Teachings from the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig Retreat (Audio and Unedited Transcripts)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Chin-liang, Taichung County, Taiwan (Archive #1344)

These recordings are from teachings given during the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig Retreat in Taiwan in February-March 2001.

Click on the links above to listen to each section and read along with the unedited transcript.

Animal blessing by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kurukulla Center, Massachusetts, 2007. Photo: Lorraine Greenfield.
Retreat Preparations, Impermanence and Death

... the earth, then protection wheel, and then blessing oneself.

Then after that do, [pause] land, torma offering to the landlord and then guardians, that gektor might be, probably that might be at the beginning. The gektor to the landlord and guardians, that might be at the beginning before doing those blessings. And protection, direction protection and then blessing oneself.

I didn’t see a particular text for the Compassion Buddha to, how to begin the retreat, so, the order got, little bit the order become messy, the order.

So you just think, just meditate on emptiness, the obstacles for retreat. For the retreat to be effective, to be able to actualize great compassion, bodhicitta. This is the main purpose for the retreat. To have these realizations, that’s the main purpose of the retreat. Because if that happens, then you can benefit to all sentient beings. You can liberate from the suffering and causes and bring them to enlightenment.

So think like this, meditate like this. All the obstacles, inner and other obstacles for the retreat…. When you think of the obstacles, appears something real obstacle, existing from its own side, appearing from its own side, so then, so this, then think, all these obstacles, so you point on those obstacles, that which appears inherently existent and that you believe it’s true. So totally nonexistent, all these are hallucination. They’re totally nonexistent. So then meditate on that emptiness. Intensely concentrate on that emptiness.

If you meditate on emptiness, and look at the obstacles, empty, and then this becomes the most powerful one, purifying obstacles and also the gektor, giving torma to the interferers.

[Rinpoche offers the gektor.]

Does everyone have the Heartspoon?

That book, besides the plate and spoon.

[Rinpoche has an inaudible discussion with the translator and someone else, something about a book published by the foundation.]

Do many people have that?

That’s very good to have, that one is very good to have.

[The translator explains that the book is a compilation of Calling the Guru from Afar and something else.]

This is the ?sub ticket, ticket to enter in the liberation.

And atomic bomb for negative emotional thoughts.

The only enemy, our, the only enemy, the inner enemy, the delusion of this life, atomic bomb. To destroy our inner enemy, the only enemy, the inner enemy.


Anyway, so maybe this time we do this, we just motivate this way.

Motivation for the retreat.


Think, first reflect impermanence and death.

Shakyamuni Buddha happened in this world, but he left the holy body, passed away in the sorrowless state. And then many such as the six ornaments, those great pandits, those great holy beings happened, who propagated so much Dharma, and then many yogis happened on this earth, already left.

None of them, didn’t live in that aspect forever, so passed in sorrowless state. Like Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, d so forth. Then including Lama Tsongkhapa, all this happened but passed away in sorrowless state.

Then if, for example, in my case, I have many gurus, so many gurus already passed away, already passed away, so many gurus.

So many already, among them, so many passed away.

And, and then, among the family members, even relating to myself, among the family members, there already, some already died. Many of us, for example, in my case, both father and mother passed away. So many of you maybe just father or just the mother, like that.

Then among the friends, among the people that you know, many passed away. They died.

In the case of my mother, passed away, and even the incarnation passed away, the incarnation of my mother also passed away. So like that. So that’s how the nature of life, impermanence and death.

So now this, this motivation that I’m going through, this is, here I’m doing for the retreat but this is a motivation, if you can, this is how you, the first thing in the morning what to think. This the first thing in the morning motivation for the life. So it depends up to you yourself how much you want to elaborate and how much you want to do, you can do essence or elaborate. Middle way, elaborate way, essence, on the basis of this. It’s a very good way of beginning your life, beginning of your day. Then also when you begin a retreat, it also will help, future, when you do different retreat also this is the way, after all these preliminaries finished, then also, then you have to do motivation, that’s the way to start.

So therefore, it might helpful, to be able to write down or, however, to pay attention, so it might be helpful for your daily life practice, not only for retreat. How to transform the mind into Dharma.

