Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Teachings on the Heart Sutra
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Ego Wants So Many Things
Second Discourse, March 19, 2000
Good afternoon. We’re going to read in English the praise paying homage to Buddha, remembering Buddha’s qualities, and Dharma, Sangha.
[Recitation of Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha, Heart Sutra, Prayer to the Lion-Face Dakini and Praise to Manjushri.] Short mandala. [Short mandala offering, inner mandala, Request to Turn the Wheel of Dharma, Refuge and Bodhicitta]
The purpose of our life is not just to achieve happiness for oneself, not just to solve to our own problems. The purpose of our life is to benefit other sentient beings, and we have responsibility for all other sentient beings’ peace and happiness. Not just, besides the definition of the meaning of life is to benefit others, but on top of that we have responsibility for the happiness and peace of every other sentient being.
As I often mention, if you have the precious quality of a human mind, the compassion, numberless other sentient beings including animals or human beings, anybody who is around you in everyday life, the numberless other living beings, they do not receive harm from you, they do not receive harm from you. So the absence of that harm is peace, happiness, what they receive from you. Not only that, by developing compassion they receive so much benefit; they receive happiness of this life. Your compassion causes you to bring comfort and happiness to others in this life.
Your compassion makes you develop the wisdom, also, to understand Dharma, to understand what is right and is to be practiced, and what is wrong and is to be abandoned. Compassion makes to understand karma, to understand the benefits of morality, all the good results of that—a good rebirth, all the happiness of future lives—charity and so forth, all these good karmas.
However, your compassion makes you to cause the happiness of other sentient beings, the happiness of other sentient beings’ future lives. Your compassion causes you to cause numberless sentient beings to have happiness in their future lives. Not only that, your compassion causes—by revealing Dharma, the true path, the teachings of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Buddha’s teachings, the kind, compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, and those highly attained pandits, yogis, their commentaries on the teachings on emptiness, commentary on the Buddha’s teachings—your compassion causes [numberless sentient beings]to realize, by revealing these teachings it makes them to realize emptiness, to develop this wisdom and end the oceans of samsaric suffering, which continuation has no beginning, but you end, you cease, or you end the oceans of samsaric sufferings.
You cease, your compassion makes you to cease the oceans of samsaric sufferings of the numberless other sentient beings. Not only that, by revealing the Mahayana path your compassion makes you to bring the numberless other sentient beings to full enlightenment—that which is the total cessation of even the subtle defilements, the subtle mistakes of the mind—to complete the full enlightenment, that which is the cessation of even the subtle mistakes of the mind and having all the qualities of the realizations. So your compassion causes you to bring the numberless other sentient beings to full enlightenment, the peerless happiness.
This is besides, from your compassion, by the way, you’re able to achieve all your wishes of this life. Your wishes for happiness in this life and your wishes for future lives, all the coming future lives, get fulfilled. Your wishes for all the coming future lives’ happiness get achieved, then from your compassion you achieve liberation from samsara and you are able to achieve everlasting happiness and achieve full enlightenment. It causes you to achieve full enlightenment yourself.
This compassion, your compassion, is wish-fulfilling; it is the real wish-fulfilling jewel. With the external wish-fulfilling jewel, the external material wish-fulfilling jewel, you can only get enjoyments, comforts, if you pray only for material enjoyment, only for the external sense pleasures. But your inner wish-granting jewel, the compassion toward other sentient beings—you are able to cause all this, you are able to achieve happiness up to enlightenment, all these, the ultimate happiness. You are able to cause all these four levels of happiness—happiness of this life, happiness of future lives, the long-run happiness, then liberation, ultimate happiness, total liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.
Even if you have found the external material, a wish-granting jewel, the external one, that material cannot achieve that. You just achieve the sense enjoyment, material needs, but you cannot achieve all those, you cannot cause all that happiness up to enlightenment for other sentient beings. With that [external wish-fulfilling jewel] alone, you cannot cause all that happiness toward all sentient beings, up to enlightenment. [Long pause]
Therefore, your inner jewel, the compassion, that’s the most precious one.
All this peace and happiness up to enlightenment, what the numberless other sentient beings receive from you, that is in your hand, that is up to your mind, what you do with your mind. Therefore, every one of us here has full responsibility for numberless other living beings’ peace and happiness—not just the family members, but those who are around us in everyday life.
