Thought Transformation Teachings in Portland

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Portland, Oregon, USA (Archive #1549)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings at Maitripa College, Portland, Oregon, USA, from 5-7 May, 2006. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith.

Rinpoche begins by praising Lama Yeshe's qualities as a hidden meditator with the ability to inspire people from all walks of life. Rinpoche continues with an extensive explanation of how to transform problems into happiness. In the second teaching, Rinpoche discusses the need for inner professionalism, with a focus on cherishing others and developing a peaceful, happy mind. The third teaching is forthcoming.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa College, Portland, USA, 2010. Photo: Marc Sakamoto.
Transforming Problems

Good evening to everyone. Those who hear my voice for the first time, who hear my English for the first time—not general English, but my English—you may find some difficulties to understand my terms or my Mickey Mouse English. I think you will have to use quite a bit of your wisdom, or your clairvoyance if you are psychic. [Laughter] If anybody is psychic you will have to use that to guess, to understand my language. If anybody’s psychic. Anyway, use your wisdom.

Usually, in Nepal, they do a one-month course at Kopan Monastery, the main monastery, where for so many years—how many years since the first course started?

Ven. Ann McNeil: 1971

Rinpoche: 1971.

Massimo Corona: [Inaudible]

Rinpoche: Huh? 36. 1971, 36, I accept both! We did the meditation courses and they have been happening up to now.

The Qualities of Lama Yeshe

We started to do the one-month meditation course two times, with our master whose holy name is difficult to mention, Lama Yeshe, who was both a great scholar and a highly attained yogi. He was a great scholar and a highly attained yogi, a great meditator. He was not only someone who had some experience in good meditation or perfect meditation. Not just that, but he was somebody who had totally renounced the ego, the self-cherishing thought. Whose mind replaced that only with bodhicitta, the holy mind cherishing others, who doesn’t have any stains, whose mental continuum doesn’t have any stains of ego or self-cherishing thought. So a great bodhisattva, with attainments based on total renunciation or total detachment not only to this life, but total detachment from the whole entire samsara and the samsaric perfections, the samsaric pleasures, which are only in the nature of suffering, so all these. Total detachment, a free mind. A mind free from attachment. Total peace.

Anyway, not only having attainment of the Mahayana, the secret mantra, the Vajrayana path, the highest tantric path—the generation stage and completion stage—who has achieved great success even in my view, my ordinary view, my mistaken view, my mistaken mind, who has great success in actualizing the path. Isolation of body, isolation of speech, isolation of mind, the clear light illusory body, these things.

The Mahayana secret mantra, Vajrayana, has four classes of tantra. There are four divisions, four levels of tantra, and the highest level is Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra. So who has great success with those attainments, who has achieved clear light in this life, on this body. This means that is the person who can achieve, who has the fortune, who can achieve full enlightenment, the state of the fully awakened mind, the state having ceased all the mistakes of mind, gross and subtle defilements, and can complete all the qualities, all the realizations, full enlightenment. I’m talking about ordinary view, not the reality of the person but in the ordinary view like that.

Anyway, Lama Yeshe was a very hidden meditator who manifested [in different ways] depending on who he met. When there were children around, he manifested as a child. He played with them. When he met business people, he manifested as a business person, and for those who were scholars, he also manifested that way.

When Lama Yeshe, our spiritual master, was giving talks in the West, in the cities, within one hour and a half, of course it’s like fuel for the car or for the light. Of course, there’s the depth, the clear, extensive understanding of Buddhadharma or philosophy, but when Lama taught or gave a talk in the cities to many people, he didn’t follow the particular outline of a text or something. He gave a talk in bits and pieces. Among the audience there were scholars and there were also some young people, old people, various people, who had different problems. There were all sorts of people who had different problems, so Lama taught and gave advice in bits and pieces, here and there.

After one-and-a-half hours, whether there were one hundred people or one thousand people there, everyone got something. Within that short time, everyone got something for their life, in their heart. When they went back home, it’s almost as if their feet didn’t touch the ground. They were so happy, so happy, that their feet were almost not touching the ground, kind of like that. They were extremely happy, and fully inspired. Instead of feeling, “I’m hopeless. My life is meaningless, hopeless,” which they normally felt. After the talk, they felt so inspired and their mind, their heart, was full of hope, seeing the meaning of life. Like that, filled with happiness, peace.

The people realized that, just by seeing Lama. Of course, it doesn’t mean every Tibetan monk is like that. Of course it doesn’t mean that. But people got the idea of what a Tibetan lama is by seeing Lama Yeshe. Great wisdom. Somebody who has great, profound wisdom, and along with that, who is full of compassion, warm-hearted, the whole body filled with compassion. That is how the people who came there to listen to the talk, this is how they saw what a Tibetan lama is. Many hadn’t seen a Tibetan lama before, they had never met one. It was many years ago that Lama and myself started traveling to various countries in the West, so I’m talking about those days, I’m talking about many years ago. The nineteen-what? Sixties? No, what?

Peter Kedge: Seventies.

Rinpoche: 1960s or 1970s, in those times. Anyway, people got very inspired and really opened their heart. Their very closed mind opened, to learn meditation, to learn the Buddha’s teachings, the philosophy, to learn that. To learn about the path revealed by the Buddha, to learn about it.

Anyway, this is talking about Lama, this side talk happened. What I was going to mention is that, when we did the big one-month meditation course at Kopan, at the beginning, for three days at the beginning people didn’t understand my language. That’s what I was going to say. For three days they could not understand what I was talking about. They were very patient. Of course, there were other Sangha to guide meditations. They could understand that. But I was there like a bird making noise. Like a bird sitting on the throne and making noise. Like chick, chick, chick, like this. [Laughter] So anyway, usually they found it difficult to understand for a few days at the beginning, maybe even for weeks, some of them.

There was one student from England, a very kind, elderly lady from England. Not in the beginning, of course, I think somewhere in middle, so I was talking about Buddhist philosophy, the most essential philosophy, the very important subject “dependent arising.” How things are dependent arising. I was talking about that for three days. This elderly lady thought for three days I was talking about Tibetan rice. She thought I was talking for three days about Tibetan rice. I am not sure that rice grows in Tibet. Maybe the lower part of Tibet, I’m not sure. Anyway, it doesn’t grow in Lhasa or Tsang, there is no rice growing there. Other grains, such as wheat, grow there, but no rice. After three days she asked somebody, “What is it about Tibetan rice?” Then one older student, I think one monk, explained, “No, it’s not Tibetan rice, it’s about dependent arising.” But I think the Tibetan rice has a great impact on the mind. [Rinpoche laughs] Tibetan rice has a great impact on the mind. Meaning that it is dependent arising. Anyway, like that.

