Teachings from the Medicine Buddha Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Soquel, CA 2001 (Archive #1331)

The audio recordings offered here are of the teachings which form the basis of the book Teachings From the Medicine Buddha Retreat.

The teachings which form Chapters 8 through 10 are included. Rinpoche gives teachings on a variety of topics such as making offerings and meditating on emptiness.

Chapter 8 Part A: Thirty-five Buddhas practice; Making Offerings

Tuesday October 30th Part A
Final Medicine Buddha Session

I must free all the numberless hell beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them to full enlightenment. I must free the numberless hungry ghosts from all the suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment. I must free all the numberless animals from all the suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment. I must free numberless human beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment. And I must free numberless suras, asuras, from all the suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment. I must free numberless intermediate stage beings from all the suffering and causes and bring them in full enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment. Therefore I am going to, therefore I need to actualize the steps of the path to enlightenment, therefore I need to purify all the defilements.

Even now in the lower realm, hell ream, being such as cold or hot hells, even for a second it’s so unbearable, it’s like suffering for eons, and can be there, I can there, even in this moment I can be there, I can be there any time, even in this moment I can be there because death is definite and not only death is definite, but it can come in any day, any moment, even this moment. So therefore, I must purify all the defilements, the ten nonvirtuous actions collected from beginningless rebirth up to now and broke pratimoksha vow, bodhisattva, tantra vows, all those vices and the heaviest obstacle, negative karma, collected with the relationship with the virtuous friends, that has been done from, such as negative karma collected from beginningless my samsaric rebirth and up till now. I must purify without delay even a second. [pause]

Therefore, I’m going to do prostration by reciting Thirty-five Buddhas’ names, to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to cause them, to bring them in full enlightenment. [Prostrations]

Doing the visualization having purified again, doing the visualization of purification again. From the merit field strong beams emitted, whether one has visualized already during the prostration or however, totally illuminated within oneself; all those defilements, negative karmas, collected from beginningless rebirth up to now were completely, totally, purified. There’s no slightest even negative karma left on my mental continuum. [pause]

In emptiness there is no I, creator. [pause]

Emptiness which, in emptiness, which means the, [pause] total absence of the true existence, the truly existent phenomena, [pause] devoid of all the [pause] phenomena appearing from their own side, another expression, phenomena are appearing from their own side, as it is independent or existing by nature, so all these are totally nonexistent, devoid, so in this very nature, emptiness, there is no I, the creator, at all. [pause] There is no action creating, there is no creation negative karma. [long pause] While everything is in the nature, totally nonexistent from their own side.

…while the mind is aware in this state of emptiness, then dedicate the merits with this continual awareness of emptiness, that everything are empty.

Due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me, three times merit collected by others, and having done, merits collected by having made prostrations, may the I achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment and lead all the sentient beings to that enlightenment by myself alone.

[jang chub sem chog....]

As I mentioned yesterday that the, so as it is mentioned in lam-rim, doing this practice in order to achieve full enlightenment for sentient beings. Then for Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to have stable life, all the holy wishes to be succeed as well as all the other virtuous friends, all other holy beings, to have stable long life and their holy wishes to benefit for other sentient beings to succeed. [pause] And then for world peace, nobody to experience, no one, nobody to experience war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, sickness, dangers of fire, water, air, earth, earthquakes, all the problems, all the undesirable things and fill, the whole world fill up with peace, perfect peace and happiness. Everyone filled with the loving, everyone’s mind filled with loving kindness, compassion. [pause]

And success, every FPMT center and works, projects, to succeed, including the Land of Medicine Buddha, the one hundred thousand Medicine Buddha statue temple and a place for Sangha. And one hundred thousand stupas to purify, to liberate the sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment quickly. And then all the rest of the projects of this organization particularly five-hundred feet Maitreya Buddha statue to be completed as quickly as possible by receiving all the needs.

And then all the people who are dying now in the war, to never ever be reborn in the lower realms. To be born in pure land of Buddha where they can become enlightened or receive perfect human rebirth.

So the session, I am going to dedicate this session, I am going to do this session for this purpose or dedicated for this, for all these things, okay.