So we will meditate, we will do fixed meditation, feeling that, “I have full responsibility for numberless other sentient beings’ peace and happiness.” Just meditate, do fixed meditation, one-pointed meditation, feeling this universal responsibility. [Meditation]
Without compassion in your own heart, what attitude there will be is the self-centered mind. Then due to that, anger and attachment and so forth, those discriminating thoughts, arise. So numberless other sentient beings receive harm from you directly or indirectly, from life to life. From life to life, numberless, when you think of life to life then numberless other sentient beings receive harm from you directly or indirectly, from the ego, from the self, from your self-centered mind. Then due to that other disturbing emotional thoughts arise, which harm others besides yourself.
So even if all the human beings, even if all the sentient beings get angry, even if they kill you, it’s just one person, you are just one person, you are just one person. Even if you get reborn in the hell realm where there’s the heaviest suffering, still you are just one, one person. So there is nothing much, not that much to be frightened or sad about.
Even if you achieve everlasting happiness, liberation from the samsara, you’re just one person. Even if you achieve ultimate happiness, that which is free forever from samsara, all the oceans of suffering of samsara, you are just one person, so there’s nothing much to be excited about. But if you, the one person, don’t change your mind, if you don’t generate the precious quality of the human mind, compassion; if the mental continuum stays with the ego, the self-centered mind, then there’s a danger that numberless other beings will receive harm from you, from life to life.
Therefore, it becomes extremely urgent to generate, to develop the good heart, to develop compassion. It becomes so urgent, a billion times much more than when you have a heart attack or cancer or some sickness, going to the emergency hospital. That is just only concerning one person’s happiness, one person’s life, how important it is, just one person’s life, just one person’s happiness. That is just the happiness of this life, not the happiness beyond this life.
Now here the need is to practice the good heart, compassion toward other sentient beings. How urgent it is, you cannot wait, cannot wait; without delaying even a second, a minute; without delaying even a minute, a second. It’s something that you have to generate, to transform the mind into compassion toward others. Not only happiness for your own benefit, but all the happiness up to enlightenment, especially for numberless other sentient beings, to benefit numberless other sentient beings, bringing peace and happiness, up to enlightenment. How urgent it is. You can’t wait, you can’t delay, it’s something that has to be generated without delaying even a minute, a second, it’s something that should happen.
Even just a simple example of why the good heart is the source of comfort from where the main peace and happiness of life comes, in day-to-day life.
By having the compassion, these positive thoughts, the good heart, it saves a lot of money, because ego, the self-centered mind, due to that, the ego wants so many things and due to ego, attachment, due to ego, the ego that which arises, ego that which exists accompanying with the root of samsara, the ignorance, then the attachment arises. So, the ego wants so many things for him- or herself. Anyway, I don’t know if the ego is male or female, but anyway, I don’t know if the ego is male or female.
Anyway, the ego wants so many things, so many things, and then also the attachment clinging to this life wants so many things, then when it’s not happening, when what ego wants, what attachment wants is not happening, then anger rises. When there are disturbances, when others interfere, when others—what ego and attachment expect, want to receive or expect others to do, to act, to help—when it’s not happening, when it’s opposite to what the ego and attachment expects then anger arises, the jealous mind arises. However, all these disturbing emotional thoughts arise.
As it is mentioned by the doctors or by those who do analysis in the West, the person whose mind is more impatient, for that person it is more easy to have a heart attack, for those whose mind is more impatient. So that person would also be more egoistic and because more egoistic, there is so much expectation, so strong, then it’s very easy to arise. Also it’s very easy for anger to arise when the mind is that much more impatient, becomes more impatient. So like that these disturbing emotional thoughts cause death. It harms the body—not only harming the mind, disturbing the mental continuum, that person’s mental continuum, disturbing instead of bringing peace, but it harms the body, it causes sicknesses.