We Have the Potential to Achieve Enlightenment

Our survival each day, to be able to be a human being each day, we have the opportunity to achieve any happiness we wish for ourselves. Not only temporary happiness, but beyond that, ultimate happiness, liberation, total liberation which is free forever from every single problem, from all the samsaric sufferings and from every single problem of life and its causes, the actions motivated by the delusions or the disturbing negative mind, the disturbing wrong concepts—all those many wrong concepts which do not bring peace to our mental continuum, whose only effect is disturbance to our mental continuum. [We can achieve] ultimate happiness, that which is free from all these forever, the peerless happiness, full enlightenment, great liberation. That happiness we can wish for, we can achieve.

Our mind has all the potential so that we can be free from any type of suffering forever, not temporarily, but forever. We can be free forever from all these delusions, all these states of mind, all these disturbing negative thoughts. We have all the potential. Besides that, now this time, along with that, we have this precious human body. That gives us an extra advantage. That gives us all this opportunity to develop the potential that we have to achieve all this happiness, and to cause happiness of this life toward others, who are numberless.

Not just one person, not only our family, not only that. We can help bring happiness, peace, to the others who are numberless. Not only to benefit to others [in this life], even more important than that service is to bring them happiness in the next life and the next life. In all the coming lives to cause them happiness. A happy rebirth, a happy life. So whatever happiness we enjoy, to cause all that happiness in all their coming future lives. This is the long-term happiness we can cause to others, so it’s a much deeper benefit for others. This is what we can do with this precious human body that we have. And not only that, as I mentioned before, we can bring them ultimate happiness, total liberation from all the suffering and its causes. We can bring them to that state, and not only that, we can bring them to the perfect state of peerless happiness, full enlightenment..

Everyone has that potential, and this time, with this precious human body, we have this incredible opportunity not only to benefit ourselves. We’re just one person; we’re one living being. We are just one person, and however much we can make ourselves happy, we are just one person, so that’s nothing. The others, who are numberless, also want happiness and do not want to suffer, like us. They are numberless. We see that we can cause all this happiness to others. This human body can do that, you know? This gives us the opportunity.

There are Many Conditions for Death

We won’t have this precious human body forever. We don’t have it forever. It’s only for a limited time, for a certain number of years, a certain number of months, a certain number of weeks, a certain number of days, a certain number of hours, minutes or seconds. There is only a certain number of seconds that we have this precious human body for. It’s not forever. In this world nobody has lived forever. After birth, there’s nobody on this earth, since this world evolved, since the sentient beings happened, since human beings happened on this earth, nobody has lived forever, up until now. That is very clear. Since the early evolution when human beings took birth on this earth, since, let’s say, the very first human beings on this earth, there’s nobody who has lived forever up until now. There’s no-one that we can point out. Especially these days, especially now, the life has become much shorter.

Generally, in this world, nothing is definite in our life. Some even die in their mother’s womb or they die at a young age. Nothing is definite. For example, this is the southern continent, but there are other human continents where people live for one thousand years, it’s fixed. On the northern continent everyone lives for one thousand years, and there are no beggars, everybody has the same amount of wealth. Here it is different. Life is not definite. Particularly now, it is not only a degenerate time, but an over-degenerate time, so life has become much shorter and there are many more obstacles and many more conditions for death.

One thing is cancer. I don’t know how many years ago that cancer was discovered, or people started to experience it, however, it is not from the other diseases, such as a heart attack or diabetes, which I have, or the many other life-threatening diseases. Particularly cancer, we can never tell who [will get it.] It must be the same for all of us—suddenly we hear that some friend has cancer, or somebody has cancer. We hear one after the other about people who are around us, friends or many people with cancer. One after the other we hear, suddenly somebody says, “Oh, they have cancer,” and they went to the hospital to check. Those who completely recover and have a long life are not many.

Anyway, there are many more conditions for death. Therefore, the conclusion, what I am saying is that we must do something worthwhile, beneficial for others, something worthwhile, beneficial for others. At least beneficial for ourselves. At least that. Something worthwhile, even if it’s not for others, at least do it for ourselves. Even for ourselves, what is the best? Even for our own happiness, what is the best? It is to benefit others, to eliminate others’ sufferings and to obtain happiness for others. To be able to benefit others, to obtain happiness for others is best. That is most satisfying and fulfilling for us. When we are able to benefit others, to help others, that is most fulfilling. We think, “Oh, now my life has meaning.” We feel that, we realize that.

The Kindness of Our Parents

What is the best, most beneficial thing to do? As I mentioned before, what is most beneficial, best for ourselves is what is the most beneficial and best thing that we can do for others. And that should be done right away. As I just mentioned, our life, having this precious human body, is not every day. It’s not forever, it’s not every day. Therefore, we must benefit others right away. We must do something beneficial for sentient beings. This body was given to us by our parents, by our father and mother. Even while we were in our mother’s womb, she suffered for about nine months. She bore many hardships and those unbelievable pains during the birth. Both our father and mother bore many hardships, they suffered so much for our well-being, to take care of us, to educate us, to take care of our well-being, for us to have a long life and to be healthy. They suffered so much and bore many hardships. For many years, they worked hard and worried, always thinking about us. They sacrificed their life for many years for us. So now it’s time to do something beneficial for the world, for other sentient beings, no question for our parents. We must do something, we must make this life beneficial; we must make this body, speech and mind beneficial for others, to cause happiness for others.

Therefore, no way, no way, how dare we use this body, speech and mind to harm others! It’s impossible. No way. Even just thinking about our parents, our mother who suffered so much, and how they both [cared for us], giving us an education, a long life, food and shelter, all these things for our well-being. They were unbelievable kind and they suffered so much. So how dare we use this precious human body to harm others! It’s impossible to harm others. It’s impossible. We must only benefit others. Even if we can’t benefit the numberless sentient beings, at least we can benefit those in this world. We can bring them happiness, freedom from the difficulties and sufferings of body and mind, whatever.

In our everyday life, even by practicing patience we can benefit many people, many other sentient beings, even animals; we can help them so much. If somebody bothers us or criticizes us, in return we can practice patience. Even if we are able to practice patience, to not get angry with that person in our daily life, even one time to be able to practice patience toward that person who criticizes us, who abuses us or who treats us badly, it becomes meaningful. Even if one time we are able to practice patience, this peaceful mind, this brings peace in our life and brings peace to others. If we can do that even one time, it makes [our life] worthwhile. We bring peace not only for ourselves, in our own life, but for others.

Our parents sacrificed their life for us and suffered so much for many years. They did everything they could, with all their understanding, whatever they could—support, food and medicine, money for our education, all that. They bore many hardships, so it gives their life meaning. When we practice patience even once a day, in daily life just once, it makes their life meaningful, it gives meaning to their lives. It gives meaning to our parents’ lives—those many years of hardship, suffering, experiencing that for us, for our well-being—it gives meaning to them by our practice of patience.

