and totally trusts that it is true. Ignorance totally believes that there is such an I in this body. Making it even more gross, ignorance believes that there is a real I on these aggregates.

Right now your mind merely imputed the I. Just now your mind made up the self, the I. But even though your mind merely imputed the I right now, you are not aware that the I is merely imputed by your own mind. After the mere imputation by our mind, the I doesn’t appear back to our hallucinated mind as merely imputed by the mind. After the mere imputation by the mind, it doesn’t appear back to our hallucinated mind in accordance with the reality. Our mind is defiled by the negative imprint left by the wrong concept. While the I is merely imputed by the mind, we hold on to it as truly existent, as not merely labeled by the mind. We hold on to it as something truly existent, but that is a wrong concept, because there’s no such object as we believe in. There’s no such thing; it’s totally nonexistent, empty. But wisdom, absolute wisdom, sees that the I is totally empty of existing being not merely labeled by mind. Wisdom sees that the I is merely imputed by mind, existing in mere name.

I will give you just one example. Before we sat down, we were standing—I don’t know if we were sleeping. At that time your mind labeled, “I’m standing.” If somebody asks you what you are doing, you’ll say, “I’m standing.” If the base, the body, were walking, you would say, “I’m walking.” The only reason you say this is that the body is standing or walking. Your body is now doing the action of sitting, so you change the label. Your mind no longer labels “I’m standing” or “I’m walking” but “I’m sitting.” You change your label in dependence upon what your body is doing. Since you are now sitting down, your mind labels, “I’m sitting.” If somebody asks you or you think about what are you doing now, you would say, “I’m sitting.”

Next (and I don’t know when), when your body again stands up, your mind will change the label to “I’m standing,” “I’m walking” or “I’m in bed.” When your body is in bed, you will label, “I’m lying down” or “I’m in bed.” You can see that twenty-four hours a day your mind is constantly labeling the I, as well as the actions of the I. Constantly the mind is merely imputing.

So, this happens not only in relation to the body but also in relation to the mind. You label “I” and “thinking this,” “thinking that,” “planning this,” “planning that.” Again, your mind simply makes up the label “I” and makes up the label for the action of the I: “I’m thinking of the past,” “I’m thinking of the present,” “I’m thinking of the future.” In dependence upon what your mind experiences, your mind then mind labels “I’m happy” or “I’m unhappy.”

The mind constantly labels the I and the action of the I, in dependence upon what the body, speech or mind does. All the time your mind is busy in this way, constantly labeling the I and its various actions, which are also merely imputed by mind. This is constantly happening.

When your consciousness took place on the fertilized egg in your mother’s womb, birth was imputed. When the consciousness leaves the body, there’s the mere imputation by the mind of death. You can now see exactly what the I is: it’s nothing other than what is merely imputed by the mind. Just that. That’s what we have to meditate on; that’s what we need to concentrate on. That very nature is something unbelievably subtle. What it is is unbelievably subtle. It is not nihilism. It’s not that it’s totally nonexistent, but it’s so subtle, so fine.

There are four schools of Buddhist philosophy that arose in India during Buddha’s time. The four schools happened because everybody doesn’t have the same level of mind, the same level of intelligence, the same level of merit. That’s why in defining what the I, the self, is, these four schools happened. The actual definition of what the I is comes in the fourth school, the Madhyamaka school, and specifically in the Prasangika Madhyamaka school. The Madhyamaka school has two divisions: Svatantrika and Prasangika. Even the Svatantrika Madhyamaka school still has mistakes in its view of the ultimate nature of the I; there are mistakes in their view of the way the I appears and the way it’s believed to exist. But, of course, the Svatantrika Madhyamaka view is much subtler than that of Vaibhashika, Sautrantika and Cittamatra, or Mind Only, schools.

What I was talking about just before was according to the view of the second Madhyamaka school, the Prasangika, as to how the I, the self, exists. Constantly, twenty-four hours a day, our mind is labeling. Not only from this morning, not only from the birth of this life, but even before the birth of this life, during beginningless rebirths, the I has been imputed by your mind. The continuity of the I has been existing during beginningless rebirths and will exist even after we have achieved enlightenment. The continuity of the self, which is merely imputed by the mind always exists. It always exists. It always exists because there is always continuity of the mind, the base on which the I is labeled. From life to life there’s always continuity of the mind. And even after enlightenment there’s continuity of the mind, the consciousness, which is also merely imputed by the mind. Because of that, the self, which is merely imputed, exists. There’s always the existence of that continuity of the self, the I. But it always exists in mere name, merely imputed by mind.

What the Prasangika school explains is exactly according to the reality of the I, which is a mere imputation. And because of that, it’s totally empty. It’s totally empty of the real I existing from its own side, which always appears to our hallucinated mind and which we believe and trust in all the time. So, that’s our ignorance.

