Advice from Spiritual Friends

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teachings at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teachings at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“After waking up in the morning, the first thing to do is to feel happy that you haven’t died yet,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught at Osel Shen Phen Ling, an FPMT center in Missoula, Montana, US, on August 31, 1997. This teaching, given prior to a White Tara initiation, has recently been posted on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. “‘Even last night, many people in this world died. This morning, they are no longer human beings with the opportunity to practice Dharma. So far, I haven’t died. I didn’t die last night. This is a miracle! Life is full of so many obstacles – the inner obstacles of afflictive thoughts – the 84,000 delusions that shorten our lifespan and cause death – and the external obstacles of many sicknesses and dangers. I’m so fortunate to still have this opportunity to practice Dharma.’

“The meaning and purpose of your life is to be useful and bring happiness to other beings. We have this responsibility. Why do we have this universal responsibility for the happiness of all living beings? Because if we have compassion, then we won’t harm sentient beings and they will only feel peace and happiness in our presence. It all depends on what we do with our mind. If we don’t have compassion then we are only concerned about ourselves and our own happiness, due to thoughts of self-cherishing, anger, and other negative emotions that cause us to harm other living beings, directly or indirectly, from life to life. Therefore, we have full responsibility for the happiness of all beings. (Include people in your family, people who you work with, friends, enemies, and then all sentient beings. Feel this purpose of your life and your universal responsibility first thing in the morning before doing anything else. This is very important.)

“Think to yourself, ‘I have a perfect human body; I’ve met my guru who guides me on the path to enlightenment; and I’ve met the Buddhadharma, which explains the path and methods, the causes of happiness and of suffering, what is liberation and what is samsara, what is real happiness and peace and what is illusory happiness. I’m extremely fortunate!’ Rejoice – feel very happy and appreciative. Then think, ‘Therefore, I’m going to practice sutra and tantra as much as possible on the basis of correct guru devotion.’…”

Visit the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive to read the entire teaching “The Meaning and Purpose of Life,” which covers reasons for taking White Tara initiation, universal responsibility and advice on making life most beneficial.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Yeshe

Lama Yeshe from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive

“I see that Western people are getting busier and busier, more and more restless,” Lama Yeshe said in Becoming Your Own Therapist. ”I’m not criticizing material or technological development as such, but rather the uncontrolled mind. Because you don’t know who or what you are, you spend your life blindly grasping at what I call ‘supermarket goodness.’ You agitate your own life; you make yourself restless. Instead of integrating your life, you splinter it. Check up for yourself. I’m not putting you down. In fact, Buddhism doesn’t allow us to dogmatically put down anybody else’s way of life. All I’m trying to suggest is that you consider looking at things another way.”

Read more from “Chapter One: Finding Ourselves Through Buddhism” of Becoming Your Own Therapist on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing the penguins at the gardens of Harewood House, Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing the penguins in the Bird Garden of Harewood House, Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“It is extremely important that we make an effort to lead a spiritual life while, as human beings, we have the opportunity to pursue inner methods that bring peace of mind,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche instructed in the teaching “In Search of a Meaningful Life,” given at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in 1979.

“It is common experience that happiness does not arise from external factors alone,” Rinpoche continued. “If we check carefully into our own daily lives, we will easily see that this is true. In addition to external factors, there are also inner factors that come into play to establish happiness within us.

A penguin at Harewood House's Bird Gardens, Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

A penguin at Harewood House’s Bird Gardens, Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“If external development were all it took to produce lasting peace within us, then those who were rich in material possessions would have more peace and happiness while those who were poor would have less. But life is not always like this. There are many happy people with few riches and many wealthy people who are very unhappy.

“In India, for example, there are many pandits, highly realized yogis and even simple Dharma practitioners who live humble lives but have great peace of mind. The more they have renounced the unsubdued mind, the greater is their peace; the more they have renounced self-cherishing, anger, ignorance, attachment and so forth, the greater is their happiness.

