Lama Zopa Rinpoche message to Jamyang London
"The centre is so important. People don’t know—the government doesn’t know—how important the centre is. You have the responsibility to educate, to awaken the minds of sentient beings from the sleep of ignorance. Because you can be of unbelievable benefit through working for the centre, whatever you do, as a volunteer or whatever, you should rejoice. It is so worthwhile...The benefits come from everybody who makes Jamyang Centre exist, who help it continue every year, every month, every week, every day, every minute, every hour, every minute, every second. That’s how it helps the world. So, thank you very much, thank you very, very much."
You can read the full message from our Spiritual Director below.
With many thanks to the staff of Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive and to Gordon McDougall for transcribing and editing this precious message.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Advice for Jamyang’s 40th Birthday Celebration Lightly edited by Gordon McDougall
Thank you very much to all the students, benefactors, volunteers and directors and everybody. Thank you very much and numberless thanks to you, for Jamyang to exist for a long time and for making it continuously more and more beneficial for sentient beings. Thank you very much. You have invited me but somehow, sorry, my time became crushed. Like a car crash! Anyway, I couldn’t make it there because of other plans. Thank you very much for inviting me.
You must see how, relating to ourselves, the Dharma is so important. The first thing is by learning Dharma, even if we just hear the teachings, even if we don’t know it, the Buddhadharma has power to benefit us, purifying the mind, the negative karma, the defilements, and allowing us to collect merits. Because of that, we don’t get reborn in the lower realms; we receive a higher rebirth again, we have a perfect human rebirth again, and we meet the Dharma again. Not only that, we can then become free from samsara and achieve nirvana. Not only that, not only becoming free from the lower nirvana, we can achieve great nirvana, full enlightenment.
That’s the benefit we get just for coming to the centre to learn Dharma, to hear teachings. Can you imagine the benefits you get from Jamyang Buddhist Centre? They are unbelievable. It’s the same thing if you are helping Jamyang in different ways, as director, secretary, manager, or all the roles you do to help Jamyang continue to exist each year, each month, each week, each day. Now, like you, other people get unbelievable benefit, coming to the centre or learning through the internet. You all get all the benefits, all the way up to enlightenment.
I’ll give you an example of the benefits of hearing the Dharma. Vasubandhu, a pandit from Nalanda who wrote the Abhidharmakosha, recited it every day. There was a pigeon living on the roof who heard him reciting it every day. When the pigeon died it was reborn as a human to a family lower down the valley. Through his clairvoyance Vasubandhu saw this and he went down and saw the baby who had been the pigeon on his roof in his past life. He asked if he could have the child and the family offered it to him, so he brought the child up. He became a monk, Lobpön Loden, who later wrote four commentaries of the Abhidharmakosha. He became an expert in the teaching he heard when he was a pigeon. So, you see, it’s not necessary to understand the meaning, just hearing the Buddhadharma brings benefits, purifying negative karma, obscurations, and collecting merits. While he was a pigeon, he couldn’t do prostrations or the many other preliminary practices, but because the pigeon just heard the Buddhadharma, without understand the meaning at all, he was born a human being.
When we study Madhyamaka and there are some difficulties, even just listening to the teachings, just listening to the Buddhadharma, without understanding the meaning, still has unbelievable benefit. Because of that, the pigeon purified past negative karma of being reborn lower realms and was born a human being, and was able to meet Dharma and become a monk. You have to understand that.
The centre offers all those benefits to sentient beings. Can you imagine? Even if people who come to the centre don’t understand the meaning of the teaching they hear, there is still great benefit. There are so many sentient beings who are studying Buddhadharma by internet or by coming to the centre, allowing them to be free from samsara soon and making them achieve the great nirvana, full enlightenment.
What a benefit Jamyang is offering. This is what you are offering by working for Jamyang, whatever you do, as director, secretary, manager, teacher, volunteer or whatever. Not only those who work in the centre, all the members, benefactors, and so on, you not only help free sentient beings from samsara but also achieve great nirvana, full enlightenment. That’s one thing.
Then there is the need for world peace. You see, world peace depends on compassion. It depends on how many people practice the good heart, compassion. The more people do that, the more peace there will be in the world. If there are more people who practice the good heart, compassion, there will be more and more happiness and peace.
I’ve never seen a centre opened by Western scientists offering how to develop renunciation, how to develop bodhicitta, how to realize the ultimate nature. Without even talking about tantra, I’ve never seen a centre offering things like that opened by Western scientists. Where can you go to learn how to develop compassion and bodhicitta? Even the Buddhist centres offering teachings on the Lesser Vehicle don’t offer the whole path to enlightenment, whereas the centres that offer the Great Vehicle, the Mahayana, teach the lamrim, the graduated path the enlightenment, showing us how to develop bodhicitta, showing us the way that makes it possible to achieve enlightenment, allowing us to free numberless other sentient beings from the oceans of samsara and bring them to enlightenment. Can you imagine?
