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  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues his explanation of Buddhist refuge. This teaching, recorded on October 7, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, begins with Rinpoche explaining that taking refuge is not something simple. It’s not something that you simply hear and chant. One has to understand the four noble truths extensively and also understand the qualities of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, which can take one’s whole life to do this. This is why monks study their whole lives in monasteries.
    Rinpoche reminds us of the proper motivation for listening to the teachings. It is not enough to achieve liberation from samsara and then achieve nirvana and everlasting happiness for oneself alone. Instead think, “I must achieve the state of omniscience, the total cessation of obscurations and the completion of realizations. I must achieve this to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment by myself alone! Therefore, I am going to listen to the teachings.”


    Rinpoche shares a verse from Lama Tsongkhapa's Hymn of Experience:


    If you don’t attempt to think of the shortcomings of true sufferings,
    Seeking liberation won’t arise exactly.
    If you don’t reflect on the causes, the evolution of samsara,
    You won’t know how to cut the root of samsara.
    Therefore, rely on an upset mind renouncing samsara
    And cherish the understanding of what ties you to samsara.


    Rinpoche explains that an "upset mind renouncing samsara" is so worthwhile even though to worldly people who don’t understand Dharma, it looks totally crazy and meaningless. The "upset mind" understands how karma and delusion lead to all suffering, and how one is trapped in the endless cycle of samsara. Due to being upset by this understanding of the suffering of samsara, one is motivated to go into isolation to actualize renunciation, bodhichitta, emptiness, the whole path to enlightenment—this makes that “upsetness” so worthwhile. “Skies of worthwhile upsetness,” Rinpoche says.


    It is like poison to think that living in isolation and practicing Dharma is crazy and meaningless. The person who thinks this way does not achieve freedom from samsara along with nirvana and everlasting happiness. But the person who is practicing Dharma, who left worldly life with renunciation to actualize the path in isolation—wow! Worldly people don’t like suffering, but they don’t understand suffering. Westerners can be so shocked when someone lives in a cave. But there is no benefit to being upset with someone who has renounced the worldly life and is practicing Dharma. In fact, it is poison. Even though there are good-hearted people in the West, Rinpoche explains that many of the concepts and actions of body, speech, and mind in the West are totally opposite of Buddhadharma, the teachings of the Buddha.


    It is important to understand what ties you to samsara. You are suffering and you don’t like suffering, but you don’t know why you are suffering. It is extremely important to know what ties you to samsara and suffering. Nothing and nobody tied you to samsara from the outside—in fact, you tied yourself to samsara with your hallucinated mind. It is up to you to cut this rope.


    Rinpoche shares verses from Panchen Lozang Chokyi Gyaltsen's Melodious Song Bringing Joy to Lozang [Dragpa]: Responses to “Queries from a Sincere Heart," which is a response to a text by Lama Tsongkhapa.


    Even animals renounce the suffering of pain, Rinpoche says. If you wield a stick toward a dog, it runs away. When they are hungry they run to look for food. They have the thought to be free from pain and the suffering of hunger and thirst. Likewise, even non-Buddhists renounce the suffering of change.


    Rinpoche explains how in Lama Tsongkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo there are eight types of suffering and goes over Tsongkhapa's five points on the eighth type of suffering. The aggregates, due to karma and delusion, contain already actualized suffering

  • In this video, recorded on October 5, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues a short series of teachings on refuge. These teachings will culminate with Rinpoche offering the refuge ceremony, which will be available to anyone wishing to take the life-long refuge vows from Rinpoche. This series is due to the request of a few Chinese students, including a young girl, for Rinpoche to offer refuge vows. In response, Rinpoche is explaining refuge in detail prior to offering the vows.
    Rinpoche begins by warning us that we must be aware of the heavy negative karma one creates by belittling one’s guru. Rinpoche recommends writing down the following verse from the Fifth Dalai Lama, Lozang Gyatso, in our prayer books:


    In the view of your own perverted mind,
    Your own mistakes appear in the guru’s actions.
    Your heart is totally rotten from the depths.
    Recognizing that it is your own mistake, abandon it like poison.


    Even if you killed your mother, your father, or an arhat, or caused blood to flow from a Buddha, or created disunity in the sangha, you can still purify those mistakes and achieve enlightenment. But the heaviest negative karma is belittling a guru with whom you have made a Dharma connection, Rinpoche explains. This verse from the Fifth Dalai Lama if very powerful for protecting you from mistakes, including breaking vows and belittling the guru. You need to recognize that seeing mistakes in your guru’s actions is your own mistake. And your own mistakes appear in the guru’s actions.


    In the West, Rinpoche explains, people look for a guru, then they create the heaviest negative karma in relation to the guru. This is like finding gold and using it for a toilet or a garbage can.


    Instead of seeing mistakes, we need to see whatever the guru does as positive. The Fifth Dalai Lama advises this:


    With the pure appearance that sees whatever is done as positive
    And the devotion that accomplishes whatever is said as advice,
    Whatever you do becomes the profound vital point of accomplishing Dharma.
    Understand this to be the root of the benefit and virtue that accomplish whatever you wish.


    In this way, seeing whatever your guru does as positive, allows you to accomplish whatever your guru advises. Rinpoche says that this is another important verse to write down in one’s prayer book so it isn’t forgotten.


    Rinpoche shares that at the time of death, Dolgyal practice harms those who do it and when a practitioner dies, terrifying visions, incredible fear, and regret appear. When the body of a Dolgyal practitioner is offered to the birds, vultures won’t even eat the bodies of those who practiced this deity. Rinpoche shares this to warn, “Be careful before taking refuge. Be careful about whom you take refuge from. Don’t cheat yourself.”


    Rinpoche then offers a translation of a short sutra on going for refuge, The Mahayana Sutra Called “Going for Refuge to the Arya Three Rare Sublime Ones” (at 46:35 in the video). This sutra describes just how precious it is to take refuge. “Be careful,” Rinpoche advises. “Don’t waste your life.”


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    Those wishing to take refuge with Rinpoche should continue to watch these teachings from Rinpoche. For links to past teachings on the topic of refuge, as well as links to the transcript and translations:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/the-sutra-going-for-refuge-to-the-arya-three-rare-sublime-ones/

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  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on September 30, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, reminding us that there are many ways in which we can help others. Even if you have limited Dharma understanding, limited experience of the path, there are ways you can benefit others. For example, when you build very big statues of buddhas, people come to see them, and then they purify and collect the most unbelievable merit. You can also bring Dharma books and teachings to people to help them dispel ignorance. There are many ways, according to their individual capacities, that you can help others.
    Before taking ultimate refuge, you must check up. As Rinpoche has explained in his last two teachings, there are four qualities which make Buddha the ultimate refuge:
    1. Buddha is free from suffering and the cause of suffering
    2. Buddha is expert in the methods to free others from suffering
    3. Buddha has no discriminating thought and has equal compassion and care for all
    4. Buddha works to benefit every sentient being whether they benefit him or not


    So why take refuge? This question is from your side only. There are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas who have compassion for you. So why have you been suffering from beginningless rebirths up to now? Even if all the buddhas and bodhisattvas put their power together, they can’t guide you if you don’t decide to receive their help, if you don’t take refuge.