[Ven. Rene: I go for refuge to the kind /]

...beginning part. Then comes the, again the short refuge, bodhicitta. Okay. I thought you were doing the, before the mandala. No, I got confused. Please continue./

This mudra, so this mudra like this, for example Lama Chöpa, the prostration part, prostration or which contains the extensive kindness, very deep kindness of the guru, from the seven limb, from the Guru Puja prostration part. So similar here. So one like this. Like that. So this [pause] signifies dharmakaya and then the sambhogakaya, then this one nirmanakaya. So when you turn, without spreading the fingers, should keep fingers like this. This creates the cause to achieve the Buddha’s qualities, I’m not sure which one, exemplification or holy signs, thirty-two holy signs, eighty exemplifications, so might be holy sign, I think, I’m not sure, the web, there is web. [adjustment of microphone] Web, web, what’s it called between? Uh? So one of the special signs so, it’s one of the special signs. So creates the cause for that, so we don’t spread our fingers, so you keep like that. How His Holiness Ling Rinpoche or His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, like that. So at the heart, like that. The, [pause] the merit field, however, the essence, the heart of the merit field is the guru, the root virtuous friend, so anyway, the merit field is guiding you out of dharmakaya and then out of sambhogakaya, out of nirmanakaya, guiding you, bringing you towards enlightenment. So this mudra has that, but I added that also, this is merit field guiding you that way, dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya. Then you yourself also guide other sentient beings that way. I thought that one can think also like that. After you become enlightened then you can also guide sentient beings out of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya.

So this mudra has meaning of that. So you do first like that, then second ring bell [bell rings] then you turn like this. So we should offer music when we invoke.

[Ven. Rene: So we start with prostration to the guru. “By whose kindness the greatest bliss can be achieved in one single instant, to you the lama I pay homage to the feet of the vajra-holder. The savior having great compassion, omniscient founder...seven gone-to-bliss, I prostrate.”

“The fully realized destroyer of all defilements, fully completed Buddha, having fully realized the absolute truth of all phenomena, Buddha King of Glory Renowned with an excellent name, to you I prostrate and go for refuge, to you I make offerings.” Then repeated.]

Whatever prayer I have done, I do, to be actualized immediately. So that. Is there another Buddha?

Ven. Rene: One more.

Rinpoche: Alle. One more Buddha?

Ven. Rene. One more Buddha.

Rinpoche: Okay. So whatever prayer I have done, may it be succeed, that was done?

Ven. Rene: Uh huh. After each Buddha.

Ven. Sarah: [Inaudible]

Rinpoche: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. After you repeat seven times each one. So, after saying that whatever prayer you have done in the past, may it be received to me and all sentient beings. Then, Whatever prayer I have done may it be actualized immediately.

Ven. Rene: Do we stop at the end of each one or we go straight through the seven and do at the end?

Rinpoche: The idea is to recite each name seven times, right? Then after that you make the request. Then next name seven times, then make the request. So at the moment you did after the very end. Is that right? So the request, I think you are doing the, after each seventh one, I think, I think you did, you just did, no?

Ven. Rene: The sessions before we went through all the seven and stopped at the end. Now…

Rinpoche: After all the buddhas?

Ven. Rene: Straight, yes, yes. So should we stop after each Buddha then do the request?

Rinpoche: Yeah, after each Buddha. After each Buddha. After you finish repeating the name seven times then the request. Then next Buddha, seven times recite, then request, like that. IN regards, as far as request, that whatever prayer you have done in the past, may it be ripened to me and all sentient beings right this minute and then whatever prayer I have done may it be actualized immediately. [pause]

So, just, now you reached Medicine Buddha?

Ven. Rene: The last one, yes.

Rinpoche: Last one, yes. So do after you finish.

Ven. Rene: “The fully realized...

I mentioned transforming offering goddesses from your heart, yourself being the deity, then offering. You can do that. But also the offering that which is blessed, just before now, so all the offerings when we do argham, pande... all the offerings can be offered. Not just only one set, but everything can be offered. Also at your own house, normally, if you have many offerings at your house set up, then when you sadhana, om argham, pande... each time when you do that, so you are reciting “argham, pande, pushpe..,.” spending time reciting “argham, pande, pushpe, dhupe….” so you can think of all the offerings you have performed in the house, offer each time. So it doesn’t have to be only just one time in the morning offered. When you do sadhana in the daily, in the day, every time when there is offering you can remember all those and offer. So every time, yeah, so actually performed offerings are offered besides the visualization. So it’s a way to collect merit so easy and then to quickly achieve enlightenment. [pause]

[Ven. Rene starts to recite offering mantras.]