I’m talking here about just the I, the self, and discovering this, meditating on this and realizing this is extremely important. Without this realization, without actualizing this wisdom, no matter what other realization of sutra or tantra you have, you have no way to be free from suffering. You have no opportunity at all to be liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering. You cannot be liberated from the oceans of human sufferings, such as all the problems of birth. Lama Tsongkhapa used five outlines to explain the sufferings of birth; the outlines are to give you the broad idea so that it’s easy to meditate. It is explained in the teachings that when an ordinary being takes birth, when the consciousness takes place on the fertilized egg, it’s like jumping into boiling hot water. This doesn’t apply to everybody who takes birth. When holy beings who are totally free from karma and delusion take birth freely to benefit other sentient beings, they don’t suffer but experience only happiness. There are also five outlines for the sufferings of old age and sickness. There are also the worry and fear of meeting undesirable objects; the worry and fear of being unable to find desirable objects such as friends, a good reputation, food and clothing; and even after finding a desirable object, you can’t get satisfaction. That’s a huge suffering. You constantly suffer from continual dissatisfaction. No matter what you seek externally, you can’t achieve satisfaction. Unless you practice Dharma, you can’t get satisfaction; you can’t have inner peace and happiness. Instead you constantly suffer. There are also the sufferings of death and the sufferings of the aggregates, of which there are five types. Anyway, this is just to give you the basic idea of the sufferings of human beings.

As well as oceans of human sufferings, there are oceans of asura and sura sufferings. The asuras and suras, the devas, or worldly gods, also have oceans of suffering. The most unbearable sufferings the suras experience are the five signs of approaching death. Due to their karma, they hear a sound from the sky that tells them they’re going to die after seven days. Not through meditation but due to karma, they can then remember their past life, where they came from the life before the sura realm, and they can see where they’re going to reincarnate, whether it’s in a hell, hungry ghost, animal or human realm. In the realm where they are, they have sense pleasures that are hundreds of thousands of times, millions of times, greater than ours, and they know that they have to leave this realm and be separated from all this pleasure. Compared to that realm, they see even the most developed country of a human realm as extremely primitive and full of disease and many other problems. They see the human realm as totally disgusting.

Normally suras don’t have dirt on their bodies, but when they experience these five signs of death, their bodies get dirty and they sweat. Normally the flowers they wear around their necks don’t die, but at this time the flowers die. Their friends don’t want to come near them. It is said in the teachings that they put flowers on the end of a very long stick, then pass them to the sura who is about to die. The other suras don’t come near the one who is about to die. It is mentioned that the mental suffering of the suras is heavier than the physical suffering of a hell being. Anyway, you can imagine their mental state at having to leave all those sense pleasures.

The suras always fight with the asuras over wealth and other things. They are always fighting, and it is normally easy for the asuras to get killed. They experience so much unbelievable suffering.

The oceans of sura and asura sufferings come from this ignorance not seeing the I, the self, as it is. There is a totally wrong belief that the I is something else, something not merely labeled by mind, something existing from its own side. It appeared that way to the hallucinated mind, which then believed it to be true. All this suffering is created by this ignorance, this wrong concept. Basically it’s because of not understanding the I, the self.

First I’ll finish this quick traveling tour….

This ignorance also causes the oceans of hell suffering. There are eight major hot hells. The first one is Being Alive Again and Again, and then there is the Black-Line Hell, where Yamas, like carpenters, put black lines on your body, which is like a mountain range, then cut it along the lines. Your delusions, your impure minds, your wrong concepts, and the karma motivated by them create that appearance. There is then the hell called Gathered and Crushed. Huge rocky mountains appear in the form of the heads of animals, insects or human beings that you have killed in the past and crush you. Due to karma and delusion, you are gathered in between two of these mountains and crushed. This goes on for zillions and zillions of years. All your blood spurts out like a waterfall. There are then the Crying and Great Crying hells. You suddenly have the appearance of a building with no doors or windows that is oneness with fire. You have to stay in there for an unbelievable length of time, many billions, zillions, of years, or many eons, until the karma finishes. When you finish with that one, there’s another one that you have to experience, again for billions or zillions of years. There are also the Hot and Extremely Hot hells. The last hot hell is Inexhaustible Suffering, which is the one with the heaviest suffering in samsara and for the longest time, one intermediate eon. In that hell you can’t see the forms of living beings. They are like a huge log of wood that is oneness with fire. Here the only way you can discriminate whether or not there is a sentient being is by the sound of screaming as they suffer. It’s the most unbearable suffering.

There are also eight major cold hells: Having Blisters, Achoo, Kyiphu, Clenched Teeth, Cracking, Great Cracking, Cracked like Lotus Petals and Cracked like an Utpala Flower. These are all sufferings of cold. The body, which is oneness with ice, cracks open like a lotus and then like an utpala flower, which is blue. As you go down the list, the suffering becomes heavier and heavier, twice that of the previous hell.

There are also six neighboring hells. I will give you just a very rough idea of those hell sufferings. In one of them, Chuwa Rame, there are oceans of lava, and suddenly you’re born inside that. When you see lava coming out of a volcano in Hawaii or a similar place, it melts whatever rocks it touches because it’s hotter than normal fire. It’s unbelievably hot. I saw lava when I went to Hawaii, where there was a small meditation center for some years. It has now disappeared, dissolved—I think it dissolved in the sky. It was called Shantideva; now Shantideva is in New York, where it was started last year or the year before.

So, I went to see the lava in Hawaii, and even that lava was unbelievably hot. So, you suddenly have the karmic appearance of being inside oceans of lava. Then, due to karma, there are sentient beings, like insects, with very long, sharp, needle-like noses. They’re like the long, fine beaks you see on some birds in zoos or on TV shows. Anyway, I’m just trying to remind you. Due to your karma, there are those sentient beings, and they pierce your body with their needle-like noses. As well as the six neighboring hell sufferings, there are the ordinary hell sufferings, which are located also in the human world.