    In Buddhism, your mind is the creator. Rinpoche quotes from A Good Vase Filled with Nectar (verse 3.7):


    Whatever happiness and suffering there is in samsara,
    All of it comes from your karma.
    Therefore, through always examining your three doors,
    Make effort to abandon nonvirtue and practice virtue.


    Everything comes from the mind, including enlightenment and hell, samsara and nirvana, happiness and problems. Rinpoche emphasizes that we have to work and make effort in order to achieve enlightenment. Even though the help of the buddhas and bodhisattvas is available to you, the reason you have to suffer is because you made mistakes from your side, Rinpoche explains. In this context, Rinpoche shares more stories about the spirit Dogyal.


    Rinpoche also talks about how the annual one-month Kopan Course began and how he was inspired by reading Kachen Yeshe Gyaltshen’s lamrim. Rinpoche also credits as inspiration Lama Yeshe’s kindness and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Rinpoche reflects that during the early Kopan Courses the already depressed Western students became even more depressed after hearing about the lower realms and eight worldly Dharmas. The accommodations at the early courses were very simple. It was great for the Western students to learn about lamrim and to see their lives, to realize what should be avoided, and what should be done for happiness in the life up to enlightenment.


    Rinpoche shares that he and Lama Yeshe stayed at Kachen Yeshe Gyaltshen’s monastery in Boudhanath when they first came to Nepal. From there, Lama Yeshe could see Kopan Hill, about which, Rinpoche says, Lama Yeshe was very interested.


    Kachen Yeshe Gyaltshen also advised people not to practice Dolgyal. Rinpoche then shares details of the various lamas who have advised not to practice Dolgyal, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


    By taking refuge in Buddha, you won’t be reborn in the lower realms. By taking strong refuge in Buddha, your heavy negative karmas get purified. And if the merit of taking refuge was materialized, Rinpoche explains, it would not fit in three-thousand-fold galaxies.


    --
    You can find links to the full transcript of Rinpoche’s teaching, translations, and more:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/the-merits-of-taking-refuge-dont-fit-in-the-three-thousand-fold-galaxies/

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues discussing refuge in this new video, recorded September 27, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. Rinpoche begins by reminding us that we must be careful about the objects in which we take refuge—for example, people take refuge in animals, nature, or spirits.
    To make the point of why it is best to go for refuge to Buddha, Rinpoche again discusses the four qualities of a Buddha and shares stories and commentary after each:
    1. Buddha is free from suffering and the cause of suffering;
    2. Buddha is expert in the methods to free others from suffering;
    3. Buddha has no discriminating thought and has equal compassion and care for all; and
    4. Buddha works to benefit every sentient being whether they benefit him or not.


    Worldly gods and spirits don’t have the four qualities of the Buddha.


    Before you take refuge in things like food, drink, medicine, and clothes, you always check up on the quality. For example, you don't buy food that has gone bad; you check it first before buying. Like this, you also have to check the quality of the one in whom you are going to take ultimate refuge. When you are dying, in order to not be born in the lower realms, to purify negative karma, to obtain a higher rebirth, Rinpoche says emphatically, "Rely on Buddha!" To free you from samsara, to achieve nirvana, ultimate happiness forever—"Rely on Buddha!" Buddha has all the power and qualities to guide you. If you take refuge in worldly beings, samsaric beings who have discriminating thoughts, no compassion for sentient beings, attachment, anger, ignorance, self-cherishing—how can they help you?


    Rinpoche then shares several stories about the dangers of trusting worldly spirits, particularly in relation to the spirit Dolgyal (Shugden).


    Things appear to us according to our karma. You see things as pure or impure based on how pure or impure your own mind is. For example, one container filled with liquid appears to a preta as pus, to a human as water, and to worldly gods, suras, and asuras as nectar. To Buddha’s attendant, who served him for twenty-two years, Buddha appeared to be a liar; he didn’t see Buddha as Buddha. Rinpoche explains that was due to his karma. Likewise, some lamas have showed the aspect of practicing Dolgyal, but didn’t actually do the practice. There are many examples of enlightened beings who showed the aspect of being ordinary. What we see in others is due to our own karma.


    Rinpoche shares a verse from the Fifth Dalai Lama:


    In the view of your own perverted mind,
    Your own mistakes appear in the guru’s actions.
    Your heart is totally rotten from the depths.
    Recognizing that it is your own mistake, abandon it like poison.


    Rinpoche advises that this is very, very powerful, and it is so important to do mindfulness practice in relation to guru yoga. Then you never give rise to heresy and anger. If you see any mistake in the guru, it is a reflection of your ordinary mind’s mistake. Don’t think that taking refuge is something easy. Monks and nuns study refuge and the qualities of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha their whole lives so they can learn the meaning of the words and actualize them to achieve enlightenment by completing the qualities of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is not easy! You take refuge to be free from samsara. In order to do that, you have to know what samsara is.


    --
    We invite you to go deeper into the topics presented here, plus many others, by watching Rinpoche’s video and reading the full transcript of Rinpoche’s teaching:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/dont-think-taking-refuge-is-something-easy/

  • At the beginning of this video, which was recorded on September 25, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, Rinpoche talks about doing a tsog offering practice at Boudha Stupa and the benefits of making offerings to stupas.
    He explains how offering tsog to stupas makes you achieve all the realizations; offering medicine to stupas stops diseases; and offering grains to stupas stops famine in the world. Rinpoche also discusses how important it is to consecrate stupas, including the benefit of eliminating war.
    From his room at Kopan Monastery, Rinpoche then leads an offering practice to Boudha Stupa accompanied by many senior Sangha members. You can follow along with the offering practice (beginning at 6:43) by reading the transcript, which includes the text of the practice.
    Rinpoche also provides commentary on verses from Liberation Upon Hearing: The History of the Great Jarung Kashar Stupa by Padmasambhava on the benefits of making offerings to Boudha Stupa, which include the following:
    Making requests to the stupa
    Whoever supplicates it will spontaneously accomplish the benefit of self and others.
    The benefits of offering water
    Whoever offers drinking water to it will be born free of thirst and disease.
    The benefits of offering flowers
    Whoever offers flowers will completely attain the freedoms and advantages.
    The benefits of offering light
    Whoever offers butter lamps will see the manifest faces of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions.
    Whoever offers grain oil lamps will be clarified of all obscurations of ignorance.
    Whoever offers the fire for butter lamps will radiate the light rays of the Dharma throughout the ten directions.
    The benefits of offering perfume
    Whoever offers scented water will be freed from depression and all suffering.
    The benefits of offering food and drink
    Whoever offers food and drink will be sustained by the sustenance of samādhi.
    The benefits of offering music
    Whoever offers music will proclaim the melodious sound of Dharma throughout the ten directions.
    Whoever offers cymbals will attain profound and perfect courage.
    Whoever offers bells large and small will attain clear and melodious speech, and the voice of Brahmā.
    The benefits of offering the five precious jewels (pearls, turquoise, lapis lazuli, gold, coral)
    Whoever offers maṇḍalas of the five precious jewels will be free of poverty and attain an inexhaustible sky treasury.
    Before doing the dedications, Rinpoche acknowledges that what is missing from his commentary is the benefits of offering the seven king’s objects, the eight auspicious signs, and the seven royal things.
    Rinpoche concludes the teaching with the instruction that these offerings "should be done after the seven-limb practice. Do the Thirty-Five Buddhas, Vajrasattva, the seven limbs, then a short mandala, then a lamrim prayer, then after, dedication to complete the practice."
    --
    We invite you to go deeper into the topics presented here, plus many others, by watching Rinpoche’s video and reading the full transcript of Rinpoche’s teaching:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/making-offerings-to-boudha-stupa/

