Kopan Course No. 14 (1981) Audio and Unedited Transcripts
The following are excerpts from the teachings given by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the Fourteenth Kopan Meditation Course. The teachings include a commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara (A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life).
Unfortunately, one of the tapes from Lecture Six was lost, and the remaining recordings were not good enough to publish online. So we have posted only those which are most clear.
The entire lightly-edited transcript of Rinpoche's teachings from this course can be read or downloaded here.
- Lecture 1: Qualities of Dharma and Teachers
- Lecture 1: White Tara
- Lecture 2: Manjushri; Why There Are Different Aspects of Buddha
- Lecture 2: How to Remove Suffering; Emptiness of the I
- Lectures 2-3: Emptiness of the I, continued; Nature of Mind
- Lecture 3: Nature of Mind, continued; Labeling I
- Lectures 3-4: Labeling I, continued
- Lecture 4: Three Types of Valid Knowledge; How the I Exists
- Lectures 5-6: Samsaric Suffering; Shortcomings of Self-Cherishing Thought
Lecture 1: Qualities of Dharma and Teachers
First I would like to, can you hear, people who are sitting on the edge around? [pause] Then you meditate . Maybe next year. [pause]
First I would like to express, thank, also I have great rejoicefulness that many people came from various countries, from very far countries to seek the peace of mind. I'm not sure what kind of peace of mind you want , you need it. I am not quite sure. Has to be examined. However, peace of mind, happiness. But my rejoicefulness is not just desiring peace, my rejoicefulness or the thanks is not just seeking peace, not just seeking happiness, that, seeking happiness, any living being, any being who has unsubdued mind, all these living beings, even the creatures, even the tiny creatures which we cannot see without machines, even they have thought to seek happiness. Because desiring happiness and not desiring suffering even those tiniest creatures they move around whatever they can. Even though they have such a tiny body, however, attempt as much as possible, whatever it can.
So the surprise, I am not thinking of just that. My great rejoicefulness that I have for you is not being satisfied with what you have been doing before, so far, what you have been doing, what you have been managing in this life in regards to obtaining the mind-peace. Not being satisfied, understanding this, discovering this: what I have been doing is not enough, there is something wrong in that. There is something wrong, it is not enough. There is something wrong with, what I have been doing that is not enough. So there must be something else, which is more correct, which definitely brings happiness. Which does not mislead. By doing that you get what you want. Not something that you dislike it, not something that you did not wish . Not something that you get shocked.
You open your own mind to seek a new method. Not having closed mind, not closing your mind by yourself. Giving opportunity, you are giving opportunity to yourself to seek the method, to understand, to practice, to accomplish, to accomplish the ultimate, not only the temporal happiness and perfections but ultimate happiness. Everlasting release. So this is a great surprise, a great surprise that it happened to find this in your action, in your life.
However, you might have heard my name, in the papers, Lama Zopa, something like that. You might have heard in the papers, pictures, or you were told by somebody else, in the restaurant, or at the beach or in the movies. Anyway, I'm joking. However, you might have come here to hear something, to learn some meditation or to hear something from me. Somebody who is called Lama Zopa. However, just from myself, just from my side, I don't have hope that you will receive benefits, because I am not a meditator, not a holy Dharma practitioner. My practice, what I really practice is the worldly dharma not holy Dharma. But here nowadays we have many learned monks, geshes, learned monks who spent whole their life from child-time, from ten, fifteen, thirteen, age nine, from child-time up till now, thirty, forty, fifty years, their whole life they lived in the monastery and studied. I did not do like that. I didn't study. Of course I did touch the scriptures. Little bit touched, you know, little bit pushed, little bit touched, like baby touching books, like that, putting up and down the pages. Like that I did, that kind of thing I did. The body touching the text. That's all.
So I think there are perfectly qualified teachers, highly learned. And they themselves are living, not just speaking the words, but themselves are living in the practice. This is the most important thing. In the world, on this earth, there are many professors, many people who studied the words and who speak. But who are living in the experience, who are living in the practice, teacher himself who either lived or living in the practice what he speaks, living in the practice, living, himself living in the discipline what he speaks. Himself is living that, himself becoming an example, that is rare to find, very rare to find. That kind of teacher, guru, teacher, virtuous friend, those are worthwhile to follow, there is no misleading.
