Venerable Lama Zopa
all my brothers and sisters in Mongolia.
is it so important to learn about Buddhism and to practice it? Because what we
are all seeking is happiness and what none of us want is suffering. Therefore
we need to abandon the real cause of suffering and create the unmistaken cause
of happiness. The actual cause of happiness is not outside. Even though people
commonly believe that suffering is connected to external situations, actually
these are just the conditions for suffering. Similarly, the actual cause of
happiness is not outside, it is within the mind.
example, when somebody gets angry with you, at that time think to yourself that
among all the numberless holy beings, such as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and
all the other beings this person is the only one in your life with whom you can
learn patience—the healthy, peaceful, happy, pure mind of patience, which
brings so much peace and happiness to your own life, as well as to your
companions, family and country, and to the rest of the world and all living
you don’t practice patience and instead get angry, that habit leaves the
negative imprint of anger on the mental continuum again and again. Anger
destroys your own peace and happiness and brings so much suffering to your
life. It harms your companion, friends and family, as well as the people in
your country, in the rest of the world and all living beings.
you can see how practicing patience with this person is the source of all your
happiness now and in the future right up to the peerless happiness, the
complete bliss of full enlightenment. And it is also the source of peace and
happiness for others, starting from your family and going out to all living
you think of the benefits of patience, which are as vast as the sky, you get a
very deep feeling for the kindness of the person who is angry towards you. You
see how precious that person is in your life. By looking at the person who is
angry with you in a positive way, it is so beneficial to develop your mind in
the path to liberation and enlightenment—particularly patience. The positive
thought seeing that person as kind immediately brings inner peace and
happiness, and because you don’t get angry and harm the person in return it
brings peace to others. The person you previously called an enemy then becomes
your most kind friend. By practicing patience you are able to bring so much
peace and happiness to all sentient beings. This comes from your positive
thought. So you can see how your suffering and happiness as well as that of
others come from your mind.
When you look at the person
who is angry with you as being negative and bad, label it as harm, and then
believe that label you create suffering for yourself and others. This way of
thinking causes anger to rise towards the other person and from the anger comes
unhappiness for yourself, for others and on a larger scale for all living
When your mind is transformed
into the peaceful, happy mind of patience, that brings happiness to yourself
and to all living beings. This is practicing Buddhism. This is practicing what
the Buddha taught. Without the practice of Buddhism, this paramita of patience,
one person can destroy a whole country—like Mongolia—and even the whole world.
There are many recent examples of this happening.
If there were loving kindness,
compassion, the thought of benefiting others and contentment in the hearts of
everyone in the world, there would be no need for weapons or guns at all, and
no reason to have armies. How incredible this country and the world would be if
everyone could generate and develop these most precious qualities of the mind!
With these inner qualities, you become a friend to everyone and everyone
becomes your friend. You love everyone and everyone loves you. How incredibly
happy the world would be!
It is the same if you can let
go of desire. When there is strong desire, only seeking the pleasure of this
life for yourself it brings so many problems and so much suffering. You become
an alcoholic, and make life totally useless and meaningless. At this time we
have received a most precious human body that can be used to achieve every happiness.
With this body we can achieve so much peace and happiness in this life. More
importantly, we can achieve happiness for all our future lives. Even more
importantly, we can achieve ultimate everlasting happiness—total liberation
from the cycle of rebirth and death along old age, sickness and all the rest of
the sufferings and their causes—delusions and their actions. And even more
importantly, we can achieve the peerless happiness of full enlightenment, which
is the total cessation of all the mistakes of the mind and the achievement of
all qualities and realizations. By achieving enlightenment, we can serve others
by causing numberless beings to gain the happiness of this life, the happiness
of future lives, the total cessation of suffering—liberation, and more
importantly the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.
Alcoholics cannot even do the
works for this life. They can’t even do their job properly and they cause so
much suffering to their families—to the husband, wife, and children—instead of bringing
them happiness and peace. They make the family poor instead of bringing wealth.
So it is clear how all the
problems of this life that harm you and harm others come from the mind—from the
dissatisfied mind of desire. Therefore, if you can be educated in how to be
content and have a satisfied mind, your whole life can be filled with much
inner peace and happiness, and there will be great success for you, your family
and the world. By doing this, there will be no need for court cases and no need
for prison. You can say goodbye to depression, loneliness and suicide!
The dissatisfied mind,
discontent and desire bring relationship problems one after another for the
whole life. You get swamped in relationship problems, like a person drowning in
mud who finds it difficult to get out. Due to this, your friend and companion
leave you—and you have to suffer pain in your heart for years as well as all
the other sufferings.