All those sufferings are most unbearable. In the cold hells, your body is caught in mountains of ice. The whole cold energy, all the ice, of the human world is very pleasant compared to the cold hells. Compared to the heat of one tiny spark from a hot hell, all the fire energy of the human world put together is cool, like a snowfall. It’s normally mentioned that the fire at the end of the world is sixty or seventy times hotter than all the present human fire and that one tiny spark from hell is seven times hotter than the fire at the end of the world.

When the negative karma is actualized and rebirth in the hell realm has happened, at that time all the obstacles have gathered. Not only is there no opportunity at all to practice Dharma, to create the cause of happiness, but all the obstacles to happiness have gathered. Just to give you some idea of how unbearable it is, the tiny spark is extremely hot, and your body is like a mountain range with skin that is unbelievably thin and sensitive. Like the skin over an abscess, it is painful to touch, so the pain is unbelievable. Since all of a hell being’s body has consciousness, when the body is cut, even the pieces of the body and blood that comes out suffer unbelievably. The body is like that, and then the suffering goes on for an unbelievable length of time. The length of life in even the first hot hell is more than two hundred billion human years. One billion is called a tre bum in Tibetan. Ten tre bum is one great tre bum, and ten great tre bum is a trag trig, or one hundred billion. I don’t remember very clearly, but I think that the length of life of a being in the first hot hell is two trag trig, two great tre bum and six tre bum, which makes it something like 226 billion human years.

So, from where did all this most unbearable suffering come? It came from our own mind, from this wrong concept, this ignorance that is ignorant of the meaning of the selflessness of the person and ignorant of the meaning of the selflessness of the aggregates. It came from ignorance. What created all this most unbearable suffering of the hell realms and so forth? This ignorance, this wrong concept. Even though there are anger and other delusions, this ignorance is the root. Now here you have to understand this. One point is that you have to meditate on the unbearable sufferings of the different realms, which are caused by ignorance. We have already experienced those most unbearable sufferings numberless times in the past, and since we have collected so much negative karma in the past, there’s so much that we haven’t finished experiencing. There’s so much hell realm suffering left to be experienced in the future. Now, the important point here is that by studying those sufferings and understanding how unbearable they are, you then look for the cause. What causes this suffering? From where does it come? It comes from your mind. It doesn’t come from your positive mind; it’s not caused by your compassion. Those sufferings don’t come from your compassion, your loving kindness, your wisdom, your patience. They come from your impure mind, your wrong concepts. They come from your ignorance, anger and attachment—especially from the root, your ignorance not understanding the I, the self. That’s the fundamental answer. What creates all this suffering? What makes you to be in these realms and experience these most unbearable sufferings? Just these wrong concepts, and basically ignorance not knowing what the I is.

There is a purpose in learning about and understanding all these difficulties and sufferings that you have gone through numberless times during beginningless rebirths and that there is still so much negative karma collected in the past and in the present that you still have to experience. And what causes you to experience all that is this ignorance. Now, here, when you get this idea, you can’t wait even a second to eradicate this ignorance. You can’t wait even a second to eliminate this ignorance, the very root of all suffering.

When a doctor tells you that you have cancer, how does your mind react? Do you feel happy and excited? Do you throw your arms up into the air and run around with an intense look on your face, as I described yesterday? When you go for a checkup at the hospital and the doctor tells you that you have got cancer or some other life-threatening disease, are you going to be unbelievably happy or is your mind going to be filled with unbelievable fear? Your mind will become like foggy weather, with everything dark and completely covered by black fog so that you can’t see the sun, moon or stars. Mentally you will become like that. You will be afraid and unbelievably sad, thinking, “I have to die.” You will feel fear because you will relate the sickness to death.

Of course, if you are somebody who has a good heart, you live your life for other sentient beings, and whenever you encounter a problem, you experience it for others. You think that you have taken all sentient beings’ cancer and other problems; you take all the suffering and the cause of suffering, karma and delusion, upon yourself and let others to be free from suffering. If you are somebody who lives life with that kind of attitude, when a doctor tells you that you have cancer or some other heavy, life-threatening disease, because you realize how precious and kind sentient beings are, kinder than even Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, you are unbelievably happy to experience the cancer or other problem for others. For you it’s the best thing in your life, the greatest success. You take all their suffering upon yourself and give all your happiness to them. That’s different, of course. Generally, for most of us, our mind would be filled with fear and unbelievable sadness.

Now, where did this cancer come from? It came from your mind. It didn’t come from outside; it came from your mind. Your mind is the main cause. And which mind? The impure mind, the mistaken thoughts of ignorance, anger and attachment, which are superstitious thoughts. Since things do not exist in the way that these thoughts believe them to exist, they are superstitious thoughts. That is how we define superstitious thought. Because there are no such things as they believe, ignorance, anger and attachment are all the same in being superstitious thoughts.