“Great masters such as the Indian pandit Naropa and the Tibetan yogi Jetsün Milarepa owned nothing yet had incredible peace of mind. They were able to renounce the unsubdued mind, the source of all problems, and thus transcended all suffering. By actualizing the path to enlightenment they achieved a superior happiness. Thus, even though they often had to go days without food – the great yogi Milarepa lived for years in a cave subsisting only on wild nettles – they rank among the happiest people on Earth. Because they abandoned the three poisonous minds of ignorance, attachment and anger, their peace and happiness was indeed great. The more they renounced the unsubdued mind, the greater was their peace. …”

Read the entire teaching “In Search of a Meaningful Life” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Zopa Rinpche at a garden in Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Thubten Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpche at a garden in Leeds, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Thubten Kunsang.

“The four undesirable things [of the eight worldly dharmas] are suffering, not receiving material things, uninteresting words and a bad reputation,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught at the 14th Kopan Course in 1981. “We wish to avoid these four undesirable objects, for ourselves or for our friends and relatives. We wish for the opposite of these four undesirable things –happiness, receiving material things, sweet words, and a good reputation for ourselves, our friends and relatives. But what we wish for the enemy is the complete opposite – we wish that they receive the four undesirable things and do not receive the four desirable things. We seek the eight worldly dharmas for ourselves, our relatives and our friends.

“Practicing patience with the four undesirable things is like this. Whenever we meet suffering, we must practice patience. When somebody treats us badly and doesn’t give us material help, we must practice patience. When somebody insults us, we must practice patience. When somebody gives us a bad reputation, we must practice patience. When we meet these four undesirable things, we must practice patience. When the four undesirable things happen to our friends and relatives, we must also practice patience. When somebody harms our close friends and relatives and when they suffer, then we must also practice patience. When material help is not given to our friends and relatives, we must practice patience with that person who doesn’t help them. We must also practice patience with those who insult our friends and relatives, and give them a bad reputation. 

“When our enemy is happy, or when somebody causes our enemy to receive perfections and to be happy, it is unbearable. It is unbearable that our enemy is happy. We dislike that our enemy is happy, comfortable and doesn’t have problems. However, when somebody makes our enemy happy, we must practice patience. Because we dislike that, again we must practice patience.

“When our enemy receives material offerings, again we must practice patience. If we don’t practice patience, we become jealous and when we see or hear that, we become very confused and unhappy. So, again, we must practice patience when we see that our enemy has received material things. …”

You can read the complete edited teaching “Practicing Patience with Our Enemy” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. 

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Zopa Rinpche in a park in Leeds offering all the flowers to the "gurus and buddhas, statutes, stupas and scriptures, etc. etc.," according to Ven. Roger Kunsang, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpche in a park in Leeds offering all the flowers to the “gurus and buddhas, statutes, stupas and scriptures, etc. etc.,” according to Ven. Roger Kunsang, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“Offering one tiny flower to a statue or picture of Buddha receives immeasurable, limitless, merit,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche advised. “All the paths to happiness result from that. With just one grain of rice or one tiny flower, you can enter the path and achieve total enlightenment — the completion of all good qualities.

“After achieving enlightenment, you can liberate so many sentient beings from so much suffering and samsara and bring them to enlightenment. This is the result of offering one tiny flower. Each offering has all this benefit — like putting money in the bank. One dollar equals one billion trillion dollars in interest. This is an amazing benefit. It is important to remember this every day and offer as much as possible. If you see a beautiful flower, you visualize offering it to the guru and Buddha. The result and benefit is incredible. You can offer every single flower in a garden — the merit received is mind-blowing.

“This is how you use your precious human life, which is extremely rare and hard to find. Every time you see an object, use it to become closer to liberation and enlightenment. Many times each day, use your precious human rebirth to bring you closer and closer to liberation and enlightenment and thus to enlighten all sentient beings.”

Read more advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on making offerings, on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

 

 

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing water to be offered to pretas at the beach, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing water to be offered to pretas at the beach, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“How can you make your life beneficial for your most kind, precious mother sentient beings, especially the pretas, and receive all happiness of the three times, including liberation from samsara and the great liberation – peerless, full enlightenment?” asks Lama Zopa Rinpoche in his advice on making offerings to the pretas.

