THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD HEART
I was talking this morning about how the thought came into my mind during the time that millions of people were dying of starvation in Africa, to go there and talk to the people, or maybe send one person at the beginning, talking about compassion.
I was talking about this because from their side, for them to achieve happiness, to get success in their means of living, it depends on the preliminaries, whether they have created good karma, virtue, Dharma, pure actions of body, speech, and mind. Whatever their religion is, Christian or whatever, it must start with compassion, it must communicate with them about compassion.
This is how important it is to generate compassion in life, to practice compassion. We have a responsibility to cause happiness to other sentient beings, to free them from suffering. How important that help is to others.
If we do that, then we get happiness as an effect of our action, our positive action. When we have compassion, that action becomes a Dharma, a pure action, a virtuous action. When we do something like that for others, with our body, speech and mind, then we create good karma. That becomes the cause of the success in our life, happiness, long life and health all those things, wealth, success in business, whatever. We collect all the things, whatever happiness we are looking for.
Happiness actually has to come from ourselves, from our heart, from our actions. That’s the evolution of happiness. It has to come from the heart. People can pray but that’s not the main thing. People can pray for the people of Africa, and perhaps things can change if they have collected the merit in the past. If they have collected the merit in the past, then maybe it can manifest in this life. Maybe the imprint of something good they did in the past will be experienced in this life, and that can remove their difficulties.
Of course, it’s very important to pray, but to have power in the prayer, then that person’s prayer has to have compassion for other sentient beings. The more compassion that person has, the more the prayer’s power. Somebody who is living purely in their life, abstaining from immoral actions, abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies—those ten nonvirtuous actions—as much as possible, living a pure life, abstaining from those negative actions which cause all the problems, which bring suffering and problem in life and to others, to others, to the family, to the world, the more that person lives in morality, it makes life purer. Then, prayer has more power, more power to change, to succeed for others.
That’s what I was trying say, to finish the story, about how important compassion is. By cherishing others, by serving others from the heart, all those actions become good karma, and by the way all our wishes get fulfilled, all our wishes for happiness get fulfilled.
The actual act is serving others, but even if we don’t think about our own happiness, even if we don’t cling, grasp, onto our own happiness this life, even though we’re totally detached from this life’s happiness, since our action is especially benefiting others, cherishing others and serving others, it’s so powerful, the good karma is so powerful, and we collect so much merit. Therefore, naturally, because of the nature of the action, the result is that we experience happiness. Before life was very poor, very difficult, then suddenly there’s prosperity, suddenly there’s change, like a lotus opening, blossoming, there is happiness. With a good heart, and happiness, all the positive thoughts, even the needs in our life just happen. They just come. It works like that.
BEN GUNGYAL AND HOLY DHARMA AND WORLDLY DHARMA
There was a Kadampa geshe, Ben Gungyal who had been a robber in the daytime and a thief in the nighttime. In the daytime he took things away from the people with a horse and at nighttime, people didn’t know so he went to steal things. [Rinpoche laughs] He became a very famous thief in a place called Pembo, in Tibet, like the famous gangsters you have in the West.
He had many weapons around his belt; he carried around knives and many things around his belt, tied up and then he pulled them out. People called him Shi-chu dig which means “forty big sacks” referring to a big barley field he owned that yielded forty sacks of barley, but dik not dig means “negative karma” so his name could also mean “forty negative karmas.”
Then, he began to practice Dharma. However, his mind is so habituated of stealing that one time he was at the home of an old mother, and when mother went out, he went to steal some tea, some Tibetan tea—not tea already in a cup but the tea leaves from a bag.
When he saw that his hand was inside the tea bag, because he was beginning to practice Dharma, he shouted, “Oh, there’s thief in the house!” He shouted this very loudly, and when the mother came to see, he pointed to his hand in the tea bag saying, “There’s a thief here.”
So he began to practice Dharma, but because of his habituation he went to steal, but then he remembered he to practice Dharma he had to abandon stealing, and to stop himself he showed the mother his hand which was in the tea bag, and shouted that this was the thief.
There are many stories like that about him. Once, at a temple, he was at one temple, he was sitting with many other lamas while somebody was offering yoghurt, curd, but he was right at the end of the line. As the person offered the curd from the bucket, he saw so much going into other people’s bowls, whether they were looking or not, and he was worried that there would be none left for him. Then he realized this was due to his attachment, the thought of the eight worldly dharmas. We might have gone through this before. Attachment, grasping at this life’s pleasures, this worldly thought, is a nonvirtuous thought. So, he realized this was a nonvirtuous thought, being worried about seeing a lot of curd going into other people’s bowls and that he might not get any because he was sitting way down the line. [Rinpoche laughs]
He recognized this as the thought of the eight worldly dharmas, creating nonvirtue, and he thought to abandon it because that’s the pure Dharma practice, abandoning the thought of the eight worldly dharmas. So, when he realized that, when the person serving the curd came to him, he placed his bowl upside down, indicating he didn’t want any. He used this as an antidote to abandon the thought of the eight worldly dharmas, the attachment, grasping to this life. He saw that if he followed that thought, and accepted that curd, then it wouldn’t become Dharma, it would become a nonvirtuous action, because the motivation was nonvirtue, pure nonvirtue, the attachment clinging to this life.
Due to ignorance and then attachment, it wouldn’t become non-attachment so it wouldn’t become virtue, it wouldn’t become Dharma. His action of accepting and eating the yogurt wouldn’t become Dharma but a cause of suffering, of negative karma. So he didn’t accept it. To renounce the thought of eight worldly dharmas, he put his bowl upside down when the yogurt came nearby. At the beginning, when he practiced Dharma, he practiced like this in his daily life. Then later, gradually that thought of the eight worldly dharmas became less and less.
Attachment, clinging, grasping to this life, is a painful mind if we analyze it. It is not peaceful, it is pain; the nature of attachment is painful, if we analyze its nature. There’s a lot of worry we can’t get what we want and so we can’t achieve real inner peace, happiness, in our heart.
Anyway, at the end of the day, before he went to bed, he always checked, from morning to then, how many actions had been Dharma and how many had been worldly dharma, nonvirtue. He checked everything—eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, meditating, everything from morning to night. At the beginning, there was hardly any virtue; it was mostly nonvirtue. Each time he found the action was nonvirtue, he put a black stone on the table; each time he found a virtue, he put a white stone. At the beginning, creating hardly any virtue, there were very few white stones, mostly black. Then, as he continued practicing, as the months went by, as the years went by, gradually there were more and more white stones and less and less black ones. His daily actions became more virtuous, less negative karma, less nonvirtue. More actions became Dharma, good karma, virtue.
Then, after some time of nonvirtue becoming less and less and less, there were no nonvirtuous actions, and there were only white stones on the table. This happened through continual practice, through putting effort. I think continuity seems extremely important, whether it’s meditation in daily life. Even if we only do it for a short time, continuity is extremely important. This is what I think, from my analysis. Even if the meditation is short, not many hours, even if we do it for a short time, continuity is extremely important. Then, progress comes.
Otherwise, if we don’t have continuity, if we try for one month then drop it, give it up, if our mind gets distracted by other things, like the mind of attachment, thinking the activities of this life are more important, more pleasurable, then the effort we put into practicing Dharma becomes less and less, weaker and weaker and then after some time we stop.
It’s so important to constantly think of the benefits of Dharma and the shortcomings of non-Dharma activities, worldly activities, nonvirtuous activities. Seeing the shortcomings of those and the benefit of practicing Dharma, reflecting the depth of those, we’ll see the need for continuity. If we don’t try, or try it for one month, a few months or a few years, then nothing, we stop it completely, we will be totally taken over with the mind totally distracted or engaged, taken over by the wrong concept, ignorance, and especially the attachment, grasping this life’s comforts or pleasures, completely overtaken by that.
Then, there’s no continuity of Dharma practice. Then, if we try to practice again for a short time and stop again, then nothing, we can’t achieve realizations, we can’t make progress in our mind. Therefore, we need continuity. Even if we’re only doing a little each day, the continuity is there. I think it’s extremely important, extremely important. Then, progress can come. That’s very, very important.
Knowing karma, knowing the shortcomings of worldly activities, activities done with the evil thought of the eight worldly dharmas, the pleasures of this life, remember that again and again, I think it’s very, very important. This is how we can continue to practice Dharma. At the same time, we should also read Dharma texts to inspire us, the lam-rim, the stages of the path.
There are so many books now in English, even just His Holiness’s teachings, His Holiness’s public talks. There are so many. When we read, they inspire us, we learn, even if where we live there is no teacher to learn from. Now we have an incredible opportunity because there are so many Dharma books. It is very good to read books by His Holiness and other great teachers. I think it’s a great opportunity.
ZINA, RINPOCHE AND BUXA
Many years ago, before we first came to Nepal, we met our first Western student, a Russian lady, Princess Zina Rachevsky. Her father was a king in Russia, but when the revolution happened, her family left Russia and moved to France. She must have been born in France, I think, and then lived in the United States, where she married. Her first husband was Conrad Rooks, a very wealthy person. She had one daughter, Rhea, with another husband.
She lived in Greece and many different parts of the world. She lived a very poor life, and very rich life; she had all kinds of lives for quite a number of years. Probably she was also a fashion lady, something like that, maybe in the United States when she was young.
Anyway, I’m not going into details, just to say how we met her. I got sick many times, in Buxa, this place where I lived for eight years, which was a concentration camp when India was under the British, where Mahatma Gandhi-ji, and the Prime Minister Nehru were imprisoned. Many people were killed there. There’s a forest and in the mountains there’s a huge building where they fought.
Later, when His Holiness escaped from Tibet, all these monks came from Lhasa, from Sera, Ganden, Drepung—those very large, monastic universities of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, where the extensive philosophy of Buddhadharma is studied. There were also the other traditions, Sakya, Kagyü, Nyingma. Many went to work, making the roads in India, at the borders, and there were about 1,500 allowed to stay there to study, those who wanted to continue their studies of the Dharma. I was there for eight years, but of course I didn’t study. My study was just play, just play, so some imprint was left during that time, receiving some teachings, a little bit debate and some teachings.
Back in Tibet, I just memorized some texts in Domo Geshe’s monastery. This was where Lama Govinda, the German professor, the author of The Way of the White Clouds, met Domo Geshe, the great lama. In his monastery, we took our examinations, and I become a monk there. I become a monk in Tibet, not in Solu Khumbu.
For three years I lived in Pagri, a great business place, where goods came from Kalimpong, from India—tomatoes and crops—and goods came from Lhasa, from Panchen Rinpoche’s monastery at Shigatse, Tashi Lhunpo. Goods came from there, so it’s a very big business place. Also, chilies, nuts, puffed rice, things like came from Bhutan in bamboo containers.
So, anyway, I was there for three years, almost every day going to people’s houses doing puja with my teacher and some monks. In the morning I memorized texts to offer examination in the monastery, and in the evening I had to recite by heart the texts I’d memorized in the morning. I did this for three years.
Then, I offered the examination to the geshes in the monastery in the puja. All the monks were there, and the leader of the puja sat on the throne while I sat on the floor. Then, when we had chanted, he asked me to chant by heart from one place in the text to another. I did the first volume, but the second volume didn’t happen because we escaped from Tibet through Bhutan to India.
There was only one or two days, maybe at New Year, we didn’t have puja. Those days felt very strange, they felt very wrong, kind of a little bit strange, just short, anyway.
I got sick. I got TB in India in Buxa and had to go to Darjeeling for treatment. I stayed there many times, not in Darjeeling but in Ghoom, about five miles from Darjeeling, where there was a monastery. You couldn’t see it because it was below the road that goes to Darjeeling. I stayed there many times. There are branches of Domo Geshe’s monastery in Tibet. I was there for a long time, maybe nine months.
One afternoon, a monk called Drukta, “the sound of the dragon,”—that’s his name—met this Russian lady, a princess called Zina Rachevsky, but he didn’t understand her well. He thought that she was my friend. He didn’t understand well. She was looking for Domo Geshe Rinpoche, Lama Govinda’s guru. She has this karma somehow. She saw Lama Govinda’s book and got so inspired, so she wanted to meet his lama, Domo Geshe Rinpoche. She came to Darjeeling, to Ghoom Monastery, and met this monk. Because I spoke a little bit of broken English, just a few words, this monk thought that maybe we knew her, that we had met, so he opened the door to our room and said, “Oh, this is your friend.”
She came inside, with long hair and wearing a Tibetan sweater like you can buy at the bus station or something. My teacher was there. He took care of me in Tibet and helped me become monk at Domo Geshe’s monastery, to make offerings in the monastery. He offered a very big gong, to invite the monks for puja. I think he offered one in the Domo Geshe’s monastery in Tibet when I entered in the monastery.
Zina had brought Tibetan tea, a big pot of Tibetan tea, so she was given a big mug, and he poured the Tibetan tea, normal Tibetan tea, nothing special, totally filling the mug full. I think that day she drank it completely. After that, wherever she went she never drank Tibetan tea! I don’t know what happened. [Group laughs]
After that, every morning for one month, she came and discussed for an hour. She had a small baby that she left with a Nepalese lady in a car on the road above the monastery. So, we discussed, and I tried to translate for Lama with just some broken English.