The stronger the self-centered mind, the stronger the attachment—wanting more, wanting so many things—so there is more stress. It causes more stress, more worry and concern, and can also become the cause of cancer and there can be negative karma created with this self-centered mind. The anger, attachment and those other delusions create the cause, the negative karma, to have cancer, sickness, but also besides the actual cause then this becomes—besides the actual cause which is there—these emotional thoughts also become a condition [for sickness.] These negative emotional thoughts, worry, fears which came from, are caused by this, they can also be a condition for those sicknesses. However, then no question about AIDS, that’s related, that’s caused by these negative, these disturbing thoughts, the negative attitude. First of all the self-centered mind, then there’s also the dissatisfied mind, attachment. That’s the main cause, the original cause of the AIDS.
They cause the unhealthy mind, the disturbance to your own mental continuum, which makes the mind unhealthy and the body unhealthy, so that makes the life very expensive. The only positive thing is that the psychologists can make money and the doctors can make money. That’s the only positive side, they can get a job. [Group laughs] But for yourself, life become very expensive and this ego, the self-centered mind, the attachment, makes the life so expensive, and sometimes anger makes the life expensive. Many billions, billions, billions of dollars are spent on weapons to destroy the enemy, so you see the anger makes so much expense and to spend all those many billions of dollars to kill others—to kill others and also to kill your own people.
The self-centered mind, the anger and so forth, these negative attitudes, by having these in your daily life, your attitude of life being like this, then that has a negative effect toward others. So your own negative mind has a negative effect toward others. The nature of the self-cherishing thought is only being concerned for oneself, not concerned for others, the other person, the other sentient being, so it does actions which hurt others. When others find out it makes them unhappy. It hurts them. The anger makes others get angry. Your anger makes others get angry; your anger toward others makes others angry, then others’ anger makes you angry. Others’ anger affects you back, so you get a negative effect. When others get angry then you get a negative effect, unpleasant, unhappiness. When others get angry with you, then from that you get angry toward others. So there is a negative [effect] and it circles like that. You made others unhappy, so then others make you unhappy.
When you look at somebody with compassion, loving kindness, with that attitude, when you care for somebody and treat them with loving kindness, compassion, with the attitude of the good heart, it makes that person happy and causes that person to also be compassionate, to have loving kindness. Your loving that person causes that person to love you, to have an affectionate mind or loving kindness toward you. So being kind and generous toward others—even if you don’t expect others to be kind, to help you—as a result, they become kind and generous to you.
Therefore, how others treat you depends on how you treat others. We can say that even just today, when you see other people, how you look at them, with what kind of attitude you look at them—either with loving kindness, with compassion, or with an angry mind, with only a self-centered mind, which doesn’t have a positive effect, a positive feeling. Others don’t get a positive feeling from you when the mind is just self-centered, just only seeking happiness for yourself. But when you look at others, when you see others, when you’re dealing with others with loving kindness, compassionate thought, your body, even your eyes, the way you’re looking at others, the way you speak, the way you behave, it carries a pleasant manner or it has a positive feeling. They get a pleasant feeling, a peaceful feeling, a good, positive vibration. Others feel happy and comfortable, and trust you.
Similarly, how you treat others, they also treat you in that way, as a result of that. How you treat others, with a kind heart, with the thought of cherishing others, the thought of benefiting others, a sincere heart, compassion toward others. What I’m trying to say is, in day-to-day life how others treat you, how they look at you, how they speak to you, how they behave to you physically, depends on how they feel about you, how they feel about your attitude, how they see you, [and that depends on] how you look at them and treat them. So in that moment, in that hour, in that minute, in that moment, it’s a dependent arising.
Also how others treat you is to do with how you treat them. That is the long-run evolution due to the past karma. Past karma. If you have abused others in the past, if you have abused others in the past, there’s karma not purified yet. Therefore, among the many karmas, that particular karma is ripened today, because it’s not purified in the past so it’s ripened today. Today, why that person treated you that way, with abuse, whatever you call it, who abused you today, in that hour, that minute.
You never met that person before, you never met that person, you don’t know that person, but just by meeting, that person is angry with you. Just by meeting, that person is angry with you, not happy with you. You never met that person before, there are no stories with that person in this life, but as soon as that person sees you, that person shoots you. As soon as that person sees you, he shoots you—shot, shoot, shot or shoot, anyway. So even if there’s no story that you harmed that person in this life, no story, you haven’t seen that person, but just it happened this person beat you, suddenly beat you or shot you. These things happen, there doesn’t need to be a story, that you did something wrong to that person this life.