  • At the beginning of this video, which was recorded on September 25, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, Rinpoche talks about doing a tsog offering practice at Boudha Stupa and the benefits of making offerings to stupas.
    He explains how offering tsog to stupas makes you achieve all the realizations; offering medicine to stupas stops diseases; and offering grains to stupas stops famine in the world. Rinpoche also discusses how important it is to consecrate stupas, including the benefit of eliminating war.
    From his room at Kopan Monastery, Rinpoche then leads an offering practice to Boudha Stupa accompanied by many senior Sangha members. You can follow along with the offering practice (beginning at 6:43) by reading the transcript, which includes the text of the practice.


    Rinpoche also provides commentary on verses from Liberation Upon Hearing: The History of the Great Jarung Kashar Stupa by Padmasambhava on the benefits of making offerings to Boudha Stupa, which include the following:


    Making requests to the stupa
    Whoever supplicates it will spontaneously accomplish the benefit of self and others.


    The benefits of offering water
    Whoever offers drinking water to it will be born free of thirst and disease.


    The benefits of offering flowers
    Whoever offers flowers will completely attain the freedoms and advantages.


    The benefits of offering light
    Whoever offers butter lamps will see the manifest faces of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions.
    Whoever offers grain oil lamps will be clarified of all obscurations of ignorance.
    Whoever offers the fire for butter lamps will radiate the light rays of the Dharma throughout the ten directions.


    The benefits of offering perfume
    Whoever offers scented water will be freed from depression and all suffering.


    The benefits of offering food and drink
    Whoever offers food and drink will be sustained by the sustenance of samādhi.


    The benefits of offering music
    Whoever offers music will proclaim the melodious sound of Dharma throughout the ten directions.
    Whoever offers cymbals will attain profound and perfect courage.
    Whoever offers bells large and small will attain clear and melodious speech, and the voice of Brahmā.


    The benefits of offering the five precious jewels (pearls, turquoise, lapis lazuli, gold, coral)
    Whoever offers maṇḍalas of the five precious jewels will be free of poverty and attain an inexhaustible sky treasury.


    Before doing the dedications, Rinpoche acknowledges that what is missing from his commentary is the benefits of offering the seven king’s objects, the eight auspicious signs, and the seven royal things.


    Rinpoche concludes the teaching with the instruction that these offerings "should be done after the seven-limb practice. Do the Thirty-Five Buddhas, Vajrasattva, the seven limbs, then a short mandala, then a lamrim prayer, then after, dedication to complete the practice."


    --
    We invite you to go deeper into the topics presented here, plus many others, by watching Rinpoche’s video and reading the full transcript of Rinpoche’s teaching:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/making-offerings-to-boudha-stupa/

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on September 14, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by explaining that people who don’t understand holy Dharma use prayers to pray for success in this life alone—for their relationships, their children, and other situations that will end at the end of this life. This is ignorance.
    When you experience happiness, it is due to the kindness of mother sentient beings—every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every sura being, every asura being, every intermediate state being. When you experience happiness, it is important to think, “I have received this by the kindness of others.” The other thing to think about when happiness occurs is that every happiness is thanks to the kindness of the guru.
    Just like your consciousness has no beginning, your wrong concepts—which mean your delusions, ignorance, self-cherishing thought, attachment, and anger—are also beginningless. The antidote to impure appearances is tantra, Rinpoche explains. In tantra you visualize everything as pure—yourself as the deity, the place as the mandala, the beings you encounter as deities, sounds as mantras, thoughts as the dharmakaya. In tantra, the root of samsara is the impure subtle consciousness and wind. The continuation of all the wrong concepts has no beginning, so your suffering of samsara’s continuation also has no beginning. Once you think about beginningless samsaric suffering, hell, and the sufferings of all the realms, there is no time for self-cherishing, no time for all the negative karma.
    In the West, people think, “I am alone, nobody loves me!” If you are Buddhist you must know that numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas cherish you the most! You are never alone. Buddha gave away his wives, sons, wealth, and body for sentient beings—including you! He practiced the six paramitas for sentient beings, including you! Buddha has perfect power—perfect holy body, holy speech, and holy mind—unlike us, who are limited. Buddha’s holy mind is everywhere. Once your obscurations are purified, you will see numberless buddhas wherever you are. Buddha’s compassion embraces all sentient beings, including you, all the time.
    From the buddhas, you receive a perfect human rebirth, the happiness of this life, the happiness of future lives, liberation from samsara, and enlightenment. They buddhas are working for you by manifesting in the ordinary aspect of the guru. All of your happiness comes from the guru. This is a very important thing for you to remember!
    All of your happiness comes from the guru, but all of your suffering comes from harming others. That means that if you have problems, suffering, depression, even if somebody kills you, beats you, gets angry at you—this is because you harmed them in the past, in past lives. It could have been numberless eons ago. Sometimes as soon as the person sees you in this life, they shoot you, they are angry with you, even before meeting them in this life.
    In the view of your disturbed mind, whatever your delusions believe appears to be good. In the view of anger, you think it is good to destroy and harm others. In the view of ignorance, you think it is good to believe things are real. In the view of pride, you believe that it is good to think about how you are better than everyone else. This is all totally wrong. But in your impure view, you believe what you are doing is good. This is the dance of a crazy person.
    Someone who harms you is only an object of compassion. You abused that person in past lives, so now they are creating negative karma by harming you. If you hadn’t ever harmed them in the past, they wouldn’t have to harm you now due to karma! And because of harming you, they will have to get lost in the hole of hell. This is why you must only have patience when someone harms you; don't harm them back. You must help the person, even just recite OM MANI PADME HUM. Do whatever you can do to create benefit.
    If you have depression,...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching, recorded on September 11, 2021, at Maratika, Nepal, on the topic of depression at the request of a student. It was transmitted via Zoom to a live audience of students, mainly from Singapore, China, and Taiwan.
    Rinpoche begins this teaching explaining that to understand depression, we first have to understand our own craziness. Then, when we think of others, we will be able to more easily develop compassion.
    Rinpoche then begins an explanation of how the I exists. There are non-Buddhist philosophies that believe that the I is permanent, exists alone, and has its own freedom. The four schools of Buddhist philosophy do not accept that. They believe that the I is impermanent and changes by causes and conditions, year by year, second by second.
    As an example, Rinpoche talks about how a flower changes day by day to explain gross impermanence, which is evident in visible changes. When a person is young, they can appear beautiful, but over time that changes. Their entire form can change, and they are no more an object of attraction, of attachment. If you become attached to the beauty of an object, this brings so much pain and suffering to your heart due to impermanence. Because beauty changes, there’s nothing to be attached to.
    Rinpoche then discusses how we mistakenly think that the I exists as permanent, alone, and with its own freedom. He also goes over other mistaken views of how the I exists, including those of some of the Tibetan Buddhist schools. But, Rinpoche acknowledges, the Chittamatra view that everything comes from the mind can help depression.
    Emotions and problems come from the basic wrong concept that believes that the I is permanent, exists alone, and exists with its own freedom. From that, emotions and all the problems come. You fight while holding your wrong view—you kill and smash. It’s childish. Then in the view of a mind disturbed by spirit possession and delusions, harmful actions appear to be positive! For example, Rinpoche explains, when anger arises, a disturbed mind thinks that it is positive.
    Rinpoche explains that an object is merely labeled. On the basis of that, ignorance exaggerates the object and sees it as not merely labeled. Then based on that exaggeration, you discriminate good and bad. After that, anger and attachment come. You can prove that anger and attachment are wrong and come from wrong concepts.