After about a month, she invited us to come down, to move down to Darjeeling. So we moved down from the monastery to Darjeeling.
ZINA AND DARJEELING
There were two movie places in Darjeeling. If you go up a bit from the movie house in the upper area, there’s a house where His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s brother lived at that time. He’s the external minister for the exiled government. He lived there, upstairs in a house belonging to some Tibetan people who lived in Bombay. Then you go still a little bit farther up, then there’s a big building that belonged to some raja. I think in India before there were many rajas, many kings, and I think the house belonged to some maharaja. Upstairs there, the owner of the Darjeeling zoo and his family lived. Zina lived downstairs in a big room with a bathroom and a kitchen.
Lama and I lived outside in the garden, in a tiny house—not very tiny like this but tiny—with glass all around. I think it was a small house because the previous owner used it for having tea and enjoying the garden.
So, the door is here, then my bed is here and Lama’s bed is there, and between there’s a small table, no bigger than this between Lama’s and my bed. So, a door and then glass around.
We lived there for nine months. During that time Lama Yeshe studied English from a Christian lady whose body was already bent. She was already very old, with a bent body like this. There were two ladies, learning Tibetan to spread Christianity. Even though their bodies were like this, it was an amazing inspiration, seeing they were still learning Tibetan language to spread Christianity.
They were teaching English. They spoke very good English. It was many miles, many miles from the house, and there was a lot of rain. It was very foggy. Darjeeling is usually very, very foggy, and it gets lots of rain. So, Lama would go out with an umbrella and shoes called chapels, the same material as the car wheels, black and very thick. Lama had a pair of these too in Buxa. Many monks wear these to walk in the rain.
As well as English, he studied astrology from a famous Sherpa, Sherpa Ngawang Yinde. He never wasted a moment. For Lama, there was never a waste of time. If you looked at Lama as an ordinary person, there was no waste of time at all. Within those nine months Lama finished studying astrology and could produce calendar with all the details.
Anyway, getting back to Zina, in the early morning she looked sixty, seventy years old! Then she spent an hour or two in the bathroom and came out looking twenty-five or sixteen! I think she did retreats in the bathroom. [Group laughs] She did retreat in the bathroom for two hours, then came out looking twenty-five or sixteen years old.
She would arrive about ten o’clock, something like that, and have some teachings for one or two hours, although much of the time it was stories about her life, and then Lama Yeshe explained things.
Later, we went to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama and she went back to Sri Lanka. Then we went back to Buxa, where we lived for a year. Then, she wrote to us with the idea to start a Mahayana center in Sri Lanka. That was the idea, that we all go to Sri Lanka, but first we met her in Calcutta. It was the first time I had been to Calcutta. We stayed in a Theravadin Buddhist guest house.
I’m not going to explain the details, but at that time there were problems between India and Russia and there were many spies traveling with us. She was not a spy but you could very easily suspect her of being a spy because of the way she behaved. She wasn’t a spy, not at all, but it was very easy for outside people to judge her like that, because of the way she behaved, how she appeared.
There were maybe six of us on the train from Calcutta to Delhi, on the train, and in the same compartment was an Indian spy, and then another spy took over when we changed from Delhi to Dharamsala. We spent some time in Delhi, and outside the hotel there were cars and motorcycles whenever we went out, to see Domo Geshe Rinpoche or some lamas or something. They were following her not us, but wherever we went, they followed.
Usually, when we went to Delhi, at the train station, there would be the head of the spies, a very big man, with a mustache like that. His name was Tsering; it looks like a Tibetan name, but I don’t think he was Tibetan.
Anyway, we went to Dharamsala and requested His Holiness to ordain Zina. His Holiness didn’t have time but he asked Lati Rinpoche, a great Lama from Ganden Monastery who was living at Dharamsala.
He ordained her at the house that would become Tushita retreat center, Dharamsala, one of our places and a very good place for a retreat center. Then, it was called Nowrojee Koti because the family who owned that building was, way back, Naropa, the great Indian yogi. He was the guru of Marpa, who was the guru of Milarepa, the one who achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times by practicing tantra. He was lay, not an ordained person. Marpa was also a lay person.
So, the house was called Nowrojee Koti because the family who owned that—the grandfather and grandmother—there was a continuity from the great yogi, Naropa, who achieved enlightenment.
There’s still the continuity of the family there. They have a shop at the bus station. So, we bought that place with the help of some students. Jon Landaw was a main person who helped. Anyway, there may be other people.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s tutor, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who is Lama Yeshe’s and my own root guru, lived there for seven years, and when he moved out, the house was empty. So, the monks from Namgyal Monastery came there to create their tormas and to do activities.
When she was ordained there, while she was being ordained, the head of the spies was walking below, going back and forth, back and forth, waiting. [Rinpoche laughs]
THE FOUNDING OF KOPAN
Anyway, [Rinpoche laughs] the very first time we received an interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as we were sitting in his room, having the interview, we were thinking about Sri Lanka.
In the end, we didn’t get a permit from Indian government, or something. Anyway, there were problems. So then Lama Yeshe thought to go to Nepal because I was born near Mt. Everest. He totally changed his mind, and thought it was better to go to Nepal.
The year we came to Nepal was a special year. There are twelve years in the zodiac and each year has an animal’s name. This was the year of the bird, and that is a special year to make a pilgrimage to Nepal, so many people came from all over, from mountains, from very far, to make a pilgrimage to Kathmandu. It was a special year to visit many holy places. I guess it’s more benefit or something. So, there were so many people coming from the mountains, from very far, to make pilgrimage and to receive teachings.
At that time, the head lama of the Nyingma, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, was giving an oral transmission of the Kangyur in a Kagyü Monastery near the Boudhanath stupa. At that time, there was a lot of space in Boudhanath. There were maybe only a couple of monasteries near the stupa, the Kagyü one and, a little bit behind, a Gelug one. Maybe there were only those two, and there was a lot of empty space. Now, there are so many.
Anyway, my mother and all the family members came down because they heard that I had come. When Tibet was overtaken by Mainland China, she sent a person to look for me in Tibet. When she heard I had come out of Tibet, she said she was happy. Even if there was only water to drink in life, she was very happy after she heard I was out of Tibet.
I have no idea about my past life. I could have been cockroach or brown mouse stealing tormas, stealing the ritual offerings. But anyway, there was a lama called Lawudo Lama, who lived in the cave where Guru Padmasambhava lived. Padmasambhava was a very powerful yogi, who subdued the Snow Land of Tibet, and who blessed it and built the first monastery, Samye. When it was being built, in the daytime people and at night spirits would tear down. This happened many times, so then this powerful yogi was invited from India, and he hooked all the spirits. Three ran away, but they couldn’t escape Tibet, so he subdued them, by arising himself as wrathful deity. He subdued them and gave them a commitment, a vow, to protect the Buddhadharma in Tibet. There were many evil beings who didn’t allow the spread of Dharma in Tibet but Padmasambhava went to many places and subdued them and blessed the land of Tibet for spreading Dharma. He was so unbelievably kind. Because of that, Buddhadharma was able to be preserved and spread in Tibet.
Tibet developed without any influence from the outside, without influence of the materialistic life, without allowing companies to start, developing material things from the West, from outside countries. The government didn’t allow that, only just the Dharma. They just lived life just to preserve Dharma and spread it, to practice it and actualize it in order to achieve enlightenment, to liberate sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering.
The people and the government all concentrated on that. Therefore, there were many monasteries where people could do extensive study and actualize the path, living in the vows, and not only that but also so many caves in the mountains. The mountains were full of caves, like ants’ nests. Now, so many mountains have been destroyed and I couldn’t see this at all. There are probably still some kind of hidden away, and I didn’t see the whole of Tibet, I just saw the main road to Lhasa, just some parts.
Many people renounced life and went to solitary places to actualize the path, to meditate on what the Buddha had explained, the very vast teachings, as explained and practiced by the great Indian scholars, the highly attained beings, then the Tibetans, the great scholars, the highly attained beings, then the yogis and so forth.
They are the real scientists, the scientists of mind, removing the cause of suffering. Not trying to remove suffering externally, but removing the cause of suffering. Suffering comes from the mind, so they developed their minds in order to cease that, to cease the karma and delusion. They are the real scientists of mind, practicing the path revealed by Buddha and all those many other great enlightened beings, the numberless other holy beings—what they have studied, explained, practiced and actualized.
So many became bodhisattvas or buddhas, in Tibet, an unbelievable, unbelievable number. It looks like even the land itself has received so much blessing, because an unbelievable number of practitioners have attained realizations. The land itself is really amazing, so blessed.
But then, what happened after twenty years, all this unbelievable destruction, so many killed, so many died in prisons, in monasteries, and so many of the scriptures that the monasteries had, burned in the fields, piled in the fields and burned for many days.
There’s a place where they keep wooden block prints called Na-thang. I heard that when the Dharma texts were put in a field and burned, they burned for seven days, and a rainbow came from these holy objects. That’s what I heard.
So anyway, so what I was saying?
[Someone reminds Rinpoche what he was saying]
I see. Thank you very much.
So, this cave in Lawudo was where Padmasambhava came.
[Break in taping]
… There’s a story about those holy places.
The son wasn’t a monk, that lama, his name was Lama Yeshe, the same as Lama Yeshe, my teacher. He wasn’t a monk, he was a lay practitioner. The other lamas around all had sincere, high praise, great respect for him. He led a very simple life, a very, very simple life. He sometimes gave many initiations and teachings and sometimes just did his practice. He came from Tibet and maybe practiced the Sakya and Nyingma lineages. He had many teachings and deity practices written by hand, many texts, very rare, and monks from other monasteries came to borrow texts from Lawudo. I heard this from other lamas.
His son told me when I went back to Solu Khumbu he will hand over all the Lawudo Lama’s ritual things and Dharma texts, all the things in his cave, to me. It wasn’t done before, when I went to Tibet, but he told me, when I come back, he would hand them over.
So, anyway, we went back to Solu Khumbu and I stayed there maybe one or two months, but Lama Yeshe stayed much longer. We came down to Lukla, the only airport at that time, and we waited for many weeks but didn’t get a flight, so Lama went up and then I came down, to buy glasses and things, to build a kitchen up there, next to the cave.
An old man, maybe a disciple of the Lawudo Lama, asked me to build a monastery, although he didn’t mention this I had the idea of a school and monastery together, a school combined with a monastery and school. It meant there would be monks, but they would have a school where they could learn not just the language but many other things besides Tibetan. So, I got this idea.
When I asked Lama, he said if I thought it was okay I can do that, I can start. So, this monastery actually started, the monks studied there, from Solu Khumbu, from Lawudo.
Lawudo is 14,000 feet, above Namche Bazaar, close to Mt. Everest.
It started and the monks studied there. We invited one geshe from Sera Je, Geshe Tsultrim [?] Tashi, who became the abbot and ordained the very first monks up there.
Then, they moved down here. In the summertime they were up there but in the wintertime they moved down because it was very cold up there, and there were a lot of expenses because everything had to be transported by airplane. And then, when we do that, many young monks went back home, and didn’t come back in time. So, because of that and the expenses, we just decided for it to be here.
So anyway, I think it has been great benefit, great benefit in Nepal, not only Nepal but there are many Tibetans here. The original ones were from Solu Khumbu, Sherpas, but after some time, many Tibetans came from Tibet or the India monasteries, so the monks here are from different places—not just Solu Khumbu, but different parts of Nepal—and that has been highly beneficial. They have studied the five great treatises, the major sutras, the root texts and commentaries written by those great pandits, the highly attained beings, and also by Lama Tsongkhapa and other great scholars, highly attained beings, Tibetan lamas. This is due to Lama Yeshe’s kindness, and also His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Then, Lama Yeshe invited Lama Lhundrup, the abbot of Kopan Monastery, and Lama Pasang from India. Lama Pasang did the external works, the buildings and all the things, and Lama Lhundrup looked after the discipline, the monastery and education. Lama Pasang, Lama Yeshe’s disciple from Tibet, did a very important part, the buildings.
After Lama Yeshe, Lama Lhundrup, the abbot of Kopan Monastery and the nunnery, by living here, by looking after the discipline and education, the whole thing, has been the guru, like a father and a mother to the monks and nuns here. He has been immeasurably, limitlessly, immeasurably kind, enabling the monastery to benefit greater and greater, and develop the Dharma education, as well as external needs. Anyway, since I’m talking about here, there is also Kopan’s manager, Tenpa Choden, who has served for so many years, worked so hard for so many years, taking responsibility. That’s why it has been able to develop, due to his perseverance, devotion and compassion.
Some of the monks from here were sent to South India, to Sera Je Monastery, so they received very good education, the extensive scripture, the Buddhist philosophy, from the great teachers who studied in Tibet for so many years and became expertly learned. From those great teachers they received education for more than fifteen years. They have done very extensive study and debate—as you have seen here—with many other learned monks.