There’s a long-run evolution—the past, you did similar harm to that sentient being in the past lives. If you hadn’t met that person in this life, that you did something to, that you harmed in early times in this life; if there’s no story that happened, then in your past lives you have harmed that person. Anyway, how you treated [that person,] in that way the person treats you in this life. So, how others treat you depends on how you treat others.
There are two answers, there are two. One thing is, right now in this moment, how you treat others then they treat you [in the same way,] whether it’s harm, whether it’s positive or negative, good or bad. Then the other one is the long-run evolution, the past negative karma. So the present one can be the condition, the immediate condition, causing others to treat you either positively—to benefit, to help you, to do good—or to harm you.
The other one, there’s the original cause for this to happen. There’s a reason, the original cause or the reason that this person treats you in this way. For example, where you do your job, somebody becomes jealous. In the office somebody becomes jealous of you and always tries to harm you, so you lose your job. That other person is always trying to slander to the boss of the company or however, where you are doing the job, that person always tries to slander, to create disharmony between you and the boss, or by talking about bad things, mistakes, causing you to lose your job. These things, or somehow the boss doesn’t like you, doesn’t want you to do the job there and so forth. Anyway, whatever it is, there’s a long run, there’s the original cause, the reason that makes that person react or behave or act like that, treating you like that.
If you have treated those people in the past in a similar way, however, if you created some negative karma in your relationship with them, that’s what makes them [treat you in this way] now. This karma was not purified in the past, so it’s ripened today, this year, this month, this week, today, then this person is behaving toward you like this, treating you like this. That’s the original cause—how you treat them. So how you treat them, they treat you that way. How you treat them has two things, one is the immediate [condition] the same day, the same moment; the other one is the karma that you have created in the relationships with those people in the past.
If you practice compassion in your daily life, with this attitude of compassion there’s respect, there’s positive action toward others. The way you treat others is positive, therefore, that stops others getting angry or becoming negative toward you, feeling dislike or negative toward you and doing unpleasant deeds or actions toward you. They will be only pleasant, only positive in the way they look at you, the way they behave and respond to you.
The other thing, with compassion you don’t create again the same negative karma by harming others. With compassion you don’t create again the same negative karma to be abused by others, to be criticized by others, to be killed by others, to be cheated by others, all these things, to be slandered by others or others causing disharmony. When your attitude of life is compassion toward others, that doesn’t allow you to create these negative karmas, the same negative karmas, again and again. Because it doesn’t allow you to create the same negative karma, compassion helps to not receive those harms in the future—abuse, killing or cheating or whatever—from other sentient beings.
So compassion becomes a great protection in your life, a great protection for you and for others. Also because of compassion, your attitude in life, daily life, of compassion to others; because of that, you don’t create negative karma, you don’t cause harm to others, therefore it doesn’t oblige others to create negative karma later. As a result of that, obliging other sentient beings to create negative karma by harming you doesn’t happen.
[If they harm you] that means those other sentient beings will get reborn in the hell realms, hungry ghost and animal realms, those lower realms, due to the negative karma of harming you. By harming you then they get reborn in the lower realms, and do not just experience the suffering of samsara but particularly the lower realms. So that doesn’t happen.
Therefore, compassion, if our daily life attitude is compassion to others, with the thought of benefiting others, it becomes incredible protection for oneself and other sentient beings.
Not only that, the stronger compassion there is in our daily life toward others, it purifies the past negative karmas. The stronger compassion we are able to generate in the daily life toward other sentient beings, then so many lifetimes, even eons, many eons of negative karma get purified, by having generated strong compassion toward others in our daily life. So that helps to not experience [the suffering results] even if there were negative karmas collected, if unrighteous actions were done in the past, we don’t need to experience the suffering results. Or even if we have to experience the result, it will be for a very short time, very light, not heavy for so many lifetimes or for many eons in the lower realms. [Long pause]
Your daily life attitude, if there’s the thought of benefiting others, compassion, then it’s not only that you don’t oblige or don’t influence others to behave negatively toward you, only positively. Not only that, with this attitude then it makes you only to do good things for others, only to benefit others, to not harm others. Therefore, these become good karma, so in the future, from this attitude, that which is compassion, in the future you receive help, others become kind to you. You receive help as a result of the present good karma that’s created due to your attitude, which is compassion.
