This is a video playlist. Just click for the next video to see additional videos in the series.
Interactive outline of topics covered in each class. Clicking each topic will link directly to the relevant section in the video.
1:07:56 – Importance of taking good notes. It’s your responsibility to learn correctly and share with others. When you share with others all the Buddhas will come to watch and it makes them very happy. In that moment you’re a real teacher.
1:15:22 – After 8 years of studying this Lam Rim where are we in the structure of the text? Discussion about the trouble of this life. Get things ready now for next life. Soon we all will die. Have to pack our karmic bags and get ready for what’s next.
2:41:07 – The main problems in the Deva realm are: 1. To stay even 1 day in the deva realm is extremely karmically expensive because it’s mostly all pleasure. 2. They don’t understand emptiness. 3. Not understanding emptiness causes them to use more karma than they are making. 4. The result is that every deva who dies is reborn directly in hell.
1:15:24 – Reminder where we left off in last class. Your job as a Buddhist, in every action you do, is to produce more karmic seeds than you’re consuming. Examples of using the laws of karma with skillful means. A method to transform an activity which normally burns more seeds than it produces, into a way to create more powerful seeds.
1:17:30 – Devas living in the deva realm don’t have this knowledge. When they get something, they use it all for themselves. They are doing the opposite – they are karma consumers, not karma producers.
1:19:47 – The natural instinct of a suffering person, who doesn’t have this understanding of karma and emptiness, is that when they get more they become more and more stingy. The result is that they will use up the karmic seed and then lose everything.
1:20:10 – Charting Pain: the X & Y axes of suffering life. Success going up, seed going down. They are eating the result of their past good seeds and not making any more good seeds. X & Y axes of someone who understands karma & emptiness should both go up. The more you get, the more you should share with others.
1:20:48 – Devas are very very successful and have massive amounts of good karma due to their actions in previous lives. But because they lack the understanding of karma & emptiness they keep spending more and more on themselves. Finally they don’t do any good things to help others.
1:21:46 – What happens to a deva at the end of their life. In the week before they die they have 16x more suffering than hell beings because they understand they burned all their good karma and they will lose everything.
1:36:34 – Super Hero = Super Jealous. Even though the last days of a deva’s life are filled with suffering, some people may still think that it would be a good place to take birth since most of their lives are filled with pleasure. At this point there’s a description of the intense suffering of jealousy and competition they feel towards each other during their lives.
2:02:35 – Another special problem of a deva realm birth. Not only do devas enjoy lives where they are burning massive amounts of good karma to sustain the great luxury and pleasure without collecting any new good karma, but they also do a type of meditation which has a similar disastrous result. This meditation is not focused on a powerful object, like karma and emptiness, and as a result also burns massive amounts of good karma which causes them to fall to a lower realm. It also creates obstacles which prevent them from understanding emptiness in the future and also to meeting a teacher who can teach them correctly about emptiness and dependent origination.
2:05:03 – This is not just a problem for devas, but is also very relevant to humans attempting to do a type of meditation which is not focused on a powerful object, for example only watching the breath. There are 3 problems with this style of meditation: 1. No content: not focused on a powerful object like emptiness or dependent origination. 2. You create a habit for focusing the mind with no powerful content. Then when someone tries to teach that person emptiness or dependent origination they have obstacles which prevent them from hearing, learning it properly, or even finding it something interesting. 3. This wrong style of meditation has some short-term good feeling for the mind. It makes the mind feel focused and experience some pleasure which people can falsely mistake for some lasting spiritual attainment, like nirvana for example. In reality, it’s only burning good karma without creating any new good karma. They realize at the end of their lives all their time was wasted just watching their breath and it wasn’t nirvana after all. Then a bad thought will come to their mind thinking that there is no such thing as nirvana. This creates a special bad karma which sets up the causes for tremendous spiritual obstacles in their future lives.
2:27:16 – The poorest person on earth is equal to the richest person on earth. It doesn’t matter where you’re born on this planet, how much money you have, how much power or authority you have. We all have to get old, die, and lose everything. A normal being can’t buy more time or escape from that condition. If you see emptiness directly, that is your only chance to escape.
9:52 – In the beginning of Lam Rim it’s traditional, before you start to study anything, the teacher must do a sales pitch. When you become a teacher, don’t just teach, it’s your job to get the students excited about all the benefits and goals of the practice so they’ll get hungry and work hard.
13:20 – Geshe Michael is teaching business people all around the world about meditation, emptiness, and karma. Many of them are not interested in meditation and have no intention of being Buddhist, they just want to be successful in business. That’s no problem. In this context, as a teacher, it’s also very important to do a good sales job about the benefits of learning meditation and these ideas. Specifically how it relates to the goals they are seeking, or the goals might not have imagined are even possible yet.
15:19 – In the beginning, this information may seem overly analytical or academic to some people. They just want to use their hearts to be a better person and they don’t want to learn all of this very detailed information about emptiness. In this tradition, you cannot open your heart without your mind! Understanding comes first. Without an understanding of emptiness you cannot love or open your heart fully. Geshe Michael explains why this is so.
29:14 – Lam Rim review idim 110 – Turning darkness into light. Before you came to your first Buddhist class you didn’t understand anything about emptiness or any of the other steps of the Lam Rim. You thought the pen came from its own side. This is a type of darkness in the mind. After you came to class and learned, this darkness was transformed into light. Each time you come to class and gain more understanding, more darkness inside the mind will change to light. Eventually, if you come and learn for long enough, there will be nothing but light.
39:19 – Lamrim Review Idim 110: The Ultimate Portable Wealth. Nothing can put out this light. The understanding and realizations you gain from studying the Lam Rim you can never lose, even beyond death. It’s the only thing you can take with you when you die. This is the only sure property. It’s wealth, precious like diamond.
