Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
|Not Repaying a Loan|
|A student was experiencing difficulty because her trusted friend was not paying back a large sum of money he had borrowed. The money was hard-earned from her business, and because her friend did not repay the loan, she had to borrow money from a bank. She wanted to execute a legal contract with this friend, but he kept delaying the meeting. She thought that the friend was cheating her and hiding some of the money, because he continued to live in luxury although he denied having any money.|
Although your friend continues to live a life of luxury, it doesn’t mean he has money and is hiding the money. There is an Indian man living in Hong Kong who failed in business, but in order to face the organization and the people, he needed to maintain the same lifestyle.
What you want to get from your friend you might not achieve, but you need to believe in past karma, so what you experience now is the result of what you did before. As Aryadeva said in 400 Verses, if we cheat one sentient being, then we will receive cheating in a hundred thousand lives—not just in one life, but in a hundred thousand lives.
Therefore it is said that, “Do not commit any evil, practice all good conduct, and purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddha.” If we don’t transform our mind, suffering comes.
FPMT had a project to buy a piece of land, but the person who helped to buy the land cheated a lot of money from FPMT. According to worldly methods, FPMT could sue this person and put him in jail, but I would never do that. Also one lady promised to help with some funds, but then she faced many difficulties. We spent a lot of money to help her in solving the difficulties, but in the end she disappeared, just like a show. Even checking the mo is under the control of karma.
In a past life, we created the cause and now we are experiencing the result. The object for us to experience the result could be either an ordinary being or a manifestation of holy beings, it’s hard to say.
We have to make sure that we are not causing the person to create negative karma by asking for the money back. Even if he is not able to give back all the money, just some of it would be fine. Also whatever we do to him, it depends on our motivation, on either virtue or non-virtue, and that will affect our future lives —not just one future life, but many future lives.
That student and the Maitreya Project experienced this because of past karma by our mind, so we have to think about our motivation. It is not that you can’t ask for the money, but it depends on your motivation. We have to think there are future lives, so how we are treated in this life —whether we are going to be happy or suffering —depends on our actions to others.
If our motivation is non-virtuous, we can experience a suffering result, not just once, but for a hundred or a thousand lifetimes, because karma is expandable. It is not that you can’t ask [for the money back]; you can ask for it, but your motivation has to be virtuous, so the future result is happy. If the motivation is non-virtuous then there is suffering for 500 or one thousand lifetimes.
It’s even more important to take care of future lives, because this life is just once. Taking care of future lives so we are free from samsara—how important that is. We want happiness in our future lives until we are free from samsara. It may be for numberless eons, I can’t say; it’s difficult to say. Your samsara might end after one life or two, I can’t say, it’s very difficult to say.
In this life, however much we suffer, it is just for very short time. There are people who live until they are 100 years old, but they are very few. It’s a very short life, so if we think about our happiness this year or in this life, no question that our future lives’ happiness is a billion, zillion, numberless times more important. Therefore, in this life if we cause others’ suffering, then we will be suffering in future; but if we cause happiness in this life, then we will have happiness in future.
When we don’t think about past and future lives, there is nothing to relate to about ourselves, and there are many ways to blame others. So many people in the world have this problem or a bigger problem.
Even we Buddhists believe these things, but in daily life when it is difficult, we don’t think about past or future lives; we think about this life and we blame others. But the minute we think about past and future lives, and about karma and reincarnation, because these different subjects come from our mind, our karma, that makes us think we need to take care of our life.
If we think the happiness of this life is so important, of course how important it is to achieve happiness in all our future lives, for numberless eons. It is so important, it is unimaginable. So that we have great happiness in the future, we must treat others well with every action, so we can enjoy so much unbelievable happiness in all our future lives . If we cause suffering to others in this life in order to achieve happiness for ourselves, that motivation is selfish and is done with the eight worldly dharmas. If we have a negative motivation, there is negative karma, then in so many future lives there will suffering. Therefore it is good to be wise in Dharma and in karma.
With love and prayers...
A student asked how to proceed in a situation where a person was unable to pay back money she had lent her. She was seeking a return of the loan at this time in order to be able to fund a three-year retreat that she was planning to do.
I suggest you ask the person owing the money to return as much money as he or she is able, since now there is an important reason for the money to be returned. Then, whatever amount he or she is unable to repay you, you should make an offering of that amount to the person, regarding it as an act of charity toward a sentient being, which is a practice of the bodhisattvas.