Whenever we generate compassion and loving kindness to somebody—to an animal or insect or human being—whenever we generate these positive thoughts, it is the source of peace and happiness for ourselves and the source of peace and happiness for numberless living beings. Due to one person generating compassion and loving kindness to somebody, it’s the source of peace and happiness for all living beings, for the numberless living beings who want happiness and do not want suffering. Each time we generate compassion and loving kindness toward others, it gives meaning to our life and it gives meaning to our parents, who suffered for us for many years, with all the worry and fears, all that. It gives meaning to their lives, because for all those years, for those nine months and for so many years, they bore many hardships and were kind to us. So that gives meaning to their lives and gives meaning to us.

Instead of Revenge, Practice Forgiveness

Every day, whenever we are able to practice kindness—kindness to animals and kindness to human beings—in our daily life whenever anybody got angry with us or criticized us or abused us, whatever harm they did, if we are able to practice forgiveness instead of taking revenge, then we are creating the cause [of happiness.] In the view of the ordinary people, the common people of the world, we must take revenge; they think that’s right. However, in reality, if we take revenge we are creating the cause to receive harm from others again. We are creating the karma for that; we are creating the reason. If we harm others by taking revenge, then we are creating the reason to receive harm from others as a consequence, as a result of that.

Harming others becomes the reason to receive harm back from those sentient beings, to receive harm in this life and in other lives. We’re creating the cause or the reason for the other sentient being to give harm to us, either in this life or in other lives. So there’s no end. Again we take revenge back, and we create the reason again for others to give harm at any time, in the near future, to harm us. There’s no end. Like that, there’s no end to suffering. There’s no end to our own suffering, and we cause that for others also. By harming again and again, we are obliging them to harm us back later. Karma makes them do that. Not only do we suffer endlessly, so too do others. We cause others to continuously create karma, to create the cause to harm us.

Here, instead of revenge, we must practice forgiveness. Each day when we practice forgiveness, even toward people who are abusive or something like that, who are angry with us, who criticize us, again that brings peace in our life and peace in the lives of others. It brings peace. When we do this in our daily life, when we practice this in our daily life one-to-one, we are bringing peace to this world. From one person to [another] person, by doing that, we are able to bring peace to this world. We should realize, we should attempt to see it this way, how one-to-one we can bring peace. In this way, when we bring peace like this, one-to-one to each person like that, we are bringing peace to the world. Again here, this fulfills the purpose of our life, and it gives meaning to the lives of our parents, who had many years’ experience of suffering taking care of us. It’s a wonderful thing in our life to do that, to practice these very basic things. These are the best meditations. They bring peace to us and peace to the world.

What happens when people are trying to meditate, to practice calm abiding, shinä, they are trying to meditate on this, but they’re unable to control their emotional mind, anger, these things. They try to meditate, but I think they don’t have the overall view of what practicing Dharma is—of meditation, the mind keeping the various virtues, patience, forgiveness and so forth. That happens even for someone who is a monk trying to achieve perfect meditation. I think they are unable to succeed because they are unable to control lung, they are unable to control anger and all these other emotional minds.

Then they hear these animal noises down below in the mountains, not very close, not at the next hermitage, but quite far. Then they get so angry with the animal noises. They are trying to meditate, but they get so angry because the sheep and the goats make a lot of noise, even though they are far away. Then they throw stones at the animals, which are down below the mountain. Things like that happened. So that doesn’t make sense. It’s two opposite things—trying to achieve perfect meditation and then anger arises, and they throw stones that might kill the goats, the animals. It happened like that.

That happened to one student during a retreat. They were doing a deity retreat, a Highest Yoga Tantra deity retreat, reciting mantras, doing retreat. Then somebody came to bang on the door and this person was holding a knife. Here he was holding a mala, chanting the mantra of this very high tantric deity, this very special deity of Highest Yoga Tantra, and here he was holding a knife. The person banged on the door, then he came in and that person was holding a knife. Anyway, it becomes very funny. That person was not really practicing Dharma. So the best meditation in everyday life is practicing the good heart, patience, practicing forgiveness for others, for those who harm us. Instead of taking revenge, practicing forgiveness. Or even if we did make mistakes with others, if we did some harm or made mistakes or something, also to apologize. Rather letting the other person get angry all the time, apologize. That again brings peace in our heart and brings peace in others’ lives and others’ hearts.

Our everyday survival, to be able to be a human being, by having this precious human body we have this unbelievable, unbelievable opportunity every day, as I mentioned before, to stop all our suffering and all our own problems—all the suffering and the causes of suffering which are our own mind, the negative thoughts and negative imprints which are left on the mental continuum, from where these disturbing negative thoughts arise. This motivates our actions and then the result is suffering.

The Kindness of Others

This precious human body can cause all this happiness to others who are numberless, as I mentioned before. So now, it has been received, and having this precious human body in everyday life is due to the kindness of so many sentient beings. That’s why we have this precious human body and all this incredible opportunity. For example, if our body needs shelter, a house. In order to build a house, so many worms in the ground, so many insects, ants, have to die, they have to be killed. And if there’s a forest, when we burn that, when we cut that, there are many sentient beings living on that tree, on those plants. When we burn or cut all those trees to build a shelter, we have to kill so many beings.

Therefore, our survival, having this precious human body every day, having this incredible opportunity to benefit ourselves and to help numberless other sentient beings is due to the kindness of all these sentient beings, an uncountable number—so many sentient beings died and suffered when this house was built. Also, other sentient beings had to kill them. So many sentient beings put effort into building this shelter. We can see it was received by the kindness of all those insects; it came from the kindness of all those who died, who suffered, and from all those people who killed, who did the work. This shelter is received from their kindness, and having a human body each day is also received from their kindness.

Again, for this reason also, we need to benefit others, we cannot live our life only thinking of our own happiness. We cannot live our life all the time, each twenty-four hours, all the time, thinking of my happiness, my happiness, “When can I be happy? When can I be happy?” Like chanting the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM all the time. Whatever, it doesn’t matter what mantra it is. “When can I be happy? When can I be happy? When can I be happy?” [Group laughs] On and on like this, day and night. We wake up and think that—outside, inside, wherever we are. When we are at the beach or when we are lying down, we are thinking about “my happiness.” In the house or working, the same, we are thinking about “my happiness” all the time.

Before I talked about our parents, but now here, uncountable numbers of sentient beings suffered and died. So many were creating negative karma, harming others, to build a shelter, protection for our life. So how dare we lead our life using the house while only thinking about “my happiness.” That’s not fair. That’s not fair. It’s so selfish. From the side of the animals, all those insects, all those who died—mice and ants and all those who were burned and died—and all the people who had the work involved in killing them, from their point of view, it’s very selfish. We think about this house, and we are only thinking of “my happiness.” We must do something to benefit them. What to do? We’ve got to do something to benefit them.