42:19 – Lamrim Review Idim 112: A Pound of Flesh – Story of Saudasa and Prince Sutasoma. This story comes from the beginning section of the Lam Rim on The Greatness of the Lam Rim teachings. One of the morals of the story is that even if you have to pay one pound of your own flesh for 4 lines of this teaching it would be worth it. Dharma is the most valuable thing.
55:02 – Lamrim Review Idim 113: The relationship between the teacher and student. Not a rigid uptight formal respect, rather a sweet relationship based on deep appreciation and affection. Your’e supposed to think your teacher is a Buddha who has come to the world just to teach you, but there’s 2 ways to respect.
1:04:47 – Lamrim Review Idim 114: The Three Cups. When learning to the Dharma, a good student should not be like the three cups. (1) Upside down. No matter how much is poured into the cup it will never find its way inside. It isn’t enough just for your body to be in a Dharma class, if you sit there with a distracted mind and don’t listen carefully, it will be the same as if you didn’t attend the teaching at all. You will learn nothing. (2) Dirty cup. Even though it’s not upside down as in the first example, it still may contain dirt or poison – and will make any liquid poured into it unsafe to drink. Similarly, to listen to the Dharma with a lower motivation is what it means to be a dirty cup. A lower motivation in this context is anything less than the Wish to reach total enlightenment to help every living being. (3) A cup with a hole in the bottom. Even though it’s not upside down or dirty, if there’s a hole, nothing that is poured in can remain. Someone who is like this may listen carefully and have a good motivation, but can’t retain anything and immediately forgets what they are taught.
1:11:00 – What can we do to help someone who is dying? Specifically someone who doesn’t have any Buddhist training. Geshe Michael tells a story of his experience of asking his teacher this same question when his father was dying, and how he tried to help his father using this advice.
1:15:18 – (1) Try to get the person to talk about any big mistakes or bad karma they created in their life. Just to talk about it and admit does a lot to clean it. Especially if you can get them to admit they are sorry and that they’d never do that again, it almost destroys the bad karmic seed.
1:19:35 – Last advice. After a person dies, for up to 49 days it’s possible they are in the in-between state called bardo (between death and rebirth). Geshela explains what the bardo state feels like to them. Usually they forget they are dead, and are confused and upset about why everyone is can’t hear or see them. Then they realize they died. In the bardo they have a special ability to hear your thoughts, so during that initial 49 day period, it’s very helpful to be positive – to think and speak about the good things they did in life.
1:21:21 – During this bardo time, the karmic seed which will determine the next life ripens. Geshe Michael tells a story of why his Lama, Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin, used to call the bardo time the “lottery” time. Because of this, how you think and speak about them can be a very important catalyst for triggering a powerful good karmic seed, and therefore a good next life for them. Talk to them in your mind and help them.
1:27:44 – You don’t have to stop talking to the person who died after 49 days. You can continue your whole life. You will meet them again. That’s one reason to become a Buddha. Death is a temporary separation. One reason to study emptiness is to meet them again.
3:48 – Gift of Liberation 31 Meditation Idim #1: The nature of debit cards. Do I encourage people to reinvest? You have a karma credit card. Don’t spend more than you invest. You invest by helping other people. What’s the intelligent way to use your karma? One good way to make good karmic seeds is to encourage other people to reinvest.
11:22 – Gift of Liberation 31 Meditation Idim #2: Be a server, not a consumer. Am I contributing to my society? Very deep picture with two important ideas. (1) One person in the photo is using up their karmic seeds, the other is making new seeds. As Master Kamalashila says, “Don’t be a seed eater, be a seed producer”. (2) One person in the picture is taking a rest. This is one of the best seeds you can plant. A good Dharma person knows how to relax very well, when they are refreshed they can help many more people.
17:45 – Gift of Liberation 31 Meditation Idim #3: Looking forward to no-one looking – Do I watch for tiny opportunities to help? There will come a time when we’re old and alone. Nobody will want to be with us. This will be the future for all of us.
19:08 – Gift of Liberation 31 Meditation Idim #4: Don’t get off on the first 8 floors. Do I pay any attention to others’ meditation? Regarding the Lion’s Dance meditation, the first 8 steps are only warmup/preliminaries. Also applies to all meditation in general, don’t waste your life only focusing on a meditation which lacks powerful content. Choose a powerful object. You don’t win an olympic medal for stretching before the race. Can only win if you’re in the actual race.
26:41 – We may understand that we’re in samsara – the wheel of suffering life, but not everything is suffering. Some things feel good here. Pabongka Rinpoche says, the things you think feel good here are also suffering. Then what about neutral things – things we don’t have a strong feeling about either way? These are also suffering. Here is an explanation why using the example of a blister.
30:23 – Why do things change? In every experience we have we’re using up karmic seeds. This is why things change. It’s an illusion. Things in samsara look like pleasure, but in reality as we experience that pleasure the karmic seeds which produced it are wearing out. When we experience 1 hour of pleasure, actually we are just getting 1 hour older and closer to our death.
41:15 – There are 2 famous bosses of your life. (1) karma and (2) mental afflictions / negative emotions. Here in the text, we begin a long explanation of all the types of mental afflictions in order to understand the exact process by which samsara is set in motion. This will lead naturally into a discussion of the path which will lead us out of that suffering – to liberation.
42:54 – More about suffering. The suffering of change is the story of our lives. Even the things we call “pleasure” here are still suffering because they are changing from moment to moment, and the karma to experience them are wearing out. You don’t have the capacity to be happy anywhere because we are under the power of karma and mental afflictions.
55:32 – Some students in the class were confused about Geshela using the example of “superhero” when referring to beings in the deva realm. The confusion came up because often in his DCI talks, Geshe Michael often also uses the example of “superhero” to refer to someone with Bodhichitta – a very strong understanding of emptiness and motivation to help everyone reach the highest goals. Here he clarifies the difference in these 2 very different superhero examples.