So you can see how all your
own peace and happiness and that of others, as well as all the problems in your
own life and those of others come from your own mind. Peace and happiness come
from a content, satisfied mind—from a mind that has let go of the dissatisfied
mind of desire. Peace and happiness come from the pure, healthy, happy, peaceful
virtuous thought, which is Dharma; while negative thought—the unhealthy,
dissatisfied mind—fills life up with so many problems and causes problems to
the family, the country, the world and all living beings, from life to life.
Therefore, letting go of
desire and making yourself free from all the confusion and problems that cause
you to engage in so many different negative karmas in this life and then to be
born in the lower realms in future lives—as a hell being, hungry ghost or
animal—is giving independence to yourself. This is the way to fill yourself
from deep down in your heart with so much peace, satisfaction and joy. This is
renunciation, the very fundamental practice of Buddhism.
Also, if your attitude in life
is self-cherishing and ego, that opens the door to so many undesirable things
and causes so many problems to your companion, family, friends and to the world
and all living beings from life to life. The minute you cherish the I, the
self, that itself is a problem because it brings no real joy and happiness in
the heart. The minute you cherish the I, that itself is an unhappy mind.
A selfish person thinks only
of their own needs and happiness and has no concern for the needs and happiness
of others. The stronger the self-cherishing thought the easier it is to create
problems in life. Wherever a person with strong self-cherishing goes—to the
countryside or to the city, to the east or to the west—they always find
problems. Whoever that person stays with, they will always find difficulties.
Even if the other person starts off as a friend, sooner or later they will find
out how self-centred the other person is and there will be disharmony and
fighting. They will end up arguing, disliking and hating each other. Wherever
that person goes they will make so many enemies. Instead of so many people
becoming their friends, they will become enemies. Even if they start as friends
sooner or later they will become enemies due to the self-cherishing mind.
Self-cherishing is the greatest obstacle to achieving happiness in this life,
so there is no question that it prevents us from achieving happiness in future
lives, liberation and enlightenment. Self-cherishing is the greatest obstacle
to benefit others, to bring happiness to the family and to everyone in Mongolia, as
well as to the world and all living beings.
The great Bodhisattva
Shantideva said: “If one does not exchange oneself for others, one cannot
achieve enlightenment (peerless happiness). Leave aside the happiness of future
lives, even the happiness of this life won’t succeed.”
If the attitude is
self-cherishing, even if someone is doing a job, working for others, they will
steal and cheat and lie and be careless and lazy, which will lead to worry,
fear, court cases and debts. Their life will be swamped by debts. Nobody likes
a person whose attitude to life is one of self-cherishing. When that person has
problems nobody wants to help.
A person who has a good heart,
always putting others first, cherishing others and living their life to benefit
others has so much success in their life. That person brings so much happiness
to the family, to the country—like Mongolia—to the world and to all
living beings, from life to life. That person can cause all living beings to
gain all the different levels of happiness up to enlightenment—besides being
able to accomplish all of this happiness for themselves. That person’s heart is
filled with so much joy and fulfillment. They have no guilt or regret. There is
incredible joy and happiness in their life both now and in the future--like the
sun shining. Even at the end of their life there will be so much peace and
happiness, and when they pass away it will be very inspiring for others. Even
if there is nobody else there to pray for that person, they will support and guide
themselves to a Pure Land of Buddha or another very good rebirth in the next
life where they can develop the mind more easily and quickly in the path to
So, here again, the happiness
and suffering in our life come from the mind, from our own mind. They are
dependent on whether we live life with the self-cherishing thought or with the
thought cherishing others. Therefore the very heart of all Mahayana Buddhist
practice is letting go of self and cherishing others.
The great Bodhisattva Shantideva
said: “As long as you don’t drop the fire, you cannot stop the burning.
Likewise, as long as you don’t let go of the I, you cannot abandon suffering.
Therefore, to pacify harms to yourself and sufferings to others, give yourself
up for others, cherish others as yourself.”
If your attitude in daily life
is ignorance, anger and attachment, all your actions become non-virtue and the
result is only suffering and obstacles. If your attitude in life is
non-ignorance, non-anger, non-attachment, your actions become virtue and the
result is only happiness. From this you can understand again how suffering and
happiness come from your own mind, by depending on what kind of attitude you
generate—positive or negative. Therefore the happiest, most fulfilling and best
life is one lived with the attitude of cherishing and benefiting others.
Happiness comes from virtue,
suffering comes from non-virtue. Every single happiness that is experienced in
this life—success in business, good reputation, wealth—comes as a result of
past good karma. There is not one single happiness, including even the comfort
experienced in a dream that does not come from good karma. This means that all
happiness comes from Dharma. So if one wishes happiness, one needs to practice
Dharma, and one must practice all the time.