    So, where is the depression? Attachment and anger. There is the depression that you understand the reason for and depression that you don’t know the reason for. In some cases, you know why you are feeling depressed. You wanted something that you didn’t get. Your attachment or self-cherishing didn’t get what it wants. In other cases, you don't know why you are feeling depressed, and that is related to your past life actions of nonvirtue, your negative karma.
    Depression does not come from the view of bodhichitta. Even if you have the view of effortful bodhichitta, you will not be depressed, Rinpoche explains. There is also no depression if you have the view of wisdom realizing emptiness.
    So depression comes from the basic wrong concept of how the I exists. Your wrong concepts are the real craziness. There is so much to meditate on, to analyze, to learn, and to recognize. You have to discover the truth in your life, Rinpoche says. It is so important.


    Rinpoche then discusses the Prasangika view of how the I exists. This ultimate right view is what we need to meditate on, realize, and develop because it ceases the seed of delusion and karma. The I that exists, exists in mere name, labeled by the mind that focuses on the valid base, the aggregates. That's it, Rinpoche explains. Therefore, it is totally empty. There is not one atom of I exiting from its own side. Because nothing exists from its own side, there is no basis for depression to arise.
    What can we do when we experience depression?
    1. Practice mindfulness that nothing exists from its...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on August 17, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us that while we are so fortunate to have received this rare and perfect human rebirth, which is qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, death can happen at any time, even before this teaching ends.
    Therefore, the real purpose of life is not just to achieve liberation from samsara for ourselves alone, but to never harm and only benefit all sentient beings by freeing them from the oceans of samsara, the total cessation of the gross and subtle obscurations and the completion of realizations. That means every single one, including every ant and fly, and even those you can’t see with your eyes. As a human, this should be the purpose of life. This should be our attitude all day and night, even if we are enjoying ourselves in a five-star hotel, even if we are in the process of dying—we can enjoy for sentient beings, we can die for sentient beings! To bring every sentient being to enlightenment by oneself alone is the purpose of life, therefore we must achieve a state of omniscience as quickly as possible. Therefore, I’m going to listen to the teachings.


    Rinpoche shares that the current incarnation of Domo Geshe Rinpoche is going to be an incredible benefit to the world by helping the teachings spread and last a long time. Rinpoche currently offers help for this young lamas’ yearly expenses.


    Rinpoche also shared some stories of Sera Je Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Delek’s life in the Buxa Duar, the camp in India where refugee Tibetan monks lived in the 1960s.


    Rinpoche reminds us that these teachings are specifically for the ordained Sangha, to remind them that it is most important to live a life in ordination and that this is not just some hippie trip. However, anyone is welcome to listen and benefit from this advice.


    Rinpoche then discusses sections from Garland of Jewel Light by Geshe Tsewang Samdrub. He begins by offering commentary on the four doors for receiving downfalls from breaking vows:


    1. A lack of conscientiousness.
    2. A lack of respect.
    3. Not knowing the vows.
    4. Having many delusions.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama has emphasized the need to live an ethical life, to be a good human being, Rinpoche says. To do this, you need discipline to practice patience, tolerance, compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness for those who harm you, and to immediately apologize when you harm others.


    Rinpoche explains the four ways to prevent downfalls, citing Garland of Jewel Light:


    1. Continuously possessing conscientiousness.
    2. Having great respect for the vows of morality.
    3. Knowing the vows.
    4. Striving in the remedy to the delusions.

    When you do these, the doors to making mistakes and downfalls are closed.


    Rinpoche then goes over the benefits of protecting morality, again from Garland of Jewel Light:


    1. All your collections of goodness will increase and develop.
    2. You will be praised by the buddhas.
    3. You will be praised by the devas.
    4. You will be praised by your friends.
    5. You will be worthy of being praised by even yourself.
    6. You will be worthy of being naturally praised.
    7. Your reputation will cover all the directions.
    8. You will listen to the holy Dharma.
    9. You will not forget the holy Dharma you listened to.
    10. Your realizations of the paths and bhumis will increase.
    11. When you die you will be happy and you will go to a happy transmigration.
    12. Day and night you will be happy.
    13. You will be protected by the devas.
    14. You will be happy in front of holy beings.
    15. You won’t be able to be harmed by human beings and non-human beings.
    16. You will receive whatever enjoyments you need without effort.
    17. Whatever prayers you do will succeed.

    The results of living in pure vows are very powerful. "You become Dzambhala!" Rinpoche says. "When other people make offerings to you and respect you, they collect much merits....

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on August 14, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us of how fortunate we are to wake up in the morning with a perfect human rebirth that is qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses. The life we have is like a candle flame in the wind or a bubble in the water, and can be stopped at any time by death. Rinpoche references verse 55 from Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend.
    Last night many people went to bed, thinking they had another day to live, but their body became a corpse instead. However, you were able to wake up. Every day you are able to wake up is a real birthday. If you can recognize impermanence and death, it is like skies of happiness! You didn’t die! You aren’t in hell! You weren’t reborn as a hungry ghost or an animal! You can still use your perfect human rebirth to collect merit and purify negative karma. Even reciting OM MANI PADME HUM without a bodhichitta motivation, you collect more merits than drops of water in the ocean, more than blades of grass growing on the hills.