1:06:47 – The root of this suffering is the body and mind. When we were born we took on a body and mind. It’s like when you land at the airport (mind) and then you rent a car (body). This mind and body has a problem – you cannot make it happy. It’s impossible to be happy here (samsara) in this body and mind.
1:12:57 – If you are born in this body, there will be suffering until the day you die. We must change this body like changing our clothes. You can do it. It’s possible. You can get a new model car, a Buddha body. What does a Buddha body look like?
1:17:06 – Some people say, “don’t worry, when you’re about to die you can just do powa practice and easily move to a Buddha paradise”. It’s possible for 1 person out of a billion. It’s dangerous to wait until last minute because 99.9% will fail. Take care of it now!
1:18:41 – A Buddha’s body is like living diamond. How to get that body? There’s a special karmic seed. What’s the seed? See emptiness directly. In the moments after you see emptiness directly your body slowly starts to change into living diamond. Like a “Buddha cancer”, nothing can stop it. There’s no cure for a Buddha body.
1:21:58 – Even if you understand emptiness deeply it triggers a change inside and you cannot go to a lower realm. That’s why Geshe Michael is constantly teaching about emptiness. His mission is to trigger this change in people.
1:15 – The subject of yesterday’s special class for the volunteers was Arya Nagarjuna’s 8 impossibles. What are the impossibles in the “2 husbands in the kitchen” example? A person who is angry at you and didn’t come from your karmic seeds from doing something similar in the past is impossible.
2:37 – There was also a special class yesterday on the Heart Sutra mantra where Geshe Michael asked 3 important questions. (1) Is there a pen in my hand? (2) Is there a pen in my hand which comes from a karmic seed whichI planted by giving someone a pen before? (3) Is there a pen in my hand which comes from the pen? What’s the name of that? Emptiness.
3:46 – A sign of a person who really understands emptiness is that they’re very generous – they love to give things to other people. They are kind, polite, and generous because they understand emptiness.
4:54 – Now this morning in the guided meditation we’re going to go through the first 8 steps of the lion’s dance meditation, going up the elevator to the 9th floor where we’ll meditate about the emptiness of our teacher. In this meditation we will ask the same 3 questions above.
6:53 – There’s no teacher in my mind which doesn’t come from me. That’s the emptiness of your teacher. If you understand emptiness you respect the teacher that comes from you. If you don’t understand emptiness you don’t respect the teacher, then the teacher goes away because the karmic seeds are all used up.
48:28 – Idim ? When we’re born we get a body and mind. It’s like landing at the airport (mind) and then getting a rental car (body). Here in samsara you will create negative karma in order to take care of your rental car body. This creates the causes to take on another suffering body in the next life.
55:16 – In this life we got a body like this. We must eat. If we don’t get food we will steal. If we create negative karma with our body, next life we will also get this type of body. It’s a circle. This is proof of samsara. So we have to get out of this body. If we can see emptiness directly then the body will change from the inside. You will get a Buddha body.
56:33 – A Buddha body is very cool. If you have it, then you can help people in many places at the same time. It’s a Tesla model X body and the rental is permanent. The body we have now is like an old american car. We have to change it.
57:16 – Don’t wait until it’s time to go back to the airport! See emptiness while you’re still young. Your career and all the other things in your life are not an emergency. To change the body is an emergency. We have to do it now! The best way is to see emptiness.
58:18 – Because this body (the 5 heaps) were made from negative karmic seeds we’ll always have a problem. It will always get sick. Even if we feel healthy now, don’t worry, you’ll feel bad later. It’s the nature of this suffering body. We have to change it now. This body came from bad karma. To keep it alive we do bad karma. It’s a circle and we’re in samsara.
1:04:09 – The first cause is negative karma. What causes negative karma? The opening line of the fourth chapter of the Abhidharmakosha are: le le jikten natsok kye …. Everything in the universe comes from karma. What is karma? The most basic karma is thinking (any movement of the mind).
1:07:35 – The mother karma is thinking. If we want to understand how this suffering body is made, then first we must understand raw karma – the thinking karma. We’re going to spend the next few retreats talking about this process in order to learn how to change it.
1:13:42 – The Buddhas love the smell of the truth of admitting the bad things you did in your life and purifying them. That smell is very sweet to them. That smoke will touch the world and make people feel happy.
1:17:40 – Lam Rim Review Idim 115. It’s traditional in Buddhism to review what you just learned in the class 3x before the next class. Review with some of your friends. It’s very important for being able to remember what you learned later.
1:20:36 – Lam Rim Review Idim 116. Think you are a sick person, like a spiritual cancer inside of you, and this teaching is like medicine. Our teachers are like doctors. Maybe right now our body is not sick, but our heart is sick all the time. So when you are learning Lamrim this is like taking medicine to fix your heart and mind.
1:22:54 – Lam Rim Review Idim 117. It’s good to respect the old holy places and read the stories of the famous saints like Nagarjuna, but spend most of your time on your own practice. You become a Buddha and let them make your statue. Work on yourself and let them tell your story. Make your home the holy place.
1:29:10 – Lam Rim Review Idim 118. Because of widespread use of antibiotics, there’s now a problem of resistance to antibiotics. The purpose of these classes are to fight the negative forces in our own hearts. We’re now about to embark on a section of the text where we’ll go through a long list of all the mental afflictions. Understanding emptiness is the main weapon to fight those negative forces. As a student hearing about it many times, don’t become resistant to it.
1:36:10 – Lam Rim Review Idim 119. After you study the dharma you have a responsibility to keep it alive in the world. Each generation has this responsibility. Buddhism is dying in the world. Keep both the books and meaning alive in the world.
1:45:55 – Lam Rim Review Idim 121. The motivation for becoming a teacher. There are things you have to be careful about. (1) money. When you become a teacher don’t think too much about money. Offerings of money can be helpful to a teacher, but what the teacher wants most is the offering of your own practice. If you apply what they teach to your life, that’s the offering they want the most.