When they have completed their study, they do an examination and get a degree, becoming a Lharampa Geshe, if they have done the study well. Geshe Chonyi is the first geshe from Kopan Monastery, who went there, studied and completed the study to become a Lharampa Geshe. Then there is Geshe Sherab there. Who else?
Geshe Chonyi, he has been teaching for many years. He has been the resident teacher at the Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore for many years He has been excellent, very beneficial there.
Geshe Sherab, who takes the responsibility for the studies, the extensive Buddhist studies, and looks after the development here, taught Buddhadharma in New Mexico for quite a number of years.
There have been quite a few who have attained a Lharampa Geshe degree, who have completed the study of extensive Buddhadharma from Sera Monastery. and who are able to go to the centers in the West and Taiwan, and those different places, and are able to educate and give teachings, and also give teachings here. So, it is very beneficial.
Of course, there are many other monks unable to gain a Lharampa degree. You need so much merit to complete these extensive studies, these five treatises, so there are many who, of course, cannot complete it.
For how many years they live in the monastery, becoming a monk and studying, they get a lot of benefit, even though unable to complete the extensive studies, a lot of merit, a lot of imprints, even if they didn’t achieve realizations. Then, in their next life they become much better; it becomes so much easier to understand the very extensive words, the very extensive meaning of Buddhadharma, and to be able to memorize the words. Then, they are able to practice, to cease the defilements and able to achieve liberation and enlightenment quickly. So, even if that doesn’t happen in this life, in the future, in the near future, these things can happen.
There is unbelievable benefit in learning the Buddhadharma, the path to liberation and enlightenment, it’s unimaginable, unimaginable, the benefit to yourself and to other sentient beings. At Kopan Monastery, every year there are many courses happening besides the one-month course, seven-day courses, weekend courses. These are of great benefit, to the Tibetan and Nepalese here and also for us Western people.
In the past, we used to do the one-month course twice a year, and then, because more centers happened, Lama Yeshe and I were invited to go to the West to give teachings, so we cut it down to only one one-month course a year. It has been unbelievably beneficial for the world, unbelievably beneficial for the world, because people come from all over the world. For many years we didn’t have Chinese students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore because I didn’t go there. But after I went to Singapore, Malaysia, and then Taiwan and Hong Kong, students from those countries started coming here to do retreat or to learn, to take courses.
It’s been great benefit for the world, for the world peace. This is not world peace, not the world peace by gun, by fighting, but the world peace through compassion, world peace from your compassion. Here, the peace is that, from a five-day course or a two-week or weekend course, if you understand at least enough Dharma to stop killing insects, to stop fishing and things like that, no matter what you do.
At least, here you heard about karma, about compassion, about the need to have compassion for others, how important it is, and then you stop killing, at least that. That’s unbelievable! That’s so beneficial. Even just to stop fishing. If one person stops fishing, can you imagine. Say, a person lives sixty, seventy or one hundred years. Before, he went fishing quite often, trying to eat fresh fish—that’s regarded as very good, eating fresh fish from the water. So anyway, it’s amazing, that one person coming to a course here, understanding karma and the need for compassion for others. Then, he stops fishing, stops giving harm to so many fish. Just that one person, in his life, that is unbelievable, unbelievable benefit to stop fishing. By coming here, by attending the course, and to stop stepping on insects, that’s so good, that’s unbelievable. It brings so much peace and happiness. That person gives so much peace and happiness to so many sentient beings by not stepping on insects, due to having come here, attending even a five-day course or seven-day course.
Not only giving less harm to insects, he can give less harm to other people. That person abandons, as much as possible, giving harm to other people. Perhaps he can’t stop giving any harm at all, but even if he gives people less harm, that’s amazing. That brings world peace. It brings peace to his family and to so many beings.
For each person who comes to the course here, without talking about leaving an imprint by listening to teachings and practicing bodhicitta, the skies of merit you collect or by meditating on emptiness, where you can eliminate the root of samsara, cut the root of samsara—without talking about all that, or even about tantra, for quick enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times. Without talking about all that, by coming here, if you just reduce the harm you do to others, with your body, speech and mind, you give that much peace to numberless living beings. Then, by developing compassion, by praying, collecting merits, from life to life, from life to life, then you do not harm others, and you develop realizations, from life to life, and you are able to offer greater, deeper, and deeper benefit, like oceans of skies, up to becoming bodhisattva and achieving enlightenment. It’s unbelievable.
Then, you can become a buddha, and every second you enlighten numberless sentient beings, every second. With each beam emitting from the holy body, each beam liberates numberless sentient beings in every minute, every second, you see.
So here, Ani Karin, she’s the main person. She came from Sweden. Normally not that many people come from Sweden, but this time she came. She’s been the person for the courses here for so many years. How many years? Twenty years? Twenty-five years? Thirty? Anyway, she just lives here, not traveling much of the time, just doing her practice and leading meditations, whether it’s the one-month course or all the other ones. We’re here by kindness of the all people I mentioned before, but particularly Karin. I think she must have done a lot of prayers in the past to be able to benefit so many people from all over the world.
I think must be tea time now. Chai time.
OM AH HUM. [Tea offering]
It has been one monastery in Nepal that is known to the people to have a very good education, in learning extensive Buddhadharma, Buddhist philosophy, through debate. I also want to mention that there’s Anila Fran, who has also been here for many years. I don’t know how many, but for many years she has offered service to the monastery, and also the German nun. She has offered service for so many years. By so many people’s dedication, serving, helping people, I think Kopan therefore has been able to benefit to the world, the people coming from all over the different parts of the world, as I mentioned this morning, giving a Dharma education, causing them to achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering, then enlightenment.
What was my original thought that this came from? [Rinpoche laughs; group laughs]
For so many years Kopan Monastery has been able to benefit the world, and educate people in the Dharma, giving them the method, the path, to achieve the cessation of suffering and its causes, and to achieve full enlightenment, the great liberation.
I think that now there are maybe a hundred and sixty centers, mostly meditation centers, and then some hospices. There are different things, such as schools, but it’s mostly meditation centers, around a hundred and sixty or something.
All this great benefit for the different parts of the world, all this is by having met Zina, the first Western student, the Russian lady; it all started from that. It all started from there, but of course it started because of His Holiness’s kindness, particularly, and then Lama Yeshe’s kindness. If we hadn’t met the Russian lady, the first student, if that didn’t happen, maybe all this up to now wouldn’t have happened, spreading Dharma to the rest of the world, by traveling there and spreading Dharma to the world from Kopan, that wouldn’t have happened.
I’m just talking the evolution, you see, from where it started. I think it’s a great joy, an unbelievable joy. This is what happened, what we were able to do. I think this is the greatest joy in the life.
THE EDUCATION OF COMPASSION
Basically, the education of compassion, how to develop compassion for all the sentient beings, bodhicitta, so that one. Although there’s emptiness and many other things, I think one person’s bodhicitta becomes the cause of the happiness of all sentient beings, of numberless sentient beings. One person’s bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, cherishing other sentient beings, this becomes the source of peace and happiness of numberless sentient beings; of numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless sura beings, numberless asura beings, numberless intermediate state beings—not only numberless people in your country, not only those millions of people in your country, not only that.
You learn that from here, from all the people who came here, attending the course. That’s great. There are so many others benefits, but this is the best, the most amazing thing, this attitude to bring, to pacify, to free sentient beings from suffering and its causes, and then bring them all the happiness, including enlightenment, to bring the sentient beings to enlightenment.
So, even if there’s no actual realization, by generating this thought many times in one day, whatever actions you do, are dedicated for all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment, for all sentient beings to especially achieve enlightenment, that’s amazing! That is amazing, that is really amazing!
Now I’ll go back. I think I went for a walk for quite some time. Now I’m going back, I’m going back.
So, just a few things. What I was thinking before was, I thought that to give the education of compassion, the good heart, to even one person, then more and more people are educated this way; they put it in the practice, generating compassion for others, offering service to others. In this way, they naturally collect merit, so much good karma; their life becomes better, there is more meaning in their life, bringing peace and happiness to more people, to more and more people. Like this, it can be spread, such as to those countries. It makes life really, really happy, bringing so much inner peace and happiness, so much satisfaction. It makes life really happy, really fulfilling, unbelievable.
If we can educate people like that, then we do many good things for others, and by the way, as I mentioned before, all our actions become good karma, pure Dharma, even without thinking of our own happiness of this life. Happiness just comes by the way, naturally; all our needs come naturally. When we help others, when we fulfill other sentient beings’ wishes, as a result, naturally, even if we’re not looking for it, without attachment, our own happiness comes, all the needs for us just come naturally, our wishes get fulfilled. Our wishes for happiness get fulfilled naturally.
That’s very important to keep in the mind, very important to keep in the mind. This is how to have success in life, how to have success in life, how to have our wishes, our happiness fulfilled. How to do that is by fulfilling the wishes of others, the wishes of other sentient beings to have happiness.
If you can do that in daily life, if we can put effort into that, fulfilling the wishes of other sentient beings for happiness, the more we can do that, as I repeated many times, for many hundreds of thousands of lifetimes, our wishes get fulfilled, our wishes of happiness, from each act, because karma is expandable.
THE FOUR OUTLINES OF KARMA
The four outlines of karma are: karma is definite, karma is expandable, we can’t experience the result if we haven’t created the cause and when we create the cause the result can’t get lost. One small karma, one positive action, then result is happiness for many hundreds of lifetimes, many thousands of lifetimes because karma is expandable.
Then, the next one, if we create the karma we won’t experience the result, whether it’s happiness or suffering. And then, the karma which we have created, it never gets lost. No matter how many billions, or zillions, trillions of eons, it never gets lost, we definite experience the result in time. There are the four major outlines of karma.
Because of that, we just need to come to this conclusion. Like His Holiness the Dalai Lama says: if you want to be selfish, you should be intelligently selfish. If you want to live a selfish life, then live an intelligent selfish life, with intelligent selfishness. That means, if what we want is our own happiness, if we fulfill the wishes of other sentient beings, whether it’s animal or person, it doesn’t matter, each time we do that, that becomes a great source of fulfilling our own wishes, our own success in the life, now and in the future, for so many hundreds and thousands of lifetimes. This comes from each act of fulfilling happiness, giving happiness, causing happiness to each sentient being. That’s what should be kept in life; that’s what should be kept in the heart.
That means if we harm somebody, through jealousy or a garbage mind, if we interfere with somebody’s happiness, with their wishes, what happens is that then, for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes, we experience obstacles to our success. For hundreds of thousands of lifetimes, we experience obstacles to our life, when we fulfill our own wishes, our own happiness.
We can see, in life, there are many people who dedicate their life to others, they live their life for others. In daily life they live their life for others, they fulfill the wishes of so many people. Those people have so much happiness in life; they have such a calm mind. They are held in such high esteem. In the West, you talk about high esteem and low esteem. Not high steamer and low steamer rice, not the high steamer or the low steamer that cooks rice, this cooking pot, or momos. [Rinpoche laughs] High esteem and low esteem.
If we live our life like this every day, as I have mentioned already, if that is our motivation for life, to live our life for others, to free them from suffering, to obtain happiness for them, we bring them so much happiness, and wherever we are—East or West—our life is really full of so much inner happiness and peace. We are held in high esteem. Our actions become virtue, because from the heart we offer service to others. If we want high esteem, this is how we get it, by living in morality, by living as morally as possible, with a good heart. That’s how we can make high esteem. [Rinpoche laughs] Otherwise, there would be low esteem, depression and such things.
If we analyze it we can see this is very logical. It’s very logical—if we live our life always helping others, always seeking happiness for others, seeking happiness, obtaining happiness to others—if that is the main purpose, the main job of your life, then everybody will be happy with us, anywhere in the world, wherever we are. Everybody will be happy with us, everybody will naturally love us, and also all our wishes will naturally get fulfilled.
We have to remember this all the time, every day. Fulfilling our own wishes and fulfilling the wishes of happiness for other sentient beings, all has to come from creating the cause. First, attempting every day to fulfilling the wishes of other sentient beings’ happiness, that is so essential, that is so essential.
What I was saying, without talking about future lives, just in this life, a person who lives her life in that way is liked by everybody, her family, everybody. Everybody likes that person, everybody praises that person, everybody wants to help that person. She leads a very happy life, with nothing to regret, nothing to be depressed about.
The day death comes, her mind is extremely happy, so happy; she is totally confident. There is no suffering up to this moment and no suffering in the future. She will either be born in a pure land or have better rebirth, with better conditions to attain enlightenment. So, even if she doesn’t believe in reincarnation or karma, if she has lived with a sincere heart, always helping people and animals, then the day she dies she will be so happy. Usually in her life there will be no fear of death, and even when death comes it’s like changing dresses. Because she did good actions in this life, she will have a better rebirth in the next life. Even if she’s a non-believer, but she has good heart and compassion, there’s no fear, she is full of confidence. There’s continuity of happiness that your heart tells you.
Another person, however, who is also a non-believer, not believing in reincarnation or karma, but who has lived his life with many a lot of negative karma, harming himself and harming others, if he didn’t confess, if he didn’t purify, didn’t change his attitude, his heart tells him something bad is going to happen. I asked some people to tell me what their heart told them would happen when they die, even though intellectually they might not believe in reincarnation, and many told me they had some premonition, some feeling, of something very heavy happening, something terrible. I’ve met people like this, even though intellectually they didn’t believe in reincarnation or karma.