    When your breathing stops it will be difficult for your mind to be happy. Rinpoche quotes a verse from Gungthang Tenpai Dronme’s Verses of Advice for Meditating on Impermanence.
    Rinpoche then reminds us of the motivation for listening to these teachings. At this time, while we are still breathing, it is not enough to achieve liberation from samsara for oneself. That alone would be a meaningful life, but it is not sufficient. The main purpose of life is to benefit sentient beings, not harming a single one, and more than that to free them from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment by oneself alone. To do that, we must achieve full enlightenment. Therefore, with a motivation to accomplish this, we listen to the teachings.

    Rinpoche offers advice to the gelongs about what brings happiness according to several verses of the Sutra of Individual Liberation (from sojong). You can hear Rinpoche discuss these verses and his commentary on each starting at 11:50 in the video.
    Without morality, Rinpoche stresses, we cannot accomplish our own work, let alone successfully work for others. "Therefore," as noted in the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by Thogme Sangpo (verse 26cd), "to protect morality without wishing for samsara is a practice of a bodhisattva."
    For a bodhisattva, those who offer harm are like a precious treasure (Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva, verse 27ab).
    Therefore, cherish evil beings like a precious treasure, as advised in Eight Verses for Training the Mind by Langri Tangpa.
    Rinpoche stresses that it is important to understand what this means. People who create harm for others create so much negative karma and have so much suffering. When you see that it is like you have found a precious treasure, a diamond, gold, a sapphire, a wish-granting jewel in the garbage. They are so precious and rare that you must cherish them, like how some cherish money so much! Why? Because by cherishing them you generate strong renunciation of your own samsara and sooo much compassion for them. From that, you generate strong bodhichitta, and from that, quick enlightenment. And with that you can liberate the numberless sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering. A jewel or money doesn’t do that, but this type of person can! So cherish them.

    Another verse Rinpoche emphasizes in this teaching and suggests we write down in our prayer books is verse 28 from Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva:

    Since even the hearer-listeners and solitary realizers, who achieve only the works for self,
    Are seen to make effort, like putting out a fire on the head,
    It is a practice of a bodhisattva to make effort to receive all qualities
    For the sake of all transmigratory beings.

    Write the above verse down so you can learn it, Rinpoche says. Otherwise, your motivation will always be controlled by the self-cherishing thought. “Today I...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on August 11, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us that we are so fortunate to have received a precious and perfect human rebirth. While it is precious, it is also fragile and can be ended at any time with death. In this precious life we have received teachings on how we should not harm any sentient being, and not just the ones we love and like to help, but including those we don’t like such as mice, rats, spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitoes. When mosquitoes come near your ears you become very concerned with the real I, which doesn’t even exist in mere name. This has been happening since beginningless rebirths. So much suffering, including all wars, comes from believing in the real I! Even spiders and ants suffer due to believing in the real I.
    The pandemic and all of the disasters of the world are happening because of ignorance. This all comes from the mind. Therefore, you have to take care of the mind: don’t let it go berserk. If you don’t want to suffer, if you don’t want bad things in the world, if you don’t want problems with the environment, if you want to make a happy world, then take care of the mind.


    Rinpoche shares several stories about how great bodhisattvas are able to manipulate the elements or perform actions that look like miracles. They are able to do this due to their minds. Whether you make the world more peaceful or not depends on your mind. Rinpoche also shares the story of how the young incarnation of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama said, “I’m the one who works for all beings” to the lama Keutsang Rinpoche when he came to check whether the four-year-old child recognized him. Rinpoche expressed being moved to tears when he heard that His Holiness had said that as a young child.
    Rinpoche then discusses verses 5.4-5.5 of Bodhicharyavatara:
    Tigers, lions, elephants, bears,
    Snakes, and all enemies,
    The guardians of hell beings,
    Evil spirits, and likewise cannibals,

    Are all fastened
    By fastening only this mind.
    They are all subdued
    By subduing only this mind.
    Rinpoche urges us to write these verses down in our prayer books so we will see them every day. Especially when we are angry or selfish, or when we have so much attachment. When we subdue our minds, everything is subdued. When we have control over our minds, we are free from fear. By controlling our minds and making them free from attachment and anger, from the self-cherishing thought, and from the ignorance holding the I as real when it’s not, then, all those who would otherwise harm us are subdued.


    We produce all the suffering we experience with our mind, so the solution for problems, harm, enemies, and fear is to pacify the mind.


    Verse 5.12cd of Bodhicharyavatara says:

    If you subdue the mind of anger alone,
    It is like you have subdued all your enemies.


    And as Nagarjuna said:

    If you kill your anger,
    You kill all your enemies.
    We have to learn this if we want to bring peace and happiness to the world. Otherwise, you just talk, talk, talk. Everything depends on whether you control your mind or not. Rinpoche translates verse 5.3 of Bodhicharyavatara as:
    If you fasten the elephant of your mind
    With the rope of remembrance all the time,
    All fears will become nonexistent
    And all virtues will come into your hands.


    By subduing the mind, which is like a crazy elephant, you can achieve anything you want. Whether or not you experience samsara or nirvana, hell or enlightenment—this all depends on whether or not you control your mind.
    Verse 5.17 of Bodhicharyavatara says:
    If someone doesn’t know the supreme principal of the Dharma,
    The secrecy of the mind,
    Even if they wish to achieve happiness and destroy suffering,
    They will wander in samsara without meaning.
    and verse 5.18cd:


    Except for conduct protecting the mind
    What is the use of so many conducts?

    Rinpoche explains that all the capacities of the mind are based on...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues his teachings for ordained Sangha, which are open to all who wish to benefit from his advice. He explains in this video, recorded on August 10, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, that trying on being Sangha, like trying different foods hoping they bring you happiness, is not being real Sangha. You can enjoy wearing the robes and trying them on, but if it is just like a trip, your mind is not Sangha. If your mind is messy and not healthy, you easily give up your liberation and enlightenment.
    Rinpoche then reminds us of the motivation for listening to the teachings. A perfect human rebirth—qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses—is extremely rare, Rinpoche explains. It is not enough for ourselves to be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings. The real purpose of life is to not harm others and on the basis of that to benefit the numberless sentient beings and free them from the oceans of samsaric sufferings by oneself alone. We listen to the teachings to achieve this.
    As Rinpoche explained in his recent teachings, by engaging in nonvirtue, you become habituated to it and do it again. By doing this, you make your future lives sooo difficult. You know that it’s bad, but you can’t stop doing it due to past habituation. In fact, much of your behavior is due to habituation with negative karma, and due to that habituation, it becomes more and more difficult to separate from negative karma. You think only of today’s happiness, not about future lives. Your wrong concept is cheating you, causing you to drown in an ocean of attachment and anger.
    The coronavirus manifests in different ways according to one’s karma. Some people have some pain and sickness, some have no symptoms, and some die. Rinpoche discusses some of the different ways the virus has manifested in people he knows, and also the possibility that he had the virus himself just with very mild symptoms. When we meet with suffering, we don’t remember karma. We can even believe killing ourselves is the solution to the pain we are experiencing. When one is having emotional problems, spirits can also harm you. Rinpoche shares some examples of people who have been harmed by spirits.