1:50:34 – (2) Don’t expect everyone to respect you. Students are like having children – they will cause trouble. If you’re a boss in a company you can fire the bad workers, but a mom can’t fire her kids. Being a teacher is the same. It’s a lifetime job. The motivation must be pure.
1:59:53 – You’ve been teaching us to see everyone as a Buddha, but the Sutras tell us we need to stay away from friends who are a negative influence. So particularly for us as new students, hjow to reconcile this? There are 2 types of friends: dharma friends who want to use their time valuably to create positive karma, and other types of friends who just want to waste time and are not interested in dharma. If you have a choice you should obviously choose to spend time with the dharma friend. But is the second type of friend a Buddha or not? Yes, because they are testing you. Don’t think all the Buddhas are very nice and gentle. You learn more from trouble in your life. When we don’t have trouble we don’t remember emptiness.
2:03:36 – Are the people who cause trouble in your life really a Buddha? We don’t know. Maybe yes or maybe no, but it’s more helpful for us if we think they are a Buddha. Be honest. You don’t know, but it’s possible. If they are a Buddha will they yell at you so you’ll think about emptiness? It’s possible. That’s logical. At our level we have to be honest.
2:05:05 – Story of when Geshe Michael was in the diamond business and his boss would give him extra money as a donation to the monastery. Geshe Michael asked him one day why he was being so generous to a Buddhist monastery when he was Jewish. He said, “you never know which religion is correct’. An intelligent person gives to everyone, then after you die you can go to a good place. We are the same. We don’t know who’s a Buddha. Better to respect everyone. To respect a person and find out later they are not a Buddha is not a problem. Still you make good karmic seeds.
2:09:50 – You said when we teach all the Buddhas will come and watch us, but you also said that all things, including Buddha, are coming from our side – from our own karma. So when Buddhas come, are they coming from their own side or from our side?
2:10:42 – This is actually from the second chapter of Arya Nagarjuna’s famous text on emptiness called Wisdom. The chapter title is Coming & Going. If Buddha comes from me (from my karmic seeds), why do i have to ask them to come? When the Buddha comes it’s from you. There’s 2 types of coming – Buddha is coming, but Buddha comes from you.
2:11:18 – Geshe Michael gives an example / story to answer this question. Let’s say you write a note to yourself that says “you’re stupid” and send it to yourself in the mail. After some time the postal carrier will come and delver the letter to you. After you read it should you get angry with the postal carrier? No, you wrote it. Should get angry with yourself. They are just delivering it. People in our life are the same. You created karmic seeds in the past which are now ripening as annoying people and situations. Don’t get angry with them. They are just the postal carrier. You wrote the letter yourself.
2:14:55 – When you have a headache and take aspirin, will it work or not? Sometimes. If you helped other people in the past with a headache. If you planted the karmic seed to make the medicine work, then the medicine will work for you. The aspirin is the postal carrier. They didn’t write the letter. So when you’re teaching and the Buddhas come to you, did the Buddhas come to you? Don’t forget the 3 questions. (1) Do i have a pen in my hand? Yes. (2) Do i have a pen in my hand which comes from me? Yes. (3) Do I have a pen in my hand which comes from the pen? No.
2:17:10 – (1) When you teach will the Buddha come? Yes. (2) Will they come because of your seed? Yes. (3) Will any Buddha come when you’re teaching who doesn’t come from your karmic seeds? No. But did the Buddha come? Yes. Don’t forget the 3 questions. Then you won’t get confused.
2:18:52 – Because the world is created by our karmic seeds, so if i want to become an example how do i influence others? There’s 2 ways to help everyone in the world. (1) Indirectly. You can wish or pray they are happy. it doesn’t help them directly, but it’s still good. (2) Directly. Use karma and emptiness (the 4 steps) yourself. You become successful, then everyone will want to copy you. This will be like a virus that infects the whole world. This is the best way to help the whole world. Be a human advertisement.
44:15 – When you teach dharma it should be for free. You shouldn’t ask for money. If a student wants to help, to preserve the dharma for example, then it’s important. From the student’s side, the motivation / happiness is most important when giving any type of offering. That will determine the power / speed of the karmic seed ripening. Also choose carefully and prioritize your donations. Pick something which will be of the most benefit to others. Also keep it legal and do it according to the laws of your country.
51:48 – Regarding keeping the 6-times book / vows. Sometimes Geshe Michael tells people to just write down the good things they did that day. Most people only think about the bad things they’re doing. It’s very hard to get people to do coffee meditation – to think and rejoice about the good things they’re doing to help others. Put the good thing first.
53:58 – When you’re choosing a Buddha / teacher as the object of your meditation, how to make it more personal if you’ve never met the person you’re visualizing? Most of the people who choose a Buddha as a meditation object never saw a Buddha, they only saw an image or statue. Most of us didn’t have enough karmic seeds to meet a Buddha directly.
58:05 – How to visualize a Buddha is discussed in the Buddhist texts. First you begin with an outline. There are 3 stories in the sutras about a student who was far away from the Buddha during his life and requested an image of Lord Buddha. Geshela briefly tells one of these stories about how they first drew the Buddha’s silhouette.
1:00:37 – When visualizing a Buddha in meditation it’s similar. (1) Pretend there’s a light behind the teacher and at first just get the silhouette correct. After that you fill in more detail. (2) After the silhouette, t’s traditional to start with the eyes. It’s very important that in your visualization they’re looking at you with love. (3) Then you finish the rest of the face and smile. In the meditation the teacher / Buddha is always smiling. Why? All day long we’re doing small bad things, one good thing we do every day is our meditation, so Buddha is happy. (4) then you finish the rest of the detail – hands, clothes, etc. (5) Then imagine your favorite scent, a flower for example.