There are so many benefits when the daily life attitude is compassion toward others. There are so many benefits, it takes care of your life in so many ways, it protects you, it’s the best protection, it’s the best protection for your life. As I mentioned before, there are different ways, so it become the best protection and it takes care of your life. It becomes the best way to take care of yourself, now and the future. Compassion always has the best future. It always has the best future.
Now, without compassion, no matter how many eons or how many thousands of years we are able to live the life, without this good heart towards others, our life is empty. There is no meaning, our life is empty. Without compassion what there will be is only the self-centered mind, so our life—even if we are able to live for a thousand years—our life is empty. Meaningless; it becomes a meaningless life, it doesn’t give meaning, it has no meaning. Living that long doesn’t give any meaning. And then, no matter how much wealth we have, without compassion for others, without the thought of benefiting others, again there is no meaning, life has no meaning, it’s empty. No matter how much we are externally rich, our inner life is empty, our inner life is empty, filled with the self-centered mind, filled with sorrow, suffering, problems, dissatisfaction, especially dissatisfaction, no fulfillment. But with compassion, the thought of benefiting others, then every single wealth that we have becomes meaningful, becomes beneficial to others, to other sentient beings.
How much power we have in the life, without compassion the power becomes dangerous to others in the world. The power becomes dangerous to the world and the power become dangerous to ourselves, even to our own life. It becomes harmful because without compassion how much power we have, if we use it the wrong way, negative way, then it becomes harmful even to ourselves, in the sense of karma, so it becomes only negative karma which then harms us. How much influence or power we have, it only becomes harmful without compassion, the thought of benefiting others. But with compassion, how much power we have, we are able to achieve, to influence, we can only benefit more to the world, to other sentient beings and by the way, to ourselves. Also without compassion, the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, how much education we have, there is a danger to use the education in the wrong way, to develop more pride. There’s the danger of using the education for problems, to create problems for others, to cause problems for others and for ourselves.
The knowledge, the intelligence that we have is used the wrong way. Instead of bringing peace and happiness to others and to ourselves, if there is a lack of compassion, good heart, then no matter how much intelligence, it’s used the wrong way, to create negative karma or to harm others. So again not making, without the good heart however much education we have, it doesn’t make the life meaningful. It doesn’t bring fulfillment, it doesn’t bring satisfaction in our heart, doesn’t bring fulfillment in the heart. Everything is working for ourselves, so there is no thought of benefiting others, whatever we do is for ourselves. It makes the life totally empty, and there is no fulfillment, no satisfaction, no fulfillment in the heart, in our life.
Even when we do business, even in business life we need lam-rim, we need the three principal aspects of the path, to really make the business meaningful. Business or any style of life, whatever activity we do, we need the three principal aspects of the path, we need Dharma, we need lam-rim, we need Dharma. What is that? Lam-rim, either renunciation or bodhicitta or right view, the attitude for doing the act, whatever activity we do, otherwise it becomes suffering. Otherwise whatever we do, it only becomes a suffering life. There is no good future, it has no good, that life has no good future. Even temporarily there is a reputation we achieve—fame, material wealth and so forth—but we don’t have a good future. We have a very sad future, a terrifying future; the future is disappointing; there is disappointment and guilt, so we have an unhappy future.
In the business life, if there’s compassion toward others, the thought of benefiting others, there are two things for how to do business; there are two things. One is externally how to do business, that is taught in either college or university, economics or whatever. That in the world where’s the best bank or the best stock market or the best whatever, that which gives the most profit and so forth, something like that, an example.
The other thing for how to do business is the motivation. That’s the most important thing. Why is it the most important one even in business life? The attitude of doing business is compassion, the thought of benefiting others—why is that more important? In case your business fails, loses billions of dollars, is bankrupt or whatever, whatever happens, your merit is not lost. With compassion, the thought of benefiting others, your actions become good karma, your actions become virtue, Dharma. Therefore, the merit is collected with that attitude and all that merit is not lost. All the merit, which is the main cause for success, that is not lost, that is there. And that is always collected with the ?continual good heart, the compassionate thought of benefiting others. So the life has not been empty. Even if the person lost billions of dollars or is bankrupt, the life has not been empty. Life is rich in merits, good karma. What is lost is just external material, it’s not the real life. Life has not been wasted, life did not become empty of merits; life did not become empty of Dharma.