    Rinpoche then reads and gives commentary on the Sutra on Having Perfect Morality. (This starts at 50:19 in the video.)

    Referencing Nagarjuna in Letter to a Friend, Rinpoche reminds us again that even great pain in the human realm is nothing compared to a small suffering in the hell realm, and the suffering has to be experienced until the negative karma finishes.
    Rinpoche concludes by saying that Sangha are given unbelievable freedom by being able to purify twice a month with sojong, which is the monastics’ confession day. You should think that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is reciting sojong for you. Because we can’t see Buddha in that aspect, he recites in the form of the abbot. You see the abbot reciting it, but you should know that it is actually Buddha reciting for the Sangha. Buddha is so kind. Unbelievable, most incredible.
    For links to the transcript, translations, and more resources:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/by-the-force-of-habituation-you-uncontrollably-engage-in-nonvirtue-again/

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this video, recorded on August 6, 2021, at Kopan Monastery, reminding listeners that while this teaching is being given specifically for ordained Sangha, anyone is welcome to take the advice offered.

    If you haven’t spent your life with a good heart and a positive mind, Rinpoche warns, and instead spend your life trying this and that until life finishes, then you will go to the lower realms. There are many wrong views available to you in this life. You have to check the quality of these views carefully, the same way you check the quality of clothing or food before you purchase it.

    Rinpoche then recounts several stories, including about the building of Lama Yeshe's stupa at Tushita Meditation Centre, Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, and Serkong Dorje Chang.

    Rinpoche reminds us of the motivation for listening to the teachings—to free the numberless sentient beings from oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment by oneself alone. Therefore, you think of how you must achieve the state of omniscience to do that. Therefore, you are listening to the teachings.

    Being attached to sex has not freed you from the oceans of samsaric suffering, Rinpoche observes. Since beginningless times, every sentient being has been one’s own husband, wife, children, and so forth. You have cheated yourself by thinking that the pleasures of this life that you experience are new. You believe you are meeting someone for the first time.

    By learning Dharma, you can recognize right and wrong concepts. Usually in the world, any suffering is attributed to outside influences: animals, insects, other people. Rinpoche explains that this is from not knowing Dharma. Learning about Dharma is learning about your life, your mind, and your concepts. It is learning what is the right mind and what is the wrong mind, so you can stop having the wrong mind. Then you can have a healthy, beneficial, harmless, and right life, and have all the good things right up to perfect enlightenment.

    You have been totally deceived by your attachment and wrong concepts since beginningless rebirths. Therefore, there is nothing to be attached to. It’s all a hallucination! Since there is nothing to be attached to, you should renounce samsara. Samsaric happiness is only suffering; this is the heart of Buddhism.

    You experience suffering until your negative karma finishes, Rinpoche explains. Even great pain in the human realm is nothing compared to a small suffering in the hell realm.

    Rinpoche then shares the four suffering results of sexual misconduct:

    1. The Ripened-Aspect Result of Sexual Misconduct: This means a rebirth in the lower realms.

    2. The Possessed Result of Sexual Misconduct: You are born as a human being but the environment is muddy, dirty, unhealthy, and has contagious diseases and viruses. Even if we just spend five minutes in a place like this, that is the result of past sexual misconduct.

    3. Experiencing the Result Similar to the Cause of Sexual Misconduct: However you harmed others, you experience others doing this type of harm to you.

    4. Creating the Cause Similar to the Result: This is done due to habituation with the past negative karma of sexual misconduct. Even if you think an action is bad, you do it uncontrollably. By engaging in nonvirtue, you become habituated to it, and do it again and again. This is the same for stealing, telling lies, killing—any negative behavior you're engaged in.

    Even in lay life you can abandon sexual misconduct. There are five lay vows one can take to help abstain from negative actions such as sexual misconduct. In this teaching we are discussing the purpose to become Sangha.

    Rinpoche then recites the Phagpa Chulung Rolpai Do Mantra: OṂ HANU PHASHA BHARA HE YE SVĀHĀ. He explains that each time you see this mantra, it purifies your negative karma, one hundred thousand eons!
    Rinpoche also holds up the Buddha's Teachings on Our Lives card and explains

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on July 31, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by referencing this quote by Thogme Sango in Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva:
    All sufferings come from desiring happiness for oneself.
    Full enlightenment comes from the thought of benefitting others.
    Therefore, exchanging one’s own happiness for the suffering of others
    Is the practice of bodhisattvas.

    Rinpoche gives commentary on this passage and explains that all undesirable things, all the sufferings we experience, come from desiring happiness for oneself. Therefore, exchanging one’s own happiness for the suffering of others is the practice of bodhisattvas.
    When pleasure and problems happen, you can see whether or not you are practicing Dharma. When a problem comes, it is like you are completely drowned in the ocean. Instead of thinking of Dharma to solve and overcome your problem, you are "under" the problem, not having control over it. When pleasure comes, you are totally distracted by it, you are under the control of worldly concern and attachment, again—like you are drowning in the ocean. This is when you can see if you are practicing Dharma or not.
    Because you are a human being, and not a stone or wood, you can benefit others. Even the ants or mosquitoes—you can make sure not to step on them, you can take them around holy objects, you can do what you can to benefit them. Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM three times and blowing on any sentient being purifies so much negative karma. If you aren’t living to benefit others, you are living a very dry, uninteresting, boring life! Using your life to achieve enlightenment is not boring at all.
    Rinpoche then reviews the motivation for receiving oral transmissions and teachings. He also discusses the great yogi Thangtong Gyalpo in preparation for the oral transmissions he gives later in the teaching.


    Before the oral transmissions, Rinpoche explains that the benefits of reciting and hearing OM MANI PADME HUM are extensive. Rinpoche lists many of these benefits and provides commentary on each:


    • Reciting it one time purifies the four defeats of a fully ordained monk
    • Reciting it purifies the five heavy negative karmas without a break
    • Reciting it seven times purifies the negative karma of one hundred lifetimes
    • Reciting it twenty-one times purifies the negative karma of 1,000 eons
    • Reciting it 108 times purifies the negative karma of 40,000 eons
    • Anyone who hears it gets a higher rebirth
    • When you recite it, your mind is free from expectations and therefore pure


    In short, Rinpoche stresses to us that we must recite OM MANI PADME HUM while we still have a perfect human rebirth.