1:04:53 – Really nice story from Geshe Michael and discussion about how to help developmentally disabled children to learn how to plant karmic seeds. Also applies to people who have no interest in learning about buddhism / karma but who need help. Same principle applies. Have to use skillful means to trick them into planting seeds and getting on an upwards karmic cycle.
1:20:15 – Now in the Liberation text we’ve reached the 15th day. This book is a record of a teacher that took place over 24 days. So now we have finished almost 75%. We’ll finish in about 4 more years.
1:21:28 – Story about how Geshe Michael’s teacher, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, met Pabongka Rinpoche when he was a young monk. Up to this time Khen Rinpoche was a not a good student and a troublemaker. After this meeting it totally changed him, and he went on to be the best debater out of 15,000 monks in the year he graduated with his Geshe degree.
At the beginning of each day of this teaching, Pabongka Rinpoche began with some quotations from famous books in order to give the students a good motivation. On the 15th day the quote is from Aryadeva. The main disciple of Arya Nagarjuna.
Fool here is an English translation of the Tibetan BYIS KHYOD. In English, BYIS KHYOD is what you’d call kids who are acting crazy and causing trouble. It’s like in English when you call someone a “2-year old”. That’s what BYIS KHYOD means here and it has a deeper connotation. In Buddhism, BYIS KHYOD means someone who doesn’t understand emptiness. You can be 90 years old and you can be a “2-year old” because you’re not understanding emptiness and using seeds. So if you don’t understand emptiness you will be chained here, and then you should be afraid. Chained to this body (samsara). You cannot get a better body (liberation and buddhahood).
1:29:34 – Now in this new section of the Lamrim we’ll begin Buddhist psychology. We’ll study all the parts of the mind, the good parts and the mental afflictions which cause us to be chained to samsara. Buddhist psychology is very beautiful. There are 51 different functions of the mind. If you want to learn it in even more detail it’s in the Abhidharma.
It’s a tradition at the end of meditation to bring the teacher / buddha to the top of your head, then they come down into your heart. Keep them there all day and you can ask them to stay in your heart all day and you can check in with them when you need them.
Keep your materials with you from this retreat all day long. Then review the ideas throughout the day and in context of your daily life. Does traffic have emptiness or not? Some people get annoyed with traffic, while some people are excited and see the delay as an opportunity to study and learn more dharma.
When you see a nice car, or any other forms of happiness or things of pleasure here in samsara, remember emptiness. Why? If you don’t remember emptiness then it will hurt you. Any time you see or experience a beautiful things you have a choice. You can either remember their emptiness, or you can just enjoy like a blind man. Then you are burning karma and not making new good karma. Your debit card is being charged.
1:37:35 – Are you a bad Buddhist if you buy or enjoy nice things? It depends how you think about them. Do you remember their emptiness? If you want to have a Tesla model X and be a good Buddhist at the same time, how do I think about it’s emptiness? When you look at the car you have to think about where the car really comes from. Does it come from money? No. You have to help other people get to where they want to go.
1:43:25 – SDUG BSNGAL YIN SNYAM DU ZHEN PA LOG PA ZHIG DGOS KYI, KHA NYES GOD KHA SOGS ‘KHOR BA’I GRA MA ‘GRIGS PA ‘GA’ ZHIG GI SDUG BSNGAL BYUNG NAS YID ‘BYUNG BA TZAM NI SNA THUNG SPU SUD KYI NGES ‘BYUNG GZUGS BRNYAN TZAM YIN,
Here Pabongka Rinpoche is complaining about some Buddhist people who don’t understand emptiness and have a wrong attitude about renunciation, referred to as “goosebump renunciation” (NGES ‘BYUNG GZUGS) – everything in life is suffering and we shouldn’t enjoy anything nice because we’ll lose it anyway. Like goosebumps this understanding quickly fades when real difficult problems in life come up. Samsara doesn’t mean that everything is suffering. Samsara really means that if you don’t understand where things really come from (karmic seeds), then you will experience nice things and then lose them because you don’t know how to keep replanting the seeds.
1:47:48 – Help other people who are in need, send them clothes, and wear nice clothes. That’s a real Buddhist. Both. Nice clothes without helping people in need of clothes is a mistake. It’s also a mistake to never wear nice clothes (because everything in life is suffering and impermanent). If you wear nice clothes while helping other people who need clothes, that action is not samsaric. Samsara are the other 2 actions done without a deep understanding of emptiness and dependent origination – where things really come from.
We know we have the right attitude about life when we can recognize samsara. Samsara means a circle. What’s the circle in the 2 husbands in the kitchen example? (1) We yell at our kids. (2) We make a negative karmic seed by yelling at our kids. (3) Later your spouse says something bad to you. (4) Then we say something bad back to our spouse. (5) Then we plant a new negative karmic seed. (6) Then later the kids are bad. This is the suffering of samsara, you can break it by understanding emptiness (the pen).
2:17 – All the activity of the world is because people want something. For example, when you go to the airport you can watch everyone. Everyone is going somewhere because they want something. You can watch them and it’s a good opportunity to do a samsara meditation. When people want something it’s human nature to reach out and take for ourselves. Then we believe that reaching out and taking it is why we got the things we wanted. This is human nature.
4:34 – When we do this are we making new karmic seeds or using old karmic seeds? We’re mainly using up our karmic seeds when we get the things we want. That’s samsara. In this system don’t be a seed burner, be a seed maker. If you like something and want it, don’t reach out and take it. Give to other people.
5:30 – This seems basic and foolish, but is the most deep thing you can understand. When a human being wants something they need to give it to other people, not take it for themselves. Make a new seed, then everything you want will come to you. It’s so simple that it’s difficult.
As a teacher, when anyone makes offerings, or shows us respect, then we must also think in a similar way. It’s coming from an old karmic seed and will finish. So the teacher has to take the medicine during the class.