Also, food. For one bowl of vegetables, there were many insects on those vegetables when they were growing and other people had to spray them. They had to kill many sentient beings who were living on those vegetables, which were like their home. Those vegetables were like their home or their food. Those other human beings had to create negative karma killing those beings, spraying them. Also, when they were working in the field, many worms had to die.

One grain of rice that we eat from a plate, we get that rice from the field. To grow this rice in a field, here in the West it is done by a machine, however, in Nepal, Tibet and places like that it is done by people. In the very hot sun they plant the rice. In the very hot sun, those people plant it and then they put water—anyway, it’s a lot of work while it’s growing, so much hard work has to be done by people. Also there are many insects. When the field is being cultivated there are many insects, many worms, that have to be killed when the crops are sown. Therefore, for this one grain of rice, many sentient beings suffered and died.

Now this rice came from another rice. Again for that rice, many sentient beings created negative karma—they died, they suffered, and some sentient being created negative karma harming them. So that rice came from another rice. You see, like that. If we research, if we check the continuity, this rice came from another rice and many sentient beings suffered and died for that. Then that came from another rice, therefore many sentient beings suffered and died, an unimaginable number. If we think about all the evolution of this one grain of rice, how many beings suffered and died, and created negative karma, it’s unimaginable. For thousands of years it’s been like that. We eat this one rice thinking “my happiness.” We think about nothing else except “my happiness” when we eat this rice. It’s very sad, very sad, extremely sad, when we eat this without any thought of others’ happiness, of benefiting others; when we think only of one living being’s happiness, our own happiness.

When we analyze how numberless sentient beings have suffered and died, and have created negative karma for this, we cannot, we dare not eat this rice just thinking only about our own happiness. There’s no way we can eat with the self-cherishing thought, the selfish mind. Now there is one plate of rice, one bowl, like this. Can you imagine how many sentient beings suffered and died for this? We can’t imagine. Numberless. For each bowl of rice they suffered and died, or created negative karma by harming others.

Each day our survival as a human being—having this precious human body which gives us all this opportunity, as I mentioned before, and any benefit or happiness we can achieve for ourselves and cause for others— is due to the kindness of numberless sentient beings. Numberless sentient beings died, suffered, or created negative karma for each grain of this rice, so it’s completely due to their kindness. We receive this by the kindness of the numberless sentient beings. It’s the same thing with drink. Again, in the water there are many sentient beings that we can’t see. They all have to die. Every single comfort or pleasure that we receive, and our survival each day, everything is received by the kindness of numberless sentient beings. Comfort, pleasure, drinking, eating, having a shelter, all that.

Clothing is also the same. Especially, no question about the clothes that came from animal skins, or the silk clothes that we wear. Silk came from the animals’ body, by putting the silkworms into the hot water and then silk is made from that. It came from their body. Again, many sentient beings have worked for our clothes and they have to harm other animals. Even if the clothes came from plant fibers, many animals have to suffer and die. Therefore, every single comfort that we have is received by the kindness of numberless sentient beings. Like that. Therefore, the point, what I’m saying is that no way can we live the life just with the self-cherishing thought. No way can we live the life only thinking of “my happiness.” It’s impossible. We must do something to benefit all these sentient beings. Even if we can’t benefit all sentient beings, at least benefit these sentient beings. We must make our life beneficial for them. We must do something.

The Solution is the Good Heart

The whole thing comes to one practice, one answer, one solution. One solution for all the problems; one answer, one practice. What is that? That is the good heart, letting go of the I and cherishing others. Letting go of the I, cherishing others, bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment. We can say that or the good heart, letting go I, cherishing others. Instead of the selfish mind, the old mind, the self-cherishing thought, we must change into a new mind, the thought of cherishing others, benefiting others.

In other words we can say, maybe using the Western term we can say the old self. In the West, there’s a term people use, “I want to be myself.” I think in that case we can change from the old self. Change from the old mind—old from this morning, old from birth, old from beginningless rebirths—which brings all the problems in our life and all the harms to ourselves and to numberless sentient beings. With the self-cherishing thought, not only are we harmed, but numberless sentient beings receive harm from us, directly or indirectly. Like that, from life to life, if we think about it, from life to life, from beginningless rebirth up until now, numberless sentient beings receive harm from us with this attitude, directly or indirectly. If we think about life to life, there’s no beginning, so numberless sentient beings receive harm from us directly and indirectly.

It’s the same if we continue with the same old self, the same mind, the self-cherishing thought, then it’s the same [result.] Life after life, even in this life. If we live our life continuously with this old self or the self-cherishing thought, that not only brings so much harm to us every day, but also there’s so much harm to others. We bring unhappiness or disturbance to others—to our family, to the people, to the animals, to any beings who are around us—and even in this life many sentient beings receive harm either directly or indirectly from us. Like that, from life to life, if we think from life to life, numberless sentient beings receive harm from us.

Therefore, the great bodhisattva, the great holy being Shantideva mentioned in the Bodhicaryavatara, “That is the one solution, the one practice. There are many practices, a hundred thousand practices, so many to do, but this is the most important one.”

As the great bodhisattva Shantideva mentioned in Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Life, the Bodhicaryavatara, all the buddhas checked for many eons what is the most beneficial for sentient beings. They analyzed for many eons and what all those buddhas discovered is bodhicitta. By analyzing for many eons what is most beneficial for sentient beings, they discovered bodhicitta. What Shantideva is saying is, “As long as you don’t drop the fire.”

We’re holding the fire in our hand, but as long as we don’t drop the fire, as long as we don’t let it go, the burning cannot be stopped. Similarly, as long as we don’t let go the I, the sufferings cannot be abandoned. We cannot be free from the sufferings. Therefore, in order to pacify receiving harm and suffering for oneself and to pacify the harm and suffering of others, give up oneself for others and cherish others as oneself. Give up oneself for others and cherish others as oneself.

If we practice this, then it’s like transforming kaka, it’s like transforming poo-poo. [Laughter] I’ve been saying kaka all this time, but now I’m changing my term to the English term, poo-poo. I learned this recently in Washington when I was translating, so poo-poo. So, the poo-poo transforms into gold. The poo-poo transforms into gold. Our life is like poo-poo transformed into gold. That is the best, most meaningful, happiest life. It’s most beneficial for others; it’s most beneficial for numberless sentient beings—numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, human beings, suras and asuras.