You should realize how you would feel if a doctor told you that you had cancer; you would see the cancer as something unwanted, something to get rid of without even a second’s delay. Now, you should have much more fear and renunciation of your delusions, of your ignorance, anger and attachment, especially of the root delusion, the ignorance not knowing what the self is. You should have much more fear of this ignorance than of being told by a doctor that you have cancer. There should be a billion times more fear of having this root ignorance and of having anger, attachment and the other superstitious thoughts. Our fear and renunciation of ignorance, anger and attachment, and especially of the root ignorance, should be a billion times greater. It’s the same with all those unimaginable hell realm sufferings that I mentioned before. By realizing how unbearable those sufferings are and how they are all caused by this wrong concept, this ignorance, we should feel renunciation and fear, useful fear. It is useful fear in that because of this fear of your ignorance and other delusions, you then look for cessation, the everlasting ultimate happiness that is total cessation of all ignorance, this root ignorance and ignorance of karma, of what is virtue, the cause of happiness, and nonvirtue, the cause of suffering, as well as anger, attachment and so forth and all negative karma. Here, the renunciation and useful, or intelligent, fear come from understanding that this is the root of suffering. You then want to get rid of it, so you look for total cessation of delusion, as well as the cause of delusion, the negative imprint, or seed, from which it rises. Here you’re not looking for temporary pleasure, which can’t be developed further, which can’t be completed. You don’t look for that. You look for everlasting happiness, ultimate happiness, that which never ever degenerates once you achieve it. With samsaric pleasure, no matter how many attempts you make, you can’t complete it. Not only does it not increase, but it doesn’t continue; it stops again. No matter how much you work for it, your work has no end. Your work is endless. So, we have been doing that for beginningless rebirths up to now, and that’s why we’re still suffering. That’s why we’re not liberated.

When you look for the method to cease the cause of suffering—this root ignorance, the three poisonous minds and karma—you find true path, one of the four noble truths; the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. You look for and actualize this path. The development of that path comes from the wisdom realizing emptiness with imagination. This is not directly seeing the emptiness of the I, aggregates and so forth, but realizing the emptiness of the I and aggregates with imagination. With the wisdom realizing emptiness, especially the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, you’re able to directly cease the delusions and the root, ignorance, and its cause, the negative imprint, or seed. That’s how you are able to achieve total liberation from all suffering and its causes.

So, you have to discover the cause of samsara, of all these sufferings, and that there’s a path, a method, to cease these sufferings and their cause so that you can achieve liberation. This is what I was saying before about trying to learn about and understand the sufferings of the various realms, not only human beings’ problems, the problems of the realm where we’ve been born, but the sufferings of all those other realms. You can see the incredible benefit in doing this: it makes you want to remove the cause of suffering, delusion and karma, and especially the root, ignorance, and want to actualize the method, true path.

The other point is that by understanding the sufferings of those realms, you’re then able to develop loving kindness and unbearable compassion for the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, the numberless animals, the numberless human beings, the numberless asura beings, the numberless sura beings and the numberless intermediate state beings. You’re able to develop loving kindness and great compassion, Mahayana compassion, for all sentient beings. Great compassion is not only wishing sentient beings to be free from suffering and the cause of the suffering, but taking upon yourself responsibility for that. Also, loving kindness is wishing everyone to have happiness and the cause of happiness, and when you take upon yourself the responsibility for doing this, it becomes Mahayana, or great, loving kindness. This then causes you to actualize bodhicitta. You work to free all sentient beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them not only temporary happiness but what they really need, ultimate happiness, liberation from the entire suffering of samsara and its causes. You bring them not only that, but full enlightenment. What they really need is the peerless happiness of full enlightenment, with cessation of all the gross and subtle mistakes of the mind, all the defilements, and completion of all the qualities of realization.

At the moment you can’t guide even one sentient being even to liberation, the cessation of all suffering and its causes, nor can you guide even one sentient being to full enlightenment. Even for arhats, who are totally liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its cause, karma and delusion, who are free from all delusions and the cause of delusions, there’s still a possibility of making mistakes when they work for sentient beings, because they don’t have omniscience, because they don’t know everything directly. They don’t have omniscience because they haven’t completed the two types of merit: the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue. There’s still the possibility of their making mistakes because they don’t have omniscience, because they aren’t able to see the subtle karmas of sentient beings and things like that. There are five Mahayana paths and ten bhumis to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, and even a tenth-bhumi bodhisattva has still not achieved omniscience, so still there’s a possibility they will make mistakes. They can’t see the subtle karmas of sentient beings. Therefore, to be able to do perfect work for sentient beings, first you need to achieve full enlightenment, the state of omniscience.

Now you can understand why it’s so important to know about the sufferings of the sentient beings in the different realms. It’s very useful. In regard to the second point I mentioned, compassion, you can have some good heart and not know about the sufferings of those numberless sentient beings: the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, suras and intermediate state beings. Having some good heart is good—I mean, it’s better than nothing. But that’s not sufficient. If you learn about the sufferings of the sentient beings in all those different realms, you will then feel so much loving kindness and compassion, and you will then want to help them. You will want to free them from their suffering and bring them happiness, not only temporary happiness but the ultimate happiness of enlightenment. And to do that, you need to be qualified; you need to achieve the state of omniscient mind. To do that, you need to achieve the whole path to enlightenment from the beginning, guru devotion, which is the root of the path, through the graduated paths of the beings of low, middling and high capability. You need to actualize the whole path to enlightenment.

