• Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues teaching on refuge in this new video. Rinpoche explains how “taking refuge is not only reciting words." He offers the example of a robot, which does not have a mind and which only recites words without feeling. Rinpoche then talks about the many ways we can benefit numberless sentient beings by taking them around holy objects and having holy images and mantras for them to see and so forth. Rinpoche also reviews the different kindnesses of sentient beings. Rinpoche concludes the video, returning to the topic of refuge and explaining what taking refuge is. When you truly go for refuge, you want to be saved because you are afraid of the lower realms and samsara. You also have total faith that the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha can guide you to safety, and you want to rely on them. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues his teachings on refuge from Kopan Monastery in Nepal. In this video Rinpoche reminds us that understanding the topic of refuge is so important because it can take a whole life of studying or even many lifetimes to understand it. Rinpoche offers commentary on Phabongkha Rinpoche’s teachings on refuge from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand as discussed in “Day Twelve” of this famous twenty-four day teaching on the lamrim. Rinpoche emphasizes that the more you think about other religions, the more you become devoted to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; and if you have two refuges, you lose your refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Rinpoche discusses the disadvantages of the Bön religion in detail and warns that “taking refuge is not only reciting words.” Read more about his teaching (here).

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  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues teaching on refuge. Quoting from Lama Seringpa, Rinpoche explains how we should immediately cast away our self-cherishing thought, which creates all our suffering. Then we should immediately cherish others, from whom we received ultimate happiness. We must also understand the three types of suffering--the suffering of pain, the suffering of change, and pervasive compounded suffering--and how we are bound to samsara. Since beginningless rebirths we have been reborn countless times in the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. “We need to be free from this,” Rinpoche says. Read more about his teaching in our blog (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues teaching on refuge, emphasizing that refuge is not something simple that you hear and chant. Instead, one has to understand the four noble truths extensively and also understand the qualities of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Rinpoche explains that it is extremely important to understand what ties us to the suffering of samsara. When we fully understand how karma and delusions lead to all suffering, we develop the “upset mind renouncing samsara,” which is so valuable. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues teaching on refuge, emphasizing how important it is to not belittle the guru with whom you have made a Dharma connection. Quoting the Fifth Dalai Lama, Rinpoche explains that what you see as mistakes by the guru are actually your own mistakes. Instead, you should see all that the guru does as positive. You should also be very careful about from whom you take refuge. Rinpoche illustrates this with cautionary stories and warning about practicing Dogyal. Rinpoche also offers a translation of the Mahayana Sutra Called “Going for Refuge to the Arya Three Rare Sublime Ones.” Read more about his teaching (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues discussing refuge in this recent teaching, reminding us that there are many ways in which we can help others, even with limited experience with and understanding of the path. For example, we can build holy objects and offer Dharma books and teachings to others, which helps them purify mistakes, create merit, and dispel ignorance. About the benefits of taking ultimate refuge in Buddha, one won’t be reborn in the lower realms and by taking strong refuge in Buddha, one’s 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. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues discussing refuge in this new video, reminding us that we must be careful about the objects in which we take refuge and making the point that it is best to go for refuge to Buddha. 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. Read more about his teaching here:

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche discusses the importance of taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha while we have this precious human rebirth; explains why Buddha can definitely guide you, especially if you go for refuge to Buddha; and reminds us that cherishing others most is the path of the bodhisattva. Read more about his teaching here:

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche discusses the benefits of making offerings to stupas, in particular Boudha Stupa in Nepal. Then, joined by Kopan senior Sangha, Rinpoche leads an offering practice to Boudha Stupa, which with you can follow along. Rinpoche also offers 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. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • In this new thought transformation teaching video, Lama Zopa Rinpoche offers insight into the nature of depression and provides methods to reduce it. Rinpoche emphasizes that our mistaken view of how the I exists plants the seeds for depression. By looking into how our mind labels things good and bad, when nothing exists from its own side, we can begin to see that there's no basis for depression to arise. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • In this new thought transformation teaching video, Lama Zopa Rinpoche offers insight into the nature of depression and provides methods to reduce it. Rinpoche emphasizes that our mistaken view of how the I exists plants the seeds for depression. By looking into how our mind labels things good and bad, when nothing exists from its own side, we can begin to see that there's no basis for depression to arise. Read more about his teaching (here).

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues offering teachings specifically intended for ordained Sangha, but everyone is welcome to benefit from Rinpoche's advice. He begins this video teaching, recorded on August 19, 2021, at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, by reminding us that we have received this perfect human rebirth with the freedom to practice Dharma qualified by the eight freedoms and ten richnesses. This rebirth is extremely rare and precious. Even having the first freedom of not being born in hell is most precious.
    It is important to understand your own samsaric suffering. If you don't, you can’t generate compassion for all sentient beings. You must view being in samsara as being in the center of a fire. You have to feel all of your suffering as unbearable, not as pleasure. From that, great compassion for every sentient being comes. From that, bodhichitta arises—the thought to free all beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. For that, we need omniscience and enlightenment for ourselves. No one achieves enlightenment without saying goodbye to samsara.
    This life is amazing, but it can stop at any time. Right now there are numberless beings dying in the mother’s womb, as babies, as children, in middle age, in old age; one's breathing can stop at any time. It is like a bubble in water or lightning in the sky.
    Rinpoche then discusses the power of holy objects and the benefits of building statues, stupas, and temples. Often building statues and temples doesn’t make sense to Westerners. They think it is too expensive and a waste of money, Rinpoche explains, because they don’t understand the benefits.

    Rinpoche quotes from and gives commentary on Sutra Requested by King Prasenajit.

    Referring to the teachings of Pandita Nagkyi Rinchen, Rinpoche says that even the creatures killed under the feet of people building a temple will not fall into the lower realms.

    According to the White Lotus Sutra, even looking at a drawing of a buddha when you are angry causes you to gradually see ten million buddhas.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the real stupa is the realizations of the path to enlightenment within you. You need to dedicate yourself to actualizing the lamrim. No matter how much practice, prostrations, and mantras you do, the main path is listening, reflecting, and meditating on the lamrim.
    You cannot receive the blessings of the buddhas without a guru. The guru is the channel through which the ten-direction buddhas guide you and speak to you. You should serve the guru with the mindfulness that the guru is the channel for all the buddhas. The guru is not just someone who gives you a Dharma education. That is a very ordinary view. Without strong guru devotion, heresy and anger arise in relation to the guru, and you create the heaviest negative karma among the negative karmas. Because the essence is pleasing the guru, you need to concentrate on that in everyday life. By pleasing the guru, negative karmas get burned in one second!
    Some people spend their whole lives meditating without an object because they don’t have a correct guru. After some time, your mind becomes dull. In this world it is very difficult to meet a perfect guru. For those that do not have the merit to meet a perfect guru and receive perfect teachings, and who have so much suffering and are going on the wrong path, you can develop compassion for them.
    You also cannot achieve enlightenment without bodhichitta. As much as possible, do everything with bodhichitta. Even if you don’t have a realization of bodhichitta, but have a bodhichitta motivation, everything you do becomes a cause for enlightenment. By making requests to your guru with firm devotion, you develop realizations.
    In order to achieve enlightenment in a brief lifetime, you need to practice highest yoga tantra because otherwise you lose the opportunity. Then, to be able to develop compassion, to be able to develop the graduated path to enlightenment,...

  • 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 keeping...

  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.

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