Human beings are not only from this world, but also from other continents. There are numberless universes, even scientists explain numberless universes, so there are numberless human beings in those universes. That’s most beneficial for numberless human beings, and for those who are living on higher planets, the suras and asuras. So all those sentient beings. And from this ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, we are able to accomplish all the happiness and works for ourselves, as well as the works for all sentient beings. We are able to accomplish that. I’ll stop here.

[Tea break]

Why We Need Omniscience

Do you have a copy of the Eight Verses in English? Does anybody have it in English? I’m just going to do a little bit then stop.

We talked about the importance of benefiting sentient beings. That is what our life is for, to benefit other sentient beings, as I mentioned before. Now, the highest benefit is to bring the sentient beings to full enlightenment. To do that, we need to understand, we need to directly see every single sentient being’s mind—their characteristics, their wishes, their karma. If we understand all their karma directly, then we know what methods fit them and what does not fit them. We don’t make mistakes. If we understand exactly all their gross and subtle karma we never make mistakes, and we know exactly the method to free them from suffering and bring them from happiness to happiness to full enlightenment. We know what exact method to reveal, what fits them. Then that becomes useful. Otherwise it’s not useful.

If we don’t understand the karma of a sentient being, and we reveal something, a higher method, but the other sentient being doesn’t have the karma [it’s not useful.] For example, when teaching Dharma, we reveal something—from our side, the best teaching, most profound—we reveal it to the other person, but that person doesn’t have the karma to understand or maybe they have the wrong understanding. They don’t understand correctly what we’re saying and maybe they have the wrong understanding as well. There’s also that danger.

Here we’re talking about helping others, so we need many qualities. We have to understand the numberless sentient beings—not just one, but numberless sentient beings—their characteristics, their level of intelligence, their wishes and their karma. Then, knowing all the methods, knowing every single method that fits the numberless sentient beings. That’s omniscience. So we need omniscience, the omniscient mind.

We also need perfect power to reveal the methods, to manifest our body, speech, and mind in various forms. Even to guide one sentient being we need various forms, various manifestations. Like that, gradually from life to life, as that sentient being develops, as the mind develops more and more, then we reveal higher methods and gradually bring them to full enlightenment. Therefore, we need omniscient mind, knowing every single sentient being, as I mentioned before, all those different things of the mind, the karma and all the methods that fit, to guide even one sentient being from happiness to happiness to enlightenment. All those methods we have to understand, we have to have a full understanding of the methods. Otherwise there’s the danger of making a mistake in guiding sentient beings. We may reveal the wrong method to the sentient beings and we can’t help them, so like that.

The Karma of the Old Man who was a Fly

For example, there’s a story that happened. When the Buddha was in India, there was an eighty-year-old man. Only after eighty years he began to practice some meditation, he began to practice Dharma. He was at home, but all the children made fun of him all the time, so he was really bothered by that. He was really annoyed by the children at home and he was thinking, “Oh, it might be better if I leave home and go to monastery and become a monk. There will be so much peace and no one to bother me.”

So he left home and went to the monastery. The abbot of the monastery was Sharipu, who is excellent among the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, who is excellent in wisdom. When this eighty-year-old man went to monastery, he met the abbot, Sharipu, who checked whether the old man had the karma to become a monk or not. The abbot, Sharipu, checked with his psychic power, with his clairvoyance, whether the old man had the karma to become a monk or not. He could not see that the old man had the karma to become a monk. Then the abbot, Sharipu, the arhat, told the old man, “You’re too old. You cannot do study, and other than that, you can’t do service at the monastery. You cannot do anything.” The abbot Sharipu mentioned this to the old man.

The old man got terribly upset, so then he put his head on the gate of the monastery, I don’t know what it’s called, the lower part of the door. He put his head there, and he cried and cried. Then he went to the park, and he cried and cried and cried. While he was doing that, the Buddha was in India at that time, so the Buddha’s omniscience sees all the sentient beings at the [same] time. Whenever the karma of the sentient beings is ripened, then without delay of even one second, the Buddha appear there and guides that sentient being, revealing the methods and guiding that being. That is the special quality of the Buddha. Whenever a particular sentient being’s karma is ripened, then immediately, without delay of even a second, the Buddha manifests there and gives guidance.

The Buddha then appeared. He came into the park in front of the old man and asked what happened. The old man explained all the problems that happened at home, how all the children teased him and he was annoyed, then he went to the monastery and the abbot didn’t accept him to be a monk. Then the Buddha explained to him that the abbot did not complete the two types of merit—the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue. He did not complete the merit of wisdom and the merit of method, or you can say the merit of virtue.

[The Buddha said,] “The arhat Sharipu did not complete the two types of merit, but I have completed the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue, therefore I can see that you have the karma to become a monk.”

Then the Buddha explained how the old man created the karma. The Buddha explained that an inconceivable time ago the old man was a fly. In one of his past lives he was a fly—not an airplane, a fly. I’m joking. In one of his past lives he was a fly and there was a very precious stupa, and there was cow dung around the stupa. The Buddha explained, “In your past life you were a fly, and you followed the smell of the cow dung. Because of that, it became circumambulation of the stupa.” Therefore, not because the fly knew this holy object and thought, “By circumambulating it will purify my mind or collect merits or create the cause of enlightenment.” Not by that knowledge. The fly was following the smell of the cow dung around the stupa with attachment. The Buddha explained that was the karma—from that small merit created when he was a fly following the smell of the cow dung—that was the karma so that he could become a monk. The Buddha explained that.

The Buddha saw this, though it was an inconceivable time ago, an incredibly long time ago. The abbot of the monastery, the arhat Sharipu, had skies of qualities, he had psychic powers, but something like this, which happened an inconceivable time ago, he could not see that karma. Arhats are liberated from the suffering of samsara and its cause, karma and delusions, those disturbing negative thoughts, including the seed of delusions; even the seed’s imprints are removed. Not only ahats, but also the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas—who are very close to achieving enlightenment— haven’t abandoned the four causes of unknowing. Even though there are skies of qualities, much more for the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas than arhats, because they haven’t completed the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue, they haven’t achieved the omniscient mind. They haven’t abandoned the four causes of unknowing.

One thing is that subtle karma, for example, butterflies have many designs on their wings, many different colors. What is the cause of each one? On the butterfly’s wings there are many different colors or spots, and I think flowers may be similar. I think in the text it mentions peacock feathers, but there are many other examples we can use, for example, when we see a flower and on the petals there are many designs. Why does the flower have this shape? There’s one flower, the sunflower, which has many designs inside. What is the cause of that? We have the karma to see the flower, to enjoy the flower, but what is the karma? What is the cause of each of those designs the flower has? It’s all karma. Arhats or tenth bhumi bodhisattvas cannot see that subtle karma.