Then, that, in this world, people who were born the same day as yourself, so many already died.


People that one knew, then family members, they died, so, those whose negative karma is not purified, so, already died and in the lower realm, who didn’t have chance to practice, died, already died, and born in lower realm. Hell, hungry ghost, animal realm.


And, I myself, many times happened, almost died. There happened so many times, about to have car accident, so many times happened, but somehow didn’t die. Didn’t happen completely, or fell down, so many times, about to fall down, about to die, so many times like that happened. But somehow, didn’t happen, didn’t die. If I died already, [pause] right now, right now I would be in a hot hell, or in a cold hell, like skies of suffering, totally overwhelmed by now, I could be there.

Or I was born as a worm and bird came, and bird, with a sharp beak went through the body and half body in the mouth of the bird’s beak, half body inside, half outside. No way to escape. Could be like that now, being eaten by a bird.

Or born as a worm and completely attacked by hundreds and hundreds of ants. Even one ant bites you now, can’t stand. So much pain, this fragile worm, so fragile worm, this completely covered with hundreds of ants, biting. I could be like this right now.

So much suffering.

I could be a fish right now and somebody caught. Somebody caught and cutting, while it’s not completely dead cutting the body in pieces with the sharp knife. I could be.

Or a shell, I was born in a shell. Even before dead, alive, being eaten by people. In the mouth, being in the mouth of a person, even being alive, being eaten by a person. There’s some oil that goes on top, on the shell animal, some oil, delicious, for taste. I don’t know what it’s called.

[Translator: Sesame oil.]

I heard there’s oil you put and then delicacy.

I could be in somebody’s mouth right now being in shell, the tiny body, small body, put in person’s mouth, just then being bitten between the teeth, and about to go through the neck, crushed. I could be like that.


So there’s huge differences, right now, that I’m in the lower realm, particular hell, then hungry ghost, animal, that I’m being in the lower realm and being a human being now.

Every second, every moment, every second, that I’m not in the lower realm is unbelievable, it’s like a dream, for me it’s like a dream, to be in human world, human being, so it’s./

/like when you find a $1000 or a $1,000,000 dollars, when you win from lottery or something, miracle, something. So here that’s nothing, even a billion dollars is nothing. Even a zillion, trillion dollars is nothing. But here, every second that I’m not in the lower realms, and being in human realm is so precious. Unbelievable. So there, [pause] so precious, ?that ?this ?life.

So therefore, so this came from good karma, the other one came from negative karma. So therefore, from now on what should I do? From now on what I should do, abandon negative karma and practice only virtue, practice only good karma. This is what I should do from now on. Practice only Dharma. Practice only virtue. So make that conclusion from now on.

As Nagarjuna explained, Writing to the Friend, the life has so many harms. Life has so many harms. More impermanent, more transitory then a water bubble that is ?puffed by the wind. This life is more transitory than the water bubble puffed by wind. [pause]

That this life has many harms, the commentary of that, the meaning of that is, so many harms, 424 sicknesses, and then the spirit possession, dön, there are 360, then interferers, 84,000, the 80,000. There are so many harms like this in the life.

And even the living, also the ignorance, the delusions, they become danger, they also harm to one’s own life, cause shortage of life. Delusion, the negative emotional thoughts, attachment, these things can kill. Anger and so forth can kill yourself. Like many people who commit suicide because of attachment, anger. So the ignorance harms. Even your mind kill you. Then even the living conditions, food, house, so many people died by cars, the car is for living condition, so many people died by airplane, by earthquake, house collapsed, so many people die. So they built for long life.

So life is more impermanent than a water bubble.

Then, went to sleep, which is just only breathing in and out, what he’s saying is, it’s like death, that senses during that not aware, not functioning during that time. Just only breath coming in and going out. So like that. So easy to receive harm, obstacles. So easy to be harmed during that time. So easy to happen death.

For example, even last night, when we were sleeping, so many people yesterday went to bed but died, unable to be human being this morning. So many people in this world they went to bed and died during the night.