I think you people are highly fortunate to receive profound, extensive teachings, profound without the slightest mistake. Specially if you can understand Tibetan language. I'm joking. However sometimes there can be difficulties in the translation. But even if some mistake happens it can be rectified, explained again, it can be corrected by other people who understand. Also from the side of the geshe and from the side of the translator, so like this it can be corrected. Also if you have doubts, not clear, doubts, like that, it can be discussed. Can be made clear, can be made that much clearer. But if you live in the practice, if you really try, if you put into practice, when you start to really experience, then that time, that is the time then it really becomes clear. It starts to become clear when you start to experience, yourself living in the practice. So anyway, things can be made that much clearer in regards understanding the words, definition of the words, the meaning of the Dharma, like this.
Buddhadharma is something that the more you study, the more you check, it becomes more and more clear. It becomes more and more deeper, more clear. That is the nature, the particular nature of the Buddhadharma.
The more you understand, the more you study, the more you check, it doesn't become weaker and weaker and more and more faulty, you don't see more and more faults. So definitely even though there are other problems, although it is hard, you have other problems, even though it is hard when you listen to the teachings, when you do the meditation, however in this short time - it is like one night, we think one month is incredible long, however, it is like last night's dream, so short. It might seem to be very hard and very difficult, in fact it is like last night's dream, it is like one second of meditation course, it is like that, this one time that we do. If one attempts, if you attempt with patience, if you continue to study, to listen to the teachings, to meditate, to practice as much as you can, definitely there is unimaginable benefit that you receive. Specially those geshes, you know, highly learned. So there is no question about the benefits. Benefits for your temporal and ultimate mind peace. Specially after the course, after you understood more and more teachings, after you understood the fundamental teachings, then you would find how it has been worthwhile, greatly worthwhile. How each meditation session, how each session of listening to the teachings during the course, how each of these times has been so precious. How each of the time doing meditation, listening to the teachings, how each of these hours, minutes, has been so precious and so worthwhile. The more you understand the teachings in the future, more and more you understand especially the fundamental teachings, then you will see this back. Something that you feel great rejoicefulness that you have done this. [pause]
Can you hear? Can you hear those who are around? Those who are sitting on the edge? ..... How much difficult? - I think what can be done, maybe we can have short pipi break, then sit close, sit tight. I think this next hour, I don't think I will talk. (thunder) Also it might rain. Anyway we cannot hear.
[Everybody moves closer]
I have a request to you, to you people, asking a favor to do. That is to recite mantra, a long-life mantra, one particular aspect, (you see, it started to rain) one particular aspect of Buddha, female aspect of Buddha called Tara. Is there an example? Can you pass it around?
The right hand is in the mudra of granting sublime realizations and the left hand is in the mudra of granting guidance, guiding from the fears, from the sufferings, guiding the sentient beings from fear, from suffering, like this.
And these mudras have significations. The two fingers joined like this can signify enlightenment, the unified state, enlightenment, the unified state of the holy body and the holy mind, the achievement. And usually these three fingers standing signifies Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Triple Gems. Then it can signify also the three principles of the path: mind renouncing samsara, bodhicitta - renouncing self, cherishing other sentient beings; that ultimate good heart, bodhicitta, then also wisdom realizing voidness. The three principals paths to enlightenment. By taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha one achieves enlightenment, the unified state of the holy body and holy mind - one can understand in that way. One can understand, by actualizing the three principal paths one can achieve the unified state, enlightenment. However, then there can be other explanations. Then, holding the upali flower, the left hand is in the mudra of granting guidance, guiding from fears, from sufferings, the sufferings of samsara.
White Tara has seven eyes, one eye on each foot, then one eye on each palm, then there is the third eye, so as you have seen in the picture. That is just to have an idea of that manifestation, to have just a rough idea. What is drawn in the thangkas or what you can see on the picture is just a rough idea of how it looks, the manifestation. In the meditation we should visualize better than that if you can.