Therefore, we should not think that reincarnation is only for Buddhists or maybe Hindus but not for people of other religion. If we become a Buddhist and then believe in reincarnation, we have to suffering in our next life in the lower suffering realms, but if we don’t believe then we don’t have to suffer. It’s not like that.
I just give this example. A non-believer who doesn’t believe but has good compassion, who lives a sincere life with compassion, helping others, that person has so much happiness and no fear of death. But another non-believer who did a lot of negative karma, with a very selfish mind and a lot of anger, who created so much harm, even though intellectually he doesn’t believe, but his heart tells him something terrible is going to happen, and he feels insecure. So, understand that.
MORE ON TONG-LEN
I was talking about tong-len, but my talk got carried away. Sorry about that, I got carried out, like water running all over the place. When you do tong-len, it’s very good. When somebody is sick, there’s always a spirit connected. The main cause is that person’s negative karma, in the past. That karma is the main cause, along with delusion. But then there’s the condition, a spirit, another being, connected, harming that person. The proof of that the Buddha taught or revealed many methods, many practices, many meditations, prayers, to stop the harm from different spirits, for a person not to receive harm from those different spirits. There are many different prayers and mantras, many things the Buddha has revealed.
When we do that practice, that spirit is unable to do any harm and we get better. So those are conditions. The spirit is not the main cause of our sickness. If we think that’s the main cause, if we think that the main cause is outside, it’s mistaken, it’s a wrong concept. If we think the main cause of our sickness, whatever the problem, is external, it is not. The main cause is our own mind, the negative karma. Our negative thoughts, our delusion is the main cause, and because of that there is the outside condition, so by doing these pujas or these meditation prayers, or mantras, it helps us to recover by stopping the spirits from giving harm. That’s how we can recover, and that’s the proof. If it’s done properly, of course, with some qualification, then it can happen.
What I was saying was this. When we do tong-len, we give ourselves those harms the other person has, we give ourselves to the spirits on behalf of the person. In other words, the spirits are giving harm to this person, and then we give ourselves to the spirits, in the place of that person. We give ourselves to the spirits.
There is a puja where we make figures with dough. We make a figure of the person, and then you put some substances, if possible, even gold or silver, substances, enjoyments, food, and things around. There is actually only a little, but in the prayer, when we chant the mantra, it makes them to see cities, all the enjoyments actually appear to them like cities. The mantra has that power; they see unbelievable limitless enjoyments, and that makes them happy, so satisfied. We have to think that. As much as we can think like that, mantra has that much power, to give them all the things they need, like cities, an unbelievable, unbelievable number.
Then, we give them the Dharma, saying things like, “Do not engage in any harmful action, engage in perfect wholesome actions, subdue one’s own mind, this is the teaching of the Buddha.”
By planting chilies, hot substances, then what grows is hot, the result is hot. By planting sweet things, like raisins, the result is sweet. Similarly, if we harm others, we receive harm back; if we benefit others, then we receive help from others. That is the evolution of the karma, evolution of the action.
So, we give advice to them, giving them Dharma teachings. There’s a practice like this to help, but then here what I’m saying is, with tong-len, we give ourselves to the spirits for that person to recover from that sickness, to be free from suffering. We give ourselves to the spirits on behalf of that patient.
That can be very helpful. It’s called Lu. Instead of making this figure, we use ourselves as a Lu, to give to the spirits; we give that to the spirits on behalf of that patient.
It is the same, even if we are doing it while doing a massage or some healing, same. If we’re touching the body, it’s a very effective practice for our own mind, to develop a brave heart; it’s a bodhicitta practice, letting go of the I and cherishing others. That’s a very special practice.
It seems more beneficial to our own mind, from the merits or the wish-fulfilling body. The place become a pure land, there is no suffering, the trees are all wish-fulfilling trees, whatever sound we hear from the birds, from the trees, wind—everything—is all the sound of the Dharma, receiving teachings from the deity. It is unbelievable, unbelievable; it has all this beauty.
One way is manifesting the result or another, but what I find more beneficial is we ourselves become the pure land, we ourselves become the realization, we become all needs, rather than manifesting them, we ourselves become everything for them, food, nectar, we ourselves yourself become everything. I find that more beneficial than manifesting. We become everything there for their needs, like limitless skies, like the nighttime when we are on an airplane and we look down on a city and see all those lights. I mean, just the idea of numberless, even to give one sentient being all he needs. This way is more effective.
Panchen Shakya Shri [?] mentioned this. I don’t remember exactly the Tibetan, but the essence is, “May I experience the suffering of sentient beings on me, and may the oceans of samsaric suffering be dried out.” It means the numberless sentient beings. So, when we encounter problems, we pray, “May the suffering of sentient beings ripen on me,” and “May the oceans of suffering of samsara be dried out,” which means ceased.
I didn’t remember exactly but Shakya Shri also mentioned, “If you’re suffering, take the suffering of all. Take the suffering of all sentient beings: the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, the numberless animals, the numberless human beings, the suras, the asuras, the intermediate state beings—take everyone’s sufferings. “If you’re suffering, take the sufferings of all.” That means take it on ourselves, on the selfish mind.
In the tong-len practice, we give it all to the self-cherishing thought, to the selfish mind and it is totally destroyed, totally destroyed. What the selfish mind cherishes is the I, not the merely-labeled I that exists, but the I that is not merely labeled by mind, that one. Not the I that is merely labeled by the mind, not that one. What our selfish mind cherishes is the I not merely labeled by mind, the false I, the “real” I, in the sense of existing from its own side. With tong-len, this selfish mind is destroyed.
The object that the selfish mind cherishes is this “real” I, real in the sense that this is the term we ordinary, common people use all the time, the real I, which means the independent I, the independent I, the inherently-existent I, the I that exists from its own side.
This also becomes completely non-existent, becomes completely non-existent, then we meditate on that a little bit. Within tong-len, we then do the meditation on emptiness. While we are doing the bodhicitta practice, this way we get to meditate on emptiness as well. With a little bit of concentration, we one-pointedly concentrate on that, on the absence of the real I, the emptiness of that. If we can stay there a little bit, it’s very good.
When we encounter problems, sufferings, in the family, with our wife or husband, or with our children, whether it’s with a friend or with an enemy, this is your practice.
Then, by generating loving-kindness to others, we do the giving part.
So this is Panchen Shakya Shri’s quote: Do na kun nya—“When you suffer, take the suffering of all.” And then, Kyi ne dai wa so so na—“When you encounter happiness, dedicate your happiness to collect merits.” This is very, very important and extremely beneficial, so write down Panchen Shakya Shri’s tong-len prayer.
Kye ne dai wa so so na. Even just reciting these words, it’s very good, psychologically it’s very good, even just reciting these words while we’re walking on the road, while we’re doing our job. Even just reciting this is so good for the mind.
It’s very good, while we are reciting this, if some problem comes up. [Rinpoche laughs] Then, whether we practice or not is in our hands. We can choose whether we bring peace in our heart by applying this or whether we want suffering. We choose which one: we want the suffering and so we don’t practice but just follow the delusion, the self-cherishing thought, or we don’t want suffering and so we apply this and then we’re free from the selfish mind, we have peace.
So, Kye ne dai wa so so na. For example, when we stay in a five-star hotel, something like that, there’s so much comfort. Whether you spend so much money or somebody else pays for it, we give it away to all sentient beings, that five-star or six-star or seven-star hotel, whatever, that twenty-star hotel. All these comforts, so much comfort, of the very rich we give away to all sentient beings, we give away to all sentient beings.
Our happiness, our pleasure, all this, the rich house, we give away to all sentient beings, it’s so great, so good. Then, as I mentioned yesterday, we collect limitless skies of merit, limitless skies of merit, because we dedicate it to all sentient beings. There are so many things there, and we dedicate them all to the numberless sentient beings. That means you, with each of those possessions—whatever comforts, pleasures and so forth—we collect so many times limitless skies of merit, good luck. It’s amazing. We create numberless causes of happiness.
While we are eating food, enjoying the pleasure of eating food, if there’s some delicious food that we are enjoying, we make charity of that to all sentient beings.
I led the other day the three things of eating yoga. After we generate bodhicitta, we can do the eating yoga and offer charity to all sentient beings, and then make offerings to the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—those three things—to collect extensive merits. There are those three things we can do.
So this is the example. With Kye na dai wa so so na, when we are happy we dedicate our merits to others to collect extensive merits. Then, even the pleasure, by giving it away to sentient beings, we collect numberless merits, we collect the cause of happiness.
It means, whatever happens in our life, whatever problems, whatever happiness, whatever suffering, you see, whatever happens in our life, our life always becomes meaningful. It is never wasted, never empty; it is always so meaningful, so rich in merits, so beneficial. Every time, happiness or suffering, whatever we experience is made so beneficial, made so useful for all sentient beings.
After, Kye na dai wa so so na there’s Pen de nag wa ka wa sho. What it’s saying is, “May all sentient beings receive limitless skies of peace and happiness.” Maybe I’ll use a different word, panacea and happiness, okay? Panacea and happiness. Pen de nag wa ka wa sho, “May every sentient being receive skies of panacea and happiness.” Here the prayer itself looks like “May the sky be filled with peace and happiness.” That’s what it says. But anyway, the reality is that every sentient being receives peace and happiness, panacea and happiness, like limitless skies.
This prayer from Panchen Sakya Shri, this great holy being, is a very good instruction, from the tong-len prayer, to meditate on tong-len, because this tong-len is a very important subject. So, I’ve just mentioned here some of this.
It’s extremely good, if somebody is sick, if we do tong-len, it’s so good, that’s the best practice, if even we only do one mala, like that, not just one time, but we count, a half mala, one mala, like that, there is the possibility the other person will recover.
TRANSFORMING SUFFERING INTO HAPPINESS
Even if we get sick, in case we get sick, then we must rejoice. We should feel, “I really succeeded!” We really succeeded and we should feel great happiness. That means we’re actually able to experience all the sufferings of sentient beings. That’s something to rejoice in, to make us unbelievably happy.
I just want to tell you one thing about Geshe Lama Konchog. In the summertime, there was a lot of rain here, I think, after building the monastery. In the old time, I don’t remember, after come down the steps—not here, not this one, but before, in the old gompa, the one before this. There were steps, then a flat, cement patio, where we have the Tara statue.
So, there was a lot of rain and as Geshe Lama Konchok went down the stairs, he fell down very heavily on the cement. Immediately, he felt unbelievable happiness. [Group laughs] He felt unbelievable happiness, immediately. Why? Because he thought the obstacles to my life were experienced on him. He thought that the obstacles to my life were experienced on him, so he felt unbelievable happiness. He fell down so heavily but his mind was so happy, so happy.
This is an example of somebody who has trained well; it is the definition of somebody well trained in thought transformation. Immediately feeling incredible happiness means his mind is already trained in thought transformation, transforming suffering into happiness, transforming the problem into happiness. His mind is already trained in thought transformation. When it’s already trained like this, whatever problem happens, there is unbelievable happiness, because we are experiencing this for sentient beings, you understand, experiencing this for sentient beings. We get the opportunity to receive all sentient beings’ sufferings, and also because we cherish the sentient beings, we think they are so kind, we think they are most unbelievable, kind, precious ones. We already realize that, see that, so, when you experience suffering, this is sentient beings’ suffering, so we get unbelievable happiness.
There’s also the tong-len meditation we do with the breath, where when we breathe out, we give everything to sentient beings and when we breathe in, we take all their sufferings. So, this is related with the breath, to the wind and mind. I’m not talking about the wind like this, not talking about that wind, but the wind, the vehicle of the mind, one in essence with it but which functions differently. Wherever the mind focuses, the wind is also concentrated there, or it comes there. Therefore, the bodhicitta becomes stronger, the thought of cherishing others becomes stronger.
This meditation is to train the mind, but also to help in daily life. Doing this meditation is actually to encourage the mind in daily life, to actually get involved in taking other sentient beings’ problems and suffering on ourselves and giving our happiness to others.
So it’s to develop the mind, to encourage the mind, so that in daily life we actually do it. For example, a mistake was done by somebody else, but we get blamed. That’s one example. When you do that, we take that on ourselves, we don’t cause problems to that person to have happiness. Actually, the mistake was done by the other person, but the person complained to us, blamed us. We don’t sue that person; we don’t become mad, trying to prove we’re not to blame, spending hours explaining how we’re innocent. To protect that person from suffering and give him happiness, we take that blame on ourselves. That’s one example.
In the daily life, whatever the difficulty, if there’s something difficult, something to do, whatever it is we take it on ourselves so the other person doesn’t have those problems; he is free from problems, able to have happiness. If we are doing this tong-len meditation in our daily life we are actually able to that. That’s one thing.
It’s not only just meditation, but actually the reality in the life, then you stay, live your life selfishly, so it’s not like this. It’s actually to help in the daily life, so that.