“Pretas suffer heavily from hunger and thirst, not finding even a drop of water or a spoonful of food for hundreds of thousands of eons. They suffer from incredible exhaustion, disappointment, heat, and cold. In particular, pretas experience three types of obscuration: outer, inner, and food obscuration. The Yeshe Karda (Transcendental Wisdom Star-Arrow) practice enables every single preta to receive drink.

“If we go to the beach, how can we make our life most beneficial? If we do this practice when we go into the water, all the stones, lakes, and swimming pools are blessed. This is one way to make our life most beneficial for all sentient beings, here, in particular, for the pretas.

“Take some water from the ocean or swimming pool, put it in a container, visualize the deity Yeshe Karda above the water or container, and visualize nectar flowing from the deity into the water in the container. Then, recite the heart mantra of Yeshe Karda seven times:

“OM JNANA AVALOKITE SAMANTA PARANA RAMI BAWA SAMAYA MAHA MANI DURU DURU HRIH DAYA JALANI SOHA

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Sangha at the beach doing offerings to pretas, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Sangha at the beach making offerings to pretas, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“Then, pour the water back into the ocean or swimming pool. Again, take water from the ocean or swimming pool, visualize the deity and the nectar flowing into the water, then again recite the mantra seven times. Hold the bottom of the container with your left hand, and the top of the container with your right hand. This should be done seven times, each time reciting the mantra seven times.

“Each time you pour out the water, visualize and say the following prayers:

“‘This ocean of water appears as nectar to all the pretas that the omniscient mind sees. All the pretas see it as an ocean of milk, they drink it and are fully satisfied. It liberates them from all sufferings, including the specific sufferings of the pretas, causes of delusion, karma, and defilements. These are all purified and they actualize the whole path to enlightenment.’

“Visualize every preta becoming Chenrezig.

“When you say this prayer, all the oceans appear as actual nectar to the pretas. The more detailed benefits of this practice are that all pretas will find devas’ food and drink. This is divine food in the form of nectar.

“Also, all the other beings, including animals and insects living in the water or who drink the water, are purified and achieve a higher rebirth. They will go onto the path of a happy transmigrating being. Therefore, the benefits of this practice are not limited to only the pretas. The benefits are vast.

“By receiving the blessing of this mantra, each preta receives as much food or drink as it needs, is fully satisfied, purified, and will be reborn in a higher realm. Whoever drinks this water has all their negative karma purified and will obtain a good rebirth in the higher realms.”

Read more advice from Rinpoche on offerings practices on “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. 

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing animals at the Fattoria della Pace Ippoasi, an animal sanctuary run by young vegans near ILTK, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing animals at the Fattoria della Pace Ippoasi, an animal sanctuary run by young vegans near Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given much advice about benefiting and not harming animals. From “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book,” here’s Rinpoche’s advice on the karma of killing animals:

“Animals have feelings. They have the same mind as we have, and also want happiness, like we do. For example, if you suddenly touch them, they are immediately frightened. They get frightened if somebody beats or hits them with a stick. We also get frightened. If somebody throws cold water on our body, suddenly we feel a shock. It is the same for animals. They have the same mind, and it is very important what happens to them.

“Even if they can’t speak, can’t express themselves, animals can show their fear through their body. For example, they try to run away. Human beings can talk and complain, and they can bring court cases. Human beings can report things to the police. Human beings can do so much, but animals can’t – they can do nothing. They can’t express their suffering. Human beings can talk about their fears. Whether other people accept your suffering or not, at least you can explain it and the other person can hear. Animals can’t, but you can see how they feel from their movements. If someone tries to attacks them, they run away. They are afraid, which means they want happiness and not suffering. This is a very important point, that they have the same mind as us. If you kill them, you create the negative karma to be like them. For one hundred thousand lifetimes, you will have the karma to be born as an animal. For many thousands of lifetimes, you will suffer the consequences.