So in the Medicine Buddha Puja you have, with each Buddha one practice seven limbs. So therefore, so here, if we do each one seven times, each limb if we recite seven times with meditation, then I think it’s very, very, very powerful. Very, very good, we do the seven limb practice very precisely, effectively. Because this is one of the very important basic preliminary practice to, it comes in three, the essence – purifying negative karma, collecting merit and increasing the merit. Purifying the negative karma and collecting extensive merit and increasing the merit. [pause]

So the essence here, the three things, so by, confession you can understand there and then offering prostration, requesting to turn Dharma wheel, requesting to have stable life, so those to collect merit and then increasing, what makes the merits to increase is by rejoicing and by dedicating the merits for enlightenment. [pause]

The rejoicing part did in other sessions?

Ven. Rene: In Lama Chöpa in the morning.

Rinpoche: Oh, I see.

What I have tried to, normally with Medicine Buddha, the short Medicine Buddha practice, each one repeat seven times, the seven limbs, so then you collect a lot, a lot of merit. It becomes very powerful.

So, [pause] I mean you can leave that also because you have done prostration in the beginning, actually can leave that or can do the seven times. So in that case you visualize, your body in the form of deity, however, numberless like ridge of the mountain, like very long ridge of mountain, like that, lay down, from the four directions and from the corners, towards the altar, towards the holy objects, the merit field. So from the four directions, corners, one lay down. So while you are reciting the, with the three doors I prostrate, seven times, then meditation. Normally when you do Tara, four mandala offerings Tara practice, then it comes many other practice. You put palms together that time, physically you put palms together then numberless of your body lay down from all the directions, like a ridge of mountain, covered the whole ground, to the merit field, to the altar.

So if you have visualized one hundred thousand bodies doing prostration, your bodies doing prostration, then you have done in that minute, second, one hundred thousand prostrations. You get the same merit as your actual body, one hundred thousand times of your actual have done prostration, it’s the same. You get the same amount of merit. So as many as you can visualize. So that’s one very, that’s the one what makes the prostrations most profitable to collect extensive merit, one of the, so that is one basic, that meditation is one basic skill.

So physically you put palms together then [Rinpoche recites go sum go pai go nai chag tsel lo several time] seven times. Then mind, same and then who can’t do prostration actually physically, due to old age or sickness, whatever, then same, actually depending how many bodies you can visualize then you get all the merit exactly as you’re, that many number of actual body has done prostration. So very important to understand that and to remember. It is mentioned in the lam-rim teachings. Shouldn’t think it’s just visualization. I think if not more, not less merit Anyway....

So we do that practice, okay. Now put palms together. So you can read in English seven times. [Ven. Rene: Reverently I prostrate with my body, speech and mind.”] /

So it would be good, my suggestion is that the extensive offering to do at least once a day, either with Lama Chöpa or either with one of the sessions, the extensive offering meditation that I think I did the first day Lama Chöpa. So to do once with, one of the sessions to do one time. Then here also you recite seven times, then all these offerings here, you can do same, all the offerings here, at the house where I am staying, there are so many offerings there and all the FMPT, all those centers’ gompas, there are so many offerings. So you can offer all those. However, at least, all the offerings here, at Ashes Temple there are all the lights up there, we offer. Recite this seven times then offer. So we do that. Offer to the merit field, Medicine Buddhas, guru, then His Holiness the Dalai Lama, okay.

[Ven. Rene: I present clouds of every type of offering/]

…confession, then recite seven times.

At the heart, in the heart think, as I usually mention at the beginning of prostrations or the Vajrasattva, how I explained, when you practice regretfulness, so that power. In the mind you think, all the ten nonvirtues, negative karma collected broke pratimoksha vow, bodhisattva vow, tantra vows, then the heaviest karma collected with the relationship with the virtuous friend, all that, all those, from beginningless rebirth up till now. Remember that then, I am confessing the negative karma, downfalls, okay. Then recite, seven times.

[Ven. Rene: I declare all my /]

….I think rejoice, [pause] I mean you can repeat the words or you don’t have to repeat the word, individually do the, individually just count, maybe five times or ten times, yeah. So what you can do is like this. In one session rejoice your own merit, three-time merits. Then the next session rejoice of, five or ten times, whatever, twenty-one times or whatever, merits of the sentient beings and particular the bodhisattvas, who collect merit in every second, limitless merit in every second, especially, and Buddhas’ merit. So next session rejoice their merit.

Then another session can rejoice your own merit. Then next session rejoice others’. So five times or ten, feeling happiness, five times or ten times or twenty-one times, whatever. So maybe doesn’t need to repeat the words, just individually do, individually practice. So like that. So just keep some space there and individual just practice, may be easier.

So we do here. Numberless merit from beginningless rebirth, first think like this. Without merit there is no, neither ultimate happiness nor even the temporary happiness, not the slightest pleasure, happiness, I can experience. First should think that, so that you can see the merit, how the merit is precious, you get the feeling of that. How precious it is. Because of course you like happiness, you don’t want suffering, so because of that reason, then you have to have merit. So then for the success, then you see the merit is important.