I mentioned one thing just before. To achieve enlightenment we don’t need to study Buddhadharma extensively. I mentioned the three groups, depending on their level of intelligence: by studying the lam-rim, by studying the extensive scriptures and by studying the guru’s instructions, putting them into practice, and then, by that, achieving enlightenment. This is how the Kadampas happened. This is also an example for us, depending on our level of intelligence. If we have no opportunity, if we’re unable to study extensively, this is what we can do, the lam-rim or the guru’s instructions.
Basically, it’s very important to learn as much as possible, otherwise, we’ll make many mistakes, we’ll have a lot of ignorance. If we don’t understand we make many mistakes in the practice, and we won’t achieve realizations. Then, this is difficult, this is what happens, and we can’t benefit other sentient beings. Or maybe we’ll also have wrong ideas, maybe we’ll practice wrong ideas and teach wrong ideas to others. This can happen.
Therefore, we need to learn as much as possible. Even though, like others can, we can’t learn the extensive philosophy, but we need to learn as much as possible. That’s very important.
So, maybe, we’ll take a short break.
[Dedication and mandala offering]
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MOTIVATION (FOUR PEOPLE RECITE THE TARA PRAISES)
There’s the meditation session and then there’s the break time. That doesn’t mean it’s the break time from the Dharma. It’s not the break time from the Dharma. We can put it this way, there is the practice of the meditation session, and the practice of the break time. That way we’re not saying it’s a break from Dharma practice; it’s not saying it’s a holiday from Dharma practice, a holiday from virtue, a holiday from creating the cause of happiness, that the meditation session is for virtue and the other times are for nonvirtue, for creating the cause of suffering. It’s not saying that.
The practice of the meditation session and the practice of the break time, or, the yoga of the meditation session and the yoga of the break time. Whether it’s the yoga of the meditation session or the yoga of the break time from the meditation session, basically what it’s saying is the break time is the break from the sitting meditation. So, the break time is when we are not doing sitting meditation, but it’s still not a break from meditation.
In one day in our life, there are the sessions of meditation, the yoga of the session of meditation, and the yoga of the break time, the break from sitting meditation. Who attends the course, we have gone through this already, from the beginning of the lam-rim, during the gradual path of the lower capable being. Whether it’s session time or the break time, when we’re not in sitting meditation, whether it’s making our life meaningful or not all depends on the motivation. Whichever it is, session or the break time from the sitting meditation, what makes life meaningful or meaningless is the motivation.
This has been explained by Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, this great, enlightened Tibetan lama, who benefited sentient beings and teaching of the Buddha, like the sun shining in this world, who wrote many unbelievable scriptures, with his experience of both sutra and tantra.
This example he gives is always very good. If you didn’t understood it, then I will repeat again, also to remind others and for those who haven’t understood. It’s so important.
From this, you come to know what is Dharma, what is not Dharma, what is holy Dharma, what is worldly dharma, what is virtue, what is nonvirtue—what action of your body, speech, and mind becomes the cause of happiness and what becomes the cause of suffering.
His example is this. Four people recite the Tara prayer. Tara is a female enlightened being who is the embodiment of all the numberless buddhas’ holy actions, doing work for sentient beings, to grant temporary and ultimate happiness to all sentient beings, to bring them from happiness to happiness to liberation from samsara and enlightenment.
By praying like this, by practicing Tara, we are able to have attainment and pacify obstacles and to offer extensive benefit to the sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha, like what Lama Atisha accomplished. Even though that aspect of Lama Atisha has passed away, he is still benefiting us. The lam-rim teaching that we have been studying and meditating on is basically from Lama Atisha. It’s Lama Atisha’s teaching, that he put together based on the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, which revealed the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle, the Greater Vehicle—the Mahayana—and the Secret Mantra, Vajrayana.
The Lesser Vehicle teachings are to achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering for oneself, the blissful state of peace for oneself. To achieve enlightenment, we practice the Mahayana Paramitayana teaching, achieving enlightenment for sentient beings. Then, by practicing Mahayana Secret Mantra Vajrayana, we can achieve enlightenment even within one life, or in a brief lifetime of degenerate times. In that way, sentient beings don’t have to suffer for a long time, we are able to bring them to enlightenment so much quicker. All that is condensed in the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment, which comes from
Lama Atisha’s first lam-rim teaching, the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment.
So now, as Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained, there are four people reciting the Tara prayer, the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras. That’s a special prayer, praising to the twenty-one aspects of Tara. Each Tara has a different function or benefit for sentient beings.
Whenever we have any problem in life, whatever problem we have, there’s one Tara there that we can practice and can heal that problem. She can prevent that problem, whether it’s black magic, whether it’s danger, a court case or prison—anything. In the Twenty-one Taras there’s one Tara for pacifying all these problems. Whether it’s a shortage of life, if we have some life danger, there’s a long-life Tara that grants long life. To develop wisdom. If we are suffering from poverty, from external poverty, there’s a Tara who rescues us, who gives us wealth, who help us have external prosperity. So, it’s very common to recite the Twenty-one Taras prayer.
Here, four people recite the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras.
The first person recites the praise with the thought to achieve enlightenment, for himself to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings. That person’s action of reciting the prayer becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings.
The next person recites Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with the motivation, not to achieve enlightenment, but to achieve the blissful state of peace for himself, liberation from samsaric suffering and the cause, karma and delusion, for himself. That person’s actions of reciting the prayer don’t become the cause of enlightenment but it becomes the cause to achieve liberation for himself.
The third person recites Praises to the Twenty-one Taras not with the motivation to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, not with the motivation to achieve liberation from samsara, but to achieve happiness in future lives. That’s it. That third person’s action of reciting the prayer becomes only the cause to achieve happiness in future lives. It doesn’t become the cause to achieve enlightenment or liberation from samsara, only the cause of happiness in future lives. That means it is only the cause of samsaric happiness, the happiness of future lives, the happiness of future lives.
These three people’s actions of reciting the prayer, up to the third one, become Dharma; the great one, the middle one and then the lowest one, reciting the prayer with the motivation seeking the happiness of future lives. These actions become Dharma because of the motivation. Even the last motivation is still Dharma, even though it’s done with attachment, attachment—not attachment seeking the happiness of this life, but attachment seeking the happiness of future lives. It is still Dharma, that motivation is pure Dharma, because it is unstained by attachment clinging to this life.
The fourth person recites Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with the motivation only seeking the happiness of this life, just only happiness of this life. That’s what common people in the world do, all their activities, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, working—there’s no motivation to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, there’s no motivation to achieve liberation from samsara for oneself, there’s not even the motivation to seek the happiness of future lives. They do not understand the point, the existence of future lives, so the motivation is only seeking happiness of this life. This is how they spend their lives.
For the fourth one who recites Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with this motivation, seeking only the happiness of this life, the motivation is attachment clinging to this life, that is pure nonvirtue. Even if the action looks spiritual, it looks like Dharma, reciting the prayer, but the motivation is nothing special.
THIS PERFECT HUMAN REBIRTH IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN A WISH-FULFILLING JEWEL
An ordinary capable being’s motivation is nothing higher, nothing more special than the animals, than those other sentient beings, the animals. They live their lives with the motivation seeking happiness for this life, so there is nothing special in that.
Living the life with that motivation, nothing becomes anything more special than an animal’s life. Even animals expect to obtain the happiness of this life. Even in those very high towers in New York, the ants can climb up from bottom to get in the kitchen so they get into the honey or whatever it is
I think maybe I told the story of Kadampa Geshe Ben Gungyal but now I remember what I was trying to say. I told the elaborate story but I didn’t get to complete what I wanted to say. I remembered just now. I told this story before, but I didn’t remember until now that I did not finish. Maybe I’ll mention it tomorrow.
There is the story of Kadampa Geshe Kangyunpa [?] who smiled only three times in his life. Once, when he was meditating in the hermitage, some mice were making a lot of noise. One mouse was transporting a large piece of turquoise—what they use to make ornaments out of—across the floor, to a crack in the wall. The single mouse wasn’t able to push the stolen turquoise through the crack. So what happened was one mouse sat on another one and made a bridge and then the first mouse pushed the turquoise onto the back of the other mouse and so was able to lift it up and into the crack. They had to work so hard to do this. When the geshe saw this, he laughed. That was one of the three times he smiled.
Another story is about a child from Pembo who got this special food called too. It’s dry powdered cheese but with a lot of butter mixed with it. So this too, no, tree, in Tibetan it’s called tree,6 is regarded as very precious, very delicious, so this was a big thing for the boy. The family were eating theirs, but this child, even though this was just this one opportunity he would have to eat this, he didn’t eat it, but hid it behind his back in order to get another piece. Because this was the one time he would get to eat it because it was so precious, he hid it behind himself. But what happened was a dog came up behind him and completely ate it, so the boy never got a chance to taste it. He was so upset he cried. Anyway, this was another story that made the geshe laugh.
He used that example to show that we have this human rebirth which has eighteen precious qualities just this one time, so we must not waste it, not only every day of it, but even one hour, one minute, one second. We must make every second beneficial, to create the cause of the happiness of future lives, to achieve liberation from samsara and to achieve great liberation, full enlightenment. Even each second, we must make this human body highly meaningful like this by creating the cause to achieve enlightenment.
It’s an unbelievable loss, the greatest possible loss, if we don’t practice Dharma, creating the cause for future happiness, especially to achieve enlightenment, in that second, to achieve enlightenment. If we are not practicing bodhicitta, in order to achieve enlightenment, in every second, if that is missing, that’s the greatest loss. It’s a greater loss than having lost billions of dollars, having lost mountains of gold the size of this earth, a greater loss even than the whole sky filled with the wish-granting jewels. How many wish-granting jewels? Wish-granting jewels filling the whole sky.
This might be quite a new thing. The wheel-turning kings in the past, those who had a lot of merit, would go to the ocean and find these jewels. They were completely covered with mud, so they cleaned them in three ways, the mud, the last time with cotton or something, and then they put them on the top of the banner on the roof.
Then, on the fifteenth day of the month, the full moon day, if people prayed, whatever material possessions and external needs they prayed would be actualized. Whatever material needs they prayed they would get. Of course, you can’t stop rebirth in the lower realms and the jewels can’t help you achieve higher rebirth.
Therefore, even though among all material possessions the wish-granting jewel is the most valuable, compared to our human rebirth, it’s nothing. Compared to the value of our human rebirth, this wish-granting jewel is nothing, because we can use this precious human body to achieve liberation. We can achieve higher rebirth, then liberation from samsara, then ultimate happiness, full enlightenment, but from a wish-granting jewel, we can’t achieve that. So the perfect human rebirth is much more precious than this external wish-fulfilling jewel.
So, even within one second, if we didn’t get to practice Dharma, if we didn’t get to live in bodhicitta and so we are unable to create the cause of enlightenment it’s a greater loss than the sky filled with wish-granting jewels. This human body is most unbelievably precious.
So, anyway, this is introduction.
PERFECT HUMAN REBIRTH: HOLY DHARMA AND WORLDLY DHARMA
The fourth person who was reciting Praises to the Twenty-one Taras with the motivation seeking only the happiness of this life, that motivation is pure nonvirtue, pure nonvirtue. Because of the motivation that action is transformed into nonvirtue, and the result is only suffering. Even though the subject is a Dharma subject, the action of reciting the prayer does not become Dharma, it becomes cause of suffering.
This example is very good to understand. It is very beneficial, in everyday life. By listening to this, we can discriminate, we can have discerning wisdom, we can tell whether our action—doing meditation or reciting a prayer, whatever we’re doing—becomes Dharma or not. We know, we can tell, whether it’s going to become negative karma, whether it’s going to become holy Dharma, we can tell.
And we can also tell whether our action of eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing our job and so forth becomes Dharma or whether it becomes negative karma, we can tell.
If we don’t understand this, there’s great danger, there’s a great danger. We can think, “I’ve been meditating for thirty years, forty years, fifty years,” or “I’ve been doing this prayer for this many years,” and we have a kind of a pride. “I’ve done a lot of practice,” but actually, if we analyze, nothing becomes Dharma. We did it for so many years but nothing becomes Dharma, because the motivation is done only for the happiness of this life—to have a long life, to be healthy, to not get sick, to have success in business, all that—only the happiness of this life, so the motivation is attachment.
We have to understand, we have to have a long life so we can benefit others sentient beings. We need to have wealth so that we can benefit for other sentient beings. We have to stay healthy so that we can help other sentient beings. All that becomes Dharma. Because our motivation is to benefit other sentient beings, that becomes very pure Dharma, very pure Dharma, unstained by the self-cherishing thought.
We’re trying to have a long life in order to benefit other sentient beings; we’re trying to have wealth so that we can help other people who need wealth, who need material help. To those who need money, we give money; to those who need a house, we give a house. That’s a very pure motivation.
We need to know the different levels of motivation to become Dharma, what make the action become Dharma. We need to know the clear distinction: what is Dharma, what is not Dharma; what is holy Dharma, what is worldly Dharma; what is virtue, what is nonvirtue. This is all due to different motivation. We can discover if it’s Dharma or not by the motivation, not from the action itself but from the motivation, by examining the motivation. Only then can we tell.