So, I think that’s the reason we’re here. That’s it. Your being here is not a question of your own happiness. That’s one person, one sentient being, but it’s just yourself. The purpose of our gathering here is to help everybody: to free the numberless hell beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; to free the numberless hungry ghosts from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; to free the numberless animals from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; to free the numberless human beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. When I say human beings it doesn’t mean only the human beings of this world. This is the southern continent, and there are human beings in the eastern, western and northern continents. There are numberless universes, which is mentioned not only in Dharma but in science. We have gathered here to free the numberless asuras and suras from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment; and to free the numberless intermediate state beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment, by yourself. To do that, you yourself need to be a perfect guide, to have all the realizations and to be free from all the mistakes of the mind, all the defilements, gross and subtle. For that, you need to complete the remedy of the path. For that, you need to hear teachings from a qualified master, or guru, and then reflect and meditate on them. I said hear teachings from a qualified master, but I’m not that. Sorry. In this degenerate time, I’m just Mickey Mouse from Lawudo. Anyway, we have some karma from the past, and that’s why we are meeting here now. That is what has brought us together here.

Tonight I’m going to give the oral transmission of a poem by Lama Tsongkhapa, Dharma king of the three realms (desire, form, formless realms) and an embodiment of Manjushri. Lama Tsongkhapa is the embodiment of Manjushri, who is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ wisdom; Lama Tsongkhapa is the embodiment of Chenrezig, Compassion Buddha, who is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion, which means Lama Tsongkhapa is the essence of all the buddhas’ compassion; and Lama Tsongkhapa is the embodiment of Vajrapani, who is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ power, which means Lama Tsongkhapa is the essence of all the buddhas’ power. It means that Lama Tsongkhapa is the embodiment of all the buddhas. That’s the conclusion.

Lama Tsongkhapa composed Lam-rim Chen-mo, The Great Commentary on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Lama Tsongkhapa also composed The Intermediate Commentary on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, as well as a short lam-rim called Hymns of Experience of the Path to Enlightenment.

Buddha taught 84,000 teachings as the antidote to the 84,000 delusions that sentient beings have, that we have. Though I don’t remember the exact details, some texts give a whole explanation of these delusions, starting from the root and then elaborating from there, and of how to eliminate the 84,000 delusions, or negative attitudes, that we have. Now, the heart of the 84,000 teachings of Buddha is the three baskets of teachings, and the heart of the three baskets of teachings is the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment.

Lama Tsongkhapa himself had total understanding of all Buddha’s teachings, more than a hundred volumes on sutra and tantra, and of all the commentaries by the Indian pandits and yogis. Lama Tsongkhapa studied all of them. Lama Tsongkhapa not only studied them but also researched the teachings of other great lamas in Tibet from the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions.

Lama Tsongkhapa then wrote three lam-rim commentaries: great, intermediate and short. Tonight I’m going to give the oral transmission of the short one, Hymns of Experience of the Path to Enlightenment.

I don’t know how long this will take—I don’t think it will take until tomorrow sunrise.

In this text there is the root text composed by Lama Tsongkhapa and a commentary to it composed by the Third Dalai Lama. I can’t say for certain what will happen, but I thought at this time to go over this text, so that we all receive blessings from His Holiness and Lama Tsongkhapa. The commentary is called Refined Gold: A commentary on the graduated path to enlightenment.

Everybody should understand how unbelievably fortunate they are to hear this teaching, the abbreviated lam-rim composed by Lama Tsongkhapa. Any teaching composed by Lama Tsongkhapa is very profound, and your understanding becomes very broad and deep.

One benefit of listening to an oral transmission is that even if you don’t understand the meaning of the teaching, just being able to hear the words causes you not to be reborn in the lower realms and to achieve a higher rebirth. In that life you are then able to meet a guru and the Dharma, to learn and practice the teachings and actualize the path. Sooner or later, you are able to achieve total liberation from the entire ocean of samsaric suffering and its causes and to achieve full enlightenment. You are then able to do perfect work for sentient beings until you bring everyone—every being from the hell, hungry ghost, animal, human, asura and sura realms—to enlightenment. Listening to Buddha’s teachings has this benefit even if you don’t understand the meaning of the subject but just hear the words. Simply listening to Buddha’s teaching has unimaginable, mind-blowing benefits.

The first point is that in your next life you obtain a human rebirth, which allows you to practice Dharma. The second point is that in your next life it is very easy for you to understand the teachings that you heard in this life. The minute you hear or see those teachings, it is so easy for you to understand them and easy for you to have realization. That makes it easy and quick for you to achieve enlightenment. Therefore, as far as Buddhadharma, even if you don’t understand the meaning of the words, it’s very important to listen to them. It has unbelievable benefit. It prepares your mind so that next time will be much easier.

Also, the Mahayana path has five paths to enlightenment (the Lesser Vehicle path has five paths to liberation): Mahayana path of merit, Mahayana preparatory path, Mahayana path of seeing, Mahayana path of meditation and no more learning. The Mahayana preparatory path has four levels within it: heat, tip, patience and sublime Dharma. When you achieve the fourth one, sublime Dharma, at that time you can remember every single word of whatever teachings and oral transmissions you have received in the past. That’s one of the incredible qualities of that practitioner before engaging in the third path.