7:47 – ‘DI THAMS CAD SDUG BSNGAL BA YIN SNYAM DU YID ‘BYUNG MNAN PAS MI NON PA ‘ONG BA ZHIG SNGA MO NAS YOD CES GSUNGS PA BZHIN,’KHOR BA’I PHUN TSOGS JI TZAM MTHONG BA DE TZAM DU SKYO SHAS CHE RU ‘GRO BA ZHIG DGOS, DE BZHIN DU ‘CHI BA’I TSE TSE ‘DI’I GROGS DANG ‘BYOR PA SOGS DANG ‘BRAL BAR MTHONG NAS YID MI BDE BA’ANG SNA THUNG GI MI RTAG PA ZHES TSE ‘DI’I SNANG SHAS MNGON DU GYUR PA YIN NO,,
It’s good to remember this when you teach. When you say goodbye to someone do it with love because maybe you won’t see them again in this life. We have to be sweet with each other because we don’t know if we’ll see each other again.
11:42 – DES NA, NGES ‘BYUNG GI BSAM PA RNAM DAG CIG RGYUD LA SKYE THABS BYED PA GAL CHE STE, RANG RE’I DON DU GNYER BYA’I GTZO BO SANGS RGYAS KYI GO ‘PHANG YIN, DE ‘ONG BA LA BYANG SEMS, DE ‘ONG BA LA SNYING RJE, DE ‘ONG BA LA MAR SHES RNAMS RIM BZHIN SNGON DU ‘GRO DGOS,
When you’re in the airport and saying goodbye to your friend as if it’s the last time you’ll see them again, this is a feeling of love for one other person. However, when you’re in the airport many thousand people are saying goodbye to each other. Think about it. Don’t just love your friend, but make a sincere prayer for everyone in the airport. You can use the time to try and feel compassion towards everyone who are saying goodbye to people they love. Maybe they won’t meet again.
14:23 – Pabongka RInpoche says we can make the meditation deeper. Everyone saying goodbye in the airport, every child in the hand of every mother in the airport, in a past life has been my mother. It looks like they are different people, but all of them have been your mother. Not just one time, but millions of times.
17:26 – ‘KHOR BA’I SDUG BSNGAL RANG STENG DU BSGOMS PAS NGES ‘BYUNG DANG, GZHAN LA BSGOMS PAS SNYING RJE SKYE DGOS PAS SKYES BU CHEN PO’I SKABS KYANG NGES ‘BYUNG BSGOM PA MED THABS MED,LHAG PAR SKYES BU ‘BRING SKABS NGES ‘BYUNG ‘DI LAM GYI GTZO BO ZHIG STE, ‘DI RGYUD LA SKYES PA NAS BZUNG STE DGE BA CI BYAS THAR PA’I RGYUR ‘GRO ZHING,
If you think like that while you’re in the line at the airport then you’re planting the karmic seed to become a Buddha. Don’t think that you can only practice in your house on your meditation cushion. Sometimes you can have a better meditation in the airport while you’re waiting, then you don’t waste your time. You can be irritated at the airport or you can plant the seed for Buddhahood while standing in the luggage line. You decide.
Most of the time when people do a good thing for someone else it’s still a cause to perpetuate samsara. There is dirty good karma and pure good karma. There are 2 types of karmic seeds: good and bad. Inside the good karmic seed there are 2 types: good good seed and bad good seed. The bad good seed keeps you in samsara. So what’s the difference?
22:14 – Even if you understand emptiness there’s 2 ways you can make good seeds. If you’re just using karma like an investment for yourself, to get more back for you, then this is a bad good seed. You understand emptiness and how to plant a karmic seed, but your goal is just for yourself.
23:26 – Here’s how to plant a good good seed. When you do an action with an understanding of karma and emptiness, of course you know it will have a good result for yourself later, but your wish is to share that success and help everyone by being an example. This is a much better seed because your motivation is bigger than thinking only of yourself.
24:26 – Both of the above examples are good karma, but the result of the first one is limited because it’s focused only on yourself. If your motivation is to help countless living beings then the karmic result will also be infinite.
46:53 – Geshe Michael you have taught us that the thoughts and decisions in our minds are coming from karmic seeds we have planted before, and you have also taught that we have freedom to make decisions. How to reconcile this apparent contradiction?
47:58 – Someone is talking in your mind all day. Sometimes it’s good to watch this person talking in your mind. Are you the thinker or the listener? We are the listener. You can’t talk and listen at the same time. If you hear someone talking in your own mind it must be another person, and those are your karmic seeds. I put karmic seeds in my mind before, and the person talking in my mind now are actually the seeds opening.
52:20 – Geshe Michael repeats himself and teaches about emptiness (the pen) over and over for a very specific reason. In the Buddhist texts it says that if you really understand about emptiness then it’s impossible to go to a lower realm after you die.
54:52 – What Geshe Michael doesn’t normally explain is that there’s more detail to that protection you get from understanding emptiness. To really get that protection from going to the lower realms understanding emptiness about outside objects, a pen for example, is not enough. You need to have a deeper understanding of the emptiness of your own mind / thoughts.
55:23 – You are not the talker in your mind, you are the listener. Those thoughts (talking in your mind) are coming out of karmic seeds word-by-word. The talker and listener is really the core of you. I’m not my finger, i will lose my finger, but i’m the talker and listener in my mind. That talker and listener comes from the karmic seeds I planted by what i did before.
56:28 – But that’s not the answer to her question. She was asking if the decisions in our mind come from seeds from what we did before how do we ever change? Do we have a choice or is everything fate?
58:23 – You have lived forever, and you will live forever. You cannot kill the mind. You can change the rental car. Your mind has been there from beginningless time. At some time during endless time someone will explain emptiness to you and you will start to make good seeds.