It’s the same with normal actions. Not only doing prayers and meditation, but eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing many hours of job, if this is done with a motivation to achieve enlightenment, then all these activities we are doing become the cause of enlightenment. That means they become the cause of happiness of other sentient beings. If these actions of eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing a job and so forth are all done with the motivation to achieve the blissful state of peace for oneself, liberation from samsara, then they become the cause to achieve that. If they are done with the motivation seeking the happiness of future lives, then they become the cause for the happiness of future lives. They don’t become negative karma.
But if all these activities are done with a motivation seeking only the happiness of this life, if we live the whole life from birth to death with this motivation, seeking only the happiness of this life, then eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, even doing prayers and meditation, whatever, everything becomes negative karma, everything becomes negative karma. Even meditating, even the actions of meditating, of reciting prayers, those actions, as I mentioned before, everything becomes the cause of suffering, nothing becomes cause of happiness.
Even though by chanting mantra, the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras, even though it can heal our sicknesses, even though it causes a long life, or brings wealth in this life or whatever, even though they help these things, it doesn’t become Dharma. All this is negative karma, because it’s done with the motivation of attachment, only seeking happiness in this life. It is pure nonvirtue, pure nonvirtue. If we examine it we can see it doesn’t bring peace in our heart. Its effect is to disturb us; there is no peace in our heart. We can tell from that.
This is extremely important. It is the very, very, very first thing to be known if we are going to practice Dharma. This is the very first thing to be known, to discover, otherwise, we can cheat our life, we can cheat our whole life. We think we can do our meditation, we have been practicing Dharma for so many years, we think we’re good but there’s a great danger, without knowing this point, without knowing the clear definition of Dharma. If it’s not Dharma, we’ve cheated ourselves our whole life, not only making it meaningless and empty, but using it to create only negative karma, the cause of the lower realms—not only the cause of problems in the human realm in the future, but the cause of the lower realms, the most unbearable sufferings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MINDFULNESS
It becomes so important to always practice mindfulness in our daily life and always watch our mind, our motivation to always keep in virtue and to not allow ourselves to go under the delusions.
There’s a quotation from Shantideva,
Whether something becomes virtue or nonvirtue depends on the motivation, so therefore you always need to attend to the mind, to keep the mind in virtue.
In Letter to a Friend, Nagarjuna says,
There isn’t much to say, who are free from suffering? Subduing your heart is the essential instruction to benefit beings. The Buddha said this mind is the root of the Dharma.
In Bodhicaryavatara, the great bodhisattva says,
If you don’t protect your mind, you won’t be able to protect your vow. If you don’t protect your mind, then you cannot protect your morality, your vow.
There might be better English but this is the essence. This last part is very important, it is something to remember in daily life, so it’s very useful to write down this, to make note of this and put it in your room. I mean, not only in your meditation room but even in different parts of the house, for you to remember.
Sem kyi lang bo yen da rai. What it is saying is that, “If you let go of the elephant mind.” It means if we don’t protect the mind, which is like an elephant, the elephant of the mind, if we don’t protect it, if we don’t take care with it, whatever it does, wherever it goes, whatever it does, there’s danger, like an elephant, harming us and harming others, causing difficulties, troubles. This is the same with the mind. If we don’t take care of the mind, if we let it go freely, it can cause us to be reborn in the hot hells, in the lowest hot hell which is inexhaustible hell realm.
Nye wan na me refers to the heaviest in samsara, and for the longest time. The length of life that we have to experience is one intermediate eon, and the suffering is the heaviest in samsara. If we don’t take care of the mind, if we let it go, it creates negative karma, which can cause us to reincarnate in the nye wan nag me, the inexhaustible hot hell realm. That harm can happen to us. So, here he uses the elephant as example of the mind.
The next line says lang chen...[Tib]
An untamed elephant that is unsubdued and crazy, that becomes crazy, cannot cause you to be born in the lowest hot hell, which has the heaviest suffering and the longest time. With the rope of continual remembrance tied fast to the elephant of the mind, you can always keep the mind in virtue.
Then next line says Chik pa tan che [?]...[Tib]
This way, you’ll be free from all fears and all dangers, and all the virtue will come in your hand.
So that means all the realizations, all the virtuous thoughts will arise, when we keep our mind in virtue. Then, when we do walking, we do sitting, we do sleeping, we do our job—so many things, whatever we do—it all becomes Dharma. Even doing business becomes Dharma. All activities—whatever we do with the body, speech, and mind—become Dharma. Ge wa tam che [?]...[Tib] All the virtue comes in our hand, and then that includes all the realizations.
One way to think is, all the activities, whatever we do with the body, speech, and mind, all the eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing our job, everything becomes virtue. And the other thing is that all the realizations come, up to enlightenment. From guru devotion, and realizing the perfect human rebirth, all graduated path of the lower capable being, the middle capable being and the higher capable being, up to enlightenment, everything comes.
All virtue comes in our hand, and all the fears and dangers of the lower realms, the sufferings of the devas, of the human beings, all the suffering of samsara, even getting caught into the lower nirvana for so many eons, none of that happens, we are free from that, and then we enter the Mahayana path and achieve enlightenment. We are not only free from disturbing thought obscurations, but also free from even the subtle defilements, and we achieve enlightenment. We attain the whole path to enlightenment.
THE YOGA OF GOING TO SLEEP
I’ll just mention this. For example, when you go to bed, when you go to sleep. This is what you are about to do when you get back to your room. Or maybe here! [Group laughs] Maybe, if I continue a little bit, then maybe here! [Rinpoche laughs] Sleeping yoga.
It is mentioned by Lama Tsongkhapa, his advice, when you go to bed, first wash your feet. I think washing the feet helps the mind to be fresh, to be not heavy, not sleepy, where you can’t wake up. Like that, the mind is clearer.
Then, you go to bed, with the position like Buddha explained, when the Buddha was passing away, on the right side in the position of lion laying down. Not sleeping flat like this on the bed. Then your two legs stretched out, the left leg put on the right, laying down in the position of a snow lion.
It is said, with the method, you wake up easily, so as to not waste your life, to not have a very drowsy, very heavy sleep, kind of like that, and it is very easy to wake up, to do the practice.
When you go to bed, you think of light. Generate virtuous thoughts until you fall asleep, generate virtuous thoughts in meditation, keep the mind in that, in the meditation of virtuous thoughts.
Then also, when you’re about to fall sleep, have to have the intention, the motivation, not to be overwhelmed by sleep, and without the delay of the time, getting up. That is mentioned that in the teachings. It is also mentioned in the teachings, there are three parts of the night: the upper part of the night, the middle part of the night and the lower part of the night. So, for those two parts of the night, practice Dharma, virtue, don’t sleep, and in the middle part of the night, then sleep. That also helps with your health situation. In the early part of the night, practice Dharma, and also in the lower part of the night, in the early morning, get up and do practice, then in the middle part sleep. That way, you don’t waste your life.
For example, I’m not making this definite, I’m just using an example, say you want to get up at four o’clock to begin your practice, to not be overwhelmed by sleep, to be able to get up at that time in the early morning to begin the practice, you have to have that kind of motivation, to wake up at that time, to have that kind of energy, of inspiration.
That’s what mentioned in the lam-rim teachings. It’s said that it should be like a deer living in the forest. It doesn’t have a house and there are many enemies, so when it sleeps it is a very light sleep, it keeps its ears up. It is a very light sleep because it has to be careful. It’s explained in the teachings like that. It means to not waste your life, to get up early in the morning to be able to begin your practice.
Because you went to bed remembering the Buddha’s position, even when you go to bed, you don’t forget the Buddha. That helps. When you do that every night, that helps when you die. One day when you are in the situation where you suddenly die, or even if you are gradually dying, because you have done this all the time, it is easy to remember the Buddha at that time, and you don’t get reborn in lower realms. You’re totally safe if you remember the Buddha at that time. The mind is always in virtue, it is never separated from virtue, from Dharma, so it helps with that.
Then also, the sleep doesn’t become very heavy, so you’re not completely covered by heavy sleep, unable to get up early in the morning, then be unable to practice. Then, a week goes, a month goes, a year goes, and you waste your whole life totally. This precious human body only happens once and it gets totally wasted. So this helps you to not waste your life.
Then, if you sleep like this, not separating from virtuous thoughts, not being possessed by heavy sleep, in your dreams you don’t dream of engaging in negative karma, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, all these examples, engaging in many negative karmas in your dreams. It doesn’t happen.
And then, even during sleep you are able to practice virtue, even in your dreams you practice virtue. Those yogis, those people who are practicing tantra, practicing what is called “utilizing ignorance in the path to enlightenment,” for them sleeping becomes a meditation, and dreams become a meditation. They meditate on the tantric path, whatever the person’s level of mind is.
So, I think I’ll stop there. I won’t continue with that.
So, think, “May sentient beings achieve a state of dharmakaya, in sleep, dedicate that sentient beings achieve the state of dharmakaya.”
So, go to sleep with the mind in a virtuous thought, bodhicitta, compassion to sentient beings, loving-kindness, with the meditation in emptiness. Do that until you fall asleep.
So you can generate, at the beginning, you can generate the motivation, bodhicitta, “The purpose of my life is to benefit for sentient beings, free them from all the suffering causes, and bring them to enlightenment, therefore, I must achieve enlightenment, therefore I’m going to practice the sleeping yoga, continue like that, sleeping yoga.”
The actual yoga is that. In tantric practice, there is sleeping in the to-men [?] sleeping in the state of non-creativity and sleeping in the state of creativity. Creativity is yourself, the mandala, then the deity, the practice of the deity, thinking with devotion, think like that. And the sleeping yoga in state of non-creativity is basically emptiness, but it’s Highest Yoga Tantra. Then, of course, there’s experiences to develop besides emptiness, with the emptiness.
Then, there is also rising up from the state of creativity, du-jen [?] [Tib], or rising up from the state of non-creativity. Depending on how you went to bed, you also rise up in that. That’s according to tantra. So, you visualize the virtuous friend there, then with devotion you go to sleep, with bodhicitta and emptiness.
Anyway, at the beginning, generate the motivation of bodhicitta and think, “Therefore, I am going to do the yoga of sleeping.” That way, however many hours you sleep, it becomes Dharma, virtue.
The other thing is you can take sleeping as sort of like a medicine, for your health, in order to benefit for sentient beings, in order to serve sentient beings. You can think also like that. Sleep is something that you need for your body and mind, but it is not for your own happiness, it is to benefit all sentient beings. Then you collect extensive merits.
I’ll continue tomorrow. I’ll just stop there.
Now, those who are taking refuge, Ven. Neil has already gone through those meditations, the explanations, so just to go over the outline to remind you or for those who haven’t heard.
REFUGE IS THE DOOR TO BUDDHADHARMA
The definition of whether we have entered the Buddhadharma or not is not defined by our having an intellectual understanding; it’s not defined by our having intellectual understanding.
Even if we can explain by heart the entire teachings of the Buddha, all 84,000 teachings, all the Kangyur, and all commentaries of the pandits, all the Tengyur, those yogis, pandits, the great Indian scholars, those Six Ornaments, all those commentaries; then there are commentaries by great Tibetan scholars, highly attained beings like Lama Tsongkhapa and so forth. Even if we know all those teachings by heart, you can explain them, if we don’t have refuge in the mind, we are not an inner being, we haven’t entered the Buddhadharma. Even though we can explain them so well, we know all those teachings by heart, our mind becomes like a library, if we don’t have refuge in our heart we have not entered the Buddhadharma, we’re outside, we haven’t entered the Buddhadharma.
Whether we have entered the Buddhadharma or not is defined by refuge, whether we have refuge in our heart or not. So, it becomes extremely important.
By having refuge in our heart we enter into the Buddhadharma. The Hinayana refuge is if our mind is qualified by the two cause of refuge: the useful fear of samsara and respect for the Three Jewels. By discovering how samsara is in the nature of suffering, the path of the continuity of the contaminated aggregates, the contaminated seed of delusion, the imprint, and caused by karma and delusion. This is direct from Kyabje Denmo Locho Rinpoche, or some other teachings, the path, maybe gyu gyun [?] [Tib], the continuity of birth of the contaminated aggregates.
What is contaminated? Contaminated is the seed of delusion, and caused by karma and delusion, caused by impure cause, karma and delusion, wrong concepts. That is samsara, cyclic existence.
We need to understand that our circling existence is totally in the nature of suffering. With wisdom, we realize that this is only in the nature of suffering, and then useful fear arises, the fear of our samsara that makes us engage in the path, to study and reflect, to meditate on the path. It makes us actualize the path, the five paths to liberation, especially the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. Then we’re able to cease the defilements, the disturbing thought obscurations, including the cause, and we achieve total liberation, everlasting happiness. That’s why I say this fear is useful, this fear of our own samsara.
That’s one cause, our mind qualified in that. Then, the other one is faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, understanding that they have the qualities, the power to guide us, to liberate us from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes. With these two causes, when our mind is qualified with these two causes, totally relying upon the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, that’s going for refuge. This mental factor is refuge.