And then you say collected numberless merits from beginningless rebirth up to now, how precious, so precious it is. How precious it is. How wonderful that I collected. Then present merit, how precious that is, how wonderful it is. And then merit which we will collect in the future, how precious it is, how wonderful it is, feeling happiness in the heart. Then I collected so much merit in past, present and future, so precious. How wonderful it is! I have collected merit past, present and future, numberless merit, how precious it is, how wonderful it is. So once you start with that then you just keep on saying, “how wonderful it..” In your mind you think of the past, all the numberless past merits, present, future merits, how precious. Once you begin with that then feeling of precious. How they are precious, then how wonderful it is, how wonderful it is, how wonderful it is, so making your mind happy, rejoice, feel ?glad.

So each time when you thing, “how wonderful it is”, feeling happy, then your merit from beginningless rebirth get increased, multiplied, so skies of merit you collect each time. Just like you put one dollar in the stock market, you put one dollar or one hundred dollar in the bank or stock market, then you get billions and billions, billions from that. Each time, how wonderful it is, how wonderful it is, so you are getting billions of, billions of dollars, it’s more than that. It’s more than that. So like that.

Then other sentient beings, especially bodhisattvas, buddhas, they collected so much merit in the three times, past, present, future, so how wonderful it is.

Then may I able to collect all those, what each living being collected, may I be able to collect that much to benefit to every sentient being. So, you end up like that. And that’s mentioned in the, I think, in the lam-rim or the Guru Puja commentary, one of those commentaries. So at the end you do like that. So then Buddhas, bodhisattvas, everyone, collected so much merit, so each, so may I be able to collect that much merit for the benefit of each sentient being.

So at the end you can do, mainly rejoice your own merit then at the end just one time, rejoice others. Can do also that.

So just each session stop there, and just one minute or something, two minutes, whatever, just stop there and then individual practice.

The extensive offering, if you climb Mount Everest you will get a billion dollars, I don’t know what else, if you do this something risky, if you do this you will get a billion dollars, very happy to do that, so happy to do that, but then to do the extensive offering meditation, you find more difficult to do this than, more boring or more difficult to do this than with all the risk of life, climbing Mount Everest or maybe that’s not quite suitable example, but I think, there may be other things, like you can get a million dollars from that. Then even that cause life danger, you are happy to do it. I mean there may be some better examples, but I can’t think of now. So anyway, but then to do meditation of extensive offering, that becomes boring and tiring and even by hearing extensive offering you get tired , just by hearing you get tired, you get pain in the back , just by hearing the name “extensive” . So, I don’t think that’s fortunate being. But billion dollars or zillion, that you can sacrifice your life.

So anyway, here so easy you can here, here you have, so here we have all these unbelievable opportunity, every minute, in such a short time, unbelievable opportunity what you can do, merit you can collect, numberless causes of enlightenment, numberless causes of enlightenment you can collect, cause of the realizations, numberless cause of enlightenment, numberless cause to achieve cessation from samsara. So that’s same, numberless cause of merit, of realizations to path to enlightenment.

So, [pause] it becomes, similar example that in the lam-rim, you came in the land of jewels, where you collect so many jewels, how much you want you can collect, and then you go back, you return back empty hands, like that, it’s similar. That one’s applied, that one example is mentioned, you are born a human being, you have all the opportunities but didn’t practice, then died, then with empty life, so here we have all, incredible these opportunities and then, so don’t get, not taking the opportunity to, don’t get to practice. So then like that. Then going, we die then going to the next life with empty life, like that.

Okay, so you visualize, the throne, golden throne in your hand then offer to the merit field, guru, so with this visualization we recite seven times. Can you recite?

[Ven. Rene: “Please remain until the end of cyclic existence/ ]

…then visualize Brahma, because when Buddha was requested teachings, turning the Dharma wheel at the first, Brahma, by offering dharmachakra requested to turn Dharma wheel, so there it’s mentioned to visualize Brahma then offer the dharmachakra, requesting to turn Dharma wheel. So mentioned also like that. However, then hold the dharmachakra, you can do like this, if you have the top of the mandala, the dharmachakra, if you have that, you can hold that and when you do the seven limbs to turn Dharma wheel, if you that mandala top with dharmachakra, then one can do that, can use also for that. However visualize, now we do seven times.

[Ven Rene: “And turn the wheel of Dharma for living beings” (seven times)]

So both request and they accepted.