    Rinpoche then offers, “a million, zillion, trillion” thanks to all the one hundred Sangha who join together on Saturdays for twenty-four hours to recite OM MANI PADME HUM for the COVID-19 pandemic. He also thanks everybody at Chenrezig Institute who arranged all the technical aspects that allow for this to happen online.


    Rinpoche ends this video by offering commentary on and the oral transmissions in Tibetan of three prayers of Thangtong Gyalpo: “Liberating Sakya from Disease” (starting at 37:45 in the video), “Words of Truth Pacifying the Danger of Weapons” (39:45), and “A Request to Pacify the Fear of Famine” (42:57). Rinpoche also offers the oral transmission of King of Prayers (1:01:21), Homage to Tathagata Amitabha and Buddha Amitayus, A Brief Prayer to Be Reborn in Sukhavati (1:11:04), and The Array of Sukhavati Pure Land (1:13:15).


    --
    Find links to the transcript, texts for the oral transmissions, translations, and more:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/a-zillion-thanks-to-the-sangha-for-reciting-manis-during-the-pandemic/

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on July 30, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, explaining that while he’s offering this teaching specifically to the Sangha at this time—to encourage them to keep their vows as those intent on the virtue that is nirvana—anyone is welcome to listen and benefit from the advice.
    The total cessation of obscurations, is nirvana, ultimate happiness. It is forever, not like you are going on vacation, which is only temporary and is actually suffering, and not pleasure as your hallucinated mind believes. Because nirvana is everlasting happiness, it is worthwhile to bear hardships in order to practice Dharma. As an example, Rinpoche shares that Milarepa bore hardships such as living on nettles for many years and building a nine-story building three times alone, and then achieved enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times. This was due to all the hardships Milarepa experienced, not in spite of them. As another example, Rinpoche explains that the bodhisattva Always Crying One sacrificed himself to follow his guru and collected two great eons of merit in seven years’ time.
    Right now you see samsara as a beautiful park in the same way that dogs see kaka as nectar. If you analyze it, you can see clearly that there is no pleasure existing from its own side. You label pleasure, but the mind is merely imputing this. The label came from the negative imprint left on the continuation of your consciousness since beginningless rebirths. Your entire life needs to be analyzed, then you recognize the truth. You discriminate “good” and “bad,” then attachment and anger arise. From there you create all the negative karma. This is why it is so important to learn Dharma! Everything is embodied in the lamrim, the three principal aspects of the path.
    Samsaric pleasures cheat us, like honey on a knife. It is not only a hallucination, but it is what creates negative karma—not only suffering in this life but causes the lower realms. Being pierced by three hundred spears is nothing compared to a small suffering in hell. If you understood the suffering of hell, you would faint.


    Grasping at samsaric pleasures is like a fish seeing a worm and getting caught on the hook. The fish sees the worm and thinks, “Oh! There’s something to eat!” They see pleasure and immediately jump toward it but then become hooked there and death follows. There are many examples like this—there is so much clinging to pleasure only to be cheated and destroyed by it.


    Even beauty can’t be found when you analyze it. Someone you think of as so beautiful, visualize them without their skin. Then see them as a pile of skin, flesh, and bones—where is the beauty? Then using the example of blood: when the body is cut, one bleeds. This is frightening to see. Even the skin itself, if you looked at it with a magnifying glass, you can see all of the bumps. There’s no beauty to be attached to if you examine the body; it exists because you labeled it as beautiful, but this came from your mind. Your negative imprints project good and bad, you differentiate between beautiful and ugly, causing attachment and anger to arise. Without analyzing it looks like beauty comes from the outside, but that’s a total hallucination. This is why practicing mindfulness every day is necessary. It solves the wrong concept.


    You can counteract attachment to someone’s body by thinking about what’s inside it—muscles, nerves, blood, flesh, skeleton. You can also counteract attachment to someone’s body by thinking it has a dirty smell when it isn’t washed and perfumed, or when it is dead.


    Even insects project beauty onto other insects of the opposite sex and wish to have sex with them. The same is true for human beings; negative imprints cause us to see particular body parts as beautiful. From the side of the body, there is no beauty at all. It is difficult to take the lay vow to abstain from sexual misconduct because attachment overcomes the mind...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on July 25, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us that the perfect human rebirth doesn’t last long. This body is like a machine—breathing in and out—and can stop at any time. Why does the body keep working? Karma. How long the breath lasts is also due to karma. It can stop at any time, we have to remember this. Some students have even died while using the bathroom. It can happen at any time, and when you don’t expect it, so while you are still breathing, make your life most beneficial for others by doing everything with bodhichitta.
    The two basic practices in your life should be the two bodhichittas: absolute bodhichitta and conventional bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the two wishes; one is the wish to benefit sentient beings, and one is the wish to achieve enlightenment. The real purpose of life is to benefit numberless sentient beings, to free them from suffering and bring them to enlightenment by yourself. Therefore, you need to achieve enlightenment. This is the motivation for listening to the teachings.
    It is so important to know that samsaric pleasures are actually the suffering of change. Most students meditate on the suffering of pain, but they don’t meditate on how samsaric pleasures are in the nature of suffering, or on pervasive compounding suffering. This third type of suffering, the pervasive compounding suffering, is the most important to meditate on; it is the suffering of samsara. When you are free of this type of suffering, you become free from the other two sufferings, the suffering of pain and the suffering of change.


    As Rinpoche mentioned yesterday, quoting from Lama Chopa verses 87cd-88ab, you have to renounce the thought of seeing samsara as a beautiful park:


    "Please bless me to generate a strong wish to be liberated
    From the endless and terrifying great ocean of samsara."

    "Having renounced the thought seeing samsara,
    Which is difficult to bear like being in prison, as a beautiful park,"

    You have to abandon this thought of the hallucinated mind.


    If there were no negative imprints left on the mental continuum by ignorance, there would be no projection of a real I. Rinpoche explains how the thought focuses on the aggregates—form, feeling, cognition, compositional factors, and consciousness—and that is the phenomenon or base that is merely labeled "I." When that happens, it is extremely fine, so subtle, Rinpoche emphasizes. It is not that the I doesn’t exist. The I exists, but it is like it doesn’t exist. The negative imprints left by ignorance on the continuation of our consciousness decorate the I that just now was merely imputed, projecting true existence, existing from its own side. So we think, “This is real. This is true!” Believing, holding onto that—that is ignorance. As you are creating ignorance, you are creating the root of samsara, the root of all suffering. This is from ignorance holding the I as truly existent.


    Your hallucinated mind also makes up pleasure. If you check up on samsaric pleasure, you can see it is the basis of all suffering. Your mind labels it as pleasure. In reality, it is a hallucination, made up by the mind according to the different things an individual wants. Traveling, drugs, sex, going into the mountains—these various things are labeled pleasure according to the individual, but in reality there is nothing there at all. You have to recognize the hallucination as a hallucination. If you don’t look at the dream as a dream, you believe it is real. Then all of the problems of anger, ignorance, and attachment, all the delusions, arise.