“It is said in the teachings that if you kill one animal, because of that karma, you will be killed five hundred times by others. You will suffer in the very hot hell realm for one thousand eons. It is also good to ask yourself how it would be if somebody killed you with a knife. How would you feel in that situation? For example, if you put your finger in hot water, can you bear that? You can’t bear it. It’s the same when you kill animals. There is no good result from it. There is no question about that.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche spent three hours at the animal sanctuary, blessing the animals, which had been rescued from slaughter, and explaining how to help the animals from the spiritual side, Fattoria della Pace Ippoasi, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche spent three hours at the animal sanctuary, blessing the animals, which had been rescued from slaughter, and explained how to help the animals spiritually, Fattoria della Pace Ippoasi, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

You can find “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website.

Learn more about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche and his beneficial activities by visiting Rinpoche’s homepage, where you will find links to Rinpoche’s schedule, new advice, recent video, photos and more.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Vulture's Peak, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Vulture’s Peak, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

While staying at Root Institute in Bodhgaya, India, in February 2014, Lama Zopa Rinpoche translated an explanation of the eight auspicious signs, adding brief commentary. Rinpoche’s interest arose from a “conversation when Rinpoche was questioning whether it was OK to step over the eight auspicious signs or not,” shared Ven. Sarah Thresher, who served as scribe for Rinpoche’s dictation. 

“Probably many of us do not know how important these eight auspicious signs are and how they affect our lives,” Rinpoche said. “They can be used externally to help with one’s own success as well as with the FPMT organization to be successful in benefiting others and working for the [dissemination of the] teachings of the Buddha. Putting these eight auspicious signs around everywhere, outside and also inside the rooms, makes things very auspicious. It is not necessary to put all eight together, and they don’t all need to be in the same place. They can be placed separately at different locations, but you should have all of them. …”

You can read the entire advice in the online edition of Mandala July-September 2014.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Pomaia, Italy, June 13. Photo by Olivier Adam.

Sera Je Abbot Khenrinpoche Lobsang Delek and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at future site of Lhungtok Choekhorling, Pomaia, Italy, June 13. Photo by Olivier Adam.

Every month new advice is added to “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, which also has a list of recently added advice. Here’s an excerpt from a letter from Rinpoche on doing daily practice:

“Regarding the existing practices you are doing, one big thing that is missing is reciting OM MANI PADME HUM – especially doing this with bodhichitta for numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings; for everyone to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering as quickly as possible and to achieve full enlightenment, peerless happiness, omniscient mind.

“Recite every single OM MANI PADME HUM for every single sentient being, doing one mala or more, your choice. Every mantra you recite is for every sentient being and for yourself to achieve enlightenment, which means to actualize the path, lam-rim, to purify all the defilements and negative karma collected since beginningless time and to collect extensive merits, the cause of dharmakaya and rupakaya. It is especially to develop compassion for all sentient beings forever, to everyone, so no one is left out; no ant is left out, not one mosquito is left out, not one sentient being is left out; to develop compassion and through compassion to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. This is so important. You don’t want to recite the mantra for your own happiness; you need to recite it for sentient beings’ temporary and ultimate happiness. …”

You can read the complete advice on the website of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. 

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kachoe Dechen Ling, California, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kachoe Dechen Ling, Aptos, California, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, recently shared on FPMT.org:

“If it was possible, I should offer you each trillions of dollars for learning about Buddhism. This means your mind is open for real happiness, to be free from the gross suffering in the three lower realms and even not to be satisfied with the temporary happiness of the three upper realms. Most importantly, once you can meet and practice Dharma, this frees you from samsaric happiness, which is only suffering; and Dharma can give you full enlightenment, peerless happiness. Learning Dharma and practicing it is so important for yourself as well as others, countless others, as once you can achieve enlightenment, you can free countless living beings – all living beings – from the oceans of suffering. So you can see there is nothing more important than this: to learn Dharma and practice. …”

You can read the full advice and find more advice on the “Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche” page.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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