The Buddha’s secret actions, only the Buddha’s omniscient mind can see. Arhats or tenth bhumi bodhisattvas cannot see that. It’s only the object of the buddhas’ own omniscient mind. Like this, they cannot see the karma, because it’s an inconceivable length of time ago. Or I think the other one might be distance, an unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable distance. I think it might be that. Anyway, even the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas haven’t removed the four causes of unknowing..

Because of that, the arhat Sharipu could not see that this old man had the karma to be a monk, so he rejected him. The Buddha accepted him because he could see that the old man had the karma. An unbelievable, unbelievable long time ago the old man was a fly who followed the smell of cow dung around the stupa, which represents the Buddha’s holy mind.

Anyway, just to mention here, normally for our actions to become the cause of suffering, to be nonvirtue and the cause of suffering—how did they become nonvirtue, the cause of suffering? That is because that action was motivated by the attitude of ignorance, anger or attachment. A nonvirtuous motivation, and because of that, the action is transformed into nonvirtue. From that, the result is only suffering. So how do our actions of body, speech, and mind in our daily life become virtue, the cause of happiness? It’s because those actions are done with the attitude that is non-anger, non-ignorance, non-attachment. From these actions, that’s virtue. That is virtue. That action becomes virtue, and from that, the result only happiness arises.

Suffering and Happiness Come from Our Mind

That is the inner evolution, the process or the evolution of happiness and suffering of sentient beings. How is this the evolution of suffering and happiness of sentient beings? It comes from our mind. The root is our mind, virtue or nonvirtue, positive or negative. Normally it is like this. Therefore, in Buddhism, we are the creator of our own happiness and also, we are the creator of our suffering; there are no others. There is nobody outside; it’s only ourselves. Even the suffering is from our mind, it came from our mind, okay? Here we are the doer, we are the creator. We are the doer, we are the creator, in reality and according to the philosophy of the Buddha’s teaching—not only what the Buddha said, not only that, but our own experience is that, if we analyze it.

For example, this subject, the thought transformation subject, the purpose of practicing thought transformation is that. For example, if somebody says something to us that we don’t like to hear, that our attachment doesn’t want to hear, that our self-cherishing thought doesn’t want to hear. The person says something, not that which hurts our bodhicitta, not that which hurts our compassion, our loving kindness, our wisdom seeing emptiness, not that. There’s nothing which hurts them. The person gets angry with us and says some nasty things or talks about our mistakes. It doesn’t hurt our wisdom seeing the ultimate reality; it doesn’t hurt our loving kindness; it doesn’t hurt our compassion. It hurts our attachment. It hurts our negative mind, our impure mind, our wrong concept, the hallucinated mind. It hurts our attachment. It hurts our self-cherishing thought, when the person is angry and is talking about our mistakes or blaming us, those things.

Here, sometimes, our mind is not angry yet. Our mind is not angry yet. We heard all this, but our mind is not angry yet. We have a choice. Sometimes we have a choice. We start to think about the way this person who is angry with us is behaving, and we start to think, “This is bad. This is bad.” Our mind starts labeling, “bad, bad.” When we start to label “bad, bad, bad” then we regard the person as bad. Then anger arises. Then anger arises. We haven’t got angry yet. We have a choice whether to think that way, or to not start thinking that way, to just leave it. We don’t think also about the positives, the kindness of the person, how they are beneficial, how they are helping us to have realizations, to complete the paramita of patience, the path to enlightenment—giving us that realization of the paramita of patience, helping us complete the path to enlightenment.

Of course, if we think about the kindness of the person, that is special kindness, which is very rare. That is the special kindness of the person toward us, letting us put into practice the teachings of patience, the teachings taught by the Buddha and the guru. Here the person is giving us the opportunity to put the teachings into practice, to practice the paramita of patience, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Of course, if we think about that unimaginable kindness, that special kindness, then we can see it is most precious. That’s most precious, that’s rare, that’s the most precious one, that’s different. But even without thinking that, just leave it. Don’t think, “This is bad, this is bad. Getting angry with me is bad and what the person says is bad and this person is bad.” Without doing that, without letting our mind do that, without letting our mind label “bad, bad, bad.” So here, we don’t get angry. I’m just using this as an example.

Here, it’s up to us. We are the creator. Here, we get angry and we destroy the merit, we become mad and all this, then due to anger we break things—we break the cups or we break things around us, a glass or whatever. With anger we drive the car the wrong way or whatever, you see. When we get angry, we do all sorts of things, violent things. Here we can see that we are the creator, we are the doer of our suffering.

By looking at the positive—thinking of the kindness of that person—the special advantage, the benefit we get, the realization of patience. We can overcome anger so that after some time it’s impossible for anger to arise. By training the mind in patience, no sentient being receives harm from us due to anger. With patience, the sentient beings receive only peace and happiness from us. Anyway, this way we realize, we see that person as most kind, the most precious one in our life. So there’s incredible peace and happiness in our heart and also there’s peace and happiness for that person, because we don’t get angry back, we don’t take revenge back. Moreover, we even want to thank that person. We feel the kindness of the person from the bottom of our heart. Deep from our heart, we feel the kindness, so we want to appreciate, we want to thank them, we want to offer them a present. We want to thank that person, we want to offer a present to thank them and to show we appreciate them. Anyway, here we can see that all this happiness in our heart, in our life and in the life of others came from our mind, therefore we are the doer, the creator of this happiness.

Just to keep this short, from this thought transformation we can understand. In our daily life, whatever situation is happening around us—if somebody abuses us or is angry with us, or somebody criticizes or blame us for things we haven’t done, so whatever provokes us. For example, when we are driving a car, if there is somebody who is driving in front of us illegally, without following the rules. By following the rules or not following the rules, they drive in front of us without respecting us, with a lot of noise. Anyway, I am just using this as an example. Anyway, I’m not sure. Like that, or when we’re walking on the street and somebody says, what. Somebody does this. [Rinpoche gives the thumbs down] Goes like this or like that? This is the Tibetan way, this is bad; which way is bad in West I am not sure. So like that. [Group laughter] What else. Somebody does that. [Rinpoche gives the thumbs down again]

In California when we were driving our car, on the back side and around there’s a Green Tara, the Thirty-five Buddhas, Shakyamuni Buddha and Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha, and there’s a message on the car. What is it? Kindness toward …

Ven. Roger: [Inaudible]

Rinpoche: Oh, “Kindness is my religion,” by His Holiness. I added there “to all.” “Kindness to all is my religion,” from His Holiness. The other side is “Cherishing others is the source of happiness.” And at the front there are many powerful mantras to purify. They bless the wind and any insects that come on the car, their negative karma gets purified so they can get a higher rebirth. Even though they die by crashing on the car, at least they get blessed, they get a higher rebirth, they get some benefit. There are many mantras and then on the back side there’s this prayer: “Anybody who sees or touches or remembers this car, may they be free from suffering and achieve enlightenment.” Something like that.