I told one student that, anyway, a story I remembered. I remembered a story. So one student. Lama advised him to take care of the family, to do the business for the family, to do the business to take care of the family. So the business completely collapsed. For so many years it didn’t work, it completely collapsed, and the whole, the father and mother, the brother, all people, everybody criticized him, because they think the loss of the family is due to him, so he caused all the loss of the family wealth.
So he cannot sleep at nighttime, he has to take tablets, sleeping pills, because of all that pressure, so much pressure. The parents were so unhappy and angry with him. So I said, I told him, actually that actually your own life, even though materially there has not been success, but your own life has not been failed because of the unbelievable merit you collected by following Lama Yeshe’s advice, to do business for the family. Obtaining the advice, unbelievable. Generally, every time when you follow the advice, every time when one follows advice, every time you become closer to enlightenment. That’s the very first benefit of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend—becoming closer to enlightenment—that’s the very first advantage. There are eight advantages to correctly devoting to the virtuous friend with thought and action.
If the advice is to sweep the floor, then each sweeping brings the disciple closer to enlightenment. So we should relate this first benefit of correctly devoting the virtuous friend. There are eight advantages or benefits, and the first one is becoming closer to enlightenment. We should relate every single advice that is given. So whatever it is, every single advice that is given, whenever you do it, every movement, whenever you do that—like every sweeping, if you’re told to sweep, to clean the place—then every sweeping, every action of sweeping, it becomes unbelievable purification, purifying your mind, collects inconceivable merit and brings you each time closer to enlightenment. It’s very powerful. So like that, any advice. That’s an example. So whatever advice is given to do, every minute, every second, every minute when you’re following the advice you become closer to enlightenment So one should understand in this way.
So I told him that unbelievable merit was collected, “What you’re doing— even if the business completely collapsed—what you’re doing is so worthwhile, that’s fulfilling Lama Yeshe’s, Lama’s, the guru’s wishes.” I mean, the whole family looking at him were completely upset, angry, like that. Of course, it’s not easy, it’s not an easy situation that you can bear. Anyway, however, he got incredible advantage from doing the business. Many years were lost, he didn’t have any success, everything got stuck, so much was lost and the whole family, his parents, the relatives, everyone complaining, upset. But what happened is, it gave him so much, it made him to understand, actually it gave him a kind of realization that, detachment to samsara. Detachment to samsara, that nothing is definite.
Actually that’s what happened externally, but in his heart, in his mind there’s development, so the renunciation is developed. Within him renunciation developed so much. Externally all these things, externally a very difficult life, everything, for so many years nothing worked, everything failed, but he developed so much renunciation, detachment, so much renunciation, no attraction to samsara, to the samsaric perfections. So he developed lam-rim. It’s not that he was doing many prayers; there was no time to do that because of the business, but he developed lam-rim, renunciation, so much renunciation in his heart. So much renunciation. I guess he may have developed more renunciation than somebody who is doing retreat for many months and years, doing many prayers, or isolated. However, doing a very luxurious retreat but nothing is happening. Like my retreat, a very luxurious retreat, like my retreat, [Laughter] then nothing is happening to the mind. Nothing is happening to the mind, however many number of mantras you recite or, no change is happening to the mind.
Anyway, so much renunciation and so much devotion developed even though he didn’t have time to meditate or do prayers like normally how other people do. Even though he doesn’t have time to do like that, so much devotion is developed. Somehow that gave him so much devotion to develop and then renunciation, especially renunciation to samsara and samsaric perfections.
I think that effect from where it came, there are so many people doing business in the world, there are so many people also collapsing. So many people are doing business and then collapsing, there are so many, but everybody is not having that development of the mind by doing business, developing lam-rim experience. However in this case here, it’s not because of the business, it’s because, in this case why the business—even though externally it didn’t succeed—but why it benefited so much to his mind is because Lama asked him to do it, to do the business for the family. So that, the benefit, his development of the mind, with so much renunciation and devotion, guru devotion, I think it came from there. Where it came from is that, what caused it. He’s doing this simply because Lama asked him to do it, so mainly because of that.