59:14 – Story of the fly and pile of cow poo. Very bad man was reborn as a fly who landed on some cow poo to have dinner. A big rain storm came and carried away the cow poo that the fly was sitting on. He accidentally rode it around a Stupa and made some small good seeds by accident. Then as a result of that good seed someone taught him emptiness later.
1:00:28 – We all have some small good seeds we planted by accident and then someone will teach us about emptiness. Then the direction will change. We have free will but it also comes from karmic seeds.
1:04:24 – There are 4 levels to understanding emptiness. Most importantly there are 2 divisions. (1) The lower division is understanding the emptiness of outside physical things – objects. When you teach other people you have to start with this one because it’s easier to understand. (2) If you get a very smart student then you can go deeper and understand the emptiness of subjects (mind / thoughts / “yourself”).
1:05:54 – Of these 4 levels of understanding emptiness it’s the 3rd one where you get the protection from being born in the lower realms. That 3rd one is understanding the emptiness of the thoughts in your own mind.
1:06:37 – But if you only heard a lower teaching on emptiness, Level 1 or 2, and you die it’s possible you will go to a lower realm and be reborn as an animal. So is that guy’s animal rebirth better than someone who is reborn there and never heard any teaching about emptiness?
1:09:46 – The first 8 levels are not meditation, but a warmup / preliminary. There’s no olympic medal for a warmup, but it’s better if you do a warmup. Geshe Michael’s suggestion is to not spend a lot of time on the warmup (first 8 parts in the Lion’s Dance example). Spend most of the meditation period focused on the actual powerful object of meditation.
1:11:14 – Geshe Michael thinks there’s also another seed you can plant. Many people are doing those first 8 levels of the Lion’s Dance meditation and they think that’s meditation. They missed the teaching about level 9 (emptiness and dependent origination). Only watching the breathe will make you more calm, but it won’t keep you out of hell or the other lower realms, for that you need to meditate on emptiness. You can can’t become a Buddha without that.
1:12:34 – As a teacher you have to explain the preliminary / warmup meditations and it takes time, but when you do the meditation yourself go a little bit quickly through the preliminaries and get to the real meditation (level 9 in the example of Lion’s Dance meditation). Then the seed in your mind for real meditation is stronger and you won’t be born in a useless place.
In Buddhism there are more advanced practices like Vajrayana or working the with channels and chakras. There’s a difference between the secret practice that you can learn from a book and the inner secret practice. The inner secret practice are the 3 Principle Paths. 3 Principles for automatic secret practice.
(2) Bodhichitta – everyone around me right now has been my mother in a past life. They are also suffering. I want to take care of them. How many? No count. Not just your city. Not just your country. Not just your world. There’s billions of stars and worlds. Statistically speaking there should be other beings out there. Don’t be like the frog in the well – don’t think your city is the whole world. Don’t even think this world is the only world.
1:26:43 – On the day when you see emptiness directly you will see all world and all the beings on those worlds. It’s fun to travel to another country, but imagine if you could travel to countless worlds and help all the beings there. So that’s number 2, Bodhichitta. They all need to change their body and get out of samsara, and you need to help them.
1:27:43 – When you’re a kid and you’re alone you will think, “why was i born in this place, this body, this world, to my mom and not my friend’s mom?” Only a 10-year old is intelligent enough to think about that. Before that you were too young, after that you’re too busy. Ten year old can think about philosophy. There’s a reason you came here. There are countless worlds with billions and billions of people. They all have a samsaric body which was caused by a mistake, a mixed seed body which is going to die.
1:29:32 – On the day that you see emptiness directly you will meet all those beings on different planets. That’s the answer to the ten year old’s question. That’s why I came to this world! I’m supposed to become a Buddha. I’m supposed to take care of billions of planets. That’s my job, that’s what i’m supposed to do. Everyone was born with a Buddha seed. Your personal responsibility is to take care of billions of other beings. Right now we have a hard time taking care of ourselves, but if you see emptiness your ability changes. You have to hurry up, many people are waiting for you.
1:35:33 – You can try to do all kinds of secret practices, ritual, and mantras but if you don’t have the 3 Principal Paths then it won’t work. It’s like a Tesla car without a battery. It looks good, but it doesn’t work. It’s better to do the opposite – get the 3 Principal Paths then everything becomes an automatic secret teaching.
1:36:32 – How the secret Vajrayana teachings are structured. There are 2 parts. (1) Try to contact Buddhas or enlightened beings. Learn to talk with them directly. They are everywhere already, but we can’t see them. We have to change our seed. It’s like a dog that can’t see a pen because all they have are chew-toy seeds. You don’t have to go another planet, Amitabha’s paradise can be right here.
1:38:16 – (2) The second level is after you make contact with them, Buddhas will teach you how to be like them. These 2 levels are called Kye Rim and Dog Rim – creation and completion stages. Then you can change your body in one lifetime.
Now after 8 years we’ve reached a very big section in the Lam Rim. How do I reach Buddhahood and what’s the path? Before you reach Buddhahood you have to reach nirvana. They are not the same thing, many people make this mistake.
1:43:43 – When you reach nirvana you don’t have to change your body and you don’t look different. There’s a lower Buddhist school which says once you reach nirvana you just disappear or your mind stops. It’s not correct.
1:44:27 – Buddha said an interesting thing. He said there are many methods in this world for dealing with our problems. None of them work. They work for a short period of time and then you get angry again. The only method that really works is if you understand that the people who irritate you were never there.
1:46:02 – Geshe Michael tells the water on the bathroom floor story so we can understand this more clearly. You woke up early one morning thinking you had to go to work and half asleep you took a shower. Then you realized it was Saturday and went back to sleep and work up at noon. When you woke up again you stepped in water on the bathroom floor and got angry thinking that someone else didn’t clean it up. You forgot it was you. Then you realized it was you and the person you were angry at just disappeared, they never existed. That’s emptiness.