Here, when you listen to the teachings or receive an oral transmission, even if the text is read without any explanation, whether you understand or don’t understand what is said, it has that benefit. It enables you later to have that quality when you are a meditator who has actualized the level of sublime Dharma of the preparatory path.

I already explained before the motivation. We haven’t gathered here for our own temporary happiness, the happiness of this life. Even animals are very good at achieving the happiness of this life. That’s not the special purpose of our life. Achieving the happiness of future lives is Dharma, but it’s still not really the meaning of our life. And achieving total liberation, everlasting happiness for oneself, is good, but it’s not the real purpose of our life, of why we’re born as human beings. It doesn’t fulfill the real meaning of why we’ve taken a human rebirth at this time.

Here, the real meaning of our life is achieving enlightenment for sentient beings, for the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless asuras and numberless suras. Our aim is to achieve enlightenment for each and every single sentient being. It includes every insect you see in the road, every bird, dog, cow or other animal that you see, every person that you see. Whatever we do here, listening to teachings and meditating, is for everyone to achieve enlightenment; it’s for the benefit of everyone. Especially now, listening to this oral transmission, think in your heart that it is to achieve enlightenment for everyone, for each and every single sentient being, to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

[Rinpoche recites the short mandala offering; then the refuge and bodhicitta verse once in Tibetan.]

“I go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, until the enlightenment is achieved. Due to the merits of the three time—past, present and future—collected by me and the past, present and future merits collected by all sentient beings, may I achieve enlightenment in order to benefit all the transmigratory beings.”

To benefit means to liberate them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes and bring them to full enlightenment. For that, you need to achieve enlightenment, so you need to actualize the path. For that, you need to listen to the teachings, reflect and meditate on them. Think, “Therefore, I’m going to take the oral transmission of this lam-rim teaching.”

Think again that you are doing this for the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras and suras. Make sure that instead of thinking of yourself you have all sentient beings in your heart. It is for their happiness that you are going to listen to the teachings and take the oral transmission.

This also becomes part of guru yoga practice. Generally, when we listen to teachings from a lama, from a guru, it’s very good to remember to meditate in the following way. Think, “This is Tara giving me teachings, this is Maitreya Buddha giving me teaching, this is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha giving me teachings, this is Manjushri giving me teachings, this my own personal deity giving me teachings. This is all the numberless buddhas. Through (or in) this form, all the buddhas are giving me teachings and guiding me to enlightenment.”

So, this doesn’t mean that I am an enlightened being. I’m not saying that. It’s possible that the buddhas are guiding through me; it’s possible because buddhas have omniscience, perfect power to guide sentient beings and have completed training their holy minds in compassion for all sentient beings. I mean, I can’t say it’s not possible. It would be difficult for me to say that’s not possible. I can’t say it’s not possible, I guess. Maybe sometimes it could happen….

When you take teachings or oral transmissions, it’s very good to think, “Every word I listen to brings me to liberation and enlightenment. Each word is wish-fulfilling, fulfilling all my wishes for happiness.” It’s also very good to think, “Each word I listen to liberates me from the oceans of samsaric suffering.”

This also helps you not to get distracted. Make sure that you one-pointedly concentrate on the Dharma words so that you receive all of the teaching. Don’t miss any of the teaching. When you then give the oral transmission to other people, there will be the complete lineage.

Also think, “Whenever I teach this to other sentient beings, may they immediately be able to actualize the meaning of these words, the actual path contained in this teaching, in all their hearts.” We should pray like this whenever we listen to teachings from a lama. Whenever there is such an opportunity, it is important to pray in this way. Also pray to immediately be able to actualize the meaning in your heart.

If you pray like this now when you take teachings, later your teaching what you have learned will become very beneficial. Your teaching will be as sweet as nectar and able to fulfill all wishes.

[Rinpoche begins the oral transmission of Hymns of Experience of the Path to Enlightenment.]

I have received the lineage of this oral transmission a few times. I have received it from His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, as well as a commentary, and from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I think I first received it from Kyabje Khunu Lama, Tenzin Gyaltsen, who was known to be a great bodhisattva and a great scholar. Khunu Lama was exactly the same as the great pandits, great scholars of ancient times, such as Nagarjuna, Asanga and Chandrakirti. When Khunu Lama gave teachings, he could remember and quote from any text in the hundred volumes of Buddha’s sutra and tantra teachings. His mind was like a library. It’s as if his mind contained all the texts of the Buddha’s teachings as well as all the Tengyur, the two hundred volumes of sutra and tantra commentaries by the pandits and yogis.

Khunu Lama, Tenzin Gyaltsen, is the lama from whom His Holiness received extensive commentary on A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. Khunu is an area in India, near Tibet. Khunu Lama went to Tibet to study under many great lamas. He knew sutra and tantra, as well as Sanskrit, grammar and poetry. He was fully qualified, with knowledge of all these things and experience of the path.

At one time he lived with sadhus in Varanasi in India, where there is the Ganges River. I think the sadhus may have offered food to him. One time he came to the Tibetan monastery in Bodhgaya—there was only one Tibetan monastery at that time. On the outside he looked like a sadhu, and when he asked the monastery if he could sleep outside on the cement, the monastery refused because they didn’t know who he was. That is what I heard.

Later, His Holiness the Dalai Lama took teachings from Khunu Lama on A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life and other subjects, and suddenly he became well known to all the Buddhists in India, Nepal and Tibet, especially India.