If we have this refuge in our heart, we enter into the Buddhadharma; we become an inner being, not an outer being.
Having refuge in your heart is the foundation for the pratimoksha vows, which allows us to achieve liberation from samsara. Then, we achieve perfect meditation, shamatha, calm abiding, and that allows us to achieve the great insight, wisdom. Then we are able to actualize the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, cease the defilements and achieve the sorrowless state, liberation.
Having refuge in the heart, the foundation for the pratimoksha vows, then the foundation for the bodhisattva vows, to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, and the foundation for the tantric vows, to quickly achieve enlightenment, so that we can quickly liberate and enlighten sentient beings.
Then, it purifies all the negative karmas. By having refuge in the heart, we purify all the negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths. We collect extensive merits, unimaginable merits. I’m not going to talk about more details just to take refuge.
We collect extensive merits, unbelievable merits, every day, so many times every day, so many times, so easily; it’s amazing. While we’re eating, while we are doing activities, we immediately collect extensive merits. And we don’t get harmed by human beings or spirits. Because of the refuge we have in our heart, we cannot be harmed.
THE THIEF WHO HAS REFUGE BEATEN INTO HIM
There’s a very common story. In Tibet, a thief went to a hermitage and looked through a window, a small hole in the wall. Many meditators live in mud dwellings they dig into the mountain and then they get covered by wall, only leaving one small hole where people can pass food through. The thief looked through the small hole into the meditation room and saw a shirt made of special material called burri. It’s wool—[student speaks] silk?—silk, hanging there in the room.
The thief could see it through the hole for passing food through, and he wanted to steal it, so he stretched his hand out through the hole to take it. But the meditator saw this and he grabbed the thief’s hands and tied them with robes.
Then he came out and he beat the thief with a pole, saying, Lama la kyab su chi wo, “I go for refuge to the Guru, I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the Dharma, I go for refuge to the Sangha.” Each time he said a line he hit the thief very heavily—“I go for refuge to the Guru, I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the Dharma, I go for refuge to the Sangha.” It was very painful.
So, the thief didn’t get to steal this shirt of special material. He went down the hill and it was near dusk, just on sunset. There was a bridge there and at nighttime, so many spirits usually went to the area around the bridge. What happened was it became dark, and so he stayed under the bridge, where there were some rocks or something, because it became dark.
He was so scared that he said the refuge lines over and over again. Actually, when the meditator beat him, maybe he only said the three-line refuge, he didn’t say the Guru line, I don’t remember. So Sang gyä kyab su chi wo, Cho kyab su chi wo, Gen den kyab su chi wo, I go for refuge to Buddha, I go for refuge to the Dharma, I go for refuge to the Sangha.
Anyway, he thought, “It’s so good there were only three refuges, otherwise I’ll be finished. It’s good there’s only three and no more, or else I’ll be beaten so much more.”
So, he spent the night under the bridge, chanting this. He kept chanting the verse he heard while he was being beaten, that the meditator was repeating, he kept chanting that. What happened that night, usually there’s crowds of spirits on the bridge, but nothing happened. No spirits went there that night because he was chanting, he was reciting the refuge lines.
This is just one example; there are so many stories. So, by having refuge, we don’t receive harm from human beings and from non-human beings, from spirits and all our wishes are fulfilled. By having refuge, all our wishes are fulfilled.
Because we’re praying to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we make offerings, and there are so many things involved, constantly, every day, all the time, by having refuge in our heart, all the time we collect merit, every time we drink or eat during our life. Therefore, I think, you can understand, we collect so much good karma, unbelievable karma. All our wishes become true, that happens as a result. We don’t get reborn in the lower realms, and we achieve enlightenment quickly, we become enlightened.
This is just the outline, just to get an idea of how so powerful this is.
EVEN REFUGE IN ONE REFUGE OBJECT SAVES FROM THE LOWER REALMS
To not get reborn in the lower realms, we don’t have to rely on all three of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Even refuge in one can save us.
For example, if we have learned some mantra in our life, even one mantra, so when you remember, when you are dying, if you remember it, such as TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA, [Rinpoche snaps his fingers], it’s a hundred percent sure we don’t get reborn in the lower realms. If we remember TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA when we are dying we are totally saved. Or if we remember the Heart Sutra we are saved. I’m just using as an example.
If we remember a member of the Sangha, a monk or nun, somebody we have devotion to, we’ll never get reborn in the lower realms, we’re totally saved from this heaviest suffering, how many billions, zillions, billions, zillions of eons, no matter how long, depending on our karma we would have had to suffer, we don’t have to do that.
Then, there’s no question about remembering the Buddha, no question. So even one refuge object, if we remember at the time of death, we are saved.
I was using this as an example, I was saying that. You have all the scientific knowledge, all the Western science you have studied for many years, but with all this knowledge, when you are dying there’s no connection. All that education and there’s no connection to your death, there’s nothing it can do to help you when you are dying, at this most critical time in your life. There’s nothing to get benefit from that, there’s no connection. Scientific education is all about external phenomena, so here, at the most critical time of your life, when you are dying, it has nothing to offer you that is of any benefit. It can’t bring you happiness; it can’t save you from the lower realms. There’s nothing, you see.
On the other hand, remembering TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA or OM MANI PADME HUM—[Rinpoche snaps his fingers] a hundred percent you can be saved from the lower realms, even if you don’t know the meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM, it makes a huge difference. That, or remembering a monk or nun for whom you have devotion, that will completely save you.
ONLY BUDDHISM RESCUES FROM PERVASIVE COMPOUNDING SUFFERING
Why we take refuge with the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—all three—is because it is not just the lower realms we need to be liberated from, but the oceans of samsaric suffering, the whole of samsara. We need to be liberated from the karma and delusion. Put it this way, we need to be liberated not only from suffering of suffering, or from suffering of change—all the temporary samsaric pleasure which is in the nature of suffering—not only that, we need to be liberated from the pervasive compounding suffering, from where those two other sufferings arise, like water bubbles coming, waves coming from the water or the ocean.
That is the very special thing about Buddhism. Everybody wants to be liberated from the suffering of suffering. Even animals can recognize when they’re hot and cold, and all this hunger, thirst, or if somebody is going to beat them. All that is unbearable so animals run away, because they know the suffering of suffering is unbearable.
Then, the suffering of change—temporary samsaric pleasures—even through Hindu practices, by seeing the desire realm pleasures and form realm pleasures as only in the nature of suffering, people can achieve the formless realm. And they can even see all the three realms in the nature of suffering except for the highest level of the formless realm. For them, that is happiness. That’s the problem. Because of that, again they have to reincarnate in the lower realms continuously.
Those two sufferings come from the basis, pervasive compounding suffering. Ceasing pervasive compounding suffering, that is what’s special about Buddhism. Ceasing the other two is not unique to Buddhism but this one is special only to Buddhism. It is only mentioned, explained, in Buddhist teachings how to get rid of this third suffering, how to be liberated from this.
To attain the liberation we are looking, we should achieve this one, pervasive compounded suffering. This is what we need to look for. This is what liberation means. Then, we are liberated forever from those other two sufferings.
His Holiness says this is created by karma and delusion, so it’s under the control of karma and delusion—this is the meaning of “pervasive.” The second meaning of “pervasive” is what is mentioned in the lam-rim texts, these aggregates are contaminated seed of delusions. This is pervasive. The desire realm, the form realm and the formless realm are all pervaded with this suffering, so that is why it’s called pervasive suffering.
Now, compounding in pervasive compounding suffering, the second one, because the aggregates are contaminated with the seed of delusion, we react negatively to what we experience. Because this seed is there, when we don’t meditate in our daily life on the lam-rim—there’s all the tantras but also, even in the lam-rim, there’s bodhicitta, renunciation, emptiness—just to give you an example, when we don’t meditate, when our mind is not in that realization, what happens is when we’re not watching our mind, when we’re not protecting our mind, we’re not protecting our life, we see beautiful, ugly or indifferent objects and attachment, anger or ignorance arises to them.
Whatever karma we create in connection with that object leaves a karmic imprint on the mind, and that throws us into a future rebirth. So that’s the meaning of compounded.
Even though we don’t have any mental problems manifesting at the moment—depression, unhappiness, the suffering of loneliness, whatever—because the seed is there, it compounds the mental problems. Even there’s no such thing now, sooner or later, all the physical and mental problems will arise, they’re compounded, otherwise, it compounds the future lives’ sufferings.
Because of the seed, these aggregates compound the suffering in this life and in future lives. That is pervasive compounding suffering. This is a special term in Buddhism. As I mentioned, it’s in no other religion. Only if we are liberated from this, we’re liberated. That’s the meaning of liberation, otherwise we’re not. There are verses by Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen that explain this. His Holiness often quotes them, but I don’t remember.
So, here, the reason we are taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is to be liberated from pervasive compounding suffering, forever. If we are able to cease this, then it’s impossible to experience suffering, impossible to experience suffering; we are free forever from suffering. We achieve this on the mental continuum.
Therefore, to be able to liberate other sentient beings, we need to be liberated. If we want to liberate other sentient beings, if we want to help other sentient beings, first we need to be liberated from this suffering. For that we need the root, the fundamental method: taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Then, of course, as I mentioned, the real purpose of life is to liberate other sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment, therefore, for that purpose, we take refuge. Then, that meditation becomes the Mahayana refuge.
So, anyway, the motivation is this.
In the texts on granting refuge, enlightenment is mentioned about, even though bodhicitta doesn’t come in because this is the Lesser Vehicle, but enlightenment is mentioned in that ceremony prayer, in the motivation.
Therefore, those who are taking refuge, first make three prostrations to the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha statue—there is also the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha statue there. Think it’s the actual living Shakyamuni Buddha. Stand up and make three prostrations.
[Students prepare for taking refuge]
Three prostrations, not backside. I’m joking.
[Pause while students prostrate]
Then, make three prostrations to the lama giving refuge.
The first ones are to Shakyamuni Buddha and then to the lama who gives refuge. Make three prostrations. Perhaps not the llama from Africa, the animal llama. [Group laughs]
Now, kneel down if you can, like taking the eight Mahayana precepts. If you can’t do that, you can relax down, okay.
Then think, “If I don’t get liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering this time, then I will have to experience suffering of samsara endlessly. I must achieve enlightenment, the great liberation, so therefore, I go for refuge to Buddha, the founder of the refuge, and I go for refuge to the Dharma, as the actual refuge, and the Sangha as the ones who help me to actualize the refuge within myself.
Those who are taking refuge, put your hands together like this—not like this, but like this—for offering a wish-granting jewel, at your heart. Then, please repeat the prayer.
[Rinpoche chants in Tibetan. The students repeat.]
With da ming, please mention your name, da means “I,” then mention your name, “what is called I, such and such, go for refuge to the Buddha,” okay, the sublime one among those who have two legs, the sublime one of the human beings.
Anyway, think “I’m going for refuge to the Buddha.” With “I go for refuge” think of the meaning of the Buddha, sang gyä, in Tibetan. Sang means eliminating all the gross and subtle mistakes of the mind, and gyä means complete all the qualities of realizations, so sang gyä. Sang is eliminated, and gyä is fully developed. All the mistakes, all the obscurations are gone, sang, and all the qualities are fully developed, gyä—sang gyä.
With your whole heart rely upon that.
Da, then you mention your name, okay
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
What it’s saying, from now on until death time.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
I’m going for refuge to the Buddha.
The Sublime One, the cessation of the attachment. I think the attachment is the big problem. Normally we aren’t angry all the time, day and night, our whole life. We get angry sometimes. I mean, some people may be angry for weeks and months, but that’s not everybody. The motivation is with the attachment. That’s the biggest problem we suffer from. It has basically to do with attachment in our life, and attachment becomes the main cause of samsara, something that continuously arises. We live our life with that. I think that’s why it only mentions attachment, it doesn’t mention ignorance, anger and other delusions. I think Buddha mentions seeing the nature of our life, the cessation of attachment, the cessation of the delusions, and karma, that is cessation and also the true path; that is going for refuge.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
So, totally rely upon the Dharma.
The next one is taking refuge in the Sangha, in Tibetan ge-dün. Ge refers to the liberation, dün means having the wish, seeking the liberation. So, one who has that intention is called Sangha. Living in the vows, that’s called “abandoning the lay signs” where monks wear the signs and marks of renunciation of the household life, so that’s Sangha, gelong or getsul, this ge. Gelong means “virtuous beggar” which is liberation.
We totally rely upon the Sangha. Somebody who has obtained the absolute Dharma is the absolute Sangha. The conventional Sangha refers to four fully ordained nuns or monks, those living purely in full ordination, but not having achieved the absolute Dharma, the true path, the true cessation of suffering. Therefore, for ordinary Sangha there has to be four members, then they have a Sangha—it can’t just be one. Whoever has the realization of the true cessation of the suffering, the true path, is absolute Sangha, whether they are on the Lesser Vehicle path or the Mahayana path, whether the Mahayana true path or Hinayana true path. The absolute Sangha can even be a lay person, any sentient being who has that realization, absolute Dharma, and it doesn’t have to be four, it can be one. So, you rely upon the Sangha completely, those who help you to actualize the Dharma. We have refuge in our heart, okay.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
You went over four results of karma? Okay. Ven. Neil says he went over the four results of the karma, of negative karma and good karma, so I guess you should already have an idea of karma. Each completed negative karma—killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lies and so forth—each completed negative karma has four suffering results. The ripening aspect is rebirth in the lower realms, with unbelievable suffering. Then, the three other aspects we experience in the human realm, the possessed result is to do with the place, so many problems with the place. The possessed result of each negative karma is to do with the place, all the sufferings, all the problems so harmful to the life, so many problems.