While we are driving in the car, only very rarely—many people, some people—one time a person circumambulated the car, while the car was going. This person came back and went like that. [Laughter] One time, I don’t know who that person is, did that a few times. Anyway, many people do like this through the window. [Rinpoche gives thumbs up] Even some young girls at the gas station or something, they are very happy to see these things. But very rarely, you see this one. [Rinpoche gives thumbs down] Anyway, like that.

How we are treated by others, anything that hurts the attachment, which expects others to be nice to us. We are attached, thinking others must be nice, kind to us. Then self-cherishing the same. Self-cherishing expects others to be kind to us, to be nice to us. All these things, what they do, which hurts the attachment, the self-cherishing thought. We think, “Would you believe that they hurt me?”

If we think like this, immediately, if we accept the karma, thinking, “I treated those sentient beings this way in the past. I did the same thing to them in the past, so now the karma of what I did to them has ripened. As a result of that, as a consequence of that, it is happening to me.” So we accept the karma, the result of the karma that we created in the past with those sentient beings. Immediately, the minute we accept that, it doesn’t become a problem. There’s no problem.

There’s no problem in our life, especially if we think about what Kadampa Geshe Kharag Gomchung said. He explained that, “Even by [experiencing] this small suffering, it finishes my past negative karma and there will be happiness in the future. Therefore, rejoice in the suffering!” Therefore, rejoice in the suffering. Think how wonderful, how good it is. Rather than feeling depressed, think the opposite. Think of the benefits of it, because it finished our past negative karma. We must think of the advantages of that which we believe is a problem.

Transforming Problems

The thing that we think is the problem actually came from our mind. If we did not label “problem” in the first place, if our mind did not label problem, then there would be no problem. If our mind didn’t label problem and then believe in that, there would be no appearance that there’s a problem. Then we wouldn’t see there’s a problem. To be able to see that there’s a problem, there’s a whole evolution. It appears to us as a problem. For that, it depends on our mind labeling this as a problem and believing that in the first place. Not only does our mind label onto that, but we also believe in that.

So there’s a whole evolution that takes place after the time that we see in our life that’s a problem. Originally, it came from our own thought that makes up that label, “This is bad, this is a problem.” Even the problem which we see, still it came from our mind. So now here, we change our attitude toward that. Because we only label “bad,” we see only bad. Then we think about everything in terms of bad, our mind gets habituated with that. Even small matters are bad. Every single thing that our attachment or self-cherishing doesn’t like, we think is bad, terrible. Our life gets habituated into that and then almost everything is unpleasant.

In Tibetan there is a saying, “Whatever you see, hear, smell, everything becomes unpleasant.” It becomes the enemy. If our mind is habituated to the self-cherishing thought, living with self-cherishing all the time, and cherishing the I so much—the more the I is cherished, then there is attachment at a stronger level. Anger is stronger. Then it’s very easy to interpret that things become huge problems.

Even small matters, for example, the person’s way of speaking, whoever is speaking, just a few words, but not put in the arrangement that our attachment, our self-cherishing, wants to hear; put in a little bit different way. Or decorating food or whatever, putting some decoration. Just small things but the more we cherish the I, the attachment is stronger and the anger is stronger, so even small matters become a huge problem. They become a huge disturbance to our mind and it’s all related to how much we cherish the I. If that is stronger, then all those things—even if it’s really nothing, a small problem—we make it huge. For example, if we gave some help, if we gave a glass of water to somebody or gave some help, but the person didn’t thank us. The person didn’t smile at us, didn’t thank us and is quiet. So we are cherishing the I more. If we don’t cherish the I, that won’t bother us, but because we cherish the I, the more we cherish I, if that person doesn’t smile at us, doesn’t respond to us, doesn’t thank us when we did something, it becomes a huge problem psychologically, it becomes a huge problem.

One time in Dharamsala I was going to His Holiness’s temple through the mountains; I was walking to the temple. There was one monk, I don’t know from which country, maybe Korea or something like that, wearing yellow robes. I was going to the temple and the monk was going to this side. I didn’t do this. [Rinpoche puts his hands together at his heart in prostration] I should have done this. It was my mistake. But I did like this. [Rinpoche waves] I should have done this, but I did like that. So then I went to the Dialectic School, the monastery. I met the monk quite far away, but he came all the way back. He was not happy that I did this. [Rinpoche waves] So he came back all the way from that mountain, he came back to the room, the Dialectic School, the monastery, and he said, “I did like this to you [Rinpoche makes prostration mudra] and you did like this to me.” [Rinpoche waves] He came all the way back to tell me that, so I apologized, “I’m sorry.” Anyway.

Just to finish, the conclusion, how to think, the Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa said, “This problem makes my past negative karma finish.” That’s one benefit. That’s one advantage of the problem, it finishes our past negative karma. The other benefit is that if it’s finished we have happiness in the future, we don’t have to suffer in the future. That is the second advantage. Geshe Khamlungpa said, “Therefore we should rejoice! Rejoice in the suffering.” Think, “Oh, how wonderful it is!” Thinking like that, rejoice, by thinking of the benefits. It does have these benefits.

If we rejoice, then we have so much peace and happiness in our heart and we don’t harm others. We don’t harm others and we feel the kindness of others, their special kindness. We appreciate others and want to thank them, so it’s the total opposite. We want to help others instead of harming them or taking revenge. Before there was a problem, suffering. Now here with thought transformation, by putting a positive label, by thinking of the benefits of the problem, we see only happiness. It doesn’t bother us. Here we can see we are the doer, we are the creator of our happiness. Before we were the creator of our suffering, our problems, now here we are the creator of our happiness. In this way, each day of our life, each day, each moment of our life, we can always keep our mind in happiness. Always what we see, what we hear, everything is positive, good. That is because we are always keeping our mind in the meditation, the bodhicitta, the thought transformation, in every moment of our life, by thinking of the benefits of the problem and putting a positive label. Like that, we can transform suffering into happiness.

The other one is by purifying, by practicing Dharma. By practicing Dharma, how? By purifying the causes of suffering and not creating them again. Again [we receive] happiness, temporary and ultimate happiness. In Buddhism we are the doer, we are the creator of our own happiness and suffering. This means we have incredible freedom because we are the creator of our happiness—not only suffering but also happiness—so here, according to the Buddha’s philosophy or the reality, we have incredible freedom. It depends on us, it’s up to our mind, how we think. Everything—day to day, moment to moment—in our life, whether we have happiness or problems is up to how we think.