From Kyabje Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen Rinpoche I received commentaries on Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment, Lama Atisha’s teaching, and on his own teaching, Praise to bodhicitta, as well as this teaching. I think I received the oral transmission of this teaching from Khunu Lama in Nepal.

I received the commentary from His Holiness Ling Rinpoche and also another oral transmission from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I think.

After His Holiness took teachings from Khunu Lama, he suddenly became well known. He would be staying in one of the guest rooms for people connected to the monastery, and people would be lined up to meet him and receive his blessing. This was after he became well known. At the beginning, when people didn’t know who he was, the monastery didn’t give him even a place outside to sleep.

I requested a commentary on A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life from Kyabje Khunu Lama, but many other people were taking teachings so Rinpoche very kindly gave me the oral transmission rather than the commentary. When he came to the wisdom chapter, the most important subject, Rinpoche gave some commentary, but I then started fell asleep. As soon as Rinpoche started the commentary, I started to fall asleep. It happened only at that time. I think that’s a lot of negative karma to be purified; it becomes an obstacle to realizing emptiness. There’s no doubt that I need to do many years of purification.

Now, everybody, it’s very important to pay attention to the words.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

I thought to read one stanza in Tibetan then one stanza in English so that you understand the meaning, but maybe it would take some time. Does anybody have the English translation? No? Then maybe you can just pretend that you’re Tibetan. Think that you have just come from Tibet, from Lhasa. I’m joking.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

All of us can do this dedication from Lama Tsongkhapa as I translate it.

“That I have met the teaching of the peerless founder is by the kindness of the guru. By these merits, may each and every single transmigratory being meet and be guided by the virtuous friend.”

You dedicate your having met the teaching of Buddha, of the peerless founder, as a cause for all sentient beings to meet a perfectly qualified guru and be perfectly guided by them.

[Rinpoche continues to chant in Tibetan.]

“May the numberless beings in each realm—the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras and suras—meet a guru, a perfect guide, and meet the Buddhadharma as quickly as possible, without even a second’s delay.”

The next dedication is,

“Due to the merits collected by my having listened to the oral transmission of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim teaching and all my past and future merits and the merits of the three times collected by all other sentient beings, including the bodhisattvas, and by all the buddhas, may I, my family, everybody here, all the students and benefactors of the FPMT organization, including all the many people around the world who sacrifice themselves and bear so much hardship to offer service through the organization to benefit sentient beings and the teaching of Buddha, and those who rely upon me, for whom I have promised to pray and whose names have been given to me and all the rest of the sentient beings be born as a disciple in the entourage of Guru Losang Drakpa (Lama Tsongkhapa) in Tushita pure land, Amitabha pure land or any other pure land where he abides.”

[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan.]

The next dedication is,

“Due to all the merits of the three times—past, present and future—and the past, present and future merits collected by others (others means all sentient beings, including the bodhisattvas, and all the buddhas), may anybody who sees, hears or remembers these prayers not be discouraged and achieve every single great prayer of the buddhas and bodhisattvas.”

Lama Tsongkhapa is praying for us, as we have now heard these prayers and remember them in our heart. Lama Tsongkhapa is dedicating that we, without being discouraged, accomplish the great extensive prayers of the buddhas and bodhisattvas.

It then says, “First seek extensive listening to Dharma. In the middle, all the extensive scriptures appear to you as instructions. In the end, practice them all day and all night.” Lama Tsongkhapa then says to dedicate for the teachings of the Buddha to flourish all these merits collected first of all by seeking extensive listening to the teachings, in the middle by everything appearing to you as instructions to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, and at the end by practicing all day and night.

So, we will dedicate our merits.

“Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and by others, may bodhicitta, which is the source of all happiness and success up to enlightenment for each and every single sentient being, be actualized within my own heart and in the hearts of the members of my family, of everybody here, everybody in Guadalajara, everybody in Mexico, everybody in the rest of the world and every sentient being without even a second’s delay. May those in whose hearts bodhicitta has been generated increase it.”

Pray for that from the bottom of your heart.

“Jang chhub sem chhog rin po chhe…..”

Next, please dedicate that bodhicitta be actualized in the hearts of all the world leaders, because in this way all the many millions of people in each country will have perfect peace and happiness. They will be led in the correct path to peace if the leaders have bodhicitta in their hearts. This is extremely important for world peace.

“Jang chhub sem chhog rin po chhe…..”


“Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and by others, may bodhicitta be actualized in the hearts of not only all the Buddhists, but all the Muslims, Hindus, Catholics and people of other religions.”

It is extremely urgent that bodhicitta be actualized so that everybody in the whole world has perfect peace and happiness. I would say that this is the answer for everything, for all global problems and all individual and family problems. This is the answer to even global warming, which is happening more and more. Everybody is worried about it and talking about it. Generating the good heart, especially the ultimate good heart of bodhicitta, is the key. With a good heart, and especially with bodhicitta, the first thing is that you stop giving harm to others. On top of that, you benefit other sentient beings, you help other sentient beings.