Or we’re born in a country where there’s lots of droughts all the time, with so much rain coming and floods that wash away the crops. So, then there’s no food. That’s a possessed result of stealing, to do with the place. Also where there are a lot of insects that harm us or people who have contagious diseases, places like that, dirty, unhealthy.
Then experiencing the result similar to the cause: how we harmed to others, we experience that suffering from others, what we did to others. As I mentioned yesterday, due to our delusions, we harm others, and now, as a result, in this life we receive harm from them.
As I mentioned yesterday, actually there’s no enemy. The only enemy is delusion. I remember, I mentioned yesterday, enemies are creation of our delusions, caused by these delusions, so therefore, it doesn’t make sense to get angry with that or it doesn’t make sense to get attached to whatever it is. So, experiencing the result similar to the cause, those negative karmas.
Then there’s creating the result similar to the cause. We create those negative karmas, and when after some time we are born again as a human being through some other good karma we created, we do those same negative karmas again—killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, taking alcohol, all these things, whatever—due to our past habit, due to the imprints.
When we create the result similar to the cause, that again puts these four suffering results, it again puts these four suffering results, okay. One of those suffering results is to create the result similar to the cause, so then that produces another four sufferings, then that produces another creating the result similar to the cause, and that produces another four sufferings. In this way, creating the result similar to the cause makes the suffering of samsara endless.
This result of this one negative karma—whether it’s killing, sexual misconduct, telling lies or whatever—this one negative karma produces four suffering results, one of which is creating the result similar to the cause, which means we will kill or lie again in a future life, and that produces the four suffering results again and again, and again and again. So, it makes suffering endless. If we don’t purify the negative karma, if we don’t do anything, then, this one negative karma, this one negative karma, makes us to experience endless suffering. That one is so important. This one negative karma, causes us endless suffering in samsara. That’s so important.
Therefore now, we must live in morality, abstaining from telling lies, abstaining from killing—even just one, abstaining from killing—abstaining from sexual misconduct, whatever it is, stopping creating result similar to the cause, and creating virtue, which produces another four results, happiness. That way, creating virtue has four happy results, and one is creating the cause similar to the result, and that means endless happiness.
Depending with what motivation we take the vow, if there’s renunciation, we achieve liberation, if it’s bodhicitta, we achieve enlightenment. So, it has all these. Then, we enlighten all sentient beings.
The Buddha is so compassionate to us sentient beings so he gave us many choices. If you can’t take any of the five lay vows, but you can take only refuge vow, then you think, “I’m only going to take the refuge vow, the upasika vow.”
But if, from the five lay vows, you’re taking any of them or all the five, then you think. “I’m going to take one lay vow,” or two or three or four lay upasika vows, or five upasika lay vows. Then, like that, you’re called upasika.
Even if you only take one vow, and hold it with complete morality, and you attain the four result of happiness, wow! You have endless happiness. That’s amazing, just amazing! Therefore, it’s soooo important, from the five lay vows, to take as many as possible, and at least one, it’s so essential. But if you cannot do that, then still you can just take refuge, upasika, only refuge.
Now, think whichever number of vows you are taking, think in your heart, and you decide, okay.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
So if it’s complete one then you also gen-yin; if it’s not complete, then you think of the number of vows.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Da, please say your name.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Rely completely to Buddha.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Taking refuge with Dharma and Sangha.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Please repeat the third time. At the end of the third reputation, when I say gen-yin so loudly then at that time you, without a wandering mind, you must generate the very strong thought that you have received the vow. If it’s only refuge, you have received the refuge vow, but if it’s any number of vows you have taken, the upasika one vow, two vows, three vows, whatever it is, four, or five, you must think you have received that number of vows, you must generate that strong thought. If you don’t do that, then you don’t receive the upasika vows or refuge.
Then, I become your lo-pön, the leader, leading the disciple on the path to liberation. That’s the meaning of lo-pön. So, you make that Dharma connection. If you have made that Dharma connection before, then it’s already done. Now here, when you take refuge and get the vows, I become your lo-pön.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Da, please repeat your name.
Taking refuge with Buddha, now Dharma,
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Without a wandering mind, you must generate the strong thought that you have received, either only refuge or, if you’ve taken the vows, the upasika vows.
Sorry, I didn’t mention, those who have taken getsul vows, actually they are same when you take the upasika vows, you begin with the refuge.
What I was going to say is those who have taken the getsul vows, the higher vows, the thirty-six vows, or 253, whatever, then, if you have taken the lower vows, then you lose the higher vows. I think you all understand but in case some didn’t understand. I did it already so in case, but nobody took it, because if you have taken getsul vows, if you then take lower vows, then you lose the higher vow. The eight Mahayana precepts are the one exceptional, that doesn’t have that problem.
But otherwise, if you take the eight precepts of the Lesser Vehicle you lose the higher vows. But the eight Mahayana precepts, if it’s done with bodhicitta, then it doesn’t do that.
Because it’s not common in the very large monasteries, some geshes don’t have groups taking the eight Mahayana precepts. That practice is not done except some monks who do it individually, but there’s no group taking these precepts. So it seems, many times the eight Mahayana precepts are unknown, and then when a question comes up about your higher vows, even though they are learned in the studying of philosophy, when it comes to practice or language, those things, in some things the geshes are mistaken.
I don’t remember, but I think we have taken the eight Mahayana precepts from the very first course, for five days. I don’t remember whether we did the eight Mahayana precepts at that time or not, for so many years since then during the last two weeks of the course we have done them at Kopan. This has spread well in the organization, FPMT. It is very common to do this; this is an unbelievable, great source of happiness to achieve enlightenment, to benefit the world, and for ourselves to achieve enlightenment quickly. It’s just unimaginable.
That’s also done very commonly in Dharamsala by His Holiness. In the past, many years ago, His Holiness gave it in a group, all the Tibetans, all the monks. So, in Dharamsala it’s very common.
But in Sera, Ganden, Drepung, those large monasteries, there are no groups taking them, although there are some of the individual monks, but in the big monasteries, even though many geshes are learned in philosophy, sometimes, when it comes to practice, they don’t understand these and some other things.
Those who are taking the precepts, think in your heart, whatever number of precepts you have taken, you have received the upasika five vows, two, three, whatever you are taking, think that. Think you are taking refuge and the precepts. You heard the prayer, then whatever number of vows you are taking, think that you have received them.
The last one is this. Think in your heart, you are going for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, then, taking the upasika vows, this number, five or four or three, two, whatever you take, decide that, think you have taken that.
Then, those who have taken the vows, repeat this.
I’m going to mention all the things. “As the previous arhats have abandoned these negative karmas, and taken these vows, then I’m also going to take these vows.” That’s what it says in the prayer.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Please mention your name.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
Then when I stop you say, lekso, this is the method, lekso means yes.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
So, you learnt one Tibetan word tonight, lekso, “yes”. [Rinpoche laughs] So, anyway, some additional education. [Group laughs]
So, that’s it. Neil went through taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, how there are three precepts to be abandoned and three precepts to be practiced. He has gone through that, and also the six, lam-rim outlines, the six general pieces of advice, although some of the teachings list eight, something like that. Ven. Neil definitely went through that.
You have to understand, the Buddha is so compassionate. In our daily life, even if we eat food, if we first make offerings, we collect unbelievable, unbelievable merit. The Buddha has skillful ways, prostrations, all these things that are specific practices to protect us from suffering, to collect extensive merit, to guide us, things, like that. The Buddha gave these different advices, to protect us from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring to liberation and enlightenment.
Okay, so now, do three prostrations.
Now, dedications. You don’t have to sit down, you can stand, it’s okay. You don’t have to sit down, you can stand. [Rinpoche laughs] Just to freshen up or exercise.
Now dedicate: “Due to all the past, present, future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by all the sentient beings, including all the bodhisattvas, all the buddhas, may I complete the paramita of morality by keeping it without mistake, without pride, and keeping it purely.” So, dedicate like this.
[Rinpoche and students continue in Tibetan]
So, feel great happiness in your heart.
THE FOUR HARMONIOUS BROTHERS
There is a story that happened in India in the past, maybe in a place called Gashika, I’m not sure. There, there were four harmonious brothers. In this country, there was so much prosperity, the crops grew well, the rains came at the right time, and the economy flourished. The king thought he was responsible for all this, and the ministers thought they were. Everybody thought they had caused this. Then, one day, a minister suggested to the king that they should ask a sage who had clairvoyance.
When they went to the sage, he told them that the prosperity of the country was not due to the king or the ministers, but due to four harmonious brothers who were living in the forest. One was an elephant, and then a monkey, and a rabbit, and a bird, the four harmonious brothers.
The elephant spread the five lay vows to other elephants, the monkey spread the five lay vows to other monkeys, then the rabbit did the same thing to other rabbits and the bird did it to other birds. They all lived like this, respecting each other, the younger ones respecting the elder ones. Because of that, in that country, the economy boomed. Boomed? [Rinpoche laughs] We need that now because the economy has gone down, so we need that now in the United States. [Group laughs]
Actually the bird was Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and the Buddha’s brother Ananda was another animal as were two other disciples, all in the form of animals in order to spread the five precepts to other animals. That’s why the country had such an unbelievably developed economy.
So today you can think, “By my taking these vows, I will benefit the world and all sentient beings, bringing their happiness.” It becomes unbelievably important, unbelievably important, for the happiness of this world, for the peace of this world, for the economy, all this. So, you can think of the benefits like this.
Making the vow to not harm all sentient beings, however many vows you have made to not harm them, that brings that much happiness to all sentient beings. So, you should feel great happiness, great joy. And this gives you the opportunity for yourself to achieve liberation and enlightenment, as I mentioned before, and to benefit other sentient beings.
Now, please pray like this. “Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others, may I myself, my own family (think of yourself, and then your family members) as well as all the students and all the benefactors, all those many people on this earth who bear hardships serving the organization to benefit sentient beings, and those who rely upon me, who I promised to pray for, whose names were given to me, and all the sentient beings, all the sentient beings in this world, that we all be guided by Lama Tsongkhapa, being the direct Mahayana Guru, and never be separated away from the path admired by all the buddhas.”
Everybody can do that, not only those who took the refuge vows, but everybody, everybody. This prayer is very important. Every day must do that.
And then to actualize Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, the unification of sutra and tantra, and to live in pure morality, with a brave heart doing the extensive deeds of the bodhisattvas, and yoga of the two stages which is the essence of the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, to actualize this in this very lifetime. So, pray like this for yourself, your family members, everybody here and all the students, for all the benefactors, all those people sacrificing their lives to others, then everybody in this world.
Then dedicate the merits, that all the three time merits collected by you, by all the sentient beings, all the holy actions and prayers of the buddhas and bodhisattvas may be actualized, may succeed immediately.
“I dedicate the merits to preserve the oral transmission, preserve the teachings of the Buddha, the scriptures, and the realizations.” Dedicate in this way.
Then: “Due to this, in all my lifetimes, may I never be separated away from the Four Mahayana Dharma Wheels, by relying upon the holy beings and the virtuous friend.” That’s very good. And to be able to practice Dharma, being born in the place, in a family that supports you to practice Dharma, a Buddhist family or who are devoted, not causing obstacles to the practice that you do, allowing you to practice, supporting you so you are able to practice Dharma.
Then finding a place which is harmonious to your practice, not harmful, with water, earth and so forth, having done the prayers, having collected the merit, without separation from the Four Mahayana Dharma Wheels in all the lifetimes, to be able to complete, to actualize the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment and the two stages of tantra.
“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by others which is exists, but which is merely labeled by mind, may the I who exists, but who is merely labeled by mind, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists, but which is merely labeled by mind, and lead all the sentient beings who exist, but who are merely labeled by mind, to that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists but which is merely labeled by mind, by myself alone, who exists but who is merely labeled by mind.
“Then, just as the three times’ buddhas dedicate their merits, I dedicate the merits to be able to follow as the bodhisattva Manjugosha and Samantabhadra followed all those bodhisattvas. As three times’ buddhas dedicated their merits, I dedicate all my merits in the same way.”
Then to actualize the Lama Tsongkhapa teachings in this life, in your heart and in your family, and in the hearts of all the students and supporters and all those people, those so many people in this world who sacrifice their lives to this organization to benefit all sentient beings, to the teachings of the Buddha, those who rely upon me, who I promised to pray for, then in the hearts of everybody in this world, to actualize Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, and for them to be spread in all the directions and prosper.
Okay, that’s it.
6 In other teachings Rinpoche has called it mar-zen. See his book on perfect human rebirth. [Return to text]