Mandala Today

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at long life puja for Geshe Sopa Rinpoche at Deer Park Buddhist Center, Wisconsin, US, July 20, 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at long life puja for Geshe Sopa Rinpoche at Deer Park Buddhist Center, Wisconsin, US, July 20, 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“[T]here’s no outside enemy. There’s a reason why people give harm to us, get angry with us or criticize us. There’s a reason, there’s a cause for that, and that cause is our mind,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche instructed. “For anybody, in any situation, even if a mosquito is biting us, the cause is our mind – attachment, anger, and of course no question about the root, ignorance. There’s no question, that’s the root. Ignorance – the concept holding things, the I and the aggregates as truly existent, which means the self-cherishing thought – that’s the real root.

“In the past we harmed others with these negative thoughts. We made mistakes, we did unrighteous actions and harmed others. What is happening now is the result of that. This mosquito biting us, that person who doesn’t like us even from the first time he saw us, that person who scolds us, even that unknown person who gets angry at us though we’ve never met before – all these things are just results, just creations of this mind. They are caused by this mind, by these negative thoughts, especially the self-cherishing thought.

“Actually, all these things are just like tools used by the people who are angry at us or who criticize us. All these things are like tools. The real enemy is our own self-cherishing thought, this ego, this ignorance, which causes anger, attachment and these delusions. The other things are like tools, like the stick that an angry person beats us with. The real reason is our own negative thought.

“It is very helpful to remember this when somebody is angry with us, scolding us or talking about our mistakes. If we can remember this at that time; that the situation is a tool, used by these negative thoughts. This is happening now because in the past we harmed that person, we did some wrong action to that person. The harm they are doing now is just a tool. The main enemy is our own negative mind.”

From Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teaching “Don’t Get Angry at the Sick,” given at Kopan Monastery in 2008 and recently posted on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

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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 Zopa Rinpoche blessing rescued goats, Bodhgaya, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Sarah Thresher.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing rescued goats, Bodhgaya, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Sarah Thresher.

Senior English nun and FPMT-registered teacher Ven. Sarah Thresher shared this story about a generous offering to the goats of Root Institute for the July-September 2014 issue of Mandala. Root Institute is a thriving FPMT center in Bodhgaya, India, the site where Buddha became enlightened:

Winter in Bodhgaya, India, can be cold. In January and February temperatures dip and nighttime is difficult without warm clothing.

This winter many goats were brought to Root Institute, the FPMT retreat center in Bodhgaya, the location of Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. They were rescued from slaughter at roadside butchers by visiting pilgrims who then brought them to the center to be looked after. (It’s very hard to pass by these butchers and watch the goats tied up awaiting death standing next to the skinned corpse of the previous goat to be killed.) However, many of the goats were already sick when they were sent to the butcher and by the time they reached the center they were traumatized and weak and often died. …

Read more …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche being greeted, Kushinagar, India, December 13, 2013. Photo by Andy Melnic.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche being greeted, Kushinagar, India, December 13, 2013. Photo by Andy Melnic.

FPMT has more than 20 centers and study groups in four Spanish-speaking countries and Mandala features several articles translated into español, available for free online. 

Student and coordinator of Thubten Kunkyab Study Group in Mexico Alejandro M. García recently translated “La Gran Estupa de la Compasión Universal” and “Progreso Gigantesco Para Los Proyectos Maitreya,” which appeared in English in the April-June 2014 issue. Spanish-speaking students can now read about the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia, slated to be the largest stupa in the Western world and the venue of the CPMT 2014 meeting in September, and about the progress of the Maitreya Projects, among the largest FPMT holy objects currently being planned and built in India.

In addition to what Mandala offers, FPMT education and practice materials, including advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, are available in Spanish through the FPMT Foundation Store, FPMT Hispana, and Ediciones Mahayana. You can find links to Spanish-language books by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, published by Ediciones Dharma, on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. In addition, Spanish translations of many sutras can be found on FPMT.org via the search function.

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 with Jamyang Buddhist Centre resident teacher Geshe Tashi (left) and Ven. Sherab, Rinpoche's attendant, enjoying the Kalacharka mandala in the Peace Garden near Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Jamyang Buddhist Centre resident teacher Geshe Tashi (left) and Ven. Sherab, Rinpoche’s attendant, enjoying the Kalachakra mandala in the Tibetan Peace Garden near Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Rinpoche’s public teaching in London, “Enlightened Courage,” can be watched as a streaming video recording. Rinpoche began the July 10 teaching by talking about the importance of the mind for creating happiness. He discussed how Dharma practice is the best psychology and how it can create the best healthy mind. If you don’t take care of your mind, if you use it like garbage, Rinpoche warned, then nothing pleasant results in this life and in future lives.

“The key thing is the mind,” Rinpoche said. “Happiness, you switch life to happiness or you switch mind to suffering. Like TV, which channel you want? Some war and fighting, or something very beautiful, countryside, something peaceful, people enjoying. What you do with your mind, its like that. So everything is about the mind.”

Rinpoche went on to teach about bodhichitta, Lama Atisha and lam-rim practice. He shared a Tibetan saying: “The turtle perseveres slowly, goes very slowly, but reaches there. Whereas the flea jumps, is jumping, but doesn’t reach far.” He explained that perserverance and continouity are very important to Dharma practice. Rinpoche also discussed karma.

The public teaching was organized by Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London. Rinpoche’s teaching in Leeds are also available as video recordings.