Centres like Jamyang teach how to realize the ultimate truth according to the Prasangika school, the only way to completely eliminate the root of samsara, ignorance, the mind that holds the I as totally real, to use everyday language. There are many different explanations of emptiness, such as by the Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Mind Only and the Madhyamaka Svatantrika schools but the Prasangika is only way to completely eliminate ignorance. This is what the Buddha revealed, what Nagarjuna revealed, what Lama Tsongkhapa revealed, what Milarepa revealed. The Prasangika view is especially what Jamyang Centre teaches.
Besides the philosophy, by teaching the lamrim, the graduated path to enlightenment, can you imagine the benefits for sentient beings? Even just learning and understanding the words gives them the opportunity to be free of samsara. So, you see, now you have to really rejoice! You’ve heard teachings on compassion and, before that, on renunciation. You have to see how your own samsara is in nature of suffering, and from there, when you think of others’ samsara, you see how others, who are numberless, are also suffering. Then, you generate unbelievable compassion and, from that, bodhicitta. Then, from there, you attain the Mahayana path and achieve enlightenment.
This is what you can offer to sentient beings. Our centre is not like a new age shop that sells all kinds of things. It’s not like that. Even though with each of the four sects you can achieve enlightenment, this is particularly a centre in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition. For example, I myself am generally from the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition but I also have many other gurus, from the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma traditions.
So, the centre is so important. People don’t know—the government doesn’t know—how important the centre is. You have the responsibility to educate, to awaken the minds of sentient beings from the sleep of ignorance. Because you can be of unbelievable benefit through working for the centre, whatever you do, as a volunteer or whatever, you should rejoice. It is so worthwhile.
Now, I’ll tell you one thing. Even if somebody just does a weekend course where they learn that the main thing is to not harm sentient beings and to benefit them. If you can’t benefit, then at least do not harm—that is the essence. Even if they just attend a two-day course and from that time they stop killing animals, they stop harming sentient beings. Even though they don’t recite the mantras or prostrations or they don’t do sadhanas, just that, to stop fishing, killing chickens or pigs, stepping on insects and ants, just that is of unbelievable benefit and that comes from the centre. Because of you, that one person can give so much happiness to sentient beings, at least not harming them.
Then, of course, when a person comes back to the centre again and learns more and more, at least that, to not harm, to not to cause suffering to others, they bring so much happiness to sentient beings. I’m talking about one person, but there are so many sentient beings who come to Jamyang Centre, not just only one person. Many people also do like that, not harming many sentient beings. That is unbelievably good, so good. You should feel that it all comes from you—you, the director or the teachers or the workers, those of you who are cleaning and cooking. The benefits come from everybody who makes Jamyang Centre exist, who help it continue every year, every month, every week, every day, every minute, every hour, every minute, every second. That’s how it helps the world. So, thank you very much, thank you very, very much.
Here, you teach the Dharma, especially the lamrim, where the essence is compassion. What differentiates Buddhism from other religions is having compassion for every sentient being, not only for your friend or a stranger, even for your enemy—for every sentient being! There’s no other religion that has that emphasis. Even Christianity teaches about helping poor people or something like that, but, animals such as pigs and chickens are seen as being given by God to eat. In that way it is more limited.
When you receive lamrim teaching, whether you have a bodhicitta realization or not, everything is aimed at benefiting sentient beings, freeing sentient beings from the oceans of samsara and bringing them to enlightenment. Therefore, you must achieve enlightenment, you must achieve state of omniscience. For that reason, you study the Dharma, you listen to the teaching, you reflect and meditate. Then, every action you do with your body, speech and mind, even walking, sitting, sleeping, doing a job, making business, whatever, everything you do is with bodhicitta.
When you do that, it helps all sentient beings. The numberless hell beings receive benefit from Jamyang Centre; the numberless hungry ghosts receive benefit from Jamyang Centre; the numberless animals—those who are living in the ocean, those who are under the ground, those who live in the bush, or when you walk in grass, the tiny flies that run away, those in the sky—they all receive benefit from Jamyang Centre. The numberless human beings, the numberless sura beings—every sentient being benefits from Jamyang Centre because those people who come to practice, who come to listen to teachings, or who watch through the internet, do activities with their body and mind with a bodhicitta motivation. Because of that they benefit numberless sentient beings through Jamyang Centre.
So, you should rejoice in all that. To all of you who are working to benefit, to anybody who is helping Jamyang Centre with the body, speech, and mind, everybody, you should rejoice because are benefiting to numberless sentient beings. Thank you. Thank you very much. My love and my prayers and best wishes for everybody. Thank you very much.
One thing is I wanted to thank is Geshe Tashi from my heart. He has been so extremely, extremely, extremely kind, extremely patient, for a long time, since we first invited him. Geshe Tashi has made Jamyang Centre most beneficial for sentient beings. It has been in the hands of its resident teacher, Geshe Tashi, for a long time as well as those other teachers who came for a short time, but especially Geshe Tashi. So, thank you very, very much.
And now, to help the continuity of Jamyang Centre, to make it more beneficial, Geshe Namdak is coming. He translates, and he has studied and finished his geshe studies in Sera Je, so you will enjoy his knowledge very much. Thank you very much.
October 2018: Jamyang Buddhist Centre would like to express its gratitude to the staff of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive for kindly transcribing and editing this teaching for circulation.