When you stop harming other sentient beings, you will stop creating the cause of all these global and individual problems. Since all these problems come from negative karma and from self-cherishing thought, ignorance, anger and attachment, you can see how practicing the ultimate good heart of bodhicitta becomes the answer. By having a good heart, and especially by having bodhicitta in your heart, you stop creating the cause of these problems, and you benefit others. You create the cause of only happiness and success for all the sentient beings of this world and for yourself. This one attainment, bodhicitta, becomes the source of peace and happiness for all sentient beings. Your bodhicitta becomes the cause of happiness for all the sentient beings in this world and, without doubt, for yourself.

With bodhicitta, you collect so much inconceivable merit that you are able to actualize wisdom, the absolute wisdom realizing emptiness. By developing that wisdom with the help of bodhicitta, you are then able to cease even the subtle defilements, the subtle negative imprints. You are then able to achieve enlightenment. You can see that bodhicitta even helps to actualize wisdom. That means you can be totally liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes. bodhicitta also helps to actualize wisdom.

“Jang chhub sem chhog rin po chhe….”

That I myself have this opportunity to talk about Dharma and every single understanding that I have, as well as your having received not only a perfect human body but the great opportunity to meet, learn about and practice Dharma in this life and to achieve liberation and enlightenment—all these incredible opportunities come by the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by his kindness in existing in this world, especially outside of Tibet, and in having revealed the Dharma. His Holiness made all these opportunities happen in the world for us sentient beings.

So, we will pray for His Holiness’s long life and, second, for all his holy wishes to succeed immediately. There is an urgent need, especially now, for His Holiness’s holy wishes to be actualized immediately. It is a very difficult time right now. It’s most important that everybody in the world help to actualize the freedom of the Tibetan people and His Holiness’s holy wishes. His Holiness’s holy wishes are for all sentient beings to be free from suffering and to achieve enlightenment, which also includes freedom for Tibet. If His Holiness’s wishes are fulfilled, it means all sentient beings will become enlightened.

“Gang ri ra wäi khor wä zhing kham dir….”

Now the prayer fulfilling all the holy wishes.

“Tong nyi nying je zung du jug päi lam….”

We’ll do the same dedication for all other gurus.

“Je tsün la mäi ku tshe rab tän ching….

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may all the father and mother sentient beings have happiness; may the three lower realms be empty of beings forever; may all the bodhisattvas’ prayers succeed immediately; and may I be able to cause all this to happen by myself alone.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, which exist but do not exist from their own side, which are totally empty, may the I, who exists but does not exist from its own side, which is totally empty, achieve Lama Tsongkhapa’s enlightenment, which exists but doesn’t exist from its own side, which is totally empty, and lead all sentient beings, who exist but are totally nonexistent, empty, from their own side, to that Lama Tsongkhapa’s enlightenment, which exists but doesn’t exist from its own side, which is totally empty, by myself alone, who exists but does not exist from its own side, which is totally empty.

“I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the holy extensive deeds of bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjugosha, as they realize.

“I dedicate all the merits in the same way as the buddhas of the three times—past, present, future—dedicated their merits.

“Jam päl pa wö ji tar khyen pa dang….

“Dü sum sheg päi gyäl wa tham chä kyi….

“May the general teaching of Buddha, and particularly the teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa, be spread in all the directions and flourish forever in this world by being completely actualized in your heart, in the hearts of all the students and benefactors, all those people who are bearing so much hardship in offering service to the organization, and in the hearts of everybody in this world.

“Chhö kyi gyäl po tsong kha päi….

“Dag dang zhän gyi dü sum dang….”

So, good night.

Student: Rinpoche, we have a surprise for you. The students want to sing your long-life prayer in Spanish, with a guitar.

[The students sing in Spanish.]

Rinpoche: Thank you very much. Thank you. Gracias, gracias, gracias.

What I was going to say at the beginning is that so many of you have put so much effort into organizing this course, including all the flowers. You have put so much thought into making this course happen. It’s terrific! Not terror-ific, but terrific. It’s not meaningless. I think it is very worthwhile. It’s all for Dharma; the reason for everything is Dharma, for everyone to achieve enlightenment. Because we have a Dharma connection, a Dharma relationship, with each other, of course, it collects the most extensive merit. The final thing is to benefit sentient beings.

So, I want to thank you very, very much. You have helped everybody to enjoy, but mainly to enjoy the Dharma, so I want to thank you very much. I was quite surprised at how well you had organized everything. Therefore, especially during this time, we should put effort into meditating, into practicing Dharma as much as we can. We should watch the mind and always use our mind to practice Dharma, to practice guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, right view (and, for those who practice tantra, tantra) to achieve enlightenment. You should perfect yourself so that you can bring everybody to perfect enlightenment.

Of course, some people can practice Dharma well at home, here, wherever they are. Some people practice Dharma better when they’re with other people, but have many obstacles when they are at home. When you are at a course like this, others help you and you help others to practice. You get a lot of opportunity to practice Dharma. But when you’re at home, you have a lot of obstacles in your life and are unable to practice. Of course, if you’re at home, no matter how many obstacles there are, you have to become Olympic champion in your Dharma practice. When you are able to practice Dharma, you win, and you are then able to overcome your problems. People train for ten or twenty years of their life, then go to the Olympics to win. Here or at home, when there are many obstacles, you have to win; you have to practice Dharma and overcome them. You can do that. You can overcome the obstacles, be liberated from suffering and achieve enlightenment. Why can you do that? Because your mind has all the potential, and that’s why there’s all the hope.

That’s about it—gracias.