Government Taking Money
A Chinese student from Singapore married a very wealthy man who had 50 wives. He owned a large Indonesian company that produced cigarettes, but she tried to use the money to help poor, sick people. She went to the hospital quite often to translate for people from Indonesia. If they couldn’t afford to pay the hospital bills, she paid them. She prayed to Kuan Yin and other Buddhas, and received answers and guidance from them, and so was able to help other poor, sick people.
Her husband died in 1978, when the economy of Indonesia collapsed. At the time, the company was in business, but the president appropriated the company’s funds, saying that the government needed one billion U.S. dollars, and would repay it later. This was the family’s money and was supposed to be divided among the family, according to the husband’s will.
Rinpoche commented later that many businesspeople would collapse completely if they lost a billion U.S. dollars. He said some might even commit suicide, thinking it was the worst thing that could happen. This student was upset with the president, but not too angry. Rinpoche said the following.
You must rejoice that the president and the Indonesian government got the money. One billion dollars is so much money that if you rejoice, you receive unbelievable merit. If you collect merit, then you will also make money. Due to this merit, you could make even more than you lost.
Think in this way: even the earth will be empty one day. One day, none of this will exist any more. We will have to leave everything, including this body, all our family, relations, and possessions—everything. We have to separate from them one day. What this means is that even if the Indonesian government didn’t take the money, at the time of death all these things would have to be left behind. Since death can happen any time, this separation can happen at any time.
Generally, life is not long. You certainly will not live 1,000 years. To live even just 100 years is possible, but only a small number do. It’s better to have a happy mind and positive mind toward one another. Looking at this situation in a positive way is good, because it makes you happy. If you are happy, you can make everybody else happy. Then when everybody is happy, if you give advice, somebody will listen.
Not Having Enough
A wealthy woman from Singapore wrote to tell Rinpoche about a woman who had come to see her, saying she planned to commit suicide so that her son would receive his inheritance. The woman from Singapore sought Rinpoche’s advice on how to help her.
My very dear Winnie,
Thank you very much for your kind letters. In the future, you need to check up on people when they come to see you, to know whether they are sincere or not. Some people might expect that by telling you they want to commit suicide, you might give them some money. You should check whether they are serious or just making it up. You can feel it, not just hear their words.
You also need to tell the lady who wanted to kill herself so her son would get money to live on, and any others like her who come in the future, that if she has $100, then she might want $1,000 next. And if she has $1,000, then she might want $10,000, and if she has $10,000, then she might want $1,000,000, on and on with no end.
If you don’t have the concept that what you have is enough, then even if you have $100,000,000, you won’t have enough, and therefore you will still be poor. If you have $100 or $1,000, and think that this is enough, that makes a person rich. Comparing yourself to those who have nothing or who have only $1 or $10 makes you rich.
This is just an idea to make the mind happy, and to eliminate the mind that never thinks it has enough, but always wants more and more.
Of course, if you can help her, that’s good. I’m not saying not to help.
Thank you very much. At the moment that is all.
With much love and prayer...
Struggling to Support a Family
A student with a family to support had been a practicing psychotherapist for many years in California, and had begun working as a motivational coach to businesses. He mentioned to Rinpoche that he was struggling financially.
Your primary focus must be bodhicitta. When you are concerned with inner growth, you must concentrate on bodhicitta first. By concentrating on bodhicitta, your problems become useful and tend not to last as long. They end.
And as a result of practicing this way, you also experience wealth. Not that wealth is the main goal, but when you engage in the practice of bodhicitta with the wish to get rid of your problems, you do get rid of the problems, and receive wealth. But if you experience the problems on behalf of all sentient beings, this brings realizations and wealth. Praying that way creates merit and inner growth, and, of course, all of this helps you attain wealth.
As for whether to work within the organization or seek a better salary outside, you have to take care of your family first. For this it would be best to continue working outside the organization.
In regards to the financial needs of your family, it does look difficult. It is important that you make as many offerings as possible every day to Medicine Buddha, the Twenty-One Taras and the sixteen arhants, and to always make these offerings with a strong bodhicitta motivation and prayers. Then, dedicate them to enlightenment with meditation on emptiness. In particular, the sur offering practice would be very good for you to do.