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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"Seeking the Source" by K. Kendall. Creative Commons Attributions via Flickr.

“Seeking the Source” by K. Kendall. Creative Commons Attributions via Flickr.

“Buddhist in the Trenches” columnist Sarah Shifferd offers insight into her personal experience with Mahamudra, a practice of the mind focused on mind in the July-September 2014 issue of 
Mandala.

Mahamudra is like standing in front of an aquarium. Normally, we’d watch the fish, but this time, we watch the water the fish swim in. The fish are still there, still swimming by, but the mind is on the water that holds them. With our minds, normally we are engrossed in our thoughts. In other forms of meditation, we create the thoughts and images that are supposed to be there. But this time, we just watch mind. The thoughts are still there, still arising and falling away, but mind is focused on mind.

Not only is mind focused on mind, but mind is all there is. Nothing exists but mind. All thoughts, all sensations, all objects, all sounds are merely mind. There is no “out there” to disturb the “in here,” and ultimately, the “in here” that is disturbed is revealed to be just mind. Nothing more.

The more we experience just mind, the more spacious and blissful we feel, and the harder it is for people or events to knock us out of that state. Ultimately, the mind becomes strong, unmovable even by catastrophic events. …

Read more …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche with the card "Compassion is of the Utmost Need," created by FPMT Education Services, Land of Medicine Buddha, California, September 2013. Photo by Chris Majors.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with the card “Compassion Is of the Utmost Need,” created by FPMT Education Services, Land of Medicine Buddha, California, September 2013. Photo by Chris Majors.

To help FPMT students around the world access the resources they need, FPMT Education Services have been working to restructure the pages, links and downloads on the FPMT Education Services sections of fpmt.org. You can find links to prayers and practices, sutras and mantras, advice, teachings and much more under the “Education” tab on fpmt.org.

FPMT Education Services has been called “the heart” of the FPMT organization because it creates high quality study programs suitable for all levels in accordance with the wishes and guidance of FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche. These programs are available in FPMT centers, as homestudy materials, or via the FPMT Online Learning Center. Education Services also publishes various practice materials in hard copy and digital formats, and works with a global network of educators, trainers, translators and publishers to develop valuable training programs and translations.

“If you look, then you can understand how fortunate we are having the opportunity to study [Dharma], Lama Zopa Rinpoche said. “With our Dharma knowledge and practice we can give the light of Dharma to others, in their heart. I think that’s the best service to sentient beings, the best service to the world.”

Please take a look at all the education resources that are available to you and share your suggestions (education@fpmt.org) for the continued improvement of the FPMT Education pages. 

The work of FPMT Education Services is supported in part by donations to the FPMT Education Fund and Friends of FPMT.

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Khadro-la in New Zealand, April 2014. Photo by Carey Aburn.

Khadro-la in New Zealand, April 2014. Photo by Carey Aburn.

Mahamudra Centre, an FPMT retreat center in Colville, New Zealand, hosted an eight-day lam-rim retreat with Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drolma). The well attended retreat, which ran April 27-May 4, was described as “extraordinary” and “beyond words.”  Ven. Nangsel, Mahamudra Centre director, shared with Mandala highlights from the retreat for the July-September 2014 issue.

From the beginning, students quickly realized we were experiencing something rare and special when Khadro-la looked at us directly and said simply, “It’s not easy to practice Dharma, is it!” From there she took new and old students alike in hand, giving many examples of how as students we go astray in the practice of the Dharma, practicing for the material comfort of this life – food, clothes and good reputation – and endlessly engaging in practice, performing rituals, our commitments and mantras without any real understanding of what we are doing. Khadro-la was crystal clear: Dharma is about mental transformation, and if we are not experiencing positive results from our practice, looking to the Dharma for shortcomings isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to recognize the negativity associated with self-cherishing and self-grasping and see the faults in our own attitudes. …

Read more and see more photos …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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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 being offered the hand-traced Heart Sutra by Dechen Bloom, Portland, Oregon, US, April 2014. Photo by Mandala.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche being offered the hand-traced Heart Sutra by Dechen Bloom, Portland, Oregon, US, April 2014. Photo by Mandala.

April 21, 2014, was a big day for Dechen Bloom, age six. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was visiting Dechen’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, and Dechen had something special to offer Rinpoche. Leading up to Rinpoche’s visit, Dechen had been working very hard to both memorize the Heart Sutra and to write it out, dedicated to Rinpoche’s long life.

Dechen bounced with excitement as he waited for Rinpoche to arrive at FPMT International Office. When Rinpoche’s car pulled up, Dechen was out on the sidewalk with his copy of the Heart Sutra. He offered it, smiling, to Rinpoche, who was very pleased. He also recited it on video for Rinpoche the previous day.

This offering to Rinpoche had been a couple of years in the making. As Dechen grew from a toddler into a young boy, his mother, Carina Rumrill, had noticed that while Dechen was able to read, count and learn shapes and colors much more quickly than other children his age, his behavior seemed to her to be a lot more difficult. As he reached school age, she took him to be tested by the local school district to see what they thought was going on. They identified him as having ASD (autism spectrum disorder), specifically they told Carina he had Asperger syndrome and sensory processing disorder.

Ven. Robina Courtin was visiting Portland during this period and spending time with Dechen. (She has known him since his birth.) She encouraged Carina, who is the former managing editor of Mandala and now editorial support for FPMT International Office, to not label him with any disorder and to try and view his behavior in the context of Dharma teachings. …

See the video and read more … 

From Mandala July-September 2014

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