Going back to what I was telling you before. How to do business, the first one, the attitude of doing business, if there’s compassion, the thought of benefiting others, this is the best attitude, the best Dharma, and because of the attitude, the actions become Dharma. If the mind is Dharma, then actions become Dharma and this is the best one—the good heart, the thought of benefiting others, compassion. Therefore, even though the business didn’t succeed, even though everything collapsed, he has a very good future. This person has the best future, a good rebirth, enlightenment, all this happiness up to enlightenment. He has all this happiness, happiness after this life, because it’s virtue, so he has happiness after this life, happiness in the future lives.
Not only that, in day-to-day life there is peace of mind. Because the motivation is compassion, the thought of benefiting others, there is peace of mind. There’s peace of mind, in that person’s heart there’s peace, and it gives fulfillment because of the attitude—doing this to benefit others or the teachings of the Buddha—it’s for sentient beings. Also that gives satisfaction; the person can get satisfaction from that, from the attitude of life doing business with the good heart, that also gives the person satisfaction.
Therefore, there’s peace and happiness now and especially there’s all that peace and happiness in the future, as a result of that, of those activities which become Dharma. Now, continuously the person creates the cause of success, even though that time the business didn’t succeed, but with that good heart he was continuously creating extensive merit.
So now there is the other person who knows how to do business only [according to] what is taught in college or university, only the external part, but doesn’t know how to do business which is the real source of peace and happiness now and the future, all the success. It doesn’t exist there, in the person’s mind it’s not there, because there is no positive attitude. Besides, anyway, there’s no good heart, compassion toward others; there’s no detached mind, renunciation, so the attitude of life for doing business there’s no Dharma there. There’s nothing there, so there’s a totally self-centered mind, with attachment, so it’s only the source of the problems, only the source. The attitude of life is only the source of the problems, the unhappiness, dissatisfaction; it’s the source of dissatisfaction, from where dissatisfaction comes.
Even if that person does succeed in business, even if the person becomes a billionaire, even if that person does succeed in business, when that person becomes a billionaire there’s no peace. Even if there’s externally, if he’s able to make, to have billions of dollars, in his heart there’s no peace and happiness that time. Even when he gets a billion dollars there’s no peace and happiness in the heart; there’s even more dissatisfaction and then he wants a zillion dollars more. So he is always wanting more and more, always wanting to be better than others, better than other wealthy [people], more rich than other billionaires. However, there’s even more dissatisfied mind, more worry, more fear, so like that.
In day-to-day life there’s no peace and happiness in the heart, there’s so much worry, therefore, the self-centered mind, attachment, so only worry and fear, then the attachment. And it has no good future, no good future. It doesn’t have the future which is happiness, it doesn’t have that future. The future of that attitude, that activity, is only suffering, only long-term suffering. So many lifetimes of suffering and even rebirth in the lower realms. It becomes a very sad life. So life finishes only with this, life is finished only with the problems, only with the fear and worries, life finishes only with the dissatisfied mind, only with pain in the heart. Also due to this negative attitude of life it brings many other problems, in relationships and many other things. It creates, it produces so many problems in the life.
Here I used the example of business life, but it’s the same for whatever other style of life. The education, how to do it, there are two things, the external one and the inner one. From those two the inner one is extremely important. So depending on that you spend your life in suffering or depending on that you spend your life in peace and happiness for yourself and others. [Long pause]
And this is the way to enjoy the life. Enjoying the life doesn’t come from external success. It comes from the first one, how to do anything, the first one, the motivation, the attitude of life, especially when it’s compassion for others, the thought of benefiting others. From there all the peace and happiness comes, so that attitude gives meaning to the whole life. That attitude gives meaning to everything, whatever you do. The bodhicitta motivation or compassion, the thought of benefiting others, that transforms [your life], like transforming iron into gold, like that it transforms your life. It gives, it makes the whole of your life most meaningful, most meaningful, that which has the best result, the best future, the best happiness, enlightenment.
These teachings on emptiness are excerpted from two discourses given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia, March 18-19, 2000. Lightly edited by Sandra Smith.