The dharmakaya, the holy mind the most important thing to think first or to feel is this. The most important thing that is the dharmakaya, the holy mind, which is complete in all the realizations and purified of all the obscurations, devoid of all the mistakes, this holy mind, this pure, completely pure holy mind, dharmakaya, or which is the absolute guru, the real guru, the absolute guru. This, in order to guide yourself and other sentient beings, manifested in this particular aspect, female aspect, having one face, two arms, having the legs in the vajra posture, in that aspect. The essence is that, the dharmakaya, the pure holy mind. And holy body in the aspect the holy body, very clear, calm, in the nature of light, extremely beautiful one you visualize seated on the lotus and the moon disc and then down below, [pause] this mantra, the purpose of reciting this particular aspect of Buddha, Tara, White Tara's mantra, is mainly because some students here asked what can be done for the long life of Lama Yeshe. [pause] You might be able to see Lama Yeshe after about two weeks, you might be able to hear teachings. So some students asked what can be done for the long life of Lama Yeshe? So this particular Buddha's mantra come out highly beneficial to recite, about one hundred thousand times. Also I think it come out beneficial that if here in the course everybody recites. Also the number finishes soon. One hundred thousand times, if many people recite, then the number finishes soon, also like this, less expensive. I am joking, anyway.
So the visualization those who have received initiation, Kriya Tantra initiations, Tara, the great Kriya Tantra initiation, the great Maha-anuttara Tantra initiations, there is a particular visualization to do if anybody, parents, any other sick person who has danger in the life, who has danger of shortage of the life, then to do the meditation in order to have long life there is a particular meditation to do, generating yourself in that deity, then at the heart, there is a particular meditation to do.
Anyway, what we can do is this: so you visualize Tara, then underneath, down below, Lama Yeshe. If you have seen a picture of Lama Yeshe, anyway, Lama Yeshe, His Holiness Dalai Lama, any of the holy beings, think all the holy beings there, holy beings who work for the sentient beings to eliminate their sufferings, to obtain happiness. All the holy beings are down below Tara. Then nectar rays, like milk, that color, flowing from the Tara's heart and filled the holy beings, the holy bodies like a glass filled with milk, the long-life nectar, filled their holy bodies with the long-life nectar, like that...[tape change]
...visualize the enemy, the enemy whom you dislike or who hates you, then all the rest of the sentient beings. So, h/e think the enemy in front of you, the most dear enemy in front of you. Then father, mother, then the same Dharma friends who are sitting around you here now and all the rest of sentient beings you think. Then nectar is flowing from Tara's holy mind and purified yourself and the parents, the enemy, friends and all the rest of the sentient beings, purified.
You see, without the holy beings, those who work for the sentient beings, those who have accomplished the path, without those holy beings who reveal the teaching without them, if they don't live then there is no teaching. Like without doctor there is no medicine, how much you are sick there is no medicine, there is no way to receive treatment. So without these holy beings there is no teaching, no pure teaching. So you see we sentient beings, no way to be free from sufferings, from confusions, there is no method, we cannot find the method even if we are sick we cannot find, we do not meet. So you see us the sentient being's happiness, temporal happiness, ultimate happiness is dependent on the merit, dependent on the good actions, on the teachings, the holy Dharma. The holy Dharma, that is dependent on the holy beings, so therefore how important it is, the long life of the holy beings, to live longer in the aspect which we can see, which we can communicate. So that is the of reciting the mantra.
One thing, the long life of the great holy beings, who have accomplished the path, they themselves don't have such things as death and rebirth caused by unsubdued mind and karma like we experience. They don't have even the name of that. There doesn't exist even the name death and rebirth for them. But our confused mind of ignorance, anger, attachment, confused mind, these and the actions which harm others to yourself, these which come from the confused mind, these things cause the holy beings to not exist a long time in that aspect. So our confused mind, unsubdued, uncontrolled mind and the actions which come from that, itself is the obstacle, the obstacle to meet the holy beings, itself is the obstacle to hear the infallible teachings, to be able to see those holy beings and to hear the infallible teachings, this itself is the obstacle. So for them to have long lives we should purity the obstacles that we have in our mind. So therefore first we purify, as we recite the mantra then nectar beams emitted from Tara's heart then purify us, the sentient beings. Then at the end, long-life nectar beams flow into all the holy beings and their bodies get filled with long-life nectar. I think that is all.