Regards the different levels
of happiness: the first level is to not be reborn in the lower realms and to
achieve the body of a happy migratory being—a deva or human body. This depends
upon cultivating an attitude of detachment to this life. Then, by taking refuge
in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, one abandons non-virtue and practices the virtue
of the ten moralities.
Achieving the second level of
happiness—the everlasting happiness that is the total cessation of all
suffering and its causes—delusion and karma—depends upon renouncing the
suffering of samsara, the aggregates caused by delusion and karma which are in
the nature of suffering, then practicing the three higher trainings and the
five paths to liberation.
Even if one has achieved
liberation from samsara for oneself, it is not sufficient. Not only have all
sentient beings been your own mother and kind, but also every single sentient
being is the source of all your past happiness—from time without
beginning—present, and future happiness. So the very purpose of our lives is to
liberate the numberless sentient beings, who want happiness and do not want
suffering, from all the suffering and its causes and bring them to full
enlightenment. This is the very meaning of our lives and the purpose of being
human. In order to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of
samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment, we need to abandon
self-cherishing thought, and to generate loving-kindness, compassion and bodhicitta
and enter the Mahayana path. Then we practice the bodhisattva’s deeds, the six
paramitas, and actualize the five paths and ten bhumis, which ceases not only
the gross delusions—the disturbing thought obscurations—and karma, but even the
In order to bring the
numberless sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible we need to
achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible and for this we need to practice
highest tantra. This depends on receiving a great initiation, which definitely
plants the seed of the four kayas on the mindstream. Then, with an attitude of
bodhicitta based on renunciation of this life and right view, emptiness, one
actualizes the generation stage and completion stage which cease in the
quickest way the disturbing thought obscurations and subtle defilements
including the dualistic view and cause the attainment of full enlightenment,
the unified state of Vajradhara.
Therefore, actualizing full
enlightenment quickly depends on the tantric path and that depends on
actualizing bodhicitta and the right view. In order to actualize bodhicitta one
needs to achieve the preliminary of renunciation of samsara and for that one
needs to actualize renunciation to this life. The success of all of this up to
enlightenement depends on correctly devoting to the virtuous friend. This is
the whole progression of the stages of the path to enlightenment.
Who is Buddha and How is
Buddha Guiding Me?
Generally in a country and in
the world, there is somebody amongst all the others who has the greatest
compassion and there is somebody who has the highest education and somebody who
has the greatest capacity. Buddha is one who has actualized the path of method
and wisdom, has completely ceased all gross and subtle defilements and has achieved
the fully enlightened mind, the omniscient mind perfected with all
understanding. Buddha’s mind has not even the slightest ignorance and can see
directly all present, past and future phenomena simultaneously. Buddha has also
trained in great compassion towards every single sentient being without
discrimination and has perfect power to reveal all the methods that fit exactly
sentient beings’ karma.
Numberless Buddhas achieved
enlightenment by actualizing the path that ceases the defilements. There are
1,000 Buddhas who very kindly generated bodhicitta and made the vow to descend
in this fortunate aeon to liberate the sentient beings of this world. The first
was _________, then Serthub, then Osung. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth.
Guru Shakyamuni Buddha very
kindly made 500 prayers and vowed to descend to this world to benefit us in
this 100-age quarrelling time who were left out by other Buddhas. He generated
compassion and bodhicitta for all sentient beings and then practiced
charity—giving up his own body, wealth, family and so forth— practiced
morality, patience and perseverance for three countless great aeons. Buddha
completed the two types of merit, virtue and wisdom, and achieved
enlightenment. He then revealed the teachings of the Four Noble Truths—that
show the path to liberation, the Paramitayana path—that shows the path to full
enlightenment, and the tantric path which brings enlightenment very
quickly—even in one lifetime.
Therefore the path to
enlightenment is very scientific. Buddha himself experienced the path and then
revealed it to others. In the same way, many great pandits analysed the
Buddha’s teachings and many yogis practiced them. So many meditators from
different countries of the world—India,
Tibet, China, Mongolia,
enlightenment by practising the path correctly just as the Buddha explained. So
practicing Buddhism is not just blind faith. Even now, there are many
meditators attaining the path.
Buddha is also guiding Mongolian people because Buddhism
came to Mongolia
many centuries ago. Mongolians are so fortunate that Buddhism is Mongolia’s old
culture and therefore we must preserve and strengthen and spread it. It is very
important for everyone to learn and practice Buddhism in order not to waste
this precious human life. Bayurla.
Transcript of a Speech given
by Rinpoche for Mongolian Radio in June 2004, transcribed and edited by Ven
Sarah Tenzing Yiwong.