Hell and enlightenment are up to how we think. With our mind we can prevent the creation of hell; with our mind we can create enlightenment and also we can create liberation. Liberation or samsara is up to our mind, how we think, how we see. Therefore, we have unbelievable freedom. Therefore, we need to learn. Therefore, we shouldn’t waste our life, we should take this opportunity to learn Dharma, to learn and to actualize the whole path to enlightenment, and especially bodhicitta, thought transformation. Like that.

Sorry for my very bad habit. Once I speak, it goes for a long time.

The Eight Verses

By practicing these eight verses, there’s no obstacle for our happiness. There’s no obstacle for attainment of the path to enlightenment, because we use the obstacle as a means to achieve enlightenment. We use the interference, the obstacle, the suffering, the difficulties, to develop bodhicitta, to realize emptiness. We use that as a path to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, so we have no obstacle to achieve enlightenment. And besides, we have happiness in our life, day-to-day, moment-to moment, like that. This becomes the oral transmission of the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation composed by Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa.


The purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from suffering and its causes, and to bring them to enlightenment. No matter how long it takes, no matter how hard it is, no matter how many eons it takes, since this is the most beneficial thing even for myself, what is most needed to benefit sentient beings is this, in order to bring them to enlightenment, therefore I need to achieve enlightenment. No matter how many eons it takes, no matter how hard it is, I’m going to achieve enlightenment. [To do this] I need to actualize the path. So then without any obstacles to succeed in actualizing the whole path to enlightenment, therefore I am going to take the oral transmission of the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation.

1. Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit from all sentient beings, who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel, I shall hold them most dear at all times.

[Rinpoche recites the first verse in Tibetan]

Dag ni means “I myself.” It should sound like that. Think, “No matter how the other person treats me, whether that person loves me or is angry with me, however the person treats me, from my side, dag ni, from my side, I’m going to cherish that person.”

Mentally cherish them as more precious than a wish-granting jewel. Cherish them more than the most precious thing among our material possessions. Like a wish-granting jewel, filling the whole sky, so our motivation is the attitude of cherishing others forever. Not only cherishing others when we are happy, but when there are problems we don’t cherish them. Not like that. All the time, no matter what the circumstances. Then whatever action we do benefits others. Our mind cherishes others and with our actions we only benefit others. So we should think, “I myself am going to do this.” It should be that way.

In this translation there’s one thing missing [from the second verse.]

“When in the company …” the time is mentioned, but it doesn’t say the place. [Rinpoche recites the second verse in Tibetan] There are two things, the place and the time. So kang tu is missing there.

2. Wherever and with whoever I accompany, I shall always consider myself the lowest of all, and from the depths of my heart hold others dear and supreme.

3. Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears in my mind, endangering myself and others, I shall confront and avert it without delay.

4. Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature and overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering, I shall hold such rare ones dear, as if I have found a precious treasure.

5. When, out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insults, or the like, I shall accept defeat and offer the victory to others.

6. When someone whom I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall regard that person as my holy guru.

7. In short, both directly and indirectly, do I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers. I shall secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and suffering.

8. Undefiled by the stains of the superstitions of the eight worldly concerns, may I, by perceiving all phenomena as illusory, be released from the bondage of attachment.

“Be released from the bondage of ….” This can be said, “attachment,” but it’s more the self-grasping, the ignorance holding onto the I that we believe is inside the body or on the aggregates, while it’s not there at all, while it’s totally non-existent and empty. Or the aggregates the same, holding the aggregates as the real one. Or holding the body as the real one in the sense of existing from its own side. Holding the mind as the real one, the real mind, in the sense of being not merely labeled by mind.

Simple Emptiness Meditation

It’s the same for form, sound, smell, taste and tactile. The ignorance holding form, sound, smell, taste and tactile, coming, going, existing, cessation—all these things appear as real ones, real coming and real going. Real coming in the sense of not merely labeled by mind. Real going in the sense of not merely labeled by mind. All these things, existing and cessation. We hold all these as something real, in the sense of not merely labeled by mind, even though the way they exist is only being named, merely imputed by mind. They appear real in the sense of existing from their own side, not merely labeled by mind. We let our mind hold onto that as true, so we let the mind hold onto all these hallucinations, all these things, all these phenomena, I, action, object, everything appears to exist from its own side. We let our mind hold onto all this as true, all this hallucinated world, but they are projected from our mind, from the negative imprint left on the mental continuum by our past ignorance. So we let our mind hold onto this as true, so that stops our liberation. That stops us from becoming free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its cause, delusion and karma.

When we look at the I, action, object, all these things are like a dream. A very simple meditation is looking at all this like the continuity of last night’s dream; we look at all of this as a dream. We look at this as a dream, [instead of] holding it as real in the sense of existing from its own side, like for example, when we recognize the dream is a dream and our understanding, in our heart, we know that it’s not true. It’s non-existent. Similarly, in the daytime, if we have a busy life, if we are able to keep the mind in meditation, we can see all these things are like dream. Then in the mind, instead of holding things as real in the sense of existing from their own side, that weakens. It weakens that or it doesn’t arise, it weakens that. So this helps us to not cling. It helps that, every time we look at it like a dream.

The other way, while we have a busy life, working, then meditating, at the same time look at all things as merely imputed by mind. That also helps. Dependent arising, the Prasangika school’s view of dependent arising, helps to not cling onto this as something real, existing from its own side. It cuts that, it helps.

The other thing is looking at all these things that appear as not merely labeled by the mind, existing from their own side, by recognizing gag cha. All these things— doer, action, object— which appear real in the sense of existing from their own side, by recognizing this, then keeping our mind continuously in meditation, we see that all these are a hallucination. False, contradictory to reality, which is the definition of false. Looking at all of this as false. Continuously keep the mind on this, looking at all this—doer, action, object—as false, by thinking of all these as gag cha, the object to be refuted, or the hallucination.

What ignorance, the way it holds onto, the way that things are appearing they are totally non-existent, from where they are appearing, just there, they are totally non-existent. So keeping the mind continuously [seeing] all these things are a hallucination or gag cha, while our life is busy with people or work or whatever. At the same time, with part of our mind keeping awareness, mindfulness. That helps to not grasp or hold onto this as real, because we’re looking at it as false. It’s totally opposite to the way that ignorance thinks of the object. Think, “I’m going to practice in order to be free from the bondage of ignorance grasping, holding the true existence of the object which appears.”

So we can use different techniques. The main thing is to keep the mind [on this] again and again. While we are busy in the life, keep this mindfulness. That’s very beneficial, a very enjoyable life. Things don’t upset us—what people around us do, it doesn’t upset us. It’s kind of like a dream. Life becomes very fascinating or very interesting. We have a totally different life. Then it’s only the cause for us to purify the defilements and negative karma, and whatever we do is the antidote to samsara, and the cause for achieving liberation and enlightenment, supported by bodhicitta.

[Dedication prayers]

Thank you. Good night.