1:52:58 – When someone calls us stupid who put the water on the floor? Ourselves. So then what happens to the anger? It just disappears because the person we were about to get angry at isn’t even there.
1:53:14 – Buddha said this is the only way that a human being can stop anger permanently. The other person you’re angry at doesn’t exist and cannot exist. Then the anger has nothing to be angry at and it will stop forever. That’s nirvana.
1:54:01 – How to know someone has reached nirvana? Your mind wants to make you angry and it will try a hundred different ways. it will always succeed if you don’t understand emptiness. That’s nirvana.
(1) All of our problems come from anger and all the other mental afflictions. So we should study them and understand how they start, grow, and live inside our mind. We should study our enemy first. (2) How to stop them. (3) How do the mental afflictions cause our body to die.
(1) identify all the negative emotions. There are 6 main mental afflictions. Number 6 has 5 types, so in total there are 10 main mental afflictions. Let’s study them. Let’s learn what their face looks like so we can shoot them.
(4) What will happen to me if i don’t fight with these enemies? Up to now they are living in the country of your mind and control it. How to kick them out? If you don’t kick them out what will happen in this country (your mind).
2:04:03 – KUN ‘BYUNG ‘KHOR BA’I ‘JUG RIM BSAM PA’I SA BCAD ‘DI SA BCAD SNGA MAR YAR SBYAR BA DANG, PHYI MAR SBYAR BA’I LUGS GNYIS YOD PA LAS, ‘DIR NI BDE MYUR GYI KHRID SROL LTAR THAR PAR BGROD PA’I LAM GYI RANG BZHIN GTAN LA DBAB PA’I NANG DU MAR BSDUS YOD PA YIN LA,
2:04:31 – DE YANG SNGAR ‘KHOR BA SPYI DANG SO SO’I NYES DMIGS BSAMS PAS ‘KHOR BA LAS YID ‘BYUNG STE THAR @269A *,,’DOD SKYE BA NA DE LTAR ‘KHOR BA’I RGYU GANG GIS BYAS ‘DUG SNYAM DU RGYU RTZAD BCAD NAS NGO SHES PAR BYAS TE, DE’I RGYUN GCOD DGOS,
This is very important. We have countless bad karmic seeds from our past lives. We also have many good seeds since we’re here studying the Lam Rim. You’re special. There are 7 billion people in the world who need to change their suffering body and only 500 are here studying the Lam Rim and the instructions how to do it.
2:08:20 – Geshela tells a story of when he translated for a famous doctor of Tibetan medicine for several years. The doctor said the contributing factors which cause cancer are in the air we breathe and the food we eat. Someone asked him what a normal person can do to avoid it if this is the cause of cancer? Obviously we can’t stop eating and breathing. The doctor said, “I didn’t say it was the cause of cancer, it’s the conditions or contributing factor which help the cancer grow. Then he said the cause of cancer is not loving other people in your city. The cause of cancer is not thinking like a bodhisattva. Then he got a little angry and said, “don’t think you’re a normal person”. “You’re a special person, there are 7 billion people in the world and today you heard the word Bodhisattva, don’t call yourself normal!”
2:18:01 – There’s a distinction in Buddhism between cause and condition. For a tree the cause is the seed. The conditions are water, fertilizer, and sunlight. The cause for cancer is that you don’t love other people enough. The conditions are food attitudes, rubber in the air, and pollution.
2:19:07 – Will the tree grow from the seed if the conditions are missing? If you put an apple seed on cement and it doesn’t have soil, get water, no sunlight. Will the tree grow? No. There’s something you need to understand about the karmic seeds in your own mind. Even though we have bad karmic seeds in our mind if the supporting conditions are missing they will not grow.
2:22:11 – Something important to understand about karmic seeds. Karmic seeds stay inside the heart chakra. There are billions of seeds waiting to open. The space they occupy is less than the tip of a needle. If they have water and sunshine they will ripen and something negative will happen in your life. If they don’t have these conditions they will never ripen and negative things won’t happen in our life.
2:23:47 – The first method is the 4 powers. You may have heard the teaching on the 4 powers in DCI, and that’s the usual way. Geshela will repeat the usual way, then teach a special way. They are really 4 ways to put the seed in the freezer, but sometimes when you teach it you can say it’s 4 ways to destroy the seed. Actually it’s not correct. You cannot destroy a karmic seed because the 4th law of karma is more powerful – If you do do something, you must get something back.
2:25:37 – Funny story about farmers and why it’s good news that the 4th law of karma can’t be broken. Imagine in farming if you planted a seed and you didn’t know what would come out of the ground. Plant apple seed and get a banana. Karma is the same. The result must be similar and it must come back. But the Buddha taught a way to put the bad seeds in the freezer. It doesn’t break the laws of karma, it just prevents them from opening forever.
(1) Think about emptiness. This automatically leads to power 2. Why? The things in my life I don’t like come from seeds. If I do something negative it will plant a seed. That seed doubles every 24 hours. Then naturally you feel like you need to stop that karma from ripening.
(3) This power is the main energy that puts the seed in the freezer. Regretting having ever done the negative action and planted the seed, and a decision to do it again. Disclaimer: set a reasonable time limit so you don’t create another bad karma of not keeping your commitment. A promise not to do something for a certain amount of time.
(1) Comes from the Diamond Cutter Sutra. When the seed moves to the freezer it will open a little bit and you’ll have a small negative ripening. For example, if you had the karmic seed for cancer, instead of that result you’ll get sudden unusual headache for a whole day.
2:44:34 – The sunlight and water (supporting conditions) for a bad karmic seed is not understanding emptiness. A person who understands emptiness takes away the sunlight and water from all their bad seeds. That’s why if you understand emptiness deeply then you can’t be reborn in the lower realms.
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