So if I died last night, so, so far, even though I met Dharma a long time ago, I didn’t really do satisfying, intensive purification. Intensive purification, something that satisfying, didn’t really do it. Didn’t happen.

So, as the Bodhicaryavatara, Shantideva said, even a negative karma committed in one second, one has to abide in the unbearable hell realm, means the number eight, the heaviest, which has the heaviest suffering among samsara, samsaric suffering, heaviest, the last one, the length of life is one intermediate eon.

So therefore, one negative karma done in one second, makes to, can affect that, then no question, negative karma collected from beginningless rebirth up to now, no need to say. So it means inconceivable number of eons to be in that hell realm, one has created the karma, negative karma. Such examples, yeah like that.

Anyway, so doesn’t have to say example, so like that.

So I didn’t die last night and today not only that I can have a human body, but a perfect human body, qualified with eight freedoms and the richnesses. So this is like a dream. Unbelievable fortunate how I am. In every second, my having this perfect human body, it’s more, the sky filled with wish-granting jewel that you can get every enjoyment, where you pray to this jewel, such wish-granting jewel filled the whole sky is nothing, the value nothing comparing the value of this perfect human body that I have in each second.

With that much wealth alone cannot achieve good rebirth, stop lower realm sufferings, achieve a good rebirth, cannot achieve liberation from samsara, cannot achieve enlightenment. But with this perfect human body, in every second, in each second, even I don’t have any of those wealth, I can achieve those.

For example, Milarepa, many of those ascetic, lived ascetic life, had nothing, not even one rupee, but practiced Dharma, achieved enlightenment. But because, yeah, practiced Dharma, achieved enlightenment.

So same human body.

So then after this, think, If I die today, nothing is done. Death can happen in any day. Death can happen in any, even death, can happen even today, within any, can happen in any moment. That’s one way to think.

The other way is to think, as Lama Tsongkhapa mentioned in the Lam-Rim Chen-mo, for Dharma practitioners it is good to think, decide in the morning that I’m going to die today. I’m going to die today. Completely decide.

So Lama Tsongkhapa said if you think that way, if you think that, that persuades you to practice Dharma, so get done the work, the preparation for death, preparation for the happiness of future lives, however, liberation, to achieve liberation from samsara, full enlightenment.

So it is very good, even death did happen today, but you already done preparation, get done preparation by thinking that I’m going to die today. But even death didn’t happen, it’s very good because then you have more time to make preparation, practice Dharma. So best thing is to think I’m going to die today.

Then what should I do? What should I do? Then the answer. Practice bodhicitta. Renouncing the I, cherishing others. Renouncing the I and cherishing others. Then here, it is extremely good to remember from Guru Puja, the quotation, the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought. Chronic disease, the self-cherishing thought, chronic disease, cherishing the I.

Please grant me blessings to see the chronic disease, cherishing the I, the cause of rising undesirable sufferings. [pause] Revenge, or put all the blames to that, le län dä la. Rang nyi che par… le län dä la, put all blames on that. …khön du zung jä te, by harboring it. Like how you harbor the harms of the enemy in your heart all the time. So like that. Then thinking how bad the enemy is. So same here. Harbor it, the harms of self-cherishing thought, how the self-cherishing is bad. And destroy the demon, the great demon, the self-cherishing thought.

So this is very powerful way to think of the shortcomings of the self-cherishing thought and how to deal with it, how to deal with it in everyday life, how to destroy that.

So that contains, destroying it, destroy that means, every, so by recognizing that as your great enemy, great demon, and then everything whatever you do, not only praying, meditating, but any action, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, any action you do, everything is used to destroy the ego, self-cherishing thought. Antidote.

Especially, when people criticize you, put down you, when you failed in something, failed in business, failed in Dharma practice, failed in retreat, doing a retreat, unable to do retreat, obstacles happened, or sicknesses, spirit harm, black magic, other people abusing, whatever, so you, all this you use it like an atomic bomb to destroy your ego, self-cherishing thought. Whatever undesirable thing happens to you in your life, immediately, without delay, you use as weapon to destroy the self-cherishing thought. So destroy has these meanings. Most practical practice to transform the problems into happiness.