    --
    For links to this teaching's transcript, translations, and practice resources:
    https://fpmt.org/lama-zopa-rinpoche-news-and-advice/advice-from-lama-zopa-rinpoche/renounce-the-thought-seeing-samsara-as-a-beautiful-park/

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on July 22, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us of the motivation he established last session, particularly for the Sangha. He emphasized requesting the guru for blessings to be able to generate a strong wish to be liberated from samsara, quoting verse 87 of Lama Chopa. Rinpoche adds that for this teaching’s motivation, we can look to verse 88 from Lama Chopa:
    Having renounced the thought seeing samsara,
    Which is difficult to bear like being in prison, as a beautiful park,
    Please bless me to hold the three higher trainings, the treasure of the exalted beings’ wealth,
    And then to uphold the victory banner of liberation.
    In this way, the motivation is to renounce the thought of seeing samsara as a beautiful park. You don’t want to think like this even for a second.
    People in the East look at life in the West as pleasurable, Rinpoche explains, but soon find out that the lifestyle is very expensive! Many Tibetans work hard all year to save money in order to make offerings to the monasteries. This is their way of collecting merit by doing something good each year. This is very different than the customs in the West, where people work hard just to support an expensive lifestyle. Rinpoche cautions that if your mind is not holy Dharma, your actions become nonvirtue. So even if you give all of your money to the monastery, your motivation is what determines whether this is worldly dharma, resulting in future suffering, or holy Dharma, which is the cause of happiness.
    Rinpoche then discussed going on pilgrimage to Gyalwa Dromtonpa’s monastery in Tibet. Dromtonpa said that practicing holy Dharma means you renounce this life. Renouncing this life means giving up attachment clinging to this life. All the sufferings, all the problems, all nonvirtue—all of this comes from the root, which is the eight worldly concerns, clinging to the pleasures of this life. So renouncing means giving this up. There is more and more dissatisfaction the more wealth you have. It is the worst suffering. Even though you have everything materially, the mind suffers unbelievably. Rich people look at poor people and think they are happier than them, but having that much wealth causes so many mental problems and so much suffering. Being in samsara is like being in the center of a fire, like sitting on top of a needle, like being in prison.
    The essential path to become free from samsara is the practice of the three higher trainings: morality, concentration, and wisdom.
    Rinpoche then discusses why it is so important to be Sangha. Lama Tsongkhapa explained in Lamrim Chenmo that being ordained makes it easy to practice the higher training of morality—which is the base of all realizations. Generally, Sangha have more time to practice Dharma than lay people. This is because many lay people get caught in family life and there is no time to practice and actualizing the path becomes very difficult. Due to having more freedom to practice, Sangha can develop renunciation and then compassion. This is why it is very important to have the motivation to request the guru for blessings to be able to uphold the three higher trainings and receive liberation.
    Your view depends on how pure or impure your mind is. What you see on the outside is all according to your mind. The more impure your mind is, the more impure things appear outside. If your mind is more pure, you will see things outside as pure also. To a Buddha, whatever appears is only a pure appearance—negative imprints are totally removed, and there is no dualistic view.
    Attachment and anger arise only after you discriminate “good” or “bad.” Lama Tsongkhapa mentioned this in Lamrim Chenmo:
    Ignorance, which is in the nature of exaggeration, exaggerates the differentiation into
    good and bad. Then attachment and anger arise. Therefore, the way of holding [objects]
    by these [wrong concepts] can also be gotten rid of by logic.
    Real pleasure is a...

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche begins this teaching, recorded on July 20, 2021 at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, discussing two important and powerful holy objects.
    First, Rinpoche discussed the three-story Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) statue being built in Maratika, Nepal, to pacify war, famine, and disease—and, of course, for all the six-realm sentient beings, who have been suffering from beginningless rebirths, to be free from samsara and achieve enlightenment.
    Then, Rinpoche discusses the Maitreya Buddha statue being built in Bodhgaya, India, on the land offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This statue is also being built to pacify war, famine, and disease.
    Rinpoche explains that one can never know what is going to happen. There are earthquakes, landslides, flooding, and other disasters of the elements. There can also be viruses, famine, war—all kinds of things can happen in samsara. Even in places like Germany, no one expected flash floods there, but they occurred. These dangers actually come from people’s minds, from their karma. So even in an area where a certain disaster wouldn’t be expected, it can happen. Most people don’t have the merit to understand karma, so they believe in the wrong things and attribute causes to the wrong things.
    Because Buddhism explains the mind, studying it is important, Rinpoche says, even if you don’t believe it! Even if you are not practicing or believing, you are developing wisdom by studying the Dharma.
    Due to practicing Dharma, karma can ripen as suffering in this life rather than in the hell realm. This is due to purification from practicing virtue. Instead of having to experience the heaviest suffering for eons, the karma ripens as some catastrophe in this life, and then there will be happiness in the future.
    Rinpoche illustrates this point, quoting Kadampa Geshe Kharag Gomchung from Mind Training: The Seventy-Two Exhortations:
    Even this small present suffering
    Finishes past heavy negative karma,
    And then in the future there will be happiness.
    Therefore, feel happy with your suffering.
    Rinpoche then discusses verses 85–87 from Lama Chopa:
    Realizing how this perfect human body of freedoms and richnesses
    Is found only one time, is difficult to find again, and easily perishes,
    Please bless me to make it meaningful and take its essence,
    Without being distracted by the meaningless activities of this life.
    Being afraid of the blazing suffering of the lower realms,
    Please bless me to voluntarily persevere in
    Going for refuge from my heart to the Three Rare Sublime Ones,
    Abandoning negative karma, and practicing all the collections of virtue.
    Violently tossed by the waves of afflicted actions and disturbing thoughts,
    Harmed by the many water lions of the three types of suffering,
    Please bless me to generate a strong wish to be liberated
    From the endless and terrifying great ocean of samsara.
    The first verse means we must make this perfect human rebirth truly meaningful. Then, we request the guru for blessings to go for refuge, abandon negative karma, and practice virtue. Rinpoche uses Milarepa as an example of how to practice this. Milarepa took on hardships purposefully. Many thought he was very poor and had nothing—but he achieved the whole path to enlightenment. Many people might think, “I have a job, I have money, I have an education.” They achieved whatever they needed to achieve, but they are still suffering in samsara because they don’t know Dharma.
    Rinpoche emphasizes that it is so important to request the guru for blessings to generate a strong wish to be liberated from the great ocean of samsara. We should request this single-pointedly, making the strongest request.
    This is the motivation we should have for listening to the teachings.
    Rinpoche reminds us that our personal suffering in samsara is nothing compared to that of numberless sentient beings, who have suffered since beginningless rebirths. Practicing the